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Showing posts from July, 2013

Finding the Good in Grief

Finding the Good in Grief by John F. Baggett
This new book entitled Finding the Good in Grief, by pastor and counselor Dr. John F. Baggett is a very good look into the way grief affects individuals while also providing hope for those going through the grief process.  In the beginning of the book, John is quick to note that, “It is a mistake to believe grief can be avoided if we have enough strength of character or enough faith” (11).  Grief is a normal experience that most people go through and is integral to growing spiritually and emotionally.  This reality hit home for John when his teenage son was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Going through the stages of grief was overwhelming for John , but he soon realized that grief was not his own lot, for his family and friends were feeling the painful loss also (10).  John outlines at the end of the first chapter the five steps that he plans to write about in the book: trust God and rely on…

Is God anti-gay?

Is God anti-gay? And other questions about homosexuality, the Bible, and same-sex attraction by Sam Allberry
The answer to the perennial opening question provided by the title of this book is No.  God is not diametrically opposed to those who consider themselves gay.  As Sam Allberry elucidates in his new book, Is God anti-gay, the questions relating to homosexuality are both deeply personal for many and at times the church has not done it job well to minister to those struggling with same sex attraction.  Sam starts out the book with a picture into his own life by writing, “The words began to form in my mind: I think I’m gay…..And yet, instead of having feelings for girls with my friends, I was finding myself having feelings for my friends” (6).  Not knowing exactly what to do with these feelings, Sam stumbled upon some believers who brought out the message of Jesus to him.  Being amazed at the wonder…

Runaway Emotions

Runaway Emotions by Jeff Schreve
When I first saw this title available on the BookSneeze site, I was hooked by the title.   Immediately I wanted to review it because emotions play such an integral part in my life, at times they get away from me also.  The goal of the book is to ‘explore the potentially positive impact of those troublesome negative emotions that you’d prefer to discard…..God wants to show you exactly what is wrong so you can effectively deal with the source of the problem, and not waste time masking the symptoms’ (xv).  The type of skirting around the source of the problem with focusing on symptoms is part of the hard work of dealing with your emotions and not an easy task by any stretch.  In the book, Jeff deals with eight topics ranging from embarrassment to depression and seeks to use biblical wisdom and counsel to open up these negative states and how they push us to see how they can build up a positive impact. 
I wanted to say firs…

Seven Glorious Days

Seven Glorious Days:  A Scientist Retells the Genesis Creation Story by Karl W. Giberson
This new book by Karl Giberson, professor of religion and science at Stonehill University is another look at the creation story from scientific lens.  Giberson writes, “…I am bringing modern science to bear on the story of creation.  I have also reshaped the scientific story of our origins as if it was the story of how God created the world, and not merely an account of natural history” (4).  He goes onto indicate that in the book he divides up the “Days of Creation” into cosmic and geological epochs.  The end result is a story about scientific inquiry into the beginning of the creation and forming of it inspired by the biblical creation account.  I would add at the onset that the book is loosely inspired by the biblical account and heavily attuned to contemporary scientific ideas.
Quite remarkabl…

Saving Eutychus

Saving Eutychus: How to preach God’s word and keep people awake by Garry Millar and Phil Campbell
This new book on preaching, Saving Eutychus, by an Irishman and an Aussie, Garry Millar and Phil Campbell is breath of fresh air in terms of book on preaching.  The authors do not conjure up anything radically new but seek to be faithful and attentive in writing about preaching.  The book is divided up into 8 short chapters with two appendixes that deal with sermon critique and resources.  Part of the premise of the book is that ‘when attention wanders and eyes droop, it’s more often our fault (preachers) than our listeners’ (14).  In other words, the challenge is to be faithful is getting across the powerful message of the biblical text while applying what God is saying that cuts to the heart while opening the ears of our listeners.
The first chapter by Gary was a good reminder that preaching isn’t all about us, or the preacher.  Gary writes, …

Tough Topics

Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions by Sam Storms
Sam Storms, Senior Pastor at Brideway Church in Oklahoma City, founder of Enjoying God Ministries and prolific author has put together another work of clarity and thoughtful engagement with the issues.  This book is designed to take some of the most challenging questions from demons, open view theism, and infant salvation and give cogent answers to them chapter by chapter.  The result is a guide to understand these challenging issues from a biblical, pastoral and theological perspective.  Sam minces no words here but gets right to the heart of the issue.  With insight and detail, Sam is able to deftly answer these questions with patience by focusing in on the Scriptural warrant for each issue.
The structure of the book was evident indeed that Sam wanted the reader to be a foundation on the trustworthiness of Scripture so that he could engage the issues properly.  Th…

The Devil, Demons and Evil Spirits

Did the devil make me do it?  And other questions about Satan, demons and evil spirits  by Mike McKinley
This little booklet on Satan, demons and evil spirits strikes is an engaging and thought-provoking work that is a good introduction to these issues.  Pastor Mike McKinley of Guilford Baptist Church in Sterling, Virginia arms his readers with the necessary tools for understanding the biblical concept of the devil, demons and evil spirits.  The book is divided up into five short chapters that deal with the origin, activity, control,  and the end of Satan and how we should live in a world where Satan still prowls.  At the beginning of the book in the introduction Mike helpfully draws us into two statements that lay some grounding for his book; one, the bible is true and is the authority in these matters, second, the Bible doesn’t tell us everything we want to know about the devil but is suf…

Defending the Faith

Defending the Faith: Apologetics in Women’s Ministry by Mary Jo Sharp
Normally when the subject of Women’s Ministry comes up I don’t find myself thinking about apologetics.  No, this has nothing to do with the capability of women, but usually I see women’s ministry as a dedicated number of women serving the needs of the congregation from anything to making meals to planning prayer meetings.  Yet, apologetics if it is to be done right is for every believer.  Mary Jo Sharp’s new book entitled Defending the Faith is just the book to provide encouragement to those women seeking to grow in their understanding of the Christian faith.  Rather than provide a training manual on how to dismantle arguments and tackle objections, Mary’s book is more designed to provide encouragement for women to engage in knowing why they believe in God, how believing affects how we live, and how to be a catalyst for women to engage in apologetics in the church.

Witness Men

Witness Men: True Stories of God at Work in Papua, Indonesia by Rebecca Davis
This new book in the Hidden Heroes series for CF4K is a remarkable little book on missionaries and their work in Indonesia.  The author, Rebecca Davis culls together in this book, accounts of missionary activity in the western half of New Guinea, at one point called Dutch New Guinea.  The book chronicles not one missionary but a whole host of missionaries aimed at proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to these remote and many times hostile tribes.  In turn, what you find as you read this book is that the gospel going to Dutch New Guinea takes a whole host of people, who do all kinds of things from building air landing strips, to offering the tribes their services, to learning different languages in order that these witness men might tell of the great work of God. 
We get a picture of God’s general revelation in ch. 2 of the book where Rebecca relat…

The Quest for the Creed

The Quest for the Creed: What the Apostles Really Believed, and Why it Matters by Dwight Longenecker
First, I have to admit that I really enjoyed Dwight’s writing style.  Early on in the book he breaks apart the country club and social interest group idea of faith by saying, “To believe in all things visible and invisible is to accept the whole realm of all that is natural and supernatural….It means being full of wonder at all things invisible, from atoms, memes and miracles to angels, molecules and monsters.  It means that the visible and invisible realms are intermingled in marvel and mystery” (9).   Dwight catches onto the radiant way God has made all of creation to reflect the character and purpose of the Creator himself.  Yet, Dwight goes even further and inclines us to think that taking the ultimate risk of believing requires a cost.  He writes, “We might be lead down a trail that demands “not less than everythin…

The Book of Revelation

Revelation by Alun Ebenezer This new volume in the EP commentary series is a work on the Book of Revelation by Alun Ebenezer.  Mining the book of Revelation is no easy task but Ebenezer has an uncanny ability to bring the book to life through a clear understanding of its contents and of its application.  I thought this book was very good for people like me who preach sporadically throughout the year.  The book is set up with an introduction that spells out the authorship, recipients, interpretive aim, and context of the book.  The appendix provides the reader with an overview of the main interpretive millennial views of the book with a short section on symbolism. 
The great strength of this volume on Revelation is its focus on providing the reader a clear grasp of the message of the book while not being bogged down in the details.  Ebenezer gives us a sweeping picture of the goal of history as he writes, …

Invitation to World Missions

Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century by Timothy Tennent
Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury Seminary and former professor of world missions at Gordon-Conwell has written a monumental and masterful work entitled Invitation to World Missions that is aimed at the concerns of 21st century missionaries, students, and teachers.  The result of this book is a vast amount of ground covered: from building a theological basis for missiology, to Trinitarian thinking on missions, to an evangelical theology of religions, and then onto a history of missions.  What was very alarming to me in reading this great book is that every time I would be thinking of a mission situation or problem in a chapter, Tennent answered my question before I was able to formulate it. This work gives much attention to the theological trajectory of the Bible and how God is ever at work from the beginning to end in missions.  I…

The Point

The Point: The Redemption of Oban Ironbout by Wiliam E. Jefferson
This new book by William E. Jefferson entitled The Redemption is a novel about redemption and letting go of the past as well.  The story centers around two main character, Hollie and Goodwin who set out on a journey to the Isle of Estillyen, an island that is said to inhabit people who have an uncanny habit of speaking wise words.  Goodwin pushes the to go The Point, a house with an old recluse named Oban Ironbout, who has been through the death of his twins and has not been the same since.  After the initial pummeling of words and shells on Goodwin, Goodwin is convinced that the sketch he drew from a painting of his family is a key to unlocking the story of Oban. 
While I really enjoyed discovering more and more about the life of Oban and the history that unfolds in the story, the readings on the island were a bit forced.  I do agree that the twisted …

Help Me Be: Praying in Poems by Dale C. Frederickson

Help Me Be: Praying in Poems by Dale C. Frederickson
Not often does a book of poetry come along that jolts you from comfortable surroundings into a world of such piercing realities.  Help Me Be: Praying in Poems by Dale C. Frederickson is one of those books that forces you to stand up and take notice. Dale is a teaching pastor at St. Andrew UMC in Highlands Ranch, Colorado and also a spoken word artist who revels in the desire to ignite others into what God wants them to be.  These poems are broken up into three sections: Orientation, Disorientation, and New Orientation.  Both sections follow some of the patterns of the biblical storyline from Creation, Fall, Redemption and Renewal.  The result of these poems is a beautiful arrangement of both deep emotions and pictures of what it means to wrestle with life on this Earth with God at the helm of everything. In the poem entitled God of Creation, Frederickson pens,           …

Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm of Canterbury by Simonetta Carr
This new children’s book written by Simonetta Carr on Anselm of Canterbury is a fascinating and enriching book combined with stunning illustrations done by Matt Abraxas.  Many readers will know of Simonetta Carr in her other books in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers (John Calvin, John Owen, Augustine, Lady Jane Grey, and Athanasius).  She is an astute writer, investing much in the details of Anselm’s life, both biographically and theologically.  What shines through in the book is the heart of a man 
Early on in the book, we find Anselm debating in his mind and heart about whether he should pursue the life of a monk.  His father was unwilling to give his blessing for Anselm to join a monastery.  Soon after his father died, Anselm thought very hard about becoming a monk (14-15).  After taking the plunge to become a monk, Carr writes, “As a monk, Anselm devoted al…