Archive for the ‘Book review’ Category

Book Review: Bible Studies on Mark

Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 in Book review, Gospel, Scripture

51tefsmeil-_ac_us160_What a delightful read! It is not often one can say such a thing about a Bible commentary. Commentaries vary in purpose – exegetical, homiletical, devotional, theological and/or doctrinal tradition. While all of these are necessary in a thorough biblical study with depth of meaning and application, not all can be called delightful. William Bernstein has provided a commentary that is both homiletical and devotional – and delightful!

Bible Studies on Mark will prove a great help to both shepherd and sheep, pulpit and pew. For the pastor, Boekestein provides a brief (each chapter is 8 pages) homiletical (each chapter appears to be a sermon) commentary for sermon preparation. It is brief, so the pastor will need to expand a bit on key theological and doctrinal themes. But this is a positive for the pastor – give to whet the appetite and spur meditation.

This will also prove beneficial to the Sunday School teacher or leader of a small group Bible study. In fact, with the questions provided at the end of each chapter, you already have 21 lessons (that is what Boekestein calls them). The easy-to-read format will be a great help, like for the pastor, for the teacher or leader in initial thoughts on Mark. It is brief enough that the student can read in one sitting and come to class ready for discussion.

And as mentioned, Bible Studies on Mark can be used as a devotional commentary. Brevity does not mean vacuous! Each reading will prove helpful in starting a day with thoughts tuned on Christ and His Word. It is simple to read for believers young and old. It is a delightful read!

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

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Book Review: Portraits of Faith

Posted: Friday, May 6, 2016 in Book review, Pastoral

41yetpt-xjl-_ac_us160_Portraits of Faith by Joel Beeke is a series of expositions given at a pastors conference in Aberystwyth, Wales UK. It is an encouragement and exhortation in the different aspects of faith given through the narratives of biblical characters as follows:

  • Adam & Eve – simple or childlike faith (Genesis 3:20-21 and 4:1)
  • The Shunammite woman – submissive faith (2 Kings 4)
  • The Canaanite woman – growing or maturing faith (Matthew 15:21-28)
  • Caleb – persevering faith (Numbers 13:25-14:24)

Pastor Geoff Thomas offers the following in introducing the book:

Now that these addresses are in print, their usefuness is greatly increased. Ministers like myself will be glad to have such a pastoral tool. Christians young and old will be encouraged and strengthened by reading these delightful pages. And those with questions concerning the nature of saving faith will find helpful guidance in this book.

As a pastor, I heartily agree! If you have ever had the privilege of hearing Beeke preach, then you know how rich his expositions are, how easily they flow and draw you in – and keep you riveted. Each of these little vignettes will be a good resource for pastoral ministry and for personal maturity in the faith. If you have ever failed in your faith, if you have ever suffered in your faith, if you have ever felt rejected in your faith, if you have ever felt in the minority in your faith – read this book! You will be blessed.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

41etkwzmopl-_ac_us160_Sam Allberry is associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Maidenhead, UK – an Anglican. So why does that matter? It doesn’t – but it could. It could if one approached the church of Jesus Christ from a strictly denominational perspective as if their own were the only true church. It could if one wrote for his own denomination  with no concern for others. Allberry does neither. His book Why bother with church? while brief answers the question biblically and biblically. Yes, that was intentional because contrary to much that has been written in recent years, God has much to say about His church and His people. Frankly, there is no way to interpret passages concerning the necessity of the church for us, and the necessity of us for the church, in a manner that allows anyone to conveniently stay away. No excuse or reason to refuse to be involved is allowed in Scripture – in fact, it is sin to do so and grieves both the God of the church and the church of God.

Allberry has given us a short, readable, and necessary book on church membership. He begins by defining the church (chapter 1) and follows by answering the question of the book’s title (chapter 2). Flowing from this he shows that he understands that there exists today many places that call themselves a church that really aren’t a church as defined by Scripture. So in chapter 3 he answers another question, “What makes a good church?” and couples that with biblical church leadership, structure and discipline in chapter 4. He then deals with the individual and their need to be one who serves the church rather than just looking to be served, or to use his language, attending church as a Christian or a consumer. He closes by giving biblical counsel as to what makes a good church member.

Allberry also anticipates some of the questions that even faithful church members have concerning the church. These are shaded in gray at the end of each chapter and will prove useful for leadership and congregation alike.

Why bother with church? is an enjoyable and practical read. We will begin distributing it to those who attend our prospective members class as a way to set forth our expectation of them as members, and what should be their expectation as members of our leadership – biblically and therefore reasonably. I think you will find a use for it with your members as well.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

514bnkyb3ll-_aa160_Biblical Counseling and the Church will prove to be a helpful resource in churches of any size and/or any demographic; country church, suburban church, or urban church. Simply put, if your church has people this book will be an asset for you and your ministry. Yes-you. “But I am not a pastor,” you might reply. “But I am not trained in biblical counseling.” “I am not called to be a counselor.” Read the book!

The purpose of the book is given at the end of the Introduction: “It is out conviction that God calls all of us to be biblical counselors. He calls every believer to know how to relate His Word to one another’s lives so that every believer in the congregation grows more like Christ. It is our prayer that Biblical Counseling and the Church will spark a one-another revolution in your life and in your church.” [18] Each author (and there are many gifted contributors) focuses on this goal as drawn from Ephesians 4:11-16. In fact, you will see that every believer counseling is discipleship and spiritual growth comes when all believers are involved with one another.

The vision is cast in six parts. Part One is More Than Counseling: A Vision for the Entire Church. This section serves as the foundation for what follows by showing how pulpit ministry and pastoral care is for the purpose of building up spiritual counselors who “counsel” as they live their lives in Christ.

Part Two is Biblical Counseling and Small Group Ministry. This section provides ideas and methods to help in promoting and promulgating the every believer involvement in counseling in whatever setting you have for small groups. I found some very helpful ideas in this section, and some that would need some adaptation for our church, and others that we might not consider, at least for now.

Part Three is Biblical Counseling and Conflict Resolution. Here the contributors hone in on why we need biblical counseling in the first place – conflict! These two chapters are worth the price of the book, especially if your church does not have an action plan for biblical church discipline and conflict resolution.

Part Four, Equipping Biblical Counselors, provides a strategy for implementing and practicing every believer biblical counseling. Chapters are provided for every size church and demographic to help.

Part Five, Biblical Counseling and Outreach, shows how every member counsel when lived out reaches the lost at home and abroad. The final section provides a historical prospective on biblical counseling.

Biblical Counseling and the Church is a complete manual on envisioning, planning, implementing, and sustaining a healthy biblical counseling ministry in your church. I highly recommend it for the glory of Christ and His Church.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

 

Book Review: Pitchin’ a Fit!

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 in Book review

217397Pitchin’ a Fit! by husband and wife team Israel & Brook Wayne is not just another book on parenting. Though it contains much you might have read in the past, you will identify as a parent with their experiences. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry, and others will have you think they must be in your household!

A word of caution should be noted from the outset: this book is mistitled, and therefore could be misleading (unless you read reviews like this! and other endorsements). You might think that the book is about children who throw uncontrollable tantrums and are seemingly out-of-control all the time. That would be an error in judging this book. While it is mistitled, it is subtitled correctly: Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting. It is a book about our tantrums as parents and how we are seemingly out-of-control, not just to others who might catch us at one of these pristine moments, but to our children as well.

Even if you are not a parent, you will gain much from this honest approach to stress, its causes and its results if left unchecked. Anger, impatience, and outright hostility are born out of the pressure-cooker of stress that is not dealt with in a proper way. The things that lead to stress and the stress indicators are to be greatly considered from their biblical knowledge and experiences as parents.At the end of the day. do you as a parent feel like there is peace in the home, or is every day a war? Remember, you are the mature one! And this book will pinpoint some areas that all of us, no matter how experienced we are as parents, need to examine in our own parenting “skills.” (FYI – I am the father of two wonderful daughters, ages 25 and 24 and have been foster dad to numerous others – and I am thankful for this read)

For more on the Wayne’s and this book, listen to Shaun Tabatt’s podcast here.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

Book Review: A Lost God in a Lost World

Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 in Book review

51er7-q4yhl-_sx318_bo1204203200_If you are a fan of David Wells’ writings on the effect of culture on the church and evangelicalism, then you will not want to miss A Lost God in a Lost World by Melvin Tinker. It is an excellent series of biblical expositions that will enhance your preaching (if you are a preacher) and your listening (if you are a parishioner) – and both preacher and parishioner will profit in their study.

Tinker offers the following expositions to show how God is lost in a lost world – and the necessary corrective to get Him back:

(1) When God is Weightless (The Problem of Idolatry – Isaiah 44:9-23)

(2) When God is Replaced (The Problem of Pride – Ezekiel 28)

(3) When God is Revealed (The need for the grandeur of God – Isaiah 40:1-31)

(4) When God is Crucified (The necessity of the Cross – Philippians 2:5-11)

(5) When God enters a Life (The work of the Holy Spirit – John 14:1-31)

(6) When God is Proclaimed (The necessity of Gospel proclamation – Romans 10:12-18)

(7) When God is Embraced (The need for effective grace – Acts 16:11-15)

(8) When God Returns (The Necessity of the Second Coming – 2 Peter 3)

(9) When God Makes All Things New (The Need to be Heavenly Minded – Isaiah 65:17-25)

You can see that Tinker agrees with Wells – the main problem in the world is a low view of God and a high view of self, which produces idolatry and pride. The corrective is to reverse that view by the grace of God through the power of the Spirit changing lives through the proclamation of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and return – when order, God’s order, will then be restored.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

Book Review: The Martyrs of Malatya

Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 in Book review, Books, Missions
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We live in dangerous times in the West. The attacks of ISIS and radical Islamists around the world are real. These attacks are born out of a misguided understanding of Christianity and the Word of God. These misunderstandings are brought to light in this excellent biographical work on the martyrdom of three men in eastern Turkey city of Malatya. This is the story of Necati, Uğur, and Tilmann, three men who gave their lives to Christ and for Christ in the land they loved.

James Wright (pen name) gives to us a valuable tool for evangelism to Muslims through the testimonies of these men. First, he reveals the key tenets of Islam against Christianity. Many in the West think the Islamic animosity is founded solely on the Crusades centuries ago where ruthless men took the lives of thousands of Muslims “in the name of Christ.” However, the Crusades are only mentioned once in this book, and then indirectly. The major disagreements of Islam over against the Christian comes from what they are taught – a teaching that is incorrect and if compared to the Scriptures are found to be so. They are taught that the Scriptures have been changed from the original writings, that Christians worship three gods, and that the Christians real agenda in missions is to “undermine the political and social unity of the state by setting religious sects against one another and partnering with the PKK and Israel” (p. 184 – part of one of the murderers “defense”). These are things that children are taught in their textbooks (at least the first two) at an early age. Radical Islam would take these things to an extreme and embrace the falsehood of evil intentions of missionaries from the West, as illustrated by the “onion” (p. 96 – you will need to see for yourself!). Wright also offers a good historical background for how these beliefs came to be. As part of that history, however, Wright shows how the seeds of faith were planted along the way in the very region where this tragic event took place.

Wright also shows how these men came to faith in Christ. Tilmann, being a German, had what we might consider a more typical testimony whose heart for the Muslims was formed while in Indonesia and further by his future wife. Necati, a Turk, came to faith in Christ as a young woman patiently listened to his questions about Christianity and led him to Christ. She also became his wife! And Uğur, a Turk, who followed Christ after a self-study about Christ and the Word of God where he determined that what he had been taught as a child about both were incorrect. In all three men, we find the power of God at work.

Their martyrdom ranks with all the great saints whose lives were taken because of their testimony in Christ. Faithfulness, Jesus said, will come with suffering and persecution in this world – to test our faith, the faith of others, and to provide and example to others of the love of Christ. While the lives of these three men might fade from the pages of history, they will never fade from the book of life and the pages of eternity. And the mark they left in Turkey needs today, 8 years after this tragedy, to be remembered not just in Turkey, but around the world. May we learn to love our enemies as they loved theirs…

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.