Thursday, January 6, 2011

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancie Guthrie is a small Christmas devotional intended to be read during the month of December as a way to focus on the incarnation of Christ.  Every day has a short reading which can easily be read aloud in a few minutes.  Sometimes the reading for the day included a favorite Christmas song or a passage of Scripture appropriate to the holiday, or devotional thoughts.  Since it is so easy to get caught up in the "spirit of Christmas" without ever stopping long enough to meditate on the Christ of Christmas, this book was a welcome part of our holiday.  We just put it on the kitchen table and pulled it out at some point during the day when we were all eating together.  What an easy way to bring the family together just for a few moments in all the hurry of the season, to just - stop - and remember the One who gave Himself, the best present of all.
At the end of each day's reading, there are a few questions intended to start conversations.  These would be helpful in a family with school-age children - which does not describe us, but they were pretty interesting.  Probably my biggest critique was that it is not as family-friendly as it is marketed.  It was a nice devotional, but not particularly exciting if it is going to be used for the whole family.  4 out of 5 stars.  I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Slave by John MacArthur

John MacArthur’s newest masterpiece, “Slave,” makes a dramatic and vibrant point concerning the Christian’s position in Christ. With this work, he really calls for a “gut check” for all who profess belief in Jesus Christ.

MacArthur begins by revealing what he believes has been a mistranslation of the Hebrew (‘ebed) and Greek (doulos) words for “servant/slave.” While almost every version outside of the Holman Christian Standard Version consistently translates these words as “servant,” MacArthur argues (I believe correctly), that the intended force and proper meaning of the terms is “slave.” That is how the original audience would have understood the term and its meaning. The term was not intentionally mistranslated so much as avoided because of the stigma associated with the slave trade. However, MacArthur goes to great lengths to contrast (and to a degree compare) the slavery practices of the first century with those of the English/American Slave trade. He also directs a fair amount of fire at those who would preach an “easy believism” gospel. There is no room for someone to just “get saved.” To be truly saved is to be placed into a special relationship with God.

The purpose of the book in a nutshell is this: we are bought and paid for as slaves of God. He is our Master, and a life professed to be His must reflect His ownership and control. To demonstrate anything less is to be less than a true slave of the Master. MacArthur skillfully weaves through the responsibilities, as well as the benefits of being a slave to Christ. However, as he does so well, he introduces the scriptural concept of the adopted status of believers as well. As Christians, we are both slaves and sons! This is somewhat of a paradox, but Dr. MacArthur handles it very well, and writes a book that is tremendous, and a must read for all believers, especially those seeking to grasp their responsibilities within their relationship to Christ. I would happily give this book five out of five stars and list it as a “must have” for the believer’s bookshelf! I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a fair and honest review.