Review of The Resurrection Fact

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The Resurrection Fact edited by John Bombaro and Adam Fransisco, released in time for Easter this year, provides an excellent defense of the resurrection of Christ against some of the more recent challengers.

A wide range of contributors address key objections to the resurrection, for example Mark Pierson provides excellent insight in historical matters surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ. Contrary to many skeptics the best historical evidence does demonstrate that it would be unlikely for Jesus body to have been left for scavengers. He did die and He was buried. Many of the chapters a list of recommended resources to dig deeper. Reading the modern ideas put forward in challenge to the resurrection of Christ it becomes clearly that the alternative explanations such as the swoon theory, mass hallucination, etc. all require a blind faith that ignores the clear historical evidence surrounding Christ.

Overall this book provides a good defense of the resurrection with each contributors demonstrating attention to details. I think this book would be a good one to place in the hands of students today as many will be confronted with objections that parallel those dealt with in this book.

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 90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, James

 

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There are some devotionals that draw attention to themselves and then there are devotionals that draw attention to the Bible and 90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, James by Timothy Keller and Sam Allberry is one of the latter type.

Each days devotion helps the reader work through a passage of Scripture providing questions that help with reflection on the meaning of the text. Some of the devotions also help the reader pray through the passage in question. Each devotion provides ample space to write out prayers and reflections on the days passage.

This is my first exposure to the Explore by the Book series but given the quality of this devotional it will be a series I explore further. If you’re looking for a devotional that will aid that will attract you to the word rather than distract you this should be at the top of your list.

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 Legacy of Luther

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The Legacy of Luther edited by R.C. Sproul is a timely read in light of the coming celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This work brings together some of the bes church historians to address important aspects of Luther’s life and thought.

The contributors to this volume are: Stephen Nichols, Steven Lawson, David B. Calhoun, Joel Beeke, Michael Horton, Guy Prentiss Waters, Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Gene Edwards Veith, Aaron Clay Denlinger, Scott Maentsch, Sean Michael Lucas, Terry Yount, Derek W.H. Thomas, and R.C. Sproul. The first section of this book provides a look into the life of Luther most significant in this section is Beeke’s chapter on Luther as a family man, which addresses Luther’s teaching on marriage and family and how he practically lived that out. This is one aspect of Luther’s life and thought that often goes underappreciated. The second section addresses Luther’s doctrinal understanding along the lines of the Solas of the Reformation. The final section addresses Luther’s ongoing contribution as a Bible scholar, his contribution to the broader Reformation, his impact as polemicist, his contribution to hymnody, and Luther’s impact on preaching. R.C. Sproul fittingly closes this work with a reflection on Luther as pastor-theologian.

Each author draws out important aspects of Luther’s life and thought. In reading this I did find it odd how little diversity there was in the denominational backgrounds of the contributors especially in light of the greater diversity in contributors found in John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion,  Doctrine,  Doxology. Especially surprising is the fact that a work on Luther only has two contributors from the Lutheran tradition. I think in exploring Luther’s more attention should have been given to the theology of the cross and its outworking in his theology.

Overall this is one of the better works out there on Luther that seek to address him in his own context and address his importance today. Some modern works seek to psychoanalyze Luther more than explore his doctrinal convictions and impact on church history, a pitfall these contributors happily avoid. If you’re looking to learn about Luther and why he is so significant in the development of church history this book is a must read.

Disclosure: I received an ecopy 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 Bible Studies on Mark

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Bible Studies on Mark by William Boekestein provides an engaging look at Mark’s gospel and draws out practical questions for greater understanding of the text and personal application. This book would best be categorized as a devotional commentary of the best kind.

In 21 lessons Bokenstein walks the reader through Mark’s gospel helping the reader to understand the doctrinal and practical implications of Mark’s gospel. Boekenstein has an eye toward pointing the reader to the continuity between the gospel story and the gospel promise found in the Old Testament.

One of the greatest strengths of this book is the fact that Boekenstein doesn’t get bogged down in interacting with too much secondary literature. Anyone who has consulted a more technical exegetical commentary will see that in modern commentaries there is more interaction and reflection on other commentaries than interaction with the text itself. While not a verse by verse commentary, this work is a commentary nonetheless and one that reflects serious interaction with the Gospel of Mark itself. Throughout this work Boeknestein focuses the readers gaze on the person of Christ and presses home the importance of believing in Christ. As Bokenstein notes in his introduction there is a great danger of taking our eyes off of Jesus and the Gospels are vital for keeping our eyes on Christ. So if you are looking for a book that fixes yours eyes upon the person and work of Christ this is one such book that should commend itself to you.

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 Great Good Thing

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The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ by Andrew Klavan is a book that you just can’t set down. Klavan’s  account of how he came to life is testimony to the many influences that work to bring a person to faith in Christ.

Klavan begins recounting his early life in Great Neck, NY. Reading it I couldn’t help see similarities to his nominal Jewish upbringing and the nominal Christianity of many if the Bible belt. Klavan cites his bar mitzvah as the point in his life in which he became disenfranchised with religion after having gone through the motions while at the same time his family did not believe the underpinnings of Judaism. His families faith was more of a matter of cultural heritage than deep-seated belief. In addition to that he had what by all accounts was a troubled childhood with a father who never seemed satisfied in him and who also seemed to have a desire to sabotage his children. In many ways Klavan’s early adulthood was that of a prodigal loosing himself in the world. Each step of his life turn out to be one step closer to Christ. The book’s closing chapters revolve around his conversion, his father’s death, and his baptism following his father’s memorial service.

There need to be more testimonies like this. Klavan’s story is one of God’s mercy leading him to find the great good thing, the gospel. Human brokenness and God’s grace are evident on every page.

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.