A Simple Way to Pray: Martin Luther, the 16th Century Reformer, Tells His Barber How to Empower His Prayer Life

By: Archie Parrish

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Suggestion – November, 2019

Every Christian I have ever spoken to about prayer has lamented their inability to pray as diligently as they wish. This is not a dilemma unique to 21st century Christians. Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther’s barber confessed to the reformer his own struggle with prayer.  As a help to his friend, Luther wrote a small treatise on prayer, which, along with selected insights, has been reproduced by Archie Parrish and introduced by R.C. Sproul.

In this work, Luther offers Peter the barber a simple way to pray using the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles Creed as templates. Having incorporated the wisdom found in this short booklet into my own prayer life, I can highly recommend this to other struggling Christians who seek to develop a stronger prayer life yet find it difficult to do so. Toward the end of the booklet, Parrish offers questions for review that are designed to enable the reader to grasp Luther’s intent and apply the insights in the booklet to his or her own circumstances.

I recommend this book to all who see a need to enhance their prayer life and wish to have it guided by God’s word.

https://www.ligonier.org/store/simple-way-to-pray-paperback/?npclid=Cj0KCQiA2ITuBRDkARIsAMK9Q7OBVVPrntqm8GtWEgPGGRx35LZXso6JJx3x2WXsiMdY8N-qJkGu8ZgaAlTjEALw_wcB&gclid=Cj0KCQiA2ITuBRDkARIsAMK9Q7OBVVPrntqm8GtWEgPGGRx35LZXso6JJx3x2WXsiMdY8N-qJkGu8ZgaAlTjEALw_wcB

byFaith Magazine

Pastor’s Monthly Book Suggestion – October, 2019

              Rather than suggest a specific book to read for the month of October, I would like to recommend our denominational quarterly magazine, by Faith. G&PPC makes hard copies available at no cost to the congregation. Each installment can be found on the information table near the back door of our sanctuary. For those who would rather read online, the magazine can also be found at https://byfaithonline.com/.

              According to https://byfaithonline.com/about/, this publication is meant to connect and draw PCA members into the life of the church. Its intent is to “equip the reader to think biblically about the social and theological issues that shape our world. It’s where they’re encouraged to use their gifts creatively in every facet of life and thereby become a more involved part of God’s plan and purpose for the world.”

              “Byfaithonline.com is created from a Reformed/PCA perspective and provides a Christian world-and-life view. Where there’s struggle, controversy, or debate, we handle issues graciously, always striving for the peace, progress, and purity of the Church.”

              I recommend byFaith as a tool that helps us integrate our Faith with the world around us, equips us to think about current issues from a biblical perspective, and enables us to see our local congregation in a larger context.

Living Wisely with the Early Church Fathers

By: Christopher A. Hall

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Suggestion – September, 2019

While working through our current series on 1 Peter, I became aware of the difference between the apostle Peter’s view of the good life and the 21st century perspective of the same idea. Technology has changed the way our culture communicates, but the same struggles faced by Christians today were faced by those of the first centuries as well. The early Church was planted and grew in a world where patriotism, war, immorality, and hostility to the gospel competed for people’s allegiance and confronted the ethics of Christianity.

Christopher Hall returns to the world of ancient Rome through the lens of men like Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Athanasius, and Augustine. While it is most helpful to read the original writings of these Church fathers, time and the sheer volume of literature doesn’t always allow for that. The author does us a great favor by wading through much of the work of these early Christians and offering his scholarly insight into their views on subjects such as persecution, wealth, sexuality, and entertainment.

While I did not agree with every conclusion made by the writer, I was challenged by the early Church’s approach to living as exiles in a world that is foreign to the gospel. Hall’s book is not only fascinating from a historical perspective, but it challenges our 21st century concept of the Christian life as it applies the wisdom of those who have gone before us to our own struggle of following the precepts of God’s word. I highly recommend this book for those wishing to learn from faithful believers of the past and acquire a better understanding of the historical context of the New Testament and the early Church.

GAY … Such Were Some of Us: Stories of Transformation and Change

Edited by: David Longacre

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Suggestion – August, 2019

In this day of confusion and despair regarding human sexuality, gender identification, and the predisposition to one lifestyle or another, Harvest Ministry has produced a small but important work that lets us know that God is still able to change lives. As the back cover indicates, this book contains fifteen individual accounts of people “who struggled with same-sex attraction and experienced God’s loving intervention.” This is not a book about glory stories but one about descriptions of real-life people who walk with the Lord, finding hope and strength through faith in a faithful Savior.

I recommend this short work to anyone wrestling with the confusion of same-sex attraction and wondering if God can truly change a person. This is also a book that gives insight and encouragement to people who know and love those who struggle. As Christians, we must be willing and able to lovingly point people to Christ, yet sometimes we may harbor our own doubts as to whether the Lord truly changes the heart. My prayer is that this short volume will help us to overcome our doubts and assist us in having confidence in Christ as we walk with our struggling friends and loved ones.

https://www.pcabookstore.com/p-8350-gay-such-were-some-of-us.aspx

The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits

By: R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection — July, 2019

We often use the Apostles’ Creed to affirm our faith in worship services. Many Christians have learned this ancient creed from an early age. All Bible-believing Christians would uphold the statements of this document. However, some of those same statements are misunderstood by many of the people claiming to believe them. In this fresh work on one of the Church’s earliest confessions, Al Mohler gives us a concise and easy to read commentary that should be helpful to any Christian. I recommend this to parents who desire to train up their children in the foundational truths of the Faith, to anyone involved in teaching small group studies or Sunday school, and to any Christian wishing to understand those vexing statements in the creed such as “He descended into hell/the dead,” “the holy catholic church,” and “the communion of saints.

The Hiding Place

By: Corrie ten Boom

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – June, 2019

As we enter the vacation season, many people are looking for a good book to take with them on their travels. I recommend The Hiding Place as a classic work that will encourage and inspire you to see the gracious love of God in some of the most difficult circumstances. In the dark days of Holland’s occupation during the Second World War, Corrie ten Boom and her family made the decision to work with the resistance by hiding Jews in their home. Arrested by the Nazis, Corrie and her sister were sent to a concentration camp, and their father was killed. However, it was in this terrible situation that God impacted Corrie’s life so that she would later go throughout the world telling people that “There is no pit so deep that the love of God is not deeper still.” This is a tremendous book that describes the faithfulness of God, the providential outworking of His grace, and the power of God to change lives.

The Bruised Reed

The Bruised Reed

By: Richard Sibbes

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – May, 2019

Banner of Truth has republished a marvelous work by the Puritan Richard Sibbes. This piece focuses on the text from Isaiah 42:3 that says, “A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoking flax he shall not quench.” Sibbes’ short treatise is medicine for the weary and battle-worn believer. The author presents Christ to those driven to God by their own failures, encouraging them not to lose hope even when sin and the devil seek to undo them. Dr. Sibbes emphasizes the patience of God who will not forsake His own children, but will willingly fan the smallest spark of grace into a flame that transforms them into the likeness of Christ.

If you are struggling with weakness and in need of great hope, I recommend Richard Sibbes’ wonderful book that will turn your attention to the Christ who is always gentle and compassionate to His own.

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.

WPE