How to Memorize Scripture Quickly and Easily
Summary: Bible memorization is a lost skill and sadly is often viewed as a tedious and difficult task. With this in mind, Friedman offers a delightfully refreshing perspective in his new book on bible memorization. He wisely takes his time convincing the reader of the importance of storing God's Word in the mind and heart, and he does so in a tone that exudes kind encouragement. He wants the reader to find joy and success in his/her efforts! But thankfully he does not stop there. Recognizing that people learn differently, Freidman moves on to tackle the three different learning styles--offering his readers a short questionnaire to help his readers best discover their own learning style. And this is where the book gets incredibly practical. Based on these learning styles Freidman offers great practical memorization strategies for those who learn best through visual, auditory or kinesthetic techniques. With some effort and a positive attitude, your memorization goals are possible to achieve!
Personal Thoughts: First of all, I love how Freidaman writes. He's positive and encouraging and very God-centered. His book has such a natural flow that keeps the reader engaged and interested. I love how he quotes both Old and New Testament. This shows a real depth to his own faith life and highlights the beautiful oneness of Scripture. I certainly learned a few things and am looking forward to implementing them in my own study of Scripture. I am also looking forward to using some of the techniques that I've learned in this book to help my children learn their Bible memory work for school and church classes. His abundant use of personal pronouns makes the book especially unique. All in all, I highly recommend this book. It is an immensely practical book that will aid you in enhancing your spiritual life for many, many years.
Quote: "It is important to note that memorizing the Bible is not an end in itself. Just learning something by heart will not necessarily bring you closer to an understanding of how our Father wishes us to live. Memorization will only truly serve you on your spiritual journey if it is done with the intention of intimately understanding the Word."
The Screwtape Letters
Summary: Often, unbeknownst to us, the devil and his allies are working tirelessly in order to secure our souls for destruction. In this clever book Lewis unveils Satan's subtle strategies through a series of letters written by a devil named Screwtape. Screwtape is counselling his nephew, Wormwood, in the art of leading a man astray using various tactics. Each letter (chapter) is its own unit and deals with different outward circumstances in the Patient's life--circumstances that Wormwood tries hard to manipulate in order to gain the demise of the Patient's soul.
Personal Thoughts: This book is a classic. The devil is not a guy in a red suit who holds a pitchfork. Satan is real, he is dangerous, frighteningly subtle, and his successes only prove yet again what keen insights he has regarding the heart of man. He seeks no attention and rarely works in the extremes. Often my wicked heart was pierced with guilt by the words found in this book. Satan's silent footsteps have left behind solid footprints in my life. I have never recognized it until now. I urge you, read the book, study the tactics that are being used against you right now, and put on the armour of God in preparation for the battle.
Quote: "You will say these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." --pg. 56
The Family at Church: Listening to Sermons and Attending Prayer Meetings
Summary: This book is like having two tiny books compressed into one. The first half explains how we can derive the most amount of blessing and practical good from preaching. After 4 very packed and thought provoking chapters, the book makes a sudden shift to talk about the importance and implementation of prayer meetings.
Personal Thoughts: I thought that I would enjoy the first part of this book more than the second part. In truth, the exact opposite happened. I have experienced incredible blessing under the preaching in the past years. However, I have not enjoyed the regular company of other Christians in an intimate setting where we brings our pleas to the Lord together. The second part of the book was very instrumental in changing my opinions on the importance of the prayer meeting, and one I would like to implement. This is a very practical book on 2 important matters.
Quote: "Pray for the conversion of sinners, the edification of saints, and the glorification of God's triune name. Pray for children, teenagers, and the elderly. Pray for listening ears and understanding hearts. Pray for yourself, saying, 'Lord, how real the danger is that I will not hear well! Of four kinds of hearers in the parable of the sower, only one kind heard properly. Help me, Lord, to concentrate fully on Thy Word as it comes to me, so that I may not hear the Word and yet perish. Let Thy Word have free course in my heart. Let it be accompanied with light, power and grace.' " --pg 9
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."
Jesus On Every Page
Summary: Jesus is not simply a New Testament character. John 5 says, "You search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me...For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me." With that Murray opens the Scriptures and shows us how Jesus is found on every page in the Bible; in creation, in Old Testament characters, in the law, in the prophets, the covenants, the pictures, the wisdom of Proverbs and of course in the Psalms.
Personal Thoughts: I have never read a book like this one. I confess, it's not a book I would generally pick up, but I'm very fond of the author and so I gave it a try. Ironically, this book has now become my top read of the year. I have learned so much! With every paragraph I read, old things became new in front of my eyes and heart. I'm reading the Old Testament differently now. I'm hunting for Christ in the pages. Dr. Murray has done so much of the heavy work through this book, and has given me all the hints of where I'm going to find my Savior in those Old Testament books. Dr. Murray may be a professor of Old Testament studies in a seminary, but he didn't write in a 'scholarly' way. He wrote this book using regular language for regular people like you and me.
I have over 4 pages of quotes...how will I pick one???
Quote: Remember, Old Testament believers read their Bible to find out about the Savior, just as we do.
A Creator from Genesis
An Emancipator from Exodus
A Priest and a Sacrifice from Leviticus
A Guide from Numbers
A Covenanter from Deuteronomy
A Captain from Joshua
A Judge from Judges
A Redeemer from Ruth
A King from Samuel, Kings and Chronicles
A Rebuilder from Ezra and Nehemiah
An Innocent Sufferer from Job
A Worship Leader from Psalms
The Wise One from Proverbs
--pg 180, 181
O love That Will Not Let Me Go
Various authors compiled by Nancy Guthrie
Summary: Death. This book is about death. As a result, this book is meant for everyone; everyone must face this bitter foe. These pages host a compilation of many different authors and their thoughts on death. Piper writes a chapter on calling death sweet names. John Eaves speaks about being a witness to Christ in the way we die. Joni Eareckson Tada does an excellent job explaining how suffering causes the heart to long for heaven. Jonathan Edwards gives many reasons why the day of a godly man's death is better than the day of his birth. Thomas Boston does a good job of gently diffusing many arguments and fears people face when dying such as leaving loved ones behind, suffering pain in death, and the fear of losing assurance on the death bed. Spurgeon tackles the idea of dying daily, while Dabney does an amazing job of describing the terrors of dying alone, despite being surrounded by a host of family and loved ones, and meeting a Savior on the other side of the veil.
Personal Thoughts: I think the chapters that Nancy Guthrie selected for this book give a thorough treatment of death from the perspective of a Christian. Some of these chapters were a repeat for me as I've read them before in books by the original author. Chapter 20 by R. L. Dabney was certainly my favorite. He left deep, deep impressions on me as he spoke of those final minutes of life on this earth--just before death steals us away. I confess a few chapters were dull, but other chapters were so good, they happily made up for it.
Quote: "You say that you cannot abide the thought of death. Then you greatly need it. Your shrinking from it proves that you are not in a right state of mind, or else you would take it into due consideration without reluctance.
You have something yet to learn if you are a Christian , and yet are not prepared to die. You need to reach a higher state of grace and attain to a firmer and more forceful faith. That you are as yet a babe in grace is clear from your admission that to depart and be with Christ does not seem to be a better thing for you than to abide in the flesh." C.H. Spurgeon, pg 148
Getting Back in the Race
Summary: We're in a war. Some days we make headway. Other times we find ourselves falling back. What does this look like spiritually? Well, first of all, it's called backsliding. Do you recognize the signs? Perhaps coldness in prayer, or a decreased love for the saints. Maybe it's indifference under the Word or a critical spirit towards godly intentions. Worst of all, we often feel no guilt about it at all. Oh, we may complain about spiritual dryness, but where is our repentance? This book has 4 chapters: Runners Stumbling, Runners Returning, Runners Receiving and Runners Recovering. Beeke teaches us the dangers of backsliding and graciously shows us the way back to spiritual health through Christ, the Great Physician.
Personal Thoughts: This book was convicting. When I first read it, I was not in a backslidden state, but I noticed a few areas in my life that were not as they should be. This book is short and to the point. Read it and be ready for correction. But also realize that Dr. Beeke cares very deeply for souls. He writes to strengthen you in your walk. He is kind and gentle when probing for error. He is loving and understanding when he speaks to the convicted backslider. He is right and confident when he speaks about the perseverance of the saints and points you to a crucified Christ. I loved this book enough to buy it for my own library. I've now read it several times and each time I am convinced for the need of self-examination.
Quote: Haven't you, too, discovered that in some ways that it can be harder to go on believing as a Christian than to become one in the first place? Haven't you, too, found it hard to persevere in faith when trouble or opposition arises, or when faced with the demands of daily life in such a world as this one? Every Christian faces numerous discouragements in striving to follow Christ. Our knees go weak and our hands hang down when we face personal failure, when others let us down, or when providence denies our desires. Disappointment can lead to discouragement, and discouragement may end in doubt, fear, and even despair. We feel weak and tired, emotionally and spiritually, and we are tempted to throw in the towel. Why should we persist in confessing a faith that is despised and hated in the world? It all seems pointless and hopeless. We say with Asaph, "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain." (Ps. 73:13). --pg 9
Now That's A Good Question
R. C. Sproul
Summary: Do you have a question about spiritual things? Have you ever wanted to ask a well renowned theologian for his input? This is a great book for exactly that. It's very readable and has a great reference system to help you find exactly what you're looking for. First, the book is divided into 22 different chapters. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic such as Prayer, Suffering, the Bible, Sin, Money Matters, Family, etc. Then at the back of the book you will find a well stocked alphabetical index that covers anything you could possibly want to look up with the corresponding page number. This book doesn't need (nor is it intended) to be read cover to cover. Read the chunks that mean something to you. Use it to answer some of your questions. As you browse through it, topics will pique your interest and you will automatically find yourself reading portions.
Personal Thoughts: I received this book when I was 16. I loved it then, I love it now. I still enjoy flipping through this book and browsing through it. I often encourage young people to pick up this book as I think it's really geared for them. Young people often have a lot of questions about their faith that they may be uncomfortable to voice. This book helps them get solid, Reformed answers. I've also used this book in young people settings. I would read a question out of the book to generate discussion. After the discussion I would read R.C. Sproul's wise counsel on the matter.
Some questions covered in this book:
How should I handle my own doubts about God's presence in my life?
Are other world religions and other philosophies a threat to Christianity?
I know God has forgiven me for my sins, but how can I begin to forgive myself?
Does God hear the prayers of a non-Christian?
Can the devil read my mind?
What causes the most pressure or strain on my pastor?
As Christians, how are we to deal with the sinful lifestyles of members of our family or guests that come into our home?How do we uphold Christian ethics without being judgmental?
The Godly Man's Picture
Summary: What does a Christian look like? Do you know the difference between a life of genuine godliness and a life built on hypocrisy? This book explains the difference in a very clear and pointed way, leaving no doubt about a godly man's picture. It's informative, but at the same time immensely encouraging. Each chapter picks up a characteristic (prayer, zeal, godly sorrow, sincerity, patience, thankfulness, love for saints, spiritual duties, etc.) and flushes it out. There is a lot of mention about the heart and the motives. But each chapter also spends a good amount of time on specific ways to grow in each characteristic.
Personal Thoughts: I have over 6 pages of quotes after reading this book. So much stood out for me. I was able to digest it slowly which was nice, as there is a lot of meat to chew on in these pages. I especially appreciated the sections that highlighted how to grow in each area. I know my spiritual life needs work and I was able to get good direction from this book. I really liked that the author stressed that a little grace is STILL grace. Christ will not crush or destroy a tender, weak saint, for the small amounts of godliness he shows is godliness that has come from Christ, and Christ will not destroy His own work. Of course the author goes on to say that this is NO excuse for sloth. One more quick thing; each chapter has many breaks which allow the reader to easily put the book down after a specific thought and pick it up again without having to get re-orientated with the topic at hand.
Quote: How odious it is for a man to be all fire when sinning and all ice when praying. --115
An unsound Christian will confess sin wholesale; he will acknowledge he is a sinner in general, whereas David does, as it were, point with his finger to the sore: 'I have done this evil.' Not I have done evil, but this evil. --pg. 98
The Jews did not spare any cost in their idolatrous worship. they were so zealous in their idol worship that they would sacrifice their sons and daughters to false gods. Were these so zealous in their sinful worship and will you not be zealous in the worship of the true God? --pg118