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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review: John Fea - Why study history? : reflecting on the importance of the past

http://img1.imagesbn.com/p/9780801039652_p0_v2_s260x420.JPGI remember the first time I read that Martin Luther, the great reformer, hid nuns in herring barrels to sneak them out of a monastery and find them husbands. That was the day I feel in love with the study of history.

Over the years, Church history has become a passion. Needless to say, when I saw this book offered for review, it was a no-brainer.

In this short book, John Fea gives us the reasons everyone should read and study history. He has taken his introductory lecture as a professor and edited it into a very readable book. I am sure that lecture has created many history majors.

In the book, he shows the connections and non-connections that history has for the present day. We have all heard the quote that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. According to Fea, This is only half of the story. History can be used to learn lessons that benefit the future and it can also be abused.

At first glance, we would think most Americans believe history is boring and unimportant. Fea shows that America is almost obsessed with History. We play games with a historical setting, read historical novels, biographies, and television shows. History is anything but boring.


When you read, "Why Study History?" you will come away ready to read some good books and maybe take a few classes. John Fea has written a good book to spark an interest in history. Whether you are a student or layperson, you will come away inspired and excited about history.

I enjoyed this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Baker Academic and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: James N. Anderson - What’s Your Worldview? An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions

http://img1.imagesbn.com/p/9781433538926_p0_v3_s260x420.JPGWhat is a Worldview? Everyone has one, but not many people know what their worldview is.

James N. Anderson has written a short easy-to-read manual to help you find out what our worldview is. What is unique about this book is its format. Set up like a “Choose Your Own Adventure”, we read as a child, Anderson makes the complicated task of discovering your presuppositions very easy.

Starting with some profound questions like, "Do you have the power to make free choices?" and "Is there any objective truth", he directs you to different parts of the book according to how you answer at the end of each chapter. Each chapter contains one to three pages. That makes for a quick and enjoyable read.

No matter what your belief system, this is a good read. It is impressive at how much information he has packed in such a short book. On the one hand, the size of the book is a strength, but on the other, it has some weaknesses. Being short, it would be easier to get a friend to read. But being this short means he was not able to go deeper into some subjects.

All in all, this is a great read to give to unbelieving friends and co-workers. It could open up some good conversations and lead to sharing the gospel.

I enjoyed this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Crossway and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Scott B. Rae - Doing the Right Thing

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jDTSHSVBh6A/UoKZqrLUiAI/AAAAAAAAGxg/Cjz7AZqxfGk/s320/cover36306-medium.pngWhen speaking of truth, you will more times than not, hear the phrase, "That’s true for you, but I don't believe that way." In our postmodern, relativistic society we have not just lost the knowledge and understanding of what is right and wrong, we have turned ethics on its head.

Why has the world seemingly been turned upside down? Why has conventional wisdom about right and wrong been discarded? I think Scott B. Rae gives us some answers in this short but intriguing book.

Here we have a book about ethics in today’s postmodern culture. Rae takes us through an array of subjects from Politics to Medicine. He shows us that the Christian worldview is the only logical and correct understanding of what is right and wrong. We see here that there are correct and incorrect views on almost every subject.

In America it is considered hateful and bigoted to call anything a sin (except when referring to those who are politically incorrect). We have a so-called tolerant society, but they only tolerate those who agree with their worldview. Because of this, we very seldom hear someone proclaim something is right or wrong. Rae shows us that there is a truth we can know. There are things that we can call right and wrong. Years ago, the beliefs of postmodernism would be laughable, but today it is almost impossible to find a college professor, or student for that matter, that believes in objective truth.

Even though the book was originally intended to be written by Chuck Colson, because of his untimely death, Scott B. Rae takes up the mantle. To fill the shoes of a giant like Colson is no small feat, but Rae pulls it off.

The writing is crisp and to the point. Because it is a shorter book, there is no clutter. Rae gets straight to the point. It is very well written and keeps you moving from one chapter to the next.

I enjoyed the book. Rae has done a great service to the Body of Christ.

I highly recommend it and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Zondervan and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book Review: David Gibson - From Heaven He Came and Sought

http://img1.imagesbn.com/p/9781433512766_p0_v3_s260x420.JPGHow often do you find a book on definite atonement? I can probably count on one hand how many I have found on the subject in the last twenty years. Not only seeing a book like this published, but also the size and caliber of the writing made one reader, if I may say, giddy with delight! This book has been needed for years. There has not been a detailed volume on definite atonement of this magnitude since Owen's "Death of Death". Not only is it detailed, it is also very accessible to the average reader.

Now that my voice is lower by a few octaves, I would like to talk about the contents of the book. Here, we not only have a volume on the doctrine itself, we also have its history, its theology, and its use in pastoral practice. Not to mention a great Bibliography at the end. At 704 pages, who could ask for more?

The four sections are divided as follows:

1. Definite Atonement in Church History
2. Definite Atonement in the Bible
3. Definite Atonement in Theological Perspective
4. Definite Atonement in Pastoral Practice

The first section takes us through names such as Augustine, Calvin, Beza, and the like. We see that even though many did not specifically teach the doctrine, they did build the foundation for which the doctrine would be built. If they had lived at a later time, it would probably have lead to the same.

The second section leads us through the bible. We see what scripture teaches concerning who Jesus died for. Did he die to save or just to make men savable? Did the Father have one desire and Jesus and the Holy Spirit another? What about the texts that proclaim that Jesus died for all?

This section and the next are the meat of the book.

The third section concerns Theology. It shows that definite atonement logically fits with the other doctrines of the bible. There is no contradiction with the central doctrines of the word.

The last section takes a look at the pastoral benefits that come with the doctrine. How can we have assurance that we are of the elect? What about the unevangelized? Who gets the glory for Salvation?

I eagerly awaited reading this book and it did not disappoint.

I would considered this one of the top two books I have read this year.

I highly recommend it and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Crossway and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Jeremy Walker - The New Calvinism Considered

http://confessingbaptist.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/new-calvinism-front1-Jeremy-Walker.jpgBeing both a Charismatic and a Calvinist made this book a must read for me. Even though I became a Calvinist before it was cool, I have seen many of my friends over the years do the same. I did not realize that there were more like me out there(both Charismatic and Calvinist) until I started to hear a few names being thrown around.

Little by little we started seeing young men who were tired of shallow preaching and even shallower Christian books. These guys were reading books by Sproul, MacArthur, and the like. They had a heart for theology and culture. It was a breath of fresh air.

At one time, it was almost impossible to find a book on predestination, the atonement, the Puritans, or the Reformation at the local Christian bookstore. If you did get a book on one of these subjects, it had to be ordered special. Now there is a wide variety of titles readily available at almost any neighborhood Christian Bookstore. Wow how things change!

Most books written from a Reformed perspective are probably from someone considered a "New Calvinist" In this book, Jeremy Walker gives us insights into the positives and negatives of the movement. Even though I do not consider myself exactly in the "New Calvinist" camp, I would be amiss to say I did not read and enjoy their books.

I have enjoyed Piper, Keller, Grudem, and many others. In fact, I probably would have considered myself a "New Calvinist" if it were not for a few inconsistencies from some of their writers. But the writers I just listed are not the ones I am referring to.

I liked this book. It was a little like taking medicine. It tasted bad going down, but I knew I would feel better after taking it. It is easier to admit faults in your neighbors than it is in your own family. It is like the old saying, "I can yell at my sister, but you better not!"

Walker did a great job in critiquing without destroying. He spent time on both the good and bad aspects of the movement. I respect that and commend him for a job well done.

I hope this book leads to a correction in many areas and a strengthening of the body of Christ.

It was a very interesting read. The only negative I had was it should have been 1000 pages long and packed full of footnotes. But I am just being facetious.

I don’t agree with everything but still I highly recommend it and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from EP Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book Review: Paul M. Gould and Richard Brian Davis - Loving God with Your Mind: Essays in Honor of J. P. Moreland

http://img2.imagesbn.com/p/9780802410399_p0_v1_s260x420.JPGEvery once in a while you find a book that changes your whole perspective. Years ago, I read a book that did just that. I have reread it a number of times since. It was called "Love Your God with All Your Mind" by J. P. Moreland. This is not to be confused with the book I am presently reviewing, which is called, "Loving God with Your Mind" I refer to the former to say that Moreland's work has become a game changer in many respects.

If you are like me, I have heard sermons telling me to "quit over-thinking stuff", "God doesn't do things logically", and "Quit relying on your mind and start listening with the spirit." For too many years, much of the Church has held an anti-intellectual stand. Some preaching almost made you feel guilty to think. It would have been funny, if it had not been so tragic.

Moreland has been a great benefit to the Church. Here, a group of men who were mentored by him, give us a series of articles showing the different areas of Moreland’s writings and teaching.

Starting with the first two chapters, I thought I may be in over my head. Platonism and naturalism are two subjects that I have very limited knowledge of. After pushing through, it really got interesting. Not that the first two were not interesting; it was more my ignorance of the subject than the writing itself.

The book is divided into three parts:

1. The Building Blocks of the World
2. Thinking for Christ in the World
3. Living for Christ in the World

Parts two and three are much more accessible than the first. Understandably, part one tended to be more abstract. I think even those like me who had to push through will come to see that it was well worth the time and effort. This book was a great read and packed full of great information.

With subjects ranging from creation to happiness, there is a great variety of information to keep you reading.

I highly recommend it and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Moody Publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Audio Book Review: - John Bunyan - Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

Grace Abounding to the Chief of SinnersWhen you hear the word "Puritan", what do you think about? Black clothes, Legalism, or crabby ol' men?

If this is what comes to mind, you have never read the Puritans. Instead of learning from the original sources, we normally get our information second hand. That is why the Puritans have such a bad rap. Most people who teach those things about them have never read them.

Far from our caricature of the puritans, they were warm, compassionate, and above all passionate for the Lord. John Bunyan is no exception. In fact he is the rule.

Known for his classic novel, Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan is probably the greatest known Puritan of all time and no one can accuse him of being boring.

Here, we have a sort of autobiography. We see the real life Pilgrim. Bunyan gives us a guided tour of the misery and the joy of a man seeking for God. We see a man crushed by his sin. We see his heart filled with fear that he will die in his sin. We see him find redemption through the Savior.

It is both heartbreaking and joyous. His desperation will melt your heart and his salvation will bring a tear to your eyes. If you have never read the puritans, this is a good place to start. The narrator, Simon Vance, has a wonderful English accent that lends itself to the material.

I had already read this book once but now have had the privilege of listening to the audio version and totally loved it.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I enjoyed this book courtesy of the Christian Audio review program at http://christianaudio.com and received the audio book, free of charge, from ChristianAudio.com and Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Sarah Cunningham - The Well-Balanced World Changer

We all have dreams. We all want to make a difference in the world. But what happens if after years of hard work it just doesn't seen to be working like we imagined?

Sarah Cunningham, in this encouraging book, gives us pointers on how not to give up. She shows us that our God-given dreams are not to receive praise from people or to make us feel good about ourselves. They are given to please God and help others. Addiction to approval is not what we are called to.

Our dreams should be to please God and not people. He is the one who called us and gave us those dreams and he is the only one we should strive to please. We may not be another Billy Graham. We need to understand that the world would be worst off if it was full of famous people. If everyone was a boss, who would do the work? If everyone was a performer
who would watch the show.

She shows us that God intends for us to be content whether we have achieved our goal already or not. Contentment should be in the Lord, not in our circumstances.

I enjoyed the book. It was easy to read and was interesting all the way through. It was is very encouraging and I recommend it, especially to those who feel they are tired or burned out.


I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Moody Publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.