foundationReviews are taken from the Cross Focused Reviews Blog Tour. 

“I recommend this book to anyone wanting to be introduced to the writings of John Owen.”
Reviewer: Shawn Covington

“This volume is a welcome introduction to the thought and works of one of the giants of theology.”
Reviewer: Josh Skinner

“I highly recommend this book for all Christians.”
Reviewer: Beth Saathoff

“I urge you to pick up this volume and sit at the feet of an old master and grow to love the depths and the riches of our Triune God.”
Reviewer: Doug Newell

The Foundation Of Communion With God is a rich introduction to John Owen and the understanding of our communion with God.”
Reviewer: Lesley Eischen

“This book made me want to read more of John Owen.”
Reviewer: Jim Lee

“If you ever thought John Owen would be wonderful but beyond you – too rich, too much, too dense, too hard – get this book.”
Reviewer: Alan Davey

“I think anyone who reads this book will see the benefits of reading the works of Owen and will no doubt want to take up and read more and more of his works.”
Reviewer: Anthony Mathenia

See more detail about The Foundation of Communion with God here -->

 

Taken from Chapter 1 of Discovering Delight by Glenda Mathes.

discoveringBut his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he mediate day and night. – Psalm 1:2

The first song in the Psalter puts readers into meditation mode, comparing the believer to a fruitful tree and stressing how the blessed person delights in the Lord’s law. The psalm’s first verse describes the man (or woman) who is blessed by expressing the negatives of three actions. He or she does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, does not stand in the way of sinners, and does not sit in the seat of the scornful. Walking, standing, and sitting represent three different levels of action. Walking is the most active physically, but sitting could very well be the most active mentally.

The blessed person doesn’t take part in ungodly activities or implement ungodly counsel. While Christians may develop relationships with unbelievers, especially for the purpose of evangelism, they don’t stand with them in sinful or fruitless pursuits. And they don’t sit in on plans with people who scorn God’s name and Word.

Blessing comes to the person who makes conscious and committed efforts to avoid ill-advised actions, sinful philosophies, and scornful attitudes. But blessing derives from more than merely avoiding bad behaviors. Verse 2 tells us that actively mediating on God’s law brings blessing and delight. The godly person loves God’s Word so much that he or she meditates on it day and night.

Reading Scripture early in the morning as the first fruits of your day is a good start. Meditating on God’s Word again in the evening is even better. But this verse encompasses much more than a command for daily and nightly personal devotions. It’s about loving God’s law so intensely that you long to spend time reveling in it. Your mind and heart become so steeped in Scripture that portions of the Word saturate your thoughts and accompany your daily activities. Meditating day and night is an attitude as well as an action.

In lovely imagery, Psalm 1:3 describes the blessed person as a firmly rooted, fruitful tree with unwithered leaves. Its roots reach toward life-giving rivers, drinking deeply of living waters. At the proper time it brings forth sound fruit. It is full of lustrous green leaves, free from pest or blight. The image of a tree budding in the spring, bursting with full foliage in the summer, and bearing ripe fruit in the fall effectively pictures the believer performing righteous deeds through the progression of time and the process of personal sanctification.

The believer-as-tree simile occurs repeatedly in Scripture. Jeremiah 17:8 echoes Psalm 1:3 in remarkably similar words: “For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jer. 17:8). Despite heat and drought, this believer tree will produce fruit and enjoy peace. Christians who drink deeply of God’s living waters will bear the fruit of righteousness and experience peace that passes understanding, even during times of scorching physical adversity or arid spiritual drought.

Ezekiel uses similar language when describing the trees he sees in a vision:

And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this die and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine. (Ezek. 47:12)

These trees drink of water that issues from God’s holy sanctuary. Although their fruit will be used for food, it will not disappear; the leaf will not fade despite being used for healing. Doesn’t this imagery remind you of the Tree of Life in the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9) and still more of the final Tree of Life from which believers will eat in the superiors paradise (Rev. 2:7)? Just as the leaves of the tree in Ezekiel’s vision would become medicine, the leaves of the definitive Tree of Life will be for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2).

To say that the blessed person prospers in all things doesn’t mean that every believer will experience business success, enjoy physical health, and live within a happy family. God may allow a Christian to struggle for decades under financial adversity, to suffer for much of life from chronic pain and fatigue, or to grieve for years the heartache of a wayward child. Believers sometimes experience worldly prosperity, but often they do not. True prosperity is not found in the thing of this world, but in the things of the eternal realm. All that is done for Christ counts as success in His kingdom. And believers prosper eternally because their future is secure in Christ

This isn’t true fro the wicked. The future of the ungodly is far from secure. Verse 4 shows that in contrast to the sturdy believer tree, firmly rooted beside refreshing streams, unbelievers are like bits of grain husks blown into oblivion by the blustery wind.

The ungodly will not be able to stand before the judgment seat of Christ or in the great and final gathering of the righteous (v. 5). They will crumple under the scrutiny of God’s final judgment. And those who persist in sin will have no place in the ultimate and unified congregation of the church triumphant.

The way of the wicked will perish, but God knows the way of the righteous (v. 6). He sees your struggle right now. He knows what will happen to you today, this week, this month, and every year for the rest of your life. He will watch over your every step in this temporal life and in all aspects of your eternal future. Because of Christ’s finished work, believers will stand without faltering before His judgment. They will join the righteous throng that enters the city gates and partakes of the tree of life (Rev. 22:14).

As you being this devotional of mediating on God’s Word, may His Spirit fill your heart with joy in your Lord and love for His delightful law.

Questions for Reflection

How might I be walking, standing, or sitting in ways that compromise my Christian faith?

What is my attitude about God’s Word and meditating on it?

What specific steps can I take to become more like a believer tree?

For the nineteenth week commemorating our 20th anniversary, we are giving away a copy of A Puritan Theology

puritan

A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life offers a groundbreaking treatment of the Puritans’ teaching on most major Reformed doctrines, particularly those doctrines in which the Puritans made significant contributions. Since the late 1950s, nearly 150 Puritan authors and 700 Puritan titles have been reprinted and catalogued by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson in their 2006 collection of mini-biographies and book reviews, titled, Meet the Puritans. However, no work until now has gathered together the threads of their teaching into a unified tapestry of systematic theology.

A Puritan Theology, byJoel Beeke and Mark Jones, attempts to do that. The book addresses Puritan teachings on all six loci of theology, covering fifty areas of doctrine. The book explores Puritan teachings on biblical interpretation, God, predestination, providence, angels, sin, the covenants, the gospel, Christ, preparation for conversion, regeneration, coming to Christ, justification, adoption, church government, the Sabbath, preaching, baptism, heaven, hell, and many other topics. It ends with eight chapters that explore Puritan “theology in practice.” Some chapters highlight the work of a specific theologian such as William Perkins, William Ames, John Owen, Stephen Charnock, or Thomas Goodwin on a specific topic. Other chapters survey various authors on a particular subject. The goal of A Puritan Theology is to increase knowledge in the mind and godliness in the soul. It was written for theologians, historians, pastors, and educated laymen who seek to learn more about Puritan theology.

Available for purchase here -->

Born in the enchanting region between the Rhone River and the Massif Central mountains in southern France, Marie Durand chose to spend most of her life in a dark, unhealthy prison rather than following a religion she considered contrary to the teachings of Christ.

Over the years, Marie’s story has encouraged many believers to trust the same “God of mercy” who faithfully sustained her faith. Especially in France, she has become a symbol of resistance and perseverance. Her letters have also helped historians to understand how prisoners lived at the Tower of Constance and how Protestants helped each other during the persecution in France.

Of course, Marie never imagined her life would still be remembered three hundred years after her birth. Through both her long and terrible imprisonment, and her time of poverty and disappointments back home, she simply continued to do what God called her to do every day, keeping her eyes on the future “triumph of glory,” loving those around her, and thanking God for what she described as “the honor of wearing His uniform for His just cause.”

This newest addition to the Christian Biographies for Younger Readers is scheduled to be published in June 2015

For the eighteenth week commemorating our 20th anniversary, we are giving away a copy of Stop Loving the World


stop lovingLive in this world in such a way that people recognize that God is your treasure.

Do you live in this world in such a way that people recognize that it is not your treasure?

The Puritans were greatly concerned with suppressing worldliness in the church. Today, worldliness is an even greater problem, exacerbated by the fact that so few dare to speak out against it. In this book, William Greenhill provides modern readers with a healthy antidote to our love affair with the world. He explains what it means to love the world, exposes the dangers of cherishing it, shares how we ought to relate to it, and gives encouraging directions for removing our hearts from it. This is a book with a timeless message, demonstrating the relevance of the Puritans for today. By God’s grace, it will help persuade you that the world and all its charms are not what you should live for.

Endorsement  “‘Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold’ is a modern paraphrase of Paul’s warning in Romans 12:2 regarding conformity to this world. William Greenhill’s sermon, carefully edited in this volume and made more digestible by introducing separate chapters to the Puritan’s lengthy discourse, is as timely as it is necessary. Truth is, we are all too much in love with this world and too little in love with the world to come. Worldliness pervades our churches as much as our individual lives and we need to do something about it—quickly. Stop Loving the World is not pleasant reading—for it calls attention to a sin that we would sooner tolerate than mortify; but, if we are serious about godliness, mortify it we must. A book to read slowly, carefully, and prayerfully.” — Derek W. H. Thomas, John E. Richards Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Minister of Teaching, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS

assuranceReview of Gospel Assurance & Warnings by Richard Atherton (Evangelical Times)

Some books have enticing titles and eye-catching covers, only for the content to be disappointing. This book is the opposite; the nondescript cover and title belie the excellent content within.

This is the third book in a series called ‘Recovering the Gospel’. In the preface, Washer explains what drove him to write: ‘The essential themes that make up the very core of the gospel – the justice of God, the radical depravity of man, the blood atonement, the nature of true conversion and the biblical basis of assurance – are absent from too many pulpits’.

The book surveys the broad, evangelical scene from the perspective of 1 John. Reading a chapter is like listening to the preached Word. Indeed, the chapters are reworked sermons. There is some repetitiveness, but then again repetition is a feature of many a good sermon.

Part one constitutes the major portion of the book and deals with biblical assurance, using the tests given by 1 John. The aim is both positive (encouraging fearful believers to be assured that they are in the faith) and negative (warning of the dangers of falsely assuming to be in the faith).

The tests include confessing sin, keeping God’s commandments, loving Christians and, finally, rejecting and overcoming the world. Repeatedly, Washer thunders against the shallow gospel which tells folk they are Christians if they once prayed a prayer of decision, notwithstanding a lifestyle no different from the rest of the world.

Part two is shorter, focusing on warning signs of a false profession. This expands on themes covered in part one, but is good reading and ensures that we get the message.

Washer writes from an American perspective, but his warnings apply to the UK, Long ago, the apostle Paul told Timothy to ‘Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you’ (2 Timothy 1:14). Today, Paul Washer is exhorting us all to do the same.

preachingHow Do Preaching and Corporate Prayer Work Together? - Cultivating Biblical Godliness Series

Ryan M. McGraw

Paperback, 32 pages

Retail Price: $3.00/ Our Price: $2.25

In John 14:12–14, Jesus declares that His people would accomplish “greater works” than His. What are these greater works the church would accomplish, and how could they be even greater than Christ’s miracles? With biblical insight, author Ryan McGraw takes a closer look at this passage, along with the book of Acts, and explains that these greater works are connected to corporate prayer and faithful preaching, which are vital to the life of every local congregation. How Do Preaching and Corporate Prayer Work Together? affirms the priority of prayer and preaching in the church and offers practical instruction for effective corporate prayer that, by God’s grace, will bear fruit in preaching.

 

9781601783653How Should Men Lead Their Families? - Cultivating Biblical Godliness Series

Joel R. Beeke

Paperback, 32 pages

Retail Price: $3.00/ Our Price: $2.25

God’s Word teaches us that Jesus Christ was ordained by God and anointed by the Spirit for His work as prophet, priest, and king of His children. Those who are in union with Him share His offices in a limited but important way. In this booklet, Joel Beeke explains how husbands and fathers should lead their families as prophets, priests, and kings. Filled with biblical wisdom and practical application, How Should Men Lead Their Families? is a helpful guide for men who desire to bear the image of the Father of glory and of the heavenly Husband as they lead, teach, love, evangelize, protect, and rule over their wives and children.

 

discoveringDiscovering Delight: 31 Meditations on Loving God's Law

Glenda Mathes

Paperback, 160 pages

Retail Price: $10.00/ Our Price: $7.50

Does the concept of loving law sound strange to you—like two things that just don’t go together? Christians today often don’t want to read about law because they would rather revel in gospel and grace. Yet the Bible clearly links law with love, a connection we see in Psalm 119. In these insightful meditations, author Glenda Mathes sheds light on this “long psalm that often gets short shrift.” A closer look at Psalm 119, in particular, and several other psalms and Old and New Testament passages encourages readers to discover the delight of God’s written Word and rejoice in loving His law.

 

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For the seventeenth week commemorating our 20th anniversary, we are giving away a copy of Christians Get Depressed.

depressedMany Christians mistakenly believe that true Christians don’t get depressed, and this misconception heaps additional pain and guilt onto Christians who are suffering from mental and emotional distress. Author David P. Murray comes to the defense of depressed Christians, asserting that Christians do get depressed! He explains why and how Christians should study depression, what depression is, and the approaches caregivers, pastors, and churches can take to help those who are suffering from it. With clarity and wise biblical insight, Dr. Murray offers help and hope to those suffering from depression, the family members and friends who care for them, and pastors ministering to these wounded members of their flock.

Testimonials  "In a very compassionate manner, Dr. Murray helps ease the guilt that accompanies the inexpressible agony of depression. Based on Scripture, this treasure shows the depressed believer that he is not forsaken of God, is not an inferior Christian, and is not necessarily being punished for some sin. The author carefully explains the thoughts and feelings of the depressed and then offers cures. He concludes by very pointedly addressing those who care for the depressed. This is one of the most practical and encouraging books I have read on depression, and having suffered from depression myself, I have read many." -S.L. Grand Rapids, MI

Purchase Here -->

marrowReview of The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition by Hugh McLachlan (Scottish Journal of Theology)

In this well written, scholarly and attractively published book, William Vandoodewaard relates what he considers to be the central tenets of ‘Marrow’ theology to the doctrines which he implies were characteristic of the churches of Associate Presbytery and Associate Synod in Scotland in the eighteenth century.

Dr Vandoodewaard’s thesis, that the theology of the secessionist churches in question is a continuation of Marrow theology, is well supported by his quotations from and expositions of the published works of numerous secessionist ministers. However, one wonders what were the views of those secessionist ministers who did not write books or whose publications did not survive. Furthermore, a comparative study of the theological views of contemporary Church of Scotland ministers would be required to give an indication of the fuller significance of such continuity.

What were the views of the members of the secessionist churches? Did they differ from the views of the Church of Scotland laity? We cannot comfortably assume that the members of a congregation will tend to share the particular pet theological theories of their minister. Do we belong to particular churches because of or despite some particular theological views?

This is a history of particular ideas rather than an analysis or evaluation of them. However, the Marrow account of atonement consistently comes across as by far the weakest of the three tenets. That each person deserves punishment and requires to be redeemed because Adam was in breach of a covenant he made with God while acting as the representative of the human race is an analogy which provides only very limited illumination.

Suppose that someone acts as a representative for, say, Elderslie Golf Club. In that capacity, he might enter into a contractual arrangement which binds Elderslie Golf Club to follow a particular course of action. If Elderslie Golf Club fails to fulfill the terms of the agreed arrangement, it might be held to account. However, current and future members of the club cannot be held to account as individual people for the debts and other obligations of Elderslie Golf Club. They are not bound as individual people by the deal that was struck by the representative of Elderslie Golf Club in his capacity as a representative of Elderslie Golf Club.

In general, there is a crucial difference between criminal and civil law the force of which should, surely, pertain to the analogy at issue. Breach of contract provokes the sanction of compensation rather than of punishment. There is a profound difference between the rightful punishment of thieves and the appropriate treatment of those who have failed to fulfil a contractual agreement they have, without fraudulent intent, entered into. A fortiori, it would be inappropriate to mete out punishment to individual people who happened to be members of Elderslie Golf Club for the failure of Elderslie Golf club to fulfil its contractual arrangements.

This is an interesting and a very stimulating book. The clear, well-structured prose as well as its generous type – the size I would choose if reading on my Kindle – make it a pleasure to read.