In case you missed it I wrote a book review earlier this month for Plugged In: Proclaiming Christ in the Internet Age by Marie Notcheva here. (Or see previous post.)
How do Preaching and Corporate Prayer Work Together? By Ryan McGraw
This short little booklet on praying in the life of the church will give you some good reasons why prayer is so important. “Every congregation should be characterized by two things above all others: corporate prayer and faithful preaching of the Word” (p. 16). Prayer is the fuel behind the preaching, prayer calls the Holy Spirit to action – and this is God’s means of working, through prayer. Too many Christians do not realize the need for prayer, or the power behind prayer. It’s “important”, but not that important. But you should attend corporate prayer, and you should bring your children too. “Children who do not attend prayer meetings usually become adults who do not attend prayer meetings… teaching your children to attend and participate in prayer meetings is one of the greatest encouragements that a congregation can experience.” (p. 21). “Prayer never changes the mind of God, but prayer does fulfill the eternal counsel of God” (p. 19). I do believe that if you want to see change, growth, conversions, etc. within your church, you must pray, prayer meetings must happen, and the Holy Spirit must be asked for.
“It is God’s manner before any great work for his church, to stir up the spirits of his beloved ones to give him no rest… And undoubtedly if we would join the forces of our prayers together, and set upon God with an holy violence, he would set his power, his wisdom, his goodness, on work for the exalting of his church, and ruin of the enemies of it.” (quoting Richard Sibbes, p. 12)
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is one of my favorite writers/preachers! This was a glorious book, a call for an earnest seeking after the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. We become so content in our Christian walk, we are satisfied with baby steps of growth – nothing wrong with that, but God has a Spirit that He is willing to pour out upon us again to infuse us with joy and power to be His witnesses. We need fresh outpourings because we easily grow cold, or at least apathetic. The work of the Spirit is often quiet within us, but it is also meant to be experimental. It is a relationship that we have, a love-relationship at that! Dr. Lloyd-Jones gives great teaching here on what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, addresses questions like Are we to ask/seek for more of the Holy Spirit? The answer is yes, and he goes on to discuss how we are to do this. I was greatly encouraged just by reading this, and reminded that God is still at work and has a deeper Spiritual life for me to experience.
“[Another] danger, then, is that of being satisfied with something very much less than what is offered in the Scripture, and the danger of interpreting Scripture by our experiences and reducing its teaching to the level of what we know and experience; and I would say that this is the greater danger…” (p. 18)
“New Testament Christianity is not just a formal, polite, correct, and orthodox kind of faith and belief. No! What characterizes it is this element of love and passion, this pneumatic element, this life, this vigour, this abandon, this exuberance… That is what me must seek…” (p. 201)
How to Say No to A Stubborn Habit by Erwin Lutzer
I’m actually not quite done with this book, but close enough! Most of us have stubborn habits (sins) that we struggle with and this is a very practical book on how to break the chains that hold us back from growth and freedom. He deals with guilt, the truth that we need to humble ourselves and seek God’s help, and that we need to realize/reckon our position in Christ. We do not fight from a position of weakness and defeat, we fight from our position in Christ – we are adopted by God, holy and beloved! As we learn to fix our gaze, our mind, on the cross, on the Word of God, than sin and selfish desires will fade into the background. By saying Yes to God, we will be saying NO to temptation (see p.59). This is a really great practical book to overcoming temptation and pursuing holiness.
“Temptation is not sin; it is a call to battle.” (p. 50)
“Only a Christian who is disciplined in the Word of God can rest in the Lord.” (p. 80)
And now, an important update and coming change in my “Reading List” posts:
For those of you who don’t know, I leave for Westminster Theological Seminary in exactly 1 week!!!! For the last year and a half I have been taking online classes and this school year I will be finishing my Master of Arts Degree in Counseling. It will be a very busy year for me, I’m taking 18 credits just this fall! As a result, my reading will almost completely consider of class-required reading which is spread out over the semester, and so my reading list will not be as organized each month. Thus, for the next 9 months my plan is to write a short “Reading List & Seminary Update” and share with you what I’m reading and learning! Please do pray for me as I embark on this journey, I look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store! Thanks for reading!