BOOK HIGHLIGHT — The Heart Is the Target: Preaching Practical Application from Every Text by Murray Capill

The Heart Is the Target: Preaching Practical Application from Every Text by Murray Capill

272 pages | $16.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER


God’s Word is powerful, and when preached clearly and applied pertinently it can change lives. Yet preaching does not always have this impact. When it is concerned merely with teaching information, it can leave congregations unmoved, and when it sacrifices substance for relevance, it shortchanges the power of the text.

For preaching to truly change lives, biblical faithfulness and insightful application must work together—a powerful combination.

Murray Capill helps preachers to shape sermons that impact lives with lasting application. He takes preachers through the “living application” preaching process—moving the Word of God, via the life of the preacher, to the lives of the hearers. His model avoids the pitfalls of tacked-on application and enables preachers to aim at the heart from start to finish, and he outlines how they can do so in some specific preaching challenges.

Here are the tools to systematically explore the application potential of any text, in any situation.


“Experienced preachers are well aware of the pitfalls that pervade the terrain of application in preaching. . . . The Heart Is the Target not only provides biblical and theological correctives to such errors and imbalances, but also offers practical guidance in preparing sermons that serve the transformative purposes of the Bible.”

—Dennis E. Johnson, Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, California

“Murray Capill has obviously thought deeply and long about sermon application and clearly has a passion for it—one that is highly appealing to the reader. There is a sensitive awareness of the situation of the ‘average preacher.’ . . . I wish I had had this text in my hands when I began preaching over fifty years ago.”

—Bruce Milne, traveling preacher and teacher of pastoral leaders

About The Author

Murray CapillMurray Capill (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary, California) has pastored churches in New Zealand and Australia and is principal of the Reformed Theological College in Geelong, Australia, where he lectures in preaching and pastoral ministry.

WTS Bookstore Bargain Sale

There are some great P&R bargain sales going on at Westminster Bookstore.


$4.80: Princeton Seminary (1812-1929): Its Leaders’ Lives and Works by Gary Steward

Many key ideas of the modern era were formulated at the time of “Old Princeton.” This is a popular introduction to the major figures and some of their key writings.

$4.50: Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration by Barbara Duguid & Wayne Houk

Inspired by The Valley of Vision, these short prayers are designed for private or church use. Trinitarian and Christ-focused, they provide gospel comfort on many specific topics.

$4.50: The Problem of the Good: When the World Seems Fine Without God edited by D. Marion Clark

These essays tackle questions raised by God’s common grace: Do moral non-Christians really need the gospel? How do we respond to impressive non-Christian contributions to culture and society?

$4.50: Spreading the Feast: Instruction and Meditations for Ministry at the Lord’s Table by Howard Griffith

A helpful resource for those who administer communion, especially those who celebrate weekly. Howard Griffith provides a brief theology of communion, sample invitations, and twenty-eight pastoral meditations.

$3.00: Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change by Denny Burk & Heath Lambert

Challenging misconceptions on all sides of the homosexuality debate, Burk and Lambert show how a biblical view of same-sex orientation, temptation, and desire gives hope for profound personal change.

$4.50: A Journey to Wholeness: The Gospel According to Naaman’s Slave Girl by Mark Belz

Is the gospel of reconciliation prefigured in the Old Testament? Mark Belz examines how a Jewish slave girl’s simple testimony helped to bring about the salvation of her Syrian master.

$3.90: On the Brink: Grace for the Burned-Out Pastor by Clay Werner

As we learn from Christ’s crucifixion, loving sinners hurts—really hurts. Yet God gives strength. Here pastors and church leaders will rediscover the gospel’s soul-sustaining comfort amid ministry challenges.

$3.90: Grace Works!: And Ways We Think It Doesn’t by Doug Bond

When the church downplays the gospel, it breeds its own assassins: moralists who yawn at the notion of free grace in Christ alone. Sounding the alarm, Bond offers encouragement and biblical solutions.

$5.22: Mark by the Book: A New Multidirectional Method for Understanding the Synoptic Gospels by P.W. Smuts

P. W. Smuts uses the gospel of Mark as a springboard to compel readers to interpret the Synoptic Gospels against the broader sweep of redemptive history by advocating a “multidirectional” hermeneutic—one that looks downward into the immediate context, sideways into parallel traditions, backward into the Old Testament background, and forward into relevant New Testament passages.

$5.10: John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume One

A collection of short, pointed essays from John Frame stating some of his teachings in theological method, apologetics, and the Christian life. Includes an introduction to his signature concept of “perspectivalism.”

$5.10: John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume Two

Frame’s pointed essays challenge fashionable arguments in theology and encourage us to abhor easy answers. Includes some of Frame’s main ideas on Scripture, theological education, apologetics, ethics, and the church.

$7.50: Eyes to See, Ears to Hear: Essays in Memory of J. Alan Groves edited by Peter Enns, Douglas J. Green, and Michael B. Kelly

J. Alan Groves was a pioneer of modern biblical studies who used computers to analyze the Hebrew Old Testament. These articles have been collected to honor his work.

$7.50: Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics edited by K. Scott Oliphint & Lane G. Tipton

A Reformed apologetic is only ‘Reformed’ to the extent that its tenets, principles, and methodology are formed and re-formed by Scripture. These essays show what this means in practice.

$1.50: Piety: The Heartbeat of Reformed Theology by Joel Beeke

The word pious makes us think of having a “holier-than-thou” attitude, yet we are called to piety. Joel Beeke shows us how an attractive piety helps us grow in Christlikeness.

$1.50: The Heart of the Gospel: God’s Son Given for You by Sinclair Ferguson

How do we know God always does what is best for us? Sinclair Ferguson reminds us that our heavenly Father, who refused to spare his own Son, is for us.

$1.50: Computer Science: Discovering God’s Glory in Ones and Zeros by Jonathan R. Stoddard

What does computer programming have to do with God? Discover how writing code gives programmers a unique insight into God’s all-powerful word, and how constructing software can glorify him.


Excerpt taken from The Story: The Bible’s Grand Narrative of Redemption by Jon Nielson

Here is an excerpt taken from The Story: The Bible’s Grand Narrative of Redemption by Jon Nielson.

Act 2: Abraham to Samuel   |   Day 74

Joshua 6

Joshua didn’t really fight the battle of Jericho. Neither did the people of Israel. In fact, the battle of Jericho wasn’t much of a battle at all. God fought this “battle” for Joshua and the people, and it was a pretty one-sided fight.

If you don’t believe me, start by looking at the first few verses of Joshua 6. It’s there that God gives to Joshua one of the strangest battle plans in military history. He commands Joshua to march around the city of Jericho for six days straight, with the priests walking with the people, holding trumpets and carrying the ark. On the seventh day, the Israelite army is to circle the city seven times, after which the priests will blow the trumpets, the people will shout, and the walls of the city of Jericho will collapse before them. No military strategy. No careful plan for the invasion of the city. Just walking around it thirteen times, blowing some trumpets, and shouting. What’s God doing here? God is showing the people that he, and he alone, will fight for his people to bring them into the Promised Land. That’s how God begins his instructional speech to Joshua: “See, I have given Jericho into your hand” (6:2).

Everything happens just as God said it would. The people, led by Joshua, obey God’s instructions. They circle the city for six days, then seven times on the seventh day. The trumpets are blown, the people shout, and the walls crash to the ground. From there, it’s just a mop-up job for the Israelites; they just walk right in and meet with little resistance as they take control of the city. The writer of Joshua is careful to point out, though, what happens to one woman and her family, whose fate is different from all the rest of the inhabitants of Jericho. Rahab—that onetime prostitute who placed herself with God’s people in the fear of him—is saved by God’s people and becomes a part of God’s community. God shows his grace to this woman, even in the midst of the judgment that he brings on the enemies of his people.

We sometimes forget that we serve a God who doesn’t need our help. We are tempted to try to “help” him along in different ways. But God—now and always—wants to fight for his people. he wants to lead us, guide us, empower us—and save us by his gracious action in Christ. pray today that you would trust God to take care of you completely. Trust him to fight your battles—including your greatest battle against sin and death.

Introduction taken from “Catching Foxes” by John Henderson

Here is the Introduction to Catching Foxes: A Gospel-Guided Journey to Marriage by John Henderson.


Go forth, O daughters of Zion, And gaze on King Solomon with the crown With which his mother has crowned him On the day of his wedding, And on the day of his gladness of heart. (Song 3:11)

There should be no doubt in our minds that Solomon was prepared for his wedding day. The hour of his marriage did not sneak up on him. He was ready. His bride was ready. “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; your hair is like a flock of goats that have descended from Mount Gilead” (Song 4:1).

The parade, the carriage, the columns of smoke, and the vast array of armed attendants signaled a day of triumph and celebration. This wedding had been planned for a while. Indeed, it was “the day of his gladness of heart” (3:11).

We cannot believe, however, that the only preparations for such a day were material or external. After all, the trumpet sounds and smells of perfume would soon fade, and a lifetime of sacrifice, service, and covenantal love would remain. The flowers would wither, and the clothing would wear out, but the marriage covenant was to flourish and strengthen until the end. External adornment was only part of the picture.

“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom” (Song 2:15). Foxes can destroy a vineyard. They love to dig holes and trample vines in search of their prey. They have no regard for the vulnerability of vines and grapes; they care only for their selfish appetites.

With these words in 2:15, Solomon pointed to a critical work that is needed before marriage: finding, capturing, and (if need be) destroying any serious threats to the marriage relationship.

The “vineyard” of any loving relationship and marriage union can be ruined by any number of “little foxes.” Pride can reduce the vines of marriage to stubble. Selfish appetites, if left alone, can destroy the sweetness of true fellowship. Extended family members and former lovers can invade the vineyard of marital love with toxins of contention and division. The idols of our hearts have no real concern for our marriage fruitfulness; they only nurture their own personal interests and serve themselves. We all need to know this.

Solomon, inspired by the Holy Spirit, knew that selfish appetites and false idols at work in his heart and the heart of his bride had to be identified and driven away in order for their marital love and affection to grow and blossom. Enemies to a God-honoring union had to be ushered out. If the grapes of their vineyard were to fully ripen into marital fruitfulness, then dangers had to be cornered and fenced off.

Surely Solomon was speaking to the condition of their souls and not to actual physical land. He pointed to potential dangers in their relationship, not to the quality of their wedding decor.

God called Solomon and his bride to address matters of the heart before Him and before each other. The critical labor for which He called was not external and physical but internal and spiritual.

This remains true for us today. The most vital preparation for marriage is internal. Our hearts must be awakened, matured, and strengthened in Jesus Christ. We must learn to appreciate the covenant of marriage as God appreciates it. Our hearts must be focused on Him. We must be filled with His grace and learn to follow His Word. After all, a marriage between a husband and wife is primarily, and above all else, about the glory of God and the exaltation of Jesus (see Eph. 5:22–33;Col. 1:17–18). It is about learning to love another person with the strength that His Spirit provides.

Every generation of God’s people lives in constant danger of missing the beauty and seriousness of marriage and, as a result, experiences a shallow and miserable version of the real thing. Whenever we miss its beauty and seriousness, we offer the world and future generations a warped and empty picture of marriage. We then offer them a warped and murky picture of Christ and the church. We all need ongoing, supernatural help in order to notice, enjoy, and project the glory of God in marriage.

The world surrounding every generation of God’s people will supply its unique legion of foxes to bring destruction on the vineyard of biblical marriage.

The Word of God offers constant and sure defenses. It offers constant streams of strength and courage to help us along the way. The words of Christ provide a beautiful reminder of what life and marriage are really about, for our sake and the sake of His precious name.

And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matt. 19:4–6)

What Jesus declared about marriage—“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:8–9)—was something very radical and profound to His hearers at that time. This message was not a new decree from God, because the Old Testament provides this picture of marriage multiple times and in multiple ways (see, for example, Deut. 24:1–4; Mal. 2:13–16); however, this truth was easily neglected. Jesus used strong words to explain an age-old reality. He explained that marriage has always belonged to God. And He was saying that marriage has always been a miracle. Jesus talked about marriage as a miraculous gift from

God—a precious possession that deserves our careful attention and protection. The people of Jesus’ day either forgot or failed to notice the splendor and seriousness of the gift. We tend to forget and fail in the same way.

Despite all the wonderful resources and hard efforts that we pour into wedding ceremonies these days, we easily miss the amazing meaning behind the whole show. Behind the beautiful ceremonies, colorful decorations, and snappy outfits, a far more beautiful event—a miraculous event—exists. When an ordinary man and an ordinary woman come together before God and the world to become husband and wife, something extraordinary begins to happen. God joins them together. For this lifetime, at least, He makes them one.

So often we neglect and forget the significance of this union.

At the same time, every generation of God’s people may face another (albeit less common) temptation to deify marriage itself, making it the primary object of our obsessions and desires. We can worship marriage falsely. As bizarre as it may sound, we can exalt marriage above the Lord Jesus Christ. And when we do, we quickly overlook the central point of marriage: to display God’s glory, not our own, and to make much of Christ’s eternal union with the church, not our temporary desires. Indeed, constant yammering about the latest strategies for marital romance, new ways to meet spousal needs, and better methods for balancing the household budget can actually, if we are not careful, drown out the majesty of Christ in marriage and thus short-circuit the splendid purposes that God intends marriage to serve.

When we deify marriage, we also miss how God displays His glory and builds His kingdom through a variety of other means and gifts in creation besides marriage. It may seem strange to you, but any one of us can become so preoccupied with celebrating marriage that we fail to behold and celebrate the purposes of God in singleness—to enjoy how those who are not married might contribute to the body of Christ as a whole. Married people may easily become separated from unmarried people, and those with children living at home from those without, who are then separated from the aging, who might as well be separated from people who have dogs or cats or goldfish. Using demographic data as the primary reason for separation in the body of Christ tends to erect walls that the gospel has always sought to demolish.*1

Hopefully you can see a few reasons to prepare for your marriage prayerfully and thoughtfully. Such preparation can help you to grow your appreciation and respect for the covenant of marriage without making an idol of the institution. This book intends, by the grace of God, to help you understand the miracle and gift of marriage and, through such understanding, to prepare your hearts and lives for the journey you are about to begin. Our goal will be to raise our sights so high, bring our pride so low, and shape our view of marriage so strongly by the gospel that our hearts may be compelled by the Spirit of God to walk every step of the journey in His grace.

So if you are a couple preparing to marry, let me begin by saying, congratulations! You have reason to rejoice and be glad. You have chosen to partake in a wonderful miracle. Let me follow by saying this: Be sober and get ready! You have chosen to enjoy one of the finest gifts that our God has ever given for life on earth. Marriage comes from God. He designed it in His own mind. He formed it and blessed the union. He owns it. He has attached the glory of Christ and the church to the relationship between a husband and wife. This is what you are getting into—and much more.

Hopefully you have already found an older, wiser, Christ-loving couple to help you along the road. If so, they will be reading this book and learning along with you (and none of us will ever finish learning and growing in marriage on this side of the grave). Yet the real target audience of this study will be you—the man and woman preparing to be joined as one, called to partake of the marriage covenant together, called to worship and enjoy God together, called to reflect Christ and the church together.

*1. Please read Ephesians 2:11–22—a beautiful passage that addresses this concern.


BOOK HIGHLIGHT — Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone, Revised and Updated by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone, Revised and Updated by Elyse Fitzpatrick

240 pages | $14.99 | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Kindle: $8.99 | iTunes: $8.99


Do you feel discouraged, even defeated, in your battle against habitual sin? Are you dismayed or surprised by the situations that bring out your fear, anger, or distress? Elyse Fitzpatrick delves into the heart of the problem: deep down, we’re all idol-worshippers who put our loves, desires, and expectations in God’s place—and then suffer the consequences of our misplaced affections. Yet God loves his people and can use even our messy lives and struggles for his glory. Fitzpatrick shows us how to better search and know our hearts, long for our gracious Savior, and resist and crush our false gods. Includes questions for further thought. Revised edition.

Download the Study Guide


“Elyse Fitzpatrick is one of the best authors you could read today if you want help to truly love Jesus and recognize the deception of your own sinful heart. . . . I’m thrilled that after fifteen years a second edition of this excellent work is now available.”

—Brad Bigney, Author, Gospel Treason

“Elyse Fitzpatrick has a very high view of God, and this book reflects that view. With great clarity and intriguing biblical illustrations, Elyse explains how the idols in our hearts compete with our affections for God. In a gentle way, she tells you how by God’s grace to turn from your idols to a wholehearted love for God.”

—Martha Peace, Author, The Excellent Wife 

About The Author

Elyse FitzElyse Fitzpatrick counsels with the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship and is a frequent retreat and conference speaker. Fitzpatrick coauthored Women Helping Women, a 1998 Gold Medallion finalist; Love to Eat, Hate to Eat; Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety; and Uncommon Vessels: A Program for Developing Godly Eating Habits. She and her husband, Philip, have three adult children and two grandchildren.