Enter the Ring: A Review

Enter the Ring by D.A. & Elicia Horton

A truth I have learned in ministering to couples is that marriages don’t end because couples fight they end because they either stopped fighting or didn’t fight fair. In this book the Hortons provide biblical advice on how couples can fight to stay together in a world that pulls marriages apart.

Throughout this book the Hortons point to the importance of pursuing Christ together for the health and well being of the marriage. Common problems like how to manage family relationships are addressed from a biblical perspective. The importance of shared goals and communication in every area especially finances are demonstrated.

I have known far too many couples divorce because they weren’t willing to fight for their marriages and as a result damaged their gospel witness and the witness of their church. I would commend this book to couples and to pastors looking for resources to use in premarital and marital counseling.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Embodied Hope: A Review

Embodied Hope by Kelly M. Kapic

The best books to read on suffering are those written by those who are personally acquainted with it. Author and professor Kelly Kapic writes not as one detached from suffering, but as a fellow-sufferer and the husband of one deeply acquainted with pain and suffering.

In eleven chapters Kapic provides pastoral and theological wisdom in regard to pain in suffering. In the early chapters of the book Kapic addresses how pain and suffering often tempt us to think ill of God and the need to be reoriented to God and the place of lament and questions in pain in suffering. In the second of section Kapic points readers to the cross and the significance there is in Christ’s identification with us for the pain and suffering we find in this world. In the final section Kapic addresses the importance of community for suffering saints, also noting how in  suffering there is a temptation to isolate oneself from community for fear of how others will react.

Of all the subjects one could read about it might be asked why anyone should want to read a book on pain and suffering. Kapic speaks to certainties of life in addressing pain and suffering. If you are a Christian you will suffer in some way, it is part of being a follower of Christ sharing in His sufferings. Not only that those you love and know will suffer. If you are in ministry everyone you minister is suffering or will suffer. Kapic’s book is a valuable resource that points faithfully to the bedrock foundation we have in hope even and especially in the midst of suffering.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: A Review

The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus by D.A. Carson

This republication of D.A. Carson’s work on John 14-17 is an invaluable resource on a major section of John’s gospel. In this work Carson’s exegetical insight and pastoral heart are on full display. Those who have benefited from Carson’s commentary on John in the Pillar series are sure to benefit from this resource as well.

Carson in this work walks the reader through each of the three chapters drawing out the exegetical insights as well as apt application. I would highly commend this resource for the added understanding Carson provides. I plan on using this resource frequently when I preach through John later this year.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Becoming a Welcoming Church : A Review

Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom Rainer

This latest title by Thom Rainer addresses the importance of the church being a welcoming place for new guests. What stands out is that as true in many areas of life common sense is not that common. Rainer draws from his experience in consulting churches to provide basic guidelines in regards to becoming a welcoming church. If you’ve followed Rainer’s blog over the year there really isn’t anything new or unheard of in this book but it is still a useful resource nonetheless.

In six chapters Rainer walks the reader from self-examination regarding whether the local church is as welcoming as we think it is, to seeing how outsiders experience church, to practical steps that help in being a truly welcoming church. What Rainer points to isn’t a seeker-sensitive understanding of the church, he’s pointing readers to simple things like clear communication and cleanliness.

As I said if you’ve followed Rainer for any amount of time you’ve probably seen much of this information in some form on his blog. While my church does practice most of the things he points to as being important for a welcoming church this book has given me some things to think about. This is especially true in regards to the meet and greet time, I think it’s too easy to forget what those times are like for someone who is a first time guest and the danger of coming across as disinterested in them or desperate for them to stick around neither of which are good. Over all I think this is a good resource for pastors and for church leaders especially those who might not get on the internet.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 

Not God Enough: A Review

Not God Enough by J.D. Greear

J.D. Greear in this book addresses a problem all to common among professing Christians, a small view of God. In this book Greear directly challenges the small view of God held by many with the biblical view of God in all his majesty.

In two parts comprised of seventeen short chapters Greear explores the biblical attributes and character of God. Greear points to his own challenges in his journey of understanding God in all His greatness and bigness in such a way that moved him to bold faith. Greear does a great job in pointing out the importance of a right view of God for the life of the believer.

While many seem to think theology is unimportant this book helps show how wrong that understanding is. The most important thing we can know about someone is what they believe about God. Greear rightly points that the Bible does not allow for the small or personalized God many people claim to have, instead he puts to a God who is awesome in every way. I highly recommend this book, get it, read it, and give it as a gift you won’t regret it.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards: A Review

A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards
Nathan A. FinnJeremy M. Kimble

Jonathan Edwards is considered the greatest theologian and philosopher America has produced, his writings have been in print since his life time, yet many can be daunted in where to start reading Edwards and how to read Edwards. This book helps to address both challenges.

This book draws on a wide range of church historians in addressing the major works of Edwards.  Each contributor helps the reader understand the background behind the writings of Edwards which is important for understanding Edwards’s thought. The contributions range from a general overview of how read Edwards by Dane Ortland to more specific overviews such as Nathan Finn’s chapter on Edwards autobiographical spiritual writings, Jeremy Kimble’s chapter on the revival writings, Michael McClenahan on justification, Gerald McDermott on Religious Affections, Rhys Bezzant on the Life of David Brainerd, Joe Rigney on Freedom of the Will, Robert Caldwell of Original Sin, History of the Works of Redemption by Sean Michael Lucas, Edwards’s Affectional Ethics by Paul Helm, and an appendix by a man who has does much to popular the work of Edwards today John Piper. Each of these provides valuable insight on the work of Edwards.

Personally I enjoyed most the chapter on the revival writings of Edwards as it provides great background information in regards to Edwards work as an apologist for the Great Awakening. I also enjoyed the chapter on The Life of David Brainerd a work that has had a profound impact on the history of Christian missions. If you’re looking at reading Edwards I would commend this book, if you’re wondering where you can find his works they are available in many print editions as well as here http://edwards.yale.edu/ .

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A Review

50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith by Gregg R. Allison

This latest title by SBTS theology professor Dr. Gregg Allison is a true gift to all pastors and teachers in the local church. Many pastors strugggle knowing they should teach their people the major doctrines of the Bible but lack a suitable plan or outline to do so. In this book Allison has provided a must have resource that will enable pastors to lay a foundation of theological soundness in the lives of their people.

In eight sections comprised of 50 chapters Allison walks through all the most important doctrines beginning with the doctrine of God and going all the way to eschatology. Each chapter provides a general overview of the doctrine in question, a general guide to teaching the doctrine, and a teaching outline with a list of recommended resources.

This might be one the most helpful resources for pastors published this year. My recommendation would be to get it and use it to teach your church or a class in your church.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: A Review

The Prayer That Turns The World Upside Down by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

This latest title from Dr. Mohler on the Lord’s prayer is one of his best books to date. The material behind this book grew out of a series of chapel messages that Dr. Mohler delivered when I was a student at SBTS. He later adapted that material into a teaching series for Ligonier Ministries. Now his insight into the Lord’s prayer has been turned into a book that I am certain all readers will profit from.

In th first chapter of this book Dr. Mohler addresses the nature of prayer and how prayer serves as an accurate reflection of what we really believe about God. Mohler makes very clear what prayer is not setting aside subbiblical and unbiblical understandings of prayer. The second chapter addresses Jesus’s preliminary teaching on prayer with a focus on the absolute necessity of prayer in the believer’s life. In the following chapters Mohler addresses each part of the Lord’s prayer showing how each petition should shape our prayer life.

While there are many books on prayer out there many of them depart from Scripture as the basis for understanding prayer. Dr. Mohler’s book is a throughly biblical resource that I highly commend.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

How To Be A Perfect Christian: A Review

How to be a Perfect Christian by The Bablyon Bee

Brought to you by the satire website The Babylon Bee this book brings the usual sharp cutting wit that one has come to expect from them. No group or sacred cow in evangelicalism is left unscathed or unlampooned.

In ten chapters through the vehicle of satire this book helps to expose how ridiculous much of evangelicalism. Some might be offended at the satire but if it hurts it shows you probably have a problem. What is reflected in this book is a rejection of a subcultural Christianity that in many respects elevates traditionalism and culture above Christ and His word.

Not only is this book humorous but if read rightly it might wake the reader up to many of the current problems in evangelicalism.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Spiritual Leadership: A Review

Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

One can look at any bookstore and see there is no shortage of books on leadership being published every year. J. Oswald Sanders classic which was originally published 50 years ago stands out because of the fact that it is throughly rooted in the Bible. The heart and soul of this book is what the Bible has to say about the character of a leader more than anything else. In a day and age where many churches and religious organizations are looking for natural leaders Sanders work serves as a helpful corrective.

In 22 chapters Sanders explores what the Bible has to say about spiritual leadership from every angle. Sanders from the start focuses on Christ’s requirement that leaders be servers. Sanders says “The real spiritual leader is focused on the service he and she can render to God and other people, not on the residuals and perks of high office or holy title. We must aim to put more into life than we take out (p. 14).” Every aspect of the spiritual life is addressed as it relates to fitness as spiritual leader from prayer to time management on to reading. Sanders also looks to the leaders task of raising up leaders who will be spiritual leader which is sorely needed in our day.

If you’re looking for a book that gets to the heart of what it means to be a true Christian leader get this book. It is the most faithful book on leadership I have come across and in every chapter gets to the heart of what it means to be spiritual leader who honors Christ.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.