Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name

Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name

By: Bryan Chapell

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – April, 2019

              Most Christians struggle with prayer. They’ve read the prayers in the Bible, they know that it’s good and right to pray, but they wrestle with a roller coaster prayer life. In their worst moments, they might even wonder whether prayer actually accomplishes anything.

              Bryan Chapell has written a helpful book for those of us who desire to draw closer to God through this means of grace. It is common in Christian circles to end our prayers with the words “in Jesus’ name.” Chapell challenges this traditional wisdom by encouraging the reader to understand exactly what is meant by that phrase and then by asking us to begin our prayers with it rather than to tack it on at the end. In this way, we are able to submit our prayers to the purposes and will of God rather than expecting God to fulfill our wishes simply because we added the words “in Jesus’ name.”

              After laying this important foundation, Chapell delves into the topics of how we are to pray the way Jesus prayed as well as what it means to pray without doubting, to pray in the Spirit, to be bold, expectant, and persistent in prayer, and to pray according to God’s wisdom.

              Chapell also reminds the reader that all three persons of the Godhead are active in our prayers. Since the Spirit moves us to pray, and the Son intercedes for us, our prayers become conformed to God’s will, and our desires are aligned with God’s purposes. In this way, we begin to seek those things God places in our hearts, and we can expect that we will receive what we request.

           I recommend this work to those wishing to strengthen their prayer life and draw closer to God through it.

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World

By: Eric Metaxas

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection–March, 2019

Eric Metaxas has given us a well-written biography of Martin Luther that avoids many of the misconceptions and legends that have grown up around the man. While neither slandering Luther’s character or painting a picture of a herculean figure, Metaxas has created a work that is balanced, informative, and enjoyable.

This well-researched study draws from recently discovered information that keeps the interest of those who’ve already read previous biographies of Luther. The political and ecclesiastical climate of the day is well-represented so as to clearly demonstrate the need for a reformation within the western church.  The author paints a refreshing portrait of Luther as a thoughtful scholar who is initially timid and respectful of authority but who becomes bold as he grows in his understanding of the God of Scripture. Nevertheless, Luther was no fire-eating reactionary, but a man truly concerned for the souls of his people and the honor of Jesus Christ.

Looking back at the Reformation from the year 2019, it is easy to forget the cost involved for men like Martin Luther. Metaxas reminds the reader that the stand this priest took for the gospel was life-threatening. He was in danger from the papacy, unpopular with many of the secular authorities, and often at odds with his fellow reformers who wanted to take a more radical approach to the situation. For better or worse, the Protestant Reformation changed the political landscape and paved the way for greater individual freedom in the west. Even more important, this movement unleashed the gospel, thereby freeing people from the bondage of ecclesiastical superstitions so that they might embrace the grace of Christ through faith. Although this is a rather lengthy work, I would recommend it to anyone wishing to see the providence of God at work through one of the most momentous events in history.

Indwelling Sin in Believers

Indwelling Sin in Believers

By: John Owen

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – February, 2019

Banner of Truth Trust has hit another home run with the publication of an abridged and modernized version of Indwelling Sin in Believers. The title might seem somewhat unappealing, but I have found Owen’s thought-provoking treatise to be a refreshment to my soul.

Not only does the author speak to the experience of every believer in his/her battle against sin, but he does so in a manner that gives us confidence in the grace of Christ, brings comfort to our hearts, and causes us to rejoice in our relationship with our all-sufficient God. As I read Owen’s material, I found myself enlightened by his insights regarding the inner working of sin and encouraged to draw nearer to God in sweet communion.

I recommend this book to the congregation of Grace & Peace Presbyterian Church as a companion to our current series through Galatians or simply as a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul.

https://www.heritagebooks.org/products/Indwelling-Sin-in-Believers.html

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

By: Greg Gilbert

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – January, 2019

What Is the Gospel? (9Marks)One of the great disappointments in the ministry of the apostle Paul was the abandonment of the gospel by the Galatian churches. Throughout that New Testament letter, Paul agonized over the ignorance and distortion of the most basic aspects of what it means to be accepted by God.

Every age has had to struggle with a similar problem, and ours is no different. Since there is nothing more important to any human being than the good news of our salvation, it is essential that all Christians have a firm grasp of what we have been given through Jesus Christ. Thankfully, Greg Gilbert has written a short, but thorough book that explains the gospel and enables the Christian to recognize distortions and clearly share the truth with others. I highly recommend this work to refresh our understanding and appreciation of the good news we have in Christ.

 

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A Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospel

A Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospel

By: Steve Brown

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – December, 2018

I wanted to recommend A Scandalous Freedom as a companion to our current sermon series through Galatians. It speaks loudly to those who A Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospeloften feel overwhelmed with a sense of guilt, trying desperately to relieve their conscience by doing more work to please God. Although the author writes in a very humorous manner, his subject matter is serious. Knowing that personal scruples can turn the Christian life into a prison, the author invites his readers to experience the freedom for which we are redeemed in Christ. For some, liberty from rules and regulations might seem dangerous, but Brown points out that it is only by learning to live free that we can truly enjoy our God and delight in His marvelous grace.  I have found this book helpful in my own life, and I recommend it to anyone wishing to experience the joy of the Lord.

 

 

 

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Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat by James D. Bratt

Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat

By: James D. Bratt

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – November, 2018

 

Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat (Library of Religious Biography (LRB))By any standard, Abraham Kuyper was a giant of the Reformed faith and the national life of Holland during the second half of the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries. Like most of Europe, the Dutch society into which Abraham Kuyper was born had been greatly affected by the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Seeing these as destructive influences on both church and state, Kuyper sought to implement a Calvinistic worldview that would stand against a purely humanistic philosophy.

As a man of great intellect, organizational leadership, and remarkable energy, Kuyper brought his numerous abilities to bear as a pastor, theologian, author, editor, and politician. During his lifetime, he helped to merge two Reformed denominations as a bulwark against liberalism in the church. He also stood for political office, rising to the position of Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and he founded the Free University of Amsterdam.

In this book, James Bratt does an excellent job of tying together the many periods and influences of Kuyper’s life and work. In doing so, he avoids both glamorizing and demonizing Kuyper. Bratt gives us a picture of a man of his time whose ideas and decisions might seem misguided to many living in the 21st century. Yet, he was a person who also understood the damage of a godless philosophy to both church and state, and he was willing to use his talents to turn the tide for the glory of God.

Although this work does become weighty at times, I recommend it for its historic content and also as an aid in understanding the continuing debate of the place of the Church in the life of the nation in which it exists.

 

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