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Tim Challies

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reviews

May 16, 2009

Until I read this book I would not have considered God’s love as a particularly difficult doctrine. The Trinity is a difficult doctrine to understand, impossible even. The eternal nature of God—that is another difficult or impossible one. But the love of God? I wouldn’t have thought of it as such. But this book convinced me otherwise.

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson is just a short book (96 pages) that is drawn from four lectures he delivered in 1998. There was a small amount of editing performed, but the conversational nature of the speech carries through the text. It makes for an easy read, despite some deep theology.

May 11, 2009

Adopted for Life by Russell MooreIn the years since I began reviewing books, I have read titles on a wide variety of topics. But it occurred to me as I considered Russell Moore’s title Adopted for Life that I had never read a book that dealt entirely with adoption. Sure, adoption has factored into books on family and books on theology, but never had I read a full-length treatment of the subject. Having heard so much positive press surrounding Adopted for Life I thought it might be wise to give it a read. I’m glad I did.

May 09, 2009

John and Betty Stam“The fateful day began with deceptive normalcy at John and Betty Stam’s missionary residence in Tsingteh, China. Both the wood-burning stoves had been lit and were starting to heat up nicely, helping to lessen the chill that gripped the large old house that cold, early December morning. The Stams, along with the six Chinese who lived with them in the house, had already eaten breakfast.

“John hoped to study and get some correspondence done that morning. Betty was preparing to give their three-month old baby, Helen Priscilla, a bath, with some assistance from the amah Mei Tsong-fuh. The cook, Li Ming-chin, busied himself in the kitchen. His wife, mother, and two children similarly had begun their various daily activities.

May 05, 2009

UnfashionableEvery now and again I pick up a book that I feel I should really enjoy. And yet, for one reason or another, it simply does not “click.” Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian is just such a book. It has been widely praised by Christians I respect and its six (!) pages of endorsements contain a veritable who’s who of prominent Evangelicals, each of whom tells of his esteem for the book and its author. And yet, after reading it through twice, I have significant concerns.

April 28, 2009

Calvin Pilgrim and PastorThere are not too many men whose five hundredth birthday is a cause for remembrance, not to mention celebration. Yet here we are, five hundred years after the birth of John Calvin, witnessing widespread celebration of his birth. This year we see many conferences dedicated to understanding Calvin’s impact on the church and on society, even centuries later, and we see the publication of many books looking at the man and his theology. It strikes me as a strange oversight that we do not yet have a definitive biography of Calvin (as Marsden has done for Edwards, as Dallimore has done for Whitefield, as Murray has done for Lloyd-Jones, and so on) and I am hoping that this year will end the drought—that by year’s end we will have that one biography that will stand for many years as the definitive life of Calvin. With several biographies set for release in 2009, one would think this ought to be the year.

April 21, 2009

Why Johnny Can't PreachNineteen sixty-six saw the publication of a book titled Why Johnny Can’t Read. Its author, Rudolf Flesh, explained in it that societal changes were leading to illiteracy; children were increasingly unable to read, at least with the effectiveness of the children of years gone by. By the 1980’s, Linden and Whimbey had followed with Why Johnny Can’t Write in which they showed the similar societal trends were now keeping Johnny (a generic name used to refer to any child, male or female) from expressing himself in writing. T. David Gordon has self-consciously titled Why Johnny Can’t Preach after these books because he uses it to argue that the same societal trends that kept Johnny from being able to read and write have kept a generation of ministers from being able to preach. Johnny just can’t preach and Gordon just can’t take it anymore.

April 14, 2009

The Case for LifeThere was a time when my mother was actively involved in the pro-life movement here in the Toronto area. I have many memories of journeying downtown with her, taking the subway and bus with mom, so we could volunteer in some way in the fight against abortion. I have fond memories of it, mostly. At times, though, I am prone to despair as it seems that in the twenty or twenty-five years between then and now, there has been little change, little progress. The United States has not seen an overturn of Roe v. Wade and Canada still has no abortion law at all (which is really little different than enacting a law protecting a woman’s right to abort her child). I am buoyed, though, when I hear stories of individuals who have been impacted by pro-life work, stories of women who have encountered pro-life advocates, who have realized the value of life and who have chosen to save the lives of their unborn children.

April 07, 2009

Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoungTo be honest, I don’t know that we really need another book—yet another book—on guidance and the will of God. Having said that, there is probably no genre of book I recommend more often than this simply because experience shows that many Christians, too many Christians, do not understand how God expects us to know his will and how we may expect him to guide us to those things that please him. We are blessed to have some excellent resources at our disposal. The best known of these is Garry Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God, a book that many of the others depend on, but one that is perhaps a little intimidating due to its size (528 pages in the most recent edition). Dave Swavely’s Decisions, Decisions is the one I recommend most often as it serves as a useful condensed version of Friesen’s work. Similar titles have been written by John MacArthur, Bruce Waltke, J.I. Packer, Phillip Jensen and many, many others.

March 24, 2009

Calvin CoverThis is the year of John Calvin. In celebration of the 500th anniversary of his birth, many ministries are holding conferences to discuss his life and impact and many Christian publishers are releasing biographies of the man who did so much to form the Christian faith and the Western world. Reformation Heritage Books has taken a unique route by producing a biography targeted at children from ages 7 to 10. Written by Simonetta Carr and illustrated by Emanuele Taglietti, the book combines the story of Calvin’s life with excellent watercolor illustrations.

March 18, 2009

Picking CottonIn July of 1984, when Jennifer Thompson was a twenty-three year old college student, a man broke into her apartment while she slept and raped her at knifepoint. She was eventually able to escape from him and later identified her attacker as Ronald Cotton. Though Ronald insisted that he was innocent, he was taken to court and, primarily on the basis of Jennifer’s identification of her assailant, sentenced to a life behind prison bars. Eleven years later, Cotton was allowed to take a DNA test, taking advantage of this new technology. The test proved his innocence. For more than a decade he had been behind bars for a crime he had not committed. Two years later, Donald and Jennifer met face-to-face and began a very unlikely friendship. Picking Cotton is their story.

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