Couch Companions…

It is an absolute joy to write book reviews for a number of publishers and authors. I regularly get sent books that I wish I could go into great depth about and share with you all. But, time is not on my side. Because of that lack of time, and the ever growing ‘to read’ shelf, once in a while I do a slightly longer post with shorter reviews. These are designed to give you a summary or overview of each title so that you can decide if you want to buy it or not. So, here are 11 short book reviews for you of books that I’ve recently read. Read on and hopefully you’ll find a title or two that you can enjoy whilst sitting on the couch…

Hebrews For You by Michael Kruger

Hebrews is a wonderful book. Hebrews is a treasure chest of Christology that will blow your mind. Kruger is a gifted theologian and New Testament professor who brings his knowledge and profession into this great little book for you. This book is a like a devotional commentary. You can use it in your quiet times, or to help you write a devotional talk, or if you just want to enjoy digging into Hebrews. Kruger doesn’t go into every detail of the book of Hebrews, but he very helpfully gives you enough information so that you can understand the book as a whole. I really appreciated how sensitively he tackled verses like Hebrews 6:4-6, for example. If you’re wanting to study Hebrews this year, this little book would be a great introductory commentary.

Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul by Michael Kruger

This is connected to the previous book. Instead of a commentary, this is a set of 8 studies in Hebrews written by Michael Kruger. These studies work for both individuals or small groups. Each study has a recap, introductory questions, text questions, short explanations and application questions. This can be helpful. Personally I found that the studies tried to cover too much ground. Doing the whole of Hebrews in 8 is a big task to undertake.

5 Things to Pray for Your Parents by Chelsea Stanley

This is a very good edition to a very helpful short series. The ‘5 Things to Pray’ series has eight short books that help you pray for a wide variety of things (the world, the church, your kids, etc.). I’m grateful that this book has been added because it can be easy for adult children to stop praying for their parents. Maybe it’s hard to know what to pray for them. Stanley has split the book in four sections of prayers…
1. Praying that God will…
2. Praying that my parents will…
3. Praying when my parents are…
4. Praying that I will…

This book is short, full of the Bible, practical and will help you know how to be praying for your parents. Any resource that encourages biblical prayer is a good one.

The End of Me by Liz Wann

I like real books. Books that meet the reader where they are at. Books that don’t gloss over hard truths and moments of weakness. This is one of them. I am obviously not a mother, so this book wasn’t really written with me in mind. However, after having read a few books on being a mother (I purposefully read and review books for others), this is probably one of the best. It’s realistic and honest. Wann speaks of weakness and pain, but she brings the hope of the gospel and resurrection life into those moments. I think that this book will be a source of encouragement to mothers. Just read the customer reviews and see what mothers have said about this book.

Into All The World by Lindsay Brown

This is an interesting book about the missionary vision of Luther and Calvin. Normally these two figures are spoken of about their theological convictions and their challenges to the societies they lived in. But, to my knowledge, there isn’t a lot of material for the layman on their thoughts on mission. This book was interesting because it brought some more academic works into a shorter book for the average Christian. I’ll confess that it wasn’t the most thrilling read. I enjoy reading church history, but this book was a bit hagiographical (making them seem like perfect men). The last chapter is a list of 10 lessons today for churches and mission agencies. These are helpful but, in my opinion, they could have done with a bigger focus on the urgency that Christians should want to share the full gospel with people.

All Things Are Ready by Donald John MacLean

This book is written as a reminder to the Christian of what the gospel message is and the freedom with which it should be shared with the world. I’ve enjoyed seeing a number of books being published on the need to share the gospel with everyone in recent years. MacLean goes into Scripture and helps the reader see how God wants His people to share the good news of Jesus. But, I don’t think that this is the best book on this subject. MacLean spends the first chapter unpacking ‘What Is the Gospel?’. It is a brief summary of the gospel, but there isn’t much of a focus on the resurrection of Jesus or on the promise of eternal life. MacLean spends most of the chapter unpacking what the gospel is from Genesis and through the rest of the Bible. The resurrection is a major focus of the apostolic preaching in the New Testament and I think it was lacking a bit of emphasis in this book.

Brave By Faith by Alistair Begg

In a time where Christians seem to be facing more hostility, the temptation might be to become angry or to hide. Neither responses are right, or God-glorifying. Begg takes the reader to some familiar chapters in the book of Daniel to help you see how amazing God is and the confidence that Christians can have because of Him. This book focuses on God and how a healthy and biblical view of God can help Christians be brave today by faith. I think that this book will be a source of encouragement for you. It’s not pushy, but in the typical Begg-style, it is warm and crystal clear on the greatness of God and the amazing gospel that Christians believe and share with the world.

Extraordinary Hospitality (for Ordinary People) by Carolyn Lacey

I’ve been thinking about hospitality a lot over the last few years, particularly the difference between entertainment and hospitality. This book does what it says on the tin; it speaks of extraordinary hospitality for ordinary people. Reading this you will not be guilted into inviting people over for food and you won’t be given tips on how to create a perfectly smooth evening with a 5 course meal. In this book you’ll be taken to the Bible to see the importance of sharing life with people. You’ll be reminded that hospitality doesn’t include bells and whistles, but it’s about opening your home (even when it isn’t pristine). This book will encourage and challenge you as you enter into people’s lives and care for them like Jesus.

Revolutionary Worship by William Taylor

I’m not normally a fan of books that start off as sermons. But I enjoyed this one. Taylor unpacks what worship is and how the Christian understanding of worship is revolutionary to what the world says. The book is split into five chapters

1. Pleasing Worship
2. Spiritual Worship
3. Awesome Worship
4. Infectious Worship
5. Corporate Worship?

This book will challenge you to see worship as much more than a Sunday morning service. Worship is all of life, lived for the glory of God, in the way that He wants us to worship Him. This book will challenge you to consider the language you use around the topic of worship and how the way we speak may sometimes be unhelpful. There is also a helpful section at the end of FAQs that tackle many of the misconceptions that people can have about worship today.

The One Who Came Before by Frank Sellar

This book is a 31 day set of devotions that walk you through some of the passages that speak about John the Baptist. You’ll walk through his life, but more importantly, you’ll see how he points you to Jesus at every step of the way. John the Baptist isn’t spoken about much, but his humility and service for the Lord are important. This short set of devotionals helps you see that. Each day has a page or two of devotional material, one application question and a prayer. This could be a helpful devotional for you to do in the morning for just over a month.

A Certain Brightness by Philippa Ruth Wilson

“It turns out that every believer is a bruised one, that we have a God who comes to meet us in our brokenness, and that sometimes He does it five words at a time!”

This is a great little devotional. Each day is based on a five-word truth from the Bible. Wilson opens up about her own experience of struggles and troubled times and draws your attention to some Bible truths that will comfort the wounded believer. When we go through troubled times, when we’re in the trenches it can feel that there is no hope. But the truth that this book brings out is that even in the darkest of valleys the hope of the gospel is not distinguished. Even in the darkest valley there is a certain brightness. I highly recommend this devotional to you.

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