Tag Archive for 'Books'

Recommendation for Your First Puritan Book

Of the Puritan books that I’ve read so far, what I would recommend as the first book for someone who’s interested in starting to read them would be All Things for Good, by Thomas Watson. This is an excellent exposition of Romans 8:28. In addition to being relatively short and easy to read, it’s representative of Puritan thought on God’s sovereignty, providence, and grace as it applies to our lives. Here are two quotes from this book.

Question. What shall we do to love God?
[short] Answer: Study God.
[long] Answer: Did we study Him more, we should love Him more. Take a view of His superlative excellencies, His holiness, His incomprehensible goodness. The angels know God better than we, and clearly behold the splendour of His majesty; therefore they are so deeply enamoured with Him. Labour for an interest in God. “O God, thou art my God” (Psalm 63.1). That pronoun “my”, is a sweet loadstone to love; a man loves that which is his own. The more we believe, the more we love: faith is the root, and love is the flower that grows upon it. “Faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5.6). Make it your earnest request to God, that He will give you a heart to love Him. This is an acceptable request, surely God will not deny it. When king Solomon asked wisdom of God, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart” (1 Kings 3.9), “the speech pleased the Lord” (verse 10). So when you cry to God, “Lord, give me a heart to love Thee. It is my grief, I can love Thee no more. Oh, kindle this fire from heaven upon the altar of my heart!” surely this prayer pleases the Lord, and He will pour of His Spirit upon you, whose golden oil shall make the lamp of your love burn bright.

Discontent is an ungrateful sin, because we have more mercies than afflictions; and it is an irrational sin, because afflictions work for good. Discontent is a sin which puts us upon sin. ‘Fret not thyself to do evil’ (Psalm 37:8). He that frets will be ready to do evil: fretting Jonah was sinning Jonah (Jonah 4:9). The devil blows the coals of passion and discontent, and then warms himself at the fire. Oh, let us not nourish this angry viper in our breast. Let this text produce patience, ‘All things work for good to them that love God’ (Rom. 8:28). Shall we be discontented at that which works for our good? If one friend should throw a bag of money at another, and in throwing it, should graze his head, he would not be troubled much, seeing by this means he had got a bag of money. So the Lord may bruise us by afflictions, but it is to enrich us. These afflictions work for us a weight of glory, and shall we be discontented?

–Thomas Watson, All Things for Good (Puritan Paperbacks)

If you would like other ideas, Joel Beeke has some recommendations in an article Reading the Puritans, which is from his book Meet the Puritans.

The Puritans can be difficult to read. Their wording, grammatical structure, and detail can be hard for the contemporary mind to grasp. It is best to read short books from some popular Puritan writers before atempting to read Puritans of more theological profundity, such as Owen and Thomas Goodwin (1600–1679). I recommend beginning with Puritan divines like Tomas Watson (c. 1620–1686), John Flavel (1628–1691), and George Swinnock (c. 1627–1673). Watson wrote succinctly, clearly, and simply. His Art of Divine Contentment, Heaven Taken by Storm, and The Doctrine of Repentance are good places to begin.

Flavel, who was pastor at the seaport of Dartmouth, became known as a seaman’s preacher. He is one of the simplest Puritans to read. His Mystery of Providence is flled with pastoral and comforting counsel. Swinnock showed a special sensitivity to the Scriptures and could explain doctrines with great wisdom and clarity. You might try his The Fading of the Flesh and The Flourishing of Faith, recently edited by Stephen Yuille and printed in a contemporary style.

I’ve read Watson’s Art of Divine Contentment. I think All Things for Good would be an easier read. I’ve also read Flavel’s Mystery of Providence, which is an excellent choice, in addition to A Saint Indeed: Or the Great Work of a Christian in Keeping the Heart in the Several Conditions of Life (or just Keeping the Heart), which is an exposition of Proverbs 14:23 which I really liked a lot and would also highly recommend.

All Things for Good

Book Lernin’ – Topics

I just found this post in the Drafts area of the blog, so I thought I’d finish it up and post it, even though it’s more than a half a year late:

Last year may have been the year of topics as far as reading. I wanted to learn about what God’s glory is, exactly, what God’s Kingdom entails, what The Name of the Lord means, and more about contentment. These were the highlights of the year.

The Glory of God, Christopher W. Morgan (Editor) – Each chapter is written by a different person. A most excellent book.

Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God by George Eldon Ladd – This has been mentioned so many times, and I finally read it–very worthwile.

Name above All Names by Alistair Begg, Sinclair B. Ferguson – This was the most easy to read book, with everything explained at a popular level.

The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs – One of the two or three classic books on the subject by Puritans.

The winner is:
The Glory of God

Around the Web-2016’s Favorite Books

This is the obligatory roundup of posts about books that people liked from the year, devotional recommendations, and one looking forward to next year. I’ve kept the list short.

If I’m motivated enough, I’d like to put up a post about some of the books that I read.

Top 16 Books of 2016 | Desiring God

My Top Books of 2016 – Tim Challies

Daily Devotionals: Recommendations « The Reformed Reader

12 Christian Books Releasing in 2017 to Keep On Your Radar | Anchored in Christ

A Problem With Electronic Books

Sometimes you read the wrong book. I’ll never forget Brian Regan doing a standup routine on how book titles are on every other page:

If reading makes you smart then how come when you read a book they have to put the title of the book on the top of every single page? Does anyone get halfway through a book, “What the h*** am I reading?”

For the first time in a long time, or maybe ever, I couldn’t decide what book to read. I have so many I want to read–two (more) books on Ecclesiastes, a few books on Luther for a foray into his theology, Michael Horton’s systematic theology (not ready for a 1000 page book right at the moment, but I’m looking forward to it), parts of A Puritan Theology, Living Sacrifice, On Communication With God–that I was stymied. So I decided to read Derek Thomas’ The Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home, a free Kindle book. But wait, I saw R.C. Sprouls’ The Work of Christ. I love reading about Christology, so I just picked that. It was a free Kindle book also. I also recently read a short one, possibly a chapter pulled out of a book, called Mystic[al] Union With Christ by Thomas Watson. I was going to read a paper by Horton called Union With Christ in addition to it, but noticed there is a chapter on that in his systematic theology, so I’d hold off. But I did look at it in my eReader on my phone. Somehow when reading The Work of Christ, it reverted back to Union With Christ and I never knew it until I finished it way too soon. And the strange thing is, earlier today I was thinking about how much I learn from both Horton and Sproul, and that I should read more of them in the future. They have similar styles apparently.

So maybe there is a value to having the title of a book on every single page.

Books About The Cross


Westminster Books (click to see all three) has three books on the cross on sale through 3.13.14 that look really good. I would just buy them if I didn’t have so much else to read and I wanted to pay for shipping.

Jesus Keep Me near the Cross

Salvation by Crucifixion

Final Days of Jesus

I don’t usually post this type of thing, but I thought this looked especially good. These are affiliate links.

For Those Who Couldn’t Comment; More Books?

It was brought to my attention that those who are behind a proxy server couldn’t comment. For those interested, there is a WordPress plugin called WP-SpamFree that helps cut down the spam more than Askimet and it has a checkbox like this:

__Allow users behind proxy servers to comment?
Most users should leave this unchecked. Many human spammers hide behind proxies.

But I’ve occasionally had people who couldn’t comment, and now I know why. So I’m going to see how it goes. A while ago I was getting a ton of spam and this plugin helped cut it down to nothing.

If you’ve had problems and would like to test it, please do.

Here is a bonus quote:

There is no end of books, and yet we seem to need more every day. There was such a darkness brought in by the fall, as will not thoroughly be dispelled till we come to heaven; where the sun shineth without either cold or night. For the present, all should contribute their help according to the rate and measure of their abilities. Some hold up a candle, others a torch; but all are useful. The press is an excellent means to scatter knowledge, were it not so often abused.

All complain there is enough written, and think that now there should be a stop. Indeed, it were well if in this scribbling age there were some restraint. Useless pamphlets are grown almost as great a mischief as the erroneous and profane.

Yet tis not good to shut the door upon industry and diligence. There is yet room left to discover more, above all that hath been said, of the wisdom of God and the riches of his grace in the gospel; yea, more of the stratagems of Satan and the deceitfulness of man’s heart. Means need to be increased every day to weaken sin and strengthen trust, and quicken us to holiness.

Fundamentals are the same in all ages, but the constant necessities of the church and private Christians, will continually enforce a further explication. As the arts and slights [expertise] of besieging and battering increase, so doth skill in fortification. If we have no other benefit by the multitude of books that are written, we shall have this benefit: an opportunity to observe the various workings of the same Spirit about the same truths, and indeed the speculation is neither idle nor unfruitful.

–Cited from Thomas Manton’s letter to the reader in The Works of Richard Sibbes, 3:3.

HT: Joel Beeke

New Westminster Book Web Site

It looks similar, but here is a graphic with the changes. Keep scrolling down to see the features of each one along with the sale code good through the 29th.

Westminster’s New Book Site

I like to look at the Best Sellers and New & Coming

Westminster Books

(Affiliate links)

Around the Web – Books

This post is to give people ideas for good books as opposed to finding out which books are “the best”. This isn’t a list of all the posts I found, but those that I think are interesting and helpful.

5 Books Every Christian Should Read | Tim Brister

The 12 Best-selling MacArthur works | the Cripplegate

Top Book Recommendations from Crossway Staff | Crossway – I think this is a good looking list so I thought I’d pass it on for you to look at if you haven’t seen it

TGC Staff Cite Best Books from 2012 | The Gospel Coalition Blog

The 2013 Book Awards | Christianity Today
Hat tip: Around the Web « Baker Book House Church Connection

Make Mine a Double! | Reformation21 Blog – this article is too good and too humorous not to mention, and it’s about two good books (according to him) so I will slip it in here

Top Three Books Sold From This Blog

This post is basically an advertisement.

I looked through my Amazon Associate site’s reports to see what the best selling books are among this blog’s community. Whenever there is a link to a book here, it’s through my Amazon Associates account where I earn 4%. I should be making this more clear. The cost to the customer is the same of course, or I wouldn’t do it. I have to be thrifty myself. I don’t make much at all since books aren’t exactly a high priced item, especially with Kindle books (see all of the Fire and E-reader products there, like the new Paperwhite) and used books. I have a link in the right column for those who want to buy other items through it to help me out (along with two other bookstores–which is OK with them), which I’m very grateful for.

I read on ProBlogger that one way to make some sales is to post the top products sold on one’s blog. This shows what might be good to buy because of popularity. This is also a service to the readers.

The first one, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D.A. Carson, is by far the most popular, bought in paperback and Kindle editions. I didn’t review it–I wrote a post about it and Paul’s Prayers, including a list of the Bible references to all of his prayers, which can be ‘moused over’ if you have a computing device that handles it, to get a good idea of the content, or click through to see the whole passage. The idea is to compare Paul’s prayers to your own, which transformed how I pray quite a few years ago. (There is a new edition out with a new, and I think more appropriate title: Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation. As far as I can tell, it’s the same book with a new cover and a new Preface.)

The next one, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story coincidentally (providentially?) also by D.A. Carson, may be second partly because somebody bought a lot of them. But anything by D.A. Carson is well worth it. This is a more basic book of who God is and how he works. I included this in a post titled Three Books For New Christians.

D.A. Carson

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions is something that can be found on the Puritan Prayers page. I have some of the prayers on that page and formatted them to be printed out. I pray through one of them once a week and never get tired of them.

Puritan Prayers

So two of them are by D.A. Carson and two of them are on prayer. The one in fourth place is also on prayer but it’s one I don’t endorse, so I chose not to list it. There are a whole lot of others lined up in fifth and sixth place, etc. Someday I may list my favorites. I also have a Reviews page with links to all of the books that have been formally reviewed here.

Thank you for stopping by and reading.

Free and Discounted Christian Kindle Books

I want to help promote Gospel eBooks. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s “a website that alerts you to Christian e-book deals for the Amazon Kindle. We regularly post free Christian e-books as well as cheap and discounted titles. Our mission is to help you build your e-book library at a fraction of the cost.”

They don’t seem to miss anything. Jeremy Gardiner is the man behind it. You can find him as @mrjgardiner on Twitter even if you just want to know more about him. Looks like an interesting guy.

There are so many fiction books that are free, you can find two or three each week. And there are occasional low cost or free gems like Trusting God by Bridges, How to Read the Bible Book by Book by Fee and Stuart, An Introduction to the New Testament by Carson and Moo and many more. You never know what will come up.

Find out how to help them out.

Gospel eBooks

I have an ancient Nokia tablet with a 4″ screen (they were a few years ahead of their time and then gave up on them) bought on eBay that I use along with Calibre to convert and organize them, which I hope is ethical, since there are Kindle apps for all sorts of other devices. With Kindle and eReaders coming down to $50 and discounted books like this, it’s difficult not to go that route, even if you’re like me and still much prefer paper books.

Three Books For New Christians

I bought John Stott’s Basic Christianity just for the purpose of giving it to someone. I was thinking about sending it to my mom, so I looked at it last night and surprisingly I didn’t really like it. It went a little against my Reformed sensibilities in some ways, which was extremely surprising, it looked a bit daunting for a new or “nominal” Christian, and the typeface was very small. So I went looking again tonight.

I had also looked at this list:
A Monergism Books Reader’s Guide for the Christian Life which I think is pretty good. But I just wasn’t satisfied with the Introductory Reading list.

So here is what I found. I’m guessing on these also, since I haven’t read them, but I looked at the descriptions and reviews carefully.

Esteban pointed me to D.A. Carson’s The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story. Here is the description:

It can no longer be assumed that most people–or even most Christians–have a basic understanding of the Bible. Many don’t know the difference between the Old and New Testament, and even the more well-known biblical figures are often misunderstood. It is getting harder to talk about Jesus accurately and compellingly because listeners have no proper context with which to understand God’s story of redemption.

In this basic introduction to faith, D. A. Carson takes seekers, new Christians, and small groups through the big story of Scripture. He helps readers to know what they believe and why they believe it. The companion leader’s guide helps evangelistic study groups, small groups, and Sunday school classes make the best use of this book in group settings.

I then remembered suggesting this to our small group quite a while ago. It sounds like just what I’m looking for and I know I love the author, having read a few of his books and many articles and blog posts. I could probably stop there but I found two more I’d like to pass on. (Notice I didn’t say shaaaaare.)

To my surprise, Calvin wrote a book (or it was the start of a later book) for this purpose called Truth for All Time: A Brief Outline of the Christian Faith. In 77 pages he writes about the basics of Christianity, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed, The Lord’s Prayer and love of God.

I also found Bitesize Theology: An ABC of the Christian Faith by Peter Jeffery. It has good reviews that summarize the book well.

So these are my guesses based on everything I could find about them. I think we need to realize just how basic this information needs to be for a new or potential Christian. For some people, the Bible is a great adventure and reading comes easy, even if it isn’t all understood. For others it’s completely daunting, Christianity is bewildering with all of the terms and Biblish, and they can hardly get themselves off to a start if they don’t have people who can personally guide them. Many of us are the former and we need to put ourselves in the others’ place, even if we don’t understand it. I remember seeing a list for new Christians and J.I. Packer’s Knowing God was in the list. I think it’s very basic, but I personally know some people who have been Christians for some time and this book was too much for them. Granted, they may not do a lot of reading, or at least non-fiction that’s at a higher theological level than Max Lucado, but some have to start somewhere and we need to accommodate them even if we lament the lack of Bible literacy.

Anyway, those are my picks. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Also see:
A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology

Living Zealously

I want to show you this new book just because of the title, although it sounds very good. Click on it for a description.

Living Zealously by Beeke

Favorite Book Lists

Ten best books for studying New Testament Greek, excluding his own – Saturday, December 24 6:52 AM at Dave Black Online (scroll down to find it or look in the archives at the bottom of the page in December 2011)

TGC Staff Recommend 2011 Books

2012 Christianity Today Book Awards

My Top Books of 2011 – Tim Challies

Top Ten Books of 2011 by Kevin DeYoung

Top Ten Books of 2011 by Stan McCullars

Sam Storms: Top Ten (!) Books in 2011

Books & Culture‘s Book of the Year

My 5 Favorite Books of 2011 by Marc Cortez

Top 2011 List — No Order, and No Number
by Daniel Thompson

Any others to add?

Also see:
A Twisted Crown of Thorns: Top 10 Posts of The Year

My Top 10 Top 10s of ’11 by Tim Challies

Organizing books with Zotero

Andy Naselli shows (I hate the word share) us how he organizes his library using Zotero. For now it’s a Firefox plugin but will eventually be a full fledged desktop program. It’s funded at George Mason University so I would hope it’s here to stay. Even if you don’t use Zotero, you may get some tips from what he says.

When reading a book or commentary I often write a term at the top of the page if it’s something described well that I want to refer to later. But it doesn’t do much good to write these things there and not know where they are. Unfortunately I didn’t keep track of these so I have one commentary from each book of the NT except two and plenty of other books with stuff written at the top that I haven’t recorded. I was going to use a Wiki I set up but I think I will use Zotero. I’ve already entered all my books by dragging the title from Library Thing into Zotero which is in the bottom part of the browser screen. At only 95 books this didn’t take too long. I wasn’t sure how else to export and import.

So I have a start. I may use Tags for those subjects in Zotero and keep track of them that way. It has very good tools for notation and notes. But I really should keep the Wiki up too for other things. There’s just too much to do.

Get Zotero

HT: Between Two Worlds

A Word from Our Sponsor

See what Joel has to write here. Be sure to buy books from your favorite blogger’s Amazon or Westminster or other affiliates links or books stores. I like to look at the lists at Westminster of what’s popular in addition to purchasing. You pay the same as you would going straight to the store’s web site. Help us out so we can get our $10 every three months. Mine are in the right column. Thank you for your support.