January 7, 2014 by
Categories: Articles | Books | eBook | Worship
Bob Kauflin, the Director of Worship for Sovereign Grace, has been blogging at WorshipMatters.com since 2005. Since he started the blog, Bob has written hundreds of posts addressing a variety of topics related to worship. These topics include gospel-centered worship, reverence, idolatry, receiving correction, evaluating music, and many, many other topics. He has also answered lots of valuable questions submitted by readers.
We have sought to collect the best posts from Bob's blog and compile them into a free e-book entitled The Best of WorshipMatters.com. We believe this e-book will be a valuable resource for worship leaders, musicians, and anyone desiring to grow in their understanding of Biblical worship.
We have made the book available in .MOBI (Kindle) format, .EPUB format (iBooks), and PDF.
DOWNLOAD THE BOOK HERE.
January 3, 2014 by
Categories: Articles | Books
This post was written by Jeff Purswell, the dean of the Sovereign Grace Pastor's College and the Sovereign Grace Director of Theology and Training.
The end of a year brings forth endless lists - “best of,” “worst of,” “most significant,” “most over-rated” - one last chance in the year for people to publish their opinions. Some lists are more useful than others, and for pastors, book lists are doubtless the most interesting.
Any such list, by definition, reflects personal preference, if not outright bias. Despite this, I thought it might be helpful to highlight a few of the more significant books for pastors in 2013. I won’t call this a “best of” list, which begs the question, “best” for what?, and virtually assures I’ll leave off a book (books?) that are better. However, I do think the following are significant books that every pastor should at least be aware of and, if possible, read. So here goes:
- Thy Word is Still Truth: Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture from the Reformation to Today, ed. Peter A. Lillback and Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. (Westminster Seminary Press and P&R). Simply put: Whoa. I eagerly awaited this book and was not disappointed. As a compendium of texts on the doctrine of Scripture from the dawn of the Reformation until the present, the book accomplishes two massive tasks: (a) it compiles some of the most profound and precise statements about and formulations of the doctrine of Scripture in the past 500 years (thus providing an education in itself), and (b) it demonstrates that the evangelical church’s high view of Scripture—its authority, sufficiency, inerrancy—is no pedantic innovation, but stands in full continuity with the historic view of the church throughout the centuries, and particularly the Reformed tradition. Don’t pause - just get this book.
- From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective ed. David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson (Crossway). A tour de force on the doctrine of definite atonement, exploring it from a historical, biblical, theological, and practical perspective. That’s why it’s so important. The doctrine of definite atonement is far too often treated as an isolated, rationalistic, humanly-derived doctrine—the ugly step-sister of the TULIP, too easily discarded by those more comfortable with four petals. Opponents dismiss the doctrine as a narrow concern of systematicians whose structures take precedence over the text of Scripture. This multi-faceted treatment belies such caricatures, showing the doctrine rather to be part of the very fabric of God’s gracious, saving work: vital in the history of the church, exegetically defensible, tightly enmeshed in the organic structure of biblical theology, and deeply strengthening to the souls of believers.
- Fallen: A Theology of Sin, ed. Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson (Crossway). Few doctrines are so tightly embedded within the Bible’s storyline yet so easily ignored or dismissed by Christians. And the evangelical church - particularly the so-called “young, restless, and Reformed” wing, with its self-conscious (and very healthy) gospel-emphasis - can be vulnerable to muddy-thinking (and sloppy living) when it comes to sin. Here is an outstanding collection of essays (confession: I haven’t read them all yet, but I will) that examines sin biblically (and from various parts of the canon), theologically, culturally, and pastorally. A precious gift to a church that exults in grace but which stands on this side of the consummation.
- Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609, Scott M. Manetsch (Oxford Univ. Press). I loved this book. Mining the archives of Geneva, Manetsch, a church historian at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, explores both the pastoral theology and the ministerial practice of the men who served with and succeeded Calvin as pastors in Geneva and its environs. Here were men whose deep commitment to Scripture and the theological vision it imparts found energetic expression in the practicals of daily ministry. These pastors - the “Venerable Company” as they were sometimes called - jealously guarded the legacy they received from Calvin, yet were required to adapt church ministry to the political, religious, and social vicissitudes of their age. In an age where pastoral confusion abounds, with pastors bombarded by leadership fads on the one hand and the whims and demands of congregations on the other, there is wealth of wisdom here, as well as an inspiring example of ministry that had at its core the written word of God.
- Galatians, Douglas J. Moo (Baker Academic). Any list for pastors should include a commentary, and this is my choice for 2013. Full disclosure: Doug was one of my exegesis professors, and so I’m eternally indebted to him and I read about everything he writes. But this is an important entry for a number of reasons, not least because of Moo’s expertise in Romans. One of the hot topics in Pauline studies for years has been Paul’s seemingly contradictory views of the Mosaic law (as seen, e.g., between Romans and Galatians). Moo is perfectly suited to navigate these waters. More generally, any commentator on Galatians must be acutely aware of the various New Perspectives on Paul that have emerged over the past decades and served as new lenses through which to view Paul’s letters. Moo brings a deep understanding of this range of interpretations and interacts with them as he carefully lays out his own understanding of the text. I have yet to go through the entire commentary, but its careful tracing of Paul’s salvation-historical argument in the letter (including both elements of continuity and discontinuity in salvation-history), as well as his observations on Paul’s larger structures of thought (e.g., on the nature of grace), are vintage Moo, placing this commentary at the top of my recommendations for Galatians.
Honorable Mentions: Perhaps to anticipate complaints at the outset, here are a few other books published this year well worth one’s attention:
- Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief, John M. Frame (P&R). “Why didn’t you mention Frame’s new Systematic?” Well there, I did. The reasons I didn’t include it above are two: (1) it’s obvious. I’ve seen this book in almost every pastor’s office I’ve been in over the past two months, so it needed no additional exposure; and (2) it’s familiar. Frame’s fertile thinking and prolific writing constitute a familiar voice for many evangelical pastors. This book expands that happy conversation to the whole field of systematic theology.
- The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, Thomas R. Schreiner (Baker Academic). I haven’t completed this book, but a project of this scope by an author of Schreiner’s caliber is always worthy of note. Three strengths are immediately apparent: Schreiner’s organizing themes (God as Lord, humans in God’s image, and the land/place where God’s rule is exercised) emerge demonstrably from the text of Scripture and are sufficiently broad to embrace its scope; the book is comprehensive - it doesn’t selectively dance over themes, but traces them throughout the books of the canon; and Schreiner’s typical devotional warmth is apparent throughout. An excellent contribution to the increasing attempts of a whole-bible biblical theology.
- It’s also worth noting the publication this year of the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. Although any “study bible” requires a warning label to differentiate the comments of writers from the biblical text itself (especially interpretive comments), a study bible that highlights the role of the gospel throughout the Scriptures is a welcome tool (cf. Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; Acts 28:23; et al). Although the choice of a few of the contributors puzzled me, the project itself is well-conceived and the net result edifying - this will prove a helpful companion to many in perceiving the unity of Scripture and the connective tissue of the gospel throughout.
As pastors—particularly those of us in the west—we have an embarrassment of riches, of which the above books are merely a sampling. Whatever your preferred choices, and wherever your interests lie, let’s make 2014 a year when each us, like never before, heeds the call to “take up and read,” doing our best to present ourselves to God as unashamed workers, handling accurately the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
+original photo by limaoscarjuliet
June 10, 2013 by
We all experience stress, anxiety, grief, conflict, depression, and despair – pain that causes us to cry out for peace. Taking on these common yet critical hardships, a seasoned pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church and biblical counselor Andy Farmer shows us where to find and how to experience true, lasting peace—peace with God, peace with each other, and peace with ourselves.
Andy writes that, “The thing that pushed me to actually do this [write Real Peace], was my experience in pastoral counseling and care. As I studied peace, I became much more attuned to how people I was meeting with related to it. I began to realize that nearly everyone I talked to, regardless of their situation, was thirsting for something like peace in their lives. Whether they use the actual word or not, embedded in the language people used to describe their life struggles is a desperate cry for peace. This is abundantly obvious with the people I talk to who don’t claim a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Even among Christians who are not in difficult struggles, the lack of peace is real. I had a friend ask me today what I was writing on, and when I told her it was peace, she simply sighed, ‘Ahh…I’d love that.’”
Real Peace: What We Long for and Where to Find It is now available through Crossway Publishers in both paperback and eBook form.
You can read more from Andy Farmer at the Biblical Counseling Coalition blog.
March 15, 2012 by
Categories: Books | Resources
The Gospel Story for Kids is a new church and family curriculum designed to help ground children in the gospel through using Bible stories from Genesis to Revelation, all in the ESV translation. The program is designed by Marty Machowski, a family life pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
This group of resources includes elements for church children’s ministry settings as well as for families:
- The Gospel Story for Kids Sunday school curriculum, which is being rolled out now and is already being used in over 200 churches, includes 156 stories (78 Old Testament and 78 New Testament) as well activities, coloring pages, and Scripture memory verses.
- The Gospel Story Bible is an illustrated children’s storybook Bible that can be used both in the Sunday school classroom and at home.
- Two family-friendly devotionals, Long Story Short and Old Story New, are great for using at home.
The goal of this program is ultimately to teach children the Bible while helping them to catch a glimpse of the gospel in each story. It is designed so that children who begin the program at age three will be able to complete the gospel story from Genesis to Revelation three times by age twelve.
Check out www.GospelStoryforKids.com to learn more about the curriculum, buy existing products, and keep up with news about forthcoming products.
December 29, 2010 by
Categories: Books | Resources
Now that the Christmas gifts are unwrapped and the toys are assembled (hopefully), you may be thinking about family devotions for the new year. If that’s you, here’s a new book to consider.
Long Story Short is a family devotional designed to take your family through the Old Testament in ten minutes a day, showing how each story points forward to Jesus Christ. Each day’s entry includes Scripture reading, questions to help your kids think about the passage, and suggestions for praying together. For a sample, check out this free PDF of chapter 1, courtesy of New Growth Press.
Author Marty Machowski has six kids and has been a pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church (Glen Mills, PA) since 1988. He currently leads Covenant Fellowship’s children’s ministry. Here’s how he describes the book in the introduction:
Few Christian parents would disagree with the importance of passing on the truth of the gospel to their children, yet we live in a busy world… Just getting all the tasks of the day checked off our list can leave any parent exhausted….
That is where I hope Long Story Short will help. The Bible can seem like a long story, but when you break it down into short devotions, teaching the Bible to your family is easy to do. The goal of this devotional is to, day by day, pass on a clear gospel message showing our children how every story in the Bible points forward or back to the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s story of salvation….
As you faithfully lead your children through the devotions in this book, don’t just read it as history. It is history, but it is so much more! Lead with expectation that the God of history will visit with your family. Wait and watch to see what God will do! Cling with faith to this hope, that through the gospel proclamation in your home, the Holy Spirit will regenerate the hearts of your children and lead them to faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone!
Long Story Short is available for $14 at our store.
December 11, 2010 by
Categories: Books | Weekly roundup
In lieu of our usual weekly roundup, here’s a list of all the books C.J. Mahaney recommended on his blog this year. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for a pastor, church planter, or anyone else, one of these may be what you’re looking for. (The books are listed in order from least technical to most technical.)
And if the person you’re shopping for already has all of these, may we suggest a Christmas lawn ornament?
What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. This book “provides a biblically faithful explanation of the gospel and equips Christians to discern deviations from that glorious message,” as C.J. noted in his endorsement. You can browse a free PDF of chapter 7 at Crossway.org.
Just the Way I Am: God’s Good Design in Disability by Krista Horning, with a foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada. C.J. calls it “a unique and valuable resource for parents and pastors who get asked the honest questions from children with disabilities.”
The Essential Edwards Collection, written and edited by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney, with an introduction by John Piper. Contains five volumes, subtitled Lover of God, On Beauty, On Heaven and Hell, On the Good Life, and On True Christianity. C.J.’s endorsement says, “Strachan and Sweeney provide a doorway into the life and teaching of one of the church’s wisest theologians.”
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson. C.J. writes that this book is “destined to serve readers in their appreciation of the gospel as [Carson] expounds on both the death and resurrection of the Savior.”
It Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement by Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence. C.J. suggests that it “can provide a pastor with a sermon series on the gospel.”
By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me by Sinclair Ferguson. C.J. writes that this “book on the gospel of the grace of God is a gem—showing us why we should be amazed by it.”
For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor. Twenty-seven essays on theological topics relating to Piper’s life and ministry, most of them from scholars, and a chapter from C.J., who says his chapter was “not written by a scholar, in case you were wondering.”
God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom by Graham Cole. “A wonderful book that explains why God's intention to restore shalom (peace) to his creation requires the death of Christ.” More info available here.
Atonement by various authors, edited by Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer. A compilation of messages delivered over the years at the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. As Fluhrer writes, “This is a book about blood and it soaks every page."
November 12, 2010 by
Categories: Books | Resources
C.J. Mahaney recently contributed a chapter to the book For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper. The publisher generously allowed us to post C.J.’s chapter, “The Pastor and the Trinity,” online for free.
The chapter is an exposition of 2 Corinthians 13:14, an easy-to-ignore passage that Gordon Fee calls “in many ways…the most profound theological moment in the Pauline corpus.” C.J. endeavors to help pastors care for their churches by daily applying the grace of the Savior, the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
The chapter is posted in eleven parts on C.J.’s blog, and you can read the whole thing here.