Archive for the ‘Christian Focus’ Category

Rebels Rescued by Brian Cosby

December 12, 2012 2 comments

Have you ever had a shopping cart with a broken wheel? You push it around and all it wants to do is run into the sides of the aisle. If you were to let the cart go on its own, it would immediately turn and smash into that case of pickles up ahead! You are like that shopping cart! The bad wheel is your heart. It’s always veering off, leading you away from what you were created to be. You were created for God’s love and glory, but instead, your heart pulls you away from Jesus and into something much worse than a case of pickles. Being a rebel at heart means that you do not have the ability to choose God or even to respond to God on your own because you are spiritually dead; we all are. Reformed theology teaches that, because we are more sinful than we could ever imagine, it can only be God who takes that broken shopping cart wheel (our sinful heart) and replaces it with one that has both the ability and the desire to seek him and to follow him. By faith in Christ, you are no longer set to smash into the aisles of sinful destruction. No, he promises to carry us in his grip of grace. (From the Publisher’s Website)

This book is presented in nine short chapters. Each chapter is broken down into easy to read, easy to teach sections. At the end of each chapter the reader is given questions for thought and discussion. The format of this book makes it perfect for teaching in a group setting. It could also be used in discipling or for independent reading.

I love the concept of this book. Brian Cosby has taken the five solas and the five points of Calvinism, explained them, and illustrated them in a way that young people can understand. As I read through the book, I was encouraged in my faith as the truths were illustrated so clearly. I have often wondered how best to present these truths to my children. I am indebted to the ministry of Brian Cosby for his succinct, lucid presentation of the doctrines of grace. Cosby has shown himself to be a gifted communicator with his “down to earth” illustrations.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I plan to use it with my own family. If you are a pastor, teacher, or parent; this book will help you communicate these precious truths. I believe that this book will capture and hold the attention of young people long enough to convey these biblical truths and leave them hungry for more. It will also present to them a God who is perfect in His holiness, passionate for His people, persistent in His love, and purposeful in His work. I wish I had access to a book like this when I was a teen. Thank you Brian Cosby and Christian Focus Publications for this gem.

Book Details:

  • Author: Brian Cosby
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 112
  • ISBN#: 9781845509804

About the Author:
Brian H. Cosby is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. He has written several books including John Bunyan: The Journey of a Pilgrim in the Trailblazers series and continues to write articles for various magazines and journals.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.

Categories: Christian Focus, Reviews

The Priority of Preaching by Christopher Ash

January 26, 2012 1 comment

Why do we have preachers? Is preaching important? Why should I subject myself to preaching? If you have ever asked these questions, you should read this book.

Why do I preach? Are they really listening? How much of our service should be dedicated to preaching? If you have ever asked these questions, you should read this book.

In the introduction to his book, The Priority of Preaching, Christopher Ash states, “My task is to persuade (or at least unsettle) those doubtful about preaching, and to deepen the conviction of those already converted to the priority of preaching.” He writes with the aim of encouraging “ordinary ministers who preach regularly to ordinary people in ordinary places, who may dream of being world-renowned but are going to be spared that fate.” Though this book is written directly to preachers, it’s message can be applied to those who sit in the pew and listen from week to week.

This short but power-packed book is presented in three chapters. The author’s choice of proof text is taken from the book of Deuteronomy and is the perfect choice because it deals with God’s word communicated by God’s prophet to God’s covenant people.

Chapter one addresses The Authority of the Preached Word. In this chapter, Ash builds the case that the preacher, like the prophet in the Old Testament, is representing God to his people by proclaiming God’s word. God has chosen to reveal himself in the written word and he has also chosen to speak to the hearts of his people through the prophetic utterance of his servants. These servants have authority but it is borrowed authority given to them by God.

Chapter two is focused on Preaching that Transforms the Church. Ash argues for preaching that “grips” the hearts of the hearers. He points out four themes: the reality of God, the stubbornness of people, the urgency of faith and the wonder of grace. These four things should cause the preacher to passionately and confidently proclaim God’s word to his people.

Chapter three builds on the other two in Preaching that Mends a Broken World. We know our world is broken. We long to make a difference. How can this be done? Ash demonstrates that the Assembly is “called together by and under the word of God.” As an assembly, we have a reason for gathering. When we gather, God’s grace transforms us. In the power of  God, we go out and reach the world with the gospel of God’s grace.

The book ends with a helpful appendix entitled: Give God the Microphone! Seven Blessings of Consecutive Expository Preaching. If you are convinced of the value of expository preaching, this will serve as affirmation. If you are more inclined to topical preaching, this will give you good food for thought.

I was greatly encouraged by this book. In an age when we have replaced the preacher with psychologists, life-coaches and small-group leaders, this book serves as a corrective, bringing us back to God’s plan for his people. I recommend that this be required reading for anyone pursuing the call to preach.

This book was graciously provided to me by Christian Focus for the purpose of review.

  • Paperback: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Christian Focus
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845504649
Categories: Christian Focus, Reviews

Children and the Lord’s Supper – Editors: Guy Waters and Ligon Duncan

December 30, 2011 1 comment

Communion is being served. Your young child is sitting next to you. Should you allow them to partake? What is your church’s stance on children and communion? What answer do you give them if you do not allow them? What answer do you give yourself?

In the book Children and the Lord’s Supper, the issue of paedocommunion is analyzed from biblical, theological, historical and pastoral perspectives.  This book targets those who are of the reformed tradition and specifically Presbyterians. I must confess that I am Baptist and have no dog in this fight. Even so, I found this book to be an interesting read as it helped me understand more fully the paedobaptist position.

The chapters are well written by excellent biblical scholars. They even threw a Baptist into the mix to give an objective view on the tradition in the Patristic era. I found myself thoroughly engaged with the arguments presented. I commend these men of God for their diligence in study and their sober-mindedness in dealing with this topic. In a world that has grown far to accommodating to sentimentality it is refreshing to see these men come to rest on the truth that they find in scripture. History and tradition were analyzed but ultimately the whole discussion ends with the inspired word of God.

Even though I do not agree with the starting point (paedobaptism), I do agree with their conclusion. Those who participate in the Lord’s Supper must be able to discern the body and show evidence of the grace of God in their lives. Otherwise, there in no “remembrance” in what they do nor “examination”. I agree with what the editors say in the introduction: “The Lord’s Supper does not create spiritual life in a person. The Lord’s Supper nourishes the spiritual life of the believer. Unless that life is already present in the believer, the Lord’s Supper will not profit him spiritually. Unless a person has made a public and credible profession of faith, the church has no biblical warrant to admit him to an ordinance designed to nurture faith.”

I commend this book to any who have struggled with this issue. There is much here to learn. Theological depth of thought, pastoral care and adherence to the authority of scripture make this book a good addition to anyone’s library but especially to those who minister to the Body of Christ.

This book was graciously provided to me by Christian Focus for the purpose of review.

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Mentor (November 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845507299
Categories: Christian Focus, Reviews

What the Bible Means to Me edited by Catherine Mackenzie

December 14, 2011 1 comment

Books change us. They have the power to influence us. Our mind may be changed, our opinion may be swayed or our resolve may be strengthened. But when we put the book down, we walk away a little different (sometimes very different) than when we picked it up. No book has more power to change a person than the Bible. It is God’s Word to man. It should come as no surprise then if people, changed by the purifying words of holy scripture, want to talk about it.

Catherine Mackenzie has done us all a great service in compiling a book containing the stories of people impacted by God’s word. I found this book refreshing as a I read the testimonies of people from all walks of life recounting the importance and influence of the Bible in their lives. As Jennifer Grosser, one of the contributors, puts it, ” He [God] meets us in the pages of the Bible, at whatever age or spiritual state we are in, and speaks to us there.” Indeed, this statement is proven time and again by those whose stories are recorded in the pages of this book. As I read and reread some of the personal accounts, I was reaffirmed in my own experience with Bible.

The entries in this book are short and easy to digest. Even so, they are very encouraging and resound with the greatness of God’s word. I recommend this book to those who are new to the Bible as a “travel guide” of what blessings you can expect from a life dedicated to reading and studying the Bible. I recommend this book to those who have spent their lives in the Bible as a “scrapbook” of God’s love and mercy in giving us His holy, inspired word whereby we may know Him.

This book was provided to me by Christian Focus Publications for the purpose of review.

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Christian Focus (November 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-13: 9781845507237
Categories: Christian Focus, Reviews