A Pastor's Sketches
Summary: Referred to the Bunyan of Brooklyn, Ichabod Spencer was a master at conversing with souls. Averaging 800 visits a year for the 25 years he was a pastor is incredible, but the fact that he meticulously made notes on each of these visits is nothing short of amazing. And that is primarily what makes up this book. It is a book filled with conversations between a pastor and unconverted sinners. He tears down every obstacle people erect to keep themselves from God. He allows no excuse for delaying repentance. He lovingly pursues his flock, caring deeply for their souls.
Personal Thoughts: Oh, I WISH I could get more people to read this book! I enjoy it so much. Conversion is most fascinating. I have learned so much about the human heart in these chapters. I have learned much about the work of Satan. I have found similar obstacles in these stories that I too have had to overcome in my spiritual life. This book gives the reader a very solemn view of the soul. It is indeed able to be lost forever and that is a grave matter we think little about.
Chapter 8: Reliance on Man
As I was leaving the place of a morning prayer- meeting, which was attended, in a time of revival,
very early in the morning; a young man about sixteen years of age came to me, and asked permission to accompany me home ; for " he wanted to talk with me."
" What do you wish to say to me ?" said I.
" Why — I want you to tell me what to do."
" I have told you, again and again. I can tell you nothing different — nothing new. You must repent, if you would be saved. You must give up your self-righteousness and flee to Christ. The Law condemns you. The sovereign grace of God only can save you. You must give up your miserable and long-continued attempts to save yourself. You must give God your heart, as he requires, and as I have explained to you already, many times."
" Yes, I know that ; but I am so distressed ! I cannot live so ! I want you to tell me some- thing else."
" I cannot relieve your distress. Christ alone can give you rest. I have nothing else to tell you. I have told you all
the truth — all you need to know."
" I thought," said he, "Perhaps you could say something, that would help me ; if I went to your house."
" So you have said to me more than once, and I have told you better. God only can help you. You must rely on him."
" But I should like to talk with you again about my feelings, in your study."
" It would do you no good. You have nothing to say, that you have not said before ; and I have nothing new to say to you."
" Well — may I go home with you ?"
" No. Go home. Man cannot help you. The whole matter lies betwixt yourself and God."
He turned away, the most downcast creature I ever saw. It seemed as if his last prop was gone. He walked as if his limbs could scarcely carry him.
I had not been at home an hour, before he came to tell me, that his burden was gone. He said, that after I " had cast
him off," all hope forsook him, and he " had nowhere else to go but to God." Before he reached his home, (about a mile,) he had given all into the hands of God ; and he felt so much relieved of his burden of sin and fear, that he thought he " would turn right about, and come right back and tell me." —
But," said he, "I do not believe I should have gone to God, if you had not cast me off."
The Law of Kindness
Summary: Kindness. This virtue is so often absent from our lives--or at best sorely lacking. This immensely readable and practical book encourages Christians to show kindness in a host of life's situations. It gives practical insights on the kind husband and the kind wife. It talks about parenting with kindness. Teachers and bullies are also addressed--each in their own individual chapters. This book speaks of kindness in conversation, kindness in judgements and perceptions, kindness in practical acts of service to others. In a nutshell, Christians must exude kindness.
Personal Thoughts: At the time of writing this review, I've finished this book for the third time--and I can guarantee that I'll be devouring it yet again in the future. Yes, it's that good. Every time I read it I'm convicted of my lack of kindness and encouraged to show more kindness in my relationships with my husband and children. I am reminded to be kind in my conversations and in my dealings with others. With the Lord's help, I truly want to grow in this grace. I really do think that this book should be in every library and I find myself recommending it to many people with very good feedback.
Quote: Smiles travel the miles and bring cheer wherever they go. A kind smile acknowledges the value of someone and conveys, "Hello fellow human being," A smile can communicate, "You're special." A smile can provide a glimmer of hope, "It'll be okay; you don't have to be sad." A smile of encouragement can say, "Hang in there, you're doing well," or "I understand; I've been there." --pg. 196
A Month of Sundays
Summary: Rest is not a concept reserved for Sundays. To be true Sabbath keepers we must develop daily attitudes of rest and worship. We are called to enjoy God everyday of the week. Despite hectic, busy days, pressing demands and anxieties, God tells us to daily rest in Him. Using familiar passages in Scripture, Mathes encourages her readers to recapture the concept of what it means to rest in the Lord every day of the week...and everyday of our lives.
Personal Thoughts: Set up as 31 short meditations, I encourage you to take a month to go through this little book. It's a good read! Each meditation starts with a verse of Scripture and I particularly like that she uses texts from both Old and New Testament. It is also refreshing to read bits of the Catechism littered throughout the book. There is a real gentleness to the way the author writes which accents the theme all the more.
Quote: If we observe Sabbath as a festive day of rest, our heart's attitude will spill into our daily routine. We
can find meaning in our work. Wherever we labour and whether or not our work is appreciated, we find rest by imitating Christ's humility. pg 79
Crazy Busy: a (Mercifully) Short Book About A (Really) Big
Summary: So what's keeping us busy? Is it pride, or people pleasing, or an inordinate amount of service to others? Is it our jobs, our families and our commitments? Business can be driven by good intentions as well as less honourable ones. Are we trying to do good or make ourselves look good? How does parenting or technology usage, or sleep, or service to others factor into this problem of business? While it is good to be busy, we need to realize that we simply cannot do something about everything. Each has their individual gifts and callings and this is especially true in the church of God.
Personal Thoughts: 'Crazy Busy' is crazy good! I love the spiritual dimension. I love the transparency of the author. I love the readability of the book. I love how he brings out the beauty and balance of how the individual gifts of other Christians benefit all. I particularly loved the pieces he wrote regarding hospitality, parenting, technology and sleep. Our motivations that keep us busy is such a key theme to the whole book. Wonderful read. Just excellent!
Quote: Every Christian should be involved in the Great Commission, but not everyone will move overseas. Every Christian should oppose abortion, but not everyone will adopt or volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. We need
Christians who spend their lives improving inner-city schools and Christians whose dream is to get great theological books translated into Polish. And we need Christians who don't make others feel guilty (and don't feel guilty
themselves) when one of us follows a different passion than another. I read and write a lot. That's what I do well.
But that doesn't mean anyone should feel guilty for not reading and writing as much as I do. You have your gifts and calling. We have to be okay with other Christians doing certain good things better and more often than we do. --pg 49,50