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Graciousness : Tempering Truth With Love by John Crotts is a helpful little book.  This is a book that all could benefit from but is especially fitting for those who have a passion for theology and find yourself frustrated when others aren’t as passionate and don’t see things the way you do.  This is a book for what has come to be known as the “cage stage Calvinist”.

 

This book works through many biblical passages that teach us to be gracious and kind in our speech.  This is where the book is very helpful is that it gives you a condensed look at many of the most important scripture passages related to this topic.  There are many bible verses that would be helpful to memorize to help us glorify God in all our conversations.

 

With the exposition of several scriptures Crott’s gives many practical helps for us to start cultivating graciousness.  He also gives advice and how to correct ungracious behavior we are prone to.  I appreciated his emphasis on developing friendships in helping one another be kind as well as the importance of gathering with the church week in week out to grow in graciousness.  The ultimate example of graciousness is our Lord Jesus Christ and this book helps to point us clearly to the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

 

I would recommend this book especially to those who may be new to the doctrines of grace or any other doctrine that they are having by the grace of God clicking for them to help them love people as well as the truths they have learned.

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Simonetta Carr says in the acknowledgments of this book that it “was probably the hardest book I have ever written”.  Many will be pleased that she put in the hard work to produce this fine biography aimed at children.  Irenaeus is probably not a household name unless you live with a patristics scholar but this book may work towards Christian families having a better understanding and familiarity with early church fathers and their importance.  I believe it is important for children to be aware that there were Christians before their grandparents and that studying their lives and works are important.

 

Simonetta takes us through the life and works of Irenaeus of Lyon starting with his birth approximately 130 AD up to his death approximately 200 AD.  We learn of other important figures who influenced him such as Polycarp and his martyrdom.  We learn of the heresies going on in Irenaeus’ time and how he interacted with them and also got a feel for his personality when we saw his humorous interaction with some of the gnostics.  The book is full of paintings, pictures of sculptures and artifacts of the time which help the reader to understand and relate better to the time period.  The quality of the book binding, pages and pictures are all superb.

While Irenaeus of Lyon’s life may not be as memorable or his personality as over the top as someone like Luther about whom biography’s abound it is good to see some lesser known biographies come out like this of Irenaeus.  This book would be a good middle grade read but also I would encourage adults to read it as well.  This series of biographies published by Reformation Heritage Books and written by Simonetta Carr would be excellent introductions to many godly women and men through history especially for adults who have a limited amount of free reading time and want to understand their own families history better since all believers have been adopted and are brothers and sisters in Christ.  If you would like to start learning more about some in the early church this would be a good place to start.

 

Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books

Year: 2017

Pages: 62

Binding: glue?

Boards: hardback

Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

 

I always thought I would have a boy first but now I have two daughters.  But this led me to read some literature that I would not have read most likely otherwise.  I am glad that I was able to read “Reformation Women” and I hope that my daughters will pick it up and read as they get older.

 

This book aimed to introduce several reformation era women who are relatively unknown and it does so in a way that really makes it a page turner. The book takes the reader through 12 reformation women and shows each woman’s particular contribution to the church.  They range from women with great political power to those who God was pleased to use through their simple but God honoring hospitality.  The book is helpful in introducing each woman and gives just enough information to peak your interest to study them more and I am hopeful that the book will lead other to pick up the task and research more on these women.  What I found most helpful about the book was the authors commentary on the lessons learned from the women.  There were many helpful things I learned that I want to encourage in my own daughters.  I pray my daughters will be courageous as these women were.  As my pastor says there are some things in life more important than safety and I pray my daughter will be faithful witnesses for Christ even if it means being in the face of persecution as it did for many of the women in the book.

The only thing I would like to have seen more on is how the women served in regards to the relations of church and state.  I know that may be beyond the scope of the book and an area of disagreement amongst believers but it would be interesting to see more on this from the author whether critical or in agreement with, But I digress because it is not good to review something the author didn’t write versus what she did.  So overall the book was very enjoyable and I would encourage others to pick it up especially women, those with daughters, and pastors who most likely have more women than men in their congregation.

Published: 2017

Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books

Pages: 128

Boards: paperback

Binding: glue

Includes a helpful bibliography

Purchase Here $11.25

 

The title of the book is “Why bother with church: And other questions about why you need it and why it needs you”  This is another helpful short book in the “questions Christians ask” series put out by the good book company.  Coming in at just 95 pages this is a perfect little book for those interested in understanding the importance of the church without having to dig through much larger works.

 

Allberry ends the book by answering the title of the book with another question, “why on earth would I not bother with the church?”.  Allberry does an excellent job of getting you there throughout the pages of this book.  As one already convinced it didn’t have to work very hard with me, but I feel confident he would be successful with those less convinced of the importance of the church with this book as well.

 

The book is concise but very precise and rich.  There is a lot of great doctrine of the church in this small book and the author also helps the reader see the practical applications of much of the doctrine with really makes the book stronger.  He will move you along from understanding why church to how church.  The authors style is helpful and quote worthy which made for good reading but most of all he unwaveringly proclaims the glories of the Church of Jesus Christ.

The only criticism I might offer of the book is that he seems to have a false dichotomy of what the church can do for me mentality vs. a what I can do for the church.  I think we ought to go to church expecting to be fed and have our souls nourished by God’s ordained means, but also thinking of encouraging others and giving and serving.  I don’t think the two are against each other.  I will give the author the benefit of the doubt,  the series of books are all short and I’m guessing he had a tight page limit given by the publisher that precluded his being able to discuss in more detail his views on this.

 

Overall I would highly recommend the book for all interested in the topic.  I could see it being useful in discipling a new believer on the importance of the church in their life.  Pick up and read!

 

Publisher: The Good Book Co.

Year: 2016

Pages: 95

Boards: paperback

Binding: glue

Footnotes or endnotes: none

indices: none

Buy here : $7.19

*this book was provided to me from the publisher free of charge.  I was not required to write a positive review.

A Well Ordered Church: Laying a Foundation for a Vibrant Church

by William Boekestein and Daniel R. Hyde

This is a book that deals with something that Jesus loves so much that he died for her, that is the church.  While I don’t expect to see this on any best sellers list soon, it will benefit those who read it.  As a Baptist I didn’t agree with all the authors conclusions but am grateful for their robust defense of a reformed (continental) church government and practice.  I would recommend anyone interested in what a church ought to look like to pick this book up and read it.

The Good

First this book is under 200 pages and has enough size to make it a great introductory level work on the order and practice of the church.  It is long enough to introduce you to topics such as pluarality of elders, dialogical principle, regulative principle, ordinary means of grace, church discipline, etc. without bogging the reader down with too much detail.  It also give recommended reading at the end of each chapter where the reader can be directed if he wants to dive deeper into any one category.  This makes this book the perfect size book to hand to church members who will read something this length or study in a small group.  The book also includes study questions which lends itself to be used with ease in a small group discussion.

The book also sets up firm foundations for the importance of the church with her relation to her head, Christ Jesus.  This beginning of the book is crucial for all the rest of the book, we may work out the applications differently but this foundation is where we must all start.

The Bad

There is nothing bad in the book, but as a Baptist I disagree with their conclusions on some things.  This is not a problem with the book because they write out the tradition of the three forms of unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Cannons of Dort).  While not falling with in the confessional heritage I do appreciate their robust working out of their heritage.  And actually recently published is An Orthodox Catechism by Hercules Collins which is the Baptist version of the Heidelberg Catechism which I am on board with.  My only desire would be to see this same type of work published by Reformed Baptist who would argue for church government in line with the 1689 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith.

If you are interested in the subject this is a good starting point especially for those in reformed or Presbyterian churches.

Publisher: Evangelical Press

Year: 2015

Boards: Paperback

Binding: Glue

Pages: 189

Endnotes or Footnotes: Endnotes

Scripture index: yes

Confessions index: yes

Subject Index: no

Persons Index: no

Bibliography: yes

Recommended reading : Yes

Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr

Simonetta Carr adds the latest volume to her series by Reformation Heritage Books, the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series that is.  Others include Calvin, Augustine, Owen, Athanasius, Lady Jane Grey, Anselem, Knox, Edwards, and the latest and subject of this review Marie Durand.  As a side the next project volume in the series is on Martin Luther.  This is the first of the series that I have read but I don’t plan on it being the last.  I chose to read this book primarily because I have two young daughters and want them to be able to read about some of the female heroes of the church.  This book will be placed on my children’s book shelf for their use as the begin to read.

 

I didn’t quite know what to expect picking up this book being about a woman with whom I had never heard of.  It turned out to be a fascinating read about Marie Durand and learning about her life in which a large portion of it was spent in prison because of her faith in Jesus Christ.  This was a timely read as we seem to be moving towards greater persecution of Christians in America, it was a helpful reminder of how well we have it here in the USA.  It also was a reminder that the gates of hell will not defeat the church; Christianity will survive the persecution we may face.

 

This book traces out the days of Durand’s life and much of her family who were imprisoned because of their protestant faith, largely due to her brother’s preaching ministry.  The story is intermingled with beautiful  art rendering as well as photographs.  I found the photographs very helpful in understanding the context and historically neat aspect of the book.  I would recommend this book to anyone interested in women of the church, French church history, and young girls looking for examples of Godly women.

 

Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books

Year:2015

Binding: Sewn and Glued ?

Boards: Hardback

Pages: 64

Buy Here: $16.20

The One O’ Clock Miracle is written by Alsion Mitchell and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri.
THE GOOD
The message of this book is so great. I was really reminded of the power of Jesus’ words by this story and what great blessings come by faith in what Jesus speaks. The story is based on John 4:46-54 where the royal officials son is healed just by Jesus saying “Your son will live”. You think that Jesus must go and touch the boy and be with him to heal him yet just by the power of Christ’s word the boy is healed. This reminded me that although Christ is no longer present on earth the Holy Spirit gives us hears to hear the preaching of the word of Christ each weak as pastors preach faithfully the Bible. And through this we are healed spiritually and more than that brought to life from the dead and then nourished each week by the words of Christ. This is a helpful story to teach children to trust in Jesus’ words. The book also helpfully at the end explains that the miracles of Christ are like signpost pointing to Jesus showing us he is the Son of God the rescuer king.

This book is also a great size to read to children and the pictures are beautiful and fun and I believe your children will enjoy Catalina’s style

THE BAD

The book contains images of Jesus Christ. I believe it is very difficult to avoid this and to do well with an illustrated story that is about going to see Jesus and what he says. But if you believe like I do that the second commandment and good prudence would not allow for such images it really makes an otherwise good book unusable with your children. I was excited to read this with my oldest daughter who is now 3 but can’t because of this. The only publisher I know of who doesn’t have images of Christ is Christian Focus publishing. I would love to see some great artwork and great Christ centered children’s literature done without the images of Christ.

OVERALL

While the text of the story is great and the size and most of the pictures are awesome I cannot recommend this book because of what I believe is breaking of the 2nd commandment. I look forward to finding more books illustrated by Catalina that I could recommend, I really appreciate her style.

Artwork example

Author: Alison Mitchell
Illustrations: Catalina Echeverri
Publisher: The Good Book Co.
Imprint: Tales that tell the truth (childrens)
Year:2015
Boards: Hardback
Binding: Glue