“Who am I?” It’s a question that every single one of us has likely asked at one time or another.My full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
“Who am I?” It’s a question that every single one of us has likely asked at one time or another. And with good reason; understanding who we are—defining our identity—completely transforms how we act, think and speak. It is no wonder then, that we so many appeals within Scripture to our identity as being “in Christ.” We are to remember that we are new creations in Christ, made free in Christ, made alive in Christ, made wise in Christ… the list is (seemingly) endless.
Yet, many of us struggle to grasp the impact of what it means to be in Christ and, as a result, burden ourselves under condemnation and guilt, failing to live in the freedom that Christ offers. That’s the heart of Who Am I?: Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges. Over its eight chapters, Bridges offers a concise look at the meaning and implications of being “in Christ.”......more
“I feel like God wants me to be alone for a while.”
“I’m waiting for God to open a door to the right job.”
“If I choose this school, will I be going against God’s will for my life?”
We’ve all statements like these before. Whether it’s dating and marriage, the quest for the perfect job, what college to go to or where to buy a house, many Christians get hung up on the question of God’s will: Is it God’s will that I do XYZ? What is God’s will for my life and how can I know what it is? While it’s good to be concerned about living a life that glorifies God, sometimes we spend too much time navel-gazing when we really ought to just do something!
That, in a nutshell, is the point of Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something. DeYoung is greatly concerned about the “tinkerer” generation, those of us in the 35 and under age group who try a lot of different things, but commit to very little in the end. “Too many of us have passed off our instability, inconsistency, and endless self-exploration as ‘looking for God’s will,’ as if not making up our minds and meandering through life were marks of spiritual sensitivity… We’re tinkering around with everyone and everything. Instead, when it comes to our future, we should take some responsibility, make a decision, and just do something” (p. 15)......more
World War II is unquestionably one of the most devastating events in human history. Like perhapsMy full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
World War II is unquestionably one of the most devastating events in human history. Like perhaps no other, it is a testimony to the evil of which man is capable. Hitler’s extraordinary rise to power and his reign led to Germany’s rising out of the shame of their defeat in the First World War, followed quickly by the nation’s devastation as its desperate people bought into the promises of their false messiah. Along the way, tens of millions of men, women and children were brutally murdered.
And, seemingly, no one could stop them.
But not all of Germany’s people were deceived. Some stood against the Nazis. Among them was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and author whose works, including The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, are still widely read today.
Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy is the first major biography on this important figure in forty years. Relying on past biographies, interviews and letters from Bonhoeffer written over the course of his life, Metaxas paints a captivating picture of this twentieth century martyr......more
When I was a kid, the only time I ever heard the word “catechism” was when a friend grumbled abouMy full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
When I was a kid, the only time I ever heard the word “catechism” was when a friend grumbled about how he couldn’t be wait to be done with it when he was thirteen. I had no idea what a catechism was, but sounded horrible—obviously it was some sort of hellish torture device. So imagine my surprise when I eventually learned that it was a simply a series of questions and answers about the Bible. (In all fairness, I’ve also come to realize that for someone who doesn’t believe the Bible or have a desire to know more about Jesus, it would seem rather hellish.)
Kevin DeYoung knows all about this. Growing up in the Christian Reformed Church, the Heidelberg Catechism was a part of his life. While he always appreciated it, it wasn’t seen as something terribly exciting. But it was in his seminary days, seeing the reaction of his fellow students, that he was reminded of just how meaningful the Heidelberg Catechism really is. “My classmates were seeing something many of my peers had missed. The Heidelberg Catechism is really, really good” (p. 16).
That, ultimately led DeYoung to write The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. DeYoung structures the book as a devotional commentary, sharing his insights on each of Heidelberg’s 129 questions over 52 Lord’s Days. The catechism’s questions are run opposite each of DeYoung’s essays, allowing readers like me to appreciate the Heidelberg for itself......more
Do you ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels in terms of your relationship with Christ?My full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
Do you ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels in terms of your relationship with Christ? You’re trying, trying, trying to “go deeper,” to serve well, to do all the things that we’re supposed to do as Christians—and you’re just stuck? Why does this happen to us? Why do we feel this constant need to do-do-do, as if we’re trying to impress someone?
Is it because we are?
Tullian Tchividjian wrestled with this question when he was named the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presybterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, taking over for the late Dr. James Kennedy, the only pastor the church had ever known prior to his death. And the results of his wrestling are at the heart of his latest book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything......more
Some passages in the Bible are really easy to explain to your kids. Others.. not so much. Matthew 25:31-Read my full review at Blogging Theologically:
Some passages in the Bible are really easy to explain to your kids. Others.. not so much. Matthew 25:31-46, with its image of the last judgment and Jesus declaring that those who cared for one of the least of these His brothers, you did it to Him (Matt 25:40), can get really messy if not handled well. So imagine my surprise when I learned that Francis Chan decided to make it the focus of his latest kids’ book, Ronnie Wilson’s Gift.
Ronnie Wilson’s Gift tells the story of a young boy who, in response to learning why Jesus came to earth, decides to give Him his most prized possession—his baseball glove signed by his uncle (a professional baseball player). But as Ronnie tries to figure out a way to deliver his gift to heaven, he finds out that giving Jesus a present really happens by caring for those He loves in their time of need......more
There are few subjects touchier than the question of homosexuality and Christianity. In recent yeMy full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
There are few subjects touchier than the question of homosexuality and Christianity. In recent years, in order to shift the portrayal of Christians as vicious homophobes, many mainline denominations have fully embraced homosexual practice as compatible with Christianity, as have some in “post-evangelical” circles, such as Tony Jones. Given the enormous pressure to affirm and embrace homosexual practice, it can be really tempting to go along with it, or worse to give unsatisfying, pat answers to hard questions about Christian faithfulness and homosexuality.
So what do you do if you earnestly believe that God’s Word is true, and what it says about homosexuality is in fact the truth? What if you truly believe that homosexuality is a serious sin as outlined in Scripture? And what do you do if you believe it—and you’re gay? Wesley Hill seeks to answer that question in Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. What qualifies him to do so? It’s his struggle......more
As far as the content and concept is concerned, I'd give this a 5/5. The WRAP process is well-thought out, and explained well. I'd give a 3/5 for lengAs far as the content and concept is concerned, I'd give this a 5/5. The WRAP process is well-thought out, and explained well. I'd give a 3/5 for length, simply because I don't think this book needed to be as long as it is. (So we'll split the difference and go with a 4/5). ...more
R. C. Sproul once lamented that, “we live in what may be the most anti-intellectual perioMy full review review is available at Blogging Theologically:
R. C. Sproul once lamented that, “we live in what may be the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization.” Strong words, to be sure. But there’s something to them, isn’t there?
Consider, for a moment, how we determine our agreement with ideas and experiences. More often than not, it’s based on what we feel. If it feels good, we do it; and if it feels good, it must obviously be good for us, right?
This comes into play in how we develop (or don’t as the case may be) our doctrine as well; we chafe at the hard truths of the Christian faith—the exclusivity of Christ, the atonement, the authority of Scripture, and countless others—because they don’t feel good. So we don’t wrestle. We don’t engage. We don’t search the Scriptures.
We don’t think deeply.
And because we don’t think deeply, we rob ourselves of a deeper love for God.
In his latest book, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, John Piper seeks to help readers understand how the heart and mind glorify God together and that “thinking is indispensible on the path to passion for God” (p. 27)......more
“[W]e have a cultural crisis and a theological one,” writes Darrin Patrick in Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission. “We live in a world full of males who have prolonged their adolescence. They are neither boys nor men. They live, suspended as it were, between childhood and adulthood, between growing up and being grown-ups. . . . This kind of male is everywhere, including the church and even, frighteningly, vocational ministry.” (p. 9).
In short, we have a man crisis. Modern society shuns the traditional role of the man as the head of the home, the breadwinner and the spiritual leader of the family. Advertising and entertainment show the man as the oafish buffoon, Mom’s “other child.” Emasculated, men have abdicated their responsibilities and escaped into the fleeting pleasures of hobbies, video games and pornography.
They are neither men nor boys. They are are “Bans,” a hybrid of both a boy and man. They’re in our communities, our churches, our workplaces, and our families.
Ban needs godly men and women to show him there is more to life than he is currently experiencing. Ban needs to be more than just a male. He needs to be becoming God’s man who is being transformed by God’s gospel message and is wholeheartedly pursuing God’s mission. (p. 18)
That’s why Patrick, the pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis and vice-president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, wrote Church Planter. In its pages, Patrick offers sound advice and biblical wisdom as he challenges prospective church planters, longtime pastors and the average churchman alike to be God’s man armed with God’s message and on God’s mission......more
The Holcombs, who’ve already written two exceptional but difficult to read books on sexual abuse and domestic violence, have taken a different approacThe Holcombs, who’ve already written two exceptional but difficult to read books on sexual abuse and domestic violence, have taken a different approach with this book—they’re giving parents a tool with which to teach their kids about their private parts, consent, and what to do if they need help.
I actually had the privilege of writing one of the endorsements for this book—it sums up my feelings on it well, I trust:
Readers will be equally chall
I actually had the privilege of writing one of the endorsements for this book—it sums up my feelings on it well, I trust:
Readers will be equally challenged and blessed as they read The Two Fears and heed Chris Poblete’s call to embrace a holy fear of God—one that doesn’t cause us to cower in terror, but empowers us to move forward in Christ’s mission, entranced by the beauty and wonder of the cross of Christ.
God is Not One is a fascinating look at the fundamental differences between eight of the world's major religions. Written from a secular perspective,God is Not One is a fascinating look at the fundamental differences between eight of the world's major religions. Written from a secular perspective, this book is refreshing in its respectful explanations of each religion described as it encourages us to focus on how each is intended to address and solve a different problem (e.g. overcoming sin vs attaining enlightenment), the role of faith and works in each, the existence of any higher power, God, or gods. ...more
he book of Jonah is one of the most captivating in the Old Testament. The rebellious prophet hasMy full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
he book of Jonah is one of the most captivating in the Old Testament. The rebellious prophet has inspired more art than nearly any other Old Testament figure, and his story has been told and retold repeatedly in the centuries since the events first occurred.
But Jonah is not only a tale of a prophet on the run—it’s one of the clearest depictions of the gospel in the Old Testament. And in Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, Tullian Tchividjian takes readers on a journey through the biblical account to help us discover the gospel according to Jonah......more
How often do you really think about eternity? While I hope that many of us would answer “quite regularly,” the way we live would certainly suggest that whatever thought we do give to eternity doesn’t really impact our lives. Why is this? Why have we forgotten this fundamental reality of the Christian faith? In his latest book, Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It, Paul David Tripp argues that we may have succumbed to what he describes as “eternity amnesia,” and in this book’s 14 chapters, he seeks to remind us why we can’t ignore “forever.”
I bought this looking hoping for an intriguing read to make my flight go faster. Instead I got this. I should have probably picked the one on the RamoI bought this looking hoping for an intriguing read to make my flight go faster. Instead I got this. I should have probably picked the one on the Ramones instead. ...more
It's been said by some that if The Screwtape Letters were half as clever and half as long, it would be a magnificent book instead ofInteresting, but…
It's been said by some that if The Screwtape Letters were half as clever and half as long, it would be a magnificent book instead of a merely good one. There's a degree to which I feel that way about this book. It's clever and interesting… but the cleverness or novelty of the book ends around page 50. The book keeps going for significantly longer. I love the idea of answering silly questions with real science, I couldn't maintain my enthusiasm until the end of the book. ...more
I wasn’t sure what to think of Steven Furtick’s Sun Stand Still when I first received it.
I’d heard a bit about Furtick, the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Most of it had to do with numbers —Elevation has a congregation in the thousands, and its founding pastor has only just turned 30.
But I didn’t really know what he was all about. I didn’t know what he stands for and what he’s passionate about.
The back cover copy of the book didn’t make things any clearer. As I cracked it open, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be completely ridiculous, or if it would be a lot more helpful than I anticipated.
By the time I finished the book, I had great deal more clarity regarding those questions. Furtick is deeply passionate about seeing Christians live in the fullness of their faith, and this book is his attempt to guide readers through the process of doing so.
Sun Stand Still is a call to what Furtick calls “audacious faith”—to live and pray like the God we worship and serve is actually capable of the impossible (because He is).
Furtick takes his inspiration from Joshua 10:1-15; there Joshua commands the sun to stand still so the Israelites can finish off their enemies, and God causes the sun to stand still. He wants readers to have God-sized visions; plans and prayers that are absolutely terrifyingly impossible to accomplish if God is not at work in them and through them...
Joshua Harris first really came on my radar about four years ago (around the same time I discoveMy full review is available at Blogging Theologically:
Joshua Harris first really came on my radar about four years ago (around the same time I discovered a love for sound doctrine). The first thing I ever heard was his talk, “A Humble Orthodoxy” on the Resurgence podcast, and I was blown away. I’d heard of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, but only because people I knew made fun of it (they thought at the time that not dating was just ridiculous).
What impressed me about him as a communicator and pastor was his obvious passion for the gospel, Scripture, sound doctrine and people. So when I heard about Dug Down Deep, it immediately went on my “to read list.” A couple months ago, I wrote some impressions of the first chapter, and now have had the pleasure of reading the whole thing.
Dug Down Deep is a book about theology. “We’re all theologians,” writes Harris. “The question is whether we will be good theologians or bad theologians, whether what we know about God is true or false” (p. 11). In this book, encourages us all to be good theologians, because “if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong” (p. 10)......more
“Daddy, can you teach me how to pray?” My daughter’s asked me this question on at least one occaMy full review is available at Blogging Theologically:
“Daddy, can you teach me how to pray?” My daughter’s asked me this question on at least one occasion, and every time it’s a bit awkward for me. I’m not an expert in prayer by any stretch (in fact, I think I rather stink at it). And while I know that God is not impressed with the eloquence of our prayers and I have reminded her of this, nevertheless, I’d love to be able to help her learn to pray more deeply.
Thankfully, I’m not the only one. That’s why, in The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, Dr. R.C. Sproul (along with illustrator T. Lively Fluharty) shares the story of Master Peter, a barber in medieval Germany who musters up the courage to ask his famous client Martin Luther, “Dr. Luther, do you think you could help me learn to pray better”......more
In recent years Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, has become quiMy full review is available at Blogging Theologically:
In recent years Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, has become quite a prolific author. And his latest offering may be his most important book yet.
Counterfeit Gods explores the empty promises by the idols found in the human heart—sex, money, power, pride—and our only hope of experiencing true satisfaction and fulfillment in the gospel.
“[An idol] is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give,” writes Keller (p. xvii). It’s a broad definition, but fitting. As Keller rightly says, “Anything in life can serve as an idol, a God-alternative, a counterfeit god” (p. xvi)... ...more
I had some trepidation about even reading Erasing Hell, let alone reviewing it. Part of that stemMy full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
I had some trepidation about even reading Erasing Hell, let alone reviewing it. Part of that stems from a desire to not continue to tread the same ground, over and over again. The rest of my uneasiness came from another (greater) concern: Am I spending too much time thinking about hell? Worse, am I turning thinking about it into another academic exercise that doesn’t really have any impact on my life?
If you’re concerned about that tendency in your own life, you’ll be thankful to read Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up. Here, Francis Chan and co-author Preston Sprinkle offer a foundational understanding of what Scripture actually says about hell while explaining why it actually matters......more
What’s the thing that’s supposed to captivate Christians, above all else? What should motivate us to greRead my full review at Blogging Theologically:
What’s the thing that’s supposed to captivate Christians, above all else? What should motivate us to greater heights of joy, to greater levels of confidence and boldness in our daily lives? The gospel. For the Christian, there’s no better news than the good news of Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection. Nothing comes close. So why is it that we seem kind of ambivalent to it—as it it were something that we need to hear once and then can move on to “bigger and better things”?
What’s happened to us that causes us to stop marvelling at the gospel? What’s made us fall asleep—and how do we wake up? Jared Wilson wants to help us do that in his new book, Gospel Wakefulness. In this book, Wilson seeks to help readers regain a sense of wonder as he explains what it means to be awakened anew to the gospel and it’s implications......more
What does it take to interpret Scripture correctly? Education? A seminary degree? Learning GreekMy full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
What does it take to interpret Scripture correctly? Education? A seminary degree? Learning Greek and Hebrew? These are great and helpful things, but argues Curtis (Voice) Allen, they’re not the secret to becoming a good interpreter of Scripture. The secret is imitating Jesus. “Interpretation of Scripture, followed by right application, is the primary way that we are to be like God,” he writes in his new book, Education or Imitation?: Bible Interpretation for Dummies Like You and Me. “This is not an issue of education. It’s an issue of imitation” (p. 21). And through the book’s five short, but powerful chapters, Allen unpacks how “the call of imitation will walk hand in hand with interpretation” (p. 18)......more
I've never been a big Green Arrow fan. Not that there aren't good stories featuring him, of course. I've just never connected with him. Benjamin PercyI've never been a big Green Arrow fan. Not that there aren't good stories featuring him, of course. I've just never connected with him. Benjamin Percy has a tough job with his run: bringing the character back to his core after already having a brief (and from what I hear, not particularly well-loved) run on the character just prior to the Rebirth era. The first volume starts off strong—really strong, in fact. But instead of immediately picking up directly at the first volume's cliffhanger, which sees Queen stranded on an island once again (a significant element of his origin story), Percy opens with a two-part story taking place in two timeframes and focused on Queen's half-sister, Emiko. She fights the Clock King, who is reimagined as a drug dealer selling energy enhancing (and stealing) watches (one of which she has and later puts on her brother), as well as a Yakuza boss who can transform into a dragon. Later, we're brought back to the stranded Green Arrow, who is rescued (and canoodled) by Black Canary before a brief adventure on the island before heading back to America while fighting bad guys on an underwater train. Sounds strange, right?
This volume is clearly a middle part of a larger story. It's decent and has some clever dialogue and action sequences, but… I don't know. It also feels a bit like it's filler. Like there's something bigger coming, but Percy wasn't quite ready to go there. But some of that might also be attributed to the multiple artists involved, and not nearly enough of the one I enjoy the most (Otto Schmidt). Will I continue with the series? I'm intrigued enough to at least see where the next volume goes, but I'm not sure it's one that I'd call essential....more
I wasn’t sure I was going to read Innocent Blood by John Ensor. It wasn’t because I had any disagMy full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
I wasn’t sure I was going to read Innocent Blood by John Ensor. It wasn’t because I had any disagreement with the premise of the book… it was that I didn’t really want to think about it. As I suspect the vast majority of us know, there are few subjects touchier than abortion. No one’s having casual conversations at Starbucks about whether or not it’s morally justifiable or compatible with Christian faith, nor does it make for good dinner conversation.
And I wonder if the reason I didn’t want to even have to think about it was more because I don’t like the idea of being seen as “one of them”—the (well meaning) pro-life folks who often stand outside the local hospital with signs and gruesome pictures. And as much as the idea of doing that makes me uncomfortable, you’ve got to hand it to them for doing something instead of the nothing that I’m often guilty of.
But, as Christians, are we allowed to be silently pro-life? If we’re privately opposed to something but not also publicly, what does it say about us—what does Scripture have to say to us on this matter......more
We are always on the look out for great resources to help teach our kids about the Christian faitMy full review can be read at Blogging Theologically:
We are always on the look out for great resources to help teach our kids about the Christian faith and we’ve come across a number of great Bible storybooks, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The most recent addition to our collection is The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments, written by Marty Machowski. Over the course of 156 stories, The Gospel Story Bible walks families through the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—in order to help kids get a grasp on the big story of Scripture and God’s plan for salvation through Jesus Christ......more
When it comes to worldviews, belief systems and religious practice, we live in an age of seemingMy full review is available at Blogging Theologically:
When it comes to worldviews, belief systems and religious practice, we live in an age of seemingly unparalleled and unlimited options. North Americans today enjoy meditation, practice yoga, and dabble in a variety of different religious practices as they seek to find something that brings meaning, purpose and fulfillment to their lives.
But according to Peter Jones, the choice is really much more simple: There’s the Truth and the Lie. And in One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference, Jones explains how our worldview affects our understanding of God, what we worship and our sexuality…...more
Whenever Mark Driscoll talks about sex and marriage, ears perk up. Some listen for ammo (and canMy full review is available at Blogging Theologically:
Whenever Mark Driscoll talks about sex and marriage, ears perk up. Some listen for ammo (and can usually find it). Others listen for something Tweetable. Still others search for something helpful. Is it any wonder, then, that when he first announced his new book would address marriage, many asked which line he would cross this time?
With Driscoll, readers have come to expect controversy. And Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together is sure to be his most controversial book yet—but not for the reasons you might think.
As you can imagine, the Driscolls do speak very frankly about the realities of sex in this book, but they are generally careful about avoiding unnecessarily sensational language. Instead, we find transparent confessions and honest answers to honest questions and concerns about sex, love, and marriage......more