Your Marriage God’s Mission: A Review

Your Marriage God’s Mission by Clint and Penny A. Bragg

In a day where expectations of marriage and commitment to it Clint and Penny Bragg have written a book to help Christian couples go against the flow. The main premise that the marriage relationship requires a missions orientation, that God has given couples gifting and passions which are part of God’s calling.

The first section addresses the importance of having a marriage mission and how to form a marriage mission statement. The second section addresses how couples can pursue spiritual disciplines together. The third section addresses practical steps in pursuing mission in marriage. The fourth section addresses aspects of spiritual warfare in marriage. The final section addresses evaluating and assessing the marriage mission.

This book removes all grounds for a selfish understanding of marriage. I would commend this book to any couple who is married or considering marriage as it sets the bar high for couples.

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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Evidence that Demands a Verdict: A Review

Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World by [McDowell, Josh, McDowell, Sean]

Evidence that Demands a Verdict

As someone who believes in the importance of apologetics for the ministry of the local church I was happy to see that the classic Evidence that Demands a Verdict has been updated and republished for a new generation of readers.

The first addition of this book was of great importance as it brought apologetic resources and information to people when there was very limited access to information as Josh McDowell notes in the introduction. I would argue while there is greater access to information because of the internet that a resource like this is still needed as a lot of the information even and especially in the area of apologetics is false and fabricated. One only needs to scroll Facebook a few minutes to find a defense of Christianity based on false information, take for example the fake photos of giant skeletons that often make the rounds. I we are to defend the faith we must be certain that the evidence we use is truthful and not fabricated.

In this book Josh and Sean McDowell address the key apologetic battle fields. They make argue for a theistic universe and demonstrate the inadequacies of other explanations for life, meaning, consciousness, and free will. They address the issues regarding the Bibles reliability, transmissions, and the unreliable nature of the Gnostic writings and other non-biblical texts. They address the historicity and deity of Christ addressing many of the myths that are propagated by skeptics on documentaries. The reliability of and historicity of the Old Testament is defended. The authors in the closing chapters do a great job in addressing the challenges that arise from modern skepticism and post-modernity. The book closes with an appendix addressing the work of Bart Ehrman and addresses the weaknesses in his objections to biblical Christianity.

I am sure many pastors will add this book to their libraries as a reference. I would hope that lay members would add this resource to their family libraries. If you’re a parent consider the fact that when your child goes off to college they will be challenged with almost all if not all the objections the authors address in this book. By going over this book with your children before their faith is challenged you can give them the resources to contend for and hold on to their faith through their college years. If you know lost people, which you do, you are dealing with people who believe the objections to Christianity are stronger than the evidence for it this book demonstrates that the opposite is true.

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.

Preaching as Reminding: A Review

Preaching as Reminding: Stirring Memory in an Age of Forgetfulness by [Arthurs, Jeffrey D.]

Preaching as Reminding: Stirring Memory in an Age of Forgetfulness by Jeffrey D. Arthurs

While there are many good books written on the subject of preaching of them are rather unremarkable and fail to leave a lasting impression. Preaching as Reminding is both a good book and a remarkable one and I believe will leave a lasting impression on the preaching ministry of those who read it.

The basic premise of the book is that one of the primary roles of the preacher is that of remembrancer a title derived from Lancelot Andrewes sermon “Remember Lot’s wife.” As Arthurs notes in his introduction the role of stirring memory through preaching receives little attention although there many examples of that very role in Scripture. Arthurs states, “Ministers must serves as the Lord’s remembrancers because things learned can be buried, lost, amputated, or corrupted (p. 6).” In the first three chapters of the book Arthurs fleshes out a biblical theology of memory. In chapters one and two the importance and meaning of God remembering is developed. In the second our forgetfulness and the way to remember are addressed. In the third chapter Arthurs begins to address the role of preaching in stirring memory. Andrews makes the statement, “In a sense, all biblical preaching is in the context of a worship service is an act of reminding (pp. 48-49).” Andrews proceeds to argue the importance of memory in stirring the affection. In the closing chapters Arthurs draws out the implications of the importance of memory in the areas of style, the use of story, delivery, and ceremony and symbol in the context of preaching and worship.

I think Arthurs makes a sound case for the importance of stirring memory in the preaching of the word. His chapters on style on delivery have been truly helpful to me in thinking through and evaluating my preaching ministry. I would commend this book to all those called to be preachers called to be the Lord’s remembrancers.

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.

Never Settle for Normal -A Review

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Never Settle for Normal

Jonathan Parnell addresses the core desires of the human heart and faithfully shows how Christ is the answer to the longings of the heart.

In the early chapters of this book begins with the basics of God our fallen condition. Drawing from Romans, Parnell shows how we as fallen sinners have suppressed, stolen and supplanted the truth of God’s glory for lies. Lies that we are all to quick to accept and spread. In the following chapters  Parnell points us to Jesus, who he is an what he has done to rescue us from the penalty of sin and death and in exchange calling us to life of joy and significance.

Parnell’s writing is thoroughly biblical and Augustinian in its outlook. Reading it one cannot help remember Augustine’s famous quote from Confessions “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” As Parnell demonstrates there is no rest, no joy, and no significance outside of life in and with Christ, a life that proves to be anything but normal.

If you know someone trying to better understand Christianity this would be a great book to put in their hands.

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.

Irenaeus of Lyons (Christian Biographies for Young Readers) -A Review

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Irenaeus of Lyons (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

The best test of whether a children’s book is any good is whether children actually like it, this book has been tested and it has passed the test. I have spent the past week reading this book to my two boys (ages 4 and 5) at bed time reading a chapter a day.

Simonetta Carr does a good job of describing the historical context in which Irenaeus ministered and the challenges he faced. Given the current course of our society it is a good time to introduce young readers to courageous Christian leaders who faithfully ministered and contended for the truth during times of persecution. An added bonus is the extra facts given at the end of the book which helps give a better understanding for the Roman world.

I would encourage parents to get this book and read it along with their kids. While we might be tempted to shelter from the harsh realities of persecution that Christians have experienced in the past and do experience throughout the world we should teach them about examples of faithfulness which this book does.

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.

Portraits of a Pastor -A Review

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Portraits of A Pastor: The 9 Essential Roles of a Church Leader

While there are many books on pastoral ministry most focus in on one aspect or roll of the pastor. Jason Allen has brought together a group of contributors to to give a well rounded understanding of pastoral ministry.

This book addresses the pastor in his role as shepherd, husband & father, preacher, theologian, church historian,  evangelist, missionary, leader, and man of God. The contributors all derive their understanding of the roles of the pastor from the instruction and examples found throughout the pages of Scripture.

In my opinion the three most significant chapters in this book are Strachan’s chapter on the pastor as a theologian, George’s on the pastor as a church historian, and Whitney’s on the pastor as man of God. These chapters help address and correct current problems in the understanding of the role of the pastor. Many pastors are theologically anemic an suffer from ecclesial amnesia, they have neglected life giving sound doctrine and are ignorant of the great cloud of witnesses that have come before. Whitney’s chapter is the most important because if a pastor takes to heart what it means to be a man of God  all the other roles found in this book will most likely come into practice in the pastor’s ministry.

I would recommend this book to any pastor I know and would encourage church members to get this book for their pastor.

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.

Review of The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon vol. 2

 

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The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon Volume II: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854

Christian George has done a great service to all fans of Spurgeon in bring to light The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon. As Christian George notes in his introduction there is some irony to the publication of this series in that Spurgeon had been reviled by Southern Baptists for his stance against slavery and now Southern Baptists are publishing his lost works.

George in publishing these sermons has begun a task that Susannah Spurgeon has intended to undertake in her day. These sermons are from the very beginning of Spurgeon’s preaching ministry during his time at the church in Waterbeach. In reading these sermons and comparing them to Spurgeon’s later work it is clear that Spurgeon always had a heart for making Christ known through the preaching of the word.

It should be noted that the sermons are not full manuscripts as are found in the New Park Street Pulpit or the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit which were taken down in shorthand and reviewed by Spurgeon before publication. If you want insight into the early preaching ministry of C.H. Spurgeon this is a series deserving of your attention.

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.

Review of Encountering God Through Expository Preaching

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Encountering God through Expository Preaching by Jim Scott Orrick, Brian Payne, and Ryan Fullerton is a masterful treatment on the issue of expository preaching. While many books have been written on the subject of preaching in general and expository preaching in particular, in the church there is still a continued drift away from giving expository preaching its proper place in the life of the local church. As noted in the introduction expository preaching is central and indispensable to true worship.

This book is divided into three main sections. The first section addresses the character and life of the man called to preach God’s word, proper Scripture interpretation, the benefits of exposition and the value of topical messages when done in a biblical manner. The final three chapters of the first section cover the role of the Spirit in the sermon and preaching, these chapters elevate the overall contribution this book makes to the vast collection of books on preaching as far too often attention is paid to the mechanics of preaching at the expense of attention to the necessity of God’s work in preaching.  The second section addresses delivery, Scripture reading, and understanding the structure and genre of biblical texts. The final section covers the use of manuscripts, outlines, and preaching without notes.

This book  highlight the intended purpose of preaching as a means of encountering God through his word as it is faithfully expounded. I would highly recommend this book to any pastor.

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.

Ten Book Recommendations for Pastor Appreciation 2017

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Every year I compile  a list of book recommendations for Pastor’s appreciation month. They would benefit any pastor who receives them as gifts next month. If you’re a pastor and get a gift card consider one of these titles. For previous years lists check these out 2015 and 2016.

  1. Revitalize by Andrew Davis (reviewed here).
  2. Progress in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix (reviewed here).
  3. Pastoral Theology by Danny Akin and R. Scott Pace (reviewed here).
  4. Preaching in the New Testament by Jonathan Griffiths (reviewed here).
  5. The Way of the Dragon or the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel (reviewed here).
  6. The Legacy of Luther edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols (reviewed here).
  7. God the Son Incarnate by Stephen Wellum (reviewed here).
  8. Becoming a Pastor Theologian edited by Todd Wilson and Gerald Hiestand (reviewed here).
  9. The Pastor as Minor Poet by M. Craig Barnes
  10. The Work of the Pastor by William Still

Review of Real Love in an Angry World

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In Real Love in an Angry World Rick Bezet addresses the tension of holding on to truth and being graceful at the same time.

This book in nine chapters helps readers see how to handle disagreement without resorting to a scorched earth policy which seems to be the practice of many in our day. There are too ditches that the author shows that many fall into, maintaining truth without grace or abandoning truth. Both ways end up in a ditch, the only path forward for believers as the author points out is grace and truth, truth and love.

Given how fractured our society is this book is a helpful correction to much of the divisiveness found inside the church. A look at the comments section on any website, Facebook, or Twitter would clearly demonstrate how greatly needed books like this are. If your struggle with how to hold on to your convictions while maintaining a tactful and gracious Christian witneess this book will show how to deal with those who disagree inside and outside of the 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.