Gary Millar managed to find something that I didn’t think existed in 2017: an angle on prayer that no one has ever explored before. Millar presents the first full biblical theology of prayer I’ve seen; from Genesis and the Pentateuch, through the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels, Paul’s writings, and finally prayer in the remainder of the New Testament letters. All throughout, Millar adds weight to his thesis that prayer is essentially “calling on the name of Yahweh to fulfill his promises”. He adds that for us, praying “in Jesus’ name” is the New Covenant re-imaging of the this formula. This book will change how you look at prayer, and cause your prayers to be richer, more relational, and ultimately more rewarding.
Stuart Devenish expounds the life of the ordinary saint, which he defines as “all those who have been saved by grace and through their faith in Christ subsequently adjust their mode of living to reflect Christ’s life in the world”. These character qualities are also richly demonstrated throughout the book with many stories and examples of ordinary saints living out what Devenish describes. These stories serve to inspire and delight; it is true that saints have currency today because their lives are revelatory; saints lives are truly the best apologetic for the gospel. Ordinary saints recognise that they are to love others even as they themselves have been loved – completely and unconditionally.
Read my full review here.
Martin Luther’s theology is arguably not made clearer in any of his other works as much as it is here in his rich commentary on the New Testament letter to the Romans. This work has had significant influence on a number of great fathers of the faith, most well-known are the famous words from John Wesley:
That evening he reluctantly attended a meeting in Aldersgate. Someone read from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to Romans. About 8:45 p.m. “while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
This is a wonderful, practical insight into Paul’s letter. And well worth reading slowly.
I made the time to study this on my own before inaugurating our next round of family devotions. This is a wonderful, simple yet solid launchpad from which to teach your children the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Suitable for all ages, because you can choose to simply read the question and an abbreviated answer (including scripture), or use it to go deep into a conversation about any of our beliefs and practices. Free on iPad, but our house already has enough ‘screen time’, so I opted for the paperback.
I love learning from Francis Chan. So it’s not surprising that this was the first book I’ve read for a while where I couldn’t put it down, and ended up reading it cover-to-cover in one sitting. Chan has a remarkable ability to communicate urgency and emotion in the midst of serious and sobering content. This book goes straight on my Every Christian Should Read This list.
Much of my 2017 has been spent contemplating my regular practices, habits, call them liturgies if you will, and how they reveal where my love truly lies. This book has been formative in understanding myself better, and seeing how my heart needs constant re-calibration to point to the “true North” which is Christ.
Merging seamlessly with the content of both Ordinary Saints and You Are What You Love, James Bryan Smith’s work has a wonderful spiritual direction to it; helping me to learn how to better live as one who is following after Jesus, and how every day is an opportunity for spiritual formation; re-aligning and re-honing my habits and focus on loving the God that Jesus knows. I particularly loved the way James Bryan Smith ends each chapter with small group questions and a spiritual formation exercise; because Christian growth happens in community.