15 September 2016

Book Review: A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised

Sadly, many of us don't know our Old Testament. Moreover, we don't know the typologies, prophecies and other numerous connections to the New Testament. We live in an odd age where we have much information at our fingertips and we often choose to ignore it. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised is a book not to be ignored.

This book walks the reader through the Old Testament offering an understanding many Evangelicals, many Christians, just don't have. It was penned for everyone from the layman to the pastor. Everyone can glean knowledge from this work. The authors are scholars and teachers, past and present, that know their subjects well. They have written in a clear, simple fashion, defining terms and footnoting heavily. Undoubtedly, this was written for the seasoned Christian and new believer alike.

Countless questions on the Old Testament are answered within these pages. If you don't realize many of these questions are issues perhaps you should begin reading BTIOT now.

How do we know these texts should be in the O.T. canon?
Who wrote these texts?
Which book is at the heart of the O.T.?
Why doesn't the book of Esther ever mention God?
What is the difference between Kings, Samuel and Chronicles? Are the differences important?
Why are there different genres within the O.T.?
Why should you read and study the most depressing book of the O.T., Lamentations?
What's the connection between Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles?

Yes each chapter contains book background, authorship info, key themes, excellent bibliography and extensive footnotes.

This one gets 5 out of 5 stars. Friends, it is time to start studying.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.
other numerous connections to the New Testament. We live in an odd age where we have much information at our fingertips and we often choose to ignore it.

14 June 2016

Five Ways to Improve Your Reading

How much do you get out of your reading? Perhaps you're one of the fortunate few you can read a book quickly and retain it. Most of us aren't like that. We toil over a book to learn and enjoy what we can but soon lose what we've read. Allow me to provide a few ideas to make your reading more profitable. Having trouble just getting started? Check out this link.

Read Slower
If you choose a work to read it must have some envisioned value to you. There's no need to rush through it. Take your time to read it. Slow down. Stop occasionally and ponder what you've just read and make note of it.

Take Notes
Many of us remember what we've seen, read or heard by writing it down. Read with a notebook at your side. Makes notes of the crucial passages you've just read. Write down what you want to take with you from the book. What you want to apply to yourself. I suggest a notebook or journal that you can shelve and refer back to repeatedly.

Write in the Margins
I know some of us are purists and don't like to write in our books. But a book is only a thing. It is the words on the page that are important, not it's pristine condition when we're through with it. Write in those margins! The next person who reads that book may profit from your marginalia.

Highlighting
Closely associated with the last suggestion I would add that highlighting makes it much easier to refer back to those portions that stand out to you. I often joke when I loan a book that all the important passages are already highlighted. So it is for yourself and the next reader, highlighting makes it much easier to go back and find that important passage the made you laugh, made you cry or simply something that you need to remember and apply to your life.

Review the Book When You're Done
Once you've finished reading, making notes and highlighting a book you've only completed the first step. Go back, review what you've read. Review your highlights and marginalia and your notes. Put it all together. Did you understand the thrust of the book? What exactly did you learn? How will you apply those ideas and suggestions from the author to your life and work.

Keep up with the latest on books, reading, book sales and more at the Reformed Book Cellar Facebook page. Join us!

07 June 2016

Kick Start Your Reading

Many of us can't find the time to read or have some kind of life issues that prevents us from reading. The kids are screaming, the boss is screaming, your neighbor asked for one more favor; I'm with you, I'm no different. I may even be worse than you. I love to read but it can be difficult to find the time and then enjoy it. Here's a few hints to get moving on that stack of books and periodicals on your bedside table.

Just Do It
Read whenever and wherever you can. I don't have much time, either, so most of my reading is done at work on my breaks. It also gives me something to look forward to after I gobble down my sandwich on my lunch break. Read in the car while you wait for a friend in the store, when you go for a walk take a break and sit for a few minutes and read. Even just fifteen minutes a day adds up.

Read Even If You Don't Like To
I know many who aren't fond of reading. I get it. Its just not their thing. But watching a movie or documentary on your favorite subject just won't do if that's your main source of information on a subject. Read a book or magazine devoted to that field, it will sink in and your knowledge base will increase.

Read Regularly
If you only have 20 minutes a day as I sometimes do on my lunch break, take advantage of the time and read and do it everyday. Twenty minutes before falling asleep - read. Thirty minutes before leaving for second shift - read. Soon you'll be looking forward to it.

Use Whatever Media Suits You
Some folks like the feel of that printed book in their hands. So do I. There's just something about it that can't be explained. Even the smell of an old book is enchanting. On the other hand, an iPhone, iPad or Kindle can serve the same purpose. There are advantages to both. A  printed book allows highlighting and its easier to move back and forth to different pages. Its also pretty cool to see that book on the bookshelf when I'm done. On the flipside, with my kindle I can quickly look up unfamiliar words in a dictionary, highlight special passages and have them grouped together for future reference,  jump between two or more books for studying reference works and much more. But whatever works for you, just use it.

Read With Purpose
Whatever you read, read with purpose. That may sound strange but it is valuable to keep that in mind. If you are you reading for enjoyment, then make it an enjoyable experience. Read in silence without distractions or read with your favorite music playing. Read at the park or in your favorite easy chair. Do what you must to get your head into it. Reading for knowledge? Keep a notebook with you and take notes. Whatever you read, read and absorb well enough to write a review of the book and then do it. Write a review for Amazon or Goodreads.

Keep up with the latest on new books, reading, book sales and more at the Reformed Book Cellar Facebook page. Join us! 

04 June 2016

Book Review: Spurgeon's Sorrows by Zach Eswine

I would wager that you know someone who is depressed, someone who is suffering sorrow, emotional pain. You may not even know who it is but you know someone I’m sure. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you’ve felt this pain for some time now or perhaps a recent tragedy has invaded your life and it hurts – more than you’ve ever hurt before. The famous preacher of years past, Charles Spurgeon, experienced this sorrow, this depression. How did he handle it?

Zach Eswine, author of Spurgeon’s Sorrows, has done the research and shares with his readers the approach to suffering in all its varying forms that Spurgeon undertook to ease his pain while remaining faithful to the Scriptures. It was certainly a difficult road for him as it is for you, me or anyone else today. But the passage of time has changed little in the methods we should employ. This book does not propose to answer all the questions sufferers may have, there is no quick fix. Yet it does offer wisdom from Spurgeon himself who not only suffered physically but with depression and spoke and wrote about it often and his story is interwoven throughout the book.

Eswine guides us methodically through the many aspects of suffering that a person may experience. Not comprehensively as no one is depressed in quite the same way another may be. Commonalities however do exist and Eswine, with his own engaging style, has plucked them out of Spurgeon’s writings and sermons.

Eswine has broken down this small volume into three parts. Part one is an overview of depression and the difficulties in understanding it. Here we read what how it can differ in degrees of intensity and longevity. The difference between sadness and depression and how they intersect. How it began and how it deeply affected Spurgeon and some of the causes. He concludes this section with how circumstantial and biological depression comes into play with spiritual depression.

Part two consists of some of the methods we may employ to comfort those who are suffering and also the necessity to avoid trite rebukes (Proverbs 25:20). Depression and suffering is varied and there is no one-size-fits-all-diagnosis or remedy. But God's grace allows many to press on under these trying circumstances. Lastly in chapter 8, we read that Jesus was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:4) and there is much we can learn from that.

Eswine offers some practical helps in part three. Writing down God's promises and carrying them with us to refer to in the darkness and remembering prayers such as from Psalm 103:13 can carry the sufferer through sometimes. Natural helps such as rest, food and medications (taking medicine is a wise act of faith, not of unfaith) are also covered in this section. Suicide, the desire to depart from this world as Elijah did, is discussed. Even Jesus was stricken with this desire as we read in Matthew 26:38. Yet we choose life. Finally, sorrow is exceedingly beneficial for with it we know more of God's grace.

Spurgeon’s Sorrows is for all of us for we know or someday will encounter someone who is down, sad, depressed. Perhaps it will be our self. We need to have the perspectives that are found within the pages of this book and know how to use them for our good and God's glory.

02 November 2015

Book Review: Packer on the Christian Life by Sam Storms

Packer on the Christian Life by Sam Storms is my book of the year (for whatever that is worth). I’ve read or perused many of Packer’s books but this book condenses much of what he’s written over his lifetime and includes some personal history that puts it all in perspective. Unless the reader has read everything Packer has written, this book will be a valuable and insightful tool. In clear concise fashion Storms lays out Packer’s thoughts and beliefs on many, if not all, areas of the Christian life. It behooves us all to read, learn and apply these teachings.

In a world full of books on how to live and enjoy the Christian life, this one stands out. Storms delves deeply into Packer’s writings on numerous subjects extensively. Topics include atonement, holiness, indwelling sin, Holy Spirit, prayer and the will of God to point out a few. Packer, like many of us, began his spiritual journey under false teaching. Through a lifetime of learning and then writing he has shared much with us to correct our own deficiencies. In this work Storms has admirably complied some of the best.

It’s difficult to be precise on what most benefited me. Perhaps the chapters on prayer, suffering, and theocentricity left me both struggling and joyful.  I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to scour the pages and glean the best from Packer. 

The “on the Christian Life” series from Crossway is simply marvelous. If you have not started reading any of these I would suggest doing so now. They are a fascinating look into the lives of many well-known Christians that have blazed the trail for us. Don’t miss the opportunity to gain the valuable knowledge they gained.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.   

11 July 2015

Just Be A Farmer

When I was a kid in church I was always hearing about this man who led 22 people to Christ. Or this other man who has led 34 people to Christ. I really didn't believe all that. The Holy Spirit does the work, not us. Secondly, there was always something that didn't sit well with me, even as a kid, when I heard that that so-and-so led that many people to Christ. Was it bragging or a sense of self-importance or self-righteousness? I don't know but I wasn't buying it.

Scripture calls us "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). That's true but I often see myself more as a farmer (Mark 4:1-20). One who plants the seed, is on his knees weeding or watering the plants. I have never "led someone to Christ" especially with the under-lying meaning of leading someone to saving faith. That's not my job. I'm just the mouth piece when the situation calls for it. More often than not, I see myself in daily conversations as planting seeds. Sometimes its just a word or a sentence said at the right moment.

All this is to say, don't feel defeated if you're evangelism scheme or witnessing prowess doesn't seem to be working. You & I may just be the first person to start the unbeliever thinking more deeply about his or her spiritual condition. We many never see the fruit of our labors and that's OK. Just keep going. Just use those tiny opportunities to plant the seeds. Just be a farmer.

04 July 2015

Christians and Tattoos?

Joe Thorn nails it!

18 June 2015

Book Review: Martin Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Trueman

There have been many books written about Martin Luther. Many good, some not, but this latest work by Carl Trueman, Martin Luther on the Christian Life, trumps almost all of them.  Luther, a man who was down to earth on many levels and an enigma on many others, is a man worth studying. At least to the degree where we as modern day Christians may have a more complete understanding of what he was striving for, his difficulties of getting there (if and where he did), how his thought progressed over his lifetime and the influence he has right up to today in Christianity. Not a perfect man but a man used by God to change the Christian world.

Not in the too distant past I had read everything available in written form and listened to virtually every sermon and lecture I could on the internet by Trueman. Now, a much sought after conference speaker that is a much more difficult task. Much of what I learned from him was about Luther. It was foundational knowledge for me and I often listened to some of these lectures numerous times. Trueman is a great speaker but listening to him was much more than enjoying a well-spoken lecturer. New doors on Reformation history, specifically on Luther, were opened for me for me that were previously closed. So when this book was first announced I was anxious to get my hands on it (devour it?).

In eight succinct chapters Trueman lays out Luther’s thought and specifically how it relates to the Christian life, not only in the 1500’s but more importantly today.  A brief biography is followed by the development of Luther’s theology. It is important to note that Luther’s thought changed over the years and much of what he wrote and is remembered of him is in the early years before his more full orbed theology blossomed. Though the early years were not unuseful, it does us well to educate ourselves more fully on the later years of his theology for that is where, not always but often, find the true heart of Luther’s theology.  That is where this work is illuminating.

Chapter titles:
1.Martin Luther’s Christian Life
2.Theologians, Priests and Kings
3.The Theology of the Word Preached
4.The Liturgy of the Christian Life
5.Living by the Word
6.Freed from Babylon: Baptism and the Mass
7.Luther and Christian Righteousness
8.Life and Death in This Earthly Realm: Government, Calling, and Family
Conclusion: Life as Tragedy, Life as Comedy

From the above chapter titles we see that all the bases are covered. As we know, no doctrine stands on its own. Every Christian doctrine hinges on others and it was no different for Luther as his life and thought progressed. This book dispels some of the false notions about Luther and reveals many others truths not widely known. Luther didn’t start out to create a revolution in the church, October 31, 1517 was not the start of the Reformation, and he had an incredible sense of humor and was very devoted to his family and his flock. Indeed, what started as what we call the Reformation today was Luther’s concern for his people rather than doctrinal purity. This book unpacks all of this and much more.

It is important to note that Trueman does not dabble in hagiography. Luther wasn’t perfect, far from it. Though Luther is a favorite of Trueman, he has no romantic notions of his character. Trueman brings out these errors, explains them, but makes no excuses for them.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It belongs in every church, pastors and layman’s library and deserves a thorough read and re-read. It’s a keeper.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page. 

25 May 2015

What's Happening in the PCA?

As the PCA GA 2015 is quickly approaching there are numerous blog posts concerning the "State of the PCA." Some of our well known PCA statesmen have weighed in on the matter. Below is a link to their posts. Read discerningly. These are important issues within the denomination that we should not, indeed cannot, take lightly.

The State of the PCA by Bryan Chappell.










Dear Bryan: Replying to the State of the PCA by Rick Phillips




 The State of the PCA by Benjamin Shaw


Qualifying "The State of the PCA" by Dewey Roberts

19 May 2015

New Nancy Guthrie Teaching Series

Check out the new audio teaching series from Nancy Guthrie and Crossway.

In Help Me Teach the Bible, Nancy Guthrie talks to some of the best Bible teachers and preachers of our day in hopes of equipping Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, youth leaders, children's leaders, men's and women's Bible study teachers—anyone who seeks to open up the Bible and teach—to rightly, effectively, and creatively teach through specific books of the Bible.

“In some cases I'm sitting down with people who have written books on the biblical book we're discussing,” Nancy says. “But more often I'm trying to catch excellent Bible teachers in the midst or just after they've finished teaching through a particular book, when their enthusiasm is high and the challenges as well as opportunities of that particular book are still fresh in their minds. That has made for some interesting and what I hope will be helpful discussions.”
- Collin Hansen

Watch the video


09 March 2015

Inerrancy Summit Videos

Wow! What a great line-up of speakers at the Shepherd's Conference last week end. Below is a just a few of the videos from this Inerrancy Summit. Dig in, absorb and be blessed.















Check here for more videos as they become available.


15 January 2015

A few new titles...

We've added a few new titles to the Academic page at the Reformed Book Cellar. Have a look and join us on our Facebook page. We'd love to have you. See you there.

29 December 2014

Scandalous Journalism

By this point many of you have read of the atrocious article in Newsweek, The Bible: So Misunderstood It's A Sin. It is nothing short of shoddy journalism that takes pot shots in an area where its author is grossly ignorant. Rather than refuting here, let me refer to you to two of the best refutations of this pathetic article. One from Al Mohler and the other from Dan Wallace. Both are insightful and fair.

28 December 2014

Book Review: Edwards On The Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God by Dane Ortlund

When I first started reading Edwards On The Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God I wondered what I got myself into. I wasn’t a big fan of Jonathan Edwards and was never really interested in the legacy of his theology. The further I read the more I understood what I was missing. Author Dane Ortlund unravels Edwards’ theology as he looks into how and why he saw the beauty of God. As we find out, Edwards should not be known only (maybe not at all?) for his fire and brimstone sermons. I found this to be a fascinating look into the life and teaching of Edwards and the foundation he has laid for us all. 
 

In thirteen brief but well worked chapters Ortlund fleshes out the Christian life theology of Edwards as found in the beauty of God. He notes that
 
 (T)the very first thing to be said about the Christian life is that for Edwards, beauty is what makes God God. “God is God, and distinguished from all other beings, and exalted above ’em, chiefly by his divine beauty.”  Not sovereignty, not wrath, not grace, not omniscience, not eternity, but beauty is what more than anything else defines God’s very divinity. Edwards clearly believed in these other truths about God and saw all of them as upholding and displaying and connected to God’s beauty. Yet none of them expresses who God is in the way that beauty does. Dane C. Ortlund. Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (Kindle Locations 319-324). Crossway.
 
We read that the beauty found in Christ is the central thrust of the book as we weave our way through all the chapters. The author covers a wide and necessary range of topics around this theme in Edwards’ theology. New birth, love, joy, gentleness, prayer and Satan are just a few of the chapter topics we find within these pages. All well researched and all well written.
 
Its worth noting that Ortlund does not have any hagiographic tendencies towards Edwards. The final chapter considers several of Edwards’s shortfalls, though, as the author reveals, they can be forgiven.
 
I enjoyed this book. I was reminded what the Christian life is all about and just how often I forget the truths Edwards spoke on so often. Compelling and engaging I would certainly recommend this work.
 
Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.   

09 December 2014

The Real Santa - Saint Nicolas

But if you have a lot of Santa Claus around, why not use him to your benefit and talk about the real St. Nicholas. We don’t know a lot about him, but we know he lived and was revered. ...So this Christmas, give gifts if you like. We will in our family. Receive them all with thanksgiving.  But do not forget what we need most–salvation through substitution. This is one gift the real St. Nicholas would not have overlooked. - Kevin DeYoung

Great post at TGC by Kevin DeYoung. He expresses my thoughts on the subject of Santa Claus with accuracy. Its a good read.

06 December 2014

Christmas Eve Service



Please join us on Christmas Eve for an Appetizer Hour at 6pm followed by our Christmas Eve Service at 7pm.   We look forward to celebrating with you!