These grizzled devotionals can energize your soul
May 2, 2006
Devotional books overflow the shelves of Christian bookstores. Many new volumes emerge from the ministries of popular teachers. But what about devotional material penned long ago? Today we examine three devotional books gleaned from material written during the Reformation and Puritan era. Lacking the fluffy, feel-good material found in many current devotionals, these writings energize your soul by feeding your mind. Solid theological truth provides a firm foundation for genuine affections.
Day by Day With the English Puritanscompiled by Randall J. Pederson (Hendrickson Publishers, 2004) hardback, 422 pages, $12.97.
Pulling from the writings of over seventy different authors, this work testifies to the rich heritage of the English Puritans. While John Bunyan, John Owen, and Richard Baxter may be familiar names, many of the authors are little-known. These 200-300 word selections give bold but brief challenges on nearly every topic of Christian spirituality. The book ends with seventeen pages of English Puritan biographical material. The strength of the book comes in the diversity of style and content each writer brings to the page. Each day brings a fresh word of grace and truth that makes you thirsty for further contemplation about God.
Morning Exercisesby William Jay (Calvary Press, 1998) hardcover, 335 pages, $29.00.
Praising William Jay, Charles Spurgeon said, “O for more Jays. We would gladly give some two or three dozen of the general run of doctors of divinity for one such a Master in Israel as William Jay of Bath.” Jay takes a few words from Scripture, and then explodes with explanation and application of the verse. Time and again he writes simple yet unique observations that make me wonder if I have ever even read the passage at hand. Jay uses the direct power of the Scripture to probe into our hearts, both teaching and applying the text with force. The daily readings do not strive for bland uniformity in style and tone. Rather, the voice of each day’s writing sounds energetic and personal. They speak as a pastor writing to his own congregation. It is our privilege to be able to sit under the wisdom of this voice from the past. I had this volume given to me as a Christmas present by a couple in our church. As a hint, you can bless your pastor and yourself by picking up two copies of Jay – one for each of you!
Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms(P&R Publishing, 1999) paperback, 366 pages, $14.99.
Most folks would not equate the name of John Calvin with warm-hearted devotional material. Popular perception of the Genevan theologian is that of an austere and emotionally distant academic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Studying the Bible with great skill and zeal, Calvin desired for his own flock to sing doxology in their hearts by thinking theology in their minds. This inspiring devotional pulls out selections from Calvin’s expositions on the Psalms, and provides us with daily nuggets of theological gold. Each page is a quick read, and helps lead us into prayer and meditation. Building on both the emotions and argument of the psalmist, Calvin proves that there really is no disconnect between the head and heart. If you desire a devotion that sets your “heart aflame” through solid theology, then this book serves the purpose.