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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review: J. V. Fesko - Christ and the Desert Tabernacle

Every part of the Bible has significance.

When trying to read through the whole bible, most people get stuck at one of two places - the tabernacle in Exodus or the book of
Numbers. 


For years, I have tried to get my hands on every book I could find concerning the tabernacle.  28 years ago, as a young Christian, I felt like I was starving for more understanding of God's word. When I picked up my first book detailing the tabernacle, I knew I had found gold.
 
Why would God spend multiple chapters detailing the exact measurements and materials of a tent in the wilderness? What does a tent in the desert have to do with our lives in the 21st century? Fesko gives us those answers.
 

There is more to the tabernacle than just a tent. The Old Testament, as a whole, leads up to a series of events - the birth, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ the Messiah. When we read the stories in the OT, many details shadow the realities that are in Christ. Jesus said when we read the scriptures (OT) they speak of Him.Why did God tell Israel to build a tent to perform animal sacrifices? He gave it to teach them that sin has consequences He wanted to show that sin had to be punished - either by the sinner or an innocent substitute

When a sacrifice was made, it did not truly cover sin. It just illustrated the forgiveness of sin that Jesus brought through His sacrifice on the cross. 

Knowledge of these things can make the bible come alive. Bible study will never be the same. Both Testaments will make more sense when we understand the tabernacle. If we do not understand why God ordained sacrifice, we will never fully understand the death of Christ.

Fesko does a great job of taking a complicated subject and explaining it in terms even a new believer can understand.  The book is short and to the point. 

If you are new to the tabernacle, this is a great start. Fesko describes each piece of furniture and the structure using simple and understandable language.

The only thing I felt was missing from this book was illustrations. I don't always agree with the old saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words" (read "Amusing ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman), but most people can not fully understand what the tabernacle looks like without a picture of it.

Over all, I really enjoyed this book. If you are new to the tabernacle - Grab a copy, search the Internet for a few pictures, and read it.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book for free from Evangelical Press and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: Churches, Revolutions and Empires: 1789-1914 - Ian Shaw


 

I have always loved Church history. The first time I read about Martin Luther hiding nuns in a barrel to sneak them out of their convent, I was hooked. Many think of History as boring, especially Church History, but it doesn't have to be. Shaw proves it with this book.

Most of the books I have read on Church history have focused on the time of the Reformation and Puritans. Seeing that this book was set between the late 1700s and early 1900s, I felt that it would fill in some blanks in my understanding of Church History.

It did just that.

Packed full of facts, it is a good overview of the period. Because of it’s density, it is a little daunting. Being a medium to large work, it is not bed-time reading. That said, it was still a great book.

Moving from historical characters like Wesley, Edwards, Wilberforce, Carey, Finney, and Moody, this book keeps you moving on to the next chapter to see who else is included. So many times I have heard or read about great men and women of God but had no idea where they fit in the historical context. Shaw, with this overview, places each person in context along with their peers, setting up a time-line with words. For instance, coming from a Baptist background, I have heard about Lottie Moon but had no idea where she fit into history. She is include in this book.

Shaw spends very little time on each person (if he did the book would have to 10 times it's current size) but he spends just enough time to give you the setting, then moves on.

I have read books about many of these men, but an overview like this puts it all into prospective. Much of it is focused on missionary movements. It also includes the many changes in Church and government during this period.

One of the best sections deals with the subject of slavery. This
subject is seldom touched on from a prospective of Church History. Many Christians helped pave the way for the abolition of slavery, but there were also many that were pro-slavery. This is both a proud time and an embarrassing time for the Church. How could those who proclaimed to love God and love his fellow man be so wrong?  Shaw gives details of the Christians who fought for and against the practice.

Toward the end, he shows how the industrial age changed many lives for good and bad. There is also good section where he moves through countries around the world and show what influence the church had.


This book is not for everyone, but I highly recommend it for those who are interested in history. It is not light reading, but it is good reading.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided free by Christian Focus and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Review: Larry Osborne - Accidental Pharisees

Are you a Pharisee, or better yet am “I” a Pharisee?

Why do we always see our motives as sincere, but others’ as vengeful or just plain wrong? Why, when we do something wrong, is it an accident or we misspoke, but when others do the same thing, we consider them sinful,mean-spirited or Judgmental?

This is the main subject of "Accidental Pharisees". We all, whether we admit it or not have a tendency to act like Pharisees. It is in our fallen nature to cover up our sin. Look at Adam and Eve.

Pharisees were the main religious leaders of New Testament times. They had knowledge of the Bible and a fervor for living a Godly life. In hindsight, we see all of their faults, but people living in that time looked up to them.

In reality, their fervor was misplaced and they hated the very Messiah they proclaimed to wait for. Much like us, they saw themselves as guardians of truth while those who oppose them were the enemy.

I really enjoyed this book. It not only rebukes the reader, but also encourages them. Like a masterful surgeon, Osborne uses a scalpel to cut out the tumor but patches us back up and uses salve to heal the
wound. He uses illustrations and scripture to show how there is an Accidental Pharisee in all of us. We do not even realize we are Pharisees, but everyone else does.

When we think of Pharisees, we think of people who are against make-up and jewelry or believe that Christians should not go to movies. But we know the Pharisee and He is us.

I saw so many areas where I have become a Pharisee. God help me see these things and give me the Grace to change.

I loved this book and highly recommend it. I would even suggest that you buy a few copies and give to your friends and family.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided free by Cross Focused Reviews and Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Review: Richard D. Phillips - What's so Great about the Doctrines of Grace



What are the doctrines of grace and what makes them great.
I remember when I first came to the realized that predestination was in the bible. While reading an A.W. Pink book, I told a friend - can you believe Pink says God is in control of everything, even the smallest flea? My friend relied - And you don't!?!

That was a great awakening. I realized my theology was more man-centered than God-centered. Seeing the doctrines of grace for the first time was like being born again, again.

Who is in control of the universe - God or man?

This book takes the reader through each of the five points of Calvinism. Using the letters in the word TULIP, Phillips show how scripture agrees with each point.

This is actually the second time I have read this book. I purchased it on the kindle around a year ago then wanted to reread it for my blog.

This is a good book to give those who have either, not heard the doctrines of grace or have questions.

It is not a deep theological book, but it is not shallow either. He writes in a very plain and simple way. He is able to take some deep truths and make them accessible to a new believer.

When we understand what the sovereignty of God really is, the whole world looks different. We see life with much more meaning. We are humbled knowing - it is not about me. It is about God and His glory.

I recommend this book to new and old believers alike. If you think you know what the bible teaches concerning God's sovereignty, read this book. It may change you mind.

*This book was provided free by Reformed Trust Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Book Review: C. J. Mahaney - Christ Our Mediator

I have read C.J.’s books before. My wife and I were a part of the same denomination years ago. C.J. is always a great writer. The cross is a central idea in all of his writings. This one is no exception.
In this book he shows the reason Christ came.

How can a God who is just also forgive sin? If God is truly a just judge, sin has to be punished. If he just forgives, sin has not been punished. If we have all been born in sin and fall short of the glory of God, can God brush that sin under the table and just forgive us?

The answer is NO.

Think of a judge. A murderer comes before him. The judge declares him guilty, and then frees him. Is that judge a just judge? No, he would be considered evil because he let the guilty go free without punishment.

God, being a just judge, can not just forgive sin. Sin has to be punished. That is where the mediator comes in. Jesus came to this earth, became a man, and suffered our punishment. God could punish sin through Christ.

Sin is now justly dealt with. God is Just and the Justifier!! Christ is a bridge between a just God and sinful man. He was both man and God. He is the bridge between heaven and earth.

Wow, what wisdom and logic. Man could never have come up with that solution. All other religions believe man has to do something to make it to heaven. Christianity says someone else done something that we may go to heaven.

The only way we can pay for our own sin is by spending eternity in hell. The problem is - how can someone else pay for your sin? Only Christ can. Other men have sinned, so could only pay for their own sins. Only Christ was sinless. He had no sin to pay for. His death could be in our place.

We should bow down in adoration, not only for God's grace on us, but also for His wisdom. What is impossible for man, is possible with God.

This was a short but great book. I highly recommend it. C.J. writes with precision but also with emotion and zeal.

*This book was provided free by Multnomah Books in exchange for an honest review