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.

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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.

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 The Treasure Principle

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Few authors have written as clearly and insightfuly on the issue of money and possessions as Randy Alcorn. In this revised and updated of The Treasure Principle Randy Alcorn provides a look at the heart of biblical generosity.

In seven short chapters Randy Alcorn cuts through so much of the cultural clutter that has clouded the church’s understanding in regards to issues of money. In this book Alcorn makes clear that rather than money being something we accumulate and use for our own personal pleasure we are to leverage our financial resources for eternity.

This book is a classic that should be picked up and read.

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 Pastoral Theology

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Pastoral Theology by Daniel Akin and R. Scott Pace is a book that stands apart from other books on the issue of pastoral ministry. Whereas many books on ministry focus more on the how-to of ministry the authors of this book provide a biblical theology of pastoral ministry.

This book is divided into three main sections. In the first section the authors provide a look at the trinitarian foundation of pastoral ministry. In a day where pragmatism is so emphasized it is refreshing to read a book that emphasizes the character of God and the importance of having one’s identity centered in Christ. The second section provides a look at the issues of anthropology, ecclesiology, and missiology. The authors rightly point the leaders to the relationship of God’s grace and compassion in the ministry. The last section addresses the practical God commanded tasks that underscore the work of pastoral ministry. The authors address the pastor’s role as under-shepherd of God’s flock, the role of preaching,  and the priority of family in pastoral ministry.

I believe that this is one of the most important books on pastoral ministry that has been written in recent years. I would commend every pastor to buy this book and read it as what is lacking in much of evangelicalism today is a biblical understanding of pastoral ministry and this book is a helpful corrective to that.

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 Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching

In Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching the various contributors have provided an important resource for pastors. Many pastors avoid preaching the Old Testament for the simple fact they don’t know how to preach it.

A large chunk of the Old Testament is narrative, and often when it is preached it is mishandled. Lawrence Turner helps pastors understand the importance of plot in preaching the narrative passages. Paul Kissling likewise focuses in on narrative but with an eye toward preaching on characters. Christopher Wright’s work on preaching the law is particularly helpful in understanding the principles which apply to today. Through each chapter of the book every major genre and the major sections of the Old Testament are addressed with the closing chapters providing guidance in how to deal with difficult texts and how to preach Christ from the Old Testament in such a way that one does not butcher the text.

As a preacher I have to be honest that until I read this book I had not given the Old Testament the attention it deserves in my preaching ministry and had thus robbed my hearers of a balanced diet so to speak. This resource has reminded me of the importance of preaching the Old Testament and has helped me to think through how to actually preach the Old Testament in such a way that is faithful to the text and beneficial to the hearers.

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 Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out

Alvin Reid is a go to author for me when it comes to the issue of evangelism since I first read his earlier title Introduction to Evangelism. If we’re honest it seems we’ve made evangelism so complicated and so frightening that most professing Christians would rather have a root canal than attempt to evangelize someone. Reid’s latest title helps remove some of the fear that holds back many from being faithful witnesses to Christ.

What Reid presents in this book is a common sense approach to evangelism that is often missed in the church. Chapter one addresses the need to focus on the simple message of the gospel. Chapter two  provides a good overview of the biblical gospel message. Chapter three focuses on moving to an more natural evangelism where we converse with people rather than lecturing them. Chapter four shows that the power lies in God and how we as individuals are instrumental in evangelism. Chapters five and six addresses prayer and how to engage in gospel conversation. Chapters eight and nine address the importance of developing the relationships we have with those we are seeking to share the gospel with.

I think this book needs to be read by every Southern Baptist pastor. As it is we are a denomination in decline and that decline is owing to an absence of evangelism and discipleship in local churches. Reid helps us to see evangelism as what it was in the New Testament the regular lifestyle of all believers seeking to be salt and light.

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 Questioning Evangelism

In Questioning Evangelism Randy Newman provides a resource that rightly blends evangelism and apologetics. Newman draws on the example of Jesus who often used a questioning method to evangelize and teach. Where many resources focus on providing short memorable cookie-cutter outlines Newman helps readers think through how to ask the right questions to lead people to a better understanding of God and the gospel.

In the first section of this book Newman points to the importance of asking questions rather than giving pat answers. He gives general principles for evangelism drawn from the wisdom of Proverbs. He then provides basic principals that help move from asking the right questions to a place where the right answers are received. In the third section he addresses some of the fundamental issues that are often confronted in evangelism and apologetics ranging from the problem of evil to the biblical teaching regarding homosexuality. The third section addresses some important issues that point to the lack of compassion and concern that often prevent evangelism.

If you read nothing else in Newman’s book read his last three chapters. I think Newman has hit on the main reasons that professing Christian don’t evangelize others namely that either they don’t care or they actually hate others. Newman’s book is both instructive and convicting at times.

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