Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coffee with Calvin: Daily Devotions by Donald McKim

Coffee with Calvin: Daily Devotions
by Donald McKim
ISBN 978-664-23681-6
Westminster John Knox Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I had just started in a youth pastorate in Montana. My senior pastor and mentor was talking about taking one other young guy, myself, and he to breakfast once a month for mentoring and study. He chose to have us read Calvin's Institutes. The Battle's translation. A big, two-volume behemoth. The tome cost me over $50 dollars. "I know it is expensive," he said, "but you have to do it." So I did.

I made it through about one-fourth of Calvin's Institutes then. I am a little further along since then, but 15 years later I have not finished it yet. Nevertheless, in the study I grew to love reading and probing the thoughts of Calvin. I don't always agree with him. But Calvin was so brilliant, so well-organized, and so well-written that he needs to be read, understood, and taken seriously.

Recently, I had the opportunity to receive a book based on Calvin's Institutes called Coffee with Calvin. Coffee with Calvin is written by Donald McKim, the living legend of Presbyterian publishing and the editor for John Knox Press. What Coffee with Calvin does is take little snippets of Calvin's work, explains them, and then gives practical advice on how to live what one can learn from Calvin in one's everyday life.

The book is broken up into different sections. McKim begins with some devotions on basic Christian belief. He continues on with a section on life in the church. The rest of the sections of this fine devotional fall under more practical headings such as "Anticipating the Future" and "Living the Christian Life". The result is a devotional that feels almost catechetical and confessional in nature, and thus has a unique beauty that most other devotionals do not have.

This is a great book, and would be a great study. This devotional needs to be pondered and savored. It is better not to rush through it. Having Coffee with Calvin should always take a little more time to listen and savor.

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