The books reviewed here are offered as resources to help believers in Christ "grow up into Him in all things" (Eph. 4:15). Our prayer for those who read these reviews and the books themselves is that of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:9-11: "...that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."
Books Reviewed Here:
A Handbook for Minister's Wives
Patterson, Dorothy Kelley.
Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2002. 236 pp.
Reviewed by Victoria Zekveld, wife of TMS Student Andrew Zekveld
As wives of Seminary students, we anticipate the time when our husbands will be called to a ministry where we can settle down and get involved. However, in this there are also concerns about the unknown, hopes for opportunities to serve, and expectations of what it will be like to be the wife of a man in ministry. There are many great resources available to help prepare us, and Dorothy Patterson's A Handbook for Minister's Wives is one of them.
Mrs. Patterson is the wife of Paige Patterson, who has served in many leadership positions with the Southern Baptists, including being a pastor for many years, serving as president of the convention and also president of two different seminaries. She is often referred to as the “First Lady” in these different ministries. Today, her husband is the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
The book is a collection of the author’s experiences and wisdom gained over many years as a minister’s wife. She writes to encourage, exhort, convict and help those who are going into ministry as well as those who have served for many years. The book’s topics cover every aspect of life: church, spiritual issues, personal, family and home arenas. From how to hold a proper tea party and be a good hostess, to time management and being an efficient homemaker, one can only be amazed at the wealth of knowledge and great ideas she has! There is also a special devotional aspect to Mrs. Patterson’s writing which puts the book’s practical content into a heavenly perspective.
Reading this handbook is almost as good as sitting at the author’s feet and learning from this wise and godly woman personally! I have already found this book useful and cannot wait to implement more of Mrs. Patterson’s ideas in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and recommend it to all who are preparing or desire more equipping for the ministry that lies ahead.
A Sweet and Bitter Providence
Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009. 160 pp.
Reviewed by Carrie Ring, wife of TMS student Creighton Ring
Would you like to see a portion of God’s grace? Do you desire that your love for Christ be rekindled? Is your understanding of God’s sovereignty over your life ever in doubt? If you have answered “yes” to one or all of these questions, then A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper will be a help to you. In four short chapters the author dives into the book of Ruth and explores the questions we all ask ourselves. He shows readers that Ruth is more than one of the most famous biblical love stories ever told, it is a portrait of a life given over fully to God.
John Piper sums up the book of Ruth beautifully as he writes, “The book of Ruth wants to teach us that God’s purpose for his people is to connect us to something far greater than ourselves. God wants us to know that when we follow him, our lives always mean more than we think they do.” I believe all of you will be blessed by reading again a story that shows the real picture of God’s sovereignty and the implications this truth has for our lives.
John Piper writes, “When you believe in the sovereignty of God and that he loves to work mightily for those who trust him, it gives a freedom and courage that isn’t abandoned in hard times. The story of Ruth—and of all the courageous women who followed her—gives us a glimpse into the hidden work of God during the worst of times ….the book of Ruth was written that we might abound in hope—and in that hope live lives of Christ exalting courage.”
As I read A Sweet and Bitter Providence I was challenged and convicted in my understanding of God’s sovereignty in all of life’s circumstances. I hope you find similar encouragement and challenge as you read the book of Ruth in a whole new light.
Assured by God: Living in the Fullness of God's Grace
Parsons, Burk, ed.
New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2007. 204 pp.
Reviewed by Andrea Hernandez, wife of TMS student, Kempiz Hernandez
In my journey of faith, perhaps because of disobedience or reliance on feelings rather than God’s Word, I have been tempted to doubt my salvation. I began to pray to the Lord for insight and direction in this area, not only to quiet my own heart, but also to help other believers who wrestle with the issue of assurance. The Lord graciously answered my prayer in many ways, one of which was reading the book Assured by God. The book is a collection of writings on the subject of the assurance of salvation by authors such as Al Mohler, Sinclair Ferguson, John MacArthur, and Jerry Bridges. They write with a pastoral desire to help believers better understand God’s promises and to help them live in the fullness and joy of God’s grace in their lives.
Second Peter 1:10 records the command to seek assurance of our salvation, not in morbid introspection, but in self examination that is focused on Christ, so that our hearts may be assured in Christ alone and by faith alone. This book corrects faulty, unbiblical thinking that prevents true peace by carefully explaining and applying familiar New Testament passages concerning our salvation. One such passage is Philippians 1:6 where we are encouraged to have confidence that, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Christ.” This reminds us that our faith was initiated by God the Father. It was made possible by the Son and is now sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is not initiated at all by human choice, nor kept by any human effort. Our redemption is all of grace, and thus, all of the glory goes to God. Christ is at work in and through us, and it is His work, not our own, that is the entire ground of our acceptance with God. What freedom exists when we understand this!
The book also points out that this assurance of His saving grace should stimulate our hearts to faithful, God glorifying service to our King. May we continue to run the race with endurance, setting our minds on our awesome and mighty Savior and Lord and, in obedience to the instructions stated in Hebrews 12:2, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. As for me, I can now give praise to God for the peace He has accomplished in my heart with the precious and glorious reality of the assurance of God’s sustaining grace.
Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life
Fitzpatrick, Elyse M.
Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010. 224 pp.
Reviewed by Adrienne Hull, wife of TMS student Daniel Hull
“In our pursuit of godliness have we left Jesus behind?” This is the question Elyse Fitzpatrick asks believers to consider in her book Because He Loves Me. The book unveils the secret behind every believer’s struggle with sin and calls each of us to “gospelized obedience.”
The author writes, “the Gospel is for every day.” She asks her reader to re-examine the relevance of Gospel truth—Christ’s incarnation, His earthly ministry, atoning death and resurrection—to the daily struggle to overcome sin and please God. She contends that a believer fails in personal holiness because she has forgotten the practical implications of God’s love as shown through Christ. Daily applying the truth of her identity, position and hope in her loving Savior gives the believer the proper motivation for obedience. Fitzpatrick shows readers how God’s Word links “Gospel declarations” (truths about Christ’s work on our behalf) with “Gospel obligations” (commands to obedience and personal holiness). “Gospel declaration” must be understood before we are able to obey the “Gospel obligations.” Those who seek to serve God out of personal pride and self will or an overwhelming sense of duty are not truly pleasing God—no matter how strongly they desire to please Him. What a simply astounding message Because He Loves Me delivers. Elyse breathes life back into the Gospel message for every believer who has been attempting to “pick themselves up by their boot strings” and ‘act’ like a Christian by following a checklist or a behavioral formula. The reader will be called to view obedient living in a new light, that of God’s love through the Gospel.
Read this book; meditate upon its teaching, and you may never see sin and holiness the same way again. You will, by God’s grace, discover the secret to personal obedience as you view God’s love afresh and His grace unchanged.
Choosing Gratitude--Your Journey to Joy
DeMoss, Nancy Leigh
Chicago, Moody Publishers, 2009. 234pp.
Barbara Barrick, wife of TMS professor Dr. Bill Barrick
“Thank you” is one of the first responses that parents teach their children when training them to be polite and exhibit thankfulness. So, too, our heavenly Father wants His children to be thankful. The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:7, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Although gratitude is not a natural virtue, it is something that we can learn with God’s help through the pages of Scripture. In her book, Choosing Gratitude, Nancy Leigh DeMoss explains various aspects of gratitude and its importance on our “journey to joy.”
How important is gratitude? The author maintains that “To a significant degree, your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, as well as the health and stability of your relationships with others, will be determined by your gratitude quotient” (17). She reminds us that with every circumstance that comes our way we have the choice “to whine or to worship” (23). Choosing Gratitude helps us respond with worship. A biblical definition of gratitude is more than just the ability to say thank you.” It involves cultivating a truly thankful heart as we consider that even hard or unpleasant things can be used by God for good.
Miss DeMoss shares several reasons for choosing and increasing gratitude in our lives. Jesus is our example in this as He demonstrated “a spirit of gratitude” on many occasions in His life (Luke 10:21; John 11:41) including when sharing food with the multitudes (Mark 8) and at the last supper (Luke 22:17, 19; Matthew 26:27). In contrast, Miss DeMoss also shows problems that result from ingratitude. Among those, consider Romans 1:21, “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened” (DeMossʼ italics, 52).
The basic study of gratitude is only 158 of the total pages; however, Choosing Gratitude contains other resources for growth in gratitude. There is a stand alone “Growing in Gratitude 30 Day Devotional Guide”* in newer editions of the book. A list of nearly fifty hymn titles is also included to help the readers show thankfulness through music in her devotional time.
Every believer would benefit from this easy to read but insightful book on the important “grace gift” virtue of gratitude that should become a lifestyle for us. Be thankful. God has commanded it—for our good and for His glory” (63). May we be like the psalmist in Psalm 30:12, “I will give thanks to you forever.”
*Note: the guide is also available free online at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can get started growing your gratitude today and be that much ahead by the time you read the book.
Comforts from the Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time
Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009. 146pp.
Janice Osborne, wife of TMS professor Dr. Kelly Osborne
In Comforts from the Cross, author Elyse Fitzpatrick invites readers to consider and celebrate the truth of the gospel each day. The series of thirty one devotional writings is not a recitation of the “facts” of the gospel; facts which most believers in Christ could readily recall. Instead, these short meditations help readers to consider “how those facts are to inform, free, gladden and enliven your soul every day” ( 89).
Mrs. Fitzpatrick defines the truth of the gospel as follows: “I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, more loved and welcomed than I ever dared hope. I deserved nothing and have been given everything” (89). Focusing daily on Christ’s incarnation, sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, ascension and ongoing reign as Lord of all will keep Christians mindful of the greatness of God’s love in saving us when there was nothing we had done to merit His love and grace. Not only was this true at the point of salvation, but it also continues to be true in the daily life of each Christian: “The key to a godly life is not more and more self-generated effort. . . The secret to obedience isn’t formulaic steps found in a self-help book. It is a relentless pursuit of love for him [Christ]” (60). Dwelling on Christ’s love, obedience, faithfulness and strength will cause believers to love Him more. Love rather than duty will become the motive for obeying Him.
Each day’s reading begins with a verse or two of Scripture related to a gospel truth. Over the course of a few pages, Mrs. Fitzpatrick “unpacks” the truth of the passage and makes application to how we think and act. Some of the questions she asks readers to consider through these devotions include:
• Am I a glory robber, robbing God of His rightful glory by a desire to have recognition for my effort to be a “good” Christian?
• Am I unfazed by God’s grace as the ungrateful servant was in Matthew 18?
• Do I understand the difference between self-condemnation which acts on my pride and conviction which “draws me away from myself and toward God” (36)?
• How does the truth of the gospel affect my prayer life?
Comforts from the Cross is a treasury of gospel truth profitable for believers at all ages and stages of their Christian life. This book is an excellent resource for drawing our hearts to a greater love for our Lord, taking our eyes off of ourselves and helping focus our minds and hearts on all God has given us in and through His Son.
Don't Make Me Count to Three
Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2003. 155 pp.
Reviewed by Katie Scarborough, wife of TMS student Mark Scarborough.
All mothers experience times when handling discipline issues appropriately seems to slide out of sight, leaving a struggling mom in “survival mode”. At times like this, I find myself looking for practical helps on how to “undo” what I may have unintentionally created. Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman will help moms avoid these dilemmas by focusing on disciplining children biblically.
The author begins by explaining the difference between disciplining outward behavior and dealing with a child’s heart. She challenges parents not only to understand their children, but also to train children to understand their own hearts and make wise decisions based on God’s Word. Plowman believes the aim of biblical discipline must be “to get them [children] to think right and to be motivated out of a love of virtue rather than a fear of punishment.” (26).
This fundamental task of parenting can be intimidating. Plowman answers question like, “How do I probe my child’s heart?” and “What kind of questions do I ask?” to help parents see how this can be practiced in daily life. Midway through the book she includes a chart designed to help the parent identify the child’s sinful behavior, ask heart probing questions, and explain verses that address the behavior.
In the remainder of the book Plowman addresses the rod and reproof of discipline. She emphasizes the need for children to go beyond knowing what they have done wrong to learning how to have biblical responses instead of sinful actions. This is done using God’s Word, along with giving children many opportunities to practice right responses. In addition to discussing the proper use and misuse of the rod, the last few chapters evaluate other methods of discipline such as bribing, threatening, reasoning from a biblical perspective. The appendices offer advice on how to lead your child to Christ, along with Scripture to pray for your child.
Don’t Make Me Count to Three is easy to understand and concise. It is an excellent resource for busy mothers because it succinctly summarizes what many other excellent parenting books say and is full of practical applications. While admitting she is not a perfect parent, Plowman brings God’s high calling of parenthood into focus, and challenges readers to persevere in training their little ones in righteousness. It is a book worth adding to any collection of parenting resources.
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp is another highly recommended parenting resource.
Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why
Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2010. 256pp.
Whitney Hauser, wife of TMS student Jason Hauser
The Lord used one of Joshua Harris' first books, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, to challenge and then totally revolutionize my thinking about dating, love, and marriage. His new book, Dug Down Deep, is no less meaningful and not any less challenging to me. Pastor Harris takes his reader on a journey into discovering why having a solid base of sound biblical truth is necessary for Christian living. In a review posted to the West Hickory Baptist Church blog on June 9, 2010, Pastor Scot Frady wrote, “Dug Down Deep is an interesting mix of theology and biography as Harris skillfully weaves the story of his own spiritual journey into a discussion of the foundational beliefs which should shape our lives as Christians.” Joshua Harris' vulnerability in relating his personal struggles, coupled with the engaging way he shares is story made the book a page turner for me. Harris explained how those struggles drove him to better establish a firm basis for his faith. As he started to dive deeper into profound theological truths laid out in the Scriptures, He came to understand God more . . . the God who wrote these truths . . .whose very essence is truth.
From this book I learned that biblical doctrine and theology are important for all of us and should not be dismissed as only for seminarians. By ignoring these subjects, we may fail to appreciate who God is and what is important to Him. For Joshua Harris, studying these truths drew him nearer to the Lord. He urges readers at the end of the book not to measure spiritual maturity by what we know, but instead to “measure ourselves by the practice of what we know” (228). In other words, don’t be a knowledge-filled, passionless person characterized by “knowledge that puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1). The last chapter is a battle cry to let the Word of God and truth of God transform and renew your mind and then set your feet and hands to action. Too many Christians would rather win an argument than win a soul. What a great book this was! I highly recommend it to everyone, especially to anyone desiring to understand the importance of walking the talk we speak.
E.M. Bounds on Prayer
New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1996. 622 pp.
Reviewed by Sarah Clayton, wife of TMS student Tommy Clayton.
If your home is anything like mine, the only thing you lack in the book department is a place to shelve them all. With so many spiritual growth tools at our disposal, it is easy to undervalue their worth. Recently I chose a gem of a book from our shelves that had felt nothing but my feather duster for over seven years. The book was Prayer by E.M. Bounds, a nineteenth century preacher who wrote extensively on the subject of prayer. With a length of 622 pages, it is daunting for the less than avid reader. The subject of prayer and my desperate need for growth in this area led me to choose it. Much to my delight, I quickly discovered this book was not at all what I had expected. Bounds’ many writings on prayer were compiled to form this book which is broken up into brief, pleasantly digestible segments so that it reads much like a devotional.
It is obvious from page one that the man who penned these writings was a man completely given to prayer. He had the kind of prayer life most Christians can only dream about. It was said of Bounds that prayer was as natural to him as breathing. After reading him for two months, I fully believe that statement. “The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray,” Bounds says. The author uses Scripture, notable quotes from true prayer warriors and his own profound thoughts to constantly challenge his readers to embrace the unfathomable importance of prayer. The priority of prayer becomes so elevated for the reader that one can’t help but take radical steps to spend as much time as possible upon one’s knees. I have never read more contagious words on prayer from another Christian author beyond Scripture. Whether he is convincing you of the astounding results true prayer achieves or of the fact that everything in this world is shaped by prayer, Bounds leaves indelible, life-changing impressions on his readers.
Therefore, the believer who is most highly skilled in prayer will do the most for God…the strongest one in Christ’s kingdom is he who can knock the best, and the secret of success in Christ’s kingdom is the ability to pray (p. 13)
The author has much to say to church leaders and their commitment to prayer. This book has had a great impact on my husband and I as we examine our own Kingdom commitments. It is a must read for all Christians, especially men and women called into ministry.
The Woodlands, TX: Kress Biblical Resources, 2010. 144 pp.
Reviewed by Missy Mehringer, wife of TMS Director of Admissions Ray Mehringer
There are many sayings about listening. Wives and mothers often say “Honey, are you listening?” or “Kids, listen up!” to capture the full attention of their loved ones. If you are a working gal, you probably listen well when your boss gives you direction, and all of us appreciate having friends who are good listeners. As relational women, we are often better known as talkers than as listeners. TMS graduate and pastor Ken Ramey has an excellent new book that looks at our responsibility to be expository listeners as God’s Word is taught.
Ramey sees an important link between spiritual growth and the way believers listen to and apply the Sunday sermon. Listening and applying THE Word will change our hearts, point out sin and help us grow. Being an “expository listener” is about developing a deep heart conviction of what God wants to teach us through His Word. Therefore, listening needs to be active not passive. The author likens the relationship of the pastor and the listener to that of a pitcher and a catcher: as the pastor delivers the clear teaching of God’s Word, the listener in the pew receives.
The author gives us practical steps to prepare our hearts for listening:
• Read the Bible and meditate daily. Confess personal sin so that nothing will block your ability to hear the truth.
• View Sunday as the most important day of the week and make plans for it. Limit media intake and Saturday night events or consider ending Saturday events early. You will then be better prepared to listen well.
• A long with praying for the teaching pastors, ask God for a receptive heart as you listen to His Word.
• Be faithful in your attendance. When necessary, listen to the missed sermon on line.
• Come to hear God’s Word with a humble and teachable heart. Jay Adams gives this charge: “When you go hear a sermon, you must be concerned about one thing—what does God have to say to me?” Focus on God. See preaching as a transaction not merely between you and the preacher but between you and God.
• Be careful of distractions. Pray continually throughout the Sunday service. Meditate on the Bible verses read and lyrics sung to hymns.
In Luke 11:28 we hear Jesus’ words, “. . . blessed are those who hear the word of God, and observe it.” Ken Ramey’s book offers practical help to those desiring to do regular “hearing checks” so that they will have ears ready to hear the Word of God.
God's Priorities for Today's Woman
Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2011. 233pp.
Christy Murphy, wife of TMS student Bryan Murphy; Kara Mia Dexter, wife of TMS student Chad Dexter
Christy Murphy: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 2:3-5
Women today face many responsibilities and expectations. Whether young or old, working out of the home or in the home, single or married, with or without children, each day can present struggles for women as we decide which tasks to accomplish and how to do them. This can be both challenging and frustrating at times. Yet, God’s Word is faithful in teaching us how to prioritize our daily lives.
In her book God’s Priorities For Today’s Woman, Lisa Hughes applies Scriptures to daily practice. Mrs. Hughes covers topics such as personal spiritual growth, loving our husbands and children, and living sensible, self-controlled lives. She guides readers through Titus 2:3-5 phrase by phrase and identifies not only our God-given priorities, but also the attitudes God requires for believers to fulfill those priorities. For example, we are not simply to “do,” but to “look forward” to doing; not just “love,” but to “delight in love.” Along with teaching God’s truth, Mrs. Hughes shares examples from her life as well as from the lives of others. Each chapter includes questions that provoke self-examination such as, “What does the Bible say … Have you thought … Is it necessary … Do you…?” She makes it very easy to understand how we can apply God’s priorities for women each day. “We are His Daughters. Let’s give ourselves to His priorities –for His sake, that the Word of God may not be dishonored. (p 228)”
Any woman, regardless of her stage or circumstance in life will find Lisa Hughes' book to be a helpful resource. Reading this book will cause women to evaluate whether or not they are seeking God’s priorities. Also included at the end of each chapter are helpful study questions which can be used for personal or group studies.
Kara Mia Dexter: God wants His children to be solidly grounded in the truths of His Word so that they can withstand whatever false teaching the world brings their way. Too many Christian women think this will happen by osmosis--that they will somehow “catch it” from growing up in Christian homes or faithfully attending church, but doctrine is something that must be sought out with diligence. Sound doctrine is a training of the mind through the Word and it must be intentional and a priority! Godʼs priorities for us are unchanging and never outdated and we are commanded to know them!
Lisa Hughes helps us understand God's priorities for us in her excellent book about the role and calling of women as revealed in Titus 2:3-5. In the book God’s Priorities For Today’s Woman, she challenges her readers to embrace His priorities as their own for “it’s only when we follow His ways that we experience soul-satisfying comfort, peace, and hope” (p. 7).
The author answers the questions “What are God’s priorities for us anyway and what do they look like in a woman’s life?” by carefully defining and explaining such biblical priorities as living sensibly, pursuing purity, loving submission, and caring for your home, dedicating a chapter to each topic. She emphasizes that establishing a biblical mindset in each of these areas helps govern godly living and challenges our thinking through study questions at the end of each chapter.
Mrs. Hughes reminds us that the lifestyle of a Christian woman (no matter what her age or stage in life) should reflect the Savior in such a way that others, especially her husband and children, are drawn to Christ. Christianity is to be a fragrant aroma to those with whom it comes into contact.
It is a weighty thought to realize that our behavior can glorify God, causing others to imitate and yearn to have that kind of relationship with Him or can dishonor Him by making it appear that Christians are no different than the rest of the world. If we make it the prayer of our hearts that we would live in a way that reflects the Savior, the Spirit of God is able to do a transforming work in every aspect of our life, so that the Word of God will NOT be dishonored (Titus 2:5c).
After reading this book, I find myself loving this important lesson: “As you willingly live out God’s priorities, your life brings honor to the Lord” (p. 224)
If you are a woman who desires to live out God’s priorities in your life, I recommend this short but very insightful book to you! My prayer is for each one of us to live out the purpose of our lives “to give God glory in all we say and do” (p. 224). What an honor! What a joy!
Help Me Remember Books (for children)
Bates, Delphine Branon.
Somis, CA: Lifesong Publisher, 2010
From the comments page of the books:
“Delphine Bates…...has given us, young and old alike, an ingenious way to memorize the Ten Commandments, the Seven Days of Creation and, finally, the Ten Plagues of Egypt. What’s more, she makes it so easy. “ —Joni Eareckson Tada, Joni and Friends International Disability Center
“With unforgettable vivid imagery, Delphine Bates creatively provides wonderfully attractive and interesting resourcesfor aiding kids (adults, too) to indelibly etch key biblical material…….on their young minds. Every Christian parent should use these memorable materials with their children.” — Richard Mayhue, Th.D., Dean, The Master’s Seminary, Sun Valley, CA
“….By incorporating unique, creative and effective memory aids, Delphine Bates applies numerous mnemonic devices to tell the story of the character and purposes of God in the Bible. Refined over the years from teaching her own children and grandchildren, she now shares her secrets with us. Researched and accurately portrayed, learners of any age will find themselves easily grasping the central elements of these important parts of biblical history.” —Dr. Irv Busenitz, Vice President for Academic Administration, The Master’s Seminary
How to Worship Jesus Christ
Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1991. 90 pp.
Reviewed by Heather Peacock, wife of TMS student Trevor Peacock
How to Worship Jesus Christ establishes a case for worship as the highest priority for every Christian. Not only were we created for worship of our Creator, Lord and Saviour, but also it is through our worship of God that He communicates His presence in our lives. In this book, Joseph Carroll describes what true worship is and what it ought to look like in our lives.
The book discusses the conditions required for true worship, examines the results in the lives of those who choose to worship and looks at key biblical passages to aid in our worship. A necessary condition for worship is to be alone with God for intimate fellowship with Him. In addition, true worship demands total submission to God, discipline, and ultimately dying to self, so that Christ alone is glorified. The author also emphasizes that true worship is from the heart, which includes our intellect, our emotions, and our will. He gives numerous biblical and historical examples of men and women who made worship a priority in their life, describing what their lives resembled as a result of this choice. As an aid in true worship of the Lord, the author provides an exposition of Revelation 4 and 5—giving us a glimpse of the Holy God that we were created to worship. To worship Jesus Christ is to attribute worth to Him, and just as the rewards are great, so are the difficulties we face putting this into practice. Maintaining priorities and setting our will to persevere even when we feel like nothing is happening are two difficulties the book addresses.
The final chapter is a practical “how to” guide for worship. There must be aloneness with God, obedience to God with no unconfessed sin, submission to God (being controlled by the Holy Spirit), and concentration of all our attention and affection on God alone. Because worship must be intensely personal, the author offers a variety of suggestions such as praying aloud, memorizing Scripture, and using hymns and books in our worship of the Lord. He gives many examples of how to adapt Scripture and hymns into personal and direct ascriptions of praise to the Lord. Finally, the author warns of the hindrances to worship—an unsurrendered heart, unconfessed sin, wrong attitude, enemy opposition, physical tiredness and unbelief.
This book was a short read but packed full of challenging truths. I appreciated the challenge to do more than just say, “I want to be a worshipper,” but to recognize that it takes a definite act of the will to become a worshipper. How encouraging to be reminded that what the Lord requires of us, He also enables us to do! We can become worshippers of Jesus Christ, and it is through this intimate fellowship that we grow in our knowledge of Him and are being made like Him through the Holy Spirit. I would like to end with a quote from this book that touched me with what effect on my life a true heart of worship would have, “. . . for to know Him is to immediately fall down in wonder, love, praise and submission.”
Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2005. 176pp.
Kara Mia Dexter wife of TMS student Chad Dexter
God is clear in Scripture that He passionately opposes the proud (1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6). Not only is pride the earliest sin (Isaiah 14:13), it is the core of all sin! “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; assuredly, he will not be unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5).C.J. Mahaney's excellent book helps us honestly assess ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness in the area of pride. Without an awareness of this, all self-evaluation will be skewed and we’ll fail to either understand or practice true humility (p. 22). Why an entire book calling believers to humility? Because God is looking for a heart to dwell in, a heart that is tender and broken, not one concerned with only external adherence to religion. Why humility? Because God is decisively drawn to humility. Why humility? Because humility is true greatness! The question is: do we have it?
What I love about this book is that it is practical, concise, and straightforward. In the first of the book's three sections, C.J. defines humility and warns of the perils of pride; in the second, he reveals that true humility requires redefining success; and in the third section, he suggests the following practical disciplines to help us cultivate humility before God:
1. Reflect on the wonder of the Cross.
2. Begin your day by acknowledging your dependence on God and end the day by transferring any glory to God
3. Study the attributes of God.
4. Study the doctrines of grace.
5. Study the doctrine of sin.
6. Play golf as much as possible.
7. Laugh often, and laugh often at yourself.
8. Identify evidences of grace in others.
9. Encourage and serve others each and every day.
10. Invite and pursue correction.
11. Respond humbly to trials.
I have read this book several times and each time is as convicting as the first. I highly recommend Humility, for none of us ever grow out of the need for humility. I pray that the truth of this book will break you and increase your understanding of His work on the cross. May Jesus Christ, who is our great example of humility, use this book to transform you to true greatness--not as the world defines it, but as our Savior defines it.
Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands
Tripp, Paul David.
New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2002. 348 pp.
Reviewed by Jayme Stiles, wife of TMS student, Ken Stiles
Have you ever received a phone call from a friend asking for counsel and you just did not know the right words to say, or even the necessary approach to take? I certainly have, and my desire to be able to counsel biblically in these types of situations is what led me to read Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp.
Tripp describes his book as a “call to live a daily ministry lifestyle rooted in God’s Word” (p.271). He points out that all Christians counsel others whether they realize it or not. Given this fact, he encourages us to counsel using the Gospel since, “change is possible because the King has come” (p. 6). The author introduces four important elements of biblical ministry: love, know, speak, and do. He provides practical ways to implement each element in the Christian’s daily life.
I was convicted by Tripp’s exhortation to humbly examine our own hearts for sin before confronting another person. He states, “Proper biblical confrontation is never motivated by impatience, frustration, hurt, or anger” (p. 208). He also points out that we who desire to give wise counsel need God’s grace just as much as the people we are helping, which is another humbling thought. This book is filled with practical counseling wisdom for any Christian, including questions for targeting heart motives, strategies for data gathering, and much more!
The book’s message is summarized by Tripp’s statement, “Personal ministry is not about always knowing what to say. It is not about fixing everything in sight that is broken. Personal ministry is about connecting people with Christ so that they are able to think as He would have them think, desire what He says is best, and do what He calls them to do even if their circumstances never get ‘fixed’” (p.184).
I would highly recommend this book to any Christian who desires to be better equipped to counsel biblically. It has helped to change my view of counseling from focusing on people’s circumstances to focusing on their attitudes and responses in the midst of the circumstances.
Men and Women, Equal Yet Different
Littleton, CO: Lewis & Roth Publishers, 2007. 117 pp.
Reviewed by Donna Drion, wife of TMS student Tom Drion
In many cultures and religious systems throughout the world women are, and have been, abused and down trodden. Praise God that His Word commands no such thing; instead it teaches us that God created male and female in His image. We are equal and yet from the very first created with different roles by God. We are different by design - God's design!
This short study into the Biblical passages on gender is very instructive and convicting. It is a great study to help women in understanding our God given roles from the Bible and how to defend this to others.
After briefly outlining current views on male-female roles within the professing church, the book’s remaining chapters begin with a conversation between a young college student and his pastor. The young man is seeking answers to questions such as: “What does the Bible teach about gender distinctions? How can we answer others who say that the Bible is not relevant or does not mean what it says?” As the title suggests, the answers to these questions come from a careful study of Bible passages. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter make the book useful for individual or small group study.
This book is not an easy read, but well worth the effort it requires to digest the content. As I read I discovered truths that impacted my thinking and actions as a wife and mother.
I would encourage Christian women to read this book and rejoice in the wonderful role the Lord has planned for us, and the dignity the Word of God gives to all women.
Mission of Motherhood: Reaching Your Child's Heart for Eternity
Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook, 2003. 256pp.
Jennie Pulliam, wife of TMS student John Pulliam
Last year a friend recommended that I read Mission of Motherhood: Reaching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson. I was refreshed and encouraged by the author’s words of wisdom and reminded and convicted of what my “mission” is as a mother as I had been experiencing a particularly difficult season of motherhood.
“The fundamental mission of motherhood now is the same as it always was: to nurture, to protect, and instruct children, to create a home environment that enables them to learn and grow, to help them develop a heart for God and His purposes…” (p. 3). Sally Clarkson begins her book by using the Scriptures to remind readers of God’s initial design for mothers. Our calling as Christian mothers is to “fulfill God’s will for our lives and to glorify Him” (p. 15). This is accomplished by following His plan for families laid out in His Word. The chapter, "An Undivided Heart," brought immediate conviction. Though she begins the chapter talking about the consequences of mothers who are away from the home, Mrs. Clarkson points out that being present with our children is not solely a matter of being physically near our children; it really is a matter of the heart.
As a stay-at-home mom I am often with my children, but how often is my heart aware of my mission as a mom? Am I pouring myself out for my children as a spiritual act of worship? Do I desire to be doing something else or do I embrace that this is the calling the Lord has given me?
The last chapter of the book was particularly encouraging for me as it dealt with the faithful mother. The author writes that the task of “stewarding children’s lives is not a short term process. There is no quick list of rules that can be followed in one short year that will ensure success. The mission of motherhood requires grit. It requires perseverance. And that often means years of repetitious and mundane tasks, years of repeating yourself, years of wondering whether anything you do or say makes a difference… We must choose to believe that God himself will eventually reward our choices and efforts to raise a godly heritage for his glory. It is for Him and His purposes that we must endure, trusting that He who promised is faithful” (pp. 226-227). These words were a great encouragement to my heart.
The book is divided into five sections: A Mother’s calling; A Mother’s Heart for God; A Mother’s Heart for Her Children; A Mother’s Heart for Her Home; and A Mother’s Heart for Eternity. Each section consists of one or more chapters that develop these themes. At the end of every chapter, there is a “For Thought and Reflection” section. There is also a “Something To Try” section which includes practical and creative ways to solidify these themes in the mind and heart and some fun, practical ideas that Mrs. Clarkson has used with her own family. Also, the author shares “Our Twenty-Four Family Ways,” which is a list of household ways that she has taught her children.
Overall, I thought this book was helpful and encouraging and would recommend it to other moms seeking to be faithful to their God-given "mission".
Money, Possessions and Eternity
Rev. ed. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003. 520pp.
Emily Wilson, wife of TMS student Blake Wilson
“Jesus calls us to take action that breaks our bondage to money and possessions and frees us to live under his exclusive Lordship” (Alcorn 2003,5). So reads one of the opening statements in a book which in the past year has challenged my heart more than any other besides God’s Word to live a life fully abandoned to His will. Author Randy Alcorn's premise is this: if Jesus spent more words and time teaching about money than any other topic, “what did he know about money and possessions that we don’t?” (Alcorn 2003, 4). This is not a book analyzing financial strategies or other money related topics. On the contrary, the author seeks to turn our hearts from dependence on money to focusing our desires on Christ. And what he teaches us is of real value. While the 502 page book appeared daunting, I could barely put it down and even found myself getting up a half hour earlier in the mornings to be able to read more of it before I left for work!
The book is divided into four main sections: the challenges of money, developing an eternal perspective, giving of our possessions, and finally, handling the money and possessions which we must keep for “ourselves.” I found myself most encouraged by the chapters dealing with eternity. In these, Alcorn presents an idea similar to that of John Piperʼs book on Christian hedonism, Desiring God. It is not wrong, Alcorn argues, to be one who pursues rewards. For believers, however, what we consider to be valuable rewards should be different from what the world values. As he puts it, “If we came to God and said, ʻYou owe us – we want to be paid we would be dead wrong. But there is a payoff! And here’s the kicker – it wasn’t our idea that God would reward us. It was his idea! Satan didn’t make up the idea of incentives. God did. He made us the way we are. He made us to need incentives to motivate us to do our jobs and do them well. … Of course, reward is not our only motivation. We should be motivated by gratitude to serve God” (Alcorn 2003, 132-33). God made us to long for eternity when we will have the ultimate reward: the pleasure of being in His presence and serving in His kingdom. Money, Possessions, and Eternity provides a road map for how to deal with the difficult responsibility of handling material goods in a way that displays we are indeed sojourners on this earth looking forward to our true home.
I would strongly encourage everyone to read this book and discuss it within your family, and with other believers. It will truly be a delight, but also a challenge. Be warned: your thinking will almost certainly be challenged as the author shows you verse after verse which demand a lifestyle wholly committed to trusting the Lord, especially with the money He has given you.
My Heart in His Hands
James, Sharon, L.
Evangelical Press, 1999. 204 pp.
Book review by Donna Drion, wife of TMS student Tom Drion.
If you want to know more about the sovereignty of God, be challenged by bold faith, see the preciousness of the Word of God in times of utter hopelessness and be convicted by steadfast love, then you must read this book!
My Heart in His Hands is a real treasure. Uplifting, tear jerking, and compelling; it is the story of Ann Judson, the wife of Adoniram Judson the first American Baptist missionary to Burma, and is a must read for any ministry wife who wants to grow in personal godliness by being inspired by a faithful sister who went before us. We all have to learn to give up our husbands to the work the Lord has called him into, and have to be willing to be his helper in whatever circumstances the Lord will choose.
This wonderful story will remind you again of the ultimate aim of all that we do - the glory of God. It will encourage you to take God at His Word and to plead with faith to our Father His promise “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will hear, and thou shalt glorify me.”
Precious in His Sight: The Fine Art of Becoming a Godly Woman
TrustedBooks, 2006. 187 pp.
Book Reviewed by Barbara Barrick, wife of TMS Professor Dr. Bill Barrick.
Dr. Patricia Ennis, professor and founding Chairperson of the Department of Home Economics, at The Master’s College, in Santa Clarita, California, has made a helpful contribution to discipleship for women with her most recent book, Precious in His Sight: The Fine Art of Becoming a Godly Woman. In it, she provides a biblical response to the age-old question, “What does the Lord require of me?” drawing on her own spiritual pilgrimage, issues God has dealt with in her life, as well as observations of women she has known over the years.
The book is divided into three sections: “The Godly Woman and Her Spiritual Life,” “The Godly Woman and Her Relationships,” and, “The Godly Woman and Her Emotions.” Each of the books’ twenty five chapters has a lesson based on a biblical principle that is important for every Christian woman to learn, followed by a study of Scriptures related to the principle, verses to meditate on, and a series of options for further study. Dr. Ennis ends each chapter with a “Principle to Ponder” which helps the reader apply the principle to her own life.
The book’s strengths are its practicality, readability, and the variety of topical studies it offers. Acrostics, bullet points and charts help readers understand and retain key points. The author bases each principle on the teaching of God’s Word and uses what she calls a “Scripture grid” to demonstrate the biblical basis of all points.
With this book, a notebook, pen, and Bible, a woman could study for hours with great profit to her spiritual growth. Although it can serve as a devotional or independent study, the book’s best use would be for discipling with another woman in a Titus 2 kind of relationship. The book’s variety of options for topical Bible studies also makes it an excellent book for someone who needs direction in her devotional life or clear guidance on how to become the woman God wants her to be. In addition, the woman who wants to know how she can achieve a gentle and quiet spirit will find this book helpful.
All women who desire to know God more, to be an example of the believer, and to be a woman who would be Precious in His sight.
Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World
Chicago: Moody Press, 2008. 224 pp.
Whitney Hauser, wife of TMS student Jason Hauser
Feminism has affected me, and I didn't even know it, though I am not now and have never defined myself as a feminist. However, reading Radical Womanhood showed me that many of my own thoughts and attitudes about what it means to be a woman have been influenced by the ideals of feminism. In this book, Carolyn McCulley traces the history of feminism, showing its development in three waves and describing how each wave has made greater inroads into our culture, our homes, and our churches. She explains how ideas today about womanhood have been shaped by early feminist thinking. She combats modern feminist ideas with truth from God's Word, and shows women how to truly be feminine - by submitting to the Word, the Holy Bible, and living for the Lord. Carolyn McCulley draws on her own experience as a former feminist, and also has done extensive research on the history of feminism. She uses the writings of early feminists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton to expose the motivation of feminist leaders. Carolyn McCulley states "...while the crowning achievements of the first wave feminist movement were the legal reforms of coverture and suffrage, Stanton's writings reveal the ongoing target was the authority of Scripture.
This is still true today." She goes on to say, “As a movement, feminism arose because women were being sinned against. But feminism also arose because women were sinning in response. That's a classic human problem: Sinners tend to sin in response to being sinned against.” The author then points us to the real solution, “The glorious hope we have is that Christ came to rescue us from this spiral of sin and sinful response." surrender their lives to the Lord in the midst of the worst circumstances imaginable and “have found God to be true to His Word.” As one who has found God to be true to His Word myself, I soaked up the author's ability to use the truth of Scripture to counter the “wisdom” of the secular world. It is clear she holds a high view of Scripture and reveres its teaching above any modern secular view or book or ideal. It is important to know the history of feminism and to perceive how it has affected our society and our lives. Knowing this and being students of the Scriptures, will enable us to contend for the faith (Jude 1:3) and to practice discernment (Hebrews 5:14). This is a helpful book for women and men seeking to live lives conformed to God's ideal plan for us as we minister in a post-modern world.
Stop and Look series (for children)
DayOne Publications, 2008. 32 pp. each
Donna Drion, wife of TMS student Tom Drion, developed this series of three books to teach young children in her Sunday School the basic truths of Christianity in an attractive and readable form. She wrote and illustrated the books, using funny little characters called “Chublets,” to help children think about the Creation and themselves as God’s wonderful work, and to introduce them to the One who made the flowers as God come to earth to be the Redeemer from sin.
The first book looks at the wonderful things that God has made. It teaches children that they too are made by God and for Him. The second book looks at the many abilities and gifts that God has given us, and that the God who gave us eyes also sees us. The last book portrays the Gospel message to children in a simple way, conveying the need for personal obedience and good works not as a ‘work’ to earn salvation, but as a fruit of it!
What began as a tool to use in a local children’s work is now published and available for use by parents and Sunday School teachers seeking to communicate the gospel and a sense of awe and wonder at the Creation to young children.is Sight will find this book a helpful resource.
Sweethearts for a Lifetime--Making the Most of Your Marriage
Mack, Wayne and Carol.
P & R Publishing, 2006. 298 pp.
Reviewed by Jody Sauder, wife of TMS student Kevin Sauder
"How can married people keep a good thing from turning into a bad thing? Or how can a married couple make a good thing an even better thing as they go through life together? Answer: they must be committed to fulfilling the purposes that God, who is the Author of marriage, had in mind when He instituted the marriage relationship.” (pg. 47) The previous quote sums up the main theme of Sweethearts for a Lifetime. It is practical, helpful and exciting to read. Wayne and Carol Mack have done a wonderful job articulating the wisdom they have learned in their own marriage relationship, as well as clearly stating what the Bible has to say about marriage and its roles and purposes.
The book is divided into three main sections. Section one focuses on “How to Keep a Good Marriage Going.” The reader is encouraged to think about the purposes, priority, purity, perspiration, permanence, and preeminence of the marriage relationship. Section two and three highlight the husband’s roles and responsibilities, and the wife's roles and responsibilities. The Macks have included various discussion questions and application methods to probe the depths of the reader’s heart concerning his or her marriage at the close of each chapter. Each chapter is convicting and is focused on bringing a husband and wife closer together through the course of time. It has been a joy to read and a resource that my husband and I plan to use to bring God glory within our own marriage.
Teach Them Diligently
Timeless Texts, 2000. 160 pp.
Book review by Louise Essex, wife of TMS professor, Dr. Keith Essex.
The objective of most Christian parents is to raise children who are conformed to the image of Christ (Galatians 4:19) yet many struggle with adequately understanding how to use the Bible for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16) in their parenting. After reviewing many publications, author Lou Priolo concludes that, with rare exception, “most of today’s Christian parenting resources fail to emphasize what is perhaps the most important aspect of true biblical parenting—how to relate the Bible to the disciplinary process in practical ways” (Preface). He desires to help parents learn how to use the Scriptures more thoroughly, practically and effectively in child training.
Priolo shows that it is not possible to bring up children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4) without the continuous use of God’s Word. In order to do so, parents must dig into God’s Word and learn it better. The author guides parents in the use of Scripture to teach, convict, correct and train children. For those desiring to address issues of a child’s heart, rather than simply responding to behavior, this book offers practical advice.
Although it is not a long book, readers will find it contains a wealth of information and counsel. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, it would be best to go through the book slowly, incorporating its teaching over time, and prayerfully waiting for change. As parents seek to use this resource with their children, they will find the in-depth study of Scripture to be powerfully convicting in their own lives as well. Reading and implementing the book’s principles requires patience not only with children, but also with one another.
Teach Them Diligently is a book I wish I’d had when we began raising our six children in 1972. It gives parents valuable insight into consistently and carefully carrying out the command of Deuteronomy 6:6-9 which tells us to teach our children when we talk, when we sit, when we walk, when we lie down and when we rise up. I believe today’s parents, and those who seeking to come alongside parents, will find this book is a valuable tool.
The Cup and the Glory
Harris, Gregory H.
The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2006. 170 pp.
Reviewed by Julie Sandfrey, wife of TMS student Michael Sandfrey
Do you pray for a deeper, closer walk with our Lord Jesus Christ? Do you desire deeper blessings and a greater understanding of what Christ has done for you? Is the goal of your life to follow Jesus Christ and Him alone? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then you must read The Cup and the Glory by Dr. Greg Harris. In this book Dr Harris shows how for many, suffering precedes the glory of deeper fellowship and a closer walk with Christ.
The title refers to the fact that before the glory of resurrection and His return to the Father’s right hand, Christ first had to drink the cup of suffering that God placed before Him. Many times, we desire the glory but are unwilling to partake of the cup, which may be the very means God uses to bring the glory. One example of this truth is in Mark 10:35-41. James and John ask Jesus to sit with Him in His glory, one on His right and one on His left. Jesus responds by asking them if they are able to drink the cup that He will be drinking. The disciples will receive the glory they desire only after drinking the cup.
Dr. Harris uses both God’s Word and his own life’s struggles to help us see how suffering can bring us into closer fellowship and a deeper walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. “If responded to properly, (and that is not at all a given), suffering forces us to find comfort and mercy in the present fellowship with Jesus and look to Him for hope for the future.” What a great encouragement to continue to trust the Lord and His sovereignty in our lives. However, Dr. Harris reminds, “It is one thing to ask for deeper blessings. It is quite another to stand firmly during the refining process that makes us fit to receive what we ask.”
The Cup and the Glory will cause readers to examine their heart, their love for God and the trust they place in Him when facing suffering. Tough questions such as: “Do you love God and trust Him during the dark times of suffering or only when He brings good things into your life?” will challenge readers to evaluate their desire to have a closer, deeper walk with God.
This book changed my life as it took me down my personal path of suffering from a new perspective. It is an absolute must read for anyone who wants to grow spiritually and desires to understand the role suffering can play in this process.
Note: Readers may also be interested in The Cup and the Glory Study Guide
The Darkness and the Glory
Harris, Gregory H.
The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2006. 170 pp.
Reviewed by Julie Sandfrey, wife of TMS student Michael Sandfrey
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a moment in redemptive history that is often beyond our comprehension. We read and think about the physical brutality, humiliation and pain that our Savior endured. But in The Darkness and the Glory, Dr. Greg Harris shows us that there was much more to Christ’s crucifixion and “the cup” His Father gave Him to drink. Dr. Harris guides readers through God’s revealed Word concerning those three tremendous hours where Christ endured the totality of the domain of darkness so that we could be delivered from it. What awaits the reader are amazing and often overlooked details concerning exactly what was on display when Christ died for sinners.
Dr. Harris examines the crucifixion from Christ’s perspective. He asks questions that draw our attention to frequently unnoticed details. One question he poses is: Who was present at the crucifixion? While most believers immediately think of the human witnesses, the author asks us to consider others who were present, unseen by earthly eyes. Satan was there, along with the whole demonic world and their entire arsenal. The holy angels were also present, watching and waiting with great anticipation and fear to see what God would do. And, of course, God Himself was there.
I highly recommend The Darkness and the Glory to anyone seeking to understand more fully the crucifixion of Christ. Your love for Christ will grow as you contemplate what occurred during those three hours when Christ bore the continuous attacks of all demonic powers and the wrath of God so that we could spend eternity with Him. You will never look at the cross in the same way again. Although we will spend all eternity trying to fully understand Calvary, this book will greatly enrich your appreciation of our great salvation, our great God and our great Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
The Duties of Parents
3rd ed. Mohawk, TN: Triangle Press, 1996. 38pp.
Nelly Feldi, wife of TMS student Matthew Feldi
In The Duties of Parents, J.C. Ryle brings together many Scriptures and biblical principles related to parenting and explains them so clearly that the reader is compelled to strive to honor the Lord’s commands. I first heard about this book at a baby shower several years ago. A mom of older children recommended it and commented on the many things she had learned from it. I promptly purchased it, and was immediately impressed with its depth and faithfulness to Scripture. The God-given privilege and duty of parents is formidable--impossible to attain to, in fact, without the Holy Spirit’s illumination of Scripture and provision of power to obey it. Ryle explains, first, the necessity of training our children in God’s ways and not leaving them to follow their own nature. He writes, “Obedience is the only reality. It is faith visible, faith acting, and faith incarnate” (19). Next, he reminds us of our responsibility to train our children with “tenderness, affection, and patience … woo[ing] with kindness, if their attention is ever to be won” (4). He writes that “love should be the silver thread that runs through all [our] conduct” (4).
What challenging words these are, but how they remind us of our Heavenly Father’s conduct towards us! “For the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8). Ryle goes on to point out the need to train our children in the knowledge of and adherence to God’s Word, in developing the habit of turning to God in prayer, and in other godly habits. He reminds us of the power of our own example, “Strive, rather, to be a living epistle of Christ, such as your families can read, and that plainly too” (31). This short booklet concludes with the reminder that the success of all of our efforts in these areas depends on the Lord’s blessing, which is to constantly be sought in prayer, “Water, therefore, the seed you sow on their minds with unceasing prayer. The Lord is far more willing to hear than we to pray; far more willing to give blessings than we to ask for them” (35).
I don’t imagine that I will ever cease to benefit from the reading and re-reading of this book because I will never master the duties it outlines. Its thirty-eight pages are almost poetic in the way in which each sentence is packed with rich Biblical truth. Every time I read it, I feel as if it’s the first time. May the Lord use this book to instruct, encourage, and convict you as it has me.
The Excellent Wife Day by Day
Bemidji, MN: Focus, 2011. 211 pp.
Whitney Hauser, wife of TMS student Jason Hauser
Most of us are familiar with the book, The Excellent Wife, written by Martha Peace. In that book, she outlines a wife’s responsibilities to Christ, her husband, and in her home. Karen Eiler's book, based on the Martha Peace book, is designed to reinforce the biblical truths laid out in Peaceʼs book in a five-days-a-week devotional format. Although I have only read through part of the devotional book, it has proved to be beneficial as I leave my morning devotions with humility and conviction.
The book presents many circumstances that wives might face in a lifetime of marriage. It shows how to deal biblically with these scenarios and how to respond in a godly way as the wives we are called to be. Some of the situations the book addresses are:
•How do I submit to my husband when he is completely unreasonable?
•How do I deal with an angry husband?
•What if my husband doesn't provide for us?
•How do I respond to my unsaved husband?
•How can I love my husband, even when I don't feel like it?
•How can I be more consistent in my walk with Christ?
In addition to the brief scenario and solution given each day, there is also a verse on the page that pertains to the situation as well as an application section with practical ways to live out the lesson that has been taught. Every week there is a new Scripture to memorize as well.
This devotional book is a great complement to The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. Reading this devotion weekly aids us as wives by keeping these truths at the forefront of our mind and heart. This book helps to disciple us to become ever more excellent wives
The Hospitality Commands
Littleton, CO: Lewis & Roth Publishers, 1993. 64 pp.
Reviewed by Erica Melicharek, wife of TMS student Anthony Melicharek
This short, yet powerful book provides a thorough examination of the Scriptures regarding God’s purposes for hospitality as well as His expectations for His people in this area. Alexander Strauch clearly yet gently calls Christians to fulfill the Lord’s command for us.
Hospitality is beneficial for strengthening the body of Christ, ministering to those in need and as a platform for evangelism. It is also a helpful tool in the instruction of children in godliness as they are influenced by the ministry taking place in the home and by the Christian visitors they encounter there.
The Lord is teaching me to be more responsive to His words about hospitality and it was a joy and a help to read this book. In our busy lives we can be tempted to put hospitality on the back-burner. There are many reasons for neglecting opportunities to be hospitable: we may think that we are too tired, too busy, lack the resources to host others or feel we simply don’t have the ‘gift’ of hospitality. Mr. Strauch shows us in this book that these are worldly ways of thinking, and are not based on Scripture.
On a personal note, I have had the privilege of attending the church Mr. Strauch helps to shepherd in Colorado. He, along with the body of believers there, have naturally and graciously extended warm hospitality to us. I also know of another seminary family who visited the church, and the Strauchs welcomed the whole (large) family into their home. These are evidences that the author is one who is living out what he preaches and the people under his care are doing the same.
This is a “quick read” and will be a valuable book for someone whose mind needs to be renewed and transformed (Rom. 12:2) regarding the topic of hospitality. It also includes a guide meant to lead a group through a three-session study of the topic. I would encourage anyone to read this book, especially those who feel that they just don’t have the ‘gift’ of hospitality. You may be surprised and encouraged by what you discover!
The Nine Day Queen of England: Lady Jane Grey
Carlisle, PA: EP Books USA, 2005. 249 pp.
Elna Mitchell, wife of TMS student Ryan Mitchell
I don't like history. There, I've said it. But I love reading and I do understand the importance of knowing church history. These two facts led me to pick Lady Jane Grey: Nine Day Queen of England from my husband's bookshelf. Far from boring outdated facts, I found it to be a well-researched, clearly written account of the young woman whose reign was the shortest in English history.
In this 250 page book, Faith Cook chronicles the life of one of England's most interesting queens. Lady Jane Grey was born into the Tudor family in 1537, 20 years after Erasmus first published the New Testament in Greek, thereby making God's Word available to laymen rather than only to priests. The Greek New Testament was critical in the start of the Reformation of the English church – and the Reformation is the backdrop for the story of an extraordinary young woman. Faith Cook discusses not only Lady Jane's life but also includes chapters detailing the political and religious events surrounding her life. As these events unfold, we get to see God graciously opening a gifted young woman's eyes to the truth of Scripture and blessing her with a love for it that would sustain her even amid the darkest trials.
Mrs. Cook begins by reviewing the life and reign of King Henry VIII, his many wives and children and pointing out that his religious view varied depending on what was politically beneficial at the time. Over the next chapters, the author details events in Jane's childhood and introduces readers to key historical figures related to Lady Jane's story. But the climax of the story comes after King Henry VIII's death. There is much intrigue over who will be monarch of England with our heroine reluctantly accepting the crown upon the death of her cousin Edward, and soon after being imprisoned by her staunchly Catholic successor, Queen Mary. Lady Jane was repeatedly given the opportunity to lay aside her beliefs, but “...By her steadfast stand Queen Mary's young prisoner had forfeited all hope of reprieve. Lady Jane would now find a place among that long and noble register of martyrs of the Christian Church – those who 'loved not their lives unto the death' – choosing to suffer rather than to deny Christ. Without doubt she had 'kept the faith'" (188).
The author not only provides insight into the life of a young girl who honored God in her life and death, but she also succeeds in giving me a clearer understanding of the period of the Reformation and some of the political intrigue surrounding Lady Jane's life. These events, illuminated by Faith Cook's thorough research and excellent writing skill, are an evidence of the Lord's sovereignty in working all things to His glory.
The book's value lies in its challenge to us as believers to consider our own willingness to stand for the truth of God's Word. As the author stated, “In days when absolute truth has become a casualty of our post-modern society, with its tolerance of everything except strong Christian convictions, the faith of Lady Jane Grey remains a challenge to us all. Her unswerving courage, even when the alternatives of life or death were set before her and depended upon the answers she gave, should not be forgotten" (10).
The Stone and the Glory
Harris, Gregory H.
The Woodlands, TX: Kress Biblical Resources, 2010. 216 pp.
Reviewed by Tristy Urs, wife of TMS student Devraj Urs
Dr. Harris has a style and approach that brings the scripture to life. If you are not already aware of this, become aware; his studies in scripture are an adventure well worth taking! In The Stone and the Glory I was transported in time to the location of the temple: I could see Abraham approaching Mt. Moriah; I saw the quiet tragedy of God’s glory departing Solomon’s temple; I followed Peter and John (almost hearing what they would have heard in the crowds) as they took the Passover lamb to the temple mount; I observed the Pharisees and Sadducees following their traditions, yet rejecting the very God those rituals spoke about.
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
(Isaiah 28:16, NAS)
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
This is the LORD’S doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:22–24, NAS)
When I first learned the title of this book I thought it might be an in-depth look at the resurrection. I’d just read The Darkness and the Glory, and it seemed a logical follow-up to have a book on the resurrection—after all, the stone was rolled away on that glorious morning, right?
How myopic were my thoughts and vision! This book is a trip through scripture glorifying Jesus the Stone. I am so thankful that Dr. Harris took me to passages in the Minor Prophets I’d never taken note of before. I was inspired to read whole books like Zechariah with new understanding of the context of the visions. I was also renewed in my determination to read Ezekiel again with hope that I would understand more of the complex imagery. As with The Darkness and the Glory, I found The Stone and the Glory hard to put down (at the expense of my sleep). The Lord Jesus is magnified, and we are edified. What more would I want in a book? It will be well worth a second reading.
Note: Readers may also be interested in The Stone and the Glory Study Guide
Through Gates of Splendor
Harper & Brothers, 1957. 208 pp.
Reviewed by Lai Swillum, wife of TMS Student Brian Swillum
“As we weigh the future and seek the will of God, does it seem right that we should hazard our lives for just a few savages? As we ask ourselves this question, we realize that it is not the call of the needy thousands, rather it is the simple intimation of the prophetic Word that there shall be some from every tribe in His presence in the last day, and in our hearts we feel that it is pleasing to Him that we should interest ourselves in making an opening into the Auca prison for Christ.” Nate Saint wrote this in his journal about 19 days before he and four other men were martyred as they sought to bring the light of the glorious gospel of Christ to the Auca tribe in the jungles of Ecuador.
Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Nate Saint began “Operation Auca” by flying over the tribe with a bucket of gifts suspended from Nate Saint’s plane by a rope. After some time of giving gifts, the men decided to make face to face contact with the Auca. The men set up a campsite on a beach in the tribal region hoping that the Aucas would come to them. Some did come and, soon after, spears flew, and the men were in the presence of their Savior. Word of the men’s death quickly spread throughout the world.
Many young people gave their lives to missions because of their testimony. Although God may not be calling all of us to foreign missions or to martyrdom for Him, the message of this book applies to all believers: God is in control of everything. Love Christ above all. The wives of those devoted men proved these truths as they trusted God with their own lives and those of their husbands. In the midst of deep sadness the women could rejoice because they counted Him faithful.
Elisabeth Elliot’s account of the days following the men’s death shows how God’s words upheld and guided the women just as He had promised. As we begin a new year, reading or re-reading the story of the “Ecuadorian Five” will help believers evaluate their own commitment to obey God’s call at all costs. The book will challenge you to ask questions such as: How willing are my hands and heart to do what God asks of me? Do I believe God’s promises are true for me as they were for those who have gone before? What would God have me do to help bring the Gospel to those who have not heard? May we remember the example of those who have gone before and be encouraged to follow their example of faithful obedience.
Treasuring God in our Traditions
Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003. 119 pp.
Reviewed by Anita Mosier, wife of TMS student Ben Mosier
As a newlywed, I find myself day dreaming at times about traditions, both the traditions I grew up with and will want to continue or ones my husband and I will begin for our own family. This past fall I was given a book written by Noel Piper entitled Treasuring God in Our Traditions. In her book, Mrs. Piper defines tradition from a biblical perspective and then proceeds to discuss how to keep tradition in the everyday things of life like prayer, meals, and worship as well as for bigger occasions like holidays.
Mrs. Piper dedicates an entire chapter each to Christmas and Easter, sharing creative ways to keep the focus on Christ while your children are young, as well as how to modify these traditions as they grow. A Christmas idea she shares is incorporating a manger scene in the middle of an Advent candle arrangement to help younger children see Jesus as the Light of the world coming to earth. The author also suggests a “resurrection tree” at Easter, decorating a bare tree with small ornaments such as a donkey, grapes, wheat, coin or little money bag (betrayal), rooster, crown of thorns, nail, and so on.
All of us have traditions that we will pass on to our children, grandchildren, and great-grand children, Lord willing. Mrs. Piper’s book on treasuring God amidst the hustle and bustle of life is an invaluable reminder to us as wives and mothers to pass on a godly heritage that will not be lost, and to give a clear message to the guests in our homes that we serve and worship Jesus Christ.
Uncommon Providence: A daring escape from the Soviet Gulag
Xulon Press, 2008. 276pp.
Karen Busenitz, wife of TMS professor Dr. Irv Busenitz
Uncommon Providence is a firsthand account of a young German Mennonite minister and his wife who dared to stay in the Ukraine after World War I specifically for ministry purposes. When all doors closed, God providentially guided them in escaping Stalin’s ruthless persecution. It was a two year trek which took them from the Ukraine through Russia into China and then south over the Himalayas to India.
Their journey began after Jacob Dueck was granted an unusual leave from a forced labor camp. After much prayer and consideration, Jacob, Anna, five year old Helga and baby boy Yascha, walked over wet snow to the train station and headed east. But how could they travel? They didn’t have the necessary documents.
God's sovereign provision for the Dueck's escape began years before, when Jacob purchased a belt. At that time, in order for merchants to get rid of unwanted merchandise, customers were forced to buy unwanted goods in order to purchase the goods they actually wanted. Along with the belt, Jacob reluctantly bought some binders which were embossed with gold lettering¯lettering that just happened to be the initials of the Communist Party!
When preparing to board the train, an official stopped them and demanded to see their travel papers. However, upon seeing the folder with the gold letters of the Communist Party, the official immediately gestured for the family to pass. He didn’t even look inside the folder!
In His providence, the Duecks made it to the border zone between Russia and China. Jacob and Anna had passed the check point under cover of darkness, in windy, cold conditions. When Jacob was asked, “Have you documents?” he replied spontaneously, “Who in the world would travel in the Soviet Union without documents?” The officer answered, “All right, move on,” and quickly retreated out of the inclement conditions. Again the hand of the Almighty was with them; they had crossed without the necessary documents.
After more than a year in China, the Duecks made their way south, hoping to enter India. However, they would need to travel the last 250 miles through the Himalayas. After receiving the necessary documents for further travel, they were ready to go. By this time Anna was eight months pregnant, and Jacob thought they should wait until after the baby came before making such a strenuous trek. Anna insisted she was able to make the journey, and they proceeded.
On July 18, 1933, two years after their initial escape from the prison camp, the Duecks arrived at the mission station in India. Two weeks later, Anna gave birth to Helen. Reflecting on their amazing journey, Jacob wrote, “The Lord of hosts had brought us about 1,600 miles over mountains and deserts, crossing two glaciers and climbing three of the highest passes in the world of 14,000 to 15,000 feet above sea level” (264).
Jacob and Anna spent the next 30 years joyfully serving the Lord among the Telegu speaking people in South India. Uncommon Providence was written “that God be acknowledged and His glory lifted” (ix). It is written of people who walked by faith through uncommon circumstances, but always in the hand of a loving Sovereign God.
What is a Family?
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997. 220pp.
Elizabeth Schuette wife of TMS student Aaron Schuette
As a little girl I often thought about what it would be like to have my own family. I always pictured my imaginary family as frozen in a specific time much like a child's plastic doll set. Nothing ever changed for the plastic family; however, in reality families are constantly changing, growing, and learning. In her book What Is A Family? Edith Schaeffer explores various aspects of the Christian family in a way that challenges readers to rethink and redefine their own family through the principles found in God's Word.
In each chapter Mrs. Schaeffer describes a different aspect of the family. The family is designed to be a changing life-mobile, an ecologically balanced environment, the birthplace of creativity, a formation center for human relationships, a shelter in the time of storm, a perpetual relay of truth, an economic unit, an educational control, a museum of memories, a door that has hinges and a lock, and blended balances. Through each chapter Mrs. Schaeffer unpacks one particular description of the family followed by practical applications and testimonies from her own life. For example in the chapter entitled "A Formation Center for Human Relationships" she writes, “The family is a place where the deep understanding that people are significant, important, worthwhile, with a purpose in life, should be learned at an early age.” She then gives examples illustrating how that is lived out.
In this world where families rarely spend time together and sin puts a strain on relationships, a look at God’s purpose for the family unit can benefit Christian parents' walk and, through them, the body of Christ as a whole. As with all reading outside of the Bible, I found it necessary to read discerningly, recognizing that everything must be evaluated against the teaching of God's Word. Although I may not agree with everything that Mrs. Schaeffer writes, she is a resource for Christian truth and how that applies to the Christian family.
Reading What Is A Family? is like spending time with an older Christian woman and soaking up the wisdom God has given her. This book is one to have on your shelf to refer to for encouragement and ideas for your own family. Additional resources about family and family traditions I have found helpful are Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper and Word Filled Families: Walk in the Truth by Dr. John Barnett.
Carey, S. Pearce
Oberlin, OH: Wakeman Trust, 2008. 419 pp.
Reviewed by Glenna Andersen, wife of TMS student Rodney Andersen
Recently I finished reading William Carey, a biography of ‘the father of modern missions,’ written by his great-grandson, S. Pearce Carey. This lengthy and thorough book was well worth the effort. I learned many interesting facts about Carey’s life and ministry as well as rich spiritual lessons.
William Carey (1761-1834) began as a humble shoemaker. He was an ordinary, self-taught working man with extraordinary faith in Christ and love for people. He preached in an English village church where some would refuse to attend if they knew that he was scheduled to speak.
From these inauspicious beginnings the Lord shaped and prepared William Carey and several other godly men to lead the charge in taking the gospel of Christ to India. Carey and others saw the need for British Christians to broaden their perspectives on reaching the lost for Christ, to first “expect great things from God” and then “attempt great things for God”. After many trials and delays, William Carey and his family set out for India where he would spend the rest of his life as an evangelist, Bible translator, college professor, mentor and botanist in the Calcutta area.
In addition to his public ministry there were many challenges as well as blessings in his private life. William Carey’s first of three wives that he lost in India was never physically or emotionally well there, suffering from severe dysentery which led to “mental disorder and distress”. However, two of his sons grew up to become missionaries in Asia. Carey’s love for botany and keeping a diverse and beautiful garden brought him much pleasure throughout his life, as well as being a testimony and tool for outreach to the entire Bengal area. Carey’s primary work in India was Bible translation, working on forty different translations during his years in India. The first was a Bengali translation for the East and West Bengal areas. Of interest, though not in the book, is that two hundred years later, TMS’ professor Dr. William Barrick also did a Bengali Bible translation in Bangladesh, formerly East Bengal.
More than just the facts, however, this book also contains many rich spiritual lessons for believers today. William Carey worked tirelessly and selflessly so as not to be a financial burden upon his supporting churches, and yet was harshly accused of building an empire for himself in India with the funds he received for the mission. Though grieved, his response while the rumors and accusations flew, was to stand firm and trust the Lord to vindicate him in the proper time. I drew great encouragement from a collection of sentences taken from letters he wrote to his son, Jabez, who was a missionary in Malaysia. Carey wrote purposefully, frankly, and with great affection: “Tell me all your difficulties. I am your father.” “Never step an inch out of the path of righteousness and Truth, to curry favor or avoid disgrace.” “If duty leads us to any place, however unhealthy, we may safely trust God to take care of us.” “Watch against temptation just to gossip with the Europeans. Show them every respect, but always remember that your chief duty lies among the Malays.” Challenging and wise words, indeed!
You too will be inspired by this ordinary man’s example of walking by faith and not by sight if you take the time to read about this famous early missionary.
WordFilled Families: Walk in Truth
Barnett, John S.
Tulsa, OK: Müllerhaus Publishing, 2009. 361 pp.
Kimberley Draper, wife of TMS student Jeremy Draper
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul encourages them, “Let the word of Christ dwell richly within you,” Col. 3:16a). In his book, Word Filled Families, that is how John Barnett encourages today's believers to live. When we let the Word of Christ into our souls it will change our lives, our marriages and our families!
Dr. Barnett describes the Word-filled life as, “welcoming His Word into our hearts, minds, and will by embracing Jesus and His way as our own.” He applies this truth to four areas: having a Word-filled life, marriage, family and prayer life.
He first encourages each individual to cultivate a spiritual walk filled with God’s Word. The author next spends a good portion of the book on the subject of a Word-filled marriage. He exhorts husbands and wives to fulfill their God given roles as they are clearly defined in Scripture. John MacArthur commented, “Dr. John Barnett reminds us that the best and most important way Christians should be seeking to counter the trends of a marriage-hostile society is by making the Word of God the center and the focus of their own marital life.”
In 3 John 4 the Apostle John writes, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth,” and Dr. Barnett encourages his readers to make this their greatest joy as parents. He says that the ultimate goal for parents should be to lead their children to love God. He uses four biblical examples of dads who lived a Word-filled life in encouraging his male readers to pursue this goal. His wife also writes a wonderful chapter on the role mothers play in discipling their children.
Dr. Barnett commits the final chapters of the book to the subject of prayer, urging readers to pray because it is powerful. He says, “The key to unleashing prayers that God always answers is to have them flowing from a Word-filled life.”
This book was both encouraging and challenging. I learned that I must focus on filling my life with the Word of God continually and seek to be an example of Christ to my children. I would recommend this book to everyone but especially to parents desiring to raise children who “walk in truth.”
Your Child's Profession of Faith
New York: Calvary Press, 1994. 57 pp.
Reviewed by Louise Essex, wife of TMS professor, Dr. Keith Essex
Can children be converted at a young age? How young? What constitutes a genuine conversion? Does praying the words of a “sinner’s prayer” save a child? Answers to these and other questions require careful thought. Too much is at stake to be casual. Your Child’s Profession of Faith can help parents and children’s workers think biblically about the issues involved in guiding children to saving faith in Christ.
Dennis Gunderson believes children can be converted at a young age, however, he thinks we cannot know with certainty that they are converted at an early age. The author guides readers to an understanding of this statement by examining:
The intellectual immaturity of children The changeableness and instability of children The likelihood of deception in children The years of childhood as a time for patient cultivationWhile keeping in mind these and other cautions, Gunderson clearly believes that parents ought to exhort children, “with all our hearts, to come to Christ, and at an early age. It is crucial that they may and ought now to come to Christ.” He challenges parents about their commitment to each child’s salvation with questions such as, “Are you teaching your children about the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you urging them to know the Lord?” In spite of parental diligence, he states that “nearly everything about recognizing a valid profession of faith is very difficult to ascertain with certainty in children.” Gunderson concludes by advising against haste, while also urging parents to take advantage of the long term opportunities they have to talk with their children about salvation. This book is a must read for all parents and children’s workers.
Another recommended resource to help with bringing children to faith in Christ as well as other parenting issues is: What the Bible Says About Parenting by John MacArthur. Thomas Nelson, 2000. 256 pp.