Posts Tagged ‘Psalms’

While on vacation/study leave, I typically read a book for personal growth. This year I chose Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness Psalms 13-24 by Dale Ralph Davis. In light of current events is was clearly appropriate.

I forgot I had this book when preaching through this section of the Psalms recently. To my congregation, I apologize. This book most likely would have made those sermons better, even if just a bit.

Davis has written a number of helpful Old Testament commentaries. This is not a commentary on the Psalms, but seems to have been taken from sermons or lessons on the Psalms. As a result, this is not an academic book. It is not highly technical. The occasional discussion of Hebrew is easily understood. He has many understandable illustrations to help along the way.

This is his second volume on the Psalms. The first, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life, covers the first 12 Psalms. I hope he continues this series because the first two volumes have been quite encouraging.

The point of these Psalms, illustrated in the title is that we may walk along paths of righteousness but they do not lead us through a righteous world. We walk through a fallen, sinful world that hates the righteous. We walk through a world that rejoices in sin, at least of particular kinds depending on your time and place. We walk in a world filled with injustice. This week we’ve seen a presidential candidate not charged after repeatedly breaking the law because she supposedly didn’t intend to, even though she has been less than honest in interviews, hearings and with law enforcement. We’ve seen a black man being restrained by officers shot and killed by them. We’ve seen another black man pulled over for a broken tail light, presumably obeying the law and officer, still get shot 4 times with a 4 year-old in the back seat. We’ve seen officers ambushed or attacked at a protest in Dallas. We’ve seen law restricting abortion struck down. I just can’t go on or I’ll be hear all day. But this is the world in which we live.

This is also the world in which the Psalmists wrote and lived. Walking the paths of righteousness is not easy. The Psalms continually point us back to God as Redeemer, Defender and more.

Davis understands the Psalms, and communicates the Psalms well. This is book worth reading in these days when social media, on top of the media, keep putting these ugly realities in our face. You don’t have to walk in the path of unrighteousness, if you are in Christ. We have hope in this world, in Christ.

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Most bloggers focus on the best books of the year. I’m not competent to rank books I haven’t read. I am often a little behind as I read based on needs not just desire. So I focus on the books I read in the last year. It was a light year as I spent more time than I wanted reading my own book to edit it. So, here we go!

The Creedal Imperative (ebook) by Carl Trueman. This is the first Trueman book I’ve read. Okay, only one so for. It was a very good book arguing for the use of creeds and confessions. It is not a very big book but it covers some important territory.

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller. It starts off a bit dry and philosophical as it examines the ways various cultures have trying to answer the problem of suffering. He then argues that only Christianity has a satisfying answer to this problem. Then he goes into proactive mode in addressing how we can prepare the spiritual reserves, so to speak, to survive pain and suffering.

The Doctrine of the Christian Life by John Frame. I started this book in 2012 or 13 but finished it in 2014. It is an extremely long book, but I thought an extremely helpful book I will return to as I consider various ethic issues (I recently returned to his material on the Sabbath in light of a discussion in Presbytery). I appreciate how Frame looks at things.

Against the Gods (ebook) by John Currid. This is another short book . This one focuses on the relationship between biblical material and ANE material. Currid argues for a polemical approach to understand similarities. It is helpful for helping to defend the faith from attacks based on archeological findings.

Antinomianism (ebook) by Mark Jones. I think this is a very important book that helps us make some important distinctions as we think about both grace and law. Jones focuses on the strains of antinomianism that arose during the age of the Puritans. He does make some modern application.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: an English Professor’s Journey into the Christian Faith by Rosaria Butterfield. The best part is the story of her conversion as a lesbian “gay theory” professor. There is much to learn about how homosexuals view the Christians. She found many of those views to not be necessarily true as Christians loved her and she read the Word. She also had to face how much life would change. I could do without the argument for exclusive psalmody, but there is much to benefit from otherwise.

Taking God at His Word (ebook) by Kevin DeYoung. This is a short, solid defense of the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures. It is quite accessible to the lay person. Well worth reading, and keeping on hand to let others borrow.

Song of Songs by Tremper Longman III. I read this commentary for an upcoming series in Sunday School. It was a very helpful commentary on a quite, at times, confusing book.

Rooted by Raymond Cannata and Joshua Reitano. This is a great little book on the Apostles’ Creed designed to either be read alone or with a group. What is distinct about this book is the missional bent of the material. They don’t just want to help you expand your knowledge and understanding to to see the call to bring these truths into the world to the glory of God.

unPlanned by Abbey Johnson. This is one woman’s story about life as a Planned Parenthood director who comes face to face with the truth about Planned Parenthood. It is a very interesting story from a former insider. Part of the story involves the love she experienced from the majority of the pro-life protesters she saw on a regular basis. This is in stark contrast to the paranoia and fear so many PP people had when thinking about them. Eventually the dissonance grew to great after operating a sonargram during an abortion.

The Closer by Mariano Rivera. This was a very interesting book about the Hall of Fame (future) reliever. You can clearly see the providence of God. His faith is often in the background, but it is a great story even if you are not a Yankees’ fan.

Resisting Gossip (ebook) by Matthew Mitchell. There are not many books about the sin of gossip. This is one of the few, and it is a good, gospel-centered one. This book deserves a reading.

The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Ralph Davis. The former OT professor looks at Psalms 1-12. Excellent material with a very practical focus.

The Good News We almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung. This is another excellent book by Kevin DeYoung. This time he tackles the Heidelberg Catechism. It is accessible for younger Christians and filled with pastoral wisdom.

Parcells: A Football Life by Bill Parcells and Nunyo DeMasio. This is a very interesting book about Parcells’ life, football and the many people he worked with. It is fascinating from a leadership perspective, and will build most people’s understanding of football and how teams should be built.

The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism (ebook) by Gregory Beale. This is another important book addressing a contemporary problem. It is far more technical than DeYoung’s. It is geared more to pastors, but well-read lay persons would appreciate it.

Shame Interrupted by Ed Welch. This is an important subject for Christian growth. Shame is experienced by all, but can be crippling to many. It is a hidden root for many symptoms. Welch unpacks the gospel to show the ways it moves us from shame to honor.

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The Psalms are good medicine for the soul. While they are honest about how hard life is, they restore God to the center of our very messed up lives. Many people are unfamiliar with Hebrew poetry, and struggle to understand and apply the Psalms. This is not helped by the fact that we don’t always, or often, know the context of particular psalms. It is like peeking in someone’s journal as they wrestle with their circumstances.

Dale Ralph Davis is a former OT professor (he has numerous acclaimed commentaries) who is a pastor. He is able to get into the nuts and bolts of the Hebrew for us, and yet this is not an academic exercise. He reveals the pastoral sensitivity throughout the book.

The book is The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life. Davis looks at the first 12 psalms. They read like they are adapted from sermons. For instance, this line:

“So .. how happy the man who does not … He is counter-cultural. He is, in a word, different. He is not just a nice, easy-going, tolerant chap who likes to share a Lowenbrau with you. There’s a difference between the righteous man here and what my culture calls a ‘good old boy.'”

Do people drink Lowenbrau? Is is still sold? You get the point though. Davis does live in the real world. He helps us to understand the Psalmist’s world and connects it with ours. These are not happy psalms, but about the muck of life. This is, therefore, a serious book about how to live as a Christian in the real, and fallen, world. This is in sharp contrast to many popular books that somehow give the impression that the Christian life is one of relative bliss and ease. There is no “best life now.” This is the kind of book people need to read, a book they should read.

While it could be good to read it in the midst of difficulty, we should prepare for hard times. People used to have “rainy day funds”, money set aside for unexpected expenses. Credit cards have made dealing with such things easier (and gotten us into plenty of trouble at times). People don’t prepare for broken bones or cars by saving money ahead of time anymore. There is little forethought.

We should have spiritual forethought, and not just financial forethought. We should invest in our spiritual life so when the muck of life comes we are prepared, ready and able to stand firm. This book helps us do this. When hard times comes, it is good to go back. I’d recommend investing in your spiritual life by getting this great little book that brings you to the hard places of life and shows you how God is there and at work in us and our circumstances.

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We didn’t realize how much of a miracle CavGirl was until we started trying to have another child. We had talked about adoption before we got married. When you have a thyroid disease, it only makes sense to cover all your bases. We had both thought about adoption before we met. I was now 40. We didn’t want too much time to pass before having another child, one way or another.

So we began the adoption process while trying to conceive again. We didn’t know how to choose an agency. We wanted one that shared our values. CavWife’s vacationing parents watched CavGirl as we went to an informational meeting at a popular agency’s Orlando office. There was only one other couple there. Amazingly I knew the woman. But we walked away unimpressed. I wasn’t sure what we were looking for, but I knew we hadn’t found it. This would become a theme in our process.

Nearly 4 months later we saw a poster that an adoption agency we had never heard of was having a seminar, nearby. I went alone. They didn’t begin with a presentation about babies, but a theological explanation of adoption as God’s plan A for some people. They understood where I was coming from, and spoke my language. We had found an agency. It was late spring of 2006.

We also had a country. We were leaning toward China after ruling out Korea. A couple had made a presentation about their experiences with Russia. Adopting from there at the time required you to be flexible and prepared for the unexpected. I was told that if you like a nice, orderly relatively predictable process you should go with China.

Soon they had another meeting at a local church. This was THE church in town at the time. We’d had a few people leave us to attend there. It had become the bane of my existence. I began to call it The Bane. But at that meeting one of the couple’s leading the meeting had adopted from China and lived locally. They would prove to be a big help in answering many questions that arose while we were in unfamiliar territory.


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Yes, it has been since before my vacation that I’ve read any of Recovering the Reformed Confession. I’ve been quite busy since I’ve been back.  But I’m picking up with Recovering Reformed Worship.

Immediately he is lamenting the changes to worship liturgy in the last 30 years, including the loss of the Psalter.  He quotes D.G. Hart:

“… more congregations in the PCUSA are likely to follow the Genevan order of service than those in the OPC or PCA.”

My initial response is that the Genevan order of service isn’t getting them too far.  I’d rather keep Calvin’s theology than his order of service.

We actually utilize a fairly traditional liturgy or structure to our worship (Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Confession of Faith, Pastoral Prayer, Scripture Reading & Sermon, Benediction).  We want the heritage to inform us, but not enslave us.  Clark is alarmed that Calvin, the Heidelberg Reformers and others would not recognize our worship services.  Neither would the Apostles.  For that matter, they wouldn’t recognize the services of Calvin and the others either.


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Before vacation I got a flyer for a seminar by Wayne Grudem about his book Politics According to the Bible.  For going to the seminar, I’ll be getting a free copy.  Unless you live here in southern AZ, you can’t.  But, for the next week, WTS Bookstore has the book 40% off ($23.99).

The book looks at 5 positions on Christians and politics, and rejects them.  They are:

    ‘compel religion,’
    ‘exclude religion,’
    ‘all government is demonic,’
    ‘do evangelism, not politics,’
    ‘do politics, not evangelism.’

He proposes “significant Christian involvement in politics”.  Whether or not you agree with him, it is probably worth the read.

Here are some endorsements:

“Dr. Grudem has written a sweeping, and inspiring, guide to politics and government in the new century, a comprehensive but extremely readable and easy-to-use primer on how a Christian guided by Scripture should think about all of the many issues facing a citizen today. Politics According to the Bible will be on the desk next to the microphone in my radio studio and on the bookshelf of every Christian –left, right or center– who wants to know –really wants to know– what God has said about what man ought to do and how he ought to live today.”
– Hugh Hewitt, professor of law, Chapman University, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host

“Wayne Grudem is one of the outstanding biblical scholars in America. He’s going to handle very well any subject he tackles. I particularly appreciate his work in this area, because he looks at the relationship between religion and politics through a biblical lens. Too often we confuse ideology with revealed truth. There are sections of this book that are uncannily timely, particularly on medical ethics, the rule of the courts, and the purpose of government. This can be a wonderful resource as we face growing tensions from an ever more powerful state.”
– Chuck Colson, Founder, Prison Fellowship

“Wayne Grudem’s call for men and women of faith to be engaged in the public life of our great country is precisely and exactly the call the rising generation needs to hear. Our duty as Christians is to recognize the vital differences between the city of God and the city of man, and to be involved in the public life of our great country.”
– Timothy Goeglein, Vice President, External Relations, Focus on the Family

“If you read this year only one Christian book on politics, read Politics—According to the Bible. Wayne Grudem shows how we should approach more than fifty specific issues. His biblically-based good sense overwhelms the nostrums of Jim Wallis and the evangelical left. Wayne also shows why those seeking a vacation from politics need to rise up and go to work.”
– Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief, World, and provost, The King’s College, New York City

“Conservative and hard-hitting both biblically and culturally, Grudem’s treatise is essentially a giant tract for the times, covering the whole waterfront of America’s political debate with shrewd insight and strong argument. This book will be a valued resource for years to come, and right now no Christian can afford to ignore it. An outstanding achievement!”
– J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver

Other books they currently have on sale include:

The Family Tree of Reformed Biblical Theology: Vos and Owen by Richard Barcellos.  Vos and Owen, this has got to be heady stuff, but I’m intrigued.

The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis.  The book looks at Psalms 1-12, and the title alone is enough to suck me in.

Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Attack on the Mind, Morals and Meaning by Nancy Pearcy.  The title says it all.

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Steve McCoy did a Big 5 on Prayer

Here are some of my favorite books on prayer:

Here are some of the books on prayer that I am interested in reading:

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Songs for the Messiah will look at some of the more explicitly Messianic Psalms (for they are all Messianic).

11/30  Psalm 2  Song of the Great King

12/7  Psalm 16  Song of the Risen Holy One

12/14  Psalm 22  Song of the Suffering Savior (Ron Smith)

12/21  Psalm 72  Song of the Righteous King

12/28  Psalm 110  Song of the Eternal Priest

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