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.

Maturity: Growing Up and Going On in the Christian Life

By Sinclair Ferguson

Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – March, 2020

In ministering to the church, the Apostle Paul strove to develop Christians who grew in maturity in their walk with Christ. Every Christian wishes to develop in his/her relationship with God so that he/she might live spiritually healthy and profitable lives. Unfortunately, we all struggle with failure and the attending disillusionment.

In Maturity, Sinclair Ferguson guides the reader through a spiritual journey that encompasses various phases of the battle every believer faces.  He begins by relaying the importance and nature of Christian maturity. From there, the author reflects on the spiritual blessings that strengthen the believer as well as various difficulties that we face along the way. After encouraging the reader to press on to faithful service and patience, the author reflects on Psalm 131 as a helpful instruction toward spiritual maturity.

I recommend this well-written and easy-to-read work for those wishing to understand and grow in sanctification whose end is becoming mature in Christ.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1848718659/

All of Grace

by C.H. Spurgeon

Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – February, 2020

Few people can turn a phrase like Charles Spurgeon. In All of Grace, the so called Prince of Preachers not only offers nuggets of spiritual gold, but he also gives the reader marvelous insights into the subject of God’s grace. In less than 150 pages, he demonstrates that our salvation is truly all of grace by a loving God. He does this in a way that lifts the soul in gratitude to our sovereign Lord. While reading this book, one can find him/herself in total agreement with the author when he says, “It is glorious to be far out on the ocean of divine love, believing in God and steering straight for heaven by the direction of the Word of God.”

I highly recommend this book to those who have never come to the Savior as well as to those who have. It is a tonic that allows the soul to gaze upon the beauty of salvation in Christ by grace alone.

The Holy Spirit

by John Owen

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection–January, 2020

It has been noted that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is both sorely neglected in some Christian circles and terribly distorted in others. Therefore, I was greatly encouraged when I began reading the Banner of Truth edition of John Owen’s book, The Holy Spirit. Abridged and put in modern English, this work is a pleasure to read. While it is theologically deep, it is also spiritually encouraging. I specifically recommend it to those who would like to know more about the Holy Spirit but are hesitant to delve into heavy works of theology. By writing in a very pastoral style, Owen expounds on the nature and operation of the Spirit in a way that warms the heart as well as challenges the mind. Having read a number of works by this author, I would say that The Holy Spirit is one of his finest. Read this book to develop a greater appreciation for the third person of the Trinity and the gracious work of sanctification He promises to do in every believer.

Statesman and Saint: The Principled Politics of William Wilberforce

by David J. Vaughan

Pastor’s Monthly Book Suggestion – December, 2019

Many people recognize the name of the English statesman William Wilberforce in connection with the abolition of the English slave trade. In his book Statesman and Saint, David Vaughan does more than cover facts and dates of the life of this political giant. Vaughan delves into the deep and abiding faith which sustained Wilberforce throughout a political career that was filled with great struggle and courage. Not only did Wilberforce relentlessly work to end the slave trade in the British empire, but he persevered another 25 years until slavery was completely abolished within the realm. Beyond his work to end slavery, this committed Christian desired to see all of English society reformed through what he called the “reformation of manners.” By this term he did not mean to imply that society could benefit merely from polite outward conduct, but that all of life must be guided by true faith that is lived out in a spirit of humility. Wilberforce not only attempted to conduct his own affairs in this manner, but he believed that laws that would nurture such a society should be passed and enforced. Whether or not one agrees with all of Wilberforce’s ideas, his life stands as a monument to the things God can accomplish through those who wish to see His glory manifested in this world. I highly recommend this book for your own personal enjoyment or as a gift this Christmas for others you might know.

https://www.amazon.com/Statesman-Saint-Principled-Politics-Wilberforce/dp/1620453924/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=statesmen+and+saint%3A+the+principled+politics+of+William+Wilberforce&qid=1575411064&sr=8-1-fkmr0

WPE