Book Notice: MY SUNFLOWER GIRL, by Dyfan Williams

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

Here is a father’s compelling narrative describing the unexpected death of his ten-year-old daughter Megan. The book is well written, factual and honest. Readers may soon find tears in their eyes as they read of the overwhelming grief and pain felt by parents and family in losing their precious daughter. Probing questions are asked in a prayerful and struggling submission to the sovereign providence of God yet in the context of the glory awaiting believers like Megan who trust in Christ.

Endorsements

Sinclair B Ferguson:

To read My Sunflower Girl is to overhear the soliloquy of Dyfan Williams, husband, father, and pastor, as he walks through the dark valley where shadows fall around him from the death of his beloved daughter Megan. As in King David’s great psalm there is a confession of deep faith (‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want’). But at times these pages also become conversations between a bruised but trusting soul and the Lord whose presence holds him fast in the dark (‘you are with me, your rod and staff they comfort me’). Personal loss is profoundly individual. Yet here, in the poetic soul of Dyfan Williams, you will find an honesty combined with faith, an understanding nourished by experience, and a compassionate and gentle pastoral wisdom. My Sunflower Girl is a profoundly moving testimony to God’s presence with his people in their darkest hours.

Elinor Magowan:

To lose your daughter at the age of ten would leave one reeling with grief and crying out in anguish to God. The loss of Megan and the impact on Dyfan, his wife Caroline and their children Lloyd and Siân is deep, distressing and lasting but you will see God’s presence and faithfulness evident through the darkest of days. … To have such a book written by a father provides an important perspective. Dyfan’s thoughtful reflections on Scripture and sensitive use of poetry ensure the pain of death and the parting that results are not minimised and yet he shows how strength, comfort and help were provided. … I would encourage you to read this book and be helped. You will not forget Megan, her loss and the Williams family, but it will also strengthen your hold on the one who is always with us; never leaves us or forsakes us and never lets us go. As your feet remain here on earth the eyes of your heart will be lifted towards heaven.

About the Author

Dyfan Williams is currently pastor of Emmanuel Church, Leftwich, Cheshire. He married Caroline in 1991 and they have three children: Megan (1993-2003), Lloyd (1995) and Sian (1998).

Buy the books

My Sunflower Girl

EP Books, 2019 | 154 pages

Visit Books at a Glance

Book Notice: THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS, by Jeffery Smith

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

The plain truth about life after death

Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Honestly, which would you rather be, a Christian beggar or a non- Christian billionaire? How you answer shows a lot about what you really believe. Jeff Smith opens up one of Christ’s most revealing teachings about life after death, and not only shows us the right answer, but gives us reasons to embrace it (and Christ) with all our hearts.

Jeremy Walker, pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley:

We are told that Jonathan Edwards prayed, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!” He wanted a pressing sense of heaven and hell—an ‘eschatological edge’ to his thinking, feeling, willing, preaching, and living. Jeff Smith’s excellent little book will bring heaven and hell before your soul and stamp eternity on your eyeballs. With profound compassion, scriptural insight, and unflinching honesty, the author speaks directly to the reader through these pages to convince, rebuke, and exhort. In an age that too often assumes heaven and denies hell, this book provides a powerful and heartfelt corrective.

Paul David Washer, Heartcry:

We should avail ourselves of any book, sermon, or conversation that sets the realities of eternity before us and pleads with us to respond. This brief work does just that. The book is not only doctrinal, but also pastoral and evangelistic. Although the author writes much of hell, it is clearly a means to an end—he longs for his hearers to flee from the wrath to come and embrace Christ by faith. Although this book sets forth the doctrine of hell clearly and emphatically, it is primarily a book about the gospel and the sufficiency of the Scriptures! It will convict and motivate pastors to think and preach on eternity. It will encourage believers to live their lives in the light of Christ’s work and the world’s need. It will warn the unconverted about the dangers of hell and instruct them in the free offer of grace. Finally, this book will be a most beneficial read for those brought up in a Christian home who demonstrate little reality of Christ.

Pastor Rob Ventura, Grace Community Baptist Church, North Providence, RI, co-author of A Portrait of Paul and Spiritual:

Jeffery Smith is a gifted preacher and writer. In his new work, The Rich Man and Lazarus, he faithfully opens up a well-known text of Scripture and makes us to feel the realities of it in a practical and pastoral way. Here is a book to give to your unsaved friends. It is also one to read yourself. For in it, you will be edified and motivated to reach out to the lost around you. This compact volume will sit next to my all-time favorite book, An Alarm to the Unconverted, and will continually remind me to “do the work of an evangelist.” I highly recommend it.

About the Author

Jeffery Smith has been a full time pastor since 1990, including planting a church in upstate South Carolina in 1994, where he served as a pastor for over 15 years. In 2009 he accepted a call to serve as a pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Coconut Creek, Fl., where he still serves. In addition to his regular pastoral responsibilities, Jeff speaks occasionally at various conferences and serves on the governing board and faculty of Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has been involved in ministerial and theological training in the U.S., Dominican Republic, the Far East, and Colombia.

Buy the books

The Rich Man and Lazarus

EP Books, 2019 | 112 pages

Visit Books at a Glance

Weekly Recap, June 8

Book Summary:

MELTDOWN: MAKING SENSE OF A CULTURE IN CRISIS, by Marcus Honeysett

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance By Steve West   About the Author Marcus Honeysett worked with university ministries in the UK. He studied English, Theatre, and Postmodern culture and theory.   Introduction This book examines five…

SIDE BY SIDE: WALKING WITH OTHERS IN LOVE AND WISDOM, by Edward T. Welch

A “Bonus” Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Clay Werner   God uses ordinary lives, ordinary conversations, and extraordinary love to do most of the heavy lifting in his kingdom. Extraordinary love that helps others first recognizes its…

Author Interview:

Interview with Joel Beeke, co-author of REFORMED SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, VOLUME 1: REVELATION AND GOD

An Author Interview from Books At a Glance   Greetings, I’m Fred Zaspel, editor here at Books At a Glance, and welcome to another Author Interview. Dr. Joel Beeke has been teaching Systematic Theology for a long time, and we…

Book Review:

CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE AND THE OLD TESTAMENT: THEOLOGY IN THE SERVICE OF EXEGESIS, by Gary A. Anderson

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By David Luy   Christian Doctrine and the Old Testament by Gary Anderson presents a fascinating collection of essays exploring the relationship between biblical exegesis and Christian doctrine. Gary A. Anderson (PhD, Harvard…

Our Blog:

Book Notice: THE VOCABULARY GUIDE TO BIBLICAL HEBREW AND ARAMAIC: SECOND EDITION, by Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   The Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic by Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt is intended to accompany Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. For the beginning student it is…

~ The Books At a Glance Team

Visit Books at a Glance

Book Notice: THE VOCABULARY GUIDE TO BIBLICAL HEBREW AND ARAMAIC: SECOND EDITION, by Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

The Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic by Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt is intended to accompany Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. For the beginning student it is an essential resource companion to aid in vocabulary memorization and acquisition. Updates in this second edition include the addition of a complete Aramaic word list and refinement of definitions.

Features include:

  • Hebrew words occurring ten times or more in the Old Testament arranged by frequency
  • Hebrew words arranged by common root
  • All Aramaic words occurring in the Old Testament arranged by frequency
  • Helpful appendices including lists of Hebrew homonyms, nominals, and verbs.

About the Authors

Gary D. Pratico (ThD, Harvard Divinity School) is senior professor of Old Testament and Hebrew language at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has been teaching Hebrew for more than thirty years and is coauthor with Miles V. Van Pelt of Basics of Basics of Biblical Hebrew (grammar and workbook) and The Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew.

Miles Van Pelt (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Alan Belcher Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, where he also serves as the Director of the Summer Institute for Biblical Languages and Academic Dean. Miles has been studying and teaching biblical languages for over 20 years and he currently lives in Madison, Mississippi, with his wife Laurie and their four children.

Buy the books

The Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic: Second Edition

Zondervan, 2019 | 320 pages

Visit Books at a Glance

Transhumanism Is Yet Another Temptation to Play God

Often when we hear about advanced technology like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and genetic engineering, we think of some far-off future with flying cars and robot co-workers. Terms like “the singularity,” “superintelligence,” and “transhumanism” seem irrelevant to the mundane problems we deal with as Christians living in a fallen world. Aren’t there more pressing issues?

In his book Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship, Jacob Shatzer—theology and ethics professor at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee—provides a clear and pointed critique of the popular concept of transhumanism, showing that it’s yet another expression of humanity’s belief that we are gods in ourselves. We must think deeply about this issue now if we want to pursue true discipleship in our rapidly shifting culture.

Shatzer helps guide believers through the challenging concept of transhumanism in light of a Christian ethic grounded in the image of God. We need to see how technology is already changing us and to wisely respond—otherwise we’re in danger of passively imbibing the cultural narrative that we can fundamentally change our nature.

Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship
Jacob Shatzer

purchase

Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship
Jacob Shatzer
IVP Academic (2019). 192 pp. $22.00.

Biblical ethicist Jacob Shatzer guides us into careful consideration of the future of Christian discipleship in a disruptive technological environment. In Transhumanism and the Image of God, Shatzer explains the development and influence of the transhumanist movement, which promotes a “next stage” in human evolution. Exploring topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics, medical technology, and communications tools, he examines how everyday technological changes have already altered and continue to change the way we think, relate, and understand reality. By unpacking the doctrine of the incarnation and its implications for human identity, he helps us better understand the proper place of technology in the life of the disciple and avoid false promises of a posthumanist vision.

Firm Footing

Shatzer defines transhumanism as a movement whose goal is to transform humanity by improving human intelligence, physical strength, and the five senses by technological means. Transhumanism “enables us to overcome our biological and genetic inheritance” (40). Shatzer boils this popular concept down to two fundamental principles. First, optimism that humanity can overcome our own humanity, and second, that each individual has the fundamental right to pursue these enhancements (53).

While this might seem like a sci-fi novel or the plot of a new Hollywood thriller, many in the technology field currently are pursuing a way to overcome the limitations of humanity and enable us to attain god-like powers. Popular thinkers such as Yuval Noah Harari (author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow) and Nick Bostrom predict that we’ll transcend our human limitations or be outpaced by an intelligence greater than ours. Humanity must either upgrade or be left in the wake of progress.

We need to see how technology is already changing us and to respond—otherwise we’re in danger of passively accepting the cultural narrative that we can fundamentally change our nature.

Shatzer describes the three main waves of transhumanism: (1) morphological freedom to change ourselves, (2) use of augmented reality to merge the physical and digital world, and (3) the pursuit of artificial intelligence to finally transcend our human limitations entirely. Throughout the book, he interacts with The Transhumanist Declaration, a summary of transhumanism, as well as with popular groups such as Humanity+ and the Christian Transhumanist Association.

Needed Corrective

Shatzer offers a calm and collected critique of transhumanism based in a rich understanding of how technology can be used to love God and love neighbor. He doesn’t provide a fearful and defensive reaction to transhumanism, but one that is winsome and beneficial for the church. Often in light of emerging technology, we’re quick to adopt the liturgies of this technology without serious thought about how these tools will affect us and the worldview that drives them. Shatzer provides a needed corrective to the false belief that humans are simply machines that need to be upgraded over time to stay useful and retain worth. While humanity was marred by the fall, God’s image wasn’t lost.

Much of the thought behind transhumanism is that humanity is broken and needs upgrading in order to fulfill our true potential. Transhumanists desire to escape our sin-marred bodies and transcend the limitations given to humanity. Some, like Ray Kurzweil, believe that one day we’ll finally be able to overcome physical bodies and upload our minds to escape the brokenness once and for all. Shatzer describes this desire as a symptom of the fall and of our need for the gospel, rather than something to overcome with our own technological innovation (123). Overcoming and transcending humanity is antithetical to both the Scriptures and the gospel. God himself became like us in order to save us. He took on flesh in order to sacrifice his body to save our embodied souls. If we seek to shed our bodies, we lose a fundamental aspect of our humanity and ultimately deny the One who took on flesh to rescue us.

Much of the thought behind transhumanism is that humanity is broken and needs upgrading in order to fulfill our true potential.

While some Christians will recast transhumanism in biblical terms, the movement as a whole is fundamentally opposed to an orthodox and biblical understanding of humanity. Our ultimate need is redemption, not reinvention. Shatzer reveals that many Christian transhumanists operate with at least an implicit debt to open and process theology, which states that God is ultimately open, improving, and adapting, like creation (97). But this theology is at odds with the God who is the unchanging basis for all knowledge and truth. God isn’t open and risky; he’s sovereign and omnipotent. In a world of shifting sand, he is the rock to which we can cling for hope and redemption.

Shatzer wisely points out that “true human flourishing is not found in a technological worldview, but in subordinating our tools to truly human ends” (35). True human flourishing can’t be rushed and is often not convenient or efficient (171). In a culture that prizes those values above all, nothing less than human dignity is at stake in the conversations and debates surrounding technological innovation and progress. Christians see the world differently from transhumanists, since we realize Christ is the one who restores us and our world—rather than us pursuing innovation to ameliorate the effects of sin and our rebellion on creation.

Our ultimate need is redemption, not reinvention.

Christians must reject our culture’s assumptions that true dignity and worth is derived from the economic utility of human life. God’s image is the basis for human dignity. Humanity isn’t something for us to shed or transcend, but something to embrace as ones marked by the bloody and beaten body of a man who overcame death by the power of the Spirit. Christ wasn’t raised from the dead in order for us to transcend our humanity, but rather to restore us to our true humanity—to a right relationship with the unchanging and all-powerful God. Our human limitations are a blessing rather than a curse, for they remind us that there is only one Homo Deus, and his name is Jesus Christ.

Visit TGC The Gospel Coalition US

Weekly Recap, June 1

Book Summary:

THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD, by Paul Helm

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance By Steve West   About the Author Paul Helm is a teaching fellow at Regent College, and the author of numerous works of philosophical theology.   Introduction This contribution to the…

ECONOMIC FACTS AND FALLACIES, by Thomas Sowell

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   Editor’s Note: With this “Bonus” Book Summary we continue our series on culture-related issues.   About the Author Thomas Sowell has taught economics at a number of colleges…

“WAS PAUL A COVENANTAL NOMIST?” in JUSTIFICATION AND VARIEGATED NOMISM: VOLUME 2–THE PARADOXES OF PAUL by Peter O’Brien

A “Bonus” Chapter Summary from Books At a Glance By Nathan Sundt   About the Author Peter O’Brien is Senior Research Fellow in New Testament, Moore Theological College.   Overview Peter O’Brien begins his chapter by rehearsing conceptually Sanders’s Covenantal…

Book Review:

50 WORLD-CHANGING EVENTS IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY, by Earl Blackburn

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Bennett W. Rogers   Occasionally I am asked to recommend a popular introductory survey of church history by an interested church member or student, but as fans of the discipline know,…

Our Blog:

Book Notice: FEARING OTHERS: PUTTING GOD FIRST (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by Zach Schlegel

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Fishing for compliments, overcommitting (or never committing), keeping people at a distance . . . when we fear other people more than we fear God, we become anxious slaves to…

~ The Books At a Glance Team

Visit Books at a Glance

Book Notice: FEARING OTHERS: PUTTING GOD FIRST (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by Zach Schlegel

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

Fishing for compliments, overcommitting (or never committing), keeping people at a distance . . . when we fear other people more than we fear God, we become anxious slaves to their opinions and approval. But we don’t have to compete to be loved! Zach Schlegel uses meditations on God’s Word, reflection questions, and practical suggestions for action to guide you, day by day, toward a freer way of life in service to God. Learn how to fear God alone, rest in his grace, and live in peace, joy, and confidence.

In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God’s Word to your life in practical ways day after day.

About the Author

Zach Schlegel is senior pastor of First Baptist Church Upper Marlboro in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Endorsements

Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; President, 9Marks:

If you fear others, this book can serve as a GPS that God will use to get you out of that person-fearing country, with Zach as a wonderful guide . . . a man who seems to know the Bible as well as he knows his own heart. Profit your soul with this book.

Warren W. Wiersbe, Author, Be Series Bible Commentaries; Former Pastor, Moody Church, Chicago:

Pastor Zach Schlegel has done us all a great favor by writing this book about fear and how to deal with it. His insights are biblical, and his counsel is practical. . . . A book like this . . . would have made me much more effective in my home and in the church.

John Henderson, Council Member, Biblical Counseling Coalition; Executive Director, Center for Church Equipping:

Zach Schlegel helps us to see the true anatomy of this condition and the only remedy for it. . . . These careful reflections on Scripture will call you to a holy fear that puts all other fears to death.

Buy the books

Fearing Others: Putting God First (31-Day Devotionals for Life)

P&R Publishing, 2019 | 96 pages

Visit Books at a Glance

Weekly Recap, May 25

Book Summary:

GOD IN THE WASTELAND: THE REALITY OF TRUTH IN A WORLD OF FADING DREAMS, by David G. Wells

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   About the Author David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.   Introduction…

“ISRAEL AND THE LAW IN ROMANS 5–11: INTERACTION WITH THE NEW PERSPECTIVE” in JUSTIFICATION AND VARIEGATED NOMISM: VOLUME 2–THE PARADOXES OF PAUL by Douglas Moo

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Nathan Sundt   About the Author Douglas Moo is Blanchard Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College Graduate School   Summary Douglas Moo notes at the beginning of the essay how…

Book Review:

DAILY READINGS FROM ALL FOUR GOSPELS: FOR MORNING AND EVENING, by J.C. Ryle

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Bennett W. Rogers   C. Ryle (1816-1900) was born and raised in a wealthy but unspiritual home. He distinguished himself academically and athletically at Eton and Oxford. He experienced an evangelical…

Our Blog:

Book Notice: ESV DEVOTIONAL PSALTER

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance By Fred Zaspel   Over the past months I’ve been reading through this unique devotional aid from Dane Ortlund with genuine pleasure. It was a great idea, and he pulls it…

Book Notice: ASSURANCE: RESTING IN GOD’S SALVATION (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by William P. Smith

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Does God truly love you? Are you really saved? You fear that sin and suffering have a stronger hold on you than God does—but God is not threatened by your…

~ The Books At a Glance Team

Visit Books at a Glance

Book Notice: ASSURANCE: RESTING IN GOD’S SALVATION (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by William P. Smith

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

Does God truly love you? Are you really saved? You fear that sin and suffering have a stronger hold on you than God does—but God is not threatened by your fears and questions, and he is exactly the one who can show you the heart he has for you. Drawing on his pastoral and counseling experience, William Smith provides scriptural devotions, reflection questions, and practical action points to daily increase your confidence in God’s love, promises, and care.

In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God’s Word to your life in practical ways day after day.

Your doubts can’t be resolved simply with new or better information, such as clever arguments or evidences for your faith. Instead, you must look to God to grow in confidence of his heart for you. As your Maker, Redeemer, and Sustainer, he is not threatened by your fears and questions but graciously answers them.

A pastor experienced in counseling those who struggle with assurance of salvation, William Smith brings hope and help in this month-long devotional.

About the Series

In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God’s Word to your life in practical ways day after day.

About the Author

William P. Smith has served several churches, been a faculty member of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, and taught practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of Parenting with Words of Grace and Loving Well (Even If You Haven t Been).

Endorsements

Donald S. Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean of the School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Author, How Can I Be Sure I m a Christian?

If you’re holding this book because you struggle with whether you are right with God . . . you will find solid, biblical help in these pages.

Dave Harvey, Teaching Pastor, Summit Church, Naples, Florida; Author, When Sinners Say I Do : Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage:

Each daily reading offers fresh perspective, unshackling insights, and biblical wisdom that focuses the mind and fortifies the soul. . . . Take a month and allow Assurance to enrich your faith in God.

Bob Kellemen, Vice President of Strategic Development and Academic Dean, Faith Bible Seminary; Author, Grief: Walking with Jesus:

Bill does not ignore our doubts or diminish our feelings. Instead, he consistently, gently, and wisely shepherds us back to the Shepherd and the Scriptures.

Buy the books

Assurance: Resting in God’s Salvation (31-Day Devotionals for Life)

P&R Publishing, 2019 | 96 pages

Visit Books at a Glance

How to See Human-Trafficking Victims, Even in Your Church

Hollywood movies like Taken infect our understanding of human trafficking with notions of kidnappings on distant shores and a rogue FBI agent saving the day. But is that an accurate picture? What if a human-trafficking victim was a member of your youth group? Is that even possible? Raleigh Sadler, founder and executive director of Let My People Go, says it is.

Sadler tells the story of Anna, a 17-year-old girl trafficked for sex by her boyfriend. Every Sunday, she sat in the back of a neighborhood church. When Sadler asked Anna how her congregation served her during her exploitation, she laughed. “No one noticed anything. Everyone thought I was happy.”

How many Annas are sitting in your church pews?

In 2013, Sadler founded Let My People Go to equip churches to fight human trafficking in their communities. In his book, Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking, he offers an extensive discussion of human trafficking and how the church is uniquely qualified to address the problem.

Understanding Human Trafficking

Sadler defines human trafficking as “the exploitation of vulnerability for commercial gain.” Human trafficking, he asserts, can happen anywhere, “because there are vulnerable people everywhere” (3).

Vulnerable people can be lonely teenagers, a homeless mother desperate for shelter, or an illegal immigrant brought here under false pretenses. They can be runaways—children fleeing physical and sexual abuse in their homes. Their vulnerability places them on a collision course to encounter human traffickers, who are actively looking for them.

Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking
Raleigh Sadler

purchase

Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking
Raleigh Sadler
B&H (2019). 288 pp. $16.99.

There are more than 40 million enslaved people in the world today. This is overwhelming. A number so large leaves us asking, What could I even do to help? In his book Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking, Raleigh Sadler, president and founder of Let My People Go, makes the case that anyone can fight human trafficking by focusing on those who are most often targeted. This book invites the reader to understand their role in the problem of human trafficking, but more importantly, their role in the solution.

Traffickers aren’t “thugs” dressed in black leather jackets. Instead, they can be teachers, intimate partners, or family members, even parents. They use force, fraud, and coercion to manipulate their victims. Traffickers often threaten violence to other family members or deportation to keep the vulnerable working for them. The chains they employ aren’t physical but psychological, yet they are just as real and effective.

Defending the Vulnerable

Vulnerable is written for the reader who is anguished and angry about human trafficking but has no clue what to do. How do we launch a fight when the person we seek to help is invisible, even though she may be sitting right beside us?

Vulnerable is written for the reader who is anguished about human trafficking but has no clue what to do.

We must recognize that many who are vulnerable to human trafficking are people we don’t readily associate with human slavery: the homeless, the poor, and children in the foster-care system. In the quest to be a “voice for the voiceless,” we sometimes don’t hear or see the people who need our help. Sadler challenges us to open our eyes:

We need God to open our eyes to the vulnerability right in front of us—on our commutes, in our neighborhoods, and yes, even in our churches. . . . When we intentionally throw ourselves into the paths of foster children, immigrants, and the homeless, for example, we will find ourselves naturally doing the work of prevention, intervention, and aftercare all at once. (109–10)

Vulnerable offers practical tools to help churches and individuals address human trafficking in their communities. The appendix offers “100 ways you can fight human trafficking today,” which include book, website, and video suggestions as well as trustworthy organizations dedicated to ending human slavery.

Theological and Practical Insight

One of the great strengths of Vulnerable is Sadler’s comprehensive approach. He gives a clear understanding of what modern-day slavery looks like in the United States, but he also drenches his thoughts in robust theology, and his insights are often profound.

“Vulnerability, or the perceived weakness, is actually not a result of the fall, but rather a gift of God to aid us in loving God and serving others,” he writes. “The fall did not produce vulnerability; it produced the exploitation of vulnerability” (120). Vulnerable people can be exploited because someone promised them food, a safe place to stay, or a job—things they desperately need for survival.

Sadler also discusses two opposing motivations for fighting human trafficking—a theology of glory versus a theology of the cross. “A theology of glory will place a premium on our role in the immediate ‘event’ of rescue, while a theology of the cross directs our focus to see the idea of rescue as more of a process than a defining moment” (54).

Where’s the God of Justice?

I’ve seen firsthand the ravages of human trafficking on a young soul. I’ve heard their stories of praying to die rather than face another day of torment at the hands of multiple abusers. It conjures up the age-old question: “Where is the God of justice?” (Mal. 2:17).

Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission, gives a moving answer in his book Terrify No More, which Sadler includes in Vulnerable:

The more I come to know him, the harder it has become for me to ask such a God to explain where he has been. In fact, surprisingly, I don’t generally hear victims of abuse doubting the presence of God either. Much more often I hear them asking me, “Where have you been?” (83)

If you’re angry about the injustice of human trafficking, pick up this book and learn to do something about it.

Visit TGC The Gospel Coalition US

Book Notice: ESV DEVOTIONAL PSALTER

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance

By Fred Zaspel

Over the past months I’ve been reading through this unique devotional aid from Dane Ortlund with genuine pleasure. It was a great idea, and he pulls it off well.

Ortlund presents the full text of each psalm (ESV) along with a very brief (one-page) devotional reflection. The reflections are not expositions, as such, but they consistently capture the gist of each psalm with relevant devotional Christian reflection. The Psalms are prayers, and Ortlund’s treatment of each individual psalms both directs our understanding the theme or prominent thoughts in each psalm and aids us in praying accordingly.

A helpful book for personal daily devotional use and for leading others through the Psalms.

Buy the books

ESV Devotional Psalter

Crossway, 2017 | 464 pages

Visit Books at a Glance

Weekly Recap, May 18

Book Summary:

NO PLACE FOR TRUTH: OR WHATEVER HAPPENED TO EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY, David F. Wells

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   About the Author David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.   Introduction…

THE QUEST FOR COSMIC JUSTICE, by Thomas Sowell

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   Editor’s Note: With this “Bonus” Book Summary we continue our series on culturally- and Politically-oriented studies that are of contemporary relevance. We hope you enjoy!   About…

Book Review:

THE GLORY OF GRACE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PURITANS IN THEIR OWN WORDS, by Lewis Allen and Tim Chester

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Andrew Ballitch   Lewis Allen and Tim Chester offer four compelling reasons for why the Puritans remain important today: The Puritans learned to discover grace in suffering. The Puritans were committed…

Our Blog:

Book Notice: REDEEMING SCIENCE: A GOD-CENTERED APPROACH, by Vern S. Poythress

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance Fred Zaspel   I have consulted this book here and there over the years, but today I sat down to read it through, and once again I am struck by the…

Book Notice: ANGER: CALMING YOUR HEART (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by Robert D. Jones

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Anger is arguably the most common problematic emotion we feel. It permeates our lives and hurts our most intimate relationships. Fortunately, Scripture has much to teach us about this universal…

~ The Books At a Glance Team

Visit Books at a Glance

Book Notice: ANGER: CALMING YOUR HEART (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by Robert D. Jones

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

Anger is arguably the most common problematic emotion we feel. It permeates our lives and hurts our most intimate relationships. Fortunately, Scripture has much to teach us about this universal problem. In this month-long devotional, counselor Robert Jones teaches you where your anger comes from, how to take it to God and deal with the underlying desires that cause it, and how to respond in Christlike ways to the situations that provoke it in you. Daily reflection questions and practical action steps show you specific godly behaviors that can replace your anger.

The good news is that God has given us the Bible—a book that has much to say about anger and how to deal with it. In this 31-day devotional, biblical counselor Robert Jones guides you through Scripture’s teaching on anger: what it is, how to overcome it, and what behaviors to put in its place. Reflection questions and practical action steps for each reading help you to apply God’s Word to your life. Try spending ten or fifteen minutes each day with this book, and see the difference it makes in:

  • calming your heart,
  • reconciling with others,
  • and growing in patience, contentment, and grace.

In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God’s Word to your life in practical ways day after day.

About the Author

Robert D. Jones is associate professor of biblical counseling at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and has served in pastoral ministry for over thirty years.

Endorsements

R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky:

Every Christian needs to read this book and heed its counsel. . . . [It] is rich in both gospel and Scripture.

Ed Welch, Counselor and Faculty Member, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation; Author, When People Are Big and God Is Small:

This devotional gets right to the point. It [opens] Scripture passages that you might already know . . . so that you see more and are drawn right in.

Amy Baker, Ministry Resource Director, Faith Church, Lafayette, Indiana; Author, Picture Perfect:

Move from discouragement to rejoicing as you see anger’s grip begin to slip and your joy begin to increase.

Greg Gilbert, Senior Pastor, Third Avenue Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky; Author, What is the Gospel? and Who is Jesus?:

Intensely practical and deeply biblical. . . . A book that will encourage every Christian, whether or not their particular struggle is with anger.

Buy the books

Anger: Calming Your Heart (31-Day Devotionals for Life)

P&R Publishing, 2019 | 104 pages

Visit Books at a Glance

Book Notice: REDEEMING SCIENCE: A GOD-CENTERED APPROACH, by Vern S. Poythress

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance

Fred Zaspel

I have consulted this book here and there over the years, but today I sat down to read it through, and once again I am struck by the learning and multi-giftedness of Vern Poythress. Vintage Poythress – profound thinking matched with simplicity and clarity of communication and a heart to see God. I am no scientist, but reading this book was a sheer delight. If only we could have learned science like this the first time!

At the heart of Poythress’s thesis is that the scientific endeavor is an exploration of God’s self-revelation. The scientist may not profess belief in God, but his work presupposes it. Recognizing this makes the scientific endeavor a joy and a marvel for the Christian. Indeed, the implications of Poythress’s work extend far beyond the laboratory and has glorious impact on the way Christians (ought to) think and how we understand our world. For the scientist, for the Christian apologist, for an understanding of creation, for the interpreter of Genesis, and for a broad Christian understanding of the world and God’s self-revelation, this book is very likely the best place to begin. A real gem. I wish I had read it more carefully when it was first released.

If you work in the scientific fields, you must read this book. If you even dabble in apologetics, you must read this book. If you’re not a scientist you may assume you don’t need or want to read this book, but I assure you – you’re missing a treat.

A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Note: Poythress has famously set out to redeem everything, it seems, and his related titles are equally valuable contributions to their respective fields:

  • Redeeming Mathematics
  • Redeeming Philosophy
  • Redeeming Sociology
  • Logic: A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought
  • Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity
  • In the Beginning Was the Word: Language—A God-Centered Approach
  • Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events
  • Philosophy, Science, and the Sovereignty of God

Other Poythress titles related to Genesis and creation:

  • Interpreting Eden
  • Did Adam Exist?
  • Christian Interpretations of Genesis 1

Other

  • Theophany: A Biblical Theology of God’s Appearing
  • Reading the Word of God in the Presence of God: A Handbook for Biblical Interpretation
  • God-Centered Biblical Interpretation
  • The Lordship of Christ: Serving Our Savior All of the Time, in All of Life, with All of Our Heart
  • The Inerrancy of the Gospels: A God-Centered Approach to the Challenges of Harmonization
  • Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible
  • The Miracles of Jesus
  • What Are Spiritual Gifts?
  • The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God’s Words
  • The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation
  • The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses
  • Understanding Dispensationalists
  • Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology
  • Science and Hermeneutics

Buy the books

Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach

Crossway, 2006 | 384 pages

Visit Books at a Glance