Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review - Vatican II: The Essential Texts

Too often we get our information about people and groups through the grapevine. We hear from someone’s cousin, twice removed. We never go to the source for the information we want. That is why when I study different people, groups, faiths, etc. that I read writing’s from those involved in them.

That is what is so important about the book Vatican II - The Essential Text. Vatican II is an important Catholic Church council that shaped much of what the church is about today. It includes most of the documents that were finalized in Vatican II. From the current liturgy, to the churches view of what constitutes God’s Word, onto how the church is to relate to the world and other faiths.

What is even of more help is the introductions to each section made by Edward P. Hahnenberg. He gives us background on the reason the topic was up for consideration, the process it took to have it finalized, and he even includes those in the church who disagreed with it.

This is a book that I will use often in my studies. It is well written, easy to understand, and important to our understanding of the Roman Catholic Church as it is today.

Disclaimer- I received this book for free from Blogging for Books. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review - Basil of Caesarea

I enjoy learning about the early church, her beliefs and those who were instrumental formulating her doctrine and practices. Marvin Jones has written a book about one such person, Basil of Caesarea. Basil was a key figure in helping us understand Scriptural truths like the Trinity (individually and separately), creation, and others. He was engaged in many debates that led to a true understanding of these truths and yet did so in a Godly way. Jones also gives us the history of how Basil came to know Christ, how he lived a simple life and that without applying deep thought to Scripture we are missing out on so much God has for us. Jones also gives us a history lesson on the key figures that were for or against the position Basil held. He writes in a way that takes us back to that time and place and in a way that we all will understand. I appreciate all of that about this book.

My only issue with it is that in the first half of the book you read more about others than Basil. The last half is focused almost solely on his life and theology. While it is important to know all of the central figures and teachings I wished more time had been spent on Basil.

With that said please don’t misunderstand the joy this book gave me. I will turn to it when I am teaching on those issues Basil had to deal with in his life and ministry.

Disclaimer- I received this book for free from Christian Focus through CrossFocused Reviews for this review. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review - Exploring Christian Theology

I haven’t been more torn reading a book as I have reading Exploring Christian Theology by Nathan D. Holsteen and Michael J. Svigel. There were many times when I was the author was diving into some deep theological truth only to be interrupted us with Dr. Seuss. And as the author would being to probe the depth of that theological truth they would move onto another point. So I’m torn, torn between enjoying this book and really enjoying this book. To make myself clear I enjoyed this book, just not as much as I felt I wanted to or should have.

The book is in two parts. The first part, written by Holdsteen, is titled “Created in Christ Jesus: Church, Churches, and the Christian Life.” The topics are wide ranging, encouraging, challenging and interrupted. As I said earlier you will come across your fair share of Dr. Seuss references (amongst other pop-culture references). Holdsteen uses these references as illustrations. Now I appreciate a good illustration it’s just that these didn’t seem to fit. Sure in some way they concerned the topic but they were distracting. Holdsteen writes in a clear way. He makes the topic easy to understand without any reference to Thing One and Thing Two.

The second part is written by Svigel and is titled “When He Returns: Resurrection, Judgment and the Restoration.” To compare it to part one, Svigel uses illustrations concerning his family or experiences. To me these are more impactful and help better clarify the point. Like Holsteen he writes deeply but clearly.

Both authors show all views of controversial topics and leave it to the reader to decide on their view. But as I mentioned earlier I wish they would have taken us deeper into those topics.

What I enjoyed most was how they took us throughout church history on certain topics. I always enjoy seeing how the church in her history has viewed the truths found in Scripture. The shortness of the discussion is an effect of their goal. They are trying to give us a “concise” talk on each of the topics. My frustration with the brevity is in a way good, overall I enjoyed what I was reading and wanted to keep reading their thoughts on those topics.

Disclaimer- I received this book for free from Bethany House for this review. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review - Gospel Assurance and Warnings

You have heard conversion stories of people who said a prayer, signed a card and/or came down to the front during the altar call and believe that they are saved. Yet when you look at their life afterward you question whether that conversion was real. Paul Washer, in his wonderful book Gospel Assurance and Warnings, takes us to Scripture to see how we can know whether we are truly saved. And no it isn’t any of those things I have just mentioned.

What struck me first about this book is how engrossing it is. Washer is addressing a topic that is hard hitting, that makes us reflect on our life as a Christian, and yet I couldn't put it down. I wanted to stay up and keep reading the next assurance of salvation that Scripture promises us. Next, like his book The Gospel Call and True Conversion (my review here); I realized how easy it is to read. He writes with the reader in mind. The last thing that caught my attention is the tone of his writing. He isn’t judgmental in pointing out how many people have a false assurance of salvation. His goal is to get you to see from Scripture that you may not truly be saved all the while he also gives great assurance to those that are truly saved. A fine line to toe and he does it well.

Washer draws his content mainly from I John and Matthew’s gospel. When one takes the time to look deeply in Scripture they will find a wealth of content to strengthen or question the faith that we have. Paul does that for us in this book.

The only book I have read more than once is the Bible. It’s an almost guarantee that I will read this again on a regular basis. I need the assurance that I am God’s child. From time to time I will also need to be convicted and nudged back on the path that leads to God.

Disclaimer- I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books through CrossFocused Reviews for this review. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review - Spiritual Warfare

In their book Spiritual Warfare, Brian Borgman and Rob Venture guide us through Ephesians 6:10-20, the famous passage on spiritual warfare. There seems to be two extremes concerning the war all Christians are in. One side says that every spiritual battle needs to have an exorcism performed, rebuking the devil and the like. The other side will say that our battles have nothing to do with those things and isn’t real. In this book you will find a thought out, balanced approach based on a clear exegesis of the Ephesians passage mentioned earlier.

They make it clear that we are in a battle against Satan and that we need to be equipped to fight that war. Fortunately we are not able to fight it on our own. We need help. That help is found in Christ. He equips us with the armor of God. He strengthens us, arms us and guides us in this daily battle. Throughout the book the authors bring us back to that glorious fact. In the first chapter they remind us that Christ is higher and more powerful than any force that comes against us.

What also struck me about the book is how easy it is to read. When “big” words are used they explain them clearly so anyone can understand. Also it is a quick read.

We need books like this today. Even though you can find a plethora of books on spiritual warfare none approach it from a Biblical viewpoint like this.

You can purchase it at Christianbook, Amazon or Reformation Heritage Books.

Disclaimer - I received this resource free from Reformation Heritage Books through CrossFocused Reviews as part of their book review blogger program. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review - Why Christ Came

The Christian book market is flooded with devotionals of every kind. Whatever topic or encouragement you are looking for you more than likely can find. In the new devotional by Joel R. Beeke and William Boekestein you will be challenged every day for a month on the glorious topic of the incarnation. The devotional is appropriately called Why Christ Came.

From the first day to the last you will cover almost every reason why Christ as God came to earth in the form of man. This isn't your usual fluff devotional. I felt like I was getting a mini lecture on theology each morning yet written in a way that isn't too academic. Each day’s topic is flooded with Scripture references to validate what they are teaching us.

The best part of this devotional is that you spend 31 days looking deeply into the life of our Savior. You begin your day with your thought’s squarely on the most important person in your life - Christ. Can’t go wrong with that.

You can purchase the book at Christianbook, Amazon or Reformation Heritage Books.

Here is a video trailer for the book.

Disclaimer - I received this resource free from Reformation Heritage Books through CrossFocused Reviews as part of their book review blogger program. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review - The Gospel Call & True Conversion

Today there is much confusion on what constitutes the gospel. That is of major concern since the gospel is of utmost importance (I Corinthians 15:1-3). Some pastors have been accused of preaching “gospel lite.” While I understand what that means I believe it is misleading. You are either preaching the gospel or nothing at all. There is no middle ground. So we need to have a Biblical understanding of what the gospel message is. In Paul Washer’s book The Gospel Call & True Conversion he clarifies what it means for us to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying world. This is part of a series on the gospel that Washer is writing. It is from a series of sermons he preached.

In this book you will learn more about what is the gospel call, having new hearts, and being new people. In a systematic way Washer takes us through the many aspects of the gospel, clearly articulating his points and giving the reader a fuller understanding of what God desires to do in the life of new and even mature believers. For those who have been a child of God for years will be reassured by Washer’s writing, reassured that God has changed their life radically and will make them into what He wants them to be. In other words, even the most veteran believer will benefit from reading this book.

What struck me is how easy this book is to read. You won’t find yourself stumbling over difficult words and when some are used they are explained so this won’t be intimidating to the average reader. Also he uses an extensive amount of Scripture references to validate his points. This is important. The gospel isn’t a human invention. It comes straight from the Word. And to the Word we should go for what it means.

If you are looking for a book to give you a better understanding of the gospel message then this is for you. You won’t be disappointed.

Disclaimer- I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books through CrossFocused Reviews for this review. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review - NIV Leadership Bible

Being a in the leadership team of my church I look for teaching to help me be a better leader. I don’t want to settle for being good, I want to excel. In the NIV Leadership Bible there are Biblical leadership principles that accompany the Biblical text. A great combination.

Each of the features of this Bible deal with leadership. There is a 52 week study that deals with different “Leadership Principles” - personal development, relationships, and skills. Each week is broken down into five days that give the reader Biblical guidance in leadership. These are scattered throughout the Bible showing us that leadership is a topic that God incorporated throughout His Word and how important it is to the life of His church.

There are profiles of leaders found in Scripture. These are short, to the point but very helpful in understanding how these saints lead God’s people. It would do the church some good to look at Godly leaders instead of those from the secular world as examples on leadership.

All throughout the Bible are insights that cover a myriad of topics. These are very short but powerful.

As with other study Bibles there are book introductions but these focus more on the leadership that can be found in that particular book.

To make finding the leadership topics discussed easier to find there is a chart in the beginning of the Bible and an index in the back. So very easy to look up an area of leadership and find wonderful helps.

I believe that this is a resource that I will turn to often as I lead the church God has given to me. Any church leader will benefit from this resource. It won’t disappoint.

You can purchase it at Christianbook or Amazon.

Disclaimer - I received this resource free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Sneeze book review blogger program. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review - Prepared by Grace, for Grace

Before one comes to a saving faith in Christ the Holy Spirit is doing a work in that person. The Spirit of God is softening the persons heart so that when the gospel is presented to them they will not only be receptive to hear the message but to respond appropriately. The grace one needs to be saved is applied to the believer before the moment they are saved. The Puritans called this preparatory grace which is the subject of the new book Prepared by Grace, for Grace by Joel R. Beeke and Paul Smalley.

In this book Beeke and Smalley point us to the Puritans and how many of them believed and wrote that God was working grace in our lives before we accepted the call of salvation. They write that, Complacency in sin, conviction of sin, and conversion to Christ constituted the Puritan process of personal salvation, going on to say that, Most Puritans believed that God uses the law to prepare the way for the gospel in men’s souls. In other words God gives us His Spirit and uses the law to prepare our hearts to be converted to Christ.

The law plays an important role in this book because the Puritans rightly believed that the law reveals and convicts the person of sin. But the law is powerless to save. That is where the Holy Spirit comes into the picture. When a person is convicted by the law of their sin the Holy Spirit saves us by grace.

The Puritans come from a reformed perspective which the authors write doesn’t contradict a person being prepared by grace for grace. They believed that both God and man have a work in the salvation of their soul (Philippians 2:12-13).

This book is full of many quotes from the Puritans so the English is different than what we are used to. Also this book is written more along academic lines, although I believe anyone would benefit from reading it. You will have a better understanding of how the Holy Spirit was working in your life even before you made a decision to make Christ your Lord.

You can purchase it at Reformation Heritage Books, Christianbook or Amazon.

Disclaimer- I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books through CrossFocused Reviews for this review. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review - Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary: Revelation

No matter how often one reads the book of Revelation you gain new insight. And if you have read the book you will agree that it is a difficult book to understand. After a lifetime of study you will not have reached the depths that are found in it. To aid us in our journey many men and women have written commentaries giving their views on this wonderful book God has given us. Some commentaries are great (see my review of one here) and some not so much (my review of one here). In this post I will review a commentary by Mark Brighton on Revelation that is thankfully very good.

Brighton spends the first 36 pages giving us invaluable background on the author, setting, purpose, etc. of Revelation. You can get this with any commentary but this one stands out. Brighton writes in such an engaging way that it seems fresh and new, even if you knew that information already.

In this introduction he gives us some reasons why Revelation is so difficult to understand which is very interesting to read.

Each chapter or group of chapters has introductions to give us the big picture. This is important so that we won’t take verses out of the larger context of the book. Then at the end of those chapters or smaller sections in a chapter there is a section called Devotion and Prayer. In these he gives a typical devotion and then a prayer to pray concerning those verses.

What stood out to me from the start was how Brighton was able to say so much using so very little words. In giving commentary on most every verse he keeps his words short but powerful. You get a full sense of the text with so little reading. A concept other commentators could learn. He doesn’t shy away from “big” words and concepts but that isn’t a problem because he explains them in such a way that you will easily understand. There is also a glossary that gives the definitions of some of the technical terms used throughout the book.

When Brighton gets to chapter four he takes four pages to explain the dispensation premillennialism view, an enlightening read. This is another great aspect to his commentary, in discussing those topics that are controversial (rapture and millennial views) he gives all the positions and basically lets the reader determine their view. He does go against the dispensational view throughout the text, but most other topics he lets us decide.

The only thing I felt was lacking was an at length discussion on what is called the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20:11-15. Such a wonderful and important text I felt should have had more discussion. But I may be nit picking.

Concordia Publishing House has released a series of commentaries called the Reformation Heritage Bible Commentaries. This is the first commentary that I have read from that series and it is wonderful. I will use it often. If this is any indicator of how good the series will be then I plan on getting others.

You can purchase this commentary from Concordia Publishing House, Christianbook or Amazon.

Disclaimer - I received this resource free from Concordia Publishing House as part of their book review blogger program. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review - One-to-One Bible Reading

When we read the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) we find one of the commands that Christ gives the church is to make disciples. A disciple is someone who follows Christ so we have the command to help others be sold out in service to Him. Sounds simple yet when you sit down and really think about it, it can be quit involving. One may not be sure where to begin. I believe we begin by simply reading the Word with them, helping them to gain a better understanding of God’s commands then showing them how to live it out. All other aspects of our life with Christ flow from living out Scripture.

In David Helm’s wonderful book One-to-One Bible Reading he gives us clear advice on how to meet with someone to read the Bible. The first seven chapters give the what, why and how on reading the Bible with someone and the last four give great application. Usually when a book gives application I get nervous but not with this book. I could see using his ideas as I disciple others in studying Scripture.

They have created questions you can discuss for each Bible reading you have with someone. They even have tailored the questions for sections of the Bible like the Gospels and Acts, Old Testament narrative, the epistles, etc.

If you are serious about discipling someone (that should be all of us) and not sure where to start (that is many of us), this is the book for you.

You can purchase it at Amazon,Christianbook or matthiasmedia.

Disclaimer- I received this book for free from matthiasmedia for this review. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible

Study Bibles come in different translations and from different perspectives. The important thing to remember is that a study Bible is a product of a person or group of people. The notes that accompany the text are not part of the actual autographs and should be understood as not coming from God Himself. So when we read a study Bible know that you agree with every note listed. And that is ok since it isn’t part of God’s Word.

The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NKJV) is a study Bible geared towards those who believe that the gifts of the Spirit are still in operation today and how to live with those gifts. Jack Hayford is the executive editor of the Bible and some of the contributors are people you will see on Christian television networks - Oral Roberts, Frederick Price, James Robison, Reinhard Bonnke, Billy Joe Daugherty and Paul Crouch to name a few. If you are like me that may give you some pause. Even though we both are charismatics we don’t agree on the main message they preach (that is a post for another day).

Throughout the Bible you will find explanations of key words in sections called Word Wealth. They have linked these words to Strong’s and derive their meaning from that wonderful concordance. You will also find in each book a section called Truth-in-Action. These are practical features showing you ways to apply the truths found in God’s Word (this is my favorite part of this study Bible). The feature of the study Bible that concerned me the most were the short teachings called Kingdom Dynamics. There are forty-one themes grouped in nine clusters covered in these teachings. What concerned me about them is that this is where you will find their Word of Faith teachings like seed faith. This is where you will get into the Prosperity Gospel message (see Genesis 8:22 Kingdom Dynamics note).

Since it is a study Bible focusing on the gifts of the Spirit I turned to I Corinthians to see the notes they on chapter 12. In the book notes I liked that they said that one reason for the letter was that Paul was addressing some problems in the church like that they had, “associated some of the frenzied antics of paganism with the exercise of spiritual gifts.” Also in chapter 12 verse 10 in the Kingdom Dynamic teaching on that verse they mention that, “When accepted within a congregations life, this public exercise of the gift (of tongues) is always to be interpreted so all may receive the message and confusion or misunderstanding of guests be avoided.” Even though they may not practice this on T.V. it is good that they included this teaching in this study Bible.

The study notes at the bottom of each page are from the NKJV Study Bible which are wonderful. The NKJV of the Bible is a wonderful translation that I highly recommend.
I struggle with recommending this Bible because of the Prosperity Gospel influence. I haven’t had the opportunity to look at any other study Bible focused on the Holy Spirit so I don’t know the specifics of their teachings. I would be hesitant to recommend this to anyone new to the faith or wanting a true view of the Holy Spirit’s working in the church today.

Disclaimer - I received this resource free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Sneeze book review blogger program. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review - Humble Orthodoxy

One of my greatest sins is how prideful I am when I am conversing with someone whom I disagree with. When I should be at my most gentle I am most hurtful. This is something that I am quite embarrassed about. I am not helping to build up fellow believers and worse than that I am bringing shame to the name of Christ. Sins that I ask forgiveness of often.

When sin remains I try to find passages in Scripture, sermons and/or books that deal with that sin. Fortunately a book has just been released that confronts my pride and exposes the root of my sin - Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris.

Humble orthodoxy is the idea that we must have a right thinking about God (orthodoxy) and apply and discuss it humbly. He says this, “Christians need to have a strong commitment to sound doctrine. We need to be courageous in our stand for biblical truth. But we also need to be gracious in our words and interaction with other people.” He goes onto say, “truth matters…but so does our attitude. This is what I mean by humble orthodoxy: we must care deeply about the truth, and we must also defend and share this truth with compassion and humility.” That is my struggle, being humble gracious when interacting with others. I believe that it is a struggle that most of us have.

The statement he makes that cut me the most is this: “One of the mistakes Christians often make is that we learn to rebuke like Jesus but not love like Jesus.” Isn’t this so fitting of many people? I am this person. I can rebuke with the best of them but not love like Christ.

I know many people who have been hurt by people in the church because of the unloving way they were treated by them. And that is unfortunate and sinful.

With that said and equal sin is to be so humble that we don’t confront sin. Harris says this, “There is nothing more unloving than to be silent in the face of lies that will ruin another person.” Because the church has been so hateful in its presentation of the gospel it has almost abandoned any confrontation all together. The world has expected as much from the church. They want a loving church without being rebuked for their sins. As I mentioned earlier that is as sinful as being prideful in our disagreements.

How do we go from being prideful to being full of humility? Harris gives the following advice, “Don’t be quarrelsome. Don’t get sidetracked on secondary issues. Be kind. Be patient. When other people are evil, endure it while trusting God. When you need to correct someone, do it with gentleness.” So simple yet so true. If we all got hold of this and applied it to every dealing with had with others the church would have more power in dealing with sin inwardly and in the world.

The reason we should be humble is because Jesus is humble (Philippians 2:8) and we should be like Christ. He is our motivation. He is our example. He is our goal. Harris spends much time on this which is so important in gaining a right perspective on our relationships with others.

To summarize the ideas in his book Harris says this, “That must always be the driving passion behind our pursuit of biblical orthodoxy. Not to prove ourselves more right or better than someone else but to better worship the holy God, the one who forgives and accepts us for Christ’s sake.”

This is a short book of 61 pages. You could read it in an hour or so. You may find that it takes you longer because you will stop often and meditate on what you have been reading. I am so thankful for a book like this. It has been needed for some time. I can’t recommend it enough.

You can purchase it at Christianbook or Amazon.

Disclaimer - I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review - Revelation and the Antichrist

I took my Sunday School class on a study through the book of Revelation and looked for resources to help understand it’s meaning. I chose books that had different views of the symbolism as long as they based their views on Scripture. I also used resources that dug deep into the text to give to get a better understanding of the grammar, history, geography and customs of the time John wrote the letter. Even though our study is finished I will always be on the lookout for more study aids on the book of Revelation.

When I came across the book Revelation and the Antichrist by William Edward Dewberry I was intrigued because I assumed he would dig into Scripture, Old and New Testaments, and give an in depth look at how the role the Antichrist plays in the book of Revelation. I was looking forward to some exposition on those difficult passages concerning the timeline of events to take place in the end times. Unfortunately I was disappointed.

As I read I was put off by how quickly I was able to read this commentary. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy books that are easy to read. The problem is that when reading a commentary on Revelation I expect to take an occasional pause to digest and meditate what the author is saying. That didn’t happen here. Throughout the book he would site a passage then give a brief explanation on that passage with no real depth given. This happened over and over. I was expecting meat and got a snack.

He is an amillennialist (the view that we are currently in the millennial reign of Christ) but doesn’t give much reason why. As to his rapture view, not much is given. He does discuss dispensations so I am assuming he takes those views as well.

I wish I could recommend this book but I can’t. There are other worthy commentaries on Revelation (here is my review of one) that you should purchase if you are looking for an aid to help you understand this important book.

Disclaimer - I received this resource free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Sneeze book review blogger program. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.

Review - Cruciform

In the middle ages churches were decorated with mosaics, stained glass windows and many other devices that were used to help the congregants learn about the gospel. Understand that during that time many didn’t have a Bible in their home so the church was the main resource of understanding the gospel. And the way it was constructed was a huge help to understanding theology.

The most important feature to the church building was that it was in the shape of a cross. This is called cruciform. This told those that came to the building that the central message to be heard there was the cross. This goes along with Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 2:2 where he tells the church in Corinth that he aims to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and him crucified. The cross is and should be the main emphasis of a Christians teaching and life. That is what Jimmy Davis shows us in his wonderful little book Cruciform. As he states in the introduction, Here in the 21st century we need more cruciform churches. Not lavish cathedrals but living communities of disciples being shaped by the cross into the shape of the cross for the glory of God and the good of our neighbors, the nations, and the next generation. And he spends the rest of the book showing us how to do just that.

The cross was the most selfless act ever committed by a human. Christ gave up worship in heaven and became a servant, emptying himself, humbling himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11). Christ did that to redeem because our first parents, Adam and Eve, ruined the perfect relationship we had with God in the fall. His redeeming act was to reshape us by the cross. His death and resurrection was to bring us new purity, new passion, new power and a new partnership. As a result of Jesus’ work of shaping us by and into the cross we are to live a life in service to others, following the example of Christ (see previous paragraph).

Davis shows that since we have been formed by and into the cross we will be watching, waiting, willing and welcoming of others in service to others. This is the natural result of a life that has been changed by the cross.

This is a small portion of the truths found in this book. The 107 pages can be read in a few hours but it is filled with truths that will last a lifetime. It is a book that I will turn to again and again. If you decide to read it you won’t be disappointed.

You can purchase it at Christianbook, Amazon and CruciformPress.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Cruciform Press blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review - Expository Listening

I love teaching God’s Word. Opening the Bible, discussing what God wants to teach us gives me a thrill. Seeing people respond to Scripture is proof of its power.

I have read many books on how to teach God’s Word and have many more on my to-read list in the near future. One day when I was looking for another resource to help me teach better I came across a book on how to listen to Bible teaching better. And I couldn’t click to the next page. I was froze. A book on how to listen to preaching better. That is something I had never heard of before. And I had to have the book and read it. The book is titled Expository Listening by Ken Ramey and here is my review of this wonderful, helpful, important book.

In the introduction Ramey hits on something that I had never thought about - how often the Bible speaks about listening. If you are like me you think of all of the commands the Bible makes about getting up from my chair and do something, not sit in my chair and listen. What I have failed to realize is that listening is an action as much as helping the poor. Here is what Ramey says about this:
From cover to cover, the Bible is jam-packed with verses and passages that talk about the vital necessity of hearing and obeying God’s Word. God is very concerned about how preachers preach. But based on the sheer amount of biblical references to hearing and listening, it is unmistakable that God is just as, if not more, concerned about how listeners listen.
Something I mention often in my teaching and preaching is that when we stand before God we will give an account for all that we have said (Matthew 12:36) and done (Hebrews 4:13) but what I never thought about was giving an account for all of the sermons I have heard.
And at the end of your life you will stand before God and give an account for every sermon you heard. On that day, God will essentially ask you, “How has your life changed as a result of the thousands of times you have heard my Word preached?”
That is a staggering reality. We will give an account of how we allowed the sermons we heard to transform our lives. I won’t ever listen to another sermon the same way again.
Ramey, in the chapter on how to prepare beforehand to hear a sermon, says that we should Come to church with a spirit of anticipation, fully expecting God to speak to you through His Word in ways that will make a lasting difference in your life.

Of course only listening to God’s Word does nothing for you (James 1:22). The quote I gave earlier on standing before God and giving an account on how we listened to His Word taught implies that we must put what we hear into practice for that is how we will be judged on our listening, our doing what we have heard preached.

At the end of the book is a section I will turn to often titled “A Quick-Reference Guide for Listeners.” It is a summary of the vital truths found in this book.

If you have problems listening to sermons, if you find yourself distracted, not remembering what you were taught, then this book is for you. If you are a Bible teacher like me, get this book so you can know what God expects from our teaching. If you love to hear sermons, this book will encourage you and possibly point out some areas that you can improve your listening.

You can purchase it at Christianbook, Amazon or Kress Biblical.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Review - The Masculine Mandate

Every once in a while I come across a book that not only exceeds expectations but challenges me in areas I thought I was doing well. Richard D. Phillips book The Masculine Mandate is one such book. Seemingly on every page is an aspect of my life as a man that Phillips turns up-side-down. I won’t soon forget this book.

Phillips purpose is to challenge the popular ideas of what a man is supposed to be by taking us to Scripture, specifically Genesis 2:15 where we read God’s instruction to man. It goes as follows, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” The two charges God gave each man are to work and keep. The book begins by examining in detail those commands. Phillips then shows us how to live out this mandate first in our marriages, then as fathers, as friends then as servants of God.

The book is written in a humble way. Phillips makes it clear that he doesn’t have this mandate perfected in his own life which makes the book more personal. That doesn’t mean that he holds back his punches. We men need that.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Any person of the male gender needs to read this book. And more than once. Your life will be transformed which will result in a better marriage, being a better father, a better friend, a better servant of God.

You can purchase it at Christianbook or Amazon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Review - The Radical Question/A Radical Idea

What is Jesus worth to you? (Question from the back cover of The Radical Question/A Radical Idea) This is a question that should shake all believers to the core. What value do we place on Christ? Do we desire Him above all else? More importantly do our actions back up our words?

In this book David Platt has taken snipets from two books he has written (Radical and Radical Together) on the topic of what Biblical Christianity is meant to be and how we are to fulfill the call Christ has for the church. In those books he makes the point that we as followers of Christ must serve Him radically since He deserves that and so much more. Great questions and discussion found in those books.

And that is the problem with The Radical Question/A Radical Idea - it isn't needed. All that is in them is found in those others. So I think that to review this book I need to recap the reviews I had of the others (found here and here).

After reading both I came away convicted and pushed away. Platt urges the reader to make much of Christ by reaching everyone we can with the Gospel. He teaches that we need to put much of our efforts into reaching the hurt, hungry and dying with the love of Christ. I agree with that entirely.

Where I disagree with Platt is that he puts so much emphasis on reaching those in other countries that he neglects ministering to those in our communities. He does mention them but just briefly, not nearly as much as those around the world.

And he does that in this book. It is unfortunate. Just look around your community. Are we to neglect them for the world? Leave them to die on the streets? Of course not. Nor should we ignore going beyond the borders of the USA. It isn't an either/or proposition. It’s a both/and. That is what Christ did. That is what the apostle Paul did. It is what we should be doing.

It is my prayer that I have the desire to reach everyone I come in contact with the Gospel. That is David Platt’s goal as well. Did he need to tell us that in another book? No. He did in two others.

You can purchase it at Christianbook, Amazon, or WaterBrook Multnomah.

Disclaimer - I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review - Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala

I had heard about Jim Cymbala long before I read this book. Many had recommended this book to me and over time became more eager to read it. To confess, when I read a book by a Pentecostal/Charismatic author, I get a bit nervous, even though I consider myself Charismatic in my theology. I think of the guys and gals on T.V. and all the junk they write, that is what I expected. But to my surprise, once I started his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, I didn’t want to put it down.

Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle for over thirty-five years. He has seen and experienced much in those years at a church located in an area full of poverty, drug use, and prostitution amongst other evils. He is passionate, has a wife who loves God and uses worship to express that love, and has a church that has a burden for those in the churches community struggling under the weight of sin.

This book details the many experiences the church has had under his leadership. You will read of those mentioned above being delivered from those sins, wonderful church growth and personal struggles and victories on an amazing level.

This book isn’t so much of a how-to book but a book on what can happen when a church seeks God in prayer and devotes themselves to His mission. He explains how the church has a weekly prayer night every Tuesday. It began with a modest size group but has grown to the thousands each Tuesday. They give thanks, intercede and give supplications for any and all needs brought to the church during the week and any discussed that night.

The results are nothing but miraculous. The story that touched me most was the story of how his daughter who had ran from God for years came back to the faith in a dramatic way. Another story he writes is one of man who came to the prayer meeting that at the end came up to Cymbala, who thought that the homeless man only wanted money but only wanted prayer. I could go on.

Some things that his church does has peeked my interest - the weekly prayer meeting I previously mentioned and how they have a group of people praying during the church service for the service and those in attendance. The thought of having prayer warriors praying during the service is real exciting. We are in a spiritual battle and those prayers could make the difference.

With all of that said there is one main issue I have with the book and that is the emphasis Cymbala places on prayer during the church service over all other activities, including preaching. He quotes Matthew 21:13 where Christ says that His house shall be called a house of prayer not a house of preaching. Which is a good point. But he never addresses Acts 5:42 where Luke writes the following, “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” Notice that when that when the apostles went to the church (temple) this text says that they did not cease to preach. This happened every day. Doesn’t this show how important preaching is? Doesn’t this show us what the main purpose was when the apostles went to church? I believe so and it was preaching. Please understand that I am not devaluing praying, I just want to view it and preaching the way Scripture does.

That disagreement doesn’t diminish my appreciation for this book and how encouraged I was from it. There are many chapters (The Lure of Novelty; The Lure of Marketing; The Lure of Doctrine Without Power to name a few) that I have been meditating on since I finished.

If you or your church need to be reignited, if you or your church haven't experienced God move in mighty ways in quite some time, you need to read this book. It won’t disappoint.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review - How Do We Know the Bible is True? Volume 1

It is important for a believer to have a strong belief in the Bible. We must adhere to its teachings and proclaim them every chance we get. That means that we must believe that what we find in Scripture is directly from God. When we talk to an unbeliever about the Bible we must give a clear defense of why we believe the Bible is God’s very word (I Peter 3:15).

In the book How Do We Know the Bible is True? Volume 1 is a resource that covers many areas concerning Scripture and shows us how the Bible is the only true word of God. The authors discuss topics ranging from how we can trust both testaments in Scripture, evolution, the resurrection, polygamy and other religions to name a few.
These guys write in a clear and convincing manner. You don’t have to have attended seminary to understand how the authors explain these complex topics (which many other books like these can be to academic). You will find yourself uses the arguments in this book in your discussions with others about the Bible.

If you want a resource to deepen your belief in the Bible then pick this book up.
Disclaimer - I received this resource free from New Leaf Press.  All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.