Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review – Discovering Delight – 31 Meditations on Loving God’s Law by Glenda Mathes

In this book we have a helping hand in developing a love for and delight in God’s law. The book begins with a mediation on each of five law exalting poems, Psalms 1,19,37,40 and 112 which lead us in seeing that the origin of our delight is seeing the character of God in both creation and in God’s law.  This motivates us to want to know more. There are then 22 meditations on God’s law from the 22 stanzas of Psalm 119. The book closes with 2 promises from Old Testament Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah giving us clear pictures of what taking such delight will result in.  A meditation from Romans 7 then shows us that only in Christ are we enabled to love the law. The book closes with a celebratory meditation on Revelation 19.

Although this is a book about God’s law and by our old nature that law is abhorrent to us, Glenda Mathes does an excellent job of winning us over to delighting in the law in several of her meditations She does this not by clever tales or pretty language, but by a solid hermeneutic always drawing our attention to the scripture itself, the meaning of the text in the original languages, how genre affects our understanding of the text and by the analogy of scripture. One example of this is her mediation on Psalm 19 in chapter 2.

Psa 19:7-9 KJV  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.  (8)  The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  (9)  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

“Notice all the descriptors? The law of the Lord is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and righteous. It is the ultimate ideal. Note also the many present participles, “ing” verbs in this section. What is the law doing? It is converting the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, and enduring forever. Such action verb phrases vibrantly depict God’s law as living and active (see also Heb 4:12).”

Each chapter includes questions for reflection, helping the reader to make practical application.

This book will remain near my reading chair for help in frequent feasting upon and delighting in God’s law.

I received this resource for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Primer for the book "A New Apostolic Reformation"

Tim Challies today did a review of the less detailed book God's Super-Apostles by the same authors on the same subject as my previous post reviewing A New Apostolic Reformation. He provides more detail about the movement than my review does.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review – A New Apostolic Reformation: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement by R. Douglass Geivett and Holly Pivec

This book deserves a 5 star rating for the careful, thorough, fair and discerning presentation of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement. The authors make clear in the preface the 15 criteria they used in evaluating the movement to give it a fair and balanced treatment. Both the order of topics and the content reflect the conscientious use of the criteria. I particularly appreciated the authors taking time to define the movement giving an historical account of the developments in the movement since it started in the 1980s. Fairness is evident in the structure of the book, as the movement is carefully described first (6 chapters) before an evaluation is attempted. What follows the description is a biblical definition of Apostles, a comparison of NAR Apostles with the Bible’s Apostles then an evaluation of NAR Apostles against the Biblical definition. The same process is used for Prophets and for Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare. Each chapter is concluded with a very concise summary. Everything is well documented with footnotes, referring to published works and websites.

Another outstanding strength of this book are discussions in chapters 7, 12, 19 and Appendix A, which discuss Apostles, Prophets, miracles and the continuance of authoritative revelation. These chapters alone make a great resource for foundational knowledge needed by bible teachers who can expect questions about these topics to arise regularly in bible studies. This book added to my ability to discern truth from error.

I received this resource for free from Weaver Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Finshed - "Reading for Preaching" by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

I have to admit there was a bit of uneasiness alternating with sheer delight in reading this book. The uneasiness comes perhaps from my own bias. As the author says "My outlook contains all my own shortsightedness, bias, bigotry. To have a shot at integrity, empathy, and understanding I need good writers to disturb my biases, to lengthen and widen my worldview, to challenge my bigotries." The scriptures along with the work of the Holy Spirit, does this work of uprooting my bigotry better than anything else. My uneasiness was that any bias I have needs to find priority in the Word. I wish the author had said more about this and about the literary value of the Bible itself. But then again, his argument was meant to get us to read literature for better preaching and connection with our audience. And I think he has done that well.

I found very instructive his many illustrations of the human condition from literature. Ruth Moore (whom he did not mentioned) helped me realize what might be going on in a persons mind that explained odd behavior and maybe even excused it.

I remain unconvinced of the necessity of reading to do good preaching, but I am convinced it can help. 

Now off to read some of the books suggested on the Selected Reading List at the end of the book...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Followup to Bible Revival by Kenneth Berding

Since writing a review of "Bible Revival", the website mentioned ( is now complete! It leads you through a 12 week program that will not only qualify you as biblically literate, but will also train you to recite the storyline of the whole bible. Visit the website and view the free videos, music and other free resources.

The program is suitable to do as a family. A suggestion: use it as a ready-made Family Worship/Devotions. It is best for Junior High to Senior Adult, but can easily be adapted for younger children.

Book Review - Salt, Light and Cities on Hills: Evangelism, Social Action and The Church - How Do They Relate To Each Other by Melvin Tinker

In three parts to this new book Melvin Tinker covers well the tension that exists in many churches over the relationship between and priority of evangelism and social action. In Part 1 he reviews the different stances taken by evangelicals and offers some critique. In Part 2 he lays the exegetical groundwork to model the relationship between evangelism and social action. In Part 3 he details what this looks like in his ministry at St John Newland.

One strength of the book is the clear and methodical way he documents the tension historically and the way more recent church leaders (Tim Keller, John Stott, Michael Hill, Tim Chester, D. A. Carson) have attempted to express and resolve the tension. Although the setting for the discussion is clearly Great Britain, there is much that is true here is America as well. It is a book of substance addressing a contemporary issue with a long and familiar history.

The most helpful part of the book for me are Chapters 6 and 7 where the parallels between Isaiah 61 and the Sermon on the Mount are discussed as Tinker unpacks the pictures Jesus uses of his followers being like ‘salt’, ‘light’ and a ‘city on a hill’. Here he concludes that the co-ordination of evangelism and social action is modelled by the Sermon on the Mount and shaped by the motifs behind Isaiah 59-61.  First there is the heralding of the good news from the new city on the hill. Second, since being the ‘salt of the earth’ is a symbolic reference to maintaining the covenant, we are to engage in a prophetic ministry in all our social relations to be sure that the integrity of the covenant remains operative. We are to preach justice and all those attributes characteristic of God and his designs for our living. Thirdly, we are to be light – shining examples expressing the new life that we have found in the Kingdom.

The last chapter is a very practical chapter where Tinker gives concrete examples how he manages to keep the proper biblical character to his practice of evangelism and social action.

One point of frustration with the book is the failure to define what Tinker means by ‘The Reforming Evangelicals” and the “Radical Evangelicals” in chapter 3. I suppose those are well understood terms in the U.K., but not for this American reader.

I received this resource for free from EP Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.