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Get Ron Gleason’s “Herman Bavinck: Pastor, Churchman, Statesman and Theologian” for 50% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

Get Geerhardus Vos’ “Redemptive History and Biblical Theology: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos” and “Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments” for 43% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

Get William Edgar’s “A Transforming Vision: The Lord’s Prayer as a Lens for Life” for up to 67% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

Download R.C. Sproul’s “5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow” for FREE from Reformation Trust and Ligonier Ministries

Enter to win The Complete Sermon Collection of Charles Spurgeon (63-Volumes) for Logos Bible Software from Adrian Warnock

Enter to win an iPad Mini and a couple of books from 20 Schemes

Get Jeremy Walker’s “Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ” for only 99¢ for Amazon Kindle

Get Mark Dever’s “The Church: The Gospel Made Visible” for only $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get James Boice and Philip Ryken’s “14 Words from Jesus” for only $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Walter Brueggemann’s “Spirituality of the Psalms” for FREE for Logos Bible Software and enter to win the 24-volume collection

Enter to win a subscription to Leadership Journal from The Brave Reviews

5 reflections on church revitalization

Get Christian Focus Publications 5-volume John Owen series for 50% OFF from Grace Books International

Download the Daniel and Romans commentaries from the Moody Bible Commentary for FREE

“I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of ages.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“A man who loves you the most is the man who tells you the most truth about yourself.” (Robert Murray M’Cheyne)

Thank you for visiting ACTIVE/didactic. Please take some time to browse the rest of the site (pages are located in the tabs above). Start with the Pastoral Theology page or Systematic Theology page first. Soli Deo Gloria!

SALE: John Owen 5-Volume Set

Grace Books has a great deal right now on Christian Focus Publications‘ 5-Volume John Owen set. Get the whole series for 50% OFF or individual copies for 30% OFF!

Recommended reading:

Notable & Newsworthy

Here are the links and stories for the day…

Get Joel Beeke’s “Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism” for 50% OFF from Westminster Bookstore

Get Richard Phillips’ “The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men” for up to 50% OFF from Westminster Bookstore

Get Timothy Witmer’s “The Shepherd Leader at Home: Knowing, Leading, Protecting, and Providing for Your Family” for up to 50% OFF from Westminster Bookstore

Last day to get 5-packs of New Growth Press’ minibooks for only $8 (over 50% OFF) at Westminster Bookstore

Enter to win a stack of books by Matthias Media from 20 Schemes and The Philip Center

Enter to win some autographed books by Mike McKinley from 9 Marks, The Good Book Company, and 20 Schemes

Enter to win a stack of books by Kevin DeYoung, Greg Gilbert, Tim Chester, and Duane Litfin from Crossway, Rethink Mercy, and 20 Schemes

Enter to win an autographed copy of Timothy Paul Jones and Daniel Montgomery’s “Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace”

Get Kevin DeYoung’s “Crazy Busy” for just $3.99 for Amazon Kindle

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Get Tedd & Margy Tripp’s “Instructing a Child’s Heart” for just $1.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Tedd Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” for just $1.99 for Amazon Kindle

Kevin DeYoung and University Reformed Church vote to leave the Reformed Church in America for the Presbyterian Church in America

Albert Mohler’s 2014 summer reading list

Nathan Finn on Andrew Fuller and reformed antinomianism

Get some FREE music from Robbie Seay Band at Noisetrade

Domestic violence is domestic violence, regardless of who is the aggressor

David Murray offers his top 10 books for fathers

“Deceit is spiritually disastrous—a sin, whatever its supposed justification, that sours every relationship.” (Richard Longenecker)

“God is glorified by His glory being rejoiced in.” (Jonathan Edwards)

Please take some time to browse the rest of this site (see the tabs above). There are a number of articles, FREE e-books, and book recommendations for your encouragement. Check out the Systematic Theology page or Biblical Theology page first. Thanks!

Notable & Newsworthy

Here are the links and stories for the day…

Get Daniel Hyde’s “God in Our Midst: The Tabernacle and Our Relationship with God” for 50% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

Get 5-packs of New Growth Press’ minibooks for only $8 (over 50% OFF) at Westminster Bookstore (ends 05/28)

Enter to win a stack of books from Christian Focus and 20 Schemes

Enter to win three albums from Sovereign Grace Music and books from John Piper and Mez McConnell from 20 Schemes

Get Calvin Miller’s “Letters to a Young Pastor” for FREE for Amazon Kindle

Get Kevin DeYoung’s “Crazy Busy” for just $3.99 for Amazon Kindle (sale ends 05/31)

Get Michael Horton’s “The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World” is just $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Charles Quarles’ “Buried Hope or Risen Savior?” for just $0.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get R.C. Sproul’s “How Then Shall We Worship?: Biblical Principles to Guide Us Today” for just $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get R.C. Sproul’s “Pleasing God: Discovering the Meaning and Importance of Sanctification” for just $3.03 for Amazon Kindle

Get R.C. Sproul’s “God’s Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children” for just $3.03 for Amazon Kindle

Get R.C. Sproul’s “The Promises of God: Discovering the One Who Keeps His Word” for just $3.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Paul Tripp’s “Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad” for just $1.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Tedd & Margy Tripp’s “Instructing a Child’s Heart” for just $1.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Tedd Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” for just $1.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get J.I. Packer’s “Finishing Our Course with Joy: Guidance from God for Engaging with Our Aging” for just $4.99 for Amazon Kindle

John Piper’s new book “Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of the Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C.S. Lewis” is available as a FREE download (PDF)

Daniel Hyde on the commandments of God not being burdensome

Kevin DeYoung with a theological primer on the law-gospel distinction

Paul Tripp on difficult relationships and how to change them

Aaron Armstrong on the proper use of language in describing God

Hyper-Conservatism and the decline of America

“The depth of our convictions about God fuels the intensity of our passion for God.” (Steven Lawson)

“Free will without God’s grace is not free at all, but is the permanent bondservant of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good.” (Martin Luther)

Please take some time to browse the other pages on this site (located in the tabs above). There are a number of articles, FREE e-books, and book recommendations for your enjoyment. Start out by taking a look at the Exegetical Theology page or the Historical Theology page. Soli Deo Gloria!

Notable & Newsworthy

Here are the links and articles for the day…

Get John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ” for 50% OFF from Westminster Bookstore

Enter to win three Sovereign Grace Music albums and books by John Piper and Mez McConnell at 20 Schemes

Enter to win a stack of books by Russell Moore, Daniel Darling, Trillia Newbell, John Piper, and Mez McConnell from ERLC and 20 Schemes

Get D.A. Carson’s “Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians” for $2.51 on Amazon Kindle (sale ends 05/22)

Get Kevin DeYoung’s “Crazy Busy” for just $3.99 for Amazon Kindle (sale ends 05/31)

Enter to win Philip Graham Ryken’s “Salvation by Crucifixion” from Reformation21

Read books or get out of the ministry

Itchy trigger warnings, academic freedom, and college education

Richard Phillips on assurance of salvation through obedience to God’s commands

FREE D.A. Carson lectures on the book of Hebrews

Denny Burk on the New Testament as normative basis for sexual ethics

Thailand declares martial law amidst political unrest

“If you are bored with the gospel, you need to take a deep look at the sin of your heart. More seriously, if the gospel does not resonate in your heart, check and see that you are truly converted.” (J. Mack Stiles)

“Perhaps you complain the tool is dull, the minister is dead and cold. You should have whetted and sharpened him with your prayer.” (Thomas Watson)

Please take some time to browse the rest of the site (the other pages are located in the tabs above). There are a number of articles, FREE e-books, and book recommendations to help you grow. Check out the Systematic Theology page or Pastoral Theology page first… enjoy!

Review: Salvation by Crucifixion

This season is a time for renewal. People everywhere rejoice as the gloom and chill of winter gives way to the warmth and freshness of spring. There is no question that this annual climate change has been orchestrated by God to be a creative parable for redemption. For instance, Richard Sibbes, the great 16th and 17th century Puritan theologian, once said: “As the winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.” It is no wonder, to us who celebrate Resurrection Day, that death and resurrection also apply metaphorically.

Philip Graham Ryken’s latest book, “Salvation by Crucifixion” (Christian Focus Publications), has arrived just in time for Easter and I have the privilege of reviewing it for Cross Focused Reviews. This short book is based on a series of evangelistic sermons given at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA. Ryken and the late James Montgomery Boice revived an old tradition of preaching during the lunch hour in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Day, and this book is the fruit of that ministry.

The books consists of seven chapters, which are sermons on the cross of Christ. Each sermon explains a characteristic or result of the crucifixion of Jesus. Ryken seeks to show the reader why “the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the most important event in human history.” (p. 13)

In the first chapter, the author tells us of the necessity of the cross—that it was necessary to fulfill God’s plan, pay for sin, and to save sinners. Chapter two speaks of the “offense” of the cross. It was an abomination to the Romans and a curse to the Jews, but it is also insulting to any “moral” person. (pp. 35–37) “The Peace of the Cross” is the title of the next chapter. Here, Ryken writes of the enmity between humanity and God and the reconciliation that Christ has provided in His cross-work.  The fourth chapter is similar to the second, in that the shame of the cross (Heb. 12:2) is closely related to its foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). The author spells out the power and wisdom of God in the saving cross of Christ. Chapter five is probably my favorite exposition in the book. Entitled “The Triumph of the Cross,” it speaks of the debt acquired by our sin and its cancellation upon the cross. Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities [and]… made  a public spectacle of them,” (Col. 2:15) which has wrought victory over death for those united with Christ. In the sixth chapter, Ryken shows us the humiliation of Christ in His incarnation and (active/passive) obedience. He was humble in life and even unto death—by willingly being nailed to a vile cross in obedience! The reader can’t help but ask, “How should I then live?” Finally, in chapter seven, the author concludes by helping us understand the “unusual obsession” of boasting in the cross of Christ. (pp. 86–87) This boasting is unusual because it is other-focused, rather than self-centered. The Christian knows he has not brought anything to the salvation equation except for his sin, and so his boast is in the cross that saves.

“Salvation by Crucifixion” is a wonderful little book. It’s helpful for preachers and teachers in that it shows what an evangelistic, cross-focused sermon is supposed to look like. It’s an encouragement to Christians everywhere because the gospel is laid bare and the doctrines of salvation are clearly explained. And since the content is evangelistic, it is an excellent resource for outreach. The book is small and short, so one could very easily hand them out while witnessing to others. I recommend having a few on hand for the purpose of distribution.

For more on this topic, please see the Pastoral Theology page.

Recommended reading:

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.

 

SALE: Douglas Kelly’s Systematic Theology


Volume Two of Douglas Kelly‘s critically acclaimed Systematic Theology, “The Beauty of Christ: A Trinitarian Vision” (Christian Focus Publications) has just been released, and Westminster Bookstore has an awesome deal on it. You can purchase either volume individually at 40% OFF, or buy both volumes at 50% OFF.

Click the links or images above and below to be redirected.

The God Who Is—The Holy Trinity
“Douglas F. Kelly is one of the English-speaking world’s leading Reformed theologians. Here we begin to enjoy the fruits of his labors. What a feast it is. Few Protestant theologians in our day know the terrain of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Person of Christ, as well as Professor Kelly… He is at his best when opening up to us the unrealized importance and glory of these foundational truths about our Savior God. For those who yearn for an orthodox Reformed catholicity, Kelly shows the way forward.” (Ligon Duncan)

 

 

The Beauty of Christ: A Trinitarian Vision
“Among the several systematic theologies that have recently been released, Doug Kelly’s three-volume work deserves special attention. It is comprehensive in its coverage of the doctrinal issues, and it combines exegesis with careful analysis of the historical and present-day theological literature. Volume Two, The Beauty of Christ: a Trinitarian Vision, is now available, and its approach to Christology is striking indeed. Quite remarkably, and delightfully, it organizes the biblical teaching under the category of “beauty”––the beauty of three divine persons united to one another in love.” (John Frame)

 

For more information, please visit the Systematic Theology page.

 

Recommended reading:

John Owen Kindle Sale

All five volumes of John Owen’s writings published by Christian Focus Publications is currently on sale for Amazon Kindle. Click the link or image below to be redirected…

 

For more on this subject, please visit the Systematic Theology page.

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A Reader’s Review of “Prepared by Grace for Grace”

The kind people at Cross Focused Media have asked me to do another book review. I am grateful for the pulpit and pen ministry of Joel Beeke, so I jumped at the opportunity to read and review “Prepared by Grace, for Grace: The Puritans on God’s Ordinary Way of Leading Sinners to Christ”, which is co-authored with Paul Smalley. I must admit that I had no prior knowledge about the Puritan doctrine of “preparation” before encountering this book, so I was a bit intimidated knowing I would have to review it.

The concept of “preparation” is summed up in the subtitle: “God’s ordinary way of leading Sinners to Christ”. In other words, preparation is the means God uses to draw sinners to Himself prior to regeneration and faith. The authors of this book aim to defend the Puritan practice of preparation from those who argue that it is a departure from the theology of the Reformers.

The book consists of fourteen chapters, wherein Beeke and Smalley take the reader on a historical and theological tour of notable Puritan preparatory proponents. It begins by presenting the contemporary challenges to preparation in modern scholarship, which are claims the authors seek to undo throughout the rest of the book. Next, we read about the “Precedents to Puritan Preparation”… the men who paved the way for puritan theology (Augustine, Luther, Calvin). From here, we learn of a number Puritans who, while teaching the doctrine of preparation, maintain the sovereignty of God in salvation and monergistic regeneration. The authors clearly show that they have done the necessary work with primary source material and take pains to refute the claims of modern scholars. The Puritans featured in the book clearly held to the God-centered orthodoxy of Reformed soteriology while keeping in tension the truth of man’s responsibility.

The Puritans featured in this book are:

William Perkins (1558–1602)

Richard Sibbes (1577–1635)

John Preston (1587–1628)

William Ames (1576–1633)

Thomas Hooker (1586–1647)

Thomas Shepard (1605–1649)

William Pemble (1591–1623)

John Cotton (1585–1652)

Jeremiah Burroughs (1600–1646)

William Guthrie (1620–1665)

John Norton (1606–1663)

Thomas Goodwin (1600–1680)

Giles Firmin (1614–1697)

John Flavel (1627–1691)

John Bunyan (1628–1688)

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)

After presenting a long trail of evidence supporting the consistency between the preparatory theology of the magisterial reformers and that of the Puritans, the authors then compare Puritan preparation with the doctrine of the “continental divines” (some of them also belonging to the “magisterial” group): Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531); Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575); Theodore Beza (1519–1605); Peter van Mastricht (1630–1706); Zacharias Ursinus (1534–1583); Francis Turretin (1623–1687); WIlhelmus à Brakel (1635–1711); Herman Witsius (1636–1708); and Arthur Dent (1553–1607). Beeke and Smalley show repeatedly that the ordinary means of preparing sinners for salvation (i.e. the preaching of the Law) is a practice that the entire Reformed tradition has in common.

The book closes with a reprise of the contemporary criticism of Puritan preparation and the summation of the investigative work of the authors to refute such claims. They point out that while some Puritan concepts with regard to preparation were erroneous (for instance, Thomas Shepard and Thomas Hooker taught that one must necessarily be content with being damned prior to conversion, which many in the Reformed tradition rightfully deny), the majority views amongst those who hold to the ordinary means of preaching the Law with a view toward preparatory humiliation are consistent with Reformed theology and practice. The appendix contains William Ames’ “Praeparatione Peccatoris ad Conversionem” (On the Preparation of the Sinner for Conversion).

While this book is not necessarily a leisurely read and therefore one that I would broadly recommend, it would nonetheless benefit a great number and variety of people if they were to read it. For the preacher, teacher, and evangelist, it presses upon them the importance of preaching the Law as the necessary means of God in bringing about conviction in the sinner. This book would also be especially valuable to those who have been recently convinced of the truth of Reformed theology. Often times when one is confronted with biblical doctrines such as predestination, election, and monergistic regeneration, they experience a brand of zeal commonly referred to as “the cage stage” (in which they are overcome with a strong urge to vehemently proclaim these grand truths to anyone and everyone with little tact or wisdom). This book, when read with discernment, reminds the reader of the responsibility of man within the framework of God’s sovereignty in salvation. We must remember that the Law is the pedagogical means in which God drives men to His Gospel and He employs men to preach this Law in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may give new life and grant repentance and faith in them. While God is sovereign in His electing grace, it is our responsibility to preach the Law and Gospel to all and rely on the effectual work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate those who are predestined for salvation. The authors do a masterful job of maintaining the balance (for a lack of a better word) of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility while refuting the claims of critics who say that the Puritan doctrine of preparation is antithetical to Reformation theology.

For more on this subject, visit Meet the Puritans.

Recommended reading:

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.

 

A Reader’s Review of “The Ascension”

My friends at Christian Focus have blessed me with another book to review. This time around we’ll be looking at “Ascension: Humanity in the Presence of God” by Tim Chester and Jonny Woodrow. The book consists of three short chapters entitled “Ascended Priest”, “Ascended King”, and “Ascended Man” with an reflective and applicatory conclusion and an appendix featuring an “Ascension Hymn” (with verses that reflect the chapter titles).

The ascension of Jesus Christ is unfortunately one of the most underappreciated aspects of the gospel. It is often outshined by the majestic doctrines of the incarnation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection… but the exaltation of Christ, as the authors seek to draw out, is a supremely important and necessary element of redemption and a source of comfort for the Christian pilgrim in the present age.

There are three things about the introduction that are commendable: 1. It provokes the reader to think critically about the ascension of Christ; 2. It presents worship as a result of reflection upon the ascension of Christ; and 3. It points to the “glorious session” as a result of the ascension, where the enthroned Christ represents His people (with a view towards mission).

In chapter one, the authors rightly point out the ascension is “the fulfillment of all that sacrifice and priesthood represented in the Old Testament.” (p. 14) What follows is a survey of the types and shadows that point to Christ (Moses, the Priesthood, the Tabernacle, etc.) and His fulfillment of them as depicted in the book of Hebrews.

There is a nice balance of abstract theology and practical shepherding in this chapter. The reader is presented with weighty concepts such as the necessity of the ascension, but will also receive comfort by way of biblical assurance: “If Christ is not in God’s presence on our behalf then we are not in God’s presence… He is the complete sacrifice who has taken away sin for ever. He is the eternal priest whose ministry never ends. While He stands in heaven you are secure in God’s family” (pp. 22, 23)

The second chapter teases out the meaning of Christ’s enthronement… He is depicted as the sovereign King of the heavens and earth. Relying heavily on the book of Daniel and the writings of Luke, the authors share some fascinating insights:

1. The connection between Samuel (who anointed King David) and John the Baptist (who baptized King Jesus).

2. The connection between the enthronement Psalms (especially Ps. 2), the Davidic covenant, and the transfiguration of Christ.

3. The necessity of the cross as the preparation for the inauguration of Christ’s Kingdom in the ascension and the consummation upon His second advent.

4. The prophetic element of Daniel 7 in describing geopolitical developments over the next few centuries and the ascension of the Son of Man (Jesus, God the Son) into the presence of the Ancient of Days (God the Father).

5. The typological wilderness temptation failures of Adam and Israel realized in Jesus’ obedient response to His temptation.

6. The authority of Christ in the Great Commission and the extension of His reign “throughout the earth through the mission of His people” (p. 41).

7. The comforting truth of God’s sovereignty in the midst of a hostile mission field.

8. The relationship between the exaltation of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

9. The ascended Christ building His Church through the distribution of spiritual gifts. This section concludes by proposing that the true authority and Kingship of the ascended Jesus, which has been inaugurated (already), is the foundation for mission and gospel proclamation until the consummation of His Kingdom (not yet).

While most informed readers might anticipate a section on “Christ as Prophet”, the authors devote this last chapter to the humanity of Christ. Chester and Woodrow highlight the “scandalous” teachings of the incarnation of God and the exaltation of a man: “The scandal is not just that God has left heaven to be ‘enfleshed’ on earth, but that God will return to heaven in the flesh… Human flesh becomes a permanent fixture in heaven (a scandal to Greeks) and a permanent fixture for the Son of God (a scandal for Jews).” (p. 58) What follows is a brief survey of church history, discussing a number of heretical views on the person of Christ, and maintaining the importance of the full humanity of Jesus and His glorification with regard to redemption.

The authors then proceed to take a strange detour into the spacetime continuum and “relational” proximity. Rather than pontificating upon the finer points of quantum physics, the authors would have done well in heeding their own words: “The presence or absence of God always defies spatial definitions.” (p. 63) I understand what Chester and Woodrow are attempting to do here, but I believe this takes away from the overall point of the book and may confuse some readers. Despite the potential hindrance, there are still some statements in this section that deserve attention. For instance, the authors point out: “Space exists as a Trinitarian act between the divine persons, the Father creating through the Word and breathing life through the Spirit.” (p. 64)

Next, we have a series of short explanations of:

1. The necessity and security of the ascension.

2. The doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (i.e. Christ’s presence) during the Reformation (with special attention to the views of Calvin).

3. Mystical Union with Christ in the heavenly realms.

4. Inaugural eschatology and the “already” and “not yet” nature of the inter-advental period.

5. The restoration of humanity from its fallen, sinful state.

The chapter closes with a focus on mission, and one point is especially interesting. Chester and Woodrow posit an “ascensional” ministry approach over-against the “incarnational” approach. This is commendable, since the church is not a replacement of Jesus with its own agenda, but rather an assembly of disciples under His authority called to participate in His redemptive mission.

The conclusion is an excellent piece of biblical theology (largely influenced by G.K. Beale’s work) filled with mountain-garden-temple imagery, condescension/ascension theology, and Ezekiel’s eschatology. The authors show that Jesus is the fulfillment of these types and shadows and draw out the implications of the believers’ union with Christ before closing the book with the consummation in the New Jerusalem–where there is no temple–because “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22).

Overall, this little book (96 pages) packs a punch. It is concise, but the authors present some weighty truths with clarity and precision. While I didn’t care for the inclusion of theoretical physics and some of the stylistic choices the authors made, I would still recommend it due to the sound biblical-theological teaching. Due to the contemporary obfuscation of the doctrine of Christ’s ascension and exaltation, this is a much-needed and welcome book that will comfort and encourage believers, and inform them of the necessity and sufficiency of our Savior’s authoritative session-ministry.

 

More recommendations:

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.