Category Archives: Book review

J.C. Ryle’s Classic, “Holiness”

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

At this year’s annual national NCFIC conference, “The Highway of Holiness,” I had the great privilege of giving a message on J.C. Ryle’s classic book, “Holiness.”

If you know me well, you know that this book is on my very short “must read” list. Should you decide to invest the time to listen to my summary, I hope you find it very profitable.


If you are interested in the book, here are two great options:

  1. A free ebook version
  2. A hardback version

Happy listening and/or reading!


“The Playbook” by Carlton McCleod

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

I have been reading and enjoying Carlton McCleod’s new book, “The Playbook”. The premise of the book is that the Church has lost and must recapture its prophetic voice in the world. In our search for relevance, we have actually become irrelevant because we have both abandoned a bold declaration of the truth of God’s word and invalidated our words by our compromises with the world.

Pastor McCleod’s book is an unapologetic call for Christ’s Church to reclaim her rightful place as the pillar and ground of the truth.

Here is one of the nuggets of gold regarding family reformation:

“When an old rugged cross is planted in the middle of the family, it changes and conforms to God’s vision!”

There are many more. You can acquire the book at the link above. I heartily commend it to you.

The Tattooed Jesus

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

I have been looking forward to reading Kevin Swanson’s new book “The Tattooed Jesus: What Would the Real Jesus Do with Pop Culture“. Thanks to the wonders of WiFi, it is now on my Kindle and I’m getting a running start.

This from the introduction:

“There is much material that address a Christian worldview, as contrasted with other prevalent worldviews of the day. But these are hardly useful to the masses, unless they connect the dots between the worldview and the cultural incarnations. Most people do not sit and study worldviews all day, but they will go to the movies and listen to Top 40 radio stations. Unless Christian families can properly see the connections between cultures and the worldviews they reflect, many more will be ‘spoiled by philosophies and vain deceit after the traditions of men.’ (Col. 2:5).”

Cultural incarnations of a worldview is an interesting and helpful way to think about things. In other words, wisdom is justified by her children (Matthew 11:19), but she isn’t the only one with children! Every philosophy that competes with the truth of God’s word has offspring as well, and we would do well to identify them so that we can be on a trajectory away from the world, not towards it.

Consider giving it a read yourself. Swanson is always great for stimulating thinking, and we will be the better for it.

His Love Is Utterly Realistic

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

A phenomenal quote from Chapter 3, “Knowing and Being Known”, of J.I. Packer’s classic, “Knowing God”:

“There is unspeakable comfort – the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates – in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me. There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and am I glad!), and that he sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, he wants me as his friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given his Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose.”

Wow. Double wow. Because God is all-knowing, there can never be a discovery about any of His people that can disillusion Him and quench His determination to love us. He wants us as His friends, and He wants to be our Friend, and Jesus has laid down His life to bring us together with Him. Beautiful.

A Sifting Time Ahead

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

I am part way through “When a Nation Forgets God”, a book by Dr. Erwin Lutzer, the senior pastor at Moody Church, Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Lutzer portrays Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, showing that many of the trends in modern America correlate with that time in German history. His point is not that today’s America is the same as Nazi Germany, but that our trajectory is similar. In other words, if we continue down this same track, the American church can expect to face similar challenges. The question: Will we be ready?

As part of his analysis, Dr. Lutzer gives the history of two German pastors who were prominent during this time: Martin Niemoller (a name I don’t know) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a name everyone knows). In 1934, seeing what was on the horizon, Niemoller said the following in a sermon to his church:

“We have all of us – the whole church and the whole community – we’ve been thrown into the Tempter’s sieve, and he is shaking and the wind is blowing, and it must now become manifest whether we are wheat or chaff! Verily, a time of sifting has come upon us, and even the most indolent and peaceful person among us must see that the calm of a meditative Christianity is at an end… It is now springtime for the hopeful and expectant Christian Church – it is testing time, and God is giving Satan a free hand, so he may shake us up and so that it may be seen what manner of men we are!… Satan swings his sieve and Christianity is thrown hither and thither; and he who is not ready to suffer, he who called himself a Christian only because he thereby hoped to gain something good for his race and his nation is blown away like chaff by the wind of time.”

It is hard to read this quote and not think that such a time will be upon us in our own lifetime, or if you’re an optimist, in the lifetime of our children. Will we be ready? If we aren’t asking the question, what is the likelihood we will be? I want to be a genuine Christian, seeking the Lord and being sanctified by His Spirit day by day. Then I know I’ll be ready. I want the same for my family and our church. I know that God will make us ready to serve Him faithfully in the midst of trial and persecution if we call on Him now. In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus exhorts us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” I intend to ask, seek, and knock, knowing that our Father gives good things to those who ask Him. Join me.

I also commend the book to you. Happy reading!