Review of Martin Luther and the Enduring Word of God

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Noted Luther scholar Robert Kolb in this work helps remind readers that the Reformation sparked by Luther was itself a rediscovery of the Word. Kolb in this book traces that rediscovery and how it brought about the Scripture-centered church that rose out of the Reformation.

Kolb begins by addressing the place of Scripture in Luther’s childhood and youth highlighting that though the people were largely separated from the Scriptures there were aspects such as the reading of Gospel lessons which prevented the gospel from completely withering away under the papacy. Kolb proceeds to address Luther’s discovery of the Bible in the university as well as his overall understanding and interpretive framework. Kolb addresses the role the Scriptures placed in Luther’s work as professor, preacher, and translator. Kolb proceeds to address Luther’s shaping of his fellow colleagues.

One is reminded in this work the enduring power of God’s word. The Reformation and Luther’s life and legacy bear witness to the power of a church that finds its rhythm in the Biblical realities of repentance and forgiveness of sin, and that power holds promise for today as well.

Disclosure: I received an advanced 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.

Review of Reformation Theology

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In Reformation Theology Matthew Barrett has brought together some of the leading theological minds of our day to provide a work that melds historical and systematic theology.

One could not ask for a better selection of contributors as each contributor stands as an expert in their respected field. Each chapter is truly representative of the course of doctrinal development in the Reformation with each author drawing on less famous Reformers and the confessions that arose from the Reformation.

This book would help many pastors and church leaders be awakened to the importance of doctrinal specificity, something lacking in many churches and broader evangelicalism.  Reading this work one is confronted with the fact the Reformers thought and engaged in doctrines concerning God and the Gospel in a way that many of us today have not. I appreciate most the fact that each author provides further recommended reading both secondary and primary sources and so any reader who wishes to delve deeper has a robust list of recommended reading to follow up on.

I know this book most likely won’t appeal to the average church members, but I do hope that many pastors would read this book and have their doctrinal indifference challenged.

Disclosure: I received an advanced 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.

Review of Answers to Prayer (Read & Reflect with the Classics)

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B&H has recently started a new series called Read & Reflect with the Classics which seeks to  engage a new generation with classics that have impacted generations of Christians. One of the first titles in this series is George Muller’s Answers to Prayer a spiritual classic that should be on everyone’s shelf.

The first thing that sets this edition of Muller’s work apart from other editions is the superior binding. As a bibliophile it always bothered me that the best publishers would do for this spiritual classic is a mass market paperback. Muller’s account is one that should be read and reread as one never fails to find fresh encouragement in prayer in looking at God’s faithfulness in Muller’s life. This edition put out by B&H has a solid cloth binding which will hold up through many readings.

The second thing that makes this a superior edition is the addition of various promptings and questions the reader to actively engage with the text.

Muller’s life was one that clearly demonstrates the value and power of prayer, Bible reading, and meditating on Scripture. His work in the orphanage and the display of God’s faithfulness in answering prayer deserves repeating to every new generation of believers.

Disclosure: I received an advanced 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.

Review of Is The Bible Good For Women

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Soon to be released Is The Bible Good for Women by Wendy Alsup is a timely look at gender and the Bible. In this work Alsup addresses the topic of whether the prevailing notion that the Bible and its teaching are harmful to women.

In this work Alsup first provide a general overview of the Bible and it’s overall teaching on gender and roles. Following this she moves from Old to New Testament addressing the goodness of the law and instructions regarding women. Alsup deals with the issues in a way that is sensitive to those outside the Christian faith and at the same times maintains the truthfulness and goodness of God and His word.

In a culture where errors regarding gender are running rampant inside and outside of the church Alsup focuses in on the truth of Scripture. I decided to read and review this book because this is an issue of growing importance in the church. There are many voices even some calling themselves evangelical that would answer the book’s question in the negative, in some instances because they have equated a cultural tradition with the teaching of Scripture. It is refreshing to see a book like this support the goodness and normative nature regarding biblical gender roles.

Disclosure: I received an advanced 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.

Review of 60 Days of Happiness

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In 60 Days of Happiness: Discover God’s Promise of Relentless Joy author Randy Alcorn draws on his previous book Happiness to make a devotional that will help readers understand the biblical truth behind happiness.

The title of each days devotion is a question concerning happiness and its relation to biblical teaching and the body of each devotion seeks to answer the question put forward. For example the first devotion addresses the question of why everyone wants to be happy and shows that our desire for happiness points us to a desire for something greater namely God himself. Alcorn addresses some of the most important misconceptions surrounding happiness pointing readers to the importance of happiness in the Christian life.

Christianity sometimes gets a bad wrap of being a religion for unhappy cranks. If you know someone who thinks that God wants everyone to be holy and miserable there are few resources out there that will help them understand the biblical nature of happiness more than this devotional. I would commend it to anyone who wants to better understand the biblical truth that God does indeed want us to have joy and happiness in Him.

Disclosure: I received a 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.

Review of Dream With Me

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In a  day and age where racial division seems to be increasing we could all benefit from the wisdom and insight John Perkins provides in Dream With Me.

In this work John Perkins tells the story of his life and work in racial reconciliation. Perkins faithfully paints a picture of where things were in regards to racial relationships. Perkins life was one of seeking reconciliation across race boundaries. Reading Perkins recollections brings one truth to light, the good old days never were. What one sees in Perkins life is the impact that Christ can have in working through a life surrendered to His love.

We are country that is fractured along racial and socioeconomic lines and in this work Perkins shares his hope and dream that the church would be true to what it is called to be a people of love and reconciliation in a divided world. This is a book that will challenge any reader as it should. If your heart is burdened to see reconciliation happen in churches and communities read this book. If you aren’t burdened to see that happen repent and read this book.

Disclosure: I received a 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.

Review of Katharina & Martin Luther

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In Katharina & Martin Luther author Michelle DeRusha sheds light on an often neglected aspect of Martin Luther’s life and legacy, namely his marriage.

This book provides biographical information on Katharina in regards to her cloistered life as a nun which is often neglected in resources on Luther. We see the boldness that defined Katharina recorded in the account of her escape from the cloister. As one reads one is amazed that the two ever became married given Martin Luther’s initial hesitance at the idea of marriage. Thankfully Martin Luther followed the encouragement of his father and the two did indeed marry. As is noted Katharina became a valued confident and source of joy for Martin Luther. Overall DeRusha provides an engaging look at Katharina and Martin’s marriage closing with her widowhood.

In leading up to the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this work helps address an area that the Reformation had a great impact on. It is all to easy to take for granted the idea that ministers can and should marry, however as the author points out Luther’s marriage was a major break from the Roman Catholicism which still embraces clerical celibacy. While Luther as the reformer and pastor-theologian draws much attention, many would benefit from observing Martin Luther the devoted husband and loving father.

I commend this book to anyone studying the life and legacy as it provides valuable insight into a part of his life that is often overlooked by biographers.

Disclosure: I received a 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.

Review of The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb

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The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel is a much-needed book. One doesn’t have to look to far to see how many have fallen in their chase after fame in evangelical circles.

There is a subtle line in ministry between a desire to have a wide reach for the sake of making the gospel known and having a wide reach so that we are known. In this work wisdom and insight is drawn from J.I. Packer, Dallas Willard, Marva Dawn, John Perkins, Jean Vanier, James Houston, and Eugene Peterson. In a day and age where evangelical leaders are more concerned in building personal platforms based on their personalities the authors and those they draw from provide a helpful corrective.

The first part of this book in which the authors interact with J.I. Packer, Marva Dawn, and John Perkins provides a helpful contrast between a worldly pursuit of power and God’s power demonstrated in human weakness and love. The second section of the book helps the reader understand how to embrace way of Christ in ministry. In a church culture that entices pastors to fixate on platforms and popularity this serves as a powerful corrective.

The most important chapter in this book in my opinion is the seventh chapter as it fully explores the terrible reality that many churches and leaders have adopted the posturing of the dragon as seen in revelation as opposed to way of ministry that is faithful to Christ. Small church pastors might think themselves immune to the temptations for power that are evident in many mega church personalities, but the truth is the temptation to build a ministry that elevates self is found in churches of all shapes and sizes. This book should be required reading for anyone in ministry.

Disclosure: I received a 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.

Review of The Pursuit of God

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A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God is a spiritual classic that deserves to be read repeatedly. Tozer’s writing reflects the fire and vitality found in his recorded sermons, a fire and vitality that come from a life that is God-ward in its orientation.

In ten shorts chapters Tozer distills the biblical truths surrounding our lifelong pursuit of God as believers. In these chapters Tozer speaks to realities that were and are distant realities in American evangelicalism. As Tozer states, “We are overrun today with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they? The hard voice of the scribe sounds over evangelicalism, but the church waits for the tender voice of the saint who has penetrated the veil and has gazed with inward eye upon the wonder that is God (p. 49).” Tozer’s observations about evangelicalism are still true today, reading it one would think Tozer was writing about the current state of Christianity in America rather than the late 1940s.

Tozer was one of the spiritual giants of his day and had an insight into the spiritual conditions of the church. Of his published works this might be one of the most important in my opinion. I have listened to Tozer’s recorded sermons since my college days and have always found him to have a balance and insight that makes him worth listening to and reading. Tozer’s hope for the Church in writing this book is that it would awaken it from the slumber which is so evident. Read Tozer and you will see the heart of one who has penetrated the veil in his pursuit of God.

Disclosure: I received a 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.