Four recent Christian books
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Pastoral ministry can be a uniquely difficult calling not only for a man, but for his wife and children as well. The greatest challenge the pastor faces may well be his internal desires for approval, appearance, and success. Once he places these expectations upon himself, they will inevitably come to control him and dominate his decision-making so he may neglect his family in favor of ministry. In The Pastor’s Family, Brian and Cara Croft call a pastor to the task of shepherding his family through the challenges of pastoral ministry, for if the pastor is not first the shepherd of his own family, he is unfit to shepherd God’s people. This is a book for a pastor and his wife to read together, with much prayer and with many open discussions.
Jesus on Every Page
Jesus is on every page of the Bible. Every book, every story, every law, every type, figure, and shadow, somehow points to Him. Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary professor David Murray has a passion for finding and celebrating Jesus Christ on every page of the Bible, and especially every page of the Old Testament. In Jesus on Every Page, a book written at a popular level and far removed from the halls of academia, he shows how and where Jesus is present in the Old Testament and calls the reader to find Him and worship Him there. This is a book for parents, teachers, and preachers alike—an entry-level guide to the presence of the Savior in the Old Testament Scriptures.
Pornography, a modern-day plague both within the church and outside, may well represent the greatest pastoral challenge in the church today. Heath Lambert, a Louisville pastor and professor of biblical counseling, has seen this monster close-up and has been able to lead hundreds of people through and past their commitment or addiction to pornography. He approaches this ugly topic with care and dignity and, best of all, with the power of God’s Word. He offers hope through eight clear strategies meant to “help you work out your salvation and experience freedom from your desire for pornography.” This book is practical, biblical, forceful, and encouraging—a powerful combination. It is an ideal place to begin whether you are struggling or whether you know someone who is.
Grounded in the Faith
Catechizing has fallen out of favor in most Christian traditions—and the church is the worse for it. Just a few years ago J.I. Packer offered this challenge: “Where wise catechesis has flourished, the church has flourished. Where it has been neglected, the church has floundered.” Kenneth Erisman’s Grounded in the Faith is a new tool for catechesis, that is, for laying a consistent, systematic groundwork for the Christian life. In three levels and 24 chapters, Erisman advances from elementary doctrines of the Christian faith, such as justification and sanctification, to level two (the inspiration of Scripture, prayer, the Trinity), and finally to level three (perseverance and assurance, the attributes of God). It will prove an ideal tool for training, for growth, and for discipleship.
Gillian Marchenko’s Sun Shine Down (T.S. Poetry Press, 2013) is a moving account of the birth of her third daughter, Polina (Polly). Marchenko and her husband had been missionaries in Ukraine for more than three years. After a routine prenatal exam three weeks before her due date, her Ukrainian doctor sent Marchenko to the hospital. Giving birth prematurely in Ukraine and then discovering the baby had Down syndrome was a terrible shock. Marchenko describes in riveting detail her experience in the hospital and the coldness with which the Ukrainian doctors greeted her daughter. She describes her depression after Polly’s birth and her own difficulty in loving her child. Beautifully written, this memoir is hopeful without being glib.
Rich in Years: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life by Johann Christoph Arnold (The Plough Publishing House, 2013) offers homespun advice to seniors. Arnold makes a countercultural call to live for others, practice forgiveness, and live—even as we grow frail—in the hope of eternity. He says that those who “have reached old age can be a source of wisdom, hope, and inspiration for others.” —Susan Olasky
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