Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: Jeremiah Burroughs - Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory

http://cdn1.bigcommerce.com/server2500/cb550/products/5033/images/7720/Burroughs_front2__80148.1357762578.1280.1280.jpgWe all think we would be content if we could just have more money. What if we won the lottery? Now that we have enough money to do anything we want, would we not have so much less to worry about ?

Burroughs, in this great little book, shows us that it is even harder to live for God when we are prosperous than when we are in need. When we need something, we tend to cry out to God. We hear many testimonies of how people were at the end of their rope when they turned to God and were saved. Even Jesus said that only the sick need a doctor.

You may say, "Why do I need to read a book written for the rich, I am not rich?" Are we in America not rich compared to the rest of the world? Many of those below poverty level still carry cell phones, eat a regular meals, and have a TV. We are blessed. It is very seldom, we hear of someone in America starving to death. 

That is not to take away from the command to help those who are worse off that us. We are to have compassion for those in need.

How should we deal with all the stuff we are blessed with? Everything we have is from God. He has blessed some of us with great riches and others with only daily bread, some with large houses, others only a roof over their head, some with a $50,000 car and others with a 15 year old model. No matter what situation we are in, we are to thank God and be content.

Material possessions should not take us away from God. But in many cases those who have a lot tend to forget where these blessings came from. Many times it takes tragedy to drive us to God. Our love for God is even greater when material things can not pull us away.
Many of the Rich have more worries than middle class or poor. A poor man comes home from a hard days work and enjoys his family. The rich man is probably away from his family on a business trip. He has money invested in many different places and has to pay attention to all those things. The average person does not have those worries.

I loved this book. It was a great read and I will definitely reread it in the future. It should convict you no matter what your net worth.

This book needs to be read SLOW! - not because it is a hard read, but because it is so full of wisdom, you do not want to miss anything. The Puritans tend to write in a way that each paragraph is so full of information that the reader has to take time with each sentence to get the full impact.

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

I received this book, free of charge from Reformation Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews, in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review: Suzanne McDonald - John Knox for Armchair Theologians

http://covers.booktopia.com.au/big/9780664236694/john-knox-for-armchair-theologians.jpgThis is the third book in this series I have read. The previous volumes have been very good, and this one is no exception.

Not as many people know about Knox as they do Calvin and Luther. Knox dealt with a lot of controversy. His book, "First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women", could have literally got his head cut off. McDonald takes us through the different stages of Knox's life and shows us how it molded his beliefs.

Like other reformers, he wanted to bring church back to the Gospel. He felt the church had turned from Biblical worship to idolatry. Their worship was created in men’s mind as opposed to Biblical worship that comes from God. If we worship in any way the Bible has not prescribed we are sinning.

Knox's biggest struggle was with Roman Catholicism. He believed the ceremonies used in the mass were idolatry. The bread and wine were not the literal blood and body of Christ and bowing would be worship to an idol. He believed in the Reformation doctrine of justification by grace alone in opposition to the Roman Catholics. They added other things like penance and indulgences.

He desired to overthrow the Government because it was forcing people to worship in a Roman Catholic manner. He sought theologians of his day to ask if it was biblical to rebel against an ungodly government. He believed that any time the government backed idolatry, the citizens should resist. He also wrote much against women being in authority. He even called Mary Tudor a Jezebel.

He spent time with Calvin in Geneva and considered it, “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was on earth since the days of the Apostles.” He wanted to see the same kind of society in other countries.

This book was a good summary of Knox's life. I enjoyed the book, but feel that it is a little out of place in the Armchair Theologians series. I dropped a star because, even though it is a great little biography, the Theologians series is usually more about theology than biography.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free of charge from Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Book Review: Ron Rhodes - The Little Book about the Bible

http://img1.imagesbn.com/p/9780736951814_p0_v1_s260x420.JPGI will be reviewing at least three books in this series. This is the second I have read and they have been very good reads. There will be some overlap in my reviews. This is so those who see a review for one book will get a general overview of the format the whole series takes.

This book in the series takes us through the doctrines of scripture. The Bible is God's Word. It is without error. It is sufficient. It is understandable. It is God breathed.

Rhodes shows us how the canon was recognized, looks at manuscript evidence and archeology, shows how the bible was copied, how it was translated, what the dead sea scrolls have to do with the bible, and much, much more.

There are 28 chapters, each discussing a different aspect of the doctrines of Scripture.

Here is also a list of chapters:

1. An Overview of the Bible
2. God Reveals Himself
3. Scripture is Inspired
4. Scripture is Inerrant
5. Eyewitness Testimony
6. The Books in the Bible
7. Manuscript Support
8. Manuscript Differences
9. The Dead Sea Scrolls
10. God’s Preservational Providence
11. Archeological Support
12. Extrabiblical Secular Support
13. Extrabiblical Christian Support1
14. Christ’s View of Scripture
15. The Apostles’ View of Scripture
16. Prophecy as a Proof
17. Assessing the Miracle Accounts
18. Theories of Bible Translation
19. The Interpretation of Scripture
20. The Bible is a Jesus Book
21. God’s Promises in Scripture
22. The Application of Scripture
23. Assessing Alleged Contradictions
24. Assessing Objections to the Bible
25. Assessing the Apocrypha
26. Assessing the Gnostic Gospels
27. Assessing Other “Holy Books”
28. Assessing Tradition
Postscript: The Full Sufficiency of Scripture

Like the first book I read, it makes for a good reference tool. When someone claims the Bible is just a man made book, you can turn to the section on inspiration. There will be 2 pages of information to use in your discussion.

Like the other books in the series, there are some great quotes at the end of each chapter.

I will keep this book handy to look up those verses I need when defending the Gospel.

There is also a great Bibliography at the end for farther reading.

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

I received this book free of charge from Harvest House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: - Ron Rhodes - The Little Book About God

http://img1.imagesbn.com/p/9780736951852_p0_v1_s260x420.JPGI will be reviewing at least three books in this series. I started with this one hoping to get a feel of what the rest will be like. If they are all like this one, they will be very good reads. There will be some overlap in my reviews. This is so those who see a review for one book, will get a similar general overview of the format the whole series takes.

Years ago I had read a few books by Ron Rhodes and knew he usually writes with very little fluff added. He was frequently a guest on the “Bible Answer Man” and may still be. I have not heard the show in a good while.

This book is a good summary of the doctrine it explores. In this case the doctrine is “God”. The book is set up to be read through with a bible in hand. He shares an attribute, tells what it means, gives scripture proofs, and a quote from a Theologian or minister. The quotes are not always from those in the Reformed faith, but that is OK.

After finishing it, it will be a great reference tool in the future. There are 28 chapters. Each chapter has 2 pages that contain the following sections (my explanations added):

The Big Idea - The doctrine we are studying
What you need to Know - Explanation of doctrine & scriptural support
Verses to contemplate - List of important scriptures
Fast Facts - Facts concerning the subject
Truths that Transform - a conclusion of all the information provided
A Quote to Ponder – a short quote from a theologian of minister.

Here is a list of chapters:

1.Reasons to Believe in God
2.God Is a Revealer
3.God Is Triune
4.God the Father
5.God the Son
6.God the Holy Spirit
7.The Living God
8.God Is a Spirit
9.God Is Personal and Relational
10.God Is with Us
11.God Is High Above Us
12.God Has Many Names
13.God Is Self-Existent
14.God Is Eternal
15 God Is Everywhere-Present
16.God Is All-Powerful
17.God Is All-Knowing
18.God Is Sovereign
19.God Is a Planner
20.God Is Holy
21.God Is True
22.God Is Righteous and Just
23.God Is Loving and Gracious
24.God Is Merciful
25.God Is Unchanging
26.God Is Glorious
27.The Worship of God
28.Face to Face with God
Postscript: God and His Promises

I am not sure how many books are going to be in the collection but it would be great if there was a book for each major doctrine of the Bible.

I liked this book and am looking forward to more in this series. I will keep it ready for reference when I need to look up a doctrine quickly. I also believe it would be a great gift for those who are new in the faith, so that they can get an orthodox view of the doctrine of God.

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

I received this book free of charge from Harvest House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Steven J Lawson - The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1364773064l/17171594.jpgThe title of this book says it all. When we think of Luther, he is the personification of boldness. In his day, he stood up to the most powerful man in the known world, the Pope.

Luther loved the word of God. When we hear each of the "sola" slogans of the reformation, it is like reading a biography of Luther. Luther was a preacher at heart. Like Paul, he was “not ashamed of the Gospel”. He was far from perfect, but aren’t we all. He was a world changer.

Unlike most books about Luther, which are just about his life, this book is more about Luther's beliefs and teaching. I enjoyed it more than any book I have read concerning him. Lawson brings out the things Luther loved most, the Bible and preaching.

To Luther the Word of God is all sufficient and preaching brings that word alive. Without either, there is no salvation. Scripture, being the very word of God, is without error. He believed in the perspicuity of scripture; that it can be understood by anyone who takes the time to study it.

Luther was an expositor. He preached through complete books of the bible, explaining them verse by verse. He felt that study was important and was mentally harder than working with the hands.

When studying, we should go to the Bible first, before consulting commentaries. He was not against commentaries, but felt that they should not be used as a crutch. We should only consult them after we have spent time in meditation on the scriptures. He believed in a literal interpretation of scripture. The Bible means what it says. It can still contain allegories and metaphors, but we can understand from the text what the author means.

Luther studied in the original languages and believed all pastors should know Greek and Hebrew. With that said, because the congregation does not understand the original languages, they should not use in sermons. If they were used it would seem prideful. Above all the preacher should rely on the Holy Spirit to illuminate the scriptures. Without that it is just dry logic.

All through this book, we get glimpses of Luther's love for the Gospel. He was a man raised up by God for such a time.

I loved this book and highly recommend it and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free of charge from Reformation Trust in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: Chris Brauns - Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Othersin Good and Bad Choices

http://www.chrisbrauns.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/09/Bound-Together.jpgNo one is an island to themselves.

I have heard people argue, "As long as it doesn't hurt anyone, it doesn't matter what I do in private". In America, we are so used to doing everything alone, that we do not know what it is to live for others. That individualism is nothing but an illusion.

Brauns book is about this very subject. He shows that we are all connected in some way. Everything we do has some consequence on others.

What about the alcoholic? If a father stays drunk most of his waking hours, what bearing does that have on his wife and children? Even worse, what if he is driving drunk and kills someone else. This tragedy will hurt not only his family, but the other family involved. It doesn't stop there. The friends and loved ones of both families are affected. There are thousands of illustration that could be used to prove the message of this book. Brauns uses many good ones.

Brauns shows that this connection we all have has both negative and positive results. With mans fallen state, we would think that the negative would win out. But he shows the positive outweighs the negative.

The ultimate negative comes from Adam. When he disobeyed God we received the results of that disobedience. We are all born sinners. The positive comes from Christ. Because He died in our place, we now receive forgiveness. He replaces the sin on our account with  His righteousness.

I heard Martyn Lloyd-Jones make a statement one time (also quoted in this book) that if we can not accept the idea that Adam's sin can be accounted to us, we can not have Christ's righteousness accounted to us.

Even though we reap the fruit of what others do, we are still accountable for our own sins. Adam will be punished for his and I will be punished for mine. There is a mystery here of the same variety as the Trinity. Our finite minds can not understand it fully. But we see enough of it in the world that we know it is true.

This book is a must read. If you have a problem understanding how we are accounted sinners because of something Adam did or righteous because of what Christ did, this book has the best explanation I have found. He uses many real life illustrations to prove that we are all connected.

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

I received this book free of charge from Zondervan, Cross Focused Reviews, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book Review: Brian Vickers - Justification by Grace

http://trade.ivpbooks.com/largecovers/9781596380509.jpgJustification is a great doctrine to study in the Bible. It is so fundamental. Without it our salvation would be non-existent. 

There is so much logic to how God accomplished our salvation. God can not disregard the Law that He gave. The Law shows the very character of God. He can not deny Himself.

  • How can God justify the guilty?
  • How can He forgive their sin and still be just?
  • Can a judge forgive the guilty without destroying justice and without becoming an unjust judge?

Vickers answers these and other questions in this wonderfully written book.

It was a joy to see God's plan unfolded in each page. All glory is given to the one who accomplished our salvation. It is not about us and what we do. It is about what Christ done. He is our righteousness. He took our punishment. We are righteous through Him. Works come because we are justified, not to accomplish it.

It is not of ourselves, so that we can not boast. We are totally reliant on God, who is both Just and the Justifier.

I had already read Vicker's book, "Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness". That book was about imputation. This book covers some of the same ground, but focuses more on Justification.

I enjoyed this book. It is packed with good exegesis and I love a book with footnotes! It is neither a simplistic read nor a chore. He takes some deep truths and explains them to the satisfaction of the new and mature believer alike.

His section on James is great.

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

I received this book free of charge from P&R Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: James R. White - What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an

James White is best known for his debates. I first heard of him
when reading up on the King James Only debates. After that I was hooked. He has penned some great books concerning subjects like Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, and Homosexuality.

People may disagree with him but they could never say he does not know his stuff. This book is no exception. He has been debating Islam for years now. He was talking about it even before Christians knew it would be a factor.

I knew a little about Islam before, but only bits and pieces. White explains in the introduction:

The reality is that there are areas—one being Islam in general and the Qur’an in particular—in which the literature is so vast, and the terminology gap so large, that the resultant task is, or at least seems, too daunting for even the most committed believer.

White takes these vast resources and summarizes them for our benefit. Islam is growing faster than we could ever imagine. You would think after what happen on 9-11 that people would shun a religion that believes people should convert or die. But we live in a world where people would rather embrace a lie than to believe the truth.

White’s book is very understandable. He starts with a short biography of Mohamed then moves on to exegete the Qur’an itself. He shows the differences in Islam and Christianity. He exposed Islam for the false religion it is.

I really liked this book. I highly recommend it and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review: John Crotts - John Newton

http://ericdurso.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/john-newton.jpgPart of the “Bitesize Biographies” series, John Crotts has penned a very good biography of one of the greatest men of church history. John Newton will always be know as the slave trader, turned slave, turned saint.

Most know John Newton for the most recognized hymn in history - "Amazing Grace". Even those who know nothing of the gospel have heard and probably know the first verse of the hymn.

In this book, Crotts shows there is so much more to Newton than most people know. Easy to read, this book moves you along to the end like a good movie. It leaves you wanting more.

Newton started out with a godly mother, but after her death, he no longer had a Godly influence. He then moved away from the morals she taught him into a life of debauchery. He was a sailor who lived his life with drinking and cursing.

Incidence after incidence, throughout out his life, God saved him from tragedy, but Newton would not give in. After becoming a slave himself, the Lord finally broke him. After being saved, Newton became a pastor. For the rest of his life he would minister to people from all walks of life. He loved those in and outside of his own denomination. Sometimes this got him in trouble with the people of his denomination.

My favorite part of the book was the last two chapters. One chapter considers the hymns written by Newton, the other considers the letters written by him. I believe these are the heart of the book. They show the result of his godly life and how God's grace is the center of everything.

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

I received this book free of charge from EP Books and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Review: Roderick Thorp - Nothing Lasts Forever (The Book That Inspired the Movie Die Hard)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/78/Nothing_Lasts_Forever_by_Roderick_Thorp,_Cover_Art.jpg/200px-Nothing_Lasts_Forever_by_Roderick_Thorp,_Cover_Art.jpgI normally do not review secular novels. I read them from time to time, but usually for my own enjoyment. In this case I saw that the novel that inspired the move "Die Hard" was up for review and I could not resist.

I have always loved action movies, but hate that many have such bad language. The same is true of the action novel. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, etc. are great writers. They can really grip you with a story, but the language is pretty bad sometimes. The same thing takes place here. It had some foul language, but not as much as the movie.

The book itself was a good read. The story keeps pushing you to read another chapter. Because I saw the movie years ago, I kept seeing Bruce Willis on every page.

The story is about an ex-detective, Joseph Leland, who takes a trip to see his daughter. At his arrival, the company she works for is invaded by terrorist. From there, Leland trys to both kill the terrorist and save the hostages

The book reads like a movie. There is a bonus section at the end. They discovered the notes Thorp made when he outlined the book. It adds some very interesting info to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it but with a caution concerning the language and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: Louis Markos - On the Shoulders of Hobbits

This year my son and I watched through the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit. I never thought I would hear him say that he liked it better than Star Wars. He did and I heartily agree. The movie changed my whole view of the fantasy genre.

This is where the book comes in. The day after we finished the movies I saw "On the Shoulders of Hobbits" was available for review. What great timing. Finishing the movies made me long for more of the story.

Markos takes us through the story of Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam as they make their way through the journeys they were destined to take. We see how that relates to the journey in life we all take. Even though Tolkien says his stories are not allegory, they are a reflection of the very trials and suffering every Christian faces on our daily walk through life.

Markos not only teaches through Tolkien's books, he also ends each chapter with some thoughts on C.S. Lewis and Narnia.

We learn from this book about the friendship between both men. I had read a lot about Lewis, but Markos shows more of the relationship between him and Tolkien. The bits of trivia throughout the book are very interesting. 

There is also a great annotated list at the end, showing other books to read concerning both Tolkien and Lewis.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would suggest it to any Lewis or Tolkien fan.If you have watched any of the "Lord of the Rings" or "Narnia" movies, you have to read this book!

I give it a 5 out of 5 stars.

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Book Review: R. C. Sproul - How Then Shall We Worship?

R.C. Sproul is always a good read. This book is no exception.

Worship is a controversial subject these days. The biggest question is: Should worship be contemporary or traditional?

Sproul's book speaks very little about style. He focuses more on the other aspects of worship, Baptism and the Lord's supper are the the main ones that come to mind. He also speaks of the buildings we worship in and the posture we use while worshiping.

Worship should also contain things that involve the senses. Taste, touch, smell, etc. - all of these should be involved some way. Wine, bread, stories, objects - Jesus used them all to show us what the kingdom is like.

While not as good as some of his classics, this is style a good read. As a bonus, a study guide is included at the end.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it.

I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free of charge from David C Cook and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Review: R W Glenn - Crucifying Morality

http://www.shepherdpress.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/crucifying_morality_210wide_300dpi.jpgGlenn's book is basically a commentary on the beatitudes. He shows us upfront that we do not perform them to enter the kingdom, but we perform them because we have already entered the kingdom. They are not a chore that we should do to make God love us. They are the fruit produced from a loving father.

He moves through each beatitude, showing what the meaning is and how it relates to the Christian life.

This is part summary - part review of the book. 

What does it mean to be poor in spirit? 

When we realize that we can not enter the Kingdom of God with our good works, we are on our way to finding out.

To be poor in spirit is to understand that Christ is our righteousness. He had to pay the price. We are poor. We have no way to pay our own price. He becomes our payment.

Why are those who mourn, blessed?

They are blessed because of the comfort they receive, not the mourning they endure. We can not mourn until we realize that our sin is something to mourn about. When we see how our sin is opposed to God, we will truly mourn.

God can not comfort us with the good news of the gospel until we mourn over the bad news of the law. We deserve hell. We have sinned against the Creator.

What does it mean to be meek?

Jesus was meek, but he turned tables over in the temple and ran out the money changers. Meek does not equal weak. Meekness means we do not put our self interests first. Jesus did not defend Himself. He had every right to. He never sinned. But we, on the other hand, deserve many of the things people accuse us of. We are sinful.

Hungering for righteousness? 

We have to realize that we are not righteous. True righteousness comes only from Christ. We should hunger for the righteousness that we could never achieve on our own.

What is it to show mercy?

Mercy is to absorb the other person's need or wrong. It can not just disappear, it has to be taken away.

What does it mean to be pure in heart? 

It does not mean to be nice. Nice people still go to hell. The gospel doesn't want to make you nice. It wants to remake you into a new creature. To be truly pure in heart does not mean to be perfect. It means to be truthful. To admit that your heart is not pure is to be pure in heart.

What is a peacemaker? 

We are to bring people together in harmony just as Jesus made peace between us and the farther. It is one who helps reconcile people to each other and to God.

Ultimately Jesus fulfills each of the beatitudes. Because He is the fulfillment, we can do those things spoken of. It is out of love and not command. They are a description of those who have already entered the kingdom.

This was a very engaging book. Short and to the point, it shows us each beatitude and what it means. The Gospel is not a set of moral codes, it is an exchange of my unrighteousness for His righteousness. The beatitudes show us how that exchange is to be lived out.

I recommend this book and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free of charge from Shepherd Press and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.