BOOK REVIEWS

Passions of the Heart – John D. Street

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John D. Street, Passions of the Heart (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2019), 308 pp.

We find ourselves in the midst of a culture that is awash in sexual sin. Yet ironically, there are very few resources available to help people deal with this vexing problem. Some books minimize sexual sin and even ignore its pernicious effects on the lives of people. Other books address the subject aggressively but fail to subject it to the weight of biblical revelation. Instead of approaching sexual sin through the lens of the gospel, it is dealt with psychologically, which in the final analysis is unhelpful.

John D. Street offers a different approach; one that is biblical, timely, and practical. The book is arranged in three parts.

Part One: The Nature of the Heart and Its Passions

Dr. Street sets the stage by helping readers understand the complex nature of the human heart. If the human heart is an “idol factory,” as Calvin says, this section shines the spotlight on the idols that are produced daily in hearts and lives around the world.

The author’s aim is to highlight the deception nature of the heart. Such a view runs counter to conventional wisdom that says lays claim to the autonomous heart. I need, “Trusting your feelings and allowing them to dictate your choices is the dogma of the day.”

Ultimately, trusting one’s heart will lead to catastrophe and ultimately, damnation. True repentance is evidenced by the pursuit of purity, righteous indignation, pursuing holy fear, deep desire for God, zeal for truth, and a desire for justice.

The author shows how “heart idolatry” manifests itself and how the end result is enslavement, in this case, sexual sin.

Part Two: The Motivations of Sexual Idolatry

The author digs deeper into the heart of sexual sin by revealing its hidden motivations. Various desires such as self-pity, discontentment, anger, and fear are exposed as sinful motivations that undergird sexual sin.

A helpful diagnostic test is offered that helps clarify heart motivations. Honest interaction is sure to lead to spiritual benefits, including a conscience which is cleansed and freedom from sin’s guilt.

Part Three: The Characteristics of a Pure Heart

The final section proves to be the most helpful as Dr. Street sets forth the criteria for lasting heart change, which is found exclusively in the gospel: “The gospel is intended to be not only a message of salvation to the unbeliever but also an ongoing message of change for the believer.” In my mind, this observation is missing in many churches. As a result, it is neglected in many Christian lives.

The gospel reveals sin and applying the truth of the gospel brings death to the flesh. Street adds, “The heart ruled by sexual lust must be ministered to in such a faithful and determined way that the Holy Spirit may use the gospel to transform the enslaved person by the power of God. This is the beginning of lasting change from stubborn and enslaving sexual sin.”

Summary

Passions of the Heart: Biblical Counsel for Stubborn Sexual Sins contains a wealth of biblical resources that will both equip biblical counselors and challenge sexual sinners to turn from their sin and cast all their hope upon their Savior, banking on his redemptive benefits found in the gospel.

Highly recommended.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS

Kiss the Wave – Dave Furman

waveDave Furman, Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials Wheaton: Crossway, 2018, 159 pp $14.99

“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages,” said the British preacher, C.H. Spurgeon. Embracing trials in a God-honoring way is the theme of Dave Furman’s new book, Kiss the Wave.

The author does not write in an ivory tower. Nor does he write as a mere spectator. Rather, Furman writes as one who has been tormented by depression and pummeled by physical adversity. Inspired by the godly example of Spurgeon, Pastor Furman speaks candidly about the hurts, trials, persecutions, and ailments that Christians face in a fallen world. His biography is a fitting backdrop to the finer arguments that emerge in the pages of this book.

Furman writes as a seasoned pastor. His counsel, encouragement, and admonition is laced with grace and sensitivity and offers hope to people who are walking through a season of bitter providence.

A few outstanding features of the book will attract a host of readers and invite many more to study these pages and walk away encouraged.

First, this is a personal book. Furman is candid about his battle with a debilitating nerve ailment and the corresponding depression that goes along with it. Frankly, he admits some struggles that most pastors would never dream of sharing. This makes Kiss the Wave deeply enduring and helpful.

Second, this is a practical book. Nothing is theoretical or cliche. Furman offers real help and encouragement for soldiers trapped in the “foxhole.”

Third, this book is propelled by the gospel. Readers looking for a quick fix or self-help solutions should look elsewhere. Here, we find the exaltation of the gospel which delivers sinners from the penalty of sin and power of sin. The promises of God shine in Kiss the Wave and beckon readers to cling to Christ.

Finally, this book offers a much-need perspective. Dave Furman admonishes readers who are plodding on a nomadic journey to the Celestial City: “This land is not our home. As Christians, we are all expatriates, passing through this earth, holding a passport and citizenship to another place. Be encouraged to take the long view in your suffering. This life is a blip on the radar of eternity. It’s a small knot in an infinitely long rope.” Such is the perspective of a God-centered author. And such is the perspective of a reader who is captivated by the Savior and strengthened by his gospel.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS · Men

FINALLY FREE – Heath Lambert (2013)

heath

Pastoral ministry is filled with unique challenges.  One challenge that is growing exponentially, is the sin of pornography.  Pastors must deal with this issue directly – with grace and biblical authority.

I tend to pass on most books that address the topic of pornography these days.  The reason: Many Christian books miss the target all-together.  They either focus on addiction, make excuses for men trapped in the sin of pornography, minimize the sin, or offer graphically explicit “help” that does more harm than good.  Frankly, most books that deal with this topic are drowning in psychological nonsense that ignores the plain teaching of Scripture.  So I pass on most of these books.

However, Heath Lambert’s book, Finally Free is different.  Here’s are several themes I see emerging from the pages of Lambert’s book:

  1. A supreme allegiance to Scripture.
  2. A passion for holiness.
  3. A clinging the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. An intense hatred of sin.
  5. A longing to help men trapped by the sin of pornography.
  6. A long list of biblical strategies for defeating sin.
  7. A commitment to exploring themes of sanctification which are grounded in God’s forgiving grace and his transforming grace.

The main point of the book serves as the foundation for this excellent piece of writing:

To alert readers to the grace of God which forgives and transforms.  Grace that forgives is greatly needed and will of course, bring a great deal of encouragement to men who struggle with sexual sin.  

But forgiving grace does not go far enough.  Struggling sinners also needs grace that transforms.  This kind of grace brings healing.  This kind of grace bring hope, and health, and life change.  This kind of grace destroys the pull and power of the sin of pornography.

Lambert does a terrific job of blending gospel-centered hope, admonition, and rebuke.  Men who struggle in this area should turn to this resource as a source of deep encouragement which will lead to victory over sin.  Frankly, Heath Lambert’s work is the best contemporary help available in dealing with this kind of sin.  The book would be suitable for one-on-one discipleship and would also serve readers well in a small group setting.

Highly recommended!