The Blessed and Boundless God
Summary: Who can be compared to the Lord? Oh blessed, eternal, everlasting, omniscient God! How your attributes have been exalted in this little volume! Our views are so small in light of such a mighty God. These short, readable chapters are so rich and so powerful. Oh, what do we have, or what can we do that would add to the greatness and gloriousness of the Lord? Alas, nothing. He is incomparable perfect and complete in Himself. And wonder of wonders... yet He is mindful of us.
Personal Thoughts: This is Puritan reading at its very finest. The language has been updated from the original to appeal to a greater readership. As a result, this little volume is just packed with glorious, wondrous statements of our God that any one can easily understand. This is the first book I would put in someone's hand who wanted to read something of depth. This book is meat for the soul and as a result, I believe this book is meant to be devoured slowly. It would be excellent for devotional use as it is infused with Scripture. This book made an enormous impact on me. Yes, it made deep impressions that will last, Lord willing, a long time.
Quote: The misery of sinners consists in the fact that they will depart from the incomparable God for all eternity. They will lose the communion of perfect saints, the company of glorious angels, and the blessed exercises of the heavenly host. They will lose the only Paradise of Pleasure, the only Fountain of Living Water, and the only Author of true happiness.
The Light of the Psalms
Summary: This is a devotional on the Psalms. 150 psalms are covered in 150 days. The book is divided into 3 sections: God our Refuge, God our Redeemer, and God our Rejoicing making the devotional Trinitarian in approach. The author talks a lot about the historical context of these psalms and when the Israelites would sing them. The author also makes excellent application in each reading for present day life.
Personal Thoughts: First of all, I really love the Psalms. As a result, a devotional on the Psalms was immediately appealing to me. Secondly, I found this devotional extremely 'doable.' I would read the appropriate psalm bookmarked for the day, read the 2 page exposition of this psalm in this book and finish in prayer. In total, all of this took about 20-30 minutes. Third, most of the devotionals I found very enlightening, There were about a handful that I wasn't very impressed with, and out of that 1 or 2 where I found the content questionable. Overall, I would recommend this book to others.
Quote: "Our modern church is caught up with the idea that the Lord owes us all "personal peace and affluence." If that were the case we would not need faith and Christ's life would not be the pattern for all believers. Our struggles with sacrifice, service, suffering and stewardship ultimately result from a defective view of life. We are not here to "settle down" and get comfortable, but to travel with Christ through this dangerous life to the house of the Lord.
The danger then, as I have already said, is the sentimentalizing of the psalm, shaped by Sunday-school pictures, and, to the extent that the psalm defines our faith, a sentimentalizing of our faith. Let the reader of Psalm 23 beware!" --pg. 127, 128
D. Martyn Lloyd Jones
Summary: This book is the first in a two part series on the life of this well known man--Martyn Lloyd Jones. Born and raised in Whales, follow Lloyd-Jones through a fascinating childhood, his rise to prominence in the medical world, his conviction and calling to the ministry and his first pulpit. Learn who this man was and what made him spectacular in his preaching, and yet humble and ordinary when he was off the pulpit. He didn't believe in pomp and show. He had no time or respect for extensive and elaborate church programs. He preached Christ and considered that most sufficient as the means to save sinners. And God's age-old method was proven most effective as, clearly, God richly blessed Martyn Lloyd-Jones' work.
Personal Thoughts: Wow. This is just excellent reading! There is so much depth, plenty of detail, and told in a way that doesn't make you want to exalt Lloyd-Jones, but rather rejoice in the gift God gave the church. Lloyd-Jones never wanted a book written about him--just as he never originally wanted his sermons put in print. Naturally, (and thankfully), he didn't get his way. Anyways, much can be said about this biography, but in short I can truly understand why this is the most well-loved, well known Christian biography in Reformed circles.
Quote: "Sometimes a few words from these men would reveal the depth of their feelings. When some years later, George Jenkins whose life was so radically changed lay dying in London, a former friend from Sandfields visited him. One of the old man's first enquiries was to ask for 'his beloved father in Christ,' and, he added, 'I would rather see him than Paul himself!' "
Meet the Puritans
Joel Beeke & Randall Pederson
Summary: Do you know who the Puritans are? They were godly men who came just after the great Reformation. "They worked to reform and purify the church and to lead people toward godly living consistent with the Reformed doctrines of grace" (xviii). They pastored congregations. They also wrote voraciously, leaving us a wealth of literary treasure. Today there is a rekindled awareness of the Puritans and a hunger for their words. It can be overwhelming to wade into this ocean of sermons and treatises. This book can be a great help. Each Puritan is alphabetically placed in the book along with a short biography of his life. Following is a list of that man's published work, each individual title getting its own short synapsis. In the preface there is a great little piece that tells you where to start should you decide to take on these spiritual giants. Also in the preface, Beeke gives wonderful reasons why we should read the Puritans.
Personal Thoughts: I love this book. I have flipped through its pages so many times. This book really helped me to learn who the Puritans were and what exactly I wanted to read based on my own interests and reading levels. Don't get intimidated by the size of this book. Remember that it is primarily a reference tool. I think very much of the Puritans --they've helped me grow in my faith so very much with the help of the Holy Spirit. I truly hope that you would read a Puritan author one day. Start with Thomas Brooks or Richard Sibbes. Things will progress on their own from there...especially if you have the help of this book.
Your Future Other Half: It Matters Whom You Marry
Summary: The subtitle of this book says it perfectly--it matters whom you marry! Your future spouse is going to have an enormous impact on your life--physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally. But most importantly, a spouse will greatly impact your spiritual life. Will he be concerned about your personal relationship with the Lord and ensure that it continues to grow? Will he lead both you and any possible children you may have together in a godly manner, tenderly nurturing his household in the ways of the Lord? This book is especially geared to young unmarried women and the message is a solid and biblical one.
Personal Thoughts: I wish I could put this book into every young woman's hands. Now, no man is perfect, but the Bible gives some pretty solid guidelines when it comes to choosing a spouse, and the author does an excellent job of highlighting those requirements. She also makes it clear that while a young woman is 'sizing' up a man, her suitor is also evaluating her according to the Biblical requirements of a wife and mother. What are young women doing right now to prepare themselves to be a healthy, godly wife? The chapter on a man affecting your entire spiritual life is definitely the best chapter in the book and certainly the most important in my opinion.
Quote: The first principle that I would like to share with you is simple and direct: if the guy that you're thinking of is not a believer, you should stop dating him right now! Even if he seems open to change, it is never appropriate to yoke a redeemed soul with an unregenerate one--not even if you're 'only dating.' Christ has bought you with a price and it is simply not an option to give away that blood-bought heart to someone who doesn't know and love your Lord. Doing so will cripple your spiritual development, open up a host of temptations, stifle your prayer life, make regular church going difficult, and cause massive parenting conflict if you have children. The idea that he is your soul mate is a lie; his soul is a stranger to the grace that has saved you. Scripture tells you to walk away from his advances. --pg. 27,28
Summary: Pride, unthankfulness, discontentment, selfishness...Bridges writes a book that tackles a Christian's more 'refined' sins. These are often sins of the heart and ones we don't see in ourselves too quickly. Judgementalism, self-control, anger, anxiety...the list just goes on. Bridges writes with great humility but also with boldness. The chapters are short but they are very clear. Sin is defined and tools are given to combat these sins. Impatience, irritability, envy, gossip... It's time to drop our self righteous attitudes, get acquainted with our sinful inclinations and focus on God's solution to our sins-- a crucified Christ.
Personal Thoughts: It's refreshing to read a book about sin. It's cleansing. It stimulates the heart into combat again against the sin that so easily ensnares us. It gives a grander view of the holiness of God. It pulls me out of my sluggish stupor and probes the darker parts of my heart exposing them to the light of God's Word. Every person is going to find a few chapters that especially reverberate with them. For me it was the chapters exposing selfishness, discontent, self-control and worldliness. Really, this book is a must-have for every library.
Quote: " On the contrary, as God is holy, all holy, only holy, altogether holy, and always holy, so sin is sinful, all sinful, only sinful, altogether sinful and always sinful. It does not matter whether our sin is scandalous or respectable, all our sin is sinful, only sinful and altogether sinful. Whether it is large or small in our eyes, it is heinous in the sight of God. God forgives our sin because of the shed blood of Christ, but He does not tolerate it. Instead, every sin that we commit, even the subtle sin that we don't even think about, was laid upon Christ as He bore the curse of God in our place. --pg 29,30
Summary: Meet Mary. Every Wednesday you will find her walking up and down a small strip of sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic. She is praying ceaselessly and faithfully engaging prospective clients seeking to end their babies' lives. On sunny days she is there. On rainy or windy days, she is there. The work is often a lonesome work. It is a tolling work and often a discouraging work. But God's goodness shines in the darkness, and the Lord has used Mary to save the lives of many children in the last 20 years. Read of her experiences. Read of her observations. Let your heart be stirred afresh by the horror that goes on behind the walls of an abortion clinic. Please....read this book!
Personal Thoughts: I hope a lot of people read this book. This lady is on the front line on the battlefield and yet she gives herself absolutely no credit. I found it incredibly interesting to read of the different types of women and attitudes that she encounters. I also deeply appreciated the help she offered the women who DID go forward with the abortion. These women are usually deeply wounded individuals who will walk through life with immense pain. They also need our love and care.
Quote: "Lord, this has been a hard morning. I'm a little uncertain about what to do with the rough-looking man standing in the doorway of the clinic. I greeted him when he brought his girlfriend in. He had such kind eyes that I felt I could see into his soul. It unnerved me to connect that way with a stranger. But what were those eyes saying...please help us or leave us alone in this crisis? As he smokes his last cigarette before the abortion I have a final chance to touch his heart. But not without Your help, Father. Give me courage as I try one last time to discern how I can help."
Summary: Have you heard of the two men who went to a small island, preached faithfully, sparked a revival and then had to flee for their lives because of the resulting persecution? Have you heard of the slave ship captain becoming a slave himself, only to be gripped by the gospel and become a preacher in his later years? Do you know of the man who felt burdened to free those Negroes who lived their lives as slaves--not by emancipating them, but by preaching the gospel to them? These men, (and many more), are true heroes. Learn their stories.
Personal Thoughts: I learned a lot by reading through this selection of mini-biographies of our true heroes. I found it interesting that in almost every one of these men's lives, each 'hero' at some point, was brought very low--either in circumstances or spirit. Each 'hero' was deeply burdened by his sins, before the Lord, by His Word and Spirit, raised him up for the great work appointed him. It really was an excellent read and many more pages and biographies could be added to this book.
Interesting Tidbits from each Biography:
Jonathan Edwards: "He preached with a candle in one hand and a manuscript in the other. It's a miracle people weren't bored to death!" --pg. 10
George Whitefield: He was looked down upon when he read the Puritans! --pg. 65
John Newton: "His house was an asylum for the perplexed or afflicted." --pg. 97
Thomas Charles: He was the minister who gave Mary Jones her Bible. --pg. 136
William Hewitson: Asked by Robert M'Cheyne to be his assistant. --pg 150
Robert Kalley: Before his conversion, he left seminary because..."I could not bear the thought of being obliged to preach that which I considered a pack of lies." --pg. 152
Charles Jones: "In November 1832 that Jones exchanged his pulpit in Savannah for the dirt floors of cotton houses, sheds, and makeshift plantation chapels." --pg 196
What Did You Expect?
Paul David Tripp
Summary: People often rush into marriage because they're madly in love. Despite marriages failing all around them, every couple figures they're immune. This passionate love that they share will last forever. They've got 'the real thing.' This 'know it all' approach is a sure sign that their love is not an enduring love. Reality hits, romantic love grows cold and both are left staring at a sinner. This book has a most fitting title. One reoccurring statement found in the book is that marriages must be fixed vertically before they can ever be fixed horizontally. To keep our marriages strong we need to keep busy at pulling those weeds that don't belong (evil works of the flesh),and continually planting good seeds (the fruits of the Spirit).
Personal Thoughts: There is a lot packed into this book! Tripp spends a lot of time talking about husbands and wives setting up their own little kingdoms in the marriage and expecting their spouse to comply with all the goals that the individual wants to achieve in the marriage. When both spouses do this simultaneously (very common) marriages fail. This book is loaded with examples, greatly helping the reader to understand what the author is saying. The section where Tripp unpacks what love is ( pg 186 - 203) is really the best part of the book in my opinion. Couples would really benefit to read this together. The author's extensive treatment on trust ( 2 chapters) is also very good. There is a comprehensive list on the many ways that a spouse can exercise selfishness against the other (pg 105). Like I said, lots in here. At times I found the book long and a bit repetitive, but I would conclude that it is a good book for people who find themselves a little shocked at the realities of marriage.
Quote: "Sin causes us to dream selfish dreams and to plan self-oriented plans.
What we actually want is for our spouse to love us as much as we love ourselves, and if our spouse is willing to do that, we will have a wonderful relationship.
But there is more. No longer are they (our spouse) objects of our willing affection. No, they quit being the people we find joy in loving. Rather, they get reduced to one of two things. They are either vehicles to help us get what we want, or obstacles in the way of what we want.
When we live for the kingdom of self, our decisions, thoughts, plans, actions and words are directed by personal desire." --pg. 47-48
When the Darkness Will Not Lift
Summary: "God will hold onto you. You will make it. That is His promise." These are the exact statements a depressed person needs to hear. Short sentences packed with comfort, meaning and encouragement. This book is full of reminders that our assurance cannot be based on our feelings. This books constantly reaffirms that God will hold His people even in the darkest of circumstances. Piper also makes attempts to root out the cause of depression in a Christian and makes an honest effort to bring them back into the light.
Personal Thoughts: Piper makes some good points, but there were several places I don't agree with him. I'm going to start with the things I appreciated in this short read, and finish with my disappointments. First, he does a really good job describing melancholy. I love how he pulls in those great Puritan preachers to weigh in on the discussion. I agree with him when he repeatedly states that our assurance of salvation cannot depend on our feelings--especially in times of darkness. I also appreciated that Piper insists on getting people up and working. Inactivity will deepen the feelings of uselessness and melancholy. Cultivating thankfulness is also a critical part to getting better.
Now what I did not like: Piper is vague at best when he talks about the use of medication. He flits from quoting Martyn Lloyd Jones who speaks in favor of medication to quoting an article which claims anti-depressants are no better than a 'sugar pill.' He finishes this thought by saying that if we're wrong about the use of medication, "...the imputed righteousness of Christ will swallow it up." --pg 27. What??!! I'm not sure I like his insistence on demanding joy out of a depressed person or insisting they repent for their lack of joy. David did not repent for his cries of anguish in the psalms.
My favorite chapter was definitely the last one. The relationship between Cowper and Newton is so precious.
If you read this book, I strongly encourage you to read David Murray's book "Christian Get Depressed Too" as well. David Murray gives a more thorough treatment on the subject.
Quote: How can we help Christians who seem unable to break out of the darkness into the light of joy? Yes, I call them Christians, and thus assume that such things happen to genuine believers. It happens because of sin, or because of Satanic assault, or because of distressing circumstances, or because of hereditary or other physical causes. --pg 23