The End of the Year (2022) in Books

“And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (Eccles.12:12)

No doubt, the volumes of volumes produced in this world by publishers manifest the vanity of this world and add to the weariness of life. And yet there are many good books for the Christian to benefit from, and a look at some of the end-of-year book lists that are produced this time of year enables us to glean some titles for profitable reading. This is my humble attempt to assist you in that.

Naturally, one has to pay attention to Amazon, which publishes several best-book lists at the end of the year. While we cannot approve of every title, probably even many of them, nevertheless it is good to review these lists to see what is popular in our culture as well as to find a good read here and there. For example,

Tim Challies usually posts an end-of-the-year list he titles “collected best books,” gathered from others’ best-book lists. He looks for common likes and focuses on these. You will find his 2022 list here, which includes among many, this book:

Christianity Today has a little different approach to the world of books at the end of the year: a review of the top reviews of books on their website, which is another good way to gain knowledge of and interest in a good read. Let’s give their top one as a teaser for you:

C.S. Lewis Was a Modern Man Who Breathed Medieval Air


C.S. Lewis Was a Modern Man Who Breathed Medieval Air

As both a writer and a scholar, his work hearkened back to a “slow, contemplative, symphonic world.”


If you are looking more broadly for books from the publishing world, Kirkus Reviews always has helpful summary of the best books in a multitude of categories. While I do enjoy some fiction, I usually pay attention to the non-fiction genre, and the list this year from Kirkus has some fine ones that should satisfy your interest. Here’s a couple that caught my eye:

Another of my favorite end-of-year book notices comes from Abe Books, from which I buy a fair amount of used books throughout the year. They always publish a list of the most expensive books that were sold. The 2022 list does not disappoint. And you thought print books were losing their value. Not the rare ones! Here’s a sample of one of them:

Cook’s Voyages by John Hawkesworth – $50,000

Cook's Voyages
Cook’s Voyages in nine volumes

A rare first edition set of the official accounts of Captain James Cook’s three voyages published in nine volumes in 1773, 1777 and 1784 respectively. These books were 18th century bestsellers with readers eager to learn about the other side of the world. These books gave Europeans a greater awareness of world geography, while his maps and charting of coastlines laid the foundation for modern maritime routes.

And finally, for those who love digital content and ebooks, especially Christian, Reformed, and Calvinistic ones, allow me to recommend Monergism. They now have over 900 classic titles available free for download on their site. Here’s just one example:

Ok, so now you have plenty of reason for pursuing the amazing world of books – from new to used to rare, on paper and on screen! May 2023 give you a powerful incentive to make the pursuit – and thereby to grow in wisdom and in wonder for God’s world and for His grace in Jesus.

Published in: on December 30, 2022 at 9:20 PM  Leave a Comment  

Bethlehem’s Blessed Gospel

The following excerpt is taken from a radio message Rev. C. Haak originally delivered on the Reformed Witness Hour (December 20, 1998) based on Luke 2:11,12. It was then published in the Standard Bearer (Dec.15, 2009).

Beloved, the answer to all of our fears is to be found in the incarnate Christ. It is to be found in God now in our flesh, come by the grace of God to redeem us from our sins. That was the good news of the angels. The angel proclaimed that a unique person had been born in a specific place to accomplish a glorious task. The unique person who had been born was Christ, the Messiah, God’s anointed One, the One who had been promised to shoulder the entire work of salvation, the One who was called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father.” He has now been born in our flesh. No mere ordinary man among men, but God with us. Sinless Son of God, born in our flesh in order to bring us to God.

Not a Savior after man’s mold, not another man simply to muddle around in the mass of humanity, to feel our pain and to try to do something about it. But the One who is able to bring us to God without spot or blemish and to present us before His presence in exceeding joy. He has been born in the city of David, in Bethlehem. The Lord keeps His Word, and not one jot or tittle of it ever falls to the ground. In the very place that God had designated, His Son has been born. And His Son has been born for a glorious task. He has been born to be a Savior. A savior is one who rescues another from danger and places him in a secure position. Christ was born to save us from our true enemy, which is our sin. He has come to save His people from their sins; their offense before God; their trespass against the law of God; their guilt before the holy and the living God. The Lord did not come in order to adjust your attitude. He did not come to teach you an alternate pattern of behavior. He did not come to get you in touch with your inner self. He did not come to make you all that you can be. But He came to wash away the dirty stain of sin from the souls of God’s children.

Let us not forget that the birth of Jesus Christ proclaims the truth about ourselves. It proclaims that we are sinners. There are many who would say, “Now, let’s not spoil Christmas by talking about sin.” Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no significance in the birth of Jesus Christ apart from understanding the reality of sin and death. If one does not know his sin, then one cannot understand the wonder of the birth of God’s Son in the manger. For God has sent Him to accomplish one task, a mighty and glorious task. He has come to stand in the place of God’s chosen, who have broken the law of God. He has come to conquer the death that held them in its arms. He has come to destroy the flames of God’s wrath that our sins have kindled. He has come to give to us eternal life. He has come as the Savior.

And that is joy. The joy that was proclaimed by the angels and that is proclaimed to us today is the joy that our sins are forgiven. God has cast away our sins into the depths of the sea in the cross of Jesus Christ. He will remember those sins no more. Why? Because of a Savior, because of Christ, the Lord, the Messiah, the sin-bearer, who came to pay for those sins in His blood. Who came in order that all of God’s children might now stand before God in eternal delight. That is joy! That is a joy that never fades away.

Has this joy of Bethlehem come home to your heart with power? Have all of these realities of the record of the birth of the Son of God, who was born to remove sin, come upon your heart with power?

To read the rest of this message, or to listen to it, visit the links above.

Published in: on December 24, 2022 at 6:49 AM  Leave a Comment  

Of Whom Is Jesus Ashamed?

According to pastor Erik Raymond in He Is Not Ashamed: The Staggering Love of Christ for His People (Crossway, 2022), Jesus is not ashamed of any of His people who believe in Him for the salvation for their souls and their whole lives, no matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been in the past. As he put it in his chapter titles, “He is not ashamed…

  1. Of those with embarrassing stories (like Tamar and Ruth)
  2. Of those who opposed Him (like Paul)
  3. Of those who are overlooked (like little children and lowly women who followed Him)
  4. Of those who were far from God (like the prodigal son and the unclean leper)
  5. Of those who have nothing (like the thief on the cross)
  6. Of those who are weak (like aged saints and sickly people)
  7. Of those who still sin (like Peter and every single one of His saints)

What amazing grace and abounding love for sinners this Savior has! And that is precious peace to all who confess Jesus’ name, take up His cross, and follow Him.

Well, then, does the author ask in his final chapter, “Whom is Jesus ashamed of?” In answering that question, Raymond turns to Luke 9:23-26 (KJV):

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

And so he explains,

When Jesus said, ‘whoever is ashamed of me and my words’ (Luke 9:26), he was referring to those who reject him. This is the opposite of following him [cf. the previous verses]. Refusing to follow Jesus is rejecting him. We might prefer a middle ground between following and rejecting, but Jesus doesn’t allow any. Either you follow him, or you repudiate him. There’s no gray area, no ambiguity. You’re either with him or against him. We can see this in the words that follow: ‘For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?’ (Luke 9:24-25). The fulcrum for these verses is what people do with Jesus. One may save his life (i.e., choose not to follow Jesus to avoid suffering), but in the end he will lose his life because he won’t have Christ. On the other hand, the one who loses his life for the sake of Christ saves his life. One’s soul is infinitely more valuable that any earthly treasures. And the only way anyone can have eternal blessing is through Christ.

Whom is Jesus ashamed of? He’s ashamed of those who reject him. According to Jesus, the people who are ashamed of him are those who refuse to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. They’ve considered Jesus unworthy of their devotion and obedience. They reject Christ and refuse to follow him by faith. On the judgment day, Jesus will be ashamed of those who are ashamed of him in this life.

I can’t think of a more unsettling scene than standing before the Lord Jesus Christ on judgment day and hearing him say, ‘I never knew you; depart from me’ (Matt.7:23). Imagine Jesus the judge saying, ‘You were ashamed of me and my words in your life, and now, throughout all eternity, I am ashamed of you.’

These words should make us pause. We should reflect on our lives. Do we genuinely believe the gospel? Do we trust and treasure Jesus?

Words indeed to ponder carefully.

I have finished reading this book now and found it spiritually rewarding. A new author for me, from a respected publisher. Once again, through the sound words of faithful pastors and fellow saints, I have been humbled by the grace of my God to me and the love of my Savior for me. I heartily recommend this book to you.

Published in: on December 17, 2022 at 9:03 PM  Leave a Comment  

New and Notable Christian Books for November 2022 | Tim Challies

I’ve always appreciated and benefitted from pastor Tim Challies monthly booklists highlighting newly published works with a Christian perspective. Last month’s list did not disappoint, and so I post a portion of it here, urging you to follow the link at the bottom for the rest of these significant new books on a wide variety of subjects. And, as he states in his introductory comments, perhaps you find a late gift idea for someone this Christmas season. Or a way to spend that gift card you will receive. 🙂

As another month draws to a close, and as the holiday shopping season picks up, I thought I’d share another collection of new and notable Christian books. Each of these titles has been released in November (or, in a couple of cases, very late October). I hope there’s something here that is of interest to you or to someone on your Christmas list.


Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture by Christopher Watkin. “Critical theories exist to critique what we think we know about reality and the social, political, and cultural structures in which we live. In doing so, they make visible the values and beliefs of a culture in order to scrutinize and change them. Biblical Critical Theory exposes and evaluates the often-hidden assumptions and concepts that shape late-modern society, examining them through the lens of the biblical story running from Genesis to Revelation, and asking urgent questions like: How does the Bible’s storyline help us understand our society, our culture, and ourselves? How do specific doctrines help us engage thoughtfully in the philosophical, political, and social questions of our day? How can we analyze and critique culture and its alternative critical theories through Scripture? Informed by the biblical-theological structure of Saint Augustine’s magisterial work The City of God (and with extensive diagrams and practical tools), Biblical Critical Theory shows how the patterns of the Bible’s storyline can provide incisive, fresh, and nuanced ways of intervening in today’s debates on everything from science, the arts, and politics to dignity, multiculturalism, and equality. You’ll learn the moves to make and the tools to use in analyzing and engaging with all sorts of cultural artifacts and events in a way that is both biblically faithful and culturally relevant.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Dawning of Redemption: The Story of the Pentateuch and the Hope of the Gospel by Ian J. Vaillancourt. “When starting a new Bible-reading plan, many readers begin enthusiastically in Genesis but then lose momentum when they encounter the Old Testament laws and genealogies. But the Pentateuch—the first five books of the Bible—has much to offer today’s Christian; it is the foundation for understanding the rest of the Bible, pointing forward to the coming Savior, Jesus Christ, in profound ways. In this accessible book, Ian J. Vaillancourt offers readers a helpful introduction to the Pentateuch as the essential first act in the Bible’s grand story of redemption. The chapters cover the whole of Genesis through Deuteronomy, examining themes such as creation, salvation, genealogies, and biblical covenants. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions, making this book a useful resource for individuals or groups who are looking to dive deeper into biblical study.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)

In the Hands of a Fiercely Tender God: 31 Days of Hope, Honesty, and Encouragement for the Sufferer by Colleen Chao. “The life of Colleen Chao was bright and beautiful—it was brimming with hope and possibility. She was a talented, confident, and ambitious young woman. So, Colleen never imagined that she’d swim through two decades of deep-water anxiety and depression. She didn’t guess that she’d marry late, suffer years of chronic pain and illness, and give birth to a child with health complications. And never in her life did she imagine hearing the words: ‘Cancer. Stage four. Terminal.’ In the Hands of a Fiercely Tender God is born of the suffering that on its own could have crushed Colleen. Her pain, instead, opened her eyes to eternal realities and has wrought a soul of indestructible joy. How do we suffer long and well? What do we do when we feel cheated? How do we face pressing darkness? One thing Colleen has learned is that we cannot bear the suffering alone. We need lots of help. To that end, Colleen shares a precious devotional gift with the suffering soul: thirty-one days of wisdom, hope, and encouragement. Drawing upon stories from past saints, rich truths from Scripture, and habits that build joyful endurance, Colleen helps fellow sufferers to embrace one day at a time, to trust and love Jesus more, and put themselves In the Hands of a Fiercely Tender God.” (Buy it from Amazon)

Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel by A. S. Ibrahim. “Muslims are coming to Christ more than ever before, which is why having a robust, Christ-centered foundation for evangelism is essential. However, many Christians know very little about Muslims and their beliefs, which often results in misconceptions and a decreased ability to clearly and effectively proclaim the gospel. In Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel, A. S. Ibrahim seeks to provide readers with insight and practical tips to engage and share the gospel with Muslim friends and neighbors. Ibrahim divides the book into two sections: (1) a Christian understanding of the strands of Islam and the diversity of Muslims, and (2) practical ways for Christians to connect with Muslims and effectively communicate the gospel. This book also incorporates true stories about Muslims coming to Christ and answers common questions.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)

Source: New and Notable Christian Books for November 2022 | Tim Challies

Published in: on December 13, 2022 at 9:16 PM  Leave a Comment  

Embracing the Antilibrary Life: The Gospel Coalition 2022 Book Awards


As noted in a recent post this Fall, ’tis the season of year when book awards are announced and “best book” lists are published. This past week saw several in the Christian arena, including this one from The Gospel Coalition. And while all their selections are not ones you or I might highlight for 2022, there are many here worth noticing and perhaps choosing for future reading and/or adding to your library or even for gift-giving. Be sure to pay attention to all twelve (12) categories.

And I also appreciated the book review editor’s “antilibrary” comments prior to introducing this year’s titles. What’s an “antilibrary,” you ask? Read on, it’s actually a very positive thing to embrace, something I have subscribed to for years.

“Have you read all these books?”

I often field this question from guests who see my library. I never know quite what to say. For me, to read is to live—I can’t imagine life apart from books. Books have shaped me in countless ways; take any book off my shelf and I can tell you the ways in which my thinking has been challenged, my imagination sparked, or my spiritual life revived. I’ve marked the passing of the years with books acquired and read, marked up and sticky-noted, cataloged and arranged. Serving as TGC’s book review editor for seven years only increased my love for books even as it multiplied the volumes on my shelf. At this point in my life, I’ve stopped apologizing for my ever-growing library and embraced what Umberto Eco calls the “antilibrary.” As Nassim Taleb explains,

The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means . . . allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books.

The antilibrary reminds us of all that we don’t know as we talk to the living and, in the words of W. H. Auden, break bread with the dead.

Each year our editors, along with dozens of outside judges, review nominations from publishers using four criteria:

  • offers gospel-centered argument and application;
  • includes faithful and foundational use of Scripture, both Old Testament and New Testament;
  • fosters spiritual discernment of contemporary trials and trends; and
  • encourages efforts to unite and renew the church.

With so many titles published each year, it’s an exciting challenge for us at The Gospel Coalition to take stock of the best Christian books across 12 categories. We’ve changed things up a bit this year: we’ve done away with honorable mentions and instead added the “Award of Distinction” in addition to the winner for each category. Using this list as a tool kit, we encourage you to pick up a book or two (or 24!)—and take advantage of discounts from our online bookstore. Even if you’re like me, with an ever-growing pile of unread books, don’t be embarrassed. Embrace the antilibrary life.

Now, go check out the books and find one to add to your reading list for 2023! Visit the link below for details.

Source: The Gospel Coalition 2022 Book Awards

Published in: on December 10, 2022 at 7:16 PM  Leave a Comment  

New Titles from the RFPA: Say Among the Heathen the Lord Reigns: Evidences in Southeast Asia


The RFPA (, local publisher of Reformed literature, has several new titles worth mentioning in this early December post. The newest is Mrs. Jean Kortering’s Say Among the Heathen the Lord Reigns: Evidences in Southeast Asia. The publisher has this description of the book:

Rev. Jason Kortering (1936–2020) was a minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches. From 1992–2006, he and his wife, Jean, were called to missionary labors in Singapore, India, and Myanmar. Say Among the Heathen the Lord Reigns is Jean’s account of those years. The recollections and stories in this book will direct your heart to the Son of God who gathers, defends, and preserves to himself an elect church out of all nations, kindreds, peoples, and tongues.

“Our living in Singapore and other foreign countries for 10+ years was a great blessing for the whole family. Though children and grandchildren gave up their parents and grandparents for the Lord’s work, and we were separated from each other for a while, God remained our constant. He reigns. He reigns over the whole earth and we rejoice. He reigns over the multitude of isles and they are glad (Ps. 97). He rules in America and he rules across the globe. We were separated by many, many miles but we were so close because we worshiped and served the same God. He is supremely sovereign and yet gentle and caring in his love for his people. It was our privilege many years ago to share that truth in a heathen culture.” – Jean Kortering, July 2022

Visit the link below to find more details on this title and how to order it.

Source: Say Among the Heathen the Lord Reigns: Evidences in Southeast Asia – Reformed Free Publishing Association

Another new one this year is The Savior’s Farewell: Comfort from the Upper Room by Rev. Martyn McGeown, a title that covers Jesus’ familiar upper-room discourse recorded in John 14-16. One recent reviewer had this in part to say about it:

We are prone often times when reading the Bible for ourselves to give a cursory consideration of those passages that contain various truths we deem a little too deep for our understanding. Rev. McGeown treats the reader to simple but thorough explanations of some key concepts of Scripture. For example, the truth concerning love. The apostle John both in his epistles as well as his gospel account is known for his dissertations on love. It is not unusual then that John draws our attention to this concept in our Savior’s farewell to his disciples. This is especially true in John 15:9-13 where Jesus commands us to love one another as he has loved us. McGeown writes on page 191,

Love does not consist of empty sentimental feelings, but is very practical. Love selflessly gives itself for the welfare of the other. Love spends itself and is spent on the other. Love empties itself of everything in order to serve the other. That was Christ’s love for us, and it must be our love for our fellow saints. The more we abide in the love of Christ – by believing it, dwelling upon it, rejoicing in it, and being motivated by it – the more we will love one another.
This love must characterize our congregational life, our homes, the relationship between husbands and wives, the behavior of parents and children, the interactions between siblings, and the conduct of children in the Christian schools…

We as God’s people truly need a good dose of such love – especially in our dealings with others in the church. This is but a small quote of Rev. McGeown’s development on the concept of love. The reader can indulge in much more when he or she picks up the book for themselves.

Another new book that makes for edifying reading is Prof. David Engelsma’s The Church’s Hope: The Reformed Doctrine of the End, Volume 2: The Coming of Christ. A recent reviewer had this to say:

This volume is excellent. There are many points to recommend this book to the Christian reader. I limit myself to a few prominent things that stood out to this reviewer.

First, the book is exegetically grounded and interpretively sound. This was an outstanding characteristic of the first volume, and it is happily carried through in the second. The author draws eschatology from the Bible and develops it in harmony with the whole of Scripture and line with the Reformed Creeds. The author consistently supports his assertions with ample and appropriate scriptural proof. The interpretive principle that Scripture interprets Scripture is faithfully followed in the exposition of difficult passages. The outcome is a theological work of uncompromising fidelity to the Word of God. That is the highest praise that can be given to a work of theology. The reader may be assured that his understanding of the truth of God’s Word will be enriched by reading this volume.

Second, this book is written with the sincere earnestness of a pastor who cares for Christ’s sheep. The book explains eschatology with lucid brevity and simplicity. The author does not forget his audience. He is writing for the believer. His concerns are first of all for the believer’s growth in understanding and the believer’s spiritual edification.  Eschatology is no mere academic matter, but is a matter of the utmost relevance to the Christian life here and now. The author impresses this reality upon the reader. The Bible’s teaching on the End is truth in light of which the church must live right now. It is truth that should define the character of life here and now. In the exposition of doctrine the practical application is not forgotten. Through the printed page, the author teaches, warns, exhorts, and comforts as a faithful pastor who loves God’s people.

Third, this volume, like the first, never loses sight of its overall theme: the Church’s hope. The undercurrent the reader feels in each chapter is hope. Even as the reader is led through the Bible’s unsettling description of Antichrist and the dreadful events surrounding him, hope remains the keynote. The hope of the Church is hope that maketh not ashamed.

In sum, Professor Engelsma’s second volume, the Coming of Christ, is highly recommended. The Christian reader who wants his understanding of the end times to be shaped and informed by the Word of God, rather than the imaginations of men, will find this book to be exactly what he is looking for.

For more information on ordering that title, visit the links above.

I Belong: Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer 1 for ChildrenAnd for Christian parents looking for a good book of gospel instruction and comfort for their small children, Mrs. Joyce Holstege’s I Belong: Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer One for Children is a wonderful one. In a speech the author gave about her writing of the book and why it is so important for young children to be taught such truths, she said,

Why do we teach children doctrine in our devotions?

– By the grace of God, little children know and love God, just as we do. They can see God in creation, but only when they are shown how to look for him there. They can learn about God, but they need to be taught from God’s word to truly know him.

– But it isn’t enough to teach our children about God. We need to teach them about their relationship to God. Whether our times of devotions are spent telling our children Bible stories like the story of Cain and Abel, or whether they center around Scripture verses that we teach our children to memorize (such as Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…”), our goal must be that we explain to them how these stories and verses fit into the whole message of the gospel of Christ.

– We need to arm our children with the truth. If we aren’t teaching them, there are many, many people, organizations, and social groups who will indoctrinate them with the lie.

– We need to teach our children doctrinal truth so that when tough times come, our children will have a real comfort to hang onto. If they face the death of a loved one or other serious conflicts, they know that even then, God has a sovereign, good plan for their lives.

Published in: on December 3, 2022 at 9:58 AM  Leave a Comment