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The Book That… (5)

Category Articles
Date December 8, 2017

Paul Levy, George Macaskill, and Billy McCurrie agree to answer questions on the books that have impacted their life and faith.

* * *

Paul Levy is a Welshman and the pastor of the International Presbyterian Church in Ealing, London. The church is currently involved in a massive building programme.

George Macaskill is a retired pastor in the Associate Presbyterian church and lives in Stornoway.

Billy McCurrie is pastor of Aughton Park Baptist Church near Liverpool.

* * *

The book that I am currently reading…

P.L: I’ve been through one of those patches where I’m reading lots of books at the same time which is disastrous but the major book I’ve started is volume one of Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord by John Brown.

G.M: Knowing Christ by Mark Jones (Banner of Truth). The best book I have read in 2017. Very helpful in knowing our Saviour.

B.M: Currently not a ‘spiritual’ one, it’s A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution by Orlando Figes. Written in narrative style covering the period 1891-1924 it captures both the scope and detail of this tragic period of history that had a global impact. Man’s total depravity is evident in the unfolding saga, we see the nightmare that arises from a dream that is purely man-centred.

The book that changed my life…

P.L: A Faith to Live By ,  Donald Macleod. I read it during my lunchtimes at work and it changed my thinking and opened my eyes on a whole number of issues. I wish the chapter on creation was better but the book is simply the best introduction to doctrine that I know.

G.M: The Bible! (Is this cheating?) However, Edward J. Young’s book on Genesis 3  set a very strong foundation on its truthfulness and reliability as did Louis Berkhof’s Principles of Biblical Interpretation.

B.M: Written by Doctor Luke, I’ll be eternally thankful for the account of the dying thief and the little retired maths teacher who took time to read it to me. That reading brought me from death to life. On becoming a Christian, being influenced by Arminian Dispensationalism during those early years, the book that changed my direction and put me on a Reformed path was Sovereignty of God  by A. W. Pink. To say it was an eye opener would be an understatement.

The book I wish I’d written…

P.L:  I’m not sure there really is one. I’d often thought something needed to be written on children in corporate worship but Jason Helapoulis’ Let the Children Worship is better than anything I could have written.

G.M: Most Banner books (again, probably cheating!) Lorraine Boettner’s five books on PredestinationImmortalityThe MillenniumRoman Catholicism and Studies in Theology probably set me off on a sound course and made me envious of those who knew the Word.

B.M: The Memoirs of Robert Murray McCheyne because to write it I would have had to know him. Since my earliest days as a believer, having been introduced to McCheyne by a dear brother in Christ, he has been one of my ‘spiritual heroes’. He manifested a spirituality beyond his years, it would be good if a younger generation of Christians took time to familiarise themselves with this godly young man and followed his example of godly living.

The book that helped me in my preaching…

P.L: The biography of Dr Lloyd-Jones ,  First 40 Years is a wonderful, inspiring example of what preaching can do. The Westminster Directory of Public Worship on preaching is a remarkable short piece that I’ve often gone back to and doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.

G.M: Preaching and Preachers by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Evangelical Press). All one needs as they set out on their preaching ministry. However, I have also found Preaching edited by Samuel T Logan and also published by EP; Biblical Preaching by Haddon W. Robinson (published by Baker Academic) and R. L. Dabney on Preaching published by Banner of Truth very helpful. Very difficult to confine to one book

B.M: Along with a number of other ministers when I first entered full time work we met and studied Charles Bridges’ The Christian Ministry. Each of the five parts of the book I found immensely helpful and to read it with men who had been in the ministry many years was an added blessing. The lessons and tips gleaned during those formative years have stayed with me.

The book that I think is most underrated…

P.L: Look to the Rock by Alec Motyer is not as well known as it should be, all the Australians and Americans who write on biblical theology are not a patch on Alec Motyer’s works. He’s so sensible, I’ve tried to read everything he’s published. Frans Bakker’s little book called Praying Always is a very helpful, encouraging book on prayer that deserves to be more widely known.

G.M: The Shape of Sola Scriptura by Keith Mathison, published by Canon Press. I found this book eye-opening regarding what is taking place before our closed eyes in present day evangelical culture. It is about the subtle difference between Scripture Only and Scripture Alone.

B.M: Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks. Perhaps because many people think ‘I’ve got Christ, why study the enemy’ or ‘I’d rather know more of Christ and his ways than Satan and his ways’, this little gem sits on many a shelf. How important it is to know your enemy and how to counter him. In the 1970 film Patton: Lust for Glory Patton, out-manouevering Rommel during the Africa Campaign, shouts after the retreating Germans, ‘Rommel, I read your book!’ Know your opponent and you’ll be able to counter him.

The book that made me say amen as I read…

P.L: I’m doing some work on the Devil in preparation for preaching next year and found lots of help in Satan Cast Out by Frederick Leahy, there were probably more warm, affirmative guttural noises than amens.

G.M:A Faith to Live By by Donald Macleod, published by Christian Focus Publications. This book was, to me, a reiteration of biblical truth.

B.M: There have been many but one in recent years has been Amazing Conversions: John Ashworth and his Strange Tales, by Tentmaker Publications. This book was just so encouraging, stories of God’s amazing grace to sinners and a motivation to keep going in these dark days. I recommended this book to the folk in my home church and everyone who has read it would testify that every page turn got an amen. It truly thrilled their souls.

The last book that made me weep…

P.L: Empty Arms: A Mother’s Journey Through Grief and Hope , which is the testimony of a grieving mother having lost a child, full of pain and comfort.

G.M: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi, published by Zondervan. This book is solemn reading for seriously-minded people.

B.M: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: an English Professor’s Journey into the Christian Faith [written by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield]. Just thinking about it again as I type the title brings tears to my eyes. One cannot read this book without singing with the turn of every page ‘O How the Grace of God Amazes Me’. It’s not just her account of her conversion from a leading LGBT activist at Syracuse University but the stories of children adopted by her husband and herself and the ones ‘that slip through the net’ without anyone to love or care for them. If you have never read this or the recent follow-up book Openness Unhindered, you have to get them, read them, and pass them on.

The book that I am ashamed not to have read…

P.L: Bavinck’s four volumes had sat on my shelf for the past three years and make me feel guilty every time I look at them. I know I should get into them but I just need to rev myself up for it.

G.M: Augustine’s City of God. Can’t explain why I haven’t bought it!

B.M: I have to confess to my shame I have never read Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion from cover to cover. I have read large sections of it and I guess taking into account the amount of quotes from it in other books and periodicals, I must have read all of it. A very lame defence, guilty as charged.

The book that I most often give to new church members and young Christians…

P.L: Pilgrim’s Progress. It’s so helpful on understanding the nature of the Christian life. Every time I read it I spot something new and every Christian can benefit from it. Ralph Davis’ little book The House that Jesus Built is another book I give away as much as I can.

G.M: Jesus: The Man and His Message by Donald Bridge, published by CFP. This is a challenging book and gives us a broader picture of who Christ is and what he taught his disciples.

B.M: I try to encourage church members and young Christians to read J. C. Ryle. He is easy to read, devotional, and provides food for the soul. We have a number of Ryle’s books in the church library . Of all of them, Holiness is among the best and a must read for any new Christian.

The book that I give to people who are thinking of becoming a Christian…

P.L: Fresh Start by John Chapman is still the book I would go for. Chappo was an Australian evangelist and a great friend of Dick Lucas, he was an excellent communicator and the book is very clear on the gospel, the chapter on hell is particularly powerful. Although it’s now over 30 years old, I still think it’s the best out there.

G.M: Nearly a Christian by C. H. Spurgeon, published by the Metropolitan Tabernacle. This book is a reprint of Around the Wicket Gate.

B.M: Not so much a book but a few very useful and helpful booklets by John Blanchard. Ultimate Questions is a classic that continues to challenge people about the big questions. Secondly, Where is God When Things Go Wrong? Those thinking of becoming a Christian usually stick on this one and also the question of evolution. So the third booklet given to them is Evolution: Fact or Fiction. They are well written, not overpowering, and succinctly answer the pressing questions that tend to hold people back.

The book that I wish I were able to write and want someone to write…

P.L: I can’t really think of one, there probably needs to be fewer books published. However, I do think a decent hymnbook with the Psalter in the Front and the Westminster Confession and Catechisms in the back would be great. Of course hymnbooks would be instantly out of date now but I still think they are worth publishing.

G.M: When the Gospel Doesn’t Work! This book would be designed to encourage pastors who see little fruit for their labours. Satan attacks all who believe in the sovereignty of God with many questions and it needs to be realised that if the Gospel is fruitless, nothing else can replace it  and seed can often take many years to germinate into fruit. There is no such thing as entirely ‘fruitless’ preaching of the Word.

B.M: The story of a little-known saint of formidable character, Gladys Blackburn. There is a memorial to Gladys at Palace Barracks, Hollywood, N. Ireland, acknowledging her labour of love to the armed services during the Troubles. But not just to soldiers and police, but also among the many paramilitary prisoners from both sides of the religious and political divide. Her life was a life dedicated to the service of King Jesus. She didn’t evaluate people as to their lifestyle, what they had done, or their earthly status, she saw people for what they really are, eternal souls heading to Hell unless delivered by the grace of God through Christ. She fearlessly and unashamedly brought that message to all she met.

The best book for children…

P.L: Children’s Story Book by Catherine Vos. It was read to me as a child and we read it as a family every morning. Leading Little Ones to God is also excellent. We’ve recently really enjoyed Steve Nicholls’ Reformation A-Z and Church History A-Z, published by Crossway.

G.M: Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland.

B.M: Without a doubt, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. It has all the excitement and adventure that captures the imagination as Christian makes his way to the Celestial city. I read this to my own children a number of times when they were growing up and it generated lots of god Bible-based conversation. There are a number of excellent children’s editions in print with colourful illustrations depicting places and characters. A very useful source for family devotions with young children.

Something for the Little Ones

    cover image for Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
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    Paul Levy, George Macaskill, and Billy McCurrie agree to answer questions on the books that have impacted their life and faith. * * * Paul Levy is a Welshman and the pastor of the International Presbyterian Church in Ealing, London. The church is currently involved in a massive building programme. George Macaskill is a retired pastor in […]

    price £21.50


    Paul Levy, George Macaskill, and Billy McCurrie agree to answer questions on the books that have impacted their life and faith. * * * Paul Levy is a Welshman and the pastor of the International Presbyterian Church in Ealing, London. The church is currently involved in a massive building programme. George Macaskill is a retired pastor in […]

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