Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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4 Christmas Books I Recommend to You 

Over the years, many of the authors I enjoy have written books about Christmas. Here are four recent books about Christmas that I would recommend to you.

Child in the Manger: The True Meaning of Christmas – Sinclair Ferguson

Sinclair Ferguson is one of our day’s best Reformed theologians. I have read many of his books and heard him speak many times at the Ligonier National Conference. He has been a pastor and seminary professor in numerous churches and seminaries throughout the world, and is also a Ligonier Teaching Fellow. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed and was blessed by this book.
Dr. Ferguson writes that this book sets out to explore the question of the real meaning of Christmas. He tells us that when we find the answer, we realize that it isn’t only for the Christmas season. He states that at the center of history stands the person of Jesus Christ. He does so because he is at the center of God’s story. Christ who is the creator of all things has entered his own creation in order to become our Savior. That is what gives Christmas meaning. It is what gives history and our lives meaning too.
He writes that the heart of the Christmas message is a baby bound in swaddling bands and lying in a wooden manger, who is destined to be bound again later in life and laid upon wood on the cross of Calvary. He tells us that the meaning of Christmas is this: The Light of the world has come into the darkness of the world, in order to bring light into the darkness of our hearts, and to illuminate them with the grace of forgiveness. He tells us that Christmas is not coming, but it has already come. The Word already has been made flesh. He already has lived, bled, died, and risen again for us. Now all that remains is to receive him. For Jesus is the meaning of Christmas.

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  • More of this book review and reviews of
  • An Even Better Christmas: Joy and Peace That Last All Year by Matt Chandler
  • Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ – Timothy Keller
  • Christmas Playlist: Four Songs that bring you to the heart of Christmas – Alistair Begg

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3 Advent Devotionals to Prepare Your Hearts to Celebrate the Birth of Jesus


Over the past three years, my wife Tammy and I have read these three Advent devotionals to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus; we would commend them to you. Here is a brief review of each of them.

Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul Tripp

This year, I’ve been enjoying Paul Tripp’s devotional New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional. In this 2017 book of daily Advent devotional readings, he 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. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Mighty Weakness of John Knox by Douglas Bond. Reformation Trust. 138 pages. 2011

****

While in Edinburgh, Scotland recently, we visited St. Giles Cathedral, and parking space 23, which marks the spot of John Knox’s grave. I was sickened to see a tour guide defaming Knox, dancing on his grave and encouraging his tour group to do the same. He called Knox an anti-Semite and misogynist. What could cause such behavior about someone I consider a hero?
In this book from the Long Line of Godly Men series, Douglas Bond writes that critics have found much in Knox to attack. Like the prophets of old, Knox was hated and feared by some, and honored and respected by others. He was not unaware that even in his own day that he was perceived as a thunderbolt, uncharitable and severe. In addition, Bond tells us that it is fair to say that much of the enduring hostility toward Knox is rooted in his doctrine of predestination. The English Parliament condemned Knox’s books to public burning 140 years after his death, and for the most part, Scotland has resented the life and ministry of Knox.
But Bond tells us that Knox is a model for the ordinary Christian, especially the one who feels his own weakness, but who nevertheless wants to serve Christ in a troubled world. Christ was at the center of every dimension of his life. It is this, and this alone, that made Knox mighty in his weakness.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review… and reviews of ~
~ Maturity: Growing Up and Going On in the Christian Life by Sinclair Ferguson
~ God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies by Costi Hinn
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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13 New and Upcoming Books I’m Excited About

There are a number of new and upcoming books that I’m excited about.  I call it my ‘on deck circle’.  Here are 13 of them:

The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits by Albert Mohler
From the Amazon description:
“In The Apostles’ Creed, renowned theologian and pastor R. Albert Mohler Jr. works line-by-line and phrase-by-phrase through each section of the Creed, explaining in clear terms what it means and how it equips Christians to live faithfully in a post-Christian culture. From understanding the nature of the Trinity and the miracle of the Incarnation to the world-shaking truth of the resurrection and the hope of Christ’s return, the theological heritage contained in this ancient statement has the power to shape us for vibrant and steadfast living today. The Apostles’ Creed shows us how.” Continue reading


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Reflections from the 2019 Ligonier National Conference

My wife Tammy and I recently attended the 32nd annual Ligonier National Conference in Orlando. We’ve been attending the conference on a regular basis since 1997, leaving the winter of the Midwest for sunny Florida, and it’s one of my highlights each year. The conference, which is described as a “family reunion” (because you often run into some of the same friends each year) was held at the impressive facilities at the First Baptist Church Orlando, the annual host of the conference. This was the second National conference held since the death of Ligonier founder R.C. Sproul 16 months ago. It was also the third consecutive conference that sold out.

James Brown, Director of Worship and Music Ministries at Independent Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, returned after several years, to lead the 5,000 attendees in singing, always a highlight for Tammy. In addition to the Ligonier Teaching Fellows (Sinclair Ferguson, Albert Mohler, Steven Lawson, Robert Godfrey, Stephen Nichols, Derek Thomas and Burk Parsons), other main session speakers included Michael Reeves and Ligon Duncan. There were a number of optional sessions during meal breaks and recordings of the radio program Renewing Your Mind. Continue reading


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Two New Excellent Advent Resources to Help You Prepare Your Hearts for Christmas

There are two excellent resources that have recently been released that I want to recommend for your use this Advent season. They are Sinclair Ferguson’s new book Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings for Advent and Matt Maher’s new album The Advent of Christmas. Below are my reviews of each.
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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Some Pastors and Teachers: Reflecting a Biblical Vision of What Every Minister is Called to Be by Sinclair Ferguson. Banner of Truth. 824 pages. 2017
****

Sinclair Ferguson is one of today’s most respected Reformed theologians. In fact the late R.C. Sproul called him his favorite theologian. Anytime Dr. Ferguson publishes a new book it is going to get my attention. This eight-hundred plus page volume is no ordinary book, and will be a welcome addition to any pastor’s library.
The book, which covers many of the themes and tasks of Christian ministry, is broken into five major sections, which include 39 chapters. The major sections are:

  1. Pastors and Teachers: Three Johns
  2. John Calvin: Pastor-Teacher
  3. Puritans: Pastors and Teachers
  4. The Pastor and Teaching
  5. The Pastor and Preaching

The title of the book comes from Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:11. The author tells us that many of these chapters were first published in relatively obscure places in the context of busy pastoral ministry. Now, he sees how the essays seem to self-select and rearrange themselves into a coherent whole. He hopes that these pages will encourage other pastors to stretch themselves beyond their normal pulpit or lectern preparation and accept invitations to study, speak and write on subjects outside of their norm.
He encourages pastors and teachers to utilize their gifts for fellow pastors. He sees this book as representing some of the gifts that the Lord has given him for others who have an interest in and a concern for the ministry of the gospel.
Although this is a massive volume, each chapter is an entity on its own. The author states that readers can enter and leave at any point they choose as no chapter is completely dependent on the previous chapter or any other chapter in the book. Though a seminary graduate, I’m a ruling elder not a preaching pastor. The arrangement of this book will allow me to focus on those sections that focus on teaching, rather than preaching, for example.
I look forward to benefiting from the wisdom contained in these pages for many years. This would be an excellent addition to any minister’s library. Continue reading