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.
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.
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
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
The Valley of Vision
Summary: A Christian must pray. So many of us know the proper parts of prayer : Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. But as we sit and try to focus on these aspects, our mind wanders or our heart is unmoved. Our prayers are often so stale and unfit for the living God. This book is full of prayers written by godly men who were enthralled with the Lord. There are many topics that one can flip to when found in different circumstances. These prayers can be prayed, or they can be read as an aid to lift our hearts and minds into a better frame of mind to pray.
Personal Thoughts: I have referenced this book many times. It sits on the shelf right beside the spot where I spend my morning prayers. I confess my heart is often cold, my thoughts sluggish; the words held within these pages have often kindled a greater desire to pray as I meditated upon the beauty of the Lord. This book has given me words to pray and it has given me a deeper awe for the Lord as many of these prayers magnify some aspect or attribute of our God. This book has brought a lot of maturity to my prayers, moving me away from those quick and generic petitions and typical requests that once permeated my prayers. I would encourage you to find a copy to slowly and meditatively digest. With the Spirit's help, you will certainly grow in prayer and love for the Lord.
Prayer on Penitence:
O Lord Of Grace,
I have been hasty and short in private prayer,
O quicken my conscience to feel this folly, to bewail this ingratitude;
My first sin of the day leads into others,
and it is just that thou shouldst withdraw thy presence
from one who waited carelessly on thee.
Keep me at all times from robbing thee,
and from depriving my soul of thy due worship;
Let me never forget that I have an eternal duty to love, honour and obey thee,
that thou art infinitely worthy of such;
that if I fail to glorify thee
I am guilty of infinite evil that merits infinite punishment,
for sin is the violation of an infinite obligation.
O forgive me if I have dishonoured thee,
Melt my heart, heal my backslidings, and open an intercourse of love.
When the fire of thy compassion warms my inward man,
And the outpourings of thy Spirit fill my soul,
then I feelingly wonder at my own depravity, and deeply abhor myself;
then thy grace is a powerful incentive to repentance,
and an irresistible motive to inward holiness.
May I never forget that thou hast my heart in thy hands.
Apply to it the merits of Christ’s atoning blood whenever I sin.
Let thy mercies draw me to thyself.
Wean me from all evil, mortify me to the world,
and make me ready for my departure hence
animated by the humiliations of penitential love.
My soul is often a chariot without wheels,
clogged and hindered in sin’s miry clay;
Mount it on eagle’s wings
and cause it to soar upward to thyself.
All Things For Good
Summary: A beautiful discourse on Romans 8:28. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called, according to His purpose." The best things work for good to the godly. The worst things work for good to the godly. Why? Because the Lord has made a covenant with His people. 'I am thy God.' He is our God, Physician, Father and Friend. How can we do anything but love Him and worship Him in response?
Personal Thoughts: I picked up this book thinking it would be about God upholding us during trials. But in true Puritanical fashion, it was SO much more than that. Yes, it started with speaking of trials in a believer's life, but also within these pages there is a beautiful piece that encouraged Christians to grow in love to God. Watson so patiently and helpfully explains what that love to God looks like in a believer's life and why it needs to be cultivated continually. The author also delved into a believer finding immense joy and humility in the fact that God called us. If that were not enough, Watson packs a little more into this short 127 page treatise. He finishes by teaching his readers about assurance and how to know they are of God.
Quote: Christ is not content till the saints are in His arms. This prayer, which He made on earth (John 17) is the copy and pattern of His prayer in heaven. What a comfort is this; when Satan is tempting, Christ is praying! This works for good. --pg 23
Jonathan Edwards--Reflections 300 Years Later
John Piper & various authors
Summary: A great little booklet that covers the life, thoughts, ideas and practices of Jonathan Edwards. Many of his
personal resolutions are also found within these pages.
Personal Thoughts: I LOVED it! I learned a lot about this Puritan that I didn't know. I learned of some of his quirks and was impressed of his high thoughts of God. The fact that God is greatly glorified when we enjoy Him greatly, repeatedly leapt off the page.
The Heart of Christ
Summary: Have you ever thought, and I mean really considered, how much Christ loves sinners--yes, you and I? And what is it that draws him to us? Do you know? Goodwin says that it is our afflictions and--almost unbelievably--our sins. The language is strong, the explanations are grounded in Scripture. You will find the book at times intense, and I daresay the only response is to fall to your knees. Christ loved His people while on earth; he loves them today as he sits in heaven. If you take the time to thoughtfully and prayerfully read this book I promise you that you will come out of it calling your Christ precious--so very, very precious.
Personal Thoughts: I have read this book 3 times now. In a nutshell the book talks about how, despite Christ now being in heaven, still has a great love for His people--based on Hebrews 4:15. This year I read it for the second and third time. I was determined to sit and wrestle with it until I understood the concept. I took this book everywhere--to the church, to Boston Pizza, to the bush, in the shop, to piano lessons... I pored over this book, I prayed over this book, I even made notes and marked up this book--and I do NOT write in books! I bought this copy especially for that purpose. If you opened the book you would see words written in the margins that say, 'Prove it Goodwin! I don't believe you!' You would see giant stars marking key paragraphs and individual underlined words. You would see Scripture references scrawled out and large question marks beside bold statements. The cover is a little battered--proof, I suppose, that I spent a good deal of time with it. In this book Goodwin does an amazing job of exposing the tender heart of Christ towards his people. Every second on this earth was traveled out of love for us. I am convinced of the Savior's love for me. I no longer see His death as simply a duty that had to be done. The language is strong; the explanations are grounded in Scripture. The book is, at times, intense and I found myself needing to shut it because it was simply too much to take in--almost painfully so. I have never had a book that made such an impact on me. Christ loved His people while on earth; he loves them today as he sits in heaven.
Quote: I pray not for the world', says he (John 17), I will not open my lips for one son of perdition; but I employ all my
blood, my prayers, and my whole interest with thee but for those thyself hast given me. And, says he, though thou hast given me a personal glory, which I had before the world was, yet there is another glory, which I account of almost as much, and that is, in their being saved. 'I am glorified in them', says he (vs 10), 'and they are my joy (vs 13)