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!

31 October 2014

A Great Day for this Lecture on Martin Luther

Trueman at his best...

Carl Trueman, "Martin Luther, Troubled Prophet." A Lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary.

25 October 2014

Is the church letting you down or are you letting the church down?

It has been often stated that the number one reason people leave the church is due to a feeling that the church failed to meet their needs. - Pastor Brian Moss

Pastor Brian Moss has an excellent post on why people leave a church. His reasons are often true and heart breaking. His second point strikes a chord with me:

There are so many people who join our churches but never invest in relationships. They simply attend services. They treat the church like an IN-N-OUT burger joint – get my food and get out quickly. But sooner or later life happens, and when their world starts coming apart they have no relational safety net. They suddenly expect “the pastor” to “be there for them,” like he’s a spiritual Aladdin. Just rub the lamp and *poof*, there he is! But that’s not even the biblical calling of pastors. According to Ephesians 4:12, pastors are called to equip the members to be the hands and feet of Jesus. God designed the church to be a community of connected Christians, not a collection of customers waiting to be served. We tell our people, “If you join this church, but never develop any friendships here, we promise we will let you down.”

Disconnected people disconnect.

Maybe we should all take some time to consider if we are the problem - are we letting our church down?

You can read the entire post here.