The book starts out with a definition and explanation of what creeds, confessions, catechisms, and councils were in the history of the church. It then...moreThe book starts out with a definition and explanation of what creeds, confessions, catechisms, and councils were in the history of the church. It then goes on to talk about some of the particular creeds, confessions, catechisms and councils. While not covering all of them, the book gives a good introduction to the main ones that occurred throughout history. For each one, a historical background is given, as well as the content and the relevance for us today. I thought it was good that a section on relevance was given to show us that these have importance even for our lives today. Some of the most important doctrines, such as the deity and humanity of Christ and who the Holy Spirit is, were hashed out and defined in these councils and creeds. In the reading of this book, I now want to go back to a book I started and gave up on a while ago - Kevin DeYoung's The Good News We Almost Forgot about the Heidelberg Catechism. I also now want to read the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is apparently very Calvinistic. I remember being taught some catechisms when I was growing up - likely from the Westminster Catechism. This book is a great introduction of some of the key events and documents throughout church history. It actually whets the appetite to dig further and find out more about them. And it also can be seen how some of the heresies and false teachings that we see today are nothing new but were battled in the early centuries of the church.
*I received a copy of this book free through Book Look Bloggers from the publisher in exchange for my review.(less)
A short, concise book on the inductive Bible study method - observation, interpretation and application (called OIA throughout the book). The author w...moreA short, concise book on the inductive Bible study method - observation, interpretation and application (called OIA throughout the book). The author walks through each step, giving examples and questions to ponder to learn this method of Bible study. While I was already familiar with this Bible study method, this is a good book explaining each step and making it practical for those who struggle with studying the Bible. The example he used throughout the book was Genesis 1 and I'm not completely sure I agree with his conclusions, but the explanations were clear and easy to understand. This is a great book for those who struggle with Bible study and need practical help to dig further into the Scriptures. Easy to read and to-the-point, this book will help make Bible study come alive. "In short, we study the Bible to know Jesus and to help others know him." "...before we can see what the text means, we must observe what it says." "Don't use minor details to make the text say what you want it to say. Don't build a theology from one unclear verse."
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for my review.(less)
This book made me want to read Calvin's Institutes. An overview of what Calvin taught, it also provides a glimpse into who Calvin was, the kind of man...moreThis book made me want to read Calvin's Institutes. An overview of what Calvin taught, it also provides a glimpse into who Calvin was, the kind of man he was. Going over Calvin's teachings on God, it also talks about Calvin's beliefs on the Sacraments of baptism and communion. I didn't realize Calvin's teachings on these before. The book also talks about Calvin's views on Christians' involvement in their culture and vocational views. It appears that Calvin did not try to be politically involved other than what he had to be. I learned more about what Calvin believed than I had realized before. There is a lot more to the man John Calvin than the 5 points that are often associated with him.
Horton's books can be a bit difficult to get into, but once you are into them they provide good fodder for thought. I did learn more about what Calvin taught and I don't think I agree with his views on communion. For those interested in learning more about Calvin, this would be a good overview of his teachings and a brief biographical sketch.
*I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.
Quotes: "Theology is not abstract theory, but the most practical knowledge of all." "True doctrine is inculcated not only by direct instruction but also by the patterns of public worship and fellowship in the communion of saints, in family life, and in everyday callings." "Scripture is authoritative because it comes from the Father, but just as much becaue the Son is its content and the Spirit is its perfecting agent." "Grace is the favor and gift of the Father, in the Son, communicated by the Spirit through the gospel." "It is crucial to see that Calvin's emphasis on God's sovereignty is intended to pacify rather than terrify the conscience." "We are indeed saved by works - that is, by perfect obedience to God's law - but it is Christ's, not ours. He not only bore our guilt in our place on the cross, but fulfilled all righteousness in our place by his life." "Sanctification is a matter of getting used to both our justifcation and our broader union with Christ in all of its dimensions - judicial and organic. This union is not the goal (as in Roman Catholic and some Protestant pieties), but the source of the Christian life. We are not just following Christ, but living in Christ and, by his Spirit, he is living in us." "Not only at the beginning, but throughout our Christian life, we derive all of our righteousness from Christ, not from ourselves." "Yet for Calvin the Christian life is a pilgrimage with a banquet spread in the wilderness for weary travelers." "There were medieval debates over whether the contemplative life (soitude and prayer) or the active life (good works toward others, especially the poor) was to be preferred, and a similar cleavage appears in contemporary evangelicalism." "It's neither our quietism nor our activism that makes us Christians, but the activity of the triune God that makes us recipients of saving grace and active distributors of his love and service to others." "The Reformers rejected the belief that the living voice of the Spirit through popes, prophets, or private individuals made the otherwise dead letter of Scripture relevant, direct, and contemporary. We do not make God's Word 'living and active'; this is what it is in itself." "The Word and the sacraments are central in Calvin's understanding of the Christian life." "The root of all sin is a refusal to trust in the one true God, as he has revealed himself in his Word." "...although the Reformer has a brief section on the state, nowhere in the Institutes does he talk about a calling that Christians have to transform the world." "For Calvin, Christ's kingdom is completely distinct from all kingdoms of this age." "The church is where disciples are made, and the world is where discipleship goes." "God doesn't need us, but we need him and we need each other." "In short, despite failures and setbacks, Calvin kept his focus on Christ in faith and neighbors in love rather than on his transformative influence. But keeping to his calling day in and day out, he had a far greater impact than he would have had if such an impact were his focus." "Monastic piety encouraged the mind to ascend away from thsi world and its history in contemplative speculation, while Calvin's piety directed us to the reality of God's presence in his Word and in his world." "He was convinced that Scripture, coming from God, gives us the 'spectacles' through which we come more clearly to see the world as God's gift." "For believers the verdict of the future judgment has already been rendered; it's just that our actual condition and experience have not yet caught up with that verdict." "...self-denial is 'the sum of the Christian life.'"(less)
When I saw that this book was coming out, I put it on my wishlist. When it became available for review, I jumped at the chance to read it. And I was n...moreWhen I saw that this book was coming out, I put it on my wishlist. When it became available for review, I jumped at the chance to read it. And I was not disappointed! The author talks about the lack of Bible literacy and the need for us to dig deeper into the Bible in order to better know what it says. Also, she addresses our tendency to read the Bible for information about ourselves rather than reading the Bible for what it is - a book about God. The Bible helps us to better know God, which in turn helps us to better know ourselves. But first we need to read it to learn about God. In order to do this, we first need to ask the "archaeological" questions: who wrote it, to whom did they write it, when was it written, why was it written? It is important to read the Bible in context, which includes its historical context. We need to determine what it meant to the original writer and readers in order to better understand what it means now. It can never mean what it never meant. Then the book talks about the 5 P's of Bible study. Reading with purpose, perspective, process, patience and prayer. Each point is delved into and fleshed out practically. For process, the inductive Bible study method is discussed - comprehension (otherwise known as observation), interpretation, and application. At the end of the book is a section addressed to teachers - how to teach a Bible study and pitfalls to avoid. I loved this book! I got it as a Kindle book and now I want to get the physical book to have as reference. Bible study is one of my passions and this book spells it out very clearly - not just the importance but the nitty-gritty of how to do it. Highly recommended!
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my review.
Quotes: "...the desire for instant gratification can even creep into our study of the Bible. The preponderance of devotional material available to us bears evidence to our love for the neatly-wrapped package: a spiritual insight paired with a few verses and an application point or two." "The Bible does not want to be neatly packaged into threehundred-and-sixty-five-day increments. It does not want to be reduced to truisms and action points." "Learning requires work. This is as true of learning the Bible as it is of learning algebra. We think that learning the Bible should be as natural as breathing in and out; if knowing God's Word is so good for us, surely he would not make it difficult for us to do so. But learning the Bible requires discipline, and discipline is something we don't naturally embrace." "Learning the Bible is a quest for knowledge, but it is ultimately a quest for understanding." "Bible study is an investment with a long-term payoff. Rather than reading a specific text to try to meet an immediate need, give the benefits of your study permission to be stored away for future use." "We must be those who build on the rock-solid foundation of mind-engaging process, rather than on the shifting sands of 'what this verse means to me' subjectivity." "1. Comprehension asks, 'What does it say?' 2. Interpretation asks, 'What does it mean?' 3. Application asks, 'How should it change me?'" "Any time we memorize a verse without knowing what comes before or after it, we run the very real danger of misapplying it." "It is good for us to earnestly attempt interpretation on our own before we read the interpretations of others." "Learning the Bible does not happen as a result of human effort alone." "Our study of the Bible is only beneficial insofar as it increases our love for the God it proclaims. Bible study is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. It is a means to love God more, and to live differently because we have learned to behold him better." "Bible literacy that does not transform is a chasing after the wind. Christians will be known by our love, not our knowledge."(less)
Fantastic book for learning how to study the Bible for yourself!
"The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity; it was written to transform your...moreFantastic book for learning how to study the Bible for yourself!
"The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity; it was written to transform your life. The ultimate goal of Bible study, then, is not to do something to the Bible, but to allow the Bible to do something to you, so truth becomes tangent to life. You see, we frequently come to the Bible to study it, to teach it, to preach it, to outline it - everything except to be changed by it."
"...God gives us His Word not to make us comfortable but to conform us to the character of Christ."(less)
A very practical book on dealing with the worry and stress in our lives. It begins with what causes people to worry. Another chapter deals with actual...moreA very practical book on dealing with the worry and stress in our lives. It begins with what causes people to worry. Another chapter deals with actual disorders related to worry and anxiety, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Then steps are given to help break the fear-worry-stress cycle that we often find ourselves in. There are 3 components to fighting worry and stress. Each is addressed - the mind: telling ourselves truth statements, the body: eating healthy foods and exercising, and the spirit: growing in our knowledge and understanding of God's Word. Some of the material deals with how to handle worry and anxiety in children and teens, as well as parents interacting with their young adult children. At the end of the book is a 30 day devotional to help engage our minds with the Bible and combatting worry. I would recommend this for people who feel that their lives are out of control with stress as it gives practical advice for lowering stress and worry.
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my review.(less)
I have a passion and love for theology. However, I often feel that I am in the minority in my desire to study more about God. In this book, the author...moreI have a passion and love for theology. However, I often feel that I am in the minority in my desire to study more about God. In this book, the author addresses the need for every Christian to know theology, as it has practical implications for our daily lives. Geared toward women, the truths still apply for all Christians. She gives examples from her own life of trials that she and her husband faced that having a knowledge of Who God is was extremely important to help them get through these struggles. We cannot trust someone that we do not know. In order to better trust God through the trials and blessings of life, we need to know Who He is.
The book gives some of the basic information regarding the attributes of God, looking at each Person in the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then it focuses on how we develop this relationship with God, through prayer and study of His Word. Throughout the book, the author continues to point out the practicality of knowing these things about God and His Word in order to better live our lives. Growing in our knowledge of God helps us to grow in our Christian lives to better reflect Christ to those around us. Throughout the book, Scripture is quoted over and over again to show Who God is and the importance of knowing Him, not just about Him, but having a relationship with Him. And we learn Who He is through His Word that He has given us. All we need to know about God can be found in the Bible.
A practical book for Christians to remind us the importance of knowing God and having a correct theology of Him in order to better live a life of faith. We have a theology whether we realize it or not and it is important to make sure that what we believe is based on God's Word and not just what we see around us or through our experiences. I would definitely recommend this book to encourage Christians to see the importance of how theology affects their daily lives and the need to know God through His Word.
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for my review.(less)
This is a short, succinct book on the positives and negatives that come with living in the digital age. We have constant access to information through...moreThis is a short, succinct book on the positives and negatives that come with living in the digital age. We have constant access to information through our phones, the Internet, and social media. What do we do with this information? How does it affect our lives? Particularly as Christians, how can we honor God with our use of this technology.
After going through the good and the bad of having a constantly "on" type of life in this day and age, the book gives some practical steps and questions to consider how to make the best use of this technology without letting it control us or becoming an idol in our life. Taking periodic breaks from technology ("a digital Sabbath") to keep our focus on what is truly important is one of the suggestions. Also making sure that we don't forget the art of real conversation face-to-face with those around us.
A very practical book for use in this day of instant access and knowledge, it talks about the importance of wisdom in our use of technology and how to best honor God with it. It also discusses the need to not let the narcissistic tendencies of online life to take over how we portray ourselves.
This was a very quick read, likely could be read in an hour or two and recommended to help face the modern day challenges of the digital age.
*I received this book free from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my review.(less)
Wonderful book on the importance and value of Scripture! Starting out with Psalm 119 - a love poem on the vast beauty and delight of Scripture - the a...moreWonderful book on the importance and value of Scripture! Starting out with Psalm 119 - a love poem on the vast beauty and delight of Scripture - the author takes us through why the Bible is important and valuable for us. It is sufficient - containing all we need for faith and living. It is necessary - the only way to a relationship with God is described in its pages. It is final - there is no more revelation from God, Scripture is complete. It is understandable - everything that is needed to believe in God and have faith in Christ is able to be understood. A very easy read, this book is also encouraging for us as Christians who love the Bible to see why it is important for us to value it. Without getting into the nitty-gritty arguments for the reliability of Scripture, it gives the Christian reassurance that this is God's Word to us and necessary for our daily living in this world. As biblical illiteracy seems to be rampant in America, this book is a call to go back to God's Word and read it, to learn, understand and follow its instructions for us. It is necessary and sufficient - for something so valuable it needs to be an integral part of our daily lives, studying it, memorizing it, meditating on it, sharing it. Highly recommended read!
Quotes: "Psalm 119 shows us what to believe about the word of God, what to feel about the word of God, and what to do with the word of God." "Psalm 119 is the explosion of praise made possible by an orthodox and evangelical doctrine of Scripture." "The goal of this book is to get us believing what we should about the Bible, feeling what we should about the Bible, and to get us doing what we ought to do with the Bible." "May God give us ears, for we all need to hear the word of God more than God needs any of us to defend it." "The goal of revelation is not information only, but affection, worship, and obedience." "The word of God is more than enough for the people of God to live their lives to the glory of God." "God's word is final. God's word is understandable. God's word is necessary. God's word is enough." "It gives us something the Internet, with all its terabytes of information, never could: wisdom." "The purpose of Holy Scripture is not ultimately to make you smart, or make you relevant, or make you rich, or get you a job, or get you married, or take all your problems away, or tell you where to live. The aim is that you might be wise enough to put your faith in Christ and be saved." "You and I simply will not mature as quickly, minster as effectively, or live as gloriously without immersing ourselves in the Scriptures." "Sticking with the Scriptures may seem like a light thing now, but we will feel the weight of it someday. There will come a time when it will be shown whether our lives were founded upon trivialities or realities."
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my review.(less)
This was an excellent primer on getting started in apologetics and dealing with some of the most common questions regarding Christianity. Questions su...moreThis was an excellent primer on getting started in apologetics and dealing with some of the most common questions regarding Christianity. Questions such as 'is there a God?', 'is the Bible authentic and true?', science and faith, religious pluralism (don't all religions lead to God?), 'the question of evil and suffering', and 'is Jesus for real?'. Answers and examples were given for dealing with each of these issues in a loving and respectful way. The importance of apologetics in our postmodern world is quite clear and this book offers a way to get one's feet wet in defending the faith. "Christianity is the only religion in the world that has a God who will suffer for you and then enter into the midst of your pain and sit beside you. And weep." "...if what Jesus said about himself in the Bible is true, then his is the most important message mankind could ever hear." Recommended for those who see the need for apologetics but aren't really sure where to start or how to defend these questions.
*I received this book free from the publisher Cruciform Press in exchange for my review. (less)
Re-read of an excellent book! Great reminder of God's sovereignty and that we can trust Him in every area of our lives.
"...we are to establish our bel...moreRe-read of an excellent book! Great reminder of God's sovereignty and that we can trust Him in every area of our lives.
"...we are to establish our beliefs by the Bible, not by our experiences."
"But that which should distinguish the suffering of believers from unbelievers is the confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God; our suffering has meaning and purpose in God's eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good."
"...some things about God will forever remain a mystery to us. The relationship of the sovereign will of God to the freedom and moral responsibility of people is one of those mysteries."
"God never wastes pain. He always uses it to accomplish His purpose. And His purpose is for His glory and our good." "But the good that He brings about is often different from the good we envision."
"The good that God works for in our lives is conformity to the likeness of His Son. It is not necessarily comfort or happiness but conformity to Christ in ever-increasing measure in this life and in its fullness in eternity."
"Trusting God for the grace to accept adversity is as much as act of faith as is trusting Him for deliverance from it."(less)
I would compare this book to Radical by David Platt in its call for the Christian to realize there is more to life than just resting in the assurance...moreI would compare this book to Radical by David Platt in its call for the Christian to realize there is more to life than just resting in the assurance of our salvation. We are called to go forth and proclaim the kingdom of God to the world. We've been left on this earth after our salvation for a purpose. (less)