Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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how-would-jesus-voteHow Would Jesus Vote? Do Your Political Positions Really Align with the Bible? By Darrell L. Bock. Howard Books. 272 pages. 2016
***

The title of this book is somewhat misleading, as the author admits himself that we don’t even know if Jesus would indeed vote. If you were expecting a book that would tell you clearly where Jesus himself would vote on some of the major issues in this year’s election, you might be disappointed. However, what the author does is look at a number of key issues and then looks at what Scripture says overall, and what Jesus in particular says about them. In most cases, he then offers a balanced view, not conservative or liberal, on the issue. The one issue that is the exception to this is abortion.

The book reminded me of Scott Sauls’ excellent book Jesus Outside the Lines in the way it takes a thoughtful, not either/or view on most of the issues discussed. The book is “an attempt to present the values of Jesus and Scripture in a way that challenges cherry-picking on complex issues of policy. It’s about biblical values, government, and our neighbors.” While we don’t know whether Jesus would vote, the author states that we can know the principles he taught that relate to how we are to interact with others.

The well-researched book begins with an introduction to the principles our country was founded on. The author than has two “Starting Points” chapters that lay the foundation needed before he begins talking about the issues that divide us. The remaining chapters examine some of the most contentious political topics of our time in the light of Scripture and the teachings of Jesus.  Those issues include the size of government, poverty and wealth, health care, immigration, gun control, foreign policy, war, race, education, sexuality and abortion.

I found this book to be helpful in looking at these issues that divide us. The author states that should Jesus vote, “his ballot would be cast for that which honors God and allows his creatures to flourish in life and to manage the creation well. His party would pursue the virtue that makes for a stable society and respects that we are all made in God’s image.”

book news

  • NIfaith-and-work-bibleV Faith and Work Bible. The new NIV Faith and Work Bible was recently released. A description of the book is “Combining doctrine, Scripture application and real-life experiences, the NIV Faith and Work Bible will help you answer the question “How does my faith relate to my work?” It doesn’t matter what job or career you have—part-time, third shift or freelance; from the shop floor, to the school hallways, to the corner office; this Bible will reveal how relevant God’s Word is to your daily work life.” Tim Keller writes the Foreword.
  • Why Tim Keller Wrote a Prequel to The Reason for God. Matt Smethurst interviews Tim Keller about new “apologetic” issues in the West, the faith of secularism, the ubiquitous harm principle, and more.

  • Tim Keller to Scale Back To Writing Just Five Books Per Week. And speaking of Tim Keller, the Babylon Bee reports “Citing a need for rest as well as a desire to focus on his family life and the needs of the church he pastors, author Timothy Keller has announced that he’s scaling back to writing only five books each week of the year.”
  • The Legacy of Luther: Meet the Reformer Who Set the World Ablaze. Reformation Trust announces the release of the new book The Legacy of Luther, edited by Drs. C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols. Contributors included Dr. David Calhoun, who I had two wonderful church history courses at Covenant Seminary, along twelve others.
  • Christianaudio’s Free Audiobook of the Month. Christianaudio’s free book of the month for October is The Poverty of Nations by Wayne Gruden and Barry Asmus. Their description of the book is “The whole world has a stake in the war against poverty and leaders across the globe are looking for a permanent solution. That’s why economist Barry Asmus and theologian Wayne Grudem have teamed up to outline a robust proposal for fighting poverty on a national level. Speaking to the importance of personal freedom, the rule of law, private property, moral virtue, and education, this book offers a clear path for promoting economic prosperity and safeguarding a country’s long-term stability—a sustainable solution for a world looking for the way forward.”
  • Tim Keller’s Invitation to the Skeptical. Andrew Wilson reviews Tim Keller’s new book Making Sense of God. He writes “Not only is this book classic Keller, it’s also superb, timely, insightful, and much-needed.”
  • Top Five Books on the Five Solas: Introduction. Keith Mathison begins a series in which he will look briefly at some foundational doctrines—the five solasof the Reformation (sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria).”  Top Five Books on the Five Solas: Sola Scriptura. Keith Mathison writes “The following books are a good place to begin studying the meaning and importance of this doctrine. It should be noted that most of these books are not light reading. The issues involved in the debates were and are complex, and they require serious and deep thinking. For those who need to dip their toes in the water before diving into the deeper works, the book Sola Scriptura, edited by Don Kistler, is a very helpful introduction.”  He continues his series with Top Five Books on the Five Solas: Sola GratiaTop Five Books on the Five Solas: Sola Fide. Keith Mathison writes “There are many books dealing with various aspects of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The following are a good place to start for any who are interested in exploring the nature and importance of this doctrine.”

esv-readers-bible

  • ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set. Tim Challies reviews the new ESV Reader’s Bible, writing “The ESV Reader’s Bible is an outstanding product, one to treasure, perhaps even for a lifetime. In its text it is the words of God. In its form it is very nearly a work of art. It is beautiful. It is simple. It is beautifully simple and simply beautiful.”
  • Building a Luther Library. I enjoyed a wonderful course at Covenant Seminary on B.B. Warfield with Carl Trueman. He writes “Over the coming weeks I want to make suggestions about books that anyone who wants to know more about the great Reformer should own right now, in order to understand what all the fuss will be about in 2017.”
  • Jesus Always, the Sequel to Jesus Calling. Tim Challies reviews Sarah Young’s new book Jesus Always. He writes “My foremost concern with Jesus Always, then, is not so much what Sarah Young says, but what she believes about what she says. Her claim is nothing less than that she speaks the words of Jesus on behalf of Jesus. This is the boldest claim of any Christian book I’ve ever read. It is a claim any reader needs to weigh and evaluate before spending a year with its author. It’s a claim that is very difficult to defend and even more difficult to prove.”
  • Randy Alcorn: God Wants You to Find Your Happy Place. Check out Jen Pollock Michel’s interview with Randy Alcorn about his book
  • Crossway Reverses Decision to Make ESV Bible Text Permanent. Jeremy Weber writes “The publisher of the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible has reversed its controversial decision to finalize the text after tweaking 29 verses.
  • 9 Things You Should Know About the ESV Bible. Joe Carter writes “Here is what you should know about the ESV, one of the most popular English translations of Scripture.”
  • Applying Faith to the Facts of Life. Richard Doster interviews Champagne Butterfield about a few of the key points in her latest book Openness Unhindered.
  • Deserted Island Top 5: Tim Challies. In this edition of the 5 Minutes in Church History podcast, Stephen Nichols asks Tim Challies what five books he would take with him to a deserted island.
  • Henri Nouwen’s Intimate Letters Shed Light on His ‘Theology of the Heart’. John Murawski writes that a selection of Henri Nouwen’s letters, 204 of them, has been published in Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life, commemorating the 20th anniversary of his death.
  • T. Wright Reconsiders the Meaning of Jesus’s Death. Michael Horton reviews N.T. Wright’s new book The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. He writes “I agree with a lot in this book. I agree with the basic gist of Wright’s critique and with much of his own proposal. That response might surprise some, including the author, with whom I’ve enjoyed spirited and edifying discussions of the manuscript. My differences lie at the point of certain details. That said, they are significant.”
  • New Resource: Marks of a Healthy Church. In this new fifteen-message teaching series from Ligonier, Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman survey the marks of a healthy church, where we are called to display God’s glorious character in unity, holiness, and love.” We can’t do it alone. You can watch the first lesson free.
  • What More Can He Say? In addition to the forthcoming Reading the Bible Supernaturally, Piper has ideas for at least five more books, ranging from the sovereignty of God to preaching to poetry. Watch this short video as he gives a short forecast of his future writing hopes.

BOOK CLUBS – Won’t you read along with us?

Jesus Outside the LinesJesus Outside the Lines BOOK CLUB

Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides by Scott Sauls

This is a book I’ve been wanting – and not wanting – to read for a while. I’ve wanted to read it because I enjoy Scott Sauls’ blog posts and I’ve heard a lot of good things about the book. He’s a pastor in the same denomination I serve in, he served with Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, graduated from Covenant Seminary and is a St. Louis Cardinals fan. What’s not to like about the guy?

I’ve not wanted to read the book because I think it’s going to challenge me to get out of my comfortable box. How about reading along with Tammy and I?

This week we look at highlights from Chapter Four: Money Guilt or Money Greed?

  • God gives us money to steward and share in order to promote the common good, not to hoard and spend solely on ourselves.
  • Jesus is more passionate than anyone about giving to the poor and about the dangers of affluence.
  • With all the many warnings in the Bible about the potential snares of wealth, there are also many passages that speak positively about prosperity.
  • Jesus became poor so that through his poverty we might become rich, and he promises to share with us his eternal inheritance that will never spoil or fade away.
  • So which is it? Is Jesus in favor of wealth or is he opposed to it? Furthermore, how should we be thinking about wealth?
  • The chief concern for the rich and for the poor is whether our hearts are content with what God has given to us. The Bible helps us understand that this kind of contentment—the kind that stays intact during prosperous times as well as during times of scarcity—is reachable only for those who see God himself as their true wealth.
  • Contentment grows as we live from the truth that God is our ultimate portion, our ultimate share, and our ultimate inheritance.
  • The chief concern for the rich and for the poor is whether our hearts are content with what God has given to us.
  • Material wealth in a fallen world is surrounded by paradox. Wealth provides for our needs, yet it can become poison if we become obsessed with it. It promises to fulfill us, yet it can leave us empty. It promises to satisfy, yet it can leave us hungry for more. It is morally neutral, yet it can be harmful. It is a gift to enjoy, yet it should be given away freely.
  • Our greed can usually be traced back to dissatisfaction about what we have in comparison to others.
  • When we are sick with greed, we usually cannot see the sickness in ourselves. How do we identify it? What are its symptoms? I believe that there are chiefly two: hoarding money for ourselves and spending money almost exclusively on ourselves.
  • Our greed can usually be traced back to dissatisfaction about what we have in comparison to others.
  • It is not money that the Bible says is a root of evil, but the love of money.
  • How do we know we are at risk of being materialistic? We are at risk when we find ourselves hoarding money in order to feel safe. We are equally at risk when we find ourselves in a pattern of spending money almost exclusively on ourselves . . . especially when we spend it on things we do not need to impress the people around us.
  • Have we moved from having wealth to placing our hope in wealth?
  • The problem does not lie in having or spending money as much as it does with how our hearts relate to it.
  • Jesus, not money, is the answer to our quest for safety and validation.
  • When a healthy relationship with money turns into a love for money, when wealth turns into greed, when enjoyment of material things turns into materialism, our souls become more impoverished and empty, not less.
  • Because our souls are crafted in the image of a great and magnificent God, they can never be filled with such a small thing as money. Only Jesus can fill an empty soul.
  • When our souls derive safety and validation from Jesus, we tend to take on the attributes of his generous, self-giving love. When this happens, we also experience joy.
  • Before Jesus invites us to participate in his generosity, he first invites us to receive and enjoy his generosity toward us.
  • He identifies the root causes of greed, which are anxiety and fear.
  • Jesus invites us to be generous because God is generous, and because our money was never our money in the first place. God is the owner of wealth, and we are the managers. He invites us to use and unleash and share his wealth according to what matters most to him.
  • These priorities include, but are not limited to, providing for the needs of those who depend on us, saving for the future, and giving generously to God’s Kingdom causes, especially to the church and the poor.
  • But when it comes to giving, what is the right amount? How much are the followers of Jesus supposed to give? How much is too little and how much is too much? These questions are important, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Our level of giving depends on our situation.
  • According to a recent study reported in Relevant magazine, only 10 to 25 percent of the typical American congregation tithes (that is, gives the biblical starting point of 10 percent) to the church, the poor, and Kingdom causes.
  • Put starkly, this means that 75 to 90 percent of American Christians—those who collectively represent the wealthiest Christians in the world—are money-sick.
  • The clear message of Scripture is that when our net worth gets below our comfort level, whether through tithing or through circumstances that God decides are best for us, we, too, are given an opportunity, counterintuitive though it may be, to find joy in needing Jesus more. A shrinking net worth can be one of God’s greatest hidden blessings.
  • True freedom is found in the realization that “everything minus Jesus equals nothing” and “Jesus plus nothing equals everything.”
  • Trusting God to care for us frees us to give to others and enjoy what he has given.

Studies in the Sermon on the MountStudies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London.

This week we look at Chapter Six: Prayer – Petition

  • The first concerns the all-inclusiveness of these petitions. All our great needs are summed up in them. `Give us this day our daily bread’. `Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors’. `And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’. Our whole life is found there in those three petitions, and that is what makes this prayer so utterly amazing. In such a small compass our Lord has covered the whole life of the believer in every respect. Our physical needs, our mental needs and, of course, our spiritual needs are included.
  • The second general comment concerns the wonderful order in which these petitions are put.
  • Our Lord is now considering our needs, and clearly the first thing that is necessary is that we must be enabled to continue our existence in this world.
  • He then goes on to deal with the need of cleansing from the defilement and guilt of sin; and, lastly, with the need for being kept from sin and its power. That is the true way to look at man’s life.
  • So that is the order-daily bread; forgiveness of sins; to be kept from anything that may cast me again into sin, to be delivered from everything that is opposed to my higher interests and to my true life. The sum of it all is that ultimately there is nothing in the whole realm of Scripture which so plainly shows us our entire dependence upon God as does this prayer, and especially these three petitions. The only thing that really matters for us is that we know God as our Father.
  • In other words, all we are to ask for is sufficient, or what is necessary, for each day. It is a prayer for necessities.
  • It is meant to cover all our material needs, everything that is necessary for the life of man in this world.
  • It must be emphasized, of course, that all we pray for must be absolute necessities. We are not told to pray for luxuries or superabundance, nor are we promised such things. But we are promised that we shall have enough.
  • The promises of God never fail. But they refer to necessities only, and our idea of necessity is not always God’s. But we are told to pray for necessities.
  • Why tell Him about things that He knows already?’ This brings us to the heart of the meaning of prayer. We do not tell God these things because He is not aware of them. No, we must think of prayer more as a relationship between father and child; and the value of prayer is that it keeps us in touch and contact with God.
  • We must all realize our utter dependence upon God, even for our daily bread. If God willed it so, we should have no daily bread. It is a good thing for us at least once a day, but the oftener the better, to remind ourselves that our times, our health, and our very existence, are in His hands. Our food and all these necessary things come from Him, and we depend upon His grace and mercy for them.
  • We come now to the second division, which is often a great cause of difficulty. `And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’ There are two main difficulties about this. There are those who feel that there is no need for a Christian to ask for forgiveness, and these people are divided into two groups.
  • Some of them say that Christians need not ask for forgiveness, because we are justified by faith, by which they mean, of course, that we are justified by faith in the presence of God.
  • Others say there is no need to ask for forgiveness because of their view of sanctification. Their position is that they do not sin any longer; they are perfect.
  • But having been justified, as we walk through this world we become soiled and tarnished by sin. That is true of every Christian. Though we know we have been forgiven, we need forgiveness still for particular sins and failures.
  • With regard to those who claim that they are so sanctified that they do not need forgiveness, we learn again from John’s Epistle that `If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us’. The man who does not know the blackness of his own heart, but is simply concerned with his own theories, is a man who is not examining himself truly. The greater the saint the greater is the sense of sin and the awareness of sin within.
  • There are people who say that this prayer should never be used by Christian people, for to do so, they say, is to go back to the law.
  • The only way of forgiveness before Christ, after Christ and always, is through Christ and Him crucified.
  • The proof that you and I are forgiven is that we forgive others. If we think that our sins are forgiven by God and we refuse to forgive somebody else, we are making a mistake; we have never been forgiven.
  • If you are refusing forgiveness to anybody I suggest that you have never been forgiven.
  • Now just a word about the last petition, `Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’. That is the final request and it means this. We are asking that we should never be led into a situation where we are liable to be tempted by Satan.
  • And coupled with that is this other aspect of the petition, that we pray to be delivered from evil. Some would say `from the evil one’, but I think that limits the meaning, for `evil’ here includes not only Satan but evil in every shape and form. It certainly includes Satan; we need to be delivered from him and his wiles. But there is evil also in our hearts, so we need to be delivered from that, and from the evil in the world as well. We need to be delivered from it all. It is a great request, a comprehensive petition.
  • Why should we ask that we may be kept from evil? For the great and wonderful reason that our fellowship with God may never be broken.
  • Then, you remember, there is a postscript: `For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.’ It is in some of the old versions; it is not in others. We do not know for certain whether our Lord did actually utter it at this point or not; but whether He did or not, it is very appropriate.
  • There must be a kind of final thanksgiving, there must be some sort of doxology.
  • We must end as we began, by praising Him. The measure of our spirituality is the amount of praise and of thanksgiving in our prayers.

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 37 years, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 50 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and Colossians 3:23 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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