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Barrett’s Book Notes: Aging, the Doctrines of Grace, and Busyness

9781433541063mJ. I. Packer. Finishing Our Course With Joy: Guidance from God for Engaging with Our Aging. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.

There is tremendous wisdom in this book. And it comes from an aged Christian with much wisdom to give. If you are a “senior” this book is for you. But even if you are not a senior, this book is for you, especially if you care for an elderly person or are a pastor with elderly members in your congregation. I kept picking up this book because Packer, always the theologian, tells every person how to view his/her body and what our purpose should be as we grow older. Packer dispels some of the unfortunate stereotypes and assumptions in the church regarding the elderly and reminds the church how they should utilize those who have had more experience as Christians than anyone else. Here are a couple of commendations, and I especially like Storms’.

“I wish I had thought more about growing older when I was younger. If I had, perhaps I wouldn’t need wisdom from J. I. Packer. But I didn’t, and therefore I do! And what wonderful wisdom it is, the sort that challenges us, redirects our energy, and equips us with biblical truth to face our latter years. I’m at that stage in life where ‘engaging’ with my ‘aging’ has become increasingly more urgent. And I can’t think of anyone who can provide more helpful and encouraging insight than J. I. Packer. Don’t wait until you’re sixty or seventy to read this book. Start now and finish well.”
Sam Storms, Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“Experts say that the proportion of the elderly population in the United States will grow by 80 percent in the decades to come. It is more important than ever to have a biblical mind about how we spend our latter years for God’s glory. We want to finish well (2 Tim. 4:7). And good pastors care to prepare their people to do precisely this. Finishing Our Course with Joy comes as wise, true, timely, and edifying biblical reflection and pastoral counsel on this significant subject. Dr. Packer’s book speaks to senior adults, those who love and care for them, those who will become them, and those who pastor them. As one who has had the privilege of knowing J. I. Packer since my teen years, reading these words—written from his own personal experience, communion with God, and knowledge of the Word—is poignant for me, to say the least. But that only makes the truth go in deeper. And that is good.”
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

9781596387409mShane Lems. The Doctrines of Grace. Student Edition. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2013.

What could be more exciting than teaching your teens the doctrines of grace? Shane Lems has written a book to do just that. This student edition will aid youth pastors and parents as they work through these important doctrines and help their teens answer some of those tough questions. I especially like this book because the Canons of Dort are included at the end! Here is praise for the book:

“Christian parents have the great blessing of raising their children in the fear of the Lord. They also have a great responsibility. This is where they often get stuck, feeling totally inadequate to the task. In this little book, Shane Lems comes alongside to assist. He lays out some of the basic doctrines of our churches, where they are found clearly in Scripture, and why they matter. I pray God uses it to raise up a new generation of godly leaders and servants.”
—Daniel R. Hyde, Pastor, Oceanside United Reformed Church

“Pastor Lems’ slim volume is a marvelous introduction to some key aspects of Reformed theology. This work admirably succeeds in exploring doctrines deeply while also communicating in a clear, simple, and lucid manner. It should prove to be a great asset for training our covenant youth for many years to come.”
—David VanDrunen, Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian ethics, Westminster Seminary California

“If you have a hard time understanding Calvinism, TULIP, or how God saves by grace, this primer will not only bring clarity to this often-confusing subject, but will also instill delight and thanksgiving in your soul! I highly recommend it!”
—Brian H. Cosby, Author of Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture and Rebels Rescued: A Student’s Guide to Reformed Theology

9781433533389mKevin DeYoung. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.

If you are too busy to read this book, then you need to read this book. Seriously though, whether you are a mom with kids or a dad running on the hamster wheel of corporate America, DeYoung can help. And if you are a pastor, you definitely need to read this book. DeYoung helps us confess the sinfulness to be found in our busyness and also shows us what we should do about it from a biblical perspective. Here is praise for the book:

“A great book for the stressed-out. DeYoung shows that Jesus was busy and Christians should be busy discipling nations, parenting children, and bearing burdens. He rightly differentiates that from ‘crazy busy,’ a frenzied trying to please some and control others—and he shows how biblical rhythms and trust in God’s providence can keep us sane. Also a great book for parents who live in a Kindergarchy, over-programming their children: DeYoung says let them play, because it’s not easy either to ruin them or to assure their success.”
Marvin Olasky, Editor in Chief, World News Group

“Habitual, sinful busyness is something that many struggle with and yet, it’s rare to hear teaching on this important topic. With refreshing transparency and his trademark humor, Kevin DeYoung identifies the problem and gives helpful practical instruction on how to find our rest in Christ. DeYoung has served the church well (once again). I highly recommend this book.”
Shai Linne, hip-hop artist

“I’m glad to take time out of my busy life to endorse Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. As Kevin makes abundantly clear, our busyness can be evidence of our faithfulness or, on the other hand, evidence of our pride, ambition, and unbridled activity. As always, Kevin DeYoung is a careful thinker, a gifted pastor, and a writer who keeps the reader on the edge of our seat.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Busy, hectic lives are the bane of the modern world. This book is not profound; rather it simply offers a lot of that most unfashionable commodity—common sense. DeYoung exposes the nature of busyness, the various ways in which it deludes us, and offers some basic advice on what to do about it. A fine, short book which deserves a wide readership.”
Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary; author, The Creedal Imperative and Luther on the Christian Life

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett is also Senior Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church. He is the author and editor of several books, including Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration. You can read about Barrett’s other publications at

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