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Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula

November 25, 2014 1 comment


Description:

Samuel Rutherford was 36 years old when he was exiled to Aberdeen, feeling that he was ‘an outcast and withered tree.’ He had served the little church at Anwoth in Galloway faithfully, but in those August days of 1636 he seems to have felt for a while that his useful service was over.

Little could he have known that his exile would end in less than two years when Scotland rose up to resist the king’s domination of the church. He could hardly have imagined that he would serve a key role in reasserting biblical doctrine, worship and government to the Scottish church. He would also play an important part in the Westminster Assembly, defining Christian doctrine for much of the English-speaking world for centuries to come, and nearly two dozen influential books would flow from his pen, winning the admiration of the Reformed churches of Britain and the Continent. He would even have the most prestigious universities in the Netherlands and Scotland clamor to have him fill their chairs of divinity, and as a professor of theology, he would mold the minds of a generation of Scottish pastors and theologians

Alexander Whyte wrote, “No man of his age in broad Scotland stood higher as a scholar, a theologian, a controversialist, a preacher and a very saint than Samuel Rutherford.”

Nor could Rutherford have envisioned in his wildest dreams that a collection of letters that he sent to friends from his exile in Aberdeen would rank among the most beloved Christian classics, a timeless source of spiritual inspiration to millions of readers. (From the Publisher’s Website)

 

Excerpt:

“In 1857, Anne Cousins wove phrases from his letters into a hymn called ‘The Sands of Time Are Sinking’. The first stanza summerized Rutherford’s lifelong goal to fulfill the admonition that Paul gave to the Colossians: ‘Set your minds on things above.’

The sands of time are sinking,

The dawn of heaven breaks,

The summer morn I’ve sighed for,

The fair sweet morn awakes;

Dark, dark hath been the midnight,

But dayspring is at hand,

And glory, glory dwelleth in Emmanuel’s land.

(From Chapter 9, Pages 137-138)

 

Review:

Before I read this book, I knew very little about Samuel Rutherford. I had read some of his letters. I knew that there was a hymn written using lines from some of his letters. And I knew he was Scottish. So I came to this book with an open and hungry mind.

Mr. Hannula has taught me much about this man of God. He taught me that Samuel Rutherford was a man that took seriously his calling to preach. He taught me that Rutherford loved his congregation above his own comfort or fame. He also taught me how instrumental this man was in shaping Scottish as well as English spirituality. Rutherford was present and active in the Westminster Assembly. I even learned how this humble man endured trials such as: the death of a wife and children, persecution, and the inability to carry out the ministry that he believed he was called to. This is done by weaving Rutherford’s story with the history of his times often using Rutherford’s own words. Hannula even shows us the extent of Rutherford’s influence through the reactions of his enemies. Samuel Rutherford exemplifies the philosophy of never letting your critics dictate your mission. Rutherford though loyal to king and country was ultimately under the rule of the true Sovereign to whom all kings owe their position and will one day bow the knee: King Jesus.

Through the life of Rutherford I have learned to love Christ more passionately, do the work he has called me to more urgently, and to endure the trials God allows in my life with more humility. I have been immeasurably blessed through the reading of this book. I hope to read more in this series. I would like to thank EP Books for publishing this series, Bitesize Biographies, and especially Mr. Hannula for this valuable contribution.

 

Book Details:

 

  • Author: Richard M. Hannula
  • Publisher: EP Books
  • Page Count:

    140

  • ISBN#: 9781783970186

  • List Price: $10.99


About the Author:

Richard Hannula lives in Tacoma, Washington, USA, where he serves as the principal of Covenant High School and is an elder in a Presbyterian Church of America congregation. He is the author of Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History, and of the Bitesize Biography on Hugh Latimer.

Where to Buy:

EP Books

Amazon

 

Disclaimer: I received this book from EP Books via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

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Categories: Biography, EP Books, Reviews

Worshipping With Calvin by Terry L. Johnson

June 21, 2014 1 comment


 

Description:

“ In the ‘worship wars’ which have marked recent times, many aspects have been considered but rarely is the issue of truly Reformed worship addressed. In this pertinent work, Terry Johnson effectively fills a void- countless books have been written about Calvin, but to date there has been scant material on Calvin and biblical worship. The vital historical context is presented, and the practical ramifications for Reformed biblical worship today are explored.” (From the Back Cover of the Book)

 

Excerpt:

“ Here, then, is the critical question: Are our ‘difficult times’ so unlike apostolic ‘ difficult times’ that it is impossible for us just to ‘continue’ and still be effective? Generational hubris often hampers clarity of thought. Baby Boomers in particular have always thought of themselves as so different and, truth be known, so superior to all that came before them, that change is reflexive. They, and subsequent generations, drink up innovation like mother’s milk. To tell a church just to ‘continue’ to preach, read, pray, and sing the Scriptures, sounds to them so, yesterday.” (From Chapter 9, pages 318-319)

Review:

Let me start this review by divulging some personal information. I grew up in church. The church I spent the first 20 years of my life in was self-consciously “old-fashioned”. I felt like they did not like innovation simply because it was new or in style. There was a definite structure to the services but I would not call it deliberate. It was tradition. 

For the next 7 years my wife and I bounced around to various churches looking for life and meaning in the worship services we experienced. We visited no less than 25 churches of various denominations and worship “styles”. All this time, we were slowly discovering the doctrines of  grace in our own study of the scriptures. God humbled us through circumstances to the point that we no longer sought out churches based on style or what they had to offer. We simply wanted to worship God in spirit and in truth. We found, through a friend, a church that treated scripture as the center-piece of life. They prayed scripture, they sang scripture, they preached scripture, they read scripture, and they taught scripture. We had never encountered a people so saturated with God’s Word. Needless to say, we immediately fell in love with this church and have been there for over seven years now. 

So what does that have to do with this book?

In this book, Terry Johnson argues that our churches have become weak and ineffective because we have allowed scriptural practices in the church to be replaced by pragmatical entertainment. Since the reformers sought to strip away the practices of the church in their time that were unbiblical,  Dr. Johnson transports us back to the Reformation to see how this was done. How did the church restore true worship? By going back to the Bible for its life and practice, the church, under the direction of the reformers, stripped  away all the traditions that distracted the people from truly worshiping God and restored the scriptural practices that had been lost due to neglect.

After giving us historical examples of this restoration process, the author shows us what a biblical worship service looks like. To quote his chapter headings, it is: God-centered, Bible-filled, Gospel-structured, Church-aware, and Spirit-dependent. Mr. Johnson uses scripture and quotes from various reformers to convince the reader that what he is presenting is both biblical and has been the practice of the church in revitalizing worship.

When I rate a book, I do so on a five-star system with five being the highest. If a book gets five stars, it is because it has formed my thinking in a radical way. I give this book five stars. Though I attend a church where most of these practices are in place, I found myself being more deeply convicted that these practices are biblical. One caveat I put in here is that I am Baptist. As such, I disagree with the author’s treatment of Baptism. Overall, I found this book to be very instructive and encouraging. I was especially challenged and encouraged by chapter 8 (Church Aware) and chapter 9 (Spirit Dependent). I highly recommend this book. Read it and be encouraged.  

Book Details:

 

  • Author: Terry L. Johnson
  • Publisher: EP Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Page Count: 433
  • ISBN#: 9780852349366
  • List Price: $23.99

 

 

About the Author:

Terry Johnson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He studied history at the University of Southern California and also studied at Trinity College, Bristol, England, and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, before earning his D. Min in 2008 from Erskine Theological Seminary.

Where to Buy:

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I received this book from EP Books via Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Categories: EP Books, Reviews

Sounding the Depths by Michael A. Milton

February 16, 2014 1 comment

Description:

This is a short series of expository messages on the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ recorded in John 17. Michael Milton has written in a way that will be encouraging and uplifting to any Christian. The subtitle ‘When Jesus prays for his people’ suggests the encouragement this book offers in examining this wonderful prayer of Jesus. (From the Publisher’s Website)

Excerpt:

“One way to recover that relationship [with Jesus] is to come into contact with the love of Jesus through one of the most extraordinary prayers ever uttered: the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in John 17. My prayer is that as we begin this series, we will so immerse ourselves in the truths of this prayer that we will not only know the words of Christianity but also the music of Christianity.” (From Chapter 1, Page 9)

Review:

Few passages in scripture are as comforting as John 17. As we read it, we get a glimpse into the heart of Jesus for His followers. Michael Milton has compiled 6 sermons on John 17 in this book, Sounding The Depths.

This book is written for the Christian. It deals with topics such as: the unity of purpose between the Father and Son, Jesus’ compassion for His followers, the sanctifying power of the truth of God’s word, submission to God, faith in God’s purposes, humility in service to God, and what it means to trust in the Christ who prays for you.

The chapter on submission (chapter 3) was especially convicting and encouraging to me. As I delved deeper into this book and Jesus’ prayer, I was struck by God’s wisdom and love for his people. I found this book to be deeply refreshing as Michael Milton skillfully expounded the prayer of our Savior.

I would highly recommend this book to all who would know the deep, deep love of Jesus. Thank you Michael Milton and EP Books for this blessed little book. May it be widely read and used by God to rekindle the hearts of His people.

Book Details:

  • Author: Dr. Michael A. Milton

  • Publisher: EP Books

  • Format: Paperback

  • Page Count: 98

  • ISBN#: 9780852349717

  • List Price: $5.99

About the Author:

Dr Michael Milton is currently President and CEO of Faith for Living; Fourth President/Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary (retired); Adjunct Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary; Faculty and Speaker, Intercollegiate Studies Institute; and Contributing Writer, The Center for Vision and Values, Grove City College

Where to Buy:

Disclaimer: I received this book from EP Books via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Categories: EP Books, Reviews