I very much appreciate Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World by Thomas Schreiner, as it is a quick and easy introduction to the covenants of the Bible. Each covenant is given its own chapter, and they are organized as you would expect them to be:
The Covenant of Creation
The Covenant with Noah
The Covenant with Abraham
The Covenant with Israel
The Covenant with David
The New Covenant
Schreiner did a thorough job of introducing the concept of a covenant (versus a contract) and illustrating how each of these interactions did, in fact, produce a covenant. He takes special pains to show how each covenant relates to the one(s) that precede it, emphasizing continuity and discontinuity when necessary (which is often). Reading the final chapter on the New Covenant felt like the dramatic end of a great story, and my faith was bolstered by the promises kept and the hope that remains. Schreiner did an excellent job of leading the reader to the climax of redemption in Jesus.
This book has earned a permanent place on our shelf!
*I received an ARC of this book from Crossway.
This book . . . it is fantastic. Let me give you three reasons why you should read it, if you haven’t already.
First, this book is highly educational. It is apparent that Reinke did a tremendous amount of research about our phones, how we interact with them, how we use them as tools, and even how they can potentially rule us, if we’re not careful. Everything he included is eye-opening and helpful, but not all of it leaves you feeling safe. I knew in my heart that phones, and our constant access to information, had the potential to be dangerous, but I’d only ever waded into the water of those thoughts. Reinke took me all the way in, neck deep, and helped me to see just how my phone has been shaping my life. It would do the same for you.
Second, this book is convicting–the sort of convicting that makes you literally wince as your eyes pass over the pages. This is not to say that Reinke is condescending or judgmental; rather the opposite, he is the first to reveal the unpleasant phone habits he has picked up along the way. But he points out tendencies of smartphone use that can be clearly connected to changes in our relationships with people or, even worse, our relationship with God. You will appreciate the way 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You will, well, change you. The table of contents gives you a taste of the topics:
Third–and this might seem a little nerdy–the book was deliberately written with a chiastic structure. (Chapter 1 relates to 12, 2 relates to 11, 3 to 10, and so on.) On the surface, this might not seem like a reason to pick up a book. But there is something satisfying about a book beginning and ending in the same place. It gives a sense that the journey is complete. You have come full circle. And that is precisely how one feels upon finishing 12 Ways.
That, and perhaps ready to throw her phone in the Ohio River (or at least turn it off for a while).
I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from Crossway.
As a pastor’s wife, I always have one eye open for devotional books that are easily accessible, theologically sound, and deeply encouraging to people fighting the battle that is the Christian life. I found such a one in this book by Michael Branch.
“True Stories” is a delightfully convicting treasury of devotionals, which draw on the author’s life experiences and the truths about God that he finds in them. I think this is Branch’s elegance as an author: He sees through the messiness of life, fixes his eyes on Jesus, and magnifies the Savior by masterfully preparing a banquet of words for the rest of us to feast on.
The book is structured as such: Each narrative is preceded by a Scripture verse. After using a surprisingly small number of words (for the conviction wrought) to point the reader to Jesus, the author then offers a small word of challenge or encouragement for the day, along with a brief statement that reveals a pertinent facet of the gospel. Each story is quick—I took my time and rarely spent more than two or three minutes on one. I think this makes “True Stories” an excellent accompaniment to one’s quiet time—or a great book to keep on hand for down time throughout the day.
In particular, I was most spiritually challenged by the sections entitled “True Freedom” and “Hurting, Hoping, Heaven”. These sections stayed with me the longest, perhaps due to their vulnerable nature and my own experience with suffering. They forced me to linger on the hard questions they ask. When you buy this book, anticipate being moved by these accounts.
If you are in the market for a solid, joyful, Gospel-centered devotional to enliven your daily walk with the Lord, this is the one.