Book Review: Work and Our Labour in the Lord

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In Work and Our Labour in the Lord, James Hamilton Jr. constructs a biblical theology on work by focusing on what God has created us to do in the past, present, and future. Hamilton guides readers through the redemptive historical storyline of the Bible to highlight God’s commission for work beginning from the dawn of creation to the future new heaven and new earth. In Genesis, Adam was tasked to be God’s representative to have dominion over creation starting from the Garden of Eden and spreading to the ends of the Earth. However, as a consequence of the Fall, creation was subjected to futility resulting in hard labour and pain for all creatures. In God’s grace, Christ came as the second Adam to perfectly fulfill what the first Adam failed to do thereby restoring hope of a future in which His redeemed people will fully realize God’s calling for work. So in the meantime, how are we to work as we await our King’s return? To answer this, Hamilton draws from the four biblical examples of Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, and Ruth to exemplify what faithful and steadfast work ethic should look like. Moreover, the author draws from references in Ecclesiastes and Proverbs to illustrate what God-glorifying behaviour and actions should be in our workplaces. Hamilton also summarizes various New Testament commands and exhortations to offer practical guidelines of how Christians are to display the image of God in their vocations and reject the ways of the world in business dealings, office conversations, and customer interactions. As a whole, Hamilton aims to establish a biblical worldview that connects our present work to the original intent in Genesis and the eschatological reality of what we will do in heaven as described in Revelation.

I would recommend this brief book to all Christians but especially to young adults preparing to enter the workforce. Our society places emphasis on results, efficiency, and personal satisfaction so that work becomes an idol that we worship instead of a means of grace by which we reflect God as His image bearers. God has called us to be priest-kings to tend and care for His creation faithfully while we yearn for the day when we assume our final roles as those who will reign with Christ in eternity. As long as we continue to display God’s image and likeness in whatever jobs He may bless us with, we are living out God’s intended purpose for work. Viewed in this way, work is not futile or wearisome but part of embracing God’s original design since creation and participating in the renewal process of the whole earth waiting to be fully transformed when Jesus returns.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a review copy of this book from Crossway.

Book Review: God in Our Midst

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In God in Our Midst, Daniel Hyde aims to illustrate how the tabernacle is one of the most critical linkages between Old Testament Israelites and New Testament Christians. The author laments that the Old Testament as a whole has been preached sparingly in our churches today despite the fact that God’s Word is made up of both Old and New Testaments. As such, preachers and their congregations suffer tremendously by leaving the rich treasures of the Old Testament untouched. Thus, the book’s purpose is to show readers how God’s commands to Moses on the construction of the tabernacle has significant implications to New Testament Christians who have been called to build up and become the dwelling place of God through Christ. Moreover, the tabernacle narratives are not simply historical recordings of religious architecture but the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan for the entire creation including those who put their faith in Him throughout the generations. Hyde focuses on the tabernacle as the foreshadowing of Christ who is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan to dwell with His people forever. In each chapter, Hyde explains the construction and theological significance of a particular aspect of the tabernacle may it be the bronze alter, the golden lampstand, and the Ark of the Covenant. Furthermore, the author devotes a fair portion of the book to highlight how God’s design for the tabernacle is also relevant to our lives today.

For example, Hyde suggests that similar to the priests who had to be cleansed daily at the bronze washbasin before ministering in the presence of God, we also need to be cleansed by the blood of Christ as we progress in our sanctification.  As a whole, Hyde engages in a balanced treatment of the symbolic significance of the Exodus passages by basing his arguments on the book of Hebrews while also interacting with historic catechisms and treatises. However, there are some instances where the author’s inferences are somewhat strained such as suggesting that the rim around the table of the Presence as being illustrative of how God keeps His saints from falling away. However, there is much to appreciate in how the author constantly goes back to Scripture as the basis by which we see Christ as the consummation of what the tabernacle signifies.

I gladly recommend this book as many of us would likely agree that our understanding of the Old Testament is fairly weak. If we intend to worship God in spirit and truth, we must have a good grasp of the entire counsel of God.  I greatly appreciate Hyde’s passion for God’s Word and Christ-centered focus when interpreting Scripture. To emphasize this concern, the book includes an appendix with suggestions on how preachers can teach the Pentateuch effectively. Moreover, the author urges both unbelieving and believing readers alike to come to Christ as the only One who can allow us to dwell with and enjoy God forever. Instead of relegating the Old Testament to ancient history, let us dig deep into God’s written Word as a whole with renewed reverence and obedience.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a review copy of this book from Reformation Trust.

Beeke on Church Leaders and Parenting

“Those of us who are church leaders err when we heap guilt on parents who have conscientiously raised their children in the fear of the Lord, only to see one of them go astray. We should exercise compassion in such cases and remember, as parents, that we may face the same trial in our own homes someday. It is not uncommon for children to at least challenge our authority periodically, even if they do not break out into acts of rebellion. During those times, we need faith to persevere in upholding the authority of God’s Word and exercising our authority as loving rulers in our homes. We must pray for wisdom, and, as always, keep praying that Christ our King will work in our children’s hearts by His Word and Spirit, and that He will prevail, bringing them into subjection to Himself.”

Joel Beeke in Parenting

Book Review: What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)

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In What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts), Nancy Guthrie hopes to offer guidance and advice to those around grieving people on how to show love and care without making the hurt worse. Drawing heavily on individuals whom she had interviewed or dialogued with, Guthrie highlights common emotions and feelings that those who are hurting often experience and provide suggestions on ways to lovingly express sympathy and provide timely encouragement. The book touches a variety of practical issues that frequently stump those trying to empathize such as what are the right words to say, what tasks could be undertaken that might be helpful, and how to respond appropriately to grief shared on social media. In addition, a chapter is committed to answering common questions that Christians raise and another chapter is devoted to tackling tough questions about heaven and hell. What I appreciate most about Guthrie is her willingness to share about her own grief process after losing two of her children. In being transparent about her struggles, the observations and suggestions that the author puts forth are much more convincing and relevant to readers. An example of one observation made in the book that left a deep impression is how continuous words and actions of encouragement and care even years after can be so important to the family members. We often think that time would be the best medicine but neglect to understand that the feelings of pain, loss, and longing never disappears completely. Thus, when we affectionately share memories of the deceased individual to their family members some time afterwards, they often feel comforted knowing that somebody is still treasuring the lasting impact of their loved ones.

I would highly recommend this book to all Christians as it contains much helpful advice on how to effectively minister to those who are grieving. When tragedy strikes, most of us are ill-equipped to grieve well with those who have experienced loss. Guthrie wisely advises readers to avoid easy solutions but rather view each situation and individual as being unique and worthy of our effort to dig deep in our attempts to empathize and encourage. The author’s intention is to provide practical advice as helpful starting points in beginning to learn how to help bear the burdens of those who are hurting. May we obey Christ’s command to mourn with those who mourn and seek to enter, albeit in a limited way, the pain and suffering of those amongst us.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a review copy of this book from Crossway.