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Category Archives: Books

Intellectual proof for serious questions about the Bible

Book Review: Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (The Completely Updated and Expanded Classic), by Josh McDowell & Sean McDowell, Ph.D.

I was first introduced to Josh McDowell and Evidence that Demands a Verdict in the mid-70’s when I was a student at Biola University. The book was instrumental in helping me get a better grasp on the trustworthiness of Scripture. His second volume, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict added and built on that earlier foundation. Both books were instrumental in my research, writing papers, and helping answer questions in sharing my faith.

Josh McDowell has now partnered with his son, Sean, who teaches apologetics at Biola to update and expand his classic work. The updated version is close to 900 pages of valuable resources on the Bible and Jesus. Part 1 deals with evidence for the Bible. Part 2 provides evidence for Jesus. Part 3 adds evidence for the Old Testament. Part 4 contributes evidence for truth. This last section provides answers for postmodernism and skepticism. In the Appendix, the authors provide responses to the challenges of Bart Ehrman, who is one of the leading critics of Christianity today.

The book is written in outline form. Coupled with a complete table of contents, it makes it easy to find and research the specific question you want to answer regarding the reliability of the Bible or evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, to name just two of the many topics covered in the book.

The updated version is a valuable and welcome resource for serious students of Christianity. It is a welcome addition to any library.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Apologetics, Biola University, Books

 

Hope that sustains

Book Review: All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything you Love, by John Eldredge

When we experience seasons of loss—loss of a dream, death of a loved one, friends moving away, becoming empty nesters after a child’s graduation or wedding—we have to deal with times of grief. We also need to find a hope that will sustain us and help us move forward.

What if someone told you that everything you’ve lost will be restored to you, but in even better shape than before? What if someone said that all the things you loved will be renewed?

This is the premise of John Eldredge’s latest offering, All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything you Love. The title and theme come from Revelation 21:5 where Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Eldredge’s point is that Jesus is not making new things, but regenerating the old ones into new and better condition. If we believe that God is going to restore our lives and everything we love any day now, this hope will give us an anchor which will not only sustain us, but help us to look forward to the future with hope.

All Things New is a very encouraging book. As with John Eldredge’s previous books, it is real, honest, gritty, emotional, and uplifting. He draws illustrations from personal experience, movies, literature, and daily life. While not intended to be a book of theology, it will give you a new perspective on eternity and cause you to rethink your view of heaven.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Books, Heaven

 

Living with Intentionality

Book Review: Choosing a Life That Matters: 7 Decisions You’ll Never Regret, by Dennis Rainey

Would you like to live a life with purpose and significance? Do you desire to leave a lasting legacy? Rather than pursuing success and possessions, the key is found in making the right choices about key areas of life.

Author Dennis Rainey has written a short, but powerful book outlining 7 key decisions that will result in a life of significance and purpose. Each one of the decisions focuses on how we view God. We are to seek God, not sin; fear God, not men; love God, not the world; believe God, not the deceiver; obey God, not your feelings; worship God, not comfort; and serve God, not self.

The book contains seven short chapters on each of the 7 decisions. Rather than merely talk about theory, the author also includes a Life Skills section in each chapter that gives practical ideas on how to implement and put the decision into practice.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Bethany House through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse/bookreviewers. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2017 in Books, Personal growth

 

Help in building deeper relationships

Book Review: I’d like you more if you were more like me: Getting real about getting close, by John Ortberg

Each of us wants to belong, to be respected, and especially to be loved. The problem is we don’t necessarily know how to develop those kind of relationships. We’re afraid that if we get too close to someone, we’ll end up getting hurt. Rather than open up, we keep people at a distance.

The latest offering from pastor and author John Ortberg is aimed at helping people understand how to build intimate relationships. He deals with various topics in his book such as how to recognize and respond when others seek to connect with us, how to get past our fear of intimacy, how to avoid common stumbling blocks in relationships, and how to make a more active part of everyday life.

On the one hand, the book aims to help the reader develop deeper relationships with those around him/her. On the other hand, Ortberg also seeks to aid people in applying those concepts toward developing a deeper and more intimate relationship with God.

The book is a typical volume written by the author. As with his other books, he combines biblical principles, interesting stories, personal illustrations, and self-deprecating humor to draw the reader in so he can address practical issues.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Books, Personal growth

 

Finding Sanity in a Frantic Life

Book Review: Ordering Your Private World (Revised and Updated), by Gordon MacDonald

I was introduced to Gordon MacDonald’s work back in the mid-80’s when Ordering Your Private World was first published. I was in graduate school at the time, driven by my pursuit of education and starting out in ministry. His words were encouraging and helpful in laying a foundation for a sustainable ministry. Now that I am in my 60’s and have been in ministry for 30+ years, his revised and updated version of the book is even more helpful.

The principles of the original book are still in place—learning to manage your time, scheduling time for study, prayer, reflection, spiritual disciplines, thinking, and rest. They emphasize the importance of building your life from the inside out rather than merely focusing on skill development. The difference is that MacDonald now writes as a man in his late 70’s with a much broader and deeper level of experience. His words take on even greater importance knowing that they have been lived and practiced for decades.

The book now includes a study guide written by Leslie H. Stobble. It will aid in implementing the author’s suggestion of using a journal to help record your insights along the way. The book is well worth reading and rereading.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Books, Personal growth, Spiritual disciplines

 

The transforming power of congregational singing

Book Review: Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church, by Keith and Kristyn Getty

The Gettys are all about singing. Keith and Kristyn Getty are well known for writing new hymns for the church. They have now turned their attention to talking about singing. “Not about up-front singing, but whole-church singing—congregational singing…. This book is about singing together as the church in a way that impacts all of your life.”

The book has five key aims:

  1. To discover why we sing and the overwhelming joy and holy privilege that comes with singing.
  2. To consider how singing impacts our hearts and minds and all of our lives.
  3. To cultivate a culture of family singing in our daily home life.
  4. To equip our churches for wholeheartedly singing to the Lord and one another as an expression of unity.
  5. To inspire us to see congregational singing as a radical witness to the world.

If you boil the book down into one paragraph, the book

…has a very simple aim: that you would sing truth, and sing it as though it is true. As you wake each day, and as you walk through your day, we pray that the lyrics and melodies of your faith will ring around the spaces where you live your life. As you walk into church next Sunday, we pray that you will be excited about sharing in the privilege of lifting your voice with God’s people, to “sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.” And as you sing, we pray that you would experience the awesome joy of knowing that you are joining in with the great song of praise that resounds through every age, that stretches throughout this world and into every inch of creation, and that is being sung, right now as you read, in the very courts of heaven.

The book itself is very short—only 101 pages. Each chapter also contains discussion questions at the end so that you can think about it personally or discuss it in a small group. The final 40+ pages are written specifically for pastors and elders; worship and song leaders; musicians, choirs, and production; and songwriters and creatives.

Taken to heart, the book will change how you think about singing in general, and especially about singing in the church.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program http://www.bhbloggers.com/. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2017 in Books, Worship

 

Does God still speak today?

Book Review: Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God, by Mark Batterson

Does God still speak today? If the answer is, “Yes,” then what language does he speak? How can I train myself to hear his voice? These are the questions posed in Mark Batterson’s latest offering, Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God.

The author’s premise is that the God who spoke the universe into existence still speaks today. The title of the book comes from 1 Kings 19:12 where God spoke to Elijah in a whisper, or a still small voice. Batterson suggests that God has seven love languages that he uses to communicate to his people—Scripture, desires, doors, dreams, people, promptings, and pain. The author weaves together numerous stories, illustrations, personal examples, and biblical principles to communicate his ideas.

While I agree with his basic premise and while I enjoyed and was encouraged by his illustrations, I have three reservations about the book. One reservation is that he tends to put desires, doors, dreams, people, promptings, and pain on the same level as Scripture. While he argues that Scripture is the most important, the “key of keys,” he tends to elevate the others to equal or greater importance. In so doing, he makes experience equal to or more important than Scripture.

A second reservation is that he takes a single example, such as how God closed a door for the apostle Paul in Asia (Acts 16:6), and makes it a standard practice we should follow today. In contrast, Hebrews 1:1-2 says that in times past, God spoke in various ways but now he speaks through Christ and his Word.

A third reservation is that the premise of the book is more based on experience than it is on Scripture. His chapters start and end with illustrations, stories, and examples with Scripture used to support his ideas rather than teaching Scripture and using stories to illustrate his points. The bulk of the stories are personal ones about how God led the author and his church. By the end, you become a little weary of him always being the hero or focus of the tale.

A more biblical study would be Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. Blackaby argues that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Bible and prayer and confirms it through circumstances and people. Blackaby’s approach keeps Scripture primary and circumstances and people secondary.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2017 in Books, Theology