Joel C. Rosenberg’s The Persian Gamble


Book Review on The Persian Gamble by Joel C. Rosenberg

Will Keep You Riveted Until the Very End 

Book Reviewed by Dr. David P. Craig

I’m one of those people that is usually 10 to 15 years behind the latest fads. I’ve heard about Rosenberg’s books for years but this is my first venture with one of his books. There where five reasons why this book kept me riveted from beginning to end:

One, Rosenberg tells a great story. I’ll never understand how writers can keep several characters, places, events, going and bring them all together in the plot. Rosenberg does this as well as anyone I’ve ever read.

Second, the characters in the book are very different, unique, interesting, and draw one into the story.

Third, Rosenberg is able to write a contemporary and relevant novel without the immorality and harsh language that too often accompanies such a work of the action-thriller genre.

Fourth, you learn a lot about history, geography, weapons, warfare, etc. Rosenberg has a good handle on geopolitics and the inner and outer workings of organizations like the Mossad, C.I.A., etc.

Fifth, His book was so good – that I’m excited he’s written 14 more books with another coming out next month called Jerusalem Countdown.

In a day and age where so much of media is graphically immoral, and over the top with foul language – I am grateful for writers like Rosenberg who write well, tell a great story, and entertain without corrupting your mind at the same time. I’m looking forward to his first book and reading them in order from here on out – By the Way his first novel was the Last Jihad – which I’m starting tonight!

Brad Johnston on The “Learning” in Contentment


My favorite weekly meeting is Wednesday at 6 a.m. at Perkins Restaurant.

There I recently had one of those jump-off-the-page-of-your-Bible experiences. Call me dumb, but I had never processed the fact that three times in Paul’s famous “contentment passage” in Philippians 4 – which I have quoted anecdotally dozens of times – the Apostle specifically uses the word “learned” (in Philippians 4:9 and 11, 12 ).

The men’s prayer breakfast is not a big one, as prayer breakfasts go. But it is a faithful one, an intimate one. Men from our church gather like clockwork each week for the sole purpose of lifting our hearts together before the Throne of Grace. We make 3-4 specific prayer requests for the week, and then lift one another’s burdens to the Lord in prayer before a hearty breakfast. Our prayers are far ranging, kingdom focused prayers for the advance of God’s reign in this world. It is not a place where we sit on our hands, but where we take the Kingdom by storm.

But recently  God has landed the prayer breakfast guys in the school of contentment. He has simply overwhelmed us with his presence and blessings and pressed us to “come back” to a place of joy and satisfaction — of thanksgiving! In my analysis, the Lord has been teaching us a contentment that can be described as intense pleasure in who Jesus is, and what he has done/is doing/will do for his people. We have been discovering something of the end that Paul has in mind when he calls to learn contentment. Three observations about how God leads us into biblical contentment.

First, he has called each one of us to action. Contentment is not passivity. Each of the men at prayer breakfast wear various hats: in the church, as the head their families, and in their professional labors. Men must sometimes leave early because of pressing matters on their plate. We aspire to be like the Apostle Paul, who was engaged in the work to which he was called. What he believed was visible in his lifestyle and he called those to whom he ministered to “learn by practice” what they had seen Paul practice.

Second, God has called each of us to flexibility. In a variety of ways each of us has had unexpected developments in our lives recently. It has really pushed us to understand better what Paul meant in Phil. 4:11 that “whatever situation” is a place where God will minister his grace by prompting me to trust in his wisdom and rest in his provision. The guys have discussed in recent weeks the places of apparent chaos and of disappointment. The wonder of Paul’s Calvinistic convictions is that he could never step outside of God’s personal and transformative gaze. Whether in Tarsus, Jerusalem, or the far flung wilderness of Asia Minor Paul knew that because God was God, therefore Paul could never step off his grid. His heavenly Father was intent on teaching him the positive aspects of the Tenth Commandment every day and in every — at a very personal level!

Finally, God has called us to be fixated on Christ. Paul no doubt had specific episodes from his ministry in mind when he said “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil. 4:12). As he pushed forward in his itinerant ministry year after year things didn’t always go as planned. Colleagues abandoned him. Logistics did not work out. Travel plans were stymied. And yet through it all the Apostle’s faith shone through: “all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

It has been such an intense pleasure to explore this theme of contentment with the guys over our waffles and eggs recently. Through different circumstances and at different times he has brought each of us to that place of peaceful contentment. We are simply overwhelmed at the blessings the Lord has poured out into our lives. It doesn’t usually mean we stay there. But we are learning, learning, learning that instead of grasping and fighting for what we desire, we can rest contentedly in God’s absolute sovereignty. Instead of fixating on something material, or urgent, or created, we can reorient our fixation upon Jesus Christ. Then we can quietly do what we can in God’s kingdom, and leave the results up to him.

Soli Deo gloria.


Book Review: Thinking, Loving, Doing edited by John Piper & David Mathis

Theological and Practical Help For Balancing the Mind, Heart, and Hands

This book is a compilation of several outstanding pastoral addresses from experienced Christian leaders from a recent Desiring God Conference on the theme of balancing the mind, the heart (emotions), and the hands. I will seek to summarize what each chapter/leader addresses in their specific topic of choice and what I benefited from in my reading of each chapter:

The Introduction is written by David Mathis (an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis). He makes a helpful distinction between churches that focus on being pure and those that focus on unity and encourages those who lean one way or the other to learn from the other side. He then proceeds to use Dr. John Frames helpful distinctions of tri-perspectivalism, whereby some churches emphasis The Kingly role, some the Priestly role, and others the Prophetic role of Christ. He then sets up the following chapters in the book and shows how each contributes to bring balance to how we can love Christ with our minds, hearts, and hands.

I personally really enjoyed this chapter as it caused me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses in my personal and corporate involvement in the body of Christ and what I have to offer others and what I can learn from others in becoming more Christ-like in balancing the tri-perspectivalism as described in the chapter via John Frames helpful schema.

Chapter Two is entitled “The Battle for Your Mind” by Rick Warren (everyone knows who he is – if you are on planet Earth). He does a topical study from the Scriptures on the pitfalls we wrestle with in the battle between our ears, and then proceeds to give four principles on thinking; five levels of learning; and five things to remember when we are teaching others.

As usual, Warren is very practical, and gives some good acronyms whereby one can remember easily his various points. What I liked about this chapter is that it was very thorough and broad and it is a chapter I will go back to again and again in my teaching others, and being reminded myself how to win the battle for the mind utilizing distinct principles in taking every thought captive for Christ.

Chapter Three is the most intellectually demanding chapter written by Albert Mohler – the President of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. He gives a very thought provoking analysis of our present state of thinking in light of Romans 1:18-32 and postmodernism. He gives 14 insightful noetic effects on the mind due to the fall; five precepts of the modern mind, 12 features of the natural mind, and three practical ways to combat the blind spots that we all have due to the fall.

Dr. Mohler has an amazing mind and what this chapter did for me primarily is to help me think more theologically about how thinking must be reformed and renewed by the Scriptures and the amazing effects of the fall upon our minds. It really motivated me to study the Scriptures and Culture more thouroughly then I typically do, so that I give more thought to how to declare the gospel the “natural” mind, and well as to the “spiritual” mind of those I seek to reach and grow in the gospel.

My favorite modern theologian – Dr. RC Sproul – founder of Ligonier Ministries writes about how Paul addresses the secular mind from Acts 17 and what we can learn from what he did, in our own approach to skeptics today.

Dr. Sproul makes the case for how we can never find “an explanation for being, for life, or for motion if we try to find it outside the being and character of God.” I was encouraged by this reminder of how amazing it is to have the perspective of God in my worldview, when so many have suppressed this, and are thus in great need of modern “Paul’s” to address the issues of the day from a Theo and Christo-centric perspective.

In Chapter Four Thabiti Anyabwile (Pastor in the Cayman Islands) addresses how we may encounter Islam by using the mind of Christ as opposed to being driven by fear where he rightly says, “where fear takes control, thinking does not.”

Pastor Anyabwile (a former Muslim who converted to Christianity as a young adult) does a fantastic job of giving an overview of pluralism, Islam, and how we should respond to Muslims. His chapter helped me to fear Islam less, and gave me a bigger heart to share the good news with the many Muslims who live in my community.

In Chapter Five, Francis Chan (Pastor and Writer in San Francisco) addresses how to think hard, combat pride and stay humble based on an exposition of 1 Corinthians 8. In this chapter Chan really does a great job showing how we can love more like Jesus by thinking more like him.

The Concluding chapter is by John Piper (Preaching Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church) and addresses how love flows out of us when we love God with all of our minds. He gives 8 points that he hopes this book will prevent in Christians, and then what he hopes that this book will awaken and increase: ‘Thinking for the sake of loving.”

I really enjoyed this book because it was deep theologically, and gave helpful applications from the Scriptures in how to love God and others with our minds, emotions, and actions. I highly recommend it and give it 5 stars because it’s a book I will come to again and again for my own personal walk with the Lord, and because it will help me to be more balanced in my own teaching, and coaching ministries.

*Note: I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to give a favorable review.

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