Saturday, November 29, 2014

Covenants Made Simple

Covenants Made SimpleCovenants Made Simple by Jonty Rhodes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you read God’s word at all you will be confronted with the word “covenant.”  It is impossible not to.  What is quite possible is to read these references to covenant and completely miss what God is revealing.  It is too easy to read through the Bible and see references to “covenant” and just skim through them or dismiss it as an antiquated “Bible” word that has no extensive meaning like “propitiation” or “justified.”  :-/

P&R Publishing has released a work that is going to help any who read it to have a better grasp on “covenant” and its implications.  Covenants Made Simple by Jonty Rhodes  was released in 2013 in the UK but now it is getting a stateside release and it is easy to see why.  The subtitle, Understanding God’s Unfolding Promises to His People, is good, but you really need one of those old, three-paragraph, Puritan subtitles to do justice to the scope of this great book.  What is a covenant?  What role does covenant play in God’s revelation of himself? Of his redemptive purposes?  What covenant blessing do we enjoy?

Covenants Made Simple seems to have two main parts.  In the first part, Rhodes unpacks what a covenant is and traces the covenant through the biblical storyline from Adam onward.  He also lists out the covenant blessings and curses attached to each covenant.  These seem to follow the pattern of people, place, and presence, and it is fascinating to see how this pattern fleshes out in each covenant.  It is also important to see that “covenant” is not just an aspect of God’s revelation.  In many ways, it is the filter through which we view the story.  As we read accounts and events we do not read them as unconnected nuggets of information or nice stories.  We see them as parts of a whole, interconnected drama in the one unfolding drama of God’s redemptive plan for his covenant people.

After surveying the covenants of Scripture, Rhodes shows the reader how this motif affects core doctrines.  Rhodes shows that we enjoy a covenant salvation based on God’s great love, a love that is unconditional, personal, and unstoppable.  He then shows that we, the Church, are a covenant people.  One body of many bodies, one people from many peoples.  He also goes through doctrines associated with this truth (baptism, discipline, and the Supper).  Rhodes closes with the idea of a covenant life, how we as covenant people are to respond to God’s truth in our life.  We are empowered to obedience by the Holy Spirit of God and educated in how to obey by God’s word.  These truths are definitely truths for life and covenant people are called to be faithful people.

The layout of this book is great and the content is rich and simple.  This is one of, if not the one, the best introductions to covenant theology that is available.  The diagrams are actually helpful(so often diagrams just seem to be decorative).  The presentation is warm and personal.  This is a tremendous book and I look forward to recommending this to many, many people!  Great book!

I received a review copy of this book from P&R Publishing.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

God's Battle

P&R Publishing has partnered with Children Desiring God to release a series of excellent books by Sally Michael aimed at ministering Gospel truth to children in a manner that is engaging, memorable, and God-honoring.  Their success has been a blessing to my family and the latest release, God’s Battle, will occupy a special place in my household for a while to come.

God’s Battle is about the warfare in which we are all engaged.  It begins with the victory of Christ and ends with the victory of Christ while showing the reader how this victory effects our eternity and our role in this spiritual battle.  As a father of 3 boys-10,8, & 6, the theme of this book was readily received and resonated greatly.  It is nice having a book that my boys want to read and one that is Gospel-focused and God-honoring. 

Michael begins the book by leading children through the Gospel.  She shows the need for a Savior and how he saved his people.  She then encourages the reader that the battle isn't over and proceeds to lead us through the battle for our faith.  She does this by creating a spiritual battle manual.  She explores battlegrounds (the battlegrounds of pride, fear, unbelief, etc…), enemy attacks, and battle strategies (depend on God, renew your mind, resist the enemy, etc…).

I do not know how this will translate to young girls.  The truths are necessary and the presentation is still beneficial but the theme will probably be better received by younger boys.  I have been using it with my 3 and they have benefited greatly.

I received a copy of this from the publisher for review purposes.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Christmas Promise--Review

The Christmas PromiseThe Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchel and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri is a wonderful new book from The Good Book Company and would make a perfect Christmas Eve present for the entire family.

My kids especially enjoyed the whooshing angels and the partying shepherds. We all enjoyed the fantastic illustrations. I had two parts that really stuck out to me as especially good. I really was blessed by how the promise-fulfillment aspect of the Gospel was presented throughout the story. It wasn’t just that Christ came on Christmas morning; it was that Christ came according to the Scriptures, according to God’s promise.

Highlighting the fact that this all happened in fulfillment of God’s promise helps kids see that this wasn’t just some random occurrence or some haphazard rescue plan hatched in a post fall world, but rather the unfolding of what God had decreed to occur. Also, I enjoyed how Christ is presented as the King who saves. Because of how that was highlighted, I was able to have a couple of good talks with my kids about the wisemen (the 3 kings) and the crowning with thorns episode in the passion narrative, along with all that is explicitly in the book.

This is one of my favorite kids books we have ever had the joy of reading together. We will be returning to this over the next couple of months and the next few years. It is a blessing; I would encourage you to get a copy today!

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews.

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Alby's Amazing Book

Alby's Amazing BookAlby's Amazing Book by Catalina Echeverri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alby’s Amazing Book is a fun new release from The Good Book Company’s children’s division. It is about a squirrel who loves stories and especially the stories of the Bible. This is a good book but I had a couple of reservations.

Alby loves all stories and sees himself at the center of all of them. He especially loves the stories of the Bible because they are true and because he knows the author. In fact, the Bible was written to Alby from God. I loved the fact that it emphasized the true-nature of the stories of the Scripture and the revelatory-nature of it being written to us, in this case Alby the Squirrel.
What I think it missed was the greatest of all stories, the story of redemption. In the context of the book, emphasizing that all of the stories are part of a bigger story of God redeeming his creation, would have been quite powerful. Also, and this was one that my wife thoroughly disagreed with, I didn’t like the font. The text on the pages was hard for me to read at certain points. My wife thought it looked cool and that I just have old eyes.

The illustrations are gorgeous and how biblical text is tied into the drawings is breathtaking. The beautiful illustrations make the book while the story supports them. This is a good book for younger children and can lead to some good discussions.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible available

I will be writing a short review of this when it releases in Logos Software.  I am confident that this will be a worthy investment and will prove to be a blessing to all who spend time with it and to the Church in general.