Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Review: Edward F. Mrkvicka, Jr. - The Sin of Forgiveness

When I saw the title of this book I was reminded of a book by Jay Adams called, "From Forgiven to Forgiving: Learning to Forgive One Another God's Way". When I first read Adams' book, it caused me to rethink my whole view of forgiveness.

Seeing that this book was in the same vein, I looked forward to building onto the foundation that Adams started. That was not the case.

Even though the author dealt with the subject from the same point of view, it seemed his theology is somewhat off.

The premise of the book is "Forgiveness is conditional". That seems like a hard pill to swallow. Aren't we supposed to forgive and forget? Doesn't God hold us accountable if we do not forgive those who have wronged us?

Both Mrkvicka and Adams agree that love should be unconditional but forgiveness should not. If we just forgive and forget, we do a disservice to those we are forgiving. We are not holding them accountable. We need tough love that does not say when wronged - "It's OK, I forgive you." We should say that it is not OK and I forgive you if you repent.

Should we forgive the man that rapes a small child but has no remorse? The answer is no. Forgiveness wipes the slat clean. A slate should not be cleaned unless the person committing the crime has remorse, turned from it, and repents. That does not mean we do not love and pray for him. We are not to keep a grudge. but we are not supposed to sweep what he did under the rug either. By doing that we could be placing other children in harms way.

Back to Mrkvicka's book. Even though the subject is the same as Adams, the theology and execution are not. Where Adams is clear and precise, Mrkvicka is murky and unconvincing. Theology is where Adams shines but where Mrkvickais lacking.

Peppered through the whole book are jabs at those who disagree. He calls them "New Age" and "deceived by Satan". Even though this may be true in some cases, it does not serve the argument and should have been left out. Why not spend more time in the exegesis of scripture.

Speaking of exegesis, where Adams writings are plenteous, Mrkvicka provides very little, if any. Where scriptures are introduced, he throws out 10 verses in succession, then explains in the Q and A section that scripture speaks for itself and need no interpretation. That seems a little lazy for a book trying to convince someone away from the majority view.

All in all, the book was an okay read, but I would suggest bypassing it all together and picking up Adams' instead.

I  give it 2 out of 5 stars.

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

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Review: Stephen Miller - Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars book looked like an interesting read. I love worship and led worship in the past.

One of the problems you run into, being in music ministry, is the ego. Everyone wants to sing, whether they can or not. Every one wants to be up front for everyone to see. This also includes those who can sing and know it. No one is above pride. We all want to feel good about ourselves, but many times we place ourselves in front, when we should be pointing others to God. Those who lead worship should be above reproach. To lead in worship is a sobering task that should not be taken lightly.

Miller's book takes us into the hidden desires behind leading worship. What are our motivations? Are we content to lead in a small church or do we feel we need to be seen? Miller strips down our motives and guides us to what our desires should be. Our priority should be to worship God and let Him be our single focus. If the only time we worship is on the stage, we are not worshiping, we are preforming.

He shows us what true worship means. Our worship on Sunday morning should be overflow from what we do all week. Sometimes, we think the music is the most important thing. Miller takes us through nine chapters showing us what we are as worshiper.

Here is a list:

1. What Are We?
2. We Are Worshipers
3. We Are Redeemed and Adopted
4. We Are Pastors and Deacons
5. We Are Theologians
6. We Are Storytellers (Liturgists)
7. We Are Evangelists
8. We Are Artists
9. We Are Christians

I enjoyed this small book and highly recommend it. If you sing in the Choir, on a worship team, or lead worship you should pick up a copy.

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.

Book Review: Jerry Dewitt - Hope After Faith An Ex-Pastor's Journey from belief to Atheism is a hard book to review. 

Reading the book is heart-breaking. My desire is to be one who reads both sides of each story. Proverbs 18:17 says, "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him." We should always study to make sure what we believe is backed by evidence. That is why as a believing Christian, I want to read those who oppose the faith. When those who oppose Christianity can only use straw-man arguments, It actually strengthens my faith.

Like the subtitle states, this book is about an ex-pastor who leaves Christianity for atheism. The book itself is well written and easy to read. It drives you to read more to find out what happens next. The writing is engaging and very good..... Now for the negative - the content.

I though that Dewitt's transformation would have been something intellectual. Maybe he would have garnered some evidence that convinced him that Christianity was false. Maybe he read some information that, in his mind, proved there was no God. Maybe he felt the arguments for evolution were strong enough to drive him from the faith. But this was not the case. He admits at the end of the book that his atheism does not have proofs. Because he can not prove there is, or is no God, he takes his atheism by faith. He sees it as another religion - just one with a different God - Him. 

Most of his disillusionment with Christianity was because God did not give him the things he wanted. He wanted to be a famous evangelist. He wanted no one to get sick or die. He wanted money without getting a real job. (I do believe a pastor has a real job, but what he was doing was not)

Since God did not do things the way he wanted...there must be no God. He believed, because God did not answer every prayer with a "Yes", that his prayers were not answered. Let's say that he did received every thing he asked for, would that have proved to him there was a God?

Dewitt started preaching at 17. That, in itself, should raise questions. Who, at 17, would know enough about the Bible, doctrine, or even life itself to teach others? The answer - No one. How many 17 year-olds would you trust with a major problem in life? This child should have never been in the pulpit. Even after being married, they lived with his grandmother for years. 1 Timothy 5:8 says "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." Get a job, then worry about being famous. Many preachers in small churches work a second job because the budget is so small in their church. He doesn't even become a pastor of his own church until after he became agnostic. He wrote about how he withheld that truth for years. He couldn't pray to God for his members, but he could take their money for his salary.

Back to his younger days, he spends years searching for HIS doctrine. Who does he go to? Does he search out people who have spent a lifetime studying scripture? Does he enroll in college? Does he look for theologians that spent years in college working out every nuance of Greek and Hebrew? Did he do an in-depth study apologetics? No! Instead he joined numerous cults.

He became a Branhamite. William Branham believed he was Elijah and the 7th angel in Revelations. His followers sing hymns with Branhams name in them. He then moves to a cult that believed only their denomination was going to heaven. They believed there was 2 in the Godhead. I have never heard of anyone believing such a thing and I have been a Christian for 30 years. he then moves to the Oneness Pentecostals, who also do not believe in the Trinity and are not considered orthodox in belief.

After all was said and done, he never really understood the Gospel. It does not consist of rules about how long your hair is or what you are wearing. It is - Jesus died in our place! The sin each of us has committed, has to be punished and Jesus was punished in our place.

Dewitt tries to make his journey seem like it has a happy ending, but he just traded one cult for another. He fawns over Dawkins and Hitchens like he did the preachers he idolized when he was young.

It is a sad ending. He said he lost everything because of his atheism, but most things, like his marriage, were lost long before he came out of the closet. I wished he had been introduced to some saner Christians in his younger life, maybe this tragedy would have never taken place.

If you read this book, you will probably do it for it's entertainment value, not for knowledge.

I give the book 5 stars for writing and 2 stars for logic = 3 stars

I received this book, free of charge, from Da Capo Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: Journible The 17:18 Series - Acts working with computers for over 20 years, I rarely pick up a pen or pencil. It is so much easier to type on a keyboard. I haven't seen a bottle of White Out in ages.

Along with the convenience comes a sadness. What happened to the days where I would sit with a pen, a highlighter, and my Bible and spend an evening studying? I haven't marked in my Bible in ages - I now use a tablet.

That is where Journible comes in. Journible: The 17:18 Series is basically a hard bound book set up to allow the reader, or in this case the writer, to scribe a whole book of the Bible. On one side, the page is ruled along with a number for each verse in a chapter. On the other side, there are questions for deeper reflection on the text. The construction of the book is very good. Reformation Heritage has done a great job in spacing the verses so that you do not run out of space or have a lot of extra space between verses.

This reminds me of pictures I saw of Jonathan Edwards personal Bible. Edwards cut a printed Bible apart and placed sheets of paper between each page so he would have a place for notes. In this case, Journible is even better. Not only do you have space to place notes, but writing the scripture helps understanding and memory.

I loved this book and look forward in the future to work on other books of the Bible. I found myself thinking as I write a chapter, "maybe one more page before I take a break." It is a must buy for anyone who wants to learn or memorize the word. It would be great to have a whole collection of 66 books. What would it be like to have written the whole Bible by hand? Sounds like a great project.

Thank you, Reformation Heritage, for such a great idea!

I highly recommend it 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.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Book Review: Elyse M. Fitzpatrick - Comforts From Romans (Audiobook)! What a great audiobook!
The book of Romans is probably the clearest presentation of the Gospel in the entire Bible. A person could spend years and still not exhaust it's depths. For years, I have collected commentaries on this epistle. When I saw there was an audio version of this one, I was very interested.

At first, I was a little reluctant to read it. The design of the cover made it seem like it was written exclusively for women. I was so wrong!

It consists of small chucks of theology in devotional form. There are 31 chapters. In each chapter, Fitzpatrick focuses on the subject of each passage.

Normally, I do not care for devotionals. Many seem like fluff with a scripture added at the end. That was not the case here. I can only describe this book as "Living Theology". Each day takes you from doctrine to application. The focus on each subject keeps you interested. If you use it as a devotional, you will find yourself so interested that you move to the next day ahead of time.

It was a great read, or in my case "listen". The audio part of the book is as good as the material itself. Many books are good, but the narration does not do the writing justice. I have listened to hundreds of audio books over the years and Tavia Gilbert is one of the best narrators I have heard. I even searched for other books she has narrated.

You can purchase this audiobook here:

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

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

Book Review: Dennis E. Johnson - Philippians is one of the most inspiring epistles in the New Testament. One would never have thought that when Paul wrote it, he was in chains waiting to see if he would be executed.

This is the first commentary in the Reformed Expository Commentary series that I have had the privilege to read. After reading it, I will definitely be reading others. It is a good balance between information and application. There is a little technical jargon, but not enough to throw the new believer. When there is a deeper look into the grammar, it is in a footnote, so as not to take your focus away from the main text.

This commentary focuses on pastoral aspects of the epistle. How do we take Paul’s letter and translate it into application to everyday life? It is warm and easy to read but still has a depth of information.

Johnson doesn’t get bogged down in the nuances of doctrinal arguments, but spends his time exegeting the text. It is a good commentary to get your feet wet. You get a general overview of the text. After you have that overview, you can then move to a deeper study of the text with more technical commentaries from the footnotes.

It is a great read, especially for those who desire to teach through the epistle to a congregation or Sunday School. In fact, as stated in the introduction, this book is an edited version of a sermon series.

I highly recommend it 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.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review: Anthony B. Bradley - Aliens in the Promised Land

When I saw this book was going to be about Minorities, Race and the Church, I had a great desire to read it. There is a big need in dealing with racism today. Racism comes from the fall of man and should be repented of through Christ.

I am Reformed in belief, a Caucasian, and a member at a Multicultural church. My church is not reformed but is associated with the Southern Baptist. It has been one of the greatest experiences in my life to see people of different races and backgrounds worshiping the God who created us all. It is one of the closest things to heaven that we will see on earth. Heaven will consist of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue.

It is the greatest feeling in the world to know that no matter what color we are, we are one in Christ. It feels right, because it is right. I know that this is the desire God has for his Church - that we should be one, even as Jesus and the Father are one.

God's desire for us to be one, does not negate the fact that we are from different cultures. God doesn't want us to change those things that have no bearing on our Christian walk. God does not care what kind of music you like. It is not the beat that he is concerned about; It is your heart.

I was glad to see people of the reformed faith speaking out on this subject. In the past, many traditions were steeped in racism, including some in the Reformed Faith. Many have now repented and changed. We can not make up for what our ancestors did wrong, but we can live our lives today with love and integrity.

This book was a great read. It consists of pastors and theologians of different races and backgrounds. This shows us that racism can be found in any denomination and any race. Each essay shows problems that need to be confronted and fixed in much of the leadership of the Church. I believe this book is a good start to bring that change about.

I recommend it 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.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Book Review: Stephen Mansfield - Killing Jesus
As the title shows, the subject of this book is the crucifixion of Jesus. The premise of the book is to take us through the events leading up to and including the crucifixion and resurrection.

The book is graphic and does not sugar coat. That is a plus. The crucifixion was violent. I understand why Mel Gibson's movie was rated "R". This book is in the same category. It is not light reading.

Mansfield starts by telling us that he did not write this book in a comfortable office. He wanted to write it in the same sort of places Jesus experienced. He tells of the dozens of places he wrote, with noise, distraction, hustle and bustle.

The book was very good. It will bring tears to your eyes to see the things that Jesus went through to redeem us. It is very graphic and detailed.

This is not a theological book. There is very little, if any, mention of the theology of why Jesus died. It is more a telling of the events in a novel-like form.

The only disappointment was the Epilogue. Mansfield shows that he does not believe in total biblical inerrancy when he says the four Gospels contradict each other about the resurrection. It is a shame that he wrote a very good representation of the death of Jesus, only to end it with an Epilogue stating that the apostles disagree about the resurrection.

The epilogue is sprinkled with phrases like, "But there are four gospel writers, and the other three don’t agree with John.", "Matthew’s account doesn’t match either of these.", "even decades later Jesus’ men cannot seem to agree about what happened.", "they can’t even agree about what happened the day they all say he came back to life", "They never did get their stories straight about that Sunday."

I was happy to see that in the next section Mansfield defends the historicity of the crucifixion through extra biblical sources. I just wished he would have given the same evidence for the resurrection. Paul said if Jesus was not raised we are still in our sins!

Even with the short falls, this was an excellent read.

I recommend this book, but with a caution concerning the resurrection section, and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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

Book Review: Ron Rhodes - The Little Book about Heaven will be reviewing at least three books in this series. This is the third 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 doctrine of heaven.

Life is short. We need to think about what happens after death. Today people think everyone is going to heaven. Rhodes takes us through the bible and shows us the truth concerning our eternal destination.

Where is heaven?
What is it like?
Who will be there?
Who will not be there?

These and many other questions are answered in this book.

He takes a dispensational (pre-trib) view, which I strongly disagree with. Also the section about pets is pure speculation. God would have to glorify their bodies just like believers. What would it be like to have all the pets I had during my life in heaven with me? There is one Chihuahua that I would rather not see :) Other than those few things, there is some good info to be found in this small volume.

There are 28 chapters, each discussing different aspects of the doctrines of heaven.

Here is also a list of chapters:

Introduction . 4
1.There Are Three Heavens 6
2.Life on Earth Is Short . 8
3.We All Experience Death . 10
4.The Intermediate State Follows Death 12
5.The Rapture Is Imminent . 14
6.We Will All Receive Body Upgrades 16
7.We Will All Face Judgment 18
8.Heaven Is a Physical Place . 20
9.Heaven Has a Real Location 22
10.Heaven Is Paradise 24
11.A Heavenly Country Awaits Us 26
12.Heaven Has Many Occupants . 28
13.We Will Enjoy a Glorious Reunion 30
14.We Will Enjoy Communion with God 32
15.We Will Enjoy Communion with Angels 34
16.We Will Eat Food in Heaven . 36
17.Infants Who Die Are in Heaven 38
18.Our Pets Might Be in Heaven 40
19.There Is Time in Eternal Heaven 42
20.We Will Live in New Heavens and a New Earth 44
21.We Will Dwell in the New Jerusalem 46
22.A Famous River and Tree Await Us 48
23.We Will Enjoy Many Activities in Heaven 50
24.There Will Be No More Sin in Heaven 52
25.Satan Will Be Banned from Heaven . . . . . . . . . . .54
26.There Will Be No More Death in Heaven . 56
27.Many Things Will Be Absent in Heaven . 58
28.he Holy Spirit Is Our Heavenly Deposit . 60
Postscript: Let’s Anticipate Heaven . 62
Bibliography . 63

Like the other two books, it makes for a good reference tool.

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 speaking about heaven. It is good for preparations for Sunday School or teaching.

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

I recommend it, with a caution on the Dispensationalism, and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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