Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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Rescuing Christmas: The Search for Joy that Lasts by Carl Laferton. The Good Book Company. 66 pages. 2017
****

The author tells us that while Christmas is a day of great enjoyment for many, sometimes he just finds himself wanting to get through Christmas day intact. Face it, the Christmas season can be both joyful and stressful. Christmas can also be a very sad time, reminding you of who you’ve lost or who you’ve never had, or of what you’d hoped to achieve or change this year but never did. Perhaps this year for a very good reason you’re simply trying to “get through Christmas”. In this short book, the author asks us to imagine whether Christmas could be rescued from the stress or sadness of just getting through Christmas. He asks us to imagine a joy that lasts and endures past Christmas. He tells us that indeed, Christmas does offer that kind of joy. He tells us that the people who experienced the first Christmas and understood its meaning found a joy that did not fade, and we can as well.
The author writes that if we get the meaning of the first Christmas this Christmas season, then we will get the feeling of joy, and find that it is a feeling that lasts. That’s the aim of this book, in which he focuses primarily on what happened after Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
He tells us about the Magi who came from the east to Judea. He states that the gifts they gave to the Christ child tell us why the meaning of Christmas can be summed up in the word “rescue”. He tells us that the gift of gold tells us what we are rescued from. The gift of frankincense tells us what we are rescued for. And the gift of myrrh tells us what we are rescued by. The author writes that these gifts tell you everything you need to get the message of Christmas, and to feel overjoyed by the message of Christmas, just as the Magi did.
The author states that we are rescued from our rejection of God, we are rescued for relationship with God, and we are rescued by the death of God’s son Jesus. He tells us that when we understand that the meaning of Christmas is rescue – a rescue from our rejection of God, a rescue for relationship with God, a rescue by the death of God – then we begin to see that true joy is found not in getting to Christmas, or in getting through Christmas, but in getting Christmas—in grasping its meaning and experiencing its feeling.
This small book is priced such that you can buy multiple copies to give to friends and family, and I would encourage you to do just that this Christmas season.

Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul Tripp. Crossway. 160 pages. 2017
****

The author of this new book of devotional readings writes that the Christmas story is the story of stories, but for some it suffers from our familiarity with it. He writes that when we are familiar with things we tend not to celebrate them as we once did. Familiarity tends to rob us of our wonder. As a result, he writes that many of us aren’t gripped by the stunningly magnificent events and truths of the birth of Jesus anymore. Many of us are no longer gripped by wonder as we consider what this story tells us about the character and plan of God. And sadly, many of us are no longer humbled by what the incarnation of Jesus tells us about ourselves.
During the busy holiday season other things capture and control our hearts. When that happens however, little room remains for wonder and worship. He writes that familiarity often means that what is very important may no longer exercise important influence over us in the way it should. He tells us that he wrote this book with the hope and prayer that God would use it to recapture our attention and reactivate our awe.
Each of these 21 meditations begin with what was at one time a tweet that the author had posted a few years back. That thought is then explained, defined, expanded and applied. Following each meditation are Scriptures to use for further study. In addition, at the end of each meditation the author provides one central theme, one core truth from the narrative of Jesus’s birth for the reader to discuss with your children in order to fight what familiarity has already done to the way their young hearts think about Christmas.
We are enjoying this new devotional in our home as we prepare our hearts for the birth of our Savior.

The CSB Spurgeon Study Bible. Holman Bible Publishers 1824 pages
****

I was excited when I first heard about this new Study Bible due to my admiration and respect for both Charles Spurgeon and Alistair Begg. Charles Spurgeon was called the “Prince of Preachers.” He was a great Reformed Baptist preacher in London. He preached to over 10 million people in his lifetime (1834-1892), and his written sermons have impacted millions more. The new Study Bible is edited by Alistair Begg, longtime Senior Pastor, author, conference speaker and Bible teacher on the radio program Truth for Life. This is not the first time that Begg, who has a deep love for Spurgeon, has shown his appreciation for Spurgeon’s work. In 2003, he modernized Spurgeon’s English in an updated version of Spurgeon’s classic Morning and Evening devotional, using the English Standard Version of the Bible for the text.
The CSB Spurgeon Study Bible features thousands of excerpts (quotes and illustrations) from Spurgeon’s sermons chosen and edited by Alistair Begg. Readers will find twenty of Spurgeon’s earliest sermon manuscripts throughout the Study Bible. I particularly enjoyed the biography of Spurgeon that was written by Begg. The study bible uses the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) version of the Bible. This is my first time reading this version of the Bible.
In addition, the Kindle version of the CSB Spurgeon Study Bible was available at a very low cost, in comparison with some other Study Bibles that I have purchased.
I’m enjoying using this new resource in my daily Bible reading. For more information on the Spurgeon Study Bible, go to  http://csbspurgeonstudybible.com/

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

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch.  224 pages. 2017

In this important new book, Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, draws on in-depth original research from the Barna Group, and shows readers that the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. He takes readers beyond the typical questions of what, where, and when and instead challenges them to answer provocative questions like, Who do we want to be as a family? and How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal? Anyone who has felt their family relationships suffer or their time slip away amid technology’s distractions will find in this book a path forward to reclaiming their real life in a world of devices.

Chapter 8 Naked and Unashamed

  • There is nothing in our society that has surrendered more completely, and more catastrophically, to technology’s basic promise, easy everywhere, than sex.
  • Streaming into our homes and onto our phones—accounting, by the most widely cited estimate, for 30 percent of all internet traffic—pornography provides and portrays a world where sex is easy.
  • An astonishing 62 percent of teenagers say they have received a nude image on their phone, and 40 percent say they have sent one.
  • If you have teenage children, whether boys or girls, it is likely that they have already been exposed to pornography and that they have sought it out.
  • The best defense against porn, for every member of our family, is a full life—the kind of life that technology cannot provide on its own.
  • The truth is that if we build our family’s technological life around trying to keep porn out, we will fail.
  • Parents who do not implement powerful filters on the data streaming into their home are foolish about both their children’s vulnerability and their own.
  • It is astonishing how many parents blithely give young children smartphones that allow absolutely unfettered access to whatever the internet (and links from their friends) may serve up.
  • If your family has a shared computer, arrange it so the screen faces the rest of the room and others who may wander in.
  • Until children reach adulthood, parents should have total access to their children’s devices.
  • Likewise, spouses should have one another’s passwords and should cultivate the complete freedom to ask one another anything at any time.

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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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