The Psalms: Jesus’ Prayer Book

A very readable and illuminating commentary on the Psalms. . . .

Douglas D. Webster. The Psalms: Jesus’ Prayer Book. 4 vols., 1144p., $89.99, Kregel Academic.

The Old Testament Psalter testifies both to the universal human condition and the redemption wrought for believers in the person and work of Christ. In The Psalms: Jesus’s Prayer Book, longtime pastor and seminary professor Doug Webster distills ancient and modern scholarship on the Psalms into theological, canonical, apostolic, linguistic, and pastoral edification to students of Psalter. By focusing on both the most consequential and the less developed aspects of Psalm studies, Webster shows how living a Christ-centered life goes hand in hand with digesting the Psalms as a complete collection prefiguring Christ.

The volumes of The Psalms follow the internal divisions Psalms presents:

  • Volume 1 (Book I of the Psalms)
  • Volume 2 (Book II)
  • Volume 3 (Book III–IV)
  • Volume 4 (Book V)

Designed with preachers and teachers in mind, The Psalms strikes a middle ground between a technical commentary and a book of sermons. Webster offers pastoral insight in both interpretation and application of the Psalms for worship, unveiling purpose and significance for worship, devotion, and reflection.

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Church Revitalization

If your church isn’t in need of this yet, it will be. . . .

Russell N. Small. Church Revitalization:A Pastoral Guide to Church Renewal. 240p., $23.99, Kregel Ministry.

There are more churches needing revitalization than there are leaders skilled for the work. Church Revitalization guides current and future leaders through the often-complex process of bringing a church to a place of vibrancy. This book demonstrates how the overarching goal of seeing people come to faith in Christ and develop into Christlikeness can and must inform the most foundational to the most fleeting aspects of revitalizing a struggling church.

Church revitalization strategist Rusty Small systematically walks readers through the many considerations of leading a church out of a decline. He helps identify the best approach for addressing what a particular church’s revitalization need may be:

  • Refresh—often most fitting after a difficult season in the church’s life
  • Renovate— needed when a decline has lasted five to ten years
  • Restore—appropriate for churches with generational patterns focused on survival
  • Replant—best for a church facing imminent closure

Few joys compare to seeing God’s life and power realized for the local church when believers begin to think and serve as Jesus did. Small will encourage pastors and church leaders engaged in this critical task.

If God is calling you to church revitalization, take and read!

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The Way He Loves

It is what it says it is 😉 . . .

Preston Rentz. The Way He Loves: 21 Stories of God’s Healing Love to a Hurting World. 192p., $15.99, Deep River Books.

It can be hard to understand what it means for God to be loving–even leaders, teachers, and pastors can better learn how to see and teach about God from a perspective of love. The Way He Loves is an essential key to discovering the various ways in which our God shows his healing compassion for a hurting world. Throughout The Way He Loves, Preston Rentz provides meaningful anecdotes and earnest contemplations of grace, humility, leadership, wealth, and more. He looks beyond one-dimensional ideas about God’s love to instead explore its extraordinary beauty and complexity.

If you struggle with hopelessness, depression, or church-fatigue—if you have trouble seeing God as loving at his core, or if you wonder how a loving Creator could possibly be guiding this deeply flawed world of ours—this book is meant for you. The Way He Loves will introduce you to the God who is attentive to every need and who desires to be near to those who seek him. You’ll learn how nothing can ever replace our profound need for spending personal time with our Creator, and how God’s faithful and ever-present warmth can guide you through life’s many challenges, delivering you from an existence of confusion and disappointment.

Rather than going through this world alone, not truly knowing what God offers or what he expects from you, The Way He Loves shows how you can learn to seek his loving heart and discover what true living really is. The more you embrace God’s unending love, the better your life will beand the more you will see that the entire Christian faith is first and foremost a story of remarkable love.

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Unlimited Atonement

The scholarly way of saying “Jesus came to die for all of us” . . . 🙂

Michael Bird and Scott Harrower. Unlimited Atonement: Amyraldism and Reformed Theology. 240p., $25.99, Kregel Academic.

“Hypothetical universalism,” or “unlimited atonement,” states that Christ’s death is sufficient for the guilt of all people yet is only effectively applied to those with faith. This tradition, typified by the French reformer Moise Amyraut, has continued among Anglicans and Baptists for more than four centuries, yet has been underexplored in Reformed systematic theology.

Unlimited Atonement fills a gap in resources on atonement theology that begin with the unlimited love of God. Editors Michael F. Bird and Scott Harrower draw on the specialties of each of the ten contributors, addressing themes such as:

  • the biblical and historical sources of the soteriological position known as Amyraldism
  • distinctive features of Anglican atonement theology
  • introductions to every book of the Bible to help you approach the text
  • hypothetical universalism, election, and the Baptist theological tradition
  • other prominent advocates of unlimited atonement
  • the issues of systematic theology at stake
  • atonement theology in preaching

Unlimited Atonement is the most comprehensive analysis of Amyraldism to date, providing a resource for theology and Bible students and teachers in an esoteric stream of Reformed theology. Bird and Harrower provide a starting point for anyone who wants to understand the sources and merits of Amyraldism.

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Divine Love Theory

The Trinity: where it all began and what it all should look like. . . .

Adam Lloyd Johnson. Divine Love Theory: How the Trinity Is the Source and Foundation of Morality. 336p., $22.99, Kregel Academic.

Adam Lloyd Johnson injects a fresh yet eternal reality into the thriving debate over the basis of moral absolutes. While postmodernism’s moral relativism once temporarily disrupted the footing of classic moral theories like natural law and divine command, many nontheistic philosophers assert that morality must rest on something real and objective. Divine Love Theory proposes a grounding for morality not only in the creator God but as revealed in the Christian Scriptures—Father, Son, and Spirit eternally loving one another.

Johnson contends that the Trinity provides a remarkably convincing foundation for making moral judgments. One leading atheistic proposal, godless normative realism, finds many deficiencies in theistic and Christian theories, yet Johnson shows how godless normative realism is susceptible to similar errors. He then demonstrates how the loving relationships of the Trinity as outlined in historic Christian theology resolve many of the weakest points in both theistic and atheistic moral theories.

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Attributes of God on F.I.R.E.

Instead reproducing the normal promotional blurbs for these books I’ve worked on here, I’m just gonna reproduce the introduction editor’s note I wrote for this book, and which appears in its contents. . . .

Dr. Ken J. Burge, Sr. Attributes of God on F.I.R.E.: Probing Fourteen Character Traits of God to Imitate. 168p., $18.99, Deep River Books.

Knowing God, by necessity, means taking the time to know who God is. More than sixty years ago, A. W. Tozer captured this idea in his classic little book The Knowledge of the Holy, and his words still ring true today: “Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, ‘What comes into your mind when you think about God?’ we might predict with certainty the future of that man.”

Our actions can only reflect the knowledge of God we already have—and, in turn, reflect how much we really trust Him.

The modern church has largely lost a proper perception of God. And because of that, we’ve lost our reverence for Him as well. And we won’t rediscover our reverence for God until we rediscover God Himself—until we rediscover a passion to know Him, as He desires to be known.

The things of God need to become the things of us. Until they do, we will never move forward. But once we make the effort to know God more deeply, we’ll not only learn more about Him but about ourselves—because we’ll see finally begin to see ourselves the way He sees us. And His way is never wrong.

I’ve worked on the previous eight books in Ken Burge’s F.I.R.E. series, but for all the reasons above I’m especially excited about this one. As Ken reminds us, familiarity—not complacent familiarity but intimate familiarity—is the key here. As we become more familiar with who God is, and as we grow with Him in relationship, we will be moved to respond in ways that truly reflect who He is.

So pull up a chair, an open mind, and an open heart, and spend some time with Ken learning more deeply about our God. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29, KJV). You won’t regret the time spent.

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Mike Hatch. Manhood: Empowered by the Light of the Gospel. 112p., $14.99, Deep River Books.

Most men today are disempowered. Lost and groping in the dark, they are driven by fear and insecurity. Isolation and loneliness have defined us as a generation, and the tragic result has been dysfunctional marriage, broken families, and a society with no mooring to truth. Addictions to pornography, alcohol, drugs, and gaming have enslaved men and stolen our confidence.

As a recovering pornography addict himself, Pastor Mike Hatch is well acquainted with feelings of disempowerment and hopelessness. Whether you are battling addiction, infidelity, or a crisis of purpose or identity, you will find this book to be accessible, readable, and highly actionable, built for you to make progress quickly and intentionally.

The empowered man does not just know about God but is known by him; he understands God as the source of power for character improvement; and he transcends his own agenda to be a powerful tool in the hand of God. Manhood: Empowered by the Light of the Gospel focuses on these three principles to provide guidance, encouragement, and resources for Christian men who are struggling with fear and insecurity. You’ll learn how being Known by God, Grown by God, and Owned by God provides the contentment to accept all circumstances of life, the clarity to embrace your transcendent and redemptive purpose, and the freedom to live courageously once again.

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A Commentary on Jeremiah

Breaking down Jeremiah—even as we watch him break down over Judah. . . .

Michael B. Shepherd. A Commentary on Jeremiah. 912p., $57.99, Kregel Academic.

The book that bears the prophet Jeremiah’s name does not merely document the past but looks forward to God’s future and final work in Christ. Perhaps more than any book of the Old Testament, Jeremiah attests to the process of its own writing, transmission, and editing, and these internal clues confirm its original purpose as a book for all time and for every nation.

Michael Shepherd carefully lays out Jeremiah’s far-reaching message with passage-by-passage translation and up-to-date commentary. The themes of judgment and restoration certainly concern Israel’s historical judgment at the hands of the Babylonians and their subsequent return, but also the eschatological judgment of all worldly opposition to God and a final restoration and flourishing in the land of the covenant.

Shepherd’s second volume in the Kregel Exegetical Library series, this commentary makes a significant contribution to the academic dialogue on the book of Jeremiah and its connections to the rest of Scripture. The exploration is helpful for the scholar but accessible and useful for the pastor, examining the themes of covenant, kingship, judgement, restoration, and the nations.

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Sustaining Revival

The little-known story of the widespread revival in Nagaland, India—and its aftermath . . .

C. B. Newell. Sustaining Revival. 256p., $16.99, Deep River Books.

There are occasions in biblical history where we see a breaking-in of the spirit of God. In addition, there is a command and a promise that indicates the possibility of revival in all generations after Christ, in all places. The area inhabited by the Naga tribes (much of this area was set up as Nagaland, a state of India, on Dec. 1, 1963) experienced such a visit from God in a series of waves during the second half of the twentieth century.

God’s recent visitation in Nagaland was one of the most significant anywhere in the world. Yet little is available telling about it. This book fills that void.

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Marv Taking Charge

A tough but enlightening—and affecting—look at end-of-life matters. . . .

Lois Hoitenga Roelofs. Marv Taking Charge: A Story of Bold Love and Courage. 224p., $16.99, Deep River Books.

Lois Roelofs always knew that Marv, her husband of fifty-five years, had strong convictions. So when he was diagnosed with “very aggressive” small cell lung cancer, with a few weeks to a few months to live, she accepted that he wanted to die on his own terms―refuse chemo, choose quality of life over quantity, and die at home. She tells their story in a mix of personal notes, family and friend emails, and public blog posts written during Marv’s illness and her first months as a widow. At the time, she could find no personal accounts of refusing treatment and living with the resultant uncertainty.

Lois wrote this book to honor her husband Marv’s request to tell the story of their experience when he chose to refuse treatment for a diagnosis of small cell lung cancer. Family, friends, and readers of Lois’s blog in real time confirmed interest in the topic of refusing treatment. She wanted to show her readers that achieving patient autonomy, doing what’s right for them, is possible and, implicitly, to caution readers never to blindly follow medical advice.

Marv Taking Charge will be helpful to those facing a critical decision whether or not to treat a terminal illness. It will help answer questions such as 1) what can happen after the diagnostic visits, 2) when to sign up for hospice, 3) what can be expected from hospice, 4) how to spend the time during the uncertain period when all persons involved are waiting for the worsening of the patient’s illness, and 5) what can happen during the progression of the illness.

The main theme is patient autonomy, having the right to make decisions regarding care.

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