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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

Honest Evangelism is written by Rico Tice; Evangelist at All Souls Langham Place in London. It is coauthored by Carl Laferton. This is as the title suggest another book on evangelism. While not exhaustive on the subject it is another helpful resource for teaching and encouraging the church to be faithful in her duty. It also if up to date with current culture trends and some challenges we face today with sharing the Gospel with others. While we have always had sinners in need of a savior there may be some added obstacles we will face in today’s world where the author is helpful in thinking through.

The book is eight chapter long. The first three chapters set up what we need to know about the risk and rewards of sharing the gospel as well as reason why we do not evangelize. A helpful and recurring idea throughout is that of crossing the pain line. When we share the gospel it may be awkward or embarrassing or any number of uncomfortable things for us, but this is the pain line that needs to be crossed to see souls saved for eternity. If we truly believe in heaven and hell and what God has done for the world through Christ Jesus we out of love for neighbor must share the gospel. Chapters four through eight are very practical chapters dealing with what to remember as truths to motivate, what to say, how to act, and practical ways of getting started or continuing in evangelism. The book is a great biblicaly faithful work that should be an encouragement to all who read it.

THE GOOD

The style of the book is very easy to read. I found myself laughing, sympathizing, and imagining the situations as if I were there. The book is also very concise with just over 100 pages of text. This makes the book especially useful to those who are not big readers or to maybe read through together with another without being consumed by a larger work.

The material of the book is faithful to the scriptures. The author presents a clear presentation of the gospel and helps us to see several faithful ways to share this with others.

The book has a very helpful practical aspect as well. You will learn what truths are foundational to you in evangelizing. You will be encouraged to think about your personality and where God has placed you as things to be used helpfully in sharing your faith. No one else can be you faithfully serving God. He has placed you where you are around the people you are around for a purpose and not by accident. The author shows we are to be faithful witnesses where we are and who we are. God has given the church very different people but we are all one body and it is freeing knowing that you don’t have to change who you are to share your faith. The author also encourages doing one to one bible reading with others as a way to evangelize and gives very helpful tips on this. I believe this would be helpful for Christians discipling and evangelizing.

THE BAD (but not really)

There are so many books on evangelism that this one may just get lost in the mix and it isn’t stand out unique in a way were I would feel out of all the books on evangelism this one has to be on your must read list. That is not to say that this book is unhelpful or unbiblical, on the contrary it is both helpful and biblical. I think positively whatever readership it does reach will be benefited by it, but if they get a hold of other faithful works on evangelism they won’t be missing a lot with not reading this.

The book contains no footnotes or endnotes. I don’t understand how you can quote people and give no source of the quote. Nothing is lost in the content of the book due to this but would have been helpful to know for instance where a quote from Calvin came from.

OVERALL

Overall I would give the book 5/5 stars and would be one of the first books I would recommend new believers read on evangelism or those who haven’t thought much on it. It is a short accessible work that will definitely get you going in the right direction of thinking. It also is an encouraging work for one who has not shared the Gospel in some time to start again. I would say read this book, pray that God would give you opportunities to evangelize, and go start.

Title: Honest Evangelism: How to talk about Jesus even when it’s tough
Author(s): Rico Tice, Carl Laferton, Forward by D.A. Carson
Publisher: The Good Book Co.
Year: 2015
Pages: 105
Boards: Paperback
Binding: Glue
Indices: none
Recommended resources: yes
footnotes or Endnotes: none

The Resurrection In Your Life: How the Living Christ Changes you World by Mike McKinley

This book about the resurrection is work that will show you the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and work out many practical applications of the historical fact for Christian living. The book substance is a number of edited sermons that are expositions of a passage in Luke and a passage in Acts. This book is not an apologetic for the historicity of the resurrection or a general apologetic for the Christian faith, rather the truth of the resurrection is assumed and the importance of it in the believers life is the point of the book. Understanding that it is more of a devotional book and what not to expect you will enjoy this read in getting an idea of how to answer “now that I believe in the resurrection why is it important to me.

STRENGTHS
One of the best things about this book is that it helps you to think through the importance of the resurrection in your life. What does the resurrection have to do with how I live my life day by day is something this book will help answer. Many times Christians spend a lot of effort on showing that the resurrection of Jesus Christ took place that they forget to dwell on what spiritual significance it has, this work helps remedy that.
The book is not a long book and is very readable. This makes this book helpful as an intro level book on the doctrine of the resurrection. Because the book is based on sermons it has a very pastoral tone to it and as you read you can imagine it being preached and it makes it easy to follow along with each point especially since these are faithful expositions of the passages, not technical commentary on the passages.

The book also has questions for reflection and a hymn at the end of each chapter which I imagine could be used for private study or also in a group setting. I found this a nice feature of the book.
On a side note the book cover is really sleek and I loved the design. I just want to know what the two green circles are representing.

WEAKNESSES
I don’t know that I can pinpoint exactly why or maybe it is just me but while I thought the book was good and found much of It helpful I didn’t feel like it was a great book. I didn’t finish this book thinking man I need to pass this one on to a friend and I hope it gets a wide reading. This is not to say it isn’t worth picking up because it definitely fills a void of a good intro into the meaning and importance of the resurrection.

Another weakness is because of the fact that it is based on sermons where Pastor Mike rightly exposits the text and not just doing a topical study on resurrection some parts of the book may feel disconnected from the theme of resurrection. Also while not a critique of the substance of the book, because of length and sermon style you don’t get a systematic study of the doctrine of the resurrection. I would of like to see something on what it means that Christ was raised for our justification. Also would love to have seen something on 1 Corinthians 15 but I completely understand why this was not given but none the less the book provides a solid footing in the doctrine.

SUMMARRY
If you want to better understand what the scriptures teach about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and why it is important to you then this is a great book to pick up. I wish more books would be published dealing with the importance of doctrine versus just the defense of a certain doctrine. Pastor Mike has done a fine job with this and I imagine those who sat under these sermons where helped mightily.

Year: 2015
Publisher: The Good Book Company
Boards: Paperback
Binding: Glue
Pages:143
Footnotes or Endnotes: NA
Indexes: none
Buy Here: Wtsbooks $13.49

Richard M. Hannula adds a nice little work to the “Bitesize Biographies” series published by evangelical press books edited by Michael Haykin. His biography on Samuel Rutherford is the first thing I have read on Rutherford and was a simple and interesting introduction.  It is a widely accessible biography of the 17th century Scotish Presbyterian minister at a beginner level.

 

The Good:

 

This book is short and readable for those who want to learn more about great men of the church yet don’t want to know every last detail.  Coming in at 138 pages it is not a huge commitment.   In the short work though one will gain a greater appreciation for Rutherford and His life and ministry and how that fits into British church history.

I for one was most impressed with his commitment to a small rural church.  He was essentially forced away from it into what others would considered more prestigious positions in the universities.  He was dogmatic about serving the people where God had placed him and would spend long hours walking to visit with the flock God had placed under his leadership where they were often in the fields working.  It is quite admirable the visitation he did and the dedication he had to these people.

We learn of Rutherford’s suffering through death in family and also through political persecution.  Much of what he went through and the lessons learned are so applicable to 21st century Americans.  He lived a life that had its ups and downs but he persevered and died with his hope in Christ alone.

The most interesting chapter to me was on his role at the Westminster assembly.  For those interested in the confession you will enjoy the chapter.  It also was the chapter that most clearly showed Rutherford’s theological distinctives.

Another good part about the book is that while it is overwhelmingly in praise of Rutherford he does mention a couple places where Rutherford was not perfect showing he was a real man and a man of his time.  He mentions the possibility that Rutherford’s first wife was pregnant before they were married (p.24) and also how Rutherford occasionally corresponded  the cause of the Covenanter army with the cause of Christ. (p.110). This is helpful to not present and unrealistic portrait of a man.

 

The Bad

 

I would have loved to see some footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography.  Rutherford and others are quoted widely throughout without any noting where the quotes come from.  For one wanting to study further it will make this book not helpful in that regard.  There is an appendix with recommended further reading but no sources given for where the material in book came from.  Having not read many short biographies like this I am unsure if this is commonplace or not, but I would hope not.  There is also no note of where the picture on front cover comes from which I would be interested to know what where it is.

As it is a “bitesize Biography” I understand that not everything can be included but I do wish that more of Rutherford’s theology and how he got there was included because that seems helpful in understanding the positions he took and life he lived.

Also not really bad but unless familiar with Scottish Presbyterian lingo you will need to look up several words along the way.  For instance many Americans may not have a clue what a Kirk is.  I believe Kirk is just the Scottish way of saying church.

If interested in the man, the time, or Westminster divines or related subjects you will enjoy this short read.

Samuel Rutherford: by Richard M. Hannula in Bitesize Biographies series

Edited by Michael Haykin

Publisher: EP (evangelical press)

Year: 2014

Boards: Paperback

Binding: glue

Pages: 140

Index: none

Recommended Reading : Yes

 

 

My two and half year old daughter quite enjoyed this book so based upon that I would give it 5 stars but as a father I need to be more discerning that just whatever my children enjoy. I have a 2 year and a 4 month old daughters so I am on the look for solid christian books especially for very young at this time. This book would definitely be suitable for 2-3 year olds to have read to them. I was very excited to see that the good book co. was starting a childrens book line and look forward to seeing what else they come out with. So here are my thoughts on “Alby’s Amazing Book” by Catalina Echeverri.

The good:

The illustrations are great, very colorful and great for the kids but also have a lot of details to be appreciated by all. They include text of the scripture in the pictures which are the bible story shown in the picture which was a neat aspect. I much enjoyed the illustrations as well as my daughter. Also I was pleased that there were no images of Jesus Christ.  I am not sure if this will continue with the Good book Co. children’s literature but it was nice for one who believes 2nd commandment doesn’t allow for images of Christ.

The book shows the importance of the scriptures and that it is not just a boring book, but full of great stories of God working in this world. This hopefully will encourage children to want to read the bible more with their parents and long to learn those stories.

The text is short and and easily keeps the attention of very young children.  There are not a lot of good christian books that are aimed at children 2 and under like this so it is much needed.

Concerns:

The book implies that the bible is a love letter to an individual in this case Alby.  While the bible speaks to individuals and their needs, it should be read looking for Christ and what God has done for us through Him primarily and as a book for the church.  This is somewhat nit picking because the book does show importance of scripture which is admirable, but Good Book Co. could improve as they produce more.

The text on some pages was very difficult to read because it is so small and the color of text blended into the illustration.  This made it difficult to read to my daughter and show her pictures at same time.

While the illustrations were great the picture of Adam and Eve was one like I had not seen before.  While the image was not unbilical it might have benefited from increased leafs.

 

Keep and eye on Good Book Co. childrens imprint and hopefully we will more great illustrations from  Catalina Echeverri.

 

 

This book was provided from the publisher in exchange for review which was not required to be positive.

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