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Showing posts from September, 2013


Apostate: The Men who Destroyed the Christian West by Kevin Swanson
Kevin Swanson, Pastor of Castle Rock OPC in Castle Rock, Colorado has written a disturbing and controversial book about men he believes helped destroy the Christian West.  Swanson looks at philosophers, churchmen, writers, and thinkers in his book (men from Aquinas to Steinbeck) who at some point were externally connected to the Christian past but who self-consciously rejected it for a materialist or anti-Christian worldview.  Swanson examines these ‘nephilim’ from a literary, cultural and philosophical framework and hopes to trace the destructive framework these men had upon society (18).  There are many things in the book that ring true from Marx, Nietzsche, Darwin, and Dewey that are elements of thought that are inimical and antithetical to the Christian faith.  Yet, as a whole this book was an utter failure and disap…

One Year to Better Preaching

One Year to Better Preaching: 52 Exercises to Hone Your Skills by Daniel Overdorf
This new book on preaching entitled One Year to Better Preaching is a compendium of exercises to develop your skills as a communicator of God’s Word.  Daniel Overdorf aims to bring together all components of a sermon from the illustrations, main points, and application to the setting we find ourselves in as we preach to all kinds of people.  With good questions, keen insights, and droves of practical examples, this book will surely help preachers and teachers of every stripe.  Daniel is not content with harnessing his energy on one particular aspect of preaching, but desires to encourage preachers through the whole process of preaching from the preacher and listener’s perspective.  This kind of unique perspective was what challenged me the most as I seek to deliver God-honoring sermons.
The book is divided up into 52 short chapters with bonus exercises at…

Antarctic Adventures

Antarctic Adventures by Bartha Hill
Antarctic Adventures by Bartha Hill is a wonderful children’s book designed to explore the geography, history, and culture of Antarctic.  Most of the book looks at the various voyages to the Anarctic, the trials men faced in getting there, and the extreme conditions they were met with when they arrived.  The determination and long suffering that men like Ernest Shackleton faced when traveling to this region was a vivid reminder of the perils they faced.   The book is divided into 16 chapters with each chapter weighing in at about between 3-7 pages.  This book is great for readers wanting an action packed book that they get work through easily. 
The early chapters tell of the voyages of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton setting out for the South Pole.  Hill notes that, “They were the first to see a penguin rookery (nest), set up a base in McMurdo Sound, and travelled farther south th…

Rain Forest Adventures

Rain Forest Adventures by Horace Banner
Horace Banner tells the story of the Eva missionary family in the midst of the Amazon rain forest in his book entitled Rain Forest Adventures.  The short chapters are great for young children wanting to get a handle on the animals and culture of the rain forests of the Amazon.  In fact, my five year old daughter loved hearing about the stories about tree frogs, anacondas, and the blue butterfly.  At the end of each chapter, Horace ties together a particular theme that came out in his stories about life in the Amazon in relationship to a biblical theme.  Whether its committing oneself to Christ, understanding the nature of sin and its scars or marveling at God’s good creation, these stories bring together the truths found in God’s Word that are reflected also in God’s first book, the book of nature.
In one unique story, a boy named Manuel is fascinated by the deeper parts of the river.  Racing dow…

Red Like Blood: Confrontations with Grace

Red Like Blood: Confrontations with Grace by Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington
Written by a pastor’s kid turned Pastor and an optometrist with a checkered past, this book, Red Like Blood, confronts the reader with a message of grace in a fractured world.  Some have commented at some of the crude language of the book, but this was not the main point nor did the authors constantly return back to vulgarity.  Rather, what you find is a book bringing hope to the hopeless and life to the dead because of the mighty grace of God found in Jesus Christ.  The author’s make no bones about it, they have brought upon themselves much pain and sorrow through sin, but sin is not the final identity marker of their lives.  The personal stories in the book will lift your spirits and give you a deep encouragement to live for what matters, honoring Christ in all of our lives.
One story that was particularly p…

What do Six Flags and William Paley have to do with each other?

Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World by N.D. Wilson
Get ready for a dizzying adventure while you take a sip of you Jolt soft drink while reading this book by N.D. Wilson, namely Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl.  Capturing the beauty of God’s creation, the ferocity of red hawks, and the way in which philosophy maddens even the best of students, this book is a one of a kind.  Wilson, Fellow of Literature at New Saint Andrews College (associated with Douglas Wilson), puts words on the page that make you cry, rejoice, and laugh all within one page.  The chapters engage larger topics such as creation, evil, hell, philosophy, and purpose while engaging them in a fluid way through the movements of life.  Finally, you come away with a sense of the grandeur of the world we live in with a central purpose being that living to the fullest is recognizing our all that we encounter (from skunks to red…

Thinking Naughty Thoughts on Church

Thinking Naughty Thoughts on Church and Why I Think We Need to Change by Johan Van Der Merwe

With all the moxy of a street preacher, Johan Van Der Merwe in his new book Thinking Naughty Thoughts on Church opens up about his honest questions about the church.  Growing up in the church, going through Bible school in the Pentecostal tradition and having a brother as a minister, Johan has seen the good, bad, and the ugly of church.  The main reason Johan eventually left the church was because he could no longer stomach ‘all the unquestioned traditions that have become part and parcel of Western Christian spirituality, which by implication includes the whole idea of ‘belonging to a local church’ and adhering to all the practices associated with doing so” (25).  The rest of the book is Johan’s outlining of these unque…

Finally Free

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Heath Lambert
Just a little glance never hurt or so many men say after they view pornography online for the first time.  Yet, like the Lays chip commercial says, ‘Betcha can’t eat just one,’ pornography has an alluring grip on the time, hearts, and lives of so many men, including those in our churches.  Heath Lambert’s new book, Finallly Free, is a no nonsense grace centered book that aims at helping men find freedom from pornography.  Even more than that, “This book is about something much better than pornography.  This book is about the amazing power of Jesus Christ to free you from pornography” (12).  Heath has a strong desire to bring the transforming grace of the gospel to bear on all the unraveling effects of pornography’s path.  Rather than go into unnecessary detail, Heath strikes at the way this sin gets ahold of men, the way forward to freedom, and the continuing way of living for …

Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks

Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks by August Turak
The evening and morning prayers, the study of the Bible, vows of silence and poverty, all these things are generally associated with the looming figures known as monks.  Yet, what is not so apparent is the business outfits these monks take on to serve their community and continue their ministry.  In August Turak’s new book, Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks, he takes a hard look at the monks of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina.  What he eventually finds outs is that these hardworking monks have much to teach businesses around the world about values, selflessness, and mission.  The book is divided into twelve chapters that inculcate the economic miracle of Mepkin Abbey, selflessness, mission and the aim of the monastery as a whole.  The amazing thing that August soon understood was that these monks achieved dizzying success while working part-time and maintaining high standards alon…

Three Decades of Fertility

Three Decades of Fertility: Ten Ordinary Women Surrender to the Creator and Embrace Life
This book is a captivating read for the simple reason that these women have continually said ‘Yes!’ to bringing new babies into this world at ages that most women would not.  You’ve probably got the image of the Duggers on your brain by now, thinking that having babies into your late thirties and forties is a ridiculous concept.   Not so for these brave souls!  I’m not going to tell you that I understand what’s it like to go through pregnancy or to have multiple children, being a man that’s impossible, but I will tell you that these stories are about women of faith, who believe in the work of a Mighty God, and who would go to bat for every one of their children.  Rather than capture the entire book, I hope to give you some highlights of the book that let you in on the experience of these women.
This might seem a bit unordinary but one of …

Sticking Points

Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart by Haydn Shaw
Cell phones in the middle of a sales meeting, right?  Have you ever wondered why people from different generations under the same roof have such a tough time working together?  In steps Haydn Shaw, reasearcher, speaker and leader in the field of bringing together business people of different generations.  His new book, Sticking Points, is a look into how people and businesses can bridge the generational gap.  Engendering more productivity is not a one step process, for the younger generations technology is the standard whereas boomers are more inclined to different modes of communication.  The book is broken up into two large sections; the first section is devoted towards an understanding of the generations and their default positions, and the second section looks at the twelve places they come apart (from dress code…

Covenantal Apologetics

Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith by K. Scott Oliphint
With a number of books already making an impact in the field of apologetics, author and professor K. Scott Oliphint tries his hand at a covenantal approach in his new book entitled Covenantal Apologetics.  The design of the book ranges on things from defining covenantal apologetics, condescension and apologetics, burden of proof and persuasion.  Interspersed throughout the book are sample arguments between a covenantal apologist and atheist, Muslim and naturalistic apologists.  In turn, Scott builds his case for specific apologetic principles in the preceding pages of the chapter and then uses those same principles in his sample exchanges.  The method that was used here was immensely helpful because it grounded the principles in real-life situations, giving a reader like me an opportunity to see how these principles function in conversat…