Praying with Paul by D. A. Carson


Carson-PrayingPaul
The apostle Paul often spoke of prayer. In the openings of his letters, Paul told his readers how he prayed for them, and asked for prayers in return. Paul’s focus on prayer should draw our attention.

D. A. Carson lays out several prayers from Paul’s letters. He breaks them down to reveal what Paul is praying for and why. He reveals, most importantly, that the prayers of Paul are God-centered.

This book turned out to be a lot more theologically rich than I was expecting, but after reading it I can see why. Carson really gets into the bones of Paul’s prayers. There’s nothing superficial here.

There were moments when I got a little confused, and had to re-read a passage, but it’s worth it. I did a lot of underlining in this book.

1) Is it understandable = 4
2) Presentation of Information = 4.5
3) Quality of Writing = 4.5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 4

Average score of 4.25 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

2019 Reading List


I mentioned in my OneWord post that I would be focusing more on non-fiction Christian books in the new year, and I wanted to share some of the books I plan to read.

Her-Story is a devotional. Each day of the year, you learn about a woman from the Bible or Christian history who had a love for Jesus. I’ll be reading this throughout the year.

This is something I’ve wanted to study for a while now, and 2019 is the year. I had to think about how to do this. I wanted to break it up either by one question or chapter per week, but at 107 questions, in 64 chapters, that won’t be possible to complete in a year. So, I’ll be doing two chapters a week, which will give me some wiggle room if anything comes up that I can’t do two in one week.

The rest are books I’ve had on my shelf; some for years, some for just a couple months. Some classics, some modern. Here are the covers:

Have you read any of these? Do you have one waiting on your shelf? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin


Calvin-LittleBookChristianLife
Published in 1539, the second edition of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion contained a new chapter: On the life of a Christian Man. It has since been published many times in various languages as part of the entirety of the Institutes, as well as separate books, such as this one.

In this new English translation, editors Aaron Clay Denlinger and Burk Parsons strive to not just give us the message of Calvin, but to stay true to his words and tone.

Calvin lays out what the Scripture says about the life of a Christian regarding success and suffering. How are we to respond to success? How do we respond to suffering, be it illness, poverty, or persecution? How does our response portray our relationship with God?

This book is an encouragement of truth. Where most churches today convey Godly success as prosperity in every area of life, this little book reminds us of what the Bible says. Simply, the Christian life involves strife. That strife should drive us to God.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper


Piper-WhatJesusDemands

When we think of Jesus, we tend to think of the mild teacher, or the suffering servant who died on a cross for our salvation. We don’t usually think of him as demanding things from us. That was under the law, and Jesus frees us from the law, right? Not really. Not in that way.

In this book John Piper lays out several commands (or demands) of Jesus and explains what they mean and how we should obey, using scripture as his basis.

Piper explains his process in this short video:

Over the last couple of years, John Piper has been a great source of learning and spiritual growth for me. This book is no different. I took a pencil to this book, something I almost never do, because it called out to me to do it. I underlined, and asterisked, and noted… and at least one chapter in this book moved me to the point of tears.

Each chapter covers one command (or one aspect of a command) and is only about 4-6 pages long, so this could easily read devotional-style.

This book will challenge you and push you to become a true follower of Jesus by obeying his commands. It is definitely one to read again.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5

As with all of Piper’s books, you can download a free PDF of this book at Desiring God.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

Chasing Contentment by Erik Raymond


Raymond-ChasingContentment

We live in a time when people seem to be generally discontent; Impatient, moody, complaining and jealous. Though we have moments of happiness, we’ve lost what it means to be truly content. The good news is that we can learn this, as the Apostle Paul says.

Erik Raymond lays out what true contentment is and why it is found only in God. He then explains, through scripture and personal stories, how he can go about learning to be content in God.

Every self-proclaiming Christian should read this book. The Gospel message is at its core: we deserve Hell, but God sent His son Jesus to redeem us and bring us back to Him. This is where our contentment lies. Raymond lays it out in such a way that anyone with a heart willing to be changed will feel the need for it.

This isn’t the name-it-and-claim-it gospel. It’s not health and wealth. It’s loving God and being content in Him, whether you have everything or nothing at all. It’s Biblical truth, and much needed.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

I received an electronic copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.

I Am a Writer: Mission Statement


I AM A WRITER

My mission is to create fiction that will entertain readers while sharing the Gospel in some form. I have always admired writers, and have dabbled in creative writing since about age nine. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve written longer stories that have caused the urge to write and publish a novel to grow until it could no longer be ignored. I see great fiction as a portal to another world inside of our minds, and hope to succeed in helping readers find that portal through my words.

Writing Goals:

  • 300+ words per day
  • “show, don’t tell”
  • avoid filter words
  • First rough draft by the end of 2017

Writing Schedule:

  • Mon – Fri: 7:00pm for one hour
  • Sat & Sun: 3 hours per day (finds times that work best and keep me most productive)

 

I crafted this mission statement as part of a writing exercise in The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills.

The Truth of the Cross by R. C. Sproul


Sproul-TruthOfTheCross

Was the death of Jesus on the cross necessary? Was it the only way for people to return to God? The answer is “yes,” and R. C. Sproul explains why.

Using scripture from both the Old and New Testaments, Sproul shows how our fallen human condition leaves us separated from God, what happened to Jesus on the cross, and why it was absolutely necessary for our salvation.

The thing I like about R. C. Sproul is that he simplifies even the most complex theological ideas without talking down to his audience. He doesn’t leave theological terms out of the discussion, but he explains them as needed for the average reader. This little book is by no means an in-depth look at the work of the cross, but it is packed with information for a foundational understanding of the atonement. I suggest every professing Christian read this book.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5

For a limited time (which may be over soon since today is Easter Sunday) Reformation Trust, through Ligonier Ministries, is offering free e-book copies of this book. Click here to check out their blog post with links to download you free copy.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

A Time for Confidence by Stephen J. Nichols


nichols-timeforconfidence

If you’re a Christian in America, you probably feel the change in our society. The culture is shifting further and further away from our Christian heritage. As time goes on, we may feel the pressure to compromise our beliefs to align with the culture of our day. But should we? Culture changes. Societies change. Nations and leaders rise and fall. But God’s word stands true forever.

In this timely book, Nichols reminds us where our confidence should rest: God, the Bible, Christ, the Gospel, and hope. As we stand firm in the Word we need to do so with confidence. Nichols brings us back to the early church, less than 100 years after Jesus died on the cross, to show us what that confidence looks like. It’s the same confidence we see over a thousand years later in the Reformers.

“This is not a time to cower, cave, or capitulate. It is a time for confidence, and our confidence must be in God. All else will disappoint.”

I highly recommend this book to all Christians. Especially anyone feeling the pressure to conform to this world.

1) Is it understandable = 4.5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 4.9 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

The Legacy of Luther by R.C. Sproul and Stephen J. Nichols


sproul_nichols-legacyofluther

It is impossible to talk about the Reformation without talking about Martin Luther. His Ninety-Five Theses jumpstarted this movement in the church that led back to the truth of justification.

This book is a collection of essays, written by some of today’s top Reformed theologians and pastors, on different aspects of Luther’s life and theology, including the legacy he left behind.

This is a must read for anyone interested in Luther, the Reformation, church history, or Christian theology. The organization allows for easy transition from topic to topic, and since each essay has a different author, each has its own style, keeping the narrative fresh and interesting.

Much more than a biography, The Legacy of Luther lays out the thoughts and teachings of Luther on the doctrine of justification. The reader will learn what Luther most wanted to teach: the authority of Scripture alone, and justification by faith alone.

The book also features a timeline of major events in Luther’s life, an appendix of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, footnotes for ease of reference, a list of resources for further reading, a Forward by John MacArthur, and a Scripture Index.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I’ve marked several pages that I want to revisit, and I’m sure I will return to this book again and again for inspiration and learning.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5

I received a complimentary electronic copy of this book from Reformation Trust in return for an honest review. However, I must admit that I also ended up purchasing the book, and read my hardcover copy in instead of the pdf.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N