Author Interview with Margaret Ashmore

This week’s author inter­view is with Mar­garet Ash­more, author of the Gospel for Real Life book­let, Depres­sion: The Sun Always Rises.

  • Ques­tion #1 — Did you always enjoy writing?

No. I can’t say I take plea­sure in it any­more than I do in clean­ing house or respond­ing to let­ters. How­ever, I love hav­ing a clean home and the very sin­gu­lar sat­is­fac­tion of putting a stamp on a fin­ished note to some­one who was kind enough to send one to me. Writ­ing Depres­sion: The Sun Always Rises was largely labo­ri­ous for me. But it was worth what­ever toil or exer­tion in know­ing that some­one who is in the deep pit of depres­sion can hear a voice from the precipice above say­ing, “The good news of the gospel can reach deeper than any man-made nos­trum, any talk show, any psy­cho­log­i­cal label or any phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal “fix” with the fath­om­less love of the Sav­ior, Jesus Christ. It is a sat­is­fac­tion that moti­vates me to write again.

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — Other than the bible, do you have a favorite book?

A favorite of Chris­ten­dom is Augustine’s Reli­gious Affec­tions. “The affec­tions are the mighty urges of our hearts. Our affec­tions ignite us. They kin­dle our spir­its. They set us aflame. They deter­mine how our hearts are tilted. They incline us, lying at the base of every­thing we are and do.” In Edward’s some­what quaint lan­guage: “These affec­tions we see to be the springs that set men ago­ing, in all the affairs of life.”

 

  • Ques­tion #3 — Do you have a favorite quote?

Dif­fer­ent quotes become favorites at dif­fer­ent times in my life but there is one that has weath­ered every sea­son serv­ing as a con­stant reminder of God’s great sov­er­eign love and holy intent in the midst of loss. From Matthew Henry’s com­men­tary of the book of Jonah and writ­ten as a response to Jonah’s lament over the loss of his “com­forts”. “God can wither that to us from which we promise our­selves most sat­is­fac­tion that our wants and dis­ap­point­ments in the crea­ture may drive us to the Cre­ator.”

 

  • Ques­tion #4 — Do you have a favorite movie?

When­ever this ques­tion is ban­tered about in my cir­cle of friends the con­ver­sa­tion picks up con­sid­er­ably. If I were inclined toward a “hobby”, it would be that of watch­ing clas­sic films and my all time favorite is the 1962 mas­ter­piece, “To Kill A Mock­ing­bird”. It per­fectly cap­tures the won­der and magic of child­hood and that most dif­fi­cult pas­sage into the real­ity of adult­hood – expressed so beau­ti­fully when Atti­cus (the father) tells his son in the after­math of wit­ness­ing great injus­tice and mal­ice, “There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ‘em all away from you. That’s never pos­si­ble.” A close sec­ond would be Lew Wallace’s 1959 epic, “Ben Hur: The Tale of the Christ”, one of the most beau­ti­ful sto­ries of redemp­tion ever on film.

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Inter­ested in learn­ing more about Margaret?

Visit her web­site: http://www.margaretashmore.com/index.html

Visit her blog: http://christiancounseling.com/blog/26

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Recap of New Releases from October, November, & December

1. God’s Bat­tle by Sally Michael

Price: $16.99
Page Count: 128
Series: Mak­ing Him Known
Sub­ject: Youth Devotional
Paper­back | Color Illustrated
Sum­mary: Sally Michael equips par­ents to teach their chil­dren about the fight of faith. In this full-color, illus­trated “bat­tle plan,” she intro­duces chil­dren to the state of their hearts and to the many spir­i­tual bat­tle­grounds within us and with­out. She encour­ages chil­dren to be fight­ers, giv­ing them a bib­li­cal bat­tle strat­egy to depend on God, resist the enemy, and stand strong!

 

2. Lit­er­a­ture by Clif­ford W. Foreman

Price: $4.99
Page Count: 48
Series: Faith­ful Learning
Sub­ject: Chris­t­ian Living
Book­let
Sum­mary: Chris­tians don’t always trust lit­er­a­ture, but God used it to reveal him­self. This explo­ration of lit­er­a­ture and its forms, using respected authors’ exam­ples, shows us its beauty and scrip­tural value.

 

3. The Prob­lem of Good: When the World Seems Fine with­out God edited by D. Mar­ion Clark

Price: $14.99
Page Count: 192
Sub­ject: Chris­t­ian Living
Paper­back
Sum­mary: If Chris­tian­ity is true, why do many peo­ple seem to live moral, ful­fill­ing lives out­side the gospel? How do we evan­ge­lize peo­ple who seem more upright than we are? How should we respond to unbe­liev­ers’ con­tri­bu­tions to cul­ture and society?

 

4. You Can Pray: Find­ing Grace to Pray Every Day by Tim Chester

Price: $12.99
Page Count: 176
Sub­ject: Chris­t­ian Living
Paper­back
Sum­mary: Tim Chester shows us how, through Christ, we can become great “pray-ers” when we know three key truths about God: the Father loves to hear us pray, the Son makes every prayer pleas­ing, and the Spirit helps us to pray. Prayer is like a child’s ask­ing her father for help—and that’s not beyond any of us.

 

5. Eccle­si­astes by Dou­glas Sean O’Donnell

Price: $22.99
Page Count: 272
Series: Reformed Expos­i­tory Commentary
Sub­ject: Bib­li­cal Stud­ies | Commentary
Hard­cover 
Sum­mary: Jesus Christ—the true embod­i­ment of wisdom—crushed the curse of death on the cross, brought hope through his res­ur­rec­tion, and will bring jus­tice at his return. Dou­glas O’Donnell shows that the only way that Eccle­si­astes is made clear is in light of the cru­ci­fied, risen, and return­ing Christ. Under­stand­ing this will lead us to grate­ful obe­di­ence, steady con­tent­ment, and sur­pris­ing joy.

 

6. 1 Peter by Daniel M. Doriani

Price: $24.99
Page Count: 288
Series: Reformed Expos­i­tory Commentary
Sub­ject: Bib­li­cal Stud­ies | Commentary
Hard­cover 
Sum­mary: Daniel Dori­ani explores how Peter presents both the effec­tive work of Jesus for us and his per­sonal work in us—and how this enables us to live faith­fully amidst trials.

 

7. God with Us: Explor­ing God’s Per­sonal Inter­ac­tions with His Peo­ple through­out the Bible by Glenn R. Kreider

Price: $14.99
Page Count: 240
Sub­ject: The­ol­ogy
Paper­back
Sum­mary: This explo­ration of God’s humil­ity in how he relates to his creation—not just in Christ, but through­out the Bible—helps us under­stand our own need for humil­ity and service.

 

8. Prince­ton Sem­i­nary (1812–1929): Its Lead­ers’ Lives and Works by Gary Stew­ard

Price: $15.99
Page Count: 336
Series: Guided Tour
Sub­ject: Church His­tory
Paper­back
Sum­mary: Many mod­ern philo­soph­i­cal ideas, and Chris­t­ian responses to them, were for­mu­lated at the time of “Old Prince­ton.” Gary Stew­ard intro­duces us to the great men of Prince­ton The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary from its found­ing to the early twen­ti­eth century—together with some of their most impor­tant writ­ings. While com­mem­o­rat­ing the legacy of Old Prince­ton, this book also places the sem­i­nary in its his­tor­i­cal and the­o­log­i­cal contexts.

 

9. Covenants Made Sim­ple: Under­stand­ing God’s Unfold­ing Promises to His Peo­ple by Jonty Rhodes

Price: $12.99
Page Count: 192
Sub­ject: The­ol­ogy
Paper­back
Sum­mary: What do the var­i­ous covenants given through­out the Bible mean to us? Are they rel­e­vant to our lives? Jonty Rhodes shows us how covenants carry the Bible’s story from start to fin­ish and ulti­mately give root to the gospel of sal­va­tion by grace. Covenants mat­ter! Redis­cover the Bible’s uni­fied covenan­tal story and its unfold­ing mes­sage through­out Scripture.

 

10. Incon­spic­u­ous Prov­i­dence: The Gospel Accord­ing to Esther by Bryan R. Gregory

Price: $14.99
Page Count: 224
Series: Gospel Accord­ing to the Old Testament
Sub­ject: Bib­li­cal Studies
Paper­back
Sum­mary: Esther sur­prises us by never men­tion­ing God or his inter­ven­tion. Yet we our­selves are famil­iar with not expe­ri­enc­ing divine inter­ven­tion in our sec­u­lar world. Where is God in it all?

 

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Our mis­sion is to serve Christ and his church by pro­duc­ing clear, engag­ing, fresh, and insight­ful appli­ca­tions of Reformed theology.

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NEW RELEASE — Inconspicuous Providence: The Gospel According to Esther by Bryan R. Gregory

Incon­spic­u­ous Prov­i­dence: The Gospel Accord­ing to Esther by Bryan R. Gregory

224 Pages | $14.99 | Paper­back | Series: Gospel Accord­ing to the Old Testament

Sum­mary: Esther often seems like an anomaly—a book of the Bible that never men­tions God or his direct inter­ven­tion. Yet the book feels clos­est to many Chris­tians’ own expe­ri­ence; few of us have expe­ri­enced divine inter­ven­tion, and our world seems just as sec­u­lar as Esther’s. We are tempted to ask, of her world and ours—where is God in all this? If he is real, why doesn’t he show himself?

Bryan Gre­gory shows us how Esther’s lit­er­ary tech­niques depict God’s “absent pres­ence” and “hid­den involve­ment,” encour­ag­ing us that while God appears unin­volved, he is at work under the sur­face to accom­plish his pur­poses and deliver his people—ultimately reveal­ing his hid­den pres­ence in Christ.

About the Author:

Gregory, Bryan

Bryan R. Gre­gory is Senior Pas­tor of Brook­dale Pres­by­ter­ian Church in St. Joseph, Mis­souri. He has pre­vi­ously served in youth, cam­pus, and pas­toral min­istries. He and his wife, Christy, have two sons.

Merry Christ­mas!

Fa la la la la

What Others Are Saying About this Book:

It is a bless­ing when schol­arly research results in deep insights for prac­ti­cal, every­day faith. Here you will find real, con­crete hope in Christ that calls you to faith and action and that speaks even to despair and life’s dark­est moments.” — Eliz­a­beth Groves, Lec­turer in Old Tes­ta­ment, West­min­ster The­o­log­i­cal Seminary

What Others Are Saying About this Series:

Writ­ten at a thought­ful but pop­u­lar level.” — D. A. Carson

Like manna in the desert.” Sin­clair Ferguson

A tremen­dous resource.” Tim Keller

An impor­tant series.” Philip Gra­ham Ryken

 

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Our mis­sion is to serve Christ and his church by pro­duc­ing clear, engag­ing, fresh, and insight­ful appli­ca­tions of Reformed theology.

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Author Interview with Dennis Johnson

This week’s author inter­view is with Den­nis John­son, author of 4 P&R titles: Tri­umph of the Lamb, Him We Pro­claim, The Mes­sage of Acts in the His­tory of Redemp­tion, and Philip­pi­ans, part of the REC Series.

  • Ques­tion #1 — Tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self: where you’re from, fam­ily, job, per­sonal inter­ests, unique hob­bies, what do you do in your spare time, etc.

I was born and grew up in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia and attended West­mont Col­lege in Santa Bar­bara, where I met my wife, Jane. We mar­ried the day after we grad­u­ated, were dorm par­ents that sum­mer as I taught a begin­ning course in Greek, then drove across the U.S. for me to attend West­min­ster The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary in Philadel­phia. After receiv­ing my M.Div., I pas­tored Ortho­dox Pres­by­ter­ian Churches in New Jer­sey and then (back home) in East Los Ange­les. We have four adult chil­dren, all mar­ried, and 16 grand­chil­dren. Our most recent is a grand­daugh­ter, Claire, adopted by our daugh­ter and son-in-law in China in Octo­ber 2014 and now get­ting acquainted with her older broth­ers and sis­ter, as well as Mom and Dad, in Colorado.

  • Ques­tion #2 — Which writ­ers inspire you?

I greatly admire the clar­ity of expres­sion and sim­ple ele­gance that I see in the the­o­log­i­cal and apolo­getic works of C. S. Lewis, J. Gre­sham Machen, and J. I. Packer. John Piper’s exul­tant joy in the majesty of God whets my spir­i­tual appetite to know my Sav­ior better.

  • Ques­tion #3 — Did you always enjoy writing?

For me, start­ing to write almost any­thing is agony (even when I am pas­sion­ate about the topic), and then con­tin­u­ing to write it is a blend of drudgery and (now and then) exhil­a­ra­tion (when the words seem to “flow” and to “fit”). But then hav­ing fin­ished writ­ing some­thing brings at least a sense of relief, and at best a sense of grate­ful delight. I have always enjoyed read­ing well-crafted lit­er­a­ture, and was an Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture major in col­lege. I think that expo­sure to authors who han­dle the lan­guage well has helped me develop a men­tal “ear” for clar­ity and vivid­ness. I aim for these qual­i­ties, often miss, but occa­sion­ally am hap­pily sur­prised to re-read some­thing I wrote ear­lier and to find it moving.

  • Ques­tion #4 — What inspired you to write the REC book, Philip­pi­ans

One of the four edi­tors of the Reformed Expos­i­tory Com­men­tary approached me about con­tribut­ing a vol­ume to the series. Many of the books that I have preached through in my min­istry were already assigned to oth­ers, but Philip­pi­ans was avail­able. I hadn’t preached straight through that joy­ful lit­tle let­ter of Paul, but I had preached on many of its texts. When the REC edi­tors gave the “green light” to my tack­ling Philip­pi­ans, I made it a point to preach on suc­ces­sive texts in the epis­tle when­ever I was invited to preach in my home con­gre­ga­tion or to other churches, until I had actu­ally preached straight through the let­ter in one con­gre­ga­tion or another. I was aware when I started that joy was a cen­tral theme of this mes­sage from the apos­tle in chains. What grabbed my atten­tion as I worked through Philip­pi­ans was how con­sis­tently Paul takes every pas­toral issue—suffering, rivals, life-or-death out­comes, per­sonal dis­agree­ments, finan­cial need and con­tent­ment, assur­ance of sal­va­tion, and more—to the touch­stone of Christ and his grace.

  • Ques­tion #5 — Do you have a spe­cific spot that you enjoy writ­ing most?

Although I don’t do all my writ­ing there, I have a won­der­ful, snug study at home with a desk with vast amounts of sur­face space (when I haven’t clut­tered it with piles of papers and books that I intend to read soon). It’s quiet, not far from our kitchen (cof­fee, snacks, etc.), and I can hear chil­dren play on the school play­ground that our back yard overlooks.

  • Ques­tion #6 — What book are you read­ing now?

I am fin­ish­ing the fourth and final vol­ume of Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, The War­den and the Wolf King, so that I can inter­act by email with some of my grand­chil­dren, who are also read­ing it in the var­i­ous dis­tant places where they live. After I fin­ish this, I plan to read Mar­i­lynne Robinson’s recent novel, Lila, hav­ing enjoyed her ear­lier books such as Gilead.

  • Ques­tion #7 — Do you have a favorite author? Who is it and why?

Among bib­li­cal schol­ars and the­olo­gians, I would be hard pressed to name a “favorite.” I learn much from the writ­ings of John Mur­ray, espe­cially the care with which he drew doc­tri­nal insights from the text of God’s Word; and from J. I. Packer’s artic­u­la­tion of bib­li­cal truth with pre­ci­sion, bal­ance, and (again) fidelity to the Scrip­tures. Geer­hardus Vos’s style is daunt­ing, but his insights into the redemptive-historical unity and devel­op­ment of the Bible are worth the effort. I also greatly appre­ci­ate G. K. Beale’s and R. T. France’s sen­si­tiv­ity to the inter­re­la­tion­ship of the Old and New Tes­ta­ments. David Powli­son and Ed Welch make me wise in the depths and com­plex­i­ties of the human heart—my own heart—and show me how God’s grace in the gospel meets our most pro­found needs for the com­fort and cure of our souls.

Among poets, my favorite is George Her­bert, the Angli­can pas­tor and meta­phys­i­cal poet of the 17th cen­tury. Not only does Her­bert use words strate­gi­cally, spar­ingly, and intrigu­ingly, but also his poems dis­play trans­parency in his rela­tion­ship to God and won­der over God’s grace in Christ. Behind him would come Robert Frost, who almost makes me see what it’s like to live in New Eng­land and among New Eng­lan­ders, and Ger­ard Man­ley Hop­kins, whose word-portraits take me by surprise.

I also enjoy mur­der mys­ter­ies. Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wim­sey has long been my favorite sleuth, but over the last year I must con­fess that Lord Peter has come up against stiff com­pe­ti­tion from Louise Penny’s Chief Inspec­tor Armand Gamache of Que­bec. Gamache recruits for his homi­cide team losers who have alien­ated their supe­ri­ors in other depart­ments. Then he tries to reha­bil­i­tate them by teach­ing them that they will become wise and do well if they can bring them­selves to say—and mean—four sim­ple sen­tences: I don’t know. I need help. I’m sorry. I was wrong.

  • Ques­tion #8 — What advice would you give to aspir­ing writers?

Find an astute per­sonal proofreader/editor who will not only catch your gram­mat­i­cal flaws (bet­ter than your computer’s spell-check func­tion) but also tell you frankly when your writ­ing is not mak­ing sense or uses too many words. I dis­cov­ered and mar­ried such an edi­tor almost 45 years ago, hav­ing served as her assis­tant edi­tor on our col­lege news­pa­per. So I ben­e­fit from her exper­tise at bar­gain rates. She gives my efforts that per­fect blend of encour­age­ment and cri­tique that makes the prod­uct bet­ter, even before I dare send it off to a publisher.

  • Ques­tion #9 — Do you have a favorite book that you have written?

I have heard most often that Tri­umph of the Lamb, my com­men­tary on Rev­e­la­tion, and Him We Pro­claim, my intro­duc­tion to Christ-centered preach­ing (both P&R titles), along with Coun­sel from the Cross, which Elyse Fitz­patrick and I co-authored, have been help­ful to other Chris­tians and to pas­tors. When­ever a pas­tor tells me that he is dar­ing to preach through the whole book of Rev­e­la­tion or that he sees bet­ter how to con­nect Old Tes­ta­ment texts to their ful­fill­ment in Jesus, I am grate­ful. Since oth­ers have found these titles use­ful, they are my favorites.

  • Ques­tion #10 — How do you deal with writer’s block?

Writer’s block threat­ens me at two points. First, when I’ve done a lot of read­ing on a sub­ject but the ideas and infor­ma­tion are swirling around chaot­i­cally in my mind, I find that I need to step back and force myself to focus on how to struc­ture what I have been learn­ing in a way that makes sense to me and, I hope, to oth­ers. So I have to work on out­lin­ing, iden­ti­fy­ing main themes and then sub­points under those themes, to begin to break down the big, daunt­ing whole task into a series of smaller tasks that are sen­si­bly related to each other. (I may end up rear­rang­ing the order that I first came up with, as the struc­ture of what I have to say becomes clearer in the writing.)

When I have sorted out ideas and themes and orga­nized their rela­tion­ships by out­lin­ing, then the sec­ond phase of writer’s block some­times sets in: It’s the chal­lenge of com­ing up with the first sen­tence, to start a chap­ter or a sub­sec­tion of a chap­ter. The only way that I’ve found to break through this block is sim­ply to start com­pos­ing on my com­puter, real­iz­ing that I don’t have to get the open­ing sen­tence “per­fect” directly out of the gate. If I just get myself into the thought process some­how or other, I’ll have plenty of time to refine or replace that open­ing sen­tence later on.

  • Ques­tion #11 — If you have a favorite book of the Bible, what is it and why?

Right now, it’s Philip­pi­ans, because I’ve been “liv­ing” with Paul under house arrest in Rome for the last sev­eral years as I preached and wrote on his let­ter. Long term, Hebrews is at the top of my list, since it shows how Jesus is the des­ti­na­tion toward whom so much of the Old Tes­ta­ment has always been pointing—not only his rec­on­cil­ing work as our priest, but also his reveal­ing work as the Son who exceeds the prophets, and his kingly task of dis­arm­ing and destroy­ing our enemy the devil.

  •  Ques­tion #12 - Favorite food?

Scal­lops, either breaded and fried or else grilled. Hap­pily, we have a ter­rific seafood restau­rant only 20 min­utes from our home.

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Want to learn more about Den­nis Johnson?

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NEW RELEASE — Princeton Seminary (1812–1929): Its Leaders’ Lives and Works by Gary Steward

Prince­ton Sem­i­nary (1812–1929): Its Lead­ers’ Lives and Works by Gary Stew­ard

336 Pages | $15.99 | Paper­back

Sum­mary: Many mod­ern philo­soph­i­cal ideas, and Chris­t­ian responses to them, were for­mu­lated at the time of “Old Prince­ton.” Gary Stew­ard intro­duces us to the great men of Prince­ton The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary from its found­ing to the early twen­ti­eth century—together with some of their most impor­tant writ­ings. While com­mem­o­rat­ing the legacy of Old Prince­ton, this book also places the sem­i­nary in its his­tor­i­cal and the­o­log­i­cal contexts.

About the Author:

Steward_Gary Gary Stew­ard is an adjunct fac­ulty mem­ber at Cal­i­for­nia Bap­tist Uni­ver­sity in River­side, Cal­i­for­nia, and at Lib­erty Uni­ver­sity in Lynch­burg, Vir­ginia. He served as pas­tor of Cal­vary Bap­tist Church in St. John’s, New­found­land, Canada, from 2004 to 2011, and is cur­rently pur­su­ing a Ph.D. in church his­tory and his­tor­i­cal the­ol­ogy at The South­ern Bap­tist The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

What Others Are Saying About This Book:

Bril­liantly res­ur­rects the the­olo­gians of Old Prince­ton for today’s lay­man. Cer­tainly, Steward’s engag­ing, acces­si­ble, and elo­quent work is the new go-to book for the reader unac­quainted with the giants of Old Prince­ton.” Matthew Bar­rett, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Chris­t­ian Stud­ies, Cal­i­for­nia Bap­tist Uni­ver­sity, River­side, California

The qual­ity and achieve­ment of Prince­ton Seminary’s lead­ers for its first hun­dred years was out­stand­ing, and Stew­ard tells their story well. Read­ing this book does the heart good.” J. I. Packer, Board of Gov­er­nors’ Pro­fes­sor of The­ol­ogy, Regent Col­lege, Van­cou­ver, British Columbia

Gary Stew­ard is to be com­mended for pro­vid­ing an intel­li­gent and edi­fy­ing intro­duc­tion to the the­ol­ogy and lead­ers of Old Prince­ton. . . .The tone is warm and bal­anced, the con­tent rich and acces­si­ble, the his­tor­i­cal work care­ful and illu­mi­nat­ing. I hope pas­tors, stu­dents, and any­one else inter­ested in good the­ol­ogy and heart­felt piety will ‘take a few classes’ at Old Prince­ton.” — Kevin DeY­oung, Senior Pas­tor, Uni­ver­sity Reformed Church (PCA), East Lans­ing, Michigan

 

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Our mis­sion is to serve Christ and his church by pro­duc­ing clear, engag­ing, fresh, and insight­ful appli­ca­tions of Reformed theology.

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