Pastor’s Yearly Book Suggestion – June, 2024

Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who they were and why you should care, by C. John Collins

One of the larger questions that has raised its head in Christian circles today is whether Adam and Eve were actual historical figures. This is not a benign discussion among theologians with no importance to our understanding of the gospel. If we are to take the Apostle Paul’s teaching that Jesus is the second Adam seriously (Romans 5:12ff), the Church needs to be able to defend the biblical teaching on the origin and fall of humanity as found in Genesis 1-11. In his work, “Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?” Professor C. John Collins (Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary) does a thorough job of examining how various scholars throughout the centuries have attempted to answer that question. Throughout the text the author never compromises on the authority, veracity, and historic reality of creation, human origin, and the fall as described in Scripture, but neither does he shy away from questions of posed by science and academic study.

I came across this book while teaching a mid-week study on the first 11 chapters of Genesis, and was encouraged by Collins’ belief that “ the traditional understanding of Adam and Eve as our first parents who brought sin into human experience is worthy of our confidence and adherence.” It is that traditional viewpoint that connects the entire history of redemption, making sense of the world in which we live and the coming of Christ as our Savior.

As always in a work of this nature, there are things the reader may find questionable. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book for anyone wishing to understand more fully the current debate on Adam and Eve and the reason why the traditional viewpoint is still worth embracing. This is not light reading, but I found it both intellectually beneficial and spiritually rewarding.​

Pastor’s June Book Selection

Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi

After a hiatus from doing book reviews, I am happy to suggest “Fire Road” as a possible read on your summer vacation. Having recently listened to an interview with the author, I was moved to purchase her memoir. Kim Phuc was a happy 9 year old girl, living in a relatively safe part of South Vietnam even though war continued to rage throughout the country. Her life was changed dramatically on June 8, 1972, when South Vietnamese troops dropped napalm on her village to stem the flow of communist forces. The tragedy that entered her life was captured in a Pulitzer prize-winning photograph, showing her running naked and burning down Highway Route 1 along with her brothers.

What that picture could not depict would be the years of pain, emotional suffering, manipulation by a victorious communist government, and the anger and bitterness that consumed her. Her biography tells the story of how Jesus Christ entered into her life, brought peace into her heart, and put her on a road of forgiveness, healing, and sanctification. I highly recommend this book as one that encourages faith and demonstrates the hope of the Lord even in the most trying of circumstances. Read this work, it will be a blessing to your soul.

Pastor’s January Book Selection

Augustine on the Christian Life by Gerald Bray

Throughout the years I have recommended a number of works by or about Saint Augustine. “Augustine on the Christian life” is one volume in a series of works about various Christians throughout the ages. If you’ve never read a biography about Augustine or his famous “Confessions”, this is a work that not only offers an overview of his life, but discusses his ministry as a teacher, pastor, and his significance for us today.

When I first began reading, I wasn’t impressed because much of the material was covered elsewhere in greater detail. However, the section on Augustine as a teacher, which is a synopsis of some of his most important ideas, and the chapter on Augustine as a pastor made the book well worth the read. Therefore, I would recommend Bray’s work for those who are not familiar with the life of this important figure, as well as those who would like to become more familiar with his theology and pastoral ministry without trying to wade through an entire volume of his own writings.

Pastor’s December Book Selection

Trusting God by Jerry Bridges

Difficulties, especially those that are unexpected or inexplicable, can leave us questioning God and even doubting his care for us. “Trusting God” is a work that is meant to glorify God by offering a thorough explanation of his sovereignty and goodness, while encouraging Christians from Scripture that God is in control of their lives, that he loves them, and that he does indeed work all things for their ultimate good.

In a caring and pastoral way, the author tackles some of the more perplexing questions we may have when facing various trials. He does not shy away from wrestling with why a good God would allow suffering in our lives or what the point is in praying if God is truly sovereign. His discussion of Divine Providence acts as a great encouragement to trust the Lord even when his purposes do not seem immediately clear to us.

Jerry Bridges has written a work that will challenge the more theologically minded reader, but also bring hope and comfort to those who are struggling with God’s frowning providence as it unfolds in their personal experiences. I highly recommend this book as a help in drawing close to God whose loving control of all things is a reassuring comfort when things so often seem out of control.

Pastor’s November Book Selection

One Holy Passion: The Consuming Thirst to Know God by R. C. Sproul

Over the years as a Christian and a pastor, I have come to the conclusion that the greatest remedy for the feelings of depression and despair, for our worries, for the habitual sins that simply seem to hang on to us, and for many of the other spiritual and emotional afflictions that weigh us down is … to dwell upon, and develop a passion, for the incomprehensible God of Scripture. While such an undertaking may seem paradoxical R.C. Sproul helps us to do just that in his marvelous book, “One Holy Passion”.
Beginning with his own thirst to know God, he takes the reader on a journey through the attributes of God that force us to think deeply about our Maker. The author encourages us

  • to consider those aspects of God that set him apart from all other creatures
  • to understand that this God has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ
  • to know that he loves us,
  • to recognize that he has redeemed us as his own. Contemplating these ideas will help us to grow in a holy passion that lifts our souls and inspires us to pursue our Father above all else.

I cannot suggest a work on the attributes of God more than “One Holy Passion”. I encourage us all to read this book so as to develop a consuming thirst to know God.

Pastor’s October Book Selection

Hide Or Seek: When Men Get Real With God About Sex by John Freeman

In today’s world, and in the Church, sexual struggles are too often kept in the closet by people wanting to be set free, but terrified about opening up to others. Consequently, they live in the shadows, vainly trying to shed the guilt and shame of their battles, while growing more and more hopeless as time wears on. John Freeman, founder and director of Harvest Ministries, has provided a great resource for this problem. Drawing from real-life accounts, and years of experience the author describes, analyzes, and offers hope to men caught in the relentless cycle of sin, shame, repentance, and further sin. Freeman does not simply offer shallow self-help techniques that never seem to work, rather, he walks with the reader through the lonely and debilitating helplessness that accompanies habitual sexual sin. Shining the light of the gospel into the darkness of despair “Hide or Seek” lets the reader see Jesus standing with him in the midst of his sin, pain, and confusion. If you are one that struggles with pornography or other unhealthy sexual practices, this book will give you confidence that God is able and willing to change your heart, that he has provided the means to do so, and that (as it says in chapter 9) he will lead you out of the fog and into the light of a life of repentance. I cannot recommend a book on this topic more highly than Hide or Seek.

Bill Mayk

WPE