Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDoodewaard [Book Review]

“Women are an essential element in church history.” So begins Rebecca VanDoodewaard in her book “Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth.” The author shares with us twelve biographical sketches on women that are widely neglected in other reformation books. Most of the women in this book came from royal families but each of them had different personalities and roles in which God used them to further His kingdom. The author lists five characteristics that these women had in common and that we would do well as women to also heed:

  1. They were devoted to the Protestant church.

The church was the center from which their lives revolved.

  1. They were married to believers.

They were devoted to the work of their husbands.

  1. They were given to hospitality.

From orphans, to refugees and visiting pastors, these women had open homes and open hearts in caring for the needs of others.

  1. They stewarded their intellectual abilities.

Education, whether through schooling or self-taught, was a God-given means to equip others to bear fruit.

  1. They were brave.

Obediently they followed the path that honored God even in fearful circumstances.

Each concise biographical sketch leads us through the women’s birth and death with their various ministries in between. The book concludes with seven ways in which the commonalities of these women could help fortify the church today. As much as I enjoyed reading about these women who helped shape the church, the conclusion was my favorite chapter because of the application for women today in serving the church. The author exhorts:

“These women were not hanging out on social media or mommy blogs, waiting for spiritual maturity to happen. They actively pursued it: Bible reading, prayer, attendance at worship (often several times a week), fellowship with the saints, theological study and discussions, and conscious self-denial matured them into usefulness that God blessed. Personal projects, comfort, and plans were subservient to the mission of the Great Commission.”

I highly recommend this book as a way, not to just learn about the history of these faithful women, but to apply their faithfulness to our own lives.

I received this book from Cross Focused Reviews  in exchange for a honest review.

God’s Battle Plan for the Mind by David W. Saxton [Book Review]

Battle_plan__“So what verse have you been meditating on?” When is the last time you have been asked that question? It might be “What did you watch on TV last night?” or “What book are you reading?” but no one has ever asked me what scripture I’m meditating on. Which is good because the answer would be a sheepish look and a reply of “Well, I’ve always wanted to do that but never have.”

A solution is found to that seemingly unattainable desire in God’s Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation by David W. Saxton. Well, at the mention of Puritan there went half my readers who think this staunch group of black-hatters went a little mad in their devotion to God. In the sense of mad being extreme zeal and desire for the Lord, we have much to learn from them.

Mr. Saxton begins his book with an explanation of why it is important to recover the practice of biblical meditation. He doesn’t deny that it is a difficult task. Moving from unbiblical forms of meditation such as mysticism, transcendental meditation and contemplative prayer, he then takes the reader through the Old and New Testament terms equivalent to the word “meditate.” He quotes several Puritan authors and their definition of meditation. My favorite was by Thomas Watson:

Meditation…is a holy exercise of the mind whereby we bring the truths of God to remembrance, and do seriously ponder upon them and apply them to ourselves.

The author contrasts occasional meditation with deliberate meditation. The first being spontaneous and throughout the day and the other planned at a specific time. Ideas to enhance meditation are shared such as not having any distractions. A list of subject matter the Puritans often meditated on is presented to assist the reader in what subjects they may want to spend time thinking upon.

I was challenged by Chapter 9 “The Reasons for Meditation.” Many of God’s people throughout the Bible meditated on His word but the main reason we should be doing it is simply because God commands it. We hear his call to this discipline over and over in scripture. The author challenges us:

Christians who refuse to use their time to meditate upon the Word are as foolish as an army sentry without bullets or a fireman without a water source.

We, and that includes me, must discipline our lazy flesh that wants to tweet about the snow outside instead of pondering the One who washed me white as snow. The benefits of meditation are many as well as the enemies of meditation. Mr. Saxton reminds us:

If a believer is to survive in a world of constant distraction, he must make honest and discerning choices about the use of his time. He must be willing to part with anything that clutters his mind to the point that he can no longer commune with the Lord.

The author concludes with a call to persevere in the habit of meditation and to make God’s Word a priority of life.

I highly recommend this book for those who like me “have always wanted to but never have.” Since reading this book may I have a different answer to the meditation question. Well, of course, if I ever get asked.

I received this book from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.