Book Review: The Fight Of Our Lives by William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn

The Big Elephant in Our Country

William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn bravely tackle the big elephant in our country that most people brush aside, are ignorant of, and simply refuse to talk about. The subtitle of the book is “Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth & Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam.” This book provides a myriad of facts from history, the Koran and the Bible, and recent events to show the danger that radical Islam poses to our country and the world.

In a balanced and objective manner the author’s do an excellent job of presenting a lot of helpful information in showing that we can’t just stand back and do nothing while Islam presents itself as a “peaceful religion” when it’s own teachings, history, and current events show otherwise. Many of the spokesmen for Islam employ doublespeak with reference to the dark realities of Islam. The authors alert us to the methods they employ and that we need to call evil – evil when we read it, hear it, or see it.

If I could make every American read this book I would. I wish we didn’t have to deal with radical Islam, but we do. We need to remember 9/11 and do our homework and be smart in preventing something much worse. I didn’t enjoy the book – or the subject matter. However, I learned a lot more than I knew about Islam, and how to be proactive and informed in preventing the downfall of our great nation – at least to the advancement of Islam anyway! It all starts with being educated and informed about the truth. We need to know the truth if we are going to respond to the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Ten Books I Would Want Every Christian to Read – by Dr. David P. Craig

1)    The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul – Why? Because we need to be exposed to the Majesty of God in a culture that deifies mankind and the creation above the Creator. Next to the Bible – no other book has influenced me more than this one. I could easily include several other works by Sproul in my top 10 – but I believe that if you start with this book – you will be hooked and read many of the other 50 plus books he’s written.

2)    Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero – Why? Because this book goes to the depths of the soul to reveal how original and generational sin has impacted our natures to show us the depths of our sin, and our need of Christ to make us whole again.

3)    Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing by Peter Kreeft – Why? This is the most difficult read (for me, anyway) on the list, but well worth the effort. I think Kreeft does a masterful job of giving a fantastic apologetic for the afterlife, and in particular demonstrating that all that we long for in this life will be fulfilled in Christ for the rest of eternity.

4)    The Prodigal God by Tim Keller – Why? Tim Keller distills the gospel in a most eloquent manner by giving a masterful exposition of Luke 15:11-32. He shows how we have a tendency to err on the side of legalism and how to correct this by coming to a deeper understanding of the grace of God as revealed by Jesus – the Master story teller.

5)    The Reason For God by Tim Keller – Why? I debated on whether to have “Reason to Believe” by R.C. Sproul, or this book by Keller on my list. I chose this one, because it is better at tackling the post-modern objections that people have to believing in God, and more specifically – Christianity. Keller does a masterful job of making a compelling argument for the logic and cogency of believing in the God of the Bible.

6)    Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem – Why? Dr. Grudem is a humble and scholarly theologian who has given us his Magnum Opus in a readable, clear, an articulate fashion. He covers all the major doctrines of the Bible with thoroughness, balance, and grace. I would love for Christians to read more theology than they do, but if they only read one book of theology in their life time – I would want this to be it! God-centered, Christ-centered, and very relevant and practical with application questions for each chapter.

7)    Desiring God by John Piper – Why? I had to have something by Piper in here! I have to admit, that Piper is difficult for me to read. However, the thesis he develops in this book “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him” is strongly and powerfully developed in this book. You can’t read this book without being more powerfully drawn into the glorious presence of our wonderful Maker and Sustainer of all the desires of our heart.

8)    Humility by C.J. Mahaney – Why? Because God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble! This is the shortest and easiest read on my list. However, that doesn’t minimize how important an understanding of Christ’s humility can radically change our lives for the greater good of the Kingdom. Too many Christians are prideful, fleshly, and live in a status quo state. Mahaney’s book is extremely enjoyable and Christ-centered.

9)    Spiritual Depression by David Martyn-Lloyd-Jones – Why? This book is one of many that I could have selected by the Welsh Medical Doctor turned Preacher. It consists of various sermons he preached and distills his mastery of Biblical exposition and combining that with his understanding of the human soul. It covers various topics (more than depression) and really the focus of the book is on how to have more joy because of the person and work of Jesus Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit in our soul.

10) Trusting God – by Jerry Bridges – Why? Because as a pastor – the issue I deal with more than any other is people dealing with worry, anxiety, fear (whatever you want to call it). Bottom-line many Christians live like atheists. They live as if God is NOT sovereign or good. Yet the Bible, and reality teach otherwise – if we view things from His perspective. This book is an excellent practical read that combines good theology with practical encouragement for those who struggle with doubting God’s goodness in their lives.

Book Review: Handbook of Basic Bible Texts by John Jefferson Davis

Great Resource for Bible Students – Especially those who Teach God’s Word

John Jefferson Davis, professor of Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has provided a very practical resource for Bible Students who desire to check out what the Bible has to say on the various aspects of Systematic Theology (what the whole Bible has to say on a given topic/doctrine).

Each chapter in the book includes a major subject of the Bible followed by a brief introduction; all the relevant verses on the topic in sequential order; brief theological comments on most of the verses; and recommended resources for each subject at the end of each chapter.

Here are the Subjects Covered in the Book:

1)    Scripture – Verbal inspiration and Inerrancy.

2)    God – His existence; Divine attributes – Metaphysical & Moral; The Trinity, and Election (verses supported by both Calvinists and Arminians).

3)    Creation.

4)    Providence – Nature, World History, and Personal Circumstances.

5)    Person of Christ – Humanity and Divinity; Divine Titles; Divine Attributes or Qualities; Divine Actions and Prerogatives; etc.

6)    Man – Man’s Original State; Aspects of Human Nature (Trichotomy and Dichotomy); Man in the State of Sin (Original Sin; Personal Sin, Manifestations and Consequences of Sin.

7)    Work of Christ – Preaching, Teaching, Miracles; Obedience; Death; Resurrection; and Ascension.

8)    Salvation and the Christian Life – Calling and Regeneration; Repentance and Faith; Justification; Sanctification (Wesleyan, Reformed, Pentecostal Distinctives); Perseverance (Reformed and Wesleyan/Arminian Views).

9)    The Church – Nature of the Church; Government of the Church; Mission of the Church.

10) Sacraments – Baptism (General Texts; Believer’s Baptism; Infant Baptism); Lord’s Supper (General Texts, Lutheran, Reformed, and Zwinglian Views).

11) Individual Eschatology – Death and the Intermediate State

12) General Eschatology – The Second Coming of Christ; Millenial Views (all four major views); The General Resurrection; The Final Judgment; The Eternal State.

As a teacher, preacher, disciple maker, mentor, counselor, and life coach for Christ – I find myself coming to this book over and over again to provide just the right verse/s for my understanding and instruction on a particular topic. I like the fact that Davis allows you to formulate your doctrine based on the Biblical evidence. It is more helpful than a concordance in that theological truths are taught throughout the Bible without using theological words (e.g. “Trinity;” “pre-millennial”; etc.) I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

*John Jefferson Davis is Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he has taught since 1975. He is an ordained Presbyterian pastor.

Book Review: The Story of the Bible by Larry Stone

Larry Stone has served us well by giving us a beautiful book that can sit nicely on one’s coffee table and tells the compelling story of the development, translation and transmission of the Scriptures in various languages, it’s historical development, and the current status of translation today around the world. With his selection of various pictures, pullouts, and interesting stories, Stone does not fail to captivate the reader of this book. He does a superb job of giving information that is scholarly and yet accessible to anyone who is interested in knowing more about how the Bible came to be and its impact on civilization.

Having had classes in Bibliology in Bible college, and seminary – I still learned things from the book that I had never known before. We have a nightstand at the entryway to our home and I have found visitors and my two teenagers sitting down looking through the book and being captivated by its contents, pictures, and pullouts. The visual aspects of the book make it almost irresistible to look at.

Stone’s book gives the reader a greater appreciation of the Scriptures and the cost and sacrifice involved in making them available in our language. I would suggest three additions for a future addition to this book for even more usefulness: larger font, a glossary in the back of key terms discussed in the book, and another chapter on the authority, sufficiency, and relevancy of the Bible for salvation and sanctification. However, as the book stands, I would still highly recommend it to everyone who wants to know more about how the Bible came to be.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I am under no compulsion to write a positive or negative review of this book. The opinions expressed are exclusively my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Sabbath by Dan B. Allender

From Duty to Delight

Dan Allender’s very practical book on the application of the Sabbath to today’s thesis is that practicing the Sabbath results in “delight that delivers us to joy.” He reminds us that the Sabbath is “not merely a good idea; it is one of the Ten Commandments.” Therefore the Sabbath is not optional but a biblical command or absolute that needs to be practiced. However, instead of this merely being an oppressive duty consisting of do’s and don’t’s, the adherence of the practitioner of the Sabbath is led into peace, abundance, and joy.

In other words, the Sabbath was modeled by God Himself after creation not so much as an act of rest, but to actively enjoy and participate in His creation. God has designed the Sabbath for us to proactively enjoy Him, and His creation (not just vegetate and check out on the Sabbath) – because we have been made to find our satisfaction and delight in Him above all else. In the midst of the busyness of our lives God knew that we would need time set apart to celebrate and delight in Him and what He has made for our pleasure.

The book was very helpful in providing many applications of how to delight in God. He did an adequate job with the Scriptures that relate to the Sabbath, and a good biblical theological overview of the reasoning behind God’s establishing this day of delight.

I highly recommend this book – especially as an introduction to keeping the Sabbath and for those who want to spend more time delighting in God and His creation in creative and satisfying ways that result in living the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I am under no compulsion to write a positive or negative review of this book. The opinions expressed are exclusively my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

Simple and Clear Presentation of the Gospel

In eight short chapters Greg Gilbert does an excellent job of sharing what the gospel is, by contrasting that with what it is not. Early on in the book Gilbert summarizes the essence of the gospel by stating, “We are accountable to the God who created us. We have sinned against that God and will be judged. But God has acted in Jesus Christ to save us, and we take hold of that salvation by repentance from sin and faith in Jesus.” In the rest of the book he breaks these four points down by showing what the Scriptures have to say about how a person can have a right relationship with God through repentance and faith in Jesus and what that means. I think his discussion of the “Kingdom” was particularly helpful and well explained.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you are a Christian this book is a simple read that will clearly help you understand what you need to do in order to be “saved.” If you already are a Christian this book will help you appreciate the gospel all the more and motivate you to share the good news clearly and cogently with others. I think this book will be around for a long time to sharpen Christians in the amazing truth of the gospel, and as a resource to give to non-Christians with the hope that they will read it and receive the amazing gift of grace that has been offered to us in Jesus Christ. I highly recommend this book!

Book Review: Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Comeback

I have always loved baseball – and now have a reason to love it even more – Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers stand out, and 2010 American League MVP. The book chronicles the rise and downfall of the number one pick of the Major League Baseball draft in 1999. Josh took a turn for the worse in the minor leagues by getting addicted to tattoos, alcohol, and drugs. The best part of this book is the story of grace – God – the hound of Heaven pursuing Josh despite his rebellion and out of control life-style.

The book gave me a new appreciation for the amazing grace of God, the patient love of grandmas, and the power of never giving up on people no matter how down and out they may seem. Josh literally went from rags to riches, to rags to riches again. It is a story that will inspire anyone battling addictions, or those who want to help those with addictions.

I give it 5 stars – especially if you love baseball, God, and apple pie – well, maybe not apple pie – but definitely – a story filled with God’s grace from start to finish.

Book Review of Tim Keller’s “The Prodigal God”

Tim Keller (Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, N.Y.) is a very gifted thinker and communicator. His book “The Prodigal God” is one I have read 3 times in the last year. The book is based on perhaps the most famous story that Jesus told in the New Testament (Luke 15) – often referred to as the the parable of the “prodigal son.”I have been a Christian for 39 years now (24 of those years in the pastorate), and I have never read a better presentation of the gospel than he presents in this book. Dr. Keller helped me to fall in love with the God of the gospel again. He helped me to realize that the gospel isn’t just about forgiveness for what I’ve done in the past, or for the promise of Christ’s return and the hope of Heaven for the future, but that the gospel is essential for living today. God’s grace through a relationship with Christ is what we need to be reminded of every day in order to basque in the pleasure, peace, and presence of a wonderful God – who loves us despite our tendencies to rebel, or revel in our own righteousness – either way – our sins of thinking we are too bad, or too good keep us at a distance from knowing God the Father through His perfect Son – Our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Out of 5 stars – I would give it a 10. The principles in this book are invaluable and I sum up what I learned from this book here:

1) I am a bigger sinner than I thought I was – I have a tendency to be like the “older brother” in Luke 15 – who sees himself as more righteous than he really is.

2) God is more gracious than I thought He was – He provides forgiveness for both the rebel (the younger brother) and the older brother – who is lost because it is his supposed righteousness that keeps him from having a relationship with his father – he is an idolater becasue he loves his father’s “things” more than the father himself.

3) It has helped me to understand the gospel and explain it better. Religions have a tendency to lead to idolatry – we think we are good – because we follow rules, or do “good works,” but these good works are self serving and make us look down on others.

4) Ultimately, I owe my salvation solely and totally to the goodness, patience, mercy, grace, and provision of God through Christ. He sought me while yet a sinner. He gave me His righteousness in exchange for my sin. He forgave me despite my rebellion and pride, and revealed His love for me in that He sent His one and only sin to die for me on the cross – Romans 5:8.

5) The Prodigal God wants me to go after all people with the good news that He has made provision for their salvation – no matter what separates them from Him. What a mighty and wonderful God we serve!