Review of The God Guarantee

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The God Guarantee by Jack Alexander is counter-cultural clarion call to biblical generosity.

In this book Jack Alexander addresses the primary reason most people are not generous, fear. In addressing fear Alexander points readers to the sufficiency of God’s provision promised in Scripture and proved by the experiences of saints throughout history.

If you struggle with fear restraining your generosity this book will help you move from fearfulness to faithfilled generosity as you minister with His resources to the needs around you trusting His provision.

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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Review of Do Your Children Believe?

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In Do Your Children Believe Terence Chatmon provides a resource to help thinking through the spiritual legacy you leave your family.

In this book three main sections. In the first section the lack of intentionality in shepherding children spiritually is addressed. The regular absence of families from church due to extracurricular activities is addressed as well as the fact that parents cannot instil values and practices in their children that they themselves do not possess and practice. The next section begins walking the reader through the steps of planning and putting in practice steps that will help shape a spiritual legacy in the coming generation. The final section points to the importance of putting God first in shaping a spiritual legacy and His sufficiency to bring about the spiritual legacy we seek to leave for coming generations.

In a day and age where there isn’t much intentionality in shaping the spiritual lives of families I think this is a great resource. I believe one of the greatest reasons that the church has been loosing younger generations is owing to the fact that believing parents have not been intentional in shaping a spiritual legacy in the lives of the children that would bless generations to come. I would commend this book to any parent or church leader that wants to think through the practicalities of thinking through a spiritual legacy of multigenerational faithfulness to God.

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 When Parenting Isn’t Perfect

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In When Parenting Isn’t Perfect Jim Daly and Paul Asay provide a resource that is relevant to every stage of parenting as it is never perfect.

One of the main arguments found in the first section of this book is that too often parents set their sight on perfection in raising their children and in doing so often crush the spirits of their children. Rather than alienate children in a pursuit of perfection parents must parent their children in reality. The second section addresses the practical realities of parenting from knowing your children to knowing your spouse and working well together as parents. The third section addresses the reality that you are parenting a human being and not a robot, while we may have great influence over our children we really can’t control them especially as they grow up and become more independent. The final section looks at the long-term view of parenting especially the transitions that lead to children becoming adults.

In a world of broken families Jim Daly shows how even and especially imperfect parenting can shape children for the better. Over all as a book that is supposed to be a Christian book on parenting Daly’s book focuses more on his personal experience than Scripture, which is the main weakness of this book.

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 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 Progress in the Pulpit

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Progress in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix have written a resources that belongs on every preacher’s reading list. As one who benefited from their previous work Power in the Pulpit during my college years I was excited to see this work come to print.

This book is comprised of four main sections. The first section defines the task of preaching and the factors that shape it in and out of the pulpit with attention given to the cultivation of godliness, developing a preaching plan, and discipleship in and out of the pulpit. The second section addresses development of the sermon covering issues such as Bible translation, sermon points, word studies, and most importantly how to preach Christ-centered sermons. The third and final section addresses issues regarding delivery such as clarity of communication, giving an invitation, evaluating preaching, and teaching about preaching.

One of the most important chapters in this book is chapter 4 in which Jim Shaddix addresses the relationship between personal discipleship and pulpit discipleship. As Shaddix notes in his introduction to the chapter there is an assumed division between the pulpit and discipleship which in my opinion has probably contributed greatly to unhealthy churches. The last chapter was also particularly helpful in explaining the importance of teaching people the importance of preaching and how preaching is itself and act of worship.

Whether you’ve been in the pulpit for weeks or for years there is something in this book that will help you make progress in the pulpit.

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 The Unreformed Martin Luther

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The Unreformed Martin Luther by Andreas Malessa provides a look at Luther that helps separate the man from many of the myths that have come to surround him.

Andreas in this works addresses a wide range of things attributed to Luther, some of which even I was unfamiliar with. In twenty-five chapters this book helps readers gain a more historically accurate picture of Luther. It is easy to think of Luther as some fire-brand revolutionary but as seen in this book the actual story of Luther is different. Luther’s intention was to actually see reformation in the Catholic church.

I think works like this in church history are invaluable for modern-day readers. Many times we can make figures from the past into larger than life figures blurring the line between historical fact and fiction. Some of the myths that are addressed and dispelled such as the story of Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door might upset some readers, but in matters of history we must go where the evidence leads rather than holding to myths that cannot be substantiated.

In light of the coming celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation I would commend this book to anyone seeking to better understand the man who played such a pivotal role in the history of the Christian 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.

Review of Chasing Contentment

Chasing Contentment

Chasing Contentment by Erik Raymond is one of the best books I have come across this year. In this book the Raymond draws on his own person study and the works of Jeremiah Burroughs and Thomas Watson in addressing the topic of contentment.

As is noted right on the cover we live in a discontented age. Almost every aspect of our culture seems to encourage discontentment so that our discontentment can become a source to profit from. I think the definition provided:”the inward, gracious, quiet spirit, that joyfully rests in God’s providence” is one that captures the biblical understanding of contentment. After defining contentment Raymond explores how we learn contentment. One of the keys to contentment as Raymond points out is understanding what we really deserve in light of our sin against God. Too often believers can drift into discontentment because they have not rightly understood the enormity of sin and God’s amazing grace. Throughout this book Raymond encourages the reader to see the pursuit of contentment in terms of our relationship with God and the promises of God something especially evident in the books closing chapter.

I would recommend this book to any pastor I know. Many pastors are prone to discontentment and even those who might not be still minister to people who are largely discontent in life. In a day an age where everything is telling us we need newer, better, and more this book points us to the path of true contentment in God’s care and provision for us in this present age.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the ebook 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 Women

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Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDoodewaard makes accessible many biographical sketches of Reformation women who have not received a great deal of attention in Reformation studies.

This book provides insight into the life and impact of twelve women who greatly shaped the progress of the Protestant Reformation. The women come from a wide range of backgrounds but have one thing in common their commitment to seeing God glorified in their lives. One of the most remarkable women encountered in this work is Katharina Schutz whose involvement and interaction with the leading Protestant Reformers of her day is truly amazing.

While there are many books being published on the Protestant Reformation this one stands out in bringing to attention women whose accomplishments and service though great are largely forgotten in church history. If you’re looking to get a better understanding of the contribution women made to the Protestant Reformation this should be one of the first books you pick up.

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 Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention

In Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention Jarvis Williams and Kevin Jones have gathered voices from across the SBC to speak to a vital issue in Baptist life. Anyone familiar with the history of the convention knows that the SBC came to existence because of a disagreement with northern Baptists over the appointment of slaveholders as missionaries. As a Southern Baptist I readily acknowledge that the Southern Baptists were on the wrong side of the issue, slaveholders should not have been permitted to serve as missionaries, in fact were the churches in step with the New Testament ethic it would have condemned the slavery practiced in their midst.

In the first two chapters of this book Albert Mohler and Matt Hall address the root and historical causes of racism in the convention. Jarvis Williams draws on biblical steps toward remedying racism. Walter Strickland addresses the theological nature of racism. Craig Mitchell addresses the issue in light of Christian ethics. Kevin Smith’s chapter which stands out addresses the importance of the pulpit and the pastor’s personal example in addressing racism. The closing chapters of the book address steps needed to address racism in the more institutional aspects of Baptist life with attention given to the progress that has been made in Baptist life.

You might ask why this book is needed. I would point to that fact that I know pastors who have in their ministry had to push back against racism in the local church. One particular pastor at one point in his ministry had deacons who wanted a bylaws revision that would require the dismissal of a worship service should an African-American show up. I’ve had members of my own church admit to the fact that the world they group up in was blatantly racist. We can also look at our present, I pastor a church in an area that is half white and half black but my church isn’t. I am absolutely convinced that the ongoing segregated nature of Sunday morning worship speaks volumes about the fact that work is needed in this area. I hope many pastors will pick this book up and take the work of racial reconciliation seriously.

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.