When I read the press release about Lit! I was very excited to read the book. I read a lot of books and was excited to receive practical advice on how...moreWhen I read the press release about Lit! I was very excited to read the book. I read a lot of books and was excited to receive practical advice on how to read in the light of a Christian worldview, and what to read. The first thing that I really appreciated about the book was his emphasise on scripture as ultimate. He explains that we should seek to read as much scripture to saturate our mind—to shape our worldview by scripture, not Christian books. He then shares a wonderful analogy of the bible being solid Gold, and Christian books being gold leaf—this is striking imagery to show us as Christians the treasury we have in God’s Word. If anything is to be taken from this book, i believe the supremacy of scripture over all other reading material will have this greatest transforming effect over your life as a Christian. The next section which helped me out quite a bit was the section on writing, and highlighting in our books. This was helpful to me, and as I have started writing in my books and writing questions that come to mind, I have benefitted much more from the books I have read. And, I believe we should take Tony’s advice in practice and will benefit greatly from doing so. The final point from the book I will share is how new media has changed our evolution in reading. Traditionally, a reader selected one book and sat alone in a reading chair. When great ideas were encountered,the reader internalized those ideas and reflected on them…Now, when we come across an idea that we like, we are tempted to quickly react, to share the idea with friends in an email, on Facebook, or on a blog. (Page 142) With the advent of Facebook and twitter, the step on contemplating and internalizing truths we read is beginning to be lost from our reading. This is an important step to be changed by what we read, and have a chance to hold it up against the truths of scripture before sharing it with friends. There is so much more in this book that makes it a must read for anyone looking for a clear biblically driven model for choosing books to read and building a library. I will recommend this book to all my friends from pastors, to seminary students, and laypeople alike.(less)
R.C Sproul, A Taste of Heaven, Reformation Trust Publishing 2006, 173 pages. If God himself were to design worship, what would it look like? Dr. Sproul...moreR.C Sproul, A Taste of Heaven, Reformation Trust Publishing 2006, 173 pages. If God himself were to design worship, what would it look like? Dr. Sproul starts the book by asking this question. In the church today we have many ideas and opinions as to what worship is and how it should be executed. Dr. Sproul answers this question in his book, A Taste of Heaven. This book really caught my attention because of a quote lingering in my mind from reading John Piper’s, Let the Nations be Glad; he said, “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” Dr. Sproul explains that the only worship that is acceptable to God is worship that proceeds from a heart that is trusting in God and in God alone. He uses lots of examples from the Bible to drive the point home. I really appreciate the connections he made from the Old Testament that the church would be “A House of Prayer” Here is an excerpt, Why did God want incense to be burned constantly in His sanctuary? Incense has much symbolism in Scripture, but one major factor is that the rising smoke of the incense was symbolic of the prayers of God’s people ascending to His throne (Rev. 5:8; 8:3–4). In commanding the perpetual burning of incense, God was telling His people they were not to draw near to Him except in an attitude of prayer. That was the principle. So prayer was a very significant element of the ancient Israelite cultus. I highly recommend this book because it focuses us on the recipient of worship, namely God. We are reminded that when God looks at me, He sees the merit of Christ. My salvation rests not on my performance, but on His. Overall, I am really excited to see a book on worship that actually focuses on God and not on feelings.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Reformation Trust 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.”(less)
In their new book, Die Young: Burying yourself in Christ, authors Hayley and Michael Dimarco have put together a book that challenges Christians to di...moreIn their new book, Die Young: Burying yourself in Christ, authors Hayley and Michael Dimarco have put together a book that challenges Christians to die young and bury themselves in Christ. This is a book exhorting us as Christians to die to sin and live in Christ. The message of Die young is radical, but only radical in the sense that it shatters the way we live as Christians. This book could easily be a prequel to David Platt’s book Radical. “Die Young is about that kind of death, the dying-to-self kind of death, the ‘living sacrifice’ that Paul wrote to the Romans about in Romans 12. This ability to deny yourself so that you don’t serve your desires over his (p. 13).” Throughout the book we are constantly presented with bible saturated paradigm shifting illustrations of what the bible commands the Christians life to be. Death is the new life, Down is the new up, less is the new more, weak is the new strong, slavery in the new freedom, confession is the new innocence, red is the new white. There are two things that I found very helpful about this book. One, was everything written in the book is deeply rooted in scripture. Everything idea they present is a restatement of what is found in the Bible. I found this very cool, also a lot of the verses they used are the ones people brush off as not for today, or that doesn’t apply to me type of verse. The second thing was the transparency of the stories they shared throughout the book. They share honestly the struggles they have had and do have with the truths presented. Hayley says, The more I buy the better I feel, at least for the moment but soon all that stuff starts to make me feel bloated and out of control. I ask myself why I look to stuff to fulfill all my needs when God is all-sufficient. I guess I have yet to fully believe that, as long as I go elsewhere for the “more” I desire. Each chapter is filled with stories and the author’s struggles and victories of the truths presented. Overall, Die Young – Burying yourself in Christ is a fantastic book. There are a lot of catchy phrases in the book which make them easy to remember and fun to read. My copy is filled with highlights and underlines of all the great things said. Die Young will give you a vision to dig deeper and bury yourself in Christ, and find contentment, safety, freedom and victory in living for him.(less)
As many of you reading this blog are aware I am a part-time seminary student. I am doing my studies with SEMBEQ in Montreal. My next course is on Bibl...moreAs many of you reading this blog are aware I am a part-time seminary student. I am doing my studies with SEMBEQ in Montreal. My next course is on Bibliology with a professor named Rene Frey. I am looking forward to the course. Although I believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible I have not spent much time studying the specific doctrines. I have started reading some of the books for the course which I have picked up in English. I have just finished reading my first book. The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? – F.F. Bruce. This book is considered a modern classic in the field of New Testament studies. At only 120 pages He doesn’t have a lot of room to really unpack everything in detail. But, he does leave me with a hunger to study and learn more. I was very encouraged by I read. Below I would like to interact with the ideas in the book. My hope is that you may to ecouraged to read the book. F.F. Bruce was Rylands professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester. He has written more than forty books that are still widely used and referenced today. Bruce starts the book by emphasizing the importance of the historic roots of Christianity. He gives us an example from the apostle’s creed which states, Jesus Christ, his son our Lord…suffered under Pontius Pilate, the sections of the creed fixes the revelations of God to a specific time in history. I think the historicity of the New Testament is important because the Bible is our only source to learn about the influence of Jesus’ character. The next chapter in the book deals with the dating of the New Testament documents. I found this chapter especially interesting. The process of the dating the documents, by noting the timing of specific events within them, and also looking for other works where they are quoted to establish dating is very interesting, and will require a lot more study to fully comprehend and put together. One interested section of this chapter talks about the number of manuscript copies available for the New Testament. Bruce states, The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater that the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt. It is a curious fact that historians have often been much readier to trust the New Testament records than have many theologians. It is true, we live in a day when many people within the church do not trust the New Testament records even though they are apparently for God. Chapter 3 was also quite intriguing. Bruce deals with the Canon. He goes into a lot of detail which is worth careful study but, what really caught my attention in the chapter was what he said about canon formation, The New Testament books did not becomes authoritative for the church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary the church included the in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect. The church decided it was important to develop a canonical list because of circumstances within the church. They needed to determine which books carried divine authority and should therefore be read in church services or settle doctrinal disputes. And on a more practical level, they needed to know which books could be handed over to the imperial police in times of persecution without incurring the guilt of sacrilege. The rest of the book is spent dissecting and proving the historicity of the different sections of the New Testament. I would encourage anyone who at all has any doubts about the historicity of the New Testament to read this book. At only 120 pages it is a quick read even if you read it slowly. It will serve a good introductions and launching pad for further study. The author has included a topical bibliography to help point you in the right direction for further study. The book can be purchased from Amazon.(less)
It seems every time Mark Driscoll gets up to speak, writes a blog post, or publishes a book there are droves of people who are against it even before...moreIt seems every time Mark Driscoll gets up to speak, writes a blog post, or publishes a book there are droves of people who are against it even before viewing the content for themselves. While I agree that a lot of criticism towards him is warranted I do think a lot of it unhelpful and presumptuous. The same has been true with Real Marriage: The truth about sex, friendship and life together. On the first couple pages we are presented with numerous glowing reviews from some of the big guy of Christianity (Celebrity Pastors ), Andy Stanley, Darrin Patrick, Daniel Akin, James Macdonald and Wayne Grudem. I found helpful what Wayne and his wife had to say about the book. While some sections will be controversial, this book as a whole is a wise, insightful, biblical, and startlingly honest guide to happy marriage. Mark and Grace Driscoll rightly warn about the long-lasting consequences of sexual sin, point out the way to a very happy marriage in obedience to God, and bravely address questions that are rarely brought up in a church setting. Real Marriage is divided into three main sections. Part 1 – Marriage, Part 2—Sex, and Part 3—the last day. I found the first section very helpful and applicable Chapter 2 brings to light a subject not found in most marriage books. Marriage is about friendship. The Driscolls spend chapter 2 unpacking for us how friendship in an integral part of a truly Christian marriage and a safeguard against emotional adultery. They share that in their marriage we have made the mistake of assuming we were friends and not working on our friendship as we ought. (page 27) I really liked the analogy used to explain how our marriage changes from being a journey between friends to a team of business partners trying to the pay the bills etc. It proves the point that friendship in marriage does not happen, it takes intentional effort. The chapter on Men and Marriage as recommended by Mark is for men only. He lays it down hard in his usual style on little boys and men stuck in adolescents. He does make some very strong points which I hope will wake up some the tough chauvinists and tender cowards who may read the book. Near the middle of the chapter he gives a good wake-up call to all husbands; There are too many guys who turn marriage into job descriptions. He does his responsibility, she does hers, and there’s no emotional connection whatsoever. This is sin of omission. “I didn’t hit her; I didn’t yell at her.” But you didn’t love her. You didn’t pursue her. You didn’t encourage her. You didn’t connect with her. So ultimately you failed her. (page 50) I think all men could stand to take heed to this warning and I think a lot of marriages are in trouble because the husband isn’t fulfilling his role as husband. As well, at the end of the chapter, he gives some very practical tips for men on how to men in terms of leading their families. Grace Driscoll took the keyboard for the writing of chapter 4, and she did a fantastic job. She addresses the issue counter-culturally. She has worked to establish her womanhood in the Bible and to bring honor to the Glory of God. In our culture today the man of the household is generalized as an overgrown child and the wife keeps him in check and order. (King of Queens is a good example of this) And the women’s role in these shows is often to be critical and poke fun at his abilities or way of doing things. She deals very well with the issue of wives submitting respectfully to their husbands. The natural outcome of godly male headship is female fulfillment, not denial of female rights. A wife flourishes with a loving husband, and husband becomes courageous with a respectful wife.(Page 83) Here Grace really captures what is means for women to submit to their husbands and for men to love their wife as Christ loved the church. For me chapter 5 was the most helpful, it lays out clearly the little foxes that spoil a marriage. I won’t go into much detail but will list them separately. I think this is a chapter that is worth the price of the book. Lack of Repentance Lack of Forgiveness Bitterness And the keys to having a good fight. Chapter 10 will be the most controversial and I will not address it in this review. What I will address is how I think it is helpful. For Christians reading the book, who have never had sex outside of marriage, never been exposed to sexual sin these may not be questions that are being asked. But, I think that people who have had multiple sexual partners and much exposure to sexual sin do have different questions regarding sex that deserve to be answered. Tim Challies as discussed much about the grid method suggest by Driscoll. I would recommend reading it along with book. http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/... The last sections of the book looks good, but it is mostly marriage seminar style homework. Overall, I think the book is very helpful, maybe in varying degree to people from different backgrounds. There are weakness like Mark reducing Song of Solomon to a book of sex. But, I think with discernment there is something to be taken away from the book for everyone. Throughout the book I can clearly see their love for God and motivations to glorify Him through their marriage. My advice is, read the book, and if your not comfortable with chapter 10 don’t read it. But do not discount the whole book because of that one chapter.(less)
In the October 2011 release from Cruciform Press Aaron Armstrong delivers a quick and concise biblical theology of poverty. A quote taken from the bac...moreIn the October 2011 release from Cruciform Press Aaron Armstrong delivers a quick and concise biblical theology of poverty. A quote taken from the back cover summarizes the main message of the book; Christians are called to serve the poor…generously, joyfully, by grace, to the Glory of God. But elimination poverty is a misguided and dangerous goal. Poverty is rooted in the fall of man and there is only one savoir. The books starts by unpacking for us the root cause of poverty. We are not dealing with lack of financial resources, lack of proper education or lack of family support. Poverty is rooted in sin, and as long as sin reigns in our mortal bodies poverty will persist. For me, this was very helpful. To see poverty fundamentally as a spiritual issue and not a material issue helps me focus how I serve the poor in my community. Aaron says: Ultimately, poverty can only be addressed at the heart level, one person at a time, as salvation through the shed blood of Christ pushes back against the fall of man (46-47). And looking back to the end of Chapter 2 he explains that our motives must be nothing other than making God’s name great. A statement that is brought to light in chapter 3 really made me stop and think. Aarons writes, Sin thus not only causes poverty, but also poisons our attitude towards those suffering within it in (46) How often have I been walking downtown and had a homeless person asks me for change and I walk by and ignore them. Sometimes we don’t give people in need the time of day, or how often do make a demeaning remark about them to our friends or say nothing when they do. Every person, even the homeless man who takes our money to buy drugs or alcohol needs to Jesus Christ through the Gospel, and our ministry to them must lead them to the Gospel. We need to remember our state apart from Christ. We were enemies of God, but it was while we were enemies of God that Jesus Christ died for to reconcile us to himself. In chapter 4 Aaron shares with us what Jesus taught is the greatest commandment—Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself. If we separate those two commandments, we fail to obey either one. Loving out neighbour in real tangible ways is a much a proof of our salvations as anything else. How we relate to God directly affects how we relate to others. Unfaithfulness to the Lord will lead to lack of concern for our neighbour—but the opposite should also be true. I really appreciate this point, I have heard this taught many times and I have studied these words many times, but I have never made the connection serving the poor. We cannot separate what we believe from what we do. Aarons backs this point with an outstanding quote from William Wilberforce, the famous abolitionist, Christianity calls on us, not merely in general to be religious and moral, but especially to believe the doctrines, and imbibe the principles, and practice the precepts of Christ.” It is not enough for Christians to just be good moral people. We are called to believe the doctrines, drink deeply of the principles, and practice fully the precepts of Christ. Again and again Aarons brings us back to the greater goal of our helping the poor—the glory of God. Awaiting a Saviour is definitely a homerun! It is insightful, biblically grounded and has really helped me develop a Gospel-centered understanding of poverty and my role in alleviating it(not resolving it) until the Return of Christ when he will put an end to sin, suffering and death as he brings about the new creation. Even as I am writing I am tempted to continue interacting with the ideas from the book and share them with you. But, it is probably better to read the book for yourself. Finally, Kudos to Cruciform press. Firstly, for finding great authors and secondly, for packaging the books in such as accessible format. The book can be purchased directly from Cruciform Press http://cruciformpress.com/our-books/a...(less)
There are not many books out there that are so simple yet, so effective to change our understanding of the Gospel. The book is not a theological treat...moreThere are not many books out there that are so simple yet, so effective to change our understanding of the Gospel. The book is not a theological treatise on the subject of the Gospel. But, Tullian does bring the Gospel into the here and now, into the practical implications of what Jesus Christ has done for us. He helps us as Christians apply the Gospel to very difficult experiences in the Christian life. He constantly bring us back to the finished work of Christ in the gospel and brings out from the text that the Gospel is not just the spark that ignites the Christian life, but it is also the to keep us going and growing as Christians. As stated earlier, the book is not a concise biblical theology, so there are weaknesses in how he presents justification vs. sanctification. I think Tullian has beautifully and powerfully by the scriptures explained to us the meaning and power of justifications, but whenever he starts talking about sanctification he retreats back to root cause of our sanctification—justification—thus missing the point. I like to remind myself and others that the only thing you contribute to your salvation and to your sanctification is the sin that makes them necessary. (Page 104) I think Tullian misses the point here. In the letter to the Corinthians Paul shares with us a verse that helps us understand the nature of sanctification, But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10, ESV) This verse teaches us that our sanctifications is Spirit powered, Gospel driven, faith fuelled, effort. We work and God works through us, I don’t think our work is something that should be excluded from sanctification. We do not have justification without sanctification, and we do not have sanctification without justification. Justification does play a role in our sanctification, but it is important that they are defined separately while remaining dependent on each other. The best way I have heard it put was, Justification is like a judge, who declares us just, and sanctification is like a surgeon, who operates on our insides and works on making us just. Overall I do wholeheartedly recommend this book. It presents the Gospel, it is full of lots of great quotes, and the books brought me into a deeper love for Christ and into a deeper appreciation for justification. I did really thoroughly enjoy the book and I will read it again and again, but for new believers I would encourage you to afterwards read a book on sanctification.(less)