The blog post below was originally published on the Worship Matters blog on November 24, 2014. However, I wanted you to see this post here on our Plant & Build blog because this is an important project that I would ask you to prayerfully consider supporting. Here’s why: Translating Worship Matters into Spanish not only serves the broader body of Christ, it is also an expression of our desire at Sovereign Grace to participate in and support gospel work among Spanish speaking countries. As Carlos Contreras says so well, “In Sovereign Grace we have produced 5 worship albums in Spanish with wonderful music, yet we don’t have the basic teaching materials in Spanish that give the reasons for what we believe about worship.” I can’t improve on Carlos’s observation, so read this post and consider giving to the Worship Matters translation project.—Mark Prater
Since my book, Worship Matters, first came out in 2008, I’ve been greatly encouraged and humbled to hear how God has used it in the lives of planners, pastors, leaders, and musicians to promote singing in the church that is theologically aware, gospel driven, emotionally engaged, Spirit-empowered, and life changing.
The core of the book unpacks a definition for a “worship leader.” While I don’t think God has a specific job description for that role in Scripture, the almost universal use of the term led me to come up with a definition I trust is faithful to the Bible. I blogged on it years ago here, but eventually landed on this definition:
A faithful worship leader
magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ
through the power of the Holy Spirit
by skillfully combining Godʼs Word with music,
thereby motivating the gathered church
to proclaim the gospel,
to cherish Godʼs presence,
and to live for Godʼs glory.
Since the book came out it’s been published in Portuguese, Indonesian, Chinese, Korean, and Russian. But for some reason, we haven’t been able to find a Spanish publisher willing to take it on. It hasn’t been for lack of trying. I have numerous friends, especially Mauricio Velarde, who have been working on it to no avail. Crossway’s policy is that they’ll only give translation rights to a publisher, not an individual.
It’s been my prayer that Worship Matters could be published in Spanish for a number of reasons. We’ve been producing Spanish albums for a number of years. Sovereign Grace has a church in Juarez, Mexico led by Carlos Contreras, that has been faithfully translating and singing our songs for decades. We’ve also been working with our good friends at La IBI, led by Miguel Nuñez, in the Dominican Republic, to produce two Spanish albums, El Dios que Adoramos, and the soon to be released, La Salvación es del Señor. All the while, we’ve wanted to serve our Hispanic brothers and sisters not only with worship music, but theological training.
I was starting to think we’d never have a Spanish version of Worship Matters. But this past year, my son, Devon, made contact with Seth Magnuson, who works for The Gospel Coalition. Seth told us about The Gospel Coalition International Outreach and something called Relief Projects. They raise money to publish books in other languages to address the famine of theological resources that exists throughout the world.
Through a series of conversations with Crossway and The Gospel Coalition, Relief Projects graciously agreed to take on Worship Matters as one of their books. I was honored and thrilled. They’re seeking to raise $11,000 to produce 5,000 Spanish copies of Worship Matters. These will all be given away in various contexts to targeted individuals and ministries. People can also sign up to take copies of the book to Latin countries they’ll be traveling to through Packing Hope.
At some point, the translation will be made available online for download or viewing. It’s also possible a publisher might eventually pick up the translation.
Why am I telling you this? If you’ve benefited from the English version of Worship Matters, or even this blog, I’m asking if you’d consider giving towards the costs of producing a Spanish version. If 1,100 people gave $10 each, we’d reach our goal.
To find out more about the project and/or to donate, go to the (Spanish) Worship Matters Relief Project page. And whether or not you can give, please pray that God enables the Relief Project to be a means of great blessing to the Church throughout the world for the sake of the gospel and the glory of our great Savior.
Bob Kauflin is the Director of Music and Worship for Sovereign Grace and serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.
December 29, 2014 by
Categories: Articles | Books
One thing is certain: You are a different person today than you were at the beginning of the year because of something you read. If you’re a pastor, that means you think, worship, teach, and counsel differently. Much is at stake in the books we choose to read.
Because of this, last year I posted a list of significant books of 2013 for pastors. As this year comes to a close, we’re repeating that exercise in the hopes that it will again serve those who are laboring on behalf of Christ’s church.
A word about the choices. There is no shortage of opinions on “best books” of the year. Our governing category here is significant books that every pastor should at least be aware of and, if possible, read. Here are a few considerations that inform that category:
Although I’m not ticking genre boxes, I do have my eye on a range of books that contribute different kinds of value to pastors—theological treatments that deepen us doctrinally, historical works that broaden our perspective, exegetical works that take us deeper into the text of Scripture, and so on.
I’m looking for books that specifically benefit pastors, but I also have in mind the people they serve—whether these books help a pastor serve them indirectly through personal study, or whether a book could serve as a go-to resource or a book-table staple.
Devotional books will be more rare on this list, not because they’re unimportant but because their benefit can differ so widely from person to person. I try to include those that are particularly well grounded theologically and which, as a result, will benefit the most people (moreover, I share C.S. Lewis’s oft-quoted opinion that it is precisely theological books that are often the most devotionally beneficial).
I’ve enumerated these for ease of reference—the numbers mean nothing beyond #1.
1. God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World, David Wells. Far too few are the books that both inform the mind and expand the soul. This is one of them. God in the Whirlwind struck me as a sort of modern Knowing God, embedded in a searching cultural critique. If you’ve kept up with Wells’s multi-volume project examining the western church’s loss of theological vitality, you’re aware of the penetrating insights he brought to our cultural moment. As a remedy for our condition, Wells in this book issues a call for a recapturing of a biblical vision of God—a vision he describes as “the holy-love of God.” His unpacking and application of this vision will deepen your understanding and nourish your soul—and it will protect from dangerous drift everyone who takes to heart his message.
2. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship, Daniel Block. Worship is, of course, at the heart of Christian existence. Equipping others to worship is at the heart of the pastor’s job description. And the pastor will find no more thorough treatment of biblical worship than Block’s important book. Two delightful strengths of this book should be mentioned. First is its thorough examination of Old Testament worship to inform modern worship—instead of the typical dismissal of Old Testament worship as mere “form” or “ritual,” Block argues for a “continuity of principle” between the testaments that results in a rich synthesis. Secondly, each chapter concludes with thoughtful application of the biblical material for our own practice of worship (the applications in chapter 9—“Music as Worship”—should be read by every worship leader in your church). This is a remarkable book.
3. Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement, Donald MacLeod. Significant books on the cross should always find a place on the reading list of a pastor—especially when those books come from the pen of a seasoned theologian who has thought long and written vividly of the Savior and His work. This is one of those books. The book’s strategy is intuitive and helpful: MacLeod begins by exploring the testimony of the gospels (“the way of the cross”), and in the second half of the book he systemizes biblical teaching (“the word of the cross”). While thoroughly exploring the various dimensions of the cross, the book makes a vigorous contribution—always needed in our day—to the defense of penal substitution as a defining characteristic of the atonement.
4. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Tim Keller. Keller’s most recent book on suffering was by far my favorite of his. This book now competes for that place. Keller takes us on a journey that he himself traveled, and with which we are all familiar—to grow in a practice that is at once indispensable and yet often elusive. Who hasn’t cried out the words of the disciples, “Teach us to pray!”? Here you will find thoughtful definition, practical instruction, and stirring inspiration. Of particular note is how Keller navigates the tension between prayer as communion and prayer as action. As he skillfully demonstrates, it is both. And the book brims with insight and encouragement to pursue and experience both. I have certain go-to books that rekindle my hunger for communion for God (e.g., Matthew Henry’s A Method for Prayer: Freedom in the Face of God, John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy). I’ve now found a new one.
5. Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God, Dane Ortlund. Recent years have produced a veritable cottage industry of books on Jonathan Edwards. Amidst these offerings, I’m not sure I’ve seen a better introduction to Edwards than this book. And more than just introducing Edwards, Ortlund invites us into Edwards’s vision and enjoyment of God. That vision was complex and enjoyment intense, but Dane manages to convey it in clear and compelling terms. That’s really the payoff of this book—in it we don’t just learn about Edwards, but it positions us to learn from Edwards. And lest it veer into hagiography, the book concludes with a discerning final chapter on Edwards’s weaknesses.
6. Job: The Wisdom of the Cross, Christopher Ash. I’ve just recently come across this book, which came highly recommended to me by CJ Mahaney. It exceeded my expectations. Coming in an “expositional” series (Preaching the Word), I expected a collection of sample sermons—a sort of “homiletical model” for the book of Job. It is that, but so much more. Over and over again, Ash proves to be at once exegetically sensitive, theologically insightful, and pastorally wise. Two strengths particularly stood out to me. Ash is first patient. Too often, we jump quickly to the end of Job to neatly sum up its message; Ash mines his way through the book, allowing each portion to have its full effect in all its honesty and power. Second, and most importantly, Ash shows us, faithfully and insightfully, how Job reveals Christ to us—perhaps most significantly as he anticipates the One who suffered for us in perfect obedience to the Father. It’s hard to imagine a more satisfying treatment of this daunting book. This book will pastor you, even as it equips you to pastor others.
7. Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me, Kevin DeYoung. Kevin did here what he always seems to do: He distills his topic without diluting its substance. This short book on God’s book is imminently accessible, yet informed by the best of historic Reformed thinking on the doctrine of Scripture. While any pastor would benefit from this introductory book, I think it will particularly benefit the people we serve. Along with Packer’s God Has Spoken: Revelation and the Bible, this is one of the best introductions to the doctrine of Scripture I’ve read. I should also mention Sinclair Ferguson’s From the Mouth of God. Its three sections—“Trusting the Bible,” “Reading the Bible,” and “Applying the Bible”—suggest its usefulness for any Christian. Quite simply, this book will help you love your Bible more.
8. Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives, eds. Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves. The topics this book tackles are alternatively attacked, misunderstood, or simply ignored. Their importance, however, cannot be overestimated, making this collection of essays particularly important, especially for the pastor. The book addresses these issues from a variety of perspectives—biblical, theological, historical, and scientific. The biblical essays are particularly strong, bringing to the surface the importance of such subjects to the teaching of Scripture. Despite the wide range of essays, the book doesn’t address every issue with the same degree of depth; for example, some will find the scientific contributions lacking (if not problematic at points). It would be perhaps unfair to ask a single book to give full coverage to all the relevant issues. That said, the book admirably portrays orthodox doctrine and addresses many of the main challenges to it. That is no small contribution, as the doctrine of original sin is the Christian answer to fundamental theological and existential realities: the universality of sin, how we are affected by sin, what is our resulting condition having been so affected, and, ultimately, the nature of our dilemma that the gospel is designed to address.
9. God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey, Andreas J. Köstenberger and Margaret E. Köstenberger. Complementarians have some precious books in their arsenal. However, the relentless and ever-shifting cultural pressures on this area of biblical teaching call for ongoing and vigilant reflection, pastoral application, and faithful contending. This book does all three. Its importance lies especially in its approach to the biblical text: Rather than focusing on a few key, debated texts, the Köstenberger’s survey the span of Scripture to formulate its overall teaching on and vision for manhood and womanhood. A final chapter then summarizes and applies the biblical teaching. Other elements add to the book’s usefulness: Each chapter contains a list of “key resources,” and the book provides a helpful annotated bibliography. Finally, don’t miss the appendices: Much of the ground in debates over these issues has shifted toward hermeneutics, which two of the three appendices wisely address.
10. Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume 3, Craig Keener. I was tempted to wait another year or two until this massive four-volume series is completed and recognize the entire series at once (à la the “best picture” Oscar for The Lord of the Rings). The more I dip into this, however, the more appreciative I am of it (instead of simply being in awe of the sheer volume of work it represents). The full series may be beyond the budget of many pastors, but for an authoritative source on background issues, the New Testament literary environment (Jewish and Greco-Roman), critical interpretive issues, and the vast literature on Acts—not to mention Keener’s own detailed exegesis—these commentaries won’t soon be surpassed, constituting as they do a mini-library of Acts interpretation. Of particular interest to continuationists will be Keener’s treatment of the Spirit’s miraculous work in Acts. Keener’s own charismatic convictions and cross-cultural experience lend a fresh perspective to this truly remarkable commentary.
The line between the above list and a secondary “honorable mention” list is often very faint (if not entirely subjective). Here are some other notable books a pastor should be aware of:
God Has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology, Gerald Bray. We evangelicals tend to pay far too little attention to history. This is a historical theology text with an emphasis on historical, vividly tracing the development of doctrine through all the vicissitudes and complexities of the church’s story (an approach that differs from Allison’s Historical Theology, which is arranged topically).
Heaven, eds. Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson. Yet another outstanding entry in Crossway’s Theology In Community series, a careful and inspiring series of essays from biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral perspectives.
Redeeming Philosophy: A God-Centered Approach to the Big Questions, Vern Poythress. I want to read Dr. Poythress on anything. But this is a book I’ve been waiting for—a treatment of philosophy from a self-consciously Reformed perspective.
Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment, Gregg Allison. Both thorough and accessible, this outstanding resource goes way beyond giving “tips for witnessing to Catholics.” If you don’t have a helpful resource on this topic, here is an excellent one.
Mark (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), Mark Strauss. This series is a boon to pastors preparing sermons. In addition to exegetical observations, authors provide such helpful elements as the “main idea,” “structure,” and “exegetical outline” for each section of a biblical book. Strauss combines these details with a close attention to Mark’s narrative strategy, and he consistently keeps his eye on the gospel’s main thrust (Jesus).
George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father, Thomas Kidd. Most know Arnold Dallimore’s biography on Whitefield, but far fewer have conquered both volumes. Here is a much more concise, yet authoritative, treatment of the great evangelist.
It’s sobering to think that each of us will be different at the end of 2015 than we are today. What we read will undoubtedly play an important role in that change. Regardless of your particular interests and needs, let’s purpose together in 2015 to steward the precious gift of reading, along with the wealth of resources at our disposal. Who knows how God will use a simple book this coming year to make you different, for His glory and your joy?
As Director of Theology and Training for Sovereign Grace, Jeff Purswell is the Dean of our Pastors College, leads our theological training, and helps develop theological resources. He is also an elder at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. He and his wife, Julie, have two sons.
March 19, 2014 by
Categories: Books | Resources
True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre is now available for purchase!
According to the book's description, “Exposing the lie of physical perfection for what it really is, True Beauty directs women to the truth of God’s Word, which proclaims an entirely different—and refreshingly liberating—standard for beauty.”
Here are a few endorsements of the book:
“Finally . . . the book I’ve been wishing someone would write—a book that helps women like me who obsess about our own beauty (or more accurately, our lack there-of) to the detriment of our souls and our witness to the beauty and sufficiency of Christ. The answers Carolyn and Nicole put forward to our consuming and crippling desires to be beautiful on the world’s terms are neither square nor simplistic but rather completely scriptural and deeply satisfying.”
—Nancy Guthrie, Bible Teacher; author, Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series
“Combining the eminently practical with the deeply theological, Carolyn and Nicole give us a work that is both terrifically up-to-date and rooted in God’s unchanging Word. With plenty of personal anecdotes and an inviting conversational style, True Beauty will meet women of all ages right where they are. But it won’t leave them there! Carolyn and Nicole expose the lies we have picked up from the world and the half-truths that get passed along from well-meaning but misguided believers. We will recommend this book often and set it aside for our daughters to read as they grow up.”
—Kevin and Trisha DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan, and his wife
“What woman hasn’t struggled with the impossible standards of beauty bombarding her from magazine covers to her own mirror? We owe a debt of gratitude to Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre for taking on this confusing ‘crisis of beauty.’ From self-loathing to apathetic acceptance, from closets to curbside, from plunging necklines to plastic surgery, the authors help us dig down to the real issue—our pursuit of self-glory. They show us the link between a woman’s heart and her purity, modesty, and body image. True Beauty is theologically astute as well as practical, offering deliberate suggestions without being dictatorial, freeing us to develop our own Christ-honoring tastes as we see and savor authentic beauty in God and his Word. True Beauty will help every reader steward her beauty effectively for Christ. Read it. I can’t wait to see the results!”
—Jani Ortlund, Executive Vice President, Renewal Ministries; author, Fearlessly Feminine and His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy
“This book contains fascinating and eye-opening information about our American beauty habits. Carolyn and Nicole have acted as our research assistants to open our eyes to the vanity of physical beauty and our hearts to the power of true beauty.”
—Dannah Gresh, best-selling author and creator of Secret Keeper Girl
Purchase a copy of the book now from the Sovereign Grace Store (or Amazon).
January 7, 2014 by
Categories: Articles | Books | eBook | Worship
Bob Kauflin, the Director of Worship for Sovereign Grace, has been blogging at WorshipMatters.com since 2005. Since he started the blog, Bob has written hundreds of posts addressing a variety of topics related to worship. These topics include gospel-centered worship, reverence, idolatry, receiving correction, evaluating music, and many, many other topics. He has also answered lots of valuable questions submitted by readers.
We have sought to collect the best posts from Bob's blog and compile them into a free e-book entitled The Best of WorshipMatters.com. We believe this e-book will be a valuable resource for worship leaders, musicians, and anyone desiring to grow in their understanding of Biblical worship.
We have made the book available in .MOBI (Kindle) format, .EPUB format (iBooks), and PDF.
DOWNLOAD THE BOOK HERE.
January 3, 2014 by
Categories: Articles | Books
This post was written by Jeff Purswell, the dean of the Sovereign Grace Pastor's College and the Sovereign Grace Director of Theology and Training.
The end of a year brings forth endless lists - “best of,” “worst of,” “most significant,” “most over-rated” - one last chance in the year for people to publish their opinions. Some lists are more useful than others, and for pastors, book lists are doubtless the most interesting.
Any such list, by definition, reflects personal preference, if not outright bias. Despite this, I thought it might be helpful to highlight a few of the more significant books for pastors in 2013. I won’t call this a “best of” list, which begs the question, “best” for what?, and virtually assures I’ll leave off a book (books?) that are better. However, I do think the following are significant books that every pastor should at least be aware of and, if possible, read. So here goes:
- Thy Word is Still Truth: Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture from the Reformation to Today, ed. Peter A. Lillback and Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. (Westminster Seminary Press and P&R). Simply put: Whoa. I eagerly awaited this book and was not disappointed. As a compendium of texts on the doctrine of Scripture from the dawn of the Reformation until the present, the book accomplishes two massive tasks: (a) it compiles some of the most profound and precise statements about and formulations of the doctrine of Scripture in the past 500 years (thus providing an education in itself), and (b) it demonstrates that the evangelical church’s high view of Scripture—its authority, sufficiency, inerrancy—is no pedantic innovation, but stands in full continuity with the historic view of the church throughout the centuries, and particularly the Reformed tradition. Don’t pause - just get this book.
- From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective ed. David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson (Crossway). A tour de force on the doctrine of definite atonement, exploring it from a historical, biblical, theological, and practical perspective. That’s why it’s so important. The doctrine of definite atonement is far too often treated as an isolated, rationalistic, humanly-derived doctrine—the ugly step-sister of the TULIP, too easily discarded by those more comfortable with four petals. Opponents dismiss the doctrine as a narrow concern of systematicians whose structures take precedence over the text of Scripture. This multi-faceted treatment belies such caricatures, showing the doctrine rather to be part of the very fabric of God’s gracious, saving work: vital in the history of the church, exegetically defensible, tightly enmeshed in the organic structure of biblical theology, and deeply strengthening to the souls of believers.
- Fallen: A Theology of Sin, ed. Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson (Crossway). Few doctrines are so tightly embedded within the Bible’s storyline yet so easily ignored or dismissed by Christians. And the evangelical church - particularly the so-called “young, restless, and Reformed” wing, with its self-conscious (and very healthy) gospel-emphasis - can be vulnerable to muddy-thinking (and sloppy living) when it comes to sin. Here is an outstanding collection of essays (confession: I haven’t read them all yet, but I will) that examines sin biblically (and from various parts of the canon), theologically, culturally, and pastorally. A precious gift to a church that exults in grace but which stands on this side of the consummation.
- Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609, Scott M. Manetsch (Oxford Univ. Press). I loved this book. Mining the archives of Geneva, Manetsch, a church historian at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, explores both the pastoral theology and the ministerial practice of the men who served with and succeeded Calvin as pastors in Geneva and its environs. Here were men whose deep commitment to Scripture and the theological vision it imparts found energetic expression in the practicals of daily ministry. These pastors - the “Venerable Company” as they were sometimes called - jealously guarded the legacy they received from Calvin, yet were required to adapt church ministry to the political, religious, and social vicissitudes of their age. In an age where pastoral confusion abounds, with pastors bombarded by leadership fads on the one hand and the whims and demands of congregations on the other, there is wealth of wisdom here, as well as an inspiring example of ministry that had at its core the written word of God.
- Galatians, Douglas J. Moo (Baker Academic). Any list for pastors should include a commentary, and this is my choice for 2013. Full disclosure: Doug was one of my exegesis professors, and so I’m eternally indebted to him and I read about everything he writes. But this is an important entry for a number of reasons, not least because of Moo’s expertise in Romans. One of the hot topics in Pauline studies for years has been Paul’s seemingly contradictory views of the Mosaic law (as seen, e.g., between Romans and Galatians). Moo is perfectly suited to navigate these waters. More generally, any commentator on Galatians must be acutely aware of the various New Perspectives on Paul that have emerged over the past decades and served as new lenses through which to view Paul’s letters. Moo brings a deep understanding of this range of interpretations and interacts with them as he carefully lays out his own understanding of the text. I have yet to go through the entire commentary, but its careful tracing of Paul’s salvation-historical argument in the letter (including both elements of continuity and discontinuity in salvation-history), as well as his observations on Paul’s larger structures of thought (e.g., on the nature of grace), are vintage Moo, placing this commentary at the top of my recommendations for Galatians.
Honorable Mentions: Perhaps to anticipate complaints at the outset, here are a few other books published this year well worth one’s attention:
- Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief, John M. Frame (P&R). “Why didn’t you mention Frame’s new Systematic?” Well there, I did. The reasons I didn’t include it above are two: (1) it’s obvious. I’ve seen this book in almost every pastor’s office I’ve been in over the past two months, so it needed no additional exposure; and (2) it’s familiar. Frame’s fertile thinking and prolific writing constitute a familiar voice for many evangelical pastors. This book expands that happy conversation to the whole field of systematic theology.
- The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, Thomas R. Schreiner (Baker Academic). I haven’t completed this book, but a project of this scope by an author of Schreiner’s caliber is always worthy of note. Three strengths are immediately apparent: Schreiner’s organizing themes (God as Lord, humans in God’s image, and the land/place where God’s rule is exercised) emerge demonstrably from the text of Scripture and are sufficiently broad to embrace its scope; the book is comprehensive - it doesn’t selectively dance over themes, but traces them throughout the books of the canon; and Schreiner’s typical devotional warmth is apparent throughout. An excellent contribution to the increasing attempts of a whole-bible biblical theology.
- It’s also worth noting the publication this year of the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. Although any “study bible” requires a warning label to differentiate the comments of writers from the biblical text itself (especially interpretive comments), a study bible that highlights the role of the gospel throughout the Scriptures is a welcome tool (cf. Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; Acts 28:23; et al). Although the choice of a few of the contributors puzzled me, the project itself is well-conceived and the net result edifying - this will prove a helpful companion to many in perceiving the unity of Scripture and the connective tissue of the gospel throughout.
As pastors—particularly those of us in the west—we have an embarrassment of riches, of which the above books are merely a sampling. Whatever your preferred choices, and wherever your interests lie, let’s make 2014 a year when each us, like never before, heeds the call to “take up and read,” doing our best to present ourselves to God as unashamed workers, handling accurately the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
+original photo by limaoscarjuliet
June 10, 2013 by
We all experience stress, anxiety, grief, conflict, depression, and despair – pain that causes us to cry out for peace. Taking on these common yet critical hardships, a seasoned pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church and biblical counselor Andy Farmer shows us where to find and how to experience true, lasting peace—peace with God, peace with each other, and peace with ourselves.
Andy writes that, “The thing that pushed me to actually do this [write Real Peace], was my experience in pastoral counseling and care. As I studied peace, I became much more attuned to how people I was meeting with related to it. I began to realize that nearly everyone I talked to, regardless of their situation, was thirsting for something like peace in their lives. Whether they use the actual word or not, embedded in the language people used to describe their life struggles is a desperate cry for peace. This is abundantly obvious with the people I talk to who don’t claim a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Even among Christians who are not in difficult struggles, the lack of peace is real. I had a friend ask me today what I was writing on, and when I told her it was peace, she simply sighed, ‘Ahh…I’d love that.’”
Real Peace: What We Long for and Where to Find It is now available through Crossway Publishers in both paperback and eBook form.
You can read more from Andy Farmer at the Biblical Counseling Coalition blog.
March 15, 2012 by
Categories: Books | Resources
The Gospel Story for Kids is a new church and family curriculum designed to help ground children in the gospel through using Bible stories from Genesis to Revelation, all in the ESV translation. The program is designed by Marty Machowski, a family life pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
This group of resources includes elements for church children’s ministry settings as well as for families:
- The Gospel Story for Kids Sunday school curriculum, which is being rolled out now and is already being used in over 200 churches, includes 156 stories (78 Old Testament and 78 New Testament) as well activities, coloring pages, and Scripture memory verses.
- The Gospel Story Bible is an illustrated children’s storybook Bible that can be used both in the Sunday school classroom and at home.
- Two family-friendly devotionals, Long Story Short and Old Story New, are great for using at home.
The goal of this program is ultimately to teach children the Bible while helping them to catch a glimpse of the gospel in each story. It is designed so that children who begin the program at age three will be able to complete the gospel story from Genesis to Revelation three times by age twelve.
Check out www.GospelStoryforKids.com to learn more about the curriculum, buy existing products, and keep up with news about forthcoming products.
December 29, 2010 by
Categories: Books | Resources
Now that the Christmas gifts are unwrapped and the toys are assembled (hopefully), you may be thinking about family devotions for the new year. If that’s you, here’s a new book to consider.
Long Story Short is a family devotional designed to take your family through the Old Testament in ten minutes a day, showing how each story points forward to Jesus Christ. Each day’s entry includes Scripture reading, questions to help your kids think about the passage, and suggestions for praying together. For a sample, check out this free PDF of chapter 1, courtesy of New Growth Press.
Author Marty Machowski has six kids and has been a pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church (Glen Mills, PA) since 1988. He currently leads Covenant Fellowship’s children’s ministry. Here’s how he describes the book in the introduction:
Few Christian parents would disagree with the importance of passing on the truth of the gospel to their children, yet we live in a busy world… Just getting all the tasks of the day checked off our list can leave any parent exhausted….
That is where I hope Long Story Short will help. The Bible can seem like a long story, but when you break it down into short devotions, teaching the Bible to your family is easy to do. The goal of this devotional is to, day by day, pass on a clear gospel message showing our children how every story in the Bible points forward or back to the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s story of salvation….
As you faithfully lead your children through the devotions in this book, don’t just read it as history. It is history, but it is so much more! Lead with expectation that the God of history will visit with your family. Wait and watch to see what God will do! Cling with faith to this hope, that through the gospel proclamation in your home, the Holy Spirit will regenerate the hearts of your children and lead them to faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone!
Long Story Short is available for $14 at our store.
December 11, 2010 by
Categories: Books | Weekly roundup
In lieu of our usual weekly roundup, here’s a list of all the books C.J. Mahaney recommended on his blog this year. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for a pastor, church planter, or anyone else, one of these may be what you’re looking for. (The books are listed in order from least technical to most technical.)
And if the person you’re shopping for already has all of these, may we suggest a Christmas lawn ornament?
What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. This book “provides a biblically faithful explanation of the gospel and equips Christians to discern deviations from that glorious message,” as C.J. noted in his endorsement. You can browse a free PDF of chapter 7 at Crossway.org.
Just the Way I Am: God’s Good Design in Disability by Krista Horning, with a foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada. C.J. calls it “a unique and valuable resource for parents and pastors who get asked the honest questions from children with disabilities.”
The Essential Edwards Collection, written and edited by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney, with an introduction by John Piper. Contains five volumes, subtitled Lover of God, On Beauty, On Heaven and Hell, On the Good Life, and On True Christianity. C.J.’s endorsement says, “Strachan and Sweeney provide a doorway into the life and teaching of one of the church’s wisest theologians.”
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson. C.J. writes that this book is “destined to serve readers in their appreciation of the gospel as [Carson] expounds on both the death and resurrection of the Savior.”
It Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement by Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence. C.J. suggests that it “can provide a pastor with a sermon series on the gospel.”
By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me by Sinclair Ferguson. C.J. writes that this “book on the gospel of the grace of God is a gem—showing us why we should be amazed by it.”
For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor. Twenty-seven essays on theological topics relating to Piper’s life and ministry, most of them from scholars, and a chapter from C.J., who says his chapter was “not written by a scholar, in case you were wondering.”
God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom by Graham Cole. “A wonderful book that explains why God's intention to restore shalom (peace) to his creation requires the death of Christ.” More info available here.
Atonement by various authors, edited by Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer. A compilation of messages delivered over the years at the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. As Fluhrer writes, “This is a book about blood and it soaks every page."
November 12, 2010 by
Categories: Books | Resources
C.J. Mahaney recently contributed a chapter to the book For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper. The publisher generously allowed us to post C.J.’s chapter, “The Pastor and the Trinity,” online for free.
The chapter is an exposition of 2 Corinthians 13:14, an easy-to-ignore passage that Gordon Fee calls “in many ways…the most profound theological moment in the Pauline corpus.” C.J. endeavors to help pastors care for their churches by daily applying the grace of the Savior, the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
The chapter is posted in eleven parts on C.J.’s blog, and you can read the whole thing here.