Gentle and Lowly

by Dane C. Ortlund

Pastor’s Monthly Book Suggestion – September, 2020

If there has ever been a book I am thoroughly excited about suggesting to the congregation it is Gentle and Lowly, by Dane Ortlund. Gathering insights from various Puritans, Reformers, and preachers Ortland digs deeply into Scripture to uncover the heart of God in the heart of Christ for God’s people. This magnificent treatment of God’s kindness and compassion toward us refreshes the soul. Once I began reading this book, I didn’t want to put it down.

If you have struggled with truly believing that Christ is for you, even when you have committed that sin again, then read this book. If you intellectually believe that God loves you, but find it difficult to understand what that means, then read this book. If you have ever worried that maybe Jesus is simply fed up with your many failures, read this book. If you simply want to take a fresh look at your Savior that will make you smile, then read this book.

While the entire work presents the marvelous love of God toward us, I especially appreciated the way the author uncovers the heart of Jesus in His works of compassion throughout the four Gospels. I wholeheartedly recommend this east-to-read, but deeply satisfying volume to every person in our church family.

Coronavirus And Christ

by John Piper

Pastor’s Monthly Book Suggestion – August, 2020

Early on in the advance of the Coronavirus, John Piper wrote a very short book that basically answers the question, “Where is God in this pandemic?” Although there is nothing new or earth shaking (IMO) in the way Piper responds to that inquiry, this work is a helpful reminder of who God is and how He uses tragedy in the lives of His people. While Piper’s specific intent was to speak into the situation surrounding COVID-19, his biblical insights are helpful when facing any catastrophic event. Therefore, I would recommend this brief volume as an encouragement, not only in the difficulties regarding the Coronavirus, but in light of the many trials we often face.

Church History in Plain Language

By: Bruce L. Shelley

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – July, 2020

The history of the Church is nothing less than the continuing story of God’s work of redemption in the world. It is filled with interesting characters, powerful movements of the Holy Spirit, and events that can stir the soul. In this one-volume work, Bruce Shelley tells the history of Christianity in a manner that is captivating and enjoyable.

It is my firm belief that the lack of theological understanding by many Christians today can be somewhat attributed to an insufficient knowledge of Church history. Beyond knowing something about the Apostles’ Creed and hearing a few quotes by Augustine, most Protestants know nothing of the Church before Luther. In fact, it might even be fair to say that most know little about Luther and less of Calvin as well. In other words, we suffer from a spiritual malnutrition regarding God’s work in the Church. Consequently, we have little appreciation for the theology of the Bible even though we claim to believe its teaching.

Therefore, I am recommending this easy-to-read volume for anyone who wishes to understand that our Faith is much more than just “me and my Bible.” As Christians, we belong to a people called out of the world by Jesus Christ. We are part of His kingdom as it presses forward into this world. And we would do well to know of our spiritual ancestry so that we might learn from it, and appreciate the work of Christ in this age.

On a final note, please don’t let the fact that this is a history book scare you. Shelley writes so that his work reads like a story and captures your imagination. May you read and appreciate the activity of God through His Church. As Christians, this is a work of which you are all a part.

Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian

By: Danny Olinger

Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – June, 2020

As a pioneer in the field of Biblical Theology, Geerhardus Vos was one of the most significant theologians in the reformed world during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This biography by Danny Olinger gives insight into the personal life of Vos and adds clarity to some of his powerful, yet intellectually challenging theological ideas. Throughout his life, Vos worked with and influenced men such as Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck in the Netherlands as well as B. B. Warfield and J. Gresham Machen in the USA. Having begun his work in a traditionally Dutch church in America, Vos later joined the faculty of Princeton Seminary and the Presbyterian Church USA. During his time as a professor at Princeton, Vos stood solidly against the tide of liberalism as it developed within his new denomination and took root at the seminary as well. 

Much of the Christological and redemptive-historical study of Scripture that has been a buttress of orthodoxy against theological liberalism owes its existence to the tireless work of Geerhardus Vos. Nevertheless, as the author demonstrates, Vos’s labor for the cause of Christ was far from appreciated by his opponents. One of the most striking examples of this was in the fact that, although Geerhardus was one of Princeton’s longest serving professors, not one faculty member from that seminary bothered to attend his funeral.

Although I enjoyed reading the biography of this humble and dedicated soldier of Christ, I recommend it with this caveat – to appreciate the earlier years of Vos’s life, it helps to know a little about the history of the church in Holland in the 19th century. Additionally, although the theological concepts described by Olinger are very important and necessary to understand the significance of this theologian, the reader, who might be unfamiliar with Vos, will need to slow down and think about them in order to fully appreciate what he was teaching. Therefore, I recommend this book to those who are already familiar with Vos and the historical setting of his life as well as to those who are willing to put forth the effort of doing a little research as they read.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World

by: Michael Horton

Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – May, 2020

We find ourselves now living in very unordinary times. Due to being locked-down because of COVID-19 and unable to carry on our normal routines, we are faced with wondering how we can reach the world and minister to others in meaningful ways. Perhaps the circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus is an opportunity for Christians to reflect on our view of ministry in general.

Many of us have been connected with churches and para-church organizations throughout our spiritual journeys that have given the impression that a true Christian walk is one filled with radical and adventurous ministry. In light of that all-too-prevalent mentality, Michael Horton’s book Ordinary might be just what many of us need to read in these times.

The author lets us see that normal Christianity isn’t a quest for an exceptional life or mountain top ministry. In fact, a lack of these things isn’t an indication that one’s walk with God is anemic. Rather, biblical Christianity is one where ordinary participation in the means of grace (i.e. word and sacrament) is actually God’s normal method of growing our lives, reaching those around us, and even impacting our world. Horton makes a good argument that the ordinary practice of the Christian faith is the only sustainable way to serve the Lord.

If you haven’t read this work before, this is a time to do so and to rejoice that even a virus cannot stop us from seeking our God, loving our neighbor, and looking to the future of what God is accomplishing through the ordinary. Although, as one brother pointed out, I struggled with some of Horton’s illustrations, the premise of the book hits the mark and makes it well worth the read.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World

https://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-Sustainable-Faith-Radical-Restless/dp/B00XNP47TE/ref=sr_1_1?crid=37CO1YDJQZJR1&dchild=1&keywords=ordinary+sustainable+faith+in+a+radical%2C+restless+world&qid=1588770929&sprefix=ordinary%3A+Sustain%2Caps%2C188&sr=8-1

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

by Jeremiah Burroughs

Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – April, 2020

Even though Scripture clearly teaches that we will have tribulation in this life, troubles often catch us off guard. We are surprised when those words of Jesus come true. An expectation that life should somehow be an easy path leads us into discontentment. We grumble and murmur as if life is not fair. Of course, this only takes us further along the road of disappointment.

In The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment Jeremiah Burroughs points us back to Christ, who brings peace to the soul, and satisfies our deepest longings when nothing else can. Much like today when we are struggling to make sense out of a virus that silently stalks many, when earthly leaders seem almost powerless to help, Burroughs lived during days that he described as “sad and sinking times”. Yet he makes the case that, through troubles and sorrows, the people of God need not complain, but can find comfort and contentment in the God whose mercies abound even in dark circumstances.

I recommend this book as a relief to worried minds during these times of testing.

WPE