Book Review: Confronting Christianity

Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin is a new book out by Crossway Publishing. McLaughlin poses twelve difficult questions for Christians to engage with regarding their faith, realities of that faith, how they are viewed by the culture and how it impacts their own lives. But what this book also does is turn the same questions around on the culture who likes to attack Christianity in these twelve areas.

So what are the areas discussed? Atheism, Diversity, One True Religion, Morality, Violence, Literalness of the Scripture, Science, Women, Homosexuality, Slavery, Suffering, and Hell. McLaughlin tackles all of these issues head on without apology.

The book is an easy read. McLaughlin uses stories from her own life and others to illustrate key points and brings science and Scripture to easy levels to understand. Her grasp of the culture wars that contend with Christianity are second to none.

I highly recommend this book to be part of your library to strengthen your faith and to help equip you in the area of apologetics. I easily give it four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Crossway Publishing in exchange for a fair review.

Book Review: Remaining Faithful in Ministry

John MacArthur’s new book, Remaining Faithful in Ministry, is a convicting, challenging, and motivating read that every pastor or preacher should have in his library.

MacArthur, who recently celebrated fifty years of ministry at Grace Community Church, writes on 2 Corinthians 4 and the faithful ministry of the Apostle Paul. In fact, the book reads almost as a biography of the Apostle.

The book seeks to examine the life of Paul and how he was faithful in his ministry. It does this by looking at nine key areas (convictions) of his life and ministry. These are the superiority of the new covenant, ministry is a mercy, the need for a pure heart, the need to preach the Word faithfully, results belong to God, his own insignificance, the benefit of suffering, and the need for courage.

Throughout each chapter, MacArthur examines the writings of Paul as well as accounts of his life from the book of Acts. Each shows a man who was deeply devoted to God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ after his conversion challenging each of us as believer’s to step up and do the same.

The book is well-written and easy to understand.

Overall, I recommend this book not only to pastors and preachers, but to every Christian. It is a short read that can be finished in one sitting of a couple of hours. It will challenge and convict you and stretch your faith for growth and maturity.

I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exhange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: Can We Trust The Gospels?

Can We Trust The Gospels? by Peter J. Williams, is the latest work in a whole line of works that seek to explain the reasons we have for confidence in the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ. This is a subject that has any number of works written both for and against the validity of the Gospel books in the New Testament.

Williams’ book is masterfully written with a fresh new look at the topic. He incorporates new evidence from archaeology from the last 50 years that demonstrates even further that we can, in fact, trust the Gospel accounts as both historically accurate and spiritually fulfilling.

Williams starts out by exploring the testimony of Non-Christian sources and their take on the Gospel accounts. He finds that they match with precision. If the Gospel writers were putting forth lies about these events, why would the secular sources reference and agree with these same events?

Williams also tackles the question, which books are true Gospels? What is to be included? He puts historical measures for this process in place as well as church acceptance throughout history.

A large emphasis is also put on the knowledge of the Gospel writers themselves. The writers knew their geography. They knew the culture. They knew specific events and names. There are things that are in the Gospels that could not be known if you were not intimately acquainted with the culture and locations in which the Gospel accounts take place.

Another area of focus is whether or not we have the actual words of Christ within the Gospels. A persuasive case is made that we do indeed have the actual words of Christ based on the strong culture of oral tradition that was present in the first century. He also addresses perceived contradictions in the text which are mostly due to people ignoring the fact that words can have multiple meanings.

The final chapter of the book is titled, “Who Would Make All This Up?” This, of course, is a key question. The stories contained in the Gospel were not safe stories to portray in the time immediately following Christ’s death and resurrection. The fact that these people were willing to put their lives on the line gives further authenticity to their message.

Overall, Can We Trust the Gospels? is a delightful, easy and quick read. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the area of apologetics and also anyone who would like to deepen their faith in the validity of the Scriptures.

I received this book free from the Publisher, Crossway, in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Book Review: The Teaching Ministry of the Church

The Teaching Ministry of the Church, edited by William R. Yount, is a resource designed to help churches and pastors set up an educational ministry within their church. Educational ministries range from Sunday School to youth group, to adult education.

The book is written by a slew of authors in various essays. While much of the book is profitable, particularly regarding methods of Bible Study, I found much of the teaching advice and instruction to be outdated and short-sighted.

The book does not seem to grasp modern culture and educational research. Its methods look to be from the 1970s and would fail to capture audience attention in the modern culture.

In short, the book captures the right needs for education in the church. It also captures the correct roles for God, Pastors, and Laity in teaching the church. But the book fails in actually instructing how to best execute that educational role.

With all of this in mind, I do not recommend this resource.

Book Review: Reformed Preaching by Joel Beeke

Joel Beeke has come out with a call for reformed preaching. Reformed Preaching discusses what Joel calls Experiential Preaching. This is not to be confused with experimental. 

The book begins with an examination of what experiential preaching is and challenges preachers to look at their methods of preaching to see if they are preaching to the heart and soul of those who hear the message. Beeke then proceeds to explain the elements of Reformed preaching.

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Bible Review: ESV Story of Redemption Bible

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The ESV Story of Redemption Bible is a new Study Bible from Crossway and it is the first of it’s kind that I can remember.

The story of redemption is one that is woven throughout Scripture both in the Old and New Testaments. It is with that mindset that the Story of Redemption Bible seeks to portray the biblical text.

When I first received this Bible I did not think I was going to like it. It does not have study notes at the bottom like a tradition Study Bible. Rather, the notes are inline with the text. I thought this would be distracting but I find the notes unobtrusive when actually reading and they provide great insight into the text that you are reading and how it aligns with the story of redemption. With approximately 900 notes it is by no means an exhaustive Study Bible but you would not expect it to be when its main focus is only one topic. That being the case, this would not make sense to be a primary Study Bible for someone, it is specialized.

I received the hardcover version and it is a beautiful cloth over board edition. The dust jacket features beautiful gold inlays as does the cover itself and the presentation pages. The artwork throughout the Bible is stunning offering diagrams and other helpful graphics. In the back of the Bible there is a large fold-out timeline to give you the overall arching themes and events of Scripture. All is very well done.

For me, it is a Bible I will likely be using on a regular basis. I like the fact that, for the most part, I am alone with the Biblical text and there are just a few notes here and there to help me understand something more clearly with regard to redemption. Because of that, this Bible may very well become my go to reader.

I give this Bible four out of five stars.

I was given this Bible for free in exchange for a fair and honest review by the publisher.

 

Book Review: Spurgeon on the Christian Life

Crossway’s book Spurgeon on the Christian Life by Michael Reeves is a superb read into the life and theology of the Prince of Preachers.

Like other books in the series, edited by Stephen Nichols, Reeves introduces the man and theologian, Charles H. Spurgeon, by giving a background on his life and what he meant to his community. He describes Spurgeon as a man who was full of life and passionate for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The remainder of the book goes into the theology and ministry methods and principles of Spurgeon. Topics that are discussed include, but are not limited to, The Bible, Calvinism, Preaching, Baptism, The Cross, Sin, Grace, Prayer, Suffering and even Depression.

Reeves also does a good job to point out that even though Spurgeon is a crowned theologian in Baptist Denominations, he shold not be overlooked by everyone who follows Christ.

I recommend this book highly and it would be a great addition to any library.

I received this book free from the publisher in exhange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: Expository Exaltation

John Piper’s new book Expository Exaltation focuses on the majesty of the preaching of the Word of God in corporate worship. The book is centered on Piper’s belief that preaching is a biblical mandate within corporate worship. Above all, Piper contends that preaching the Word of God is an act of worship in itself and must be the forefront of any worship service.

Piper first explores the history of worship services within the New Testament Church. He argues that corporate worship was actually a daily activity and not just something done on Sundays. This, of course, can be seen in the book of Acts as we see the early church doing life together, not just on Sundays. Piper explains that the inner essence of this daily worship is being satisfied with all that God has for us in Christ and savoring the glory of God in Christ.

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Book Review: Why Trust The Bible?

The historicity and accuracy of the Bible, particularly the New Testament, are topics of major importance. Throughout history, people have called into question the validity of the Bible. Those questions increased drastically in the 20th and now the 21st centuries. People simply are skeptical of the Bible and Christians need to be ready for a defense of the Scriptures.
Greg Gilbert has provided in this book a masterful pairing of the classical arguments and proofs for the authority of the Bible and modern day illustrations to help us understand each concept. He asks, and answers, the important questions of what about the fact that we do not have originals, only copies of copies? Did these events really happen? Can we really trust the authors? All of these questions, and more, are answered in Why Trust the Bible?
 

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Book Review: The Jesus Mission

The Jesus Mission by Steven K. Scott is an excellent read from the author of The Greatest Words Ever Spoken.

The idea of the book is that Jesus came to earth and fulfilled 27 missions during His three-year ministry.  In turn, he left us with four missions, not just the “Great Commission.”

Scott examines the true Salvation of a Believer as well stating that it is not just a prayer but truly following Christ, His commands, and His ways.

The book is an easy read and most anyone would be able to understand the simple format and style of writing.  The stories will captivate you, some will make you laugh, others will make you say “wow” and others will make you cry.

No matter where you are in your walk with Christ this book will encourage, challenge, and strengthen you to become more like Christ, and to become a true follower of Him.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.