Book Reviews November/December 2015

Matthew Muddles Through; Matthew Makes Strides; Matthew Moves Ahead
From the series Matthew in the Middle.
By Glenda Faye Mathes.
2014, 2015.
Paper,, 214–241 pp.
Reviewed by Rev. W. H. Oord.

Mrs. Glenda Mathes is probably best known for her reporting on events for Christian renewal that take place in the church. I have been most appreciative of her book, Little One Lost, a book that deals with the pain that follows the loss of a dear young child. In this issue, Glenda Mathes has written an article on the importance of reading fiction. It is followed by a wonderful short interview about some of the work that she has done.

I don’t remember seeing Glenda in my house as we were trying to raise our children, but she certainly had to be there. Set in the 1990s, her books tell us about a young PK (preacher’s kid) named Matthew and the struggles he goes through as he deals with everything from his two brothers, to the neighbor’s dog, to the lawn mower, to being able to attend the Cadet International Camporee. As the books progress, the adventures become more daring and exciting.

In these books, written in the first person, Glenda brings her wonderful sense of humor alive as Matthew deals with problems that pre-teenage boys face, and some that, as a parent, I’m glad mine never faced (that I know of). Along with the frustrations of being a middle child, Matthew also deals with some of the frustrations of being a preacher’s kid, and some church and school issues, as well. And then, there’s that girl . . .

The books are absolutely delightful. They would make for great reading to your children or grandchildren at bedtime (except for the well incident). They are also easy-to-read chapter books that will keep a lad’s interest away from his electronic games.
And you thought Glenda only did the news.

The Mystery of the Abandoned Mill
By Piet Prins. Neerlandia, AB:
Inheritance Publications, 2006.
Paper, 127 pp.
Reviewed by Rev. J. Julien.

Are you looking for good reading for your children, or their children, or for even yourself? Piet Prins has another exciting, suspense-filled, and yet God-glorifying book for you. This is one of a series of seven books on the dog Scout and his three friends. Set in postwar Netherlands, this amazing dog and the friends solve the mystery of jewelry hidden during the Second World War. Not for one minute is the story dull.

Here is a book that can be enjoyed on a summer day in the shade, or in a warm corner as the winter winds blow.

Prins, the pen name of Pieter Jongeling (1909–1985) was a master at spinning a yarn but always giving a Christian emphasis. Yet, he never gave a sentimental Christian emphasis as so many writers do today.
Highly recommended.

I & II Thessalonians; I Timothy
By Rev. Henry Vander Kam, 
Grand Rapids: Reformed Fellowship, Inc. 2015.
Paper, 132, 105 pp. Reviewed
by Rev. W. H. Oord.

New Bible studies are always exciting—especially when they are Reformed. That last stipulation can be difficult. How do you find good, solid Reformed Bible studies? Reformed Fellowship is happy to present two Bible studies, written by Rev. Vander Kam, that have been out of print for a number of years.

The sixteen lessons in I & II Thessalonians explore Paul’s defense of his ministry, his exhortation to godly living, and his confidence in God’s faithfulness. Of particular interest in this Bible study is the Reformed perspective it offers on those who have died before the Lord’s return, and how we are to await His return. In addition, Rev. Vander Kam offers an explanation of the antichrist and his eventual defeat.
I Timothy also contains sixteen lessons. In this Bible study, Rev. Vander Kam explains Paul’s view of the church. He begins by focusing on Paul’s advice to the young Timothy. He moves through the various offices of the church, explains the role of women in the church, and offers insight into Paul’s view of widows, masters, and slaves. The study ends with a look at false teachings and an encouragement to remain faithful in service to our Lord.

Both Bible studies end each lesson with questions that will stimulate discussion within the group.

Prayers of Comfort: Daily Petitions from the Heidelberg Catechism
By Nancy A. Almodovar, 2015.
Paper, 93 pp. Available paperback or Amazon Kindle.
Reviewed by Rev. J. Julien.

As a Reformed people we often study and regularly hear sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism. It is certainly a textbook in Christian comfort. More than once I have heard people say that they are partial to catechism sermons. Of course, this is because these sermons open up the precious truths found all through Scripture.

Dr. Almodovar, a recent convert to the Reformed faith and a member of the Dayspring URC (Boise, ID), has given us the results of her insights in this book. She and her husband used the Heidelberg for their devotions and then would turn the answers into prayer. If you are looking for a novel but beneficial method of having devotions, this book would be helpful because it gives the Lord’s Days, scriptural references, and a prayer for each section.

To Win Our Neighbors for Christ—Missiology of the Three Forms of Unity
By Wes Bredenhof.
Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015.
Paper, xiv, 95 pages.
Reviewed by Rev. J. Julien.

For anyone who believes that the Reformed faith is anti-mission, here is a fine little book that says they are wrong. The author, a minister in the Canadian Reformed Churches who will soon be moving to Australia to a new charge, spends time pointing out how the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort are useful for evangelism and, in fact, emphasize mission work. In his chapter on the Catechism, he writes, “Unfortunately, there are still those who argue that the Heidelberg Catechism produces churches that are inward looking and insular. They say that the Catechism makes us dead to the calling we have from the Bible to be witnesses for Christ. I argue that if that happens and we are poor letters of Christ, the fault must be only our own, not the Catechism’s.”

This is a read that is hard to put down. Every evangelism and mission committee should study it, along with every minister, elder, and deacon. Only those who have been infected by fundamentalist and “evangelical” ideas will find it difficult, but they, too, should read it and learn from it. After all, if we claim to be Reformed, we had better be what we say we are.

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