A New Year’s Resolution from M. Henry (plus Commitment to and Plans for Reading God’s Word)

New Year’s Day has traditionally been a time to make resolutions, by which one resolves (determines and promises) to do certain things in the new year that is before one. And while the people of the world make theirs today too, Christians are able to make genuine and meaningful resolutions. And there is a proper place for them in our lives, as long as we make them biblically and from the heart. (I may mention here that Burk Parsons has a fine article on this that was published yesterday on Ligonier’s website – “New Year’s Resolutions for God’s Glory, Not Our Own.”)

Today’s “Grace Gem” devotional contains the brief but beneficial resolution of Puritan pastor and commentator Matthew Henry, which may serve as a model for us. Based on Psalm 31:15, “My times are in thy hand,” it reads as follows:

Firmly believing that my times are in God’s hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God’s divine providence. Whether God appoints for me . . . .
health or sickness,
peace or trouble,
comforts or crosses,
life or death–
may His holy will be done!
All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus–and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor–that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.

In everything I have to do–my entire dependence is upon Jesus Christ for strength. And whatever I do in word or deed, I desire to do all in His name, to make Him my Alpha and Omega. I have all from Him–and I would use all for Him.

If this should prove a year of affliction, a sorrowful year to me–I will fetch all my supports and comforts from the Lord Jesus and stay myself upon Him, His everlasting consolations, and the good hope I have in Him through grace.

And if it should be my dying year–then my times are in the hand of the Lord Jesus. And with a humble reliance upon His mediation, I would venture into the eternal world looking for the blessed hope. Dying as well as living–Jesus Christ will, I trust, be gain and advantage to me.

Oh, that the grace of God may be sufficient for me, to keep me always a humble sense of my own unworthiness, weakness, folly, and infirmity–together with a humble dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ for both righteousness and strength.

The devotional closes with some other profitable items, which I include here:

“Remember that your life is short, your duties are many, your assistance is great, and your reward is sure. Therefore faint not, persevere in ways of holiness–and Heaven shall make amends for all!” Thomas Brooks

~  ~  ~  ~

You may want to read J.R. Miller’s insightful one page article, “A New Year“.

~  ~  ~  ~

On this New Year’s day, you might want to ponder and seriously consider The RESOLUTIONS of Jonathan Edwards.

One thing we can and ought to commit to in 2019 is diligent reading of God’s Word. There are many good devotional plans, including in the daily devotions found online on the PRC website.

Ligonier always publishes one this time of year; you may find that here. And Crossway has a useful devotional plan to start the year that makes use of Paul Tripp’s fine book New Morning Mercies; you may find that here, as well as information on other reading plans.

And, while you are there (Crossway’s site), you might consider reading Donald Whitney’s article “Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year.” Need some motivation? Here you go:

Consider the Direction of Your Life

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

Old Year’s Night with the Voices of Victory

As we end this year of our Lord 2018, we would like to invite you to end the year on a high, spiritual note – by worshiping the Lord in His house with His people (If you are looking for a place to worship, these churches have churches!) and by attending the special Voices of Victory concert tonight in downtown Grandville, MI from 8-11 pm!

Here are the details from our Facebook page and poster:

Our annual New Year’s Eve concert is tonight at First Reformed Church of Grandville (3060 Wilson Ave). A schedule somewhat subject to a few minutes added or subtracted here and there is: Sacred Harmonies 8:10-8:40, Voices of Victory 8:45-9:15, Covenant Chr. HS quartet 9:15-9:30, Collection for Georgetown Harmony Homes 9:35, S.H. 9:40-10:10, VOV 10:15-10:45, closing singing with audience 10:45-11. To God be the glory!

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Maybe the weather forecast sounds bad, but don’t let that deter you! It’s a short drive from wherever you are, and once there, you will be safe and warm! Love to see you there! And we hope we do! It promises to be a wonderful night of praise and fellowship. And the cause is a good one.

O, and the cookies and coffee are tasty and “on the house.” 🙂

Published in: on December 31, 2018 at 11:53 AM  Leave a Comment  

WORLD’s Top 25 articles for 2018 – WORLD

As we near the end of the year of our Lord 2018, it is good to reflect on all that has transpired according to the sovereign plan and providence of our almighty God in this year. That, after all, is what we believe all the events of history are – the unfolding of our God’s perfect plan through His mighty providential hand. And, we also add this, that all these events of history – of 2018 too – are for the salvation of Christ’s church and the good of His redeemed and renewed people.

Many news sources produce year-end summaries of the year’s major stories, which are useful in helping us to reflect on the more significant events of the year. World Magazine (a Christian news source) has also produced its summary of the major stories it reported online throughout 2018. It included this list of 25 items today as part of its “Saturday Series” (which often feature books, writing, reading), and I thought it worth your while to point you to it here.

What follows here is the little blurb that introduced the list; after that I post here the last five news items (which were published at the “top” of the list on their website).

In 2018, WORLD’s online readers were drawn to major cover stories and timely features from the magazine, daily news reports from The Sift, and insightful Saturday Series essays. But issues related to marriage, family, and sexuality were often foremost in the minds of our readers this past year, as the website’s weekly Relations roundup makes multiple appearances in our countdown of the 25 articles that grabbed your attention the most.

25. A long way from home

Before getting lost in a cave, Adul Sam-on found direction for his future at a Thai church and school

by Angela Lu Fulton
July 13 | WORLD Magazine | Features

24. Moody Bible Institute leaders resign amid turmoil

Moody Bible Institute announced Wednesday the resignation of President J. Paul Nyquist and Chief Operating Officer Steve Mogck amid ongoing turmoil following staffing cuts

by Leigh Jones
Jan. 11 | WORLD Digital | The Sift

23. Willow Creek elders respond to new Hybels accusations

The elders of Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago said in a letter Saturday they could have done a better job holding former Senior Pastor Bill Hybels accountable for inappropriate behavior toward women

by Lynde Langdon
April 23 | WORLD Digital | The Sift

22. Facing cultural storms

Six trends that are rapidly reshaping the lives of American Christians

by John S. Dickerson
Nov. 24 | WORLD Digital | Saturday Series

21. Turkey seeks life sentence for U.S. pastor

Turkish prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for a U.S. pastor accused of participating in the 2016 coup that attempted to oust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

by Leigh Jones
March 13 | WORLD Digital | The Sift

Find the other 20 top stories at the link below.

Source: WORLD’s Top 25 articles for 2018 – Media – WORLD

Announcing the New PRC Seminary Website

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Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary

Est. 1925

With great excitement (and a little relief!) and with deep gratitude to one of our pre-seminary students – Doner Bartolon – we can announce officially that the new PRC Seminary website is launched and live!

In reality, we did so a few days ago already, but had some more content to add/fix and some tweaks to make. And there is more to come, but we felt confident that the site was good to go now and that it was worthy to make public.

The design is simple yet professional, and the site easy to navigate. You will see that the homepage gives you a basic slide show and then introductory content on the seminary, including the latest events and blog post (Yes, the new site has its own blog!).

On the homepage are also all the main tabs:

Yes, Doner, of Mexican descent, had to be sure to add the Spanish page, which is good and we hope useful to those Spanish-speaking men interested in our theological teaching and ministerial training.

The “About Us” tab features three sections – the faculty, the facilities and our staff. Under “Resources” you will find the online library catalog, our PR Theological Journal (with the brand new issue – Fall 2018 – featured! [as well as all 102 past issues with an Index]), our bookstore, online classes available, and the writings and speeches given by our professors. This will also be an ever-growing collection of items. “Admissions” focuses on the requirements for applying for and entering our seminary, and includes our newly revised catalog (Fall 2018).

The next tab, “Seminary Activities,” includes a “News” section and an “Events” section. You will want to visit those often – and, in fact, at the bottom of any page on the website you will find a signup box to receive updates to the site. Be sure to add your email address to the already growing list! On this page you will also find our seminary calendar, where both the daily activities as well as the special activities of the seminary are noted.

Next are the “Contact” and “Blog” tabs, where you will find contact information (seminary phone numbers and info@prcts.org) and our new blog feature. A few posts have been made, but here too, look for more to come – from our faculty and registrar, as well as from our secretary and students.

We hope you bookmark this site, and use it to stay in close touch with the life and labors of our precious seminary

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I wish to call special attention to the upcoming Interim course, scheduled from Jan.4 – Jan.15. Prof. B. Gritters, by rotation, will be teaching his special course on “Heidelberg Catechism Preaching.” In addition to an open invitation to those in the area to attend, especially our ministers, we will be live-streaming the course through our YouTube channel.

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The other event to pay attention to is our 2019 Dordt400 Conference, set for April 25-27 at Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, MI. You will know by now, we trust, that there is a special website devoted to this, and we hope that you are making plans to attend all or most of this significant event.

Thanks for your attention – now go check out the website!

Published in: on December 27, 2018 at 10:05 PM  Leave a Comment  

Merry and Blessed Christmas 2018!

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From our home to yours, we wish all our family, friends, and readers a merry and blessed Christmas Day 2018! May the peace and joy of our Savior Jesus Christ be yours today and in the New Year.

In late September we were blessed with grandchild number 12 (Gale Owen, on grandma’s lap). And we are expecting number 13 in late January from our son and daughter-in-law in Arizona. We are thankful for the goodness of God’s covenant and for His mercy to us in all our circumstances.

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Have a beautiful and blessed day celebrating and worshiping the Christ born in Bethlehem, now exalted on high in glory, and soon returning in power with final salvation for all His own.

The Christmas gospel from the perspective of Hebrews 2:

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Christmas Eve 2018 in Poetry and Song

On this Christmas Eve 2018 we share a couple of edifying items – one a classic Christmas poem and the other a beautiful choral piece we heard in a program recently. The latter is not strictly speaking a Christmas song and, yet, is certainly appropriate for the gospel of Christmas. The lyrics really point us to the second coming of our Lord, and from our perspective as NT Christians that is now our hope and prayer.

First, then, is this classic Christmas poem, penned by Welsh poet Henry Vaughn (1621-1695) and titled “Christ’s Nativity.” It may take you a few times to go through to get the sense, due to the seventeenth-century-style English, but the poem is a powerful tribute of praise to the Christ of Bethlehem and to the power of His person as the Savior.

Awake, glad heart! get up and sing!
It is the birth-day of thy King.
Awake! awake!
The Sun doth shake
Light from his locks, and all the way
Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.
Awake, awake! hark how th’ wood rings;
Winds whisper, and the busy springs
A concert make;
Awake! awake!
Man is their high-priest, and should rise
To offer up the sacrifice.
I would I were some bird, or star,
Flutt’ring in woods, or lifted far
Above this inn
And road of sin!
Then either star or bird should be
Shining or singing still to thee.
I would I had in my best part
Fit rooms for thee! or that my heart
Were so clean as
Thy manger was!
But I am all filth, and obscene;
Yet, if thou wilt, thou canst make clean.
Sweet Jesu! will then. Let no more
This leper haunt and soil thy door!
Cure him, ease him,
O release him!
And let once more, by mystic birth,
The Lord of life be born in earth.

Secondly, the song we wish to feature is “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come” and was written by Paul Manz (a Lutheran). The lyrics go like this (and to learn more about the context in which it was written, visit the link provided):

Peace be to you and grace from him
Who freed us from our sins,
Who loved us all and shed his blood
That we might saved be.

Sing holy, holy to our Lord,
The Lord, Almighty God,
Who was and is and is to come;
Sing holy, holy, Lord!

Rejoice in heaven, all ye that dwell therein,
Rejoice on earth, ye saints below,
For Christ is coming, is coming soon!

E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come,
And night shall be no more;
they need no light nor lamp nor sun,
For Christ will be their all.

This is a glorious performance of it I found on YouTube – by a famed British Boys Choir! Rejoice in Jesus’ second coming, even as we celebrate His first!

Published in: on December 24, 2018 at 5:59 AM  Leave a Comment  

Christmas in His Fear – John A. Heys

…When we celebrate Christmas In His Fear then we go to Him and praise Him for the gift of all gifts that He has given us. We go to Him in prayer. We go to Him in His house of worship. We acknowledge this great and glorious gift and do not hide it from ourselves and from our children by a host of worldly, material gifts that we give and receive from men. When we celebrate Christmas In His Fear, Christ and the loves of God in sending Him to be our Savior occupies the central part of our celebration; and the greater part of our activity on that day revolves about Him. When we celebrate Christmas in His fear we gather in all humility and joy before His feet to be taught by Him anew and more richly the glorious truths of the birth of His Son.

And he who truly celebrates Christmas in His fear will not be able to hold back his songs of praise to God. With the holy angels he shall sing: Glory to God in the highest. He will sing of the true peace that God has wrought in this Son for those who are the men of His good pleasure and will glorify Him for it. And as the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God and telling all whom they met what they had seen and heard, the covenant parent will also want to have the day filled with such praise and glory to God by his children and will take them along to God’s house of worship that they too may hear of all this wonder of God’s grace.

Christmas celebration In His Fear is celebration before His face. It is celebration in the consciousness that He accomplished all these things that the Church of Christ might live before His face in everlasting glory. And it is celebration that responds to that glorious truth.

…On Christmas we celebrate the birth of one infinitely greater and more worthy of our praise and adoration. And He lives and sees and knows what we do to celebrate the day of His coming into our flesh. Celebration In His Fear, therefore, is celebration as before His face and in love to Him.

You need not purchase a “Christmas” tree to honor and praise Him. He does not ask you to spend a tidy sum of money for tinsel and a string of light bulbs of various colors. He demanded of Israel that to celebrate the glorious deliverance from the house of the bondage of sin and death they eat the roast flesh of a lamb. But He does not demand you and me to procure a turkey or chicken to observe the day of His birth. In fact you cannot celebrate His birth by these things ! They have absolutely nothing to do with His birth. In fact that abject poverty into which He came in the stable, in the lowly manger, outside the inn militates against all this gaudy and vulgar display of an event so sublime and heavenly.

He does call us to unfurl the banner of the truth; to meet with His people in His house of worship to hear what He has to say; to sing praises to Him.

He calls us to listen to Him and to make all our celebration subservient to it and not to gifts, toys and meals.

He calls us to believe what He says of Himself; to rejoice in it because of faith and with the angels to sing of the glory of God.

He calls us to bow in childlike reverence before Him in the adoration of love.

In His Fear keep Christ in Christmas.

Keep Him there all day.

This gem from the past may be found in the December 15, 1955 issue of the Standard Bearer, and was written by John A. Heys, then minister of the Word in Hope PRC (Walker, MI). It was penned for the rubric “In His Fear,” hence its title and theme. It is even more applicable 63 years later.

Source: Christmas in His Fear

The End of Another Seminary Semester (Dec. 2018), a New PRT Journal Issue, and Updated Addition Work Pics!

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(Today was the official beginning of the winter season (Dec.21), though it is not quite this wintery looking currently. This was taken during last year’s winter.)

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Today marked the last official day of the first semester at the PRC Seminary. It was exam week, and while no exams were actually held today (Friday), students had papers to finish and turn in today. And thus, another semester comes to a close.

Although, it may be noted that one specially blessed student still has a Hebrew grammar exam to take Christmas Eve morning. It seems a certain registrar forgot to put that on the schedule (which, in his [own flimsy] defense, was full at the time! [as if he couldn’t have moved things around if he had thought of it!]), and a certain Hebrew professor is now in Singapore, far from the very Singaporean student he taught! So now said registrar must administer the exam to the student Monday morning (as if the latter deserves to be “punished” for the miscue of the former!). No worries, as we say, all are happy and content. Or should we say, will be happy and content Monday around 11 AM. 🙂

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The end of another semester is always a bit sobering. We stand amazed at how quickly 15 weeks of classes go by. And yet there was marvelous Reformed instruction given again by the faculty, and growth in grace and knowledge and gifts on the part of the students. Our two seniors (Jacob M. and Matt K.) were mostly absent from us (and yet they mysteriously seemed to appear in time for our “Friday brat/burger” lunch), busily engaged in the work of their internships, getting a taste of the “real” life and labors of a church pastor. It was obvious they loved the experience and are being made ready for the grand goal. Soon they will return for their final semester (where did those four years go?!). Humbling, all of it.

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Our new professor (D. Kuiper) is working quickly toward the goal of his advanced learning too, starting to write his main thesis for his ThM degree through Calvin Seminary. Next fall, Lord willing, he will begin teaching some of his courses.

sem-secr-sharonk-fall-2018-2.jpgA new secretary moved in mid-semester (Sharon K.), to take the place of our beloved Mrs. J. Doezema, who has only “retired” to less work (“just” the manifold denominational labors she is involved with, and the Standard Bearer). But grace was given to both ladies to take up and to carry on, and the transition has been as smooth as it could be. We praise God.

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We were also able to produce our 103rd PR Theological Journal – Volume 52, No.1 (Fall 2018). As you will see from the cover, it is  another fine blend of Reformed scholarship and practical theology, with articles and book reviews to benefit preachers, teachers, students, and laymen. The pdf may be found here; the print copies came in today and will be mailed out or delivered next week. If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive the PRTJ (free!), contact the seminary at 616-531-1490 or seminarysecretary@prca.org.

God is good. His grace is abundant, and therefore amazing. We see His hand guiding us for good in all things, and we give humble thanks to Him for another semester. Remember us in prayer, even as we remember you.

I include here a few other pictures taken throughout the semester, with a few notes for each. Enjoy!

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We are blessed by many visitors during the semester, sometimes from faraway places, such as Singapore.

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Our final Friday lunch was delicious burgers from Sheldon Meats (Tim B., who keeps us well supplied – thank you, Tim and Kate!)

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Once again, I was personally blessed by the help of Kevin R. and Elijah R. in the library.

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Once again the sem (and pre-sem) student ping-pong team showed itself highly competitive, winning 50% of its games.

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And in the animal realm, a red fox made a rare appearance one night when our janitor was here. He was able to capture a quick shot of it for all of us to enjoy.

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Finally, we note that, while Pres. D. Trump is having trouble getting his border wall built, the new seminary addition’s walls made good progress this week, thanks to some mild weather and Bouwkamp Masonry. The new archives and offices are taking shape!

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Merry Christmas from all of us at the seminary! May the joy and peace of our sovereign Savior be yours in this season of the year.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 

An Open Letter to the Depressed Christian at Christmas | Crossway Articles

As difficult as it may be to bring up this time of year, it is a harsh reality that some of God’s children find the end-of-year holidays to be anything but happy and celebratory. Not because they do not rejoice in the first coming of Christ the Savior or lack hope for His second coming, but because the season brings its own share of burdens, reminding these saints of and stirring up special pains that contribute to dark clouds and deep sorrows.

With this in mind, Dr. David Murray (Puritan Reformed Seminary) penned an “open letter to the depressed Christian at Christmas” on the Crossway website. His comments and comfort are timely and necessary for many in this time of year. I pray that it will be helpful to those of you who know such clouds and sorrows in this season.

Here is a portion of Murray’s article; find the full article at the Crossway link below.

Dear Friend,

Depression is tough at the best of times. Perhaps it’s the best of times, such as holiday times, when it’s especially tough. The thought of mixing with happy people fills you with dread. The thought of remembering lost loved ones fills you with gloom. How can people be so happy when you are so sad? How can people celebrate when you are in mourning? It jars your soul and scrapes your tender wounds, doesn’t it?

You may want to run away and hide from the noisy busyness and the social obligations. Or you may want to lash out at the insensitive and uncaring people who exhort you to “Cheer up!” Or maybe you just want to drown your sorrows with binge drinking, binge eating, or binge TV-watching. But none of these options—running out, lashing out, or pigging out—will improve your depression. Indeed, they will only make it worse.

But, of course, the author does not stop here. Listen as he begins to offer the help and hope we need:

Let me propose a better way that will enable you to carefully navigate this holiday season while also contributing to your long-term healing.

Pray

I know prayer is perhaps too obvious, but sometimes we miss the obvious. Bring your burden to the Lord, tell him your fears and dreads, and seek his help to push through these daunting days. Lament by saying “Lord, I don’t want to give thanks, I don’t want to celebrate Christmas, and I don’t want to live through another year.” Admit, saying: “God, I can’t stand happiness right now and I can’t abide people.” Confess: “This is wrong and sinful, but I can’t seem to change.” Plead: “Lord, I am weak, I need your power, I need your patience, I need your joy.” Promise: “I will rely on you alone to carry me and even use this time for my help and healing.”

Share

Not everyone among your family and friends understands depression; but some do, as you know. Give them a call, or, better, meet with them, and talk to them about what you dread during this season. Ask them to pray for you and to support you in the coming days. Ask them to stay by your side in social settings, to protect you from those who don’t understand, to accept your silences, and to help you withdraw quietly when you have reached your limits of socializing.

Source: An Open Letter to the Depressed Christian at Christmas | Crossway Articles

Top Ten Books of 2018 – Kevin DeYoung

It is that wonderful time of year when the “best-books-of-the-year” lists are published. I have received notice of several already and will begin to reference them in the next two weeks.

These lists can be helpful in knowing what to read and/or to add to your personal or family library, especially, of course, those lists compiled by fellow Christians (including the Reformed ones). I also find them useful in learning what I may have missed for the PRC seminary library.

Pastor (now PCA) and author Kevin DeYoung published his “top ten books of 2018” on The Gospel Coalition website recently (Dec.14 – cf. link below). I will give you part of his introduction, which includes his criteria for choosing the titles he did. After that part of his introduction, I will post a part of his list; you may find the full list at the link below.

This list is not meant to assess the thousands of Christian books published each year, let alone every interesting book published in 2018. There are plenty of worthy titles that I am not able to read (and lots I never hear of). This is simply a list of the books (Christian and non-Christian, but all non-fiction) that I thought were the best in the past year.

When I say “best” I have several questions in mind:

• Was this book well written and enjoyable to read?
• Did I find it personally challenging, illuminating, edifying, or entertaining?
• Is it a book I am likely to reread or consult again?
• Do I see myself recommending this book to others?

Undoubtedly, the “best” books reflect my interests. This doesn’t mean I agree with every point in these books, but it does mean I found them helpful and insightful.

And now the top four of DeYoung’s “top ten.”

4. Alex Hutchinson, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance (William Morrow). With Breaking2—the 2017 Nike-led project to run a sub-two hour marathon—as his backdrop, Hutchinson (a runner, columnist, researcher, and Cambridge PhD) explores the limits of athletic achievement and human endurance. This isn’t a training volume with secrets for getting a PR in your next race. Instead, it’s a journalistic examination of the different theories, studies, stories, and scholars trying to answer the simple question: what makes people keep going and what makes them stop? To that end, Hutchinson has chapters on muscles, heat, oxygen, thirst, fuel, and belief. His conclusion? We don’t finally know what makes people push through pain, but there is at least as much brain and belief involved as body and brawn.

 

3. D. Bruce Hindmarsh. The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism: True Religion in a Modern World (Oxford). In this important new work on evangelical devotion, Hindmarsh, a top flight historian and professor at Regent College, focuses on Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys, but goes far beyond them in his analysis. Without discounting doctrinal continuity with the past, Hindmarsh argues that evangelical devotional ideas and practices were innovative, rooted in antecedent spiritual traditions, but new in their language and eclecticism.

 

2. Lewis Allen. The Preacher’s Catechism (Crossway). I’m always thankful for books that simultaneously convict and encourage. Using the Westminster Shorter Catechism as his inspiration and (loose) guide, Allen goes through 43 questions and answers designed to remind the busy/distracted/discouraged/puffed-up/cast-down preacher what really matters (and what doesn’t) in a life of faithful ministry. A Puritan throwback.

 

 

1. Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey (eds). Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present (New Growth Press). My top book from 2018 is likely to be the least purchased and least read of all the books on this list. And at nearly 700 pages, it’s also the biggest of the books here. But that’s part of what makes the book so valuable. Few people will read straight through, cover to cover, a collection of Reformation-era liturgies (I didn’t). But the sheer size of this volume tells us something important. Namely, the Reformers thought a lot about worship. It was essential to their Reformation project, which makes our relative indifference to the forms and flow of worship all the more surprising (and scandalous). Every Reformed pastor and worship leader with a book budget should have this on their shelves.

Source: Top Ten Books of 2018