Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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The Range Bucket List: The Golf Adventure of a Lifetime by James Dodson. Simon & Schuster, 321 pages. 2017
****

James Dodson is my favorite golf writer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his previous golf books, and had been meaning to read this one, which he says is his “little love letter to the game of golf”, for some time now. He tells us about recently finding a small old notebook of his that contained a list of eleven “Things to Do in Golf.” From there, he developed his “Range Bucket List”, populated with things he still hoped to do in golf.
The book is filled with the joys and sorrows he experiences on his journey, as he tries to tie up some loose ends, completing a personal circle of sorts. He writes of a friend telling him that the game of golf is always waiting for us to return.
We read about his trip with his father to England and Scotland, working with Arnold Palmer as they wrote Palmer’s autobiography – the two most challenging and enjoyable years of his book writing life, and the start of a friendship he could never have imagined as a kid – and then later sharing his emotional last visit with Palmer before he died. We get introduced to his new wife Wendy, or his “golf wife” as he took to calling her. He writes of living in Pinehurst, his strange encounter with Donald Trump, and the story behind how CBS got the TV contract for the Masters tournament. You’ll read about Opti the Mystic (his father), living One-Derr, Grumpy, Glorious Goat Farms, and so much more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful book. It is one of those books that you hate to see end.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble by Paul Tripp and The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits by Albert Mohler
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING….

A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble by Paul Tripp. Crossway. 160 pages. 2009
*** ½

I read this book of 52 devotional readings on Psalm 27 by Paul Tripp during the COVID-19 pandemic “stay at home” period, truly a time of storm in the world. I had previously enjoyed the author’s daily devotional New Morning Mercies.   
The author tells us that the Psalms put difficulty and hope together in the tension of hardship and grace that is the life of everyone this side of eternity. Psalm 27 is a psalm of honesty and hope, it tells us that even in the middle of difficulties that we do not understand nor seem able to escape, we have reason to take heart and have hope. It is a psalm of worship, commitment, trouble, beauty, and patience.
He tells us that the hope of Psalm 27 is patient, and it grows stronger as it waits, because it is rooted in a daily consideration of the goodness of the Lord.
The book is not a commentary on Psalm 27. Instead, what the author has done is pulled out themes from Psalm 27 and assembled them into a picture of how to live with hope in God in a world that is fallen. Each reading, many of which are written as poetry, ends with a helpful “Take a Moment” section that includes two questions for the reader to apply the reading. The author’s hope is that these reflections will fill the reader’s heart with a patient hope that grows stronger as the trouble-spotted days go by.
Below are 20 of my favorite quotes from the book:

  1. There is a God of awesome grace who meets his children in moments of darkness and difficulty. He is worth running to. He is worth waiting for. He brings rest when it seems like there is no rest to be found.
  2. There’s not a day where you and yours are not protected by the most powerful, protective, and beneficial force in the universe—the grace of God.
  3. You will only know the rest for which you seek when you begin to embrace the astounding reality of who you are as a child of God.
  4. You are secure for one reason and one reason alone: God exists and he is your Father. He will never leave your side. He will never fail to provide. He will make good on everything he has promised. And he has the power to do so. He is Lord.
  5. Every human being is on a quest for God; the problem is we don’t know that, and in our quest for stability, we attempt to stand on an endless catalog of God-replacements that end up sinking with us.
  6. He is the Rock for which you are longing. He is the one who alone is able to give to you the sense that all is well.
  7. He will supply for us every good thing that we need to be what he has called us to be, and to do what he has called us to do in the place where he has put us.
  8. Prayer finds its hope not in the qualifications of the one praying, but in the character and plan of the God who is hearing.
  9. When you rest in him, you can take heart because he really does have the power to deliver everything he has promised you.
  10. God’s grace means that I can rest assured that I’ll have everything I need to be what he wants me to be and to do what he wants me to do in the situation in which he has placed me.
  11. When I’m in difficulty and I take heart in the Lord, rather than be weakened by the difficulty, I grow stronger.
  12. It is only when my life is shaped by a pursuit of God that I can live with a heart that is satisfied and at rest.
  13. The reality of waiting is that it’s an expression of God’s goodness. He is wise and loving. His timing is always right, and his focus isn’t so much on what you will experience and enjoy, but on what you will become.
  14. Here is what you and I have to understand: Jesus was willing to suffer the horrible rejection of his Father so that you and I would never, ever have to experience it ourselves.
  15. Trust in God isn’t a thin hope in some not very sure outcome. Hope in God is rather a present investment in a future guarantee.
  16. What God says will be done. What God has promised will come to pass.
  17. He will never call us to do a task without giving us what we need to do it.
  18. He has the power to protect you, and he has the grace to restore your soul. He gives strength to the weary and returns the joy of the broken.
  19. The good that God promises me isn’t a situation, possession, position, or relationship. The good that he promises me is himself. What could possibly be a better gift than that?
  20. Either you are living in pursuit of the creation or you are living in pursuit of the Creator.

The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits by Albert Mohler. Thomas Nelson 240 pages. 2019
****

The author, a respected theologian and seminary president, tells us that though the “Apostles’ Creed” is just one treasured summary of the Christian faith, it is the most commonly confessed doctrinal statement in Christian history. Between the beginning and the end of the Apostles’ Creed is the entire body of biblical truth with the gospel of Jesus Christ as its center. All Christians believe more than is contained in the Apostles’ Creed, but none can believe less. The Apostles’ Creed was not written by the apostles, but the church fathers, and reflects the early church’s effort to express and summarize the faith given by Christ to the apostles. The creed stands as a timeless distillation of the Christian faith. In a few short words, the Apostles’ Creed proclaims the infinite glory of the Christian gospel.
In this helpful book, the author takes us through each stanza of the Apostles’ Creed, which begin with the statement “I believe.” Each and every section of the creed encapsulates the very essence and foundation of what the people of God believe—and what they have always believed. The framers of the creed penned into its affirmations only what they understood as essential to the Christian faith. The author tells us that we should see the Apostles’ Creed as a confession of Christ with an introduction and a conclusion. What Christians desperately need at this time is to return to historic Christianity, the Christianity that emerged from the rich doctrinal commitments and evangelistic fervor of the apostles. The author tells us that a study on the Apostles’ Creed could not be more relevant in this age of modernity.
Below are my favorite quotes from the book:

  • Christians are defined by one primary mark: we believe in and are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Just as in the early centuries of the church, it takes courage to be an orthodox Christian.
  • The shortest and most universal declaration of any Christian is simply this: “Jesus is Lord.”
  • Some even claim that they can accept Christ as Savior but not as Lord. This assertion, however, is a complete misunderstanding of New Testament theology and an unbiblical separation of Christ’s offices of Priest and King.
  • A Christian who doesn’t believe in the virgin birth is in eternal peril, for the one in whom he believes is not the One who is testified in the Scriptures.
  • If Christians deny the virgin birth, and treat the conception of the Holy Spirit as a myth, then they threaten a whole range of other Christian doctrines: the truthfulness of Scripture, the humanity of Christ, the sinlessness of Christ, and the nature of grace.
  • The Son did not devise his own plan for salvation. He came to do the will of his Father.
  • The message of the cross is the good news of salvation, and the story of the cross is the story of God’s love for sinners.
  • To deny substitutionary atonement, one denies the nature of God and the only hope of salvation for mankind.
  • Jesus Christ rose on the third day! This is the greatest good news in all of human history.
  • In some mysterious, spectacular way, the indwelling of the Spirit eclipses the physical presence of Jesus Christ.
  • Christ’s judgment will be so perfect that all the judged—whether declared righteous through Christ or not—will agree with the righteousness of the judgment.
  • An anemic view of sin will give way to a cheap gospel, a pointless cross, and a Messiah who need not to have shed his blood.
  • Heaven is not a place of less; it is a place of infinitely more. All the good things known in this life will either be amplified infinitely in the life everlasting, or they will be transcended by things that are infinitely better.

      • The Gathering Storm. Tim Challies reviews Albert Mohler’s new book The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. He writes “Al Mohler is a skilled and trustworthy interpreter of the times and The Gathering Storm comes in a context in which no one can doubt the existence or strength of the great winds of change that are sweeping over us all. His book, like Churchill’s, forces the reader to understand the reality and to understand the danger. But his book also offers gospel hope and distinctly Christian action. I hope and pray many read it and heed it.”

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

The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith? by John MacArthur

We are reading through John MacArthur’s classic book The Gospel According to Jesus. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Follow me”?  MacArthur tackled that seemingly simple question and provided the evangelical world with the biblical answer.  For many, the reality of Jesus’ demands has proved thoroughly searching, profoundly disturbing, and uncomfortably invasive; and yet, heeding His words is eternally rewarding. The 20th anniversary edition of the book has revised and expanded the original version to handle contemporary challenges.  The debate over what some have called “lordship salvation” hasn’t ended—every generation must face the demands Christ’s lordship. Will you read along with us?

This week we look at Chapter 13: The Treasure of the Kingdom. Here are a few takeaways from the chapter:

  • He never held forth the hope of salvation to anyone who refused to submit to His sovereign lordship.
  • Faith as He characterized it is nothing less than a complete exchange of all that we are for all that He is.
  • Both parables make the same point: a sinner who understands the priceless riches of the kingdom will gladly yield everything else he cherishes in order to obtain it. The corresponding truth is also clear by implication: those who cling to their earthly treasures forfeit the far greater wealth of the kingdom.
  • This is the gist of both parables: the kingdom of heaven is only for those who perceive its immeasurable value and are willing to sacrifice everything else to acquire it.
  • To the unregenerate mind, the thought of yielding everything to Christ is odious. But a believing heart surrenders to the Master with great joy.
  • No one can rightfully lay claim to Him as Savior while refusing to own Him as Lord.
  • These parables are a clear warning to those who want to have Jesus without counting the cost.
  • Wise investors would not usually put all their money into a single investment. But that is exactly what both men in these parables did. The first man sold everything and bought one field, and the second man sold everything and bought one pearl. But they had counted the cost, and they knew what they were buying was worthy of the ultimate investment.
  • Having counted the cost, the true believer gladly gives everything for Christ.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 40 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm 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 2 Corinthians 5:21 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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