Category Archives: Book Reviews

To the One Who Conquers by Sam Storms

Storms, Sam. To the One Who Conquers:  50 Daily Meditations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3.  Wheaton:  Crossway Books, 2008.  239 pp.  $14.99. Available From Westminster Bookstore

Introduction

Sam Storms does not need much introduction to many.  He is the founder of Enjoying God Ministries based in Kansas City, Missouri.  However, that may be changing.  According to his website, he just accepted a call to become the senior pastor at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  He has written numerous books including Chosen For Life and Signs of the Spirit. Continue reading To the One Who Conquers by Sam Storms

The Art of Divine Meditation by Joseph Hall

This is a re-post from an entry from another blog I used to maintain. The original with some comments can be found here.

The Art of Divine Meditation by Joseph Hall is an out of print book, but it can be found here. It is 34 pages of Joseph Hall’s thoughts regarding meditation and it is worth the time and effort to read it and wrestle with what he is saying. Continue reading The Art of Divine Meditation by Joseph Hall

John A. Broadus – A Living Legacy by David Dockery and Roger Duke

Dockery, David S. and Roger D. Duke. John A. Broadus: A Living Legacy Studies in Baptist Life and Thought, ed. Michael A.G. Haykin.  Nashville:  Broadman and Holman Academic, 2008.  260 pp.  $19.99.

Introduction to John A. Broadus – A Living Legacy

This book is first in a series of books that looks back at the history of Baptist life and thought.  The series editor is Michael Haykin who is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality as well as the Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

This particular book is edited by David S. Dockery and Roger D. Duke.  Dr. Dockery currently serves as the president of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.  Dr. Duke is assistant professor of religion and communication at the Baptist College of Health Services in Memphis, Tennessee and is an adjunct assistant professor at Union University.  More importantly, Dr. Duke is a new contributor to Said at Southern Seminary. Continue reading John A. Broadus – A Living Legacy by David Dockery and Roger Duke

Whiter than Snow by Paul David Tripp

Tripp, Paul David. Whiter than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008. 154 pp. $12.99. 33% Off At Westminster Bookstore

Book-whiter-than-snow-Paul-David-TrippIntroduction

Paul David Tripp is most noted for his book, Instruments in the Redeemers Hands and Lost in the Middle. More recently, he has started writing little booklets that are being used by churches across the nation to help counsel and instruct many Christians struggling with sin. With his experience in biblical counseling and engaging writing style, Dr. Tripp offers us 52 meditations on Psalm 51.

Continue reading Whiter than Snow by Paul David Tripp

The Pocket Puritans Series

Banner of Truth has done us a great service by publishing what they are calling the Pocket Puritans. On the back of every book they include this quote from Sinclair Ferguson that best introduces the series:

To read the work of a Puritan doctor of the soul is to enter a rich world of spiritual theology to feed the mind, heart-searching analysis to probe the conscience, Christ-centered grace to transform the heart, and wise counsel to direct the life. This series of Pocket Puritans provides all this in miniature, but also in abundance.

Continue reading The Pocket Puritans Series

The Missionary Call by M. David Sills

Sills, M. David. The Missionary Call: Find Your Place in God’s Plan For the World. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008. 246 pp. $13.99.

Introduction and Background

missionary-call-book-david-sillsDr. Sills is the A. P. and Faye Stone Professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology, the Director of Great Commission Ministries, and the Director of the Doctor of Missiology program for the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As if that was not enough, he also leads many small-group, short-term missions trips for the Seminary as well as his church, Ninth and O, in Louisville, KY. You can read more about him on his faculty bio page. He has a website and a blog that is a valuable resource in addition to this book. Check out the website here. You can read his blog here. He also has another website, Reaching and Teaching, chock full of free missionary resources and other pertinent information to Dr. Sills’ ministries. Continue reading The Missionary Call by M. David Sills

The Letters of Samuel Rutherford

Loveliness Of Christ BookThe Loveliness of Christ ($14.00)

This was originally going to be a book review on The Loveliness of Christ, the new soft, red-covered edition pictured to the left.  However, as I read this book, I realized that no review would do it justice.  After reading the first few pages of this book, I also realized that I already owned two other editions of this book in my personal library.  The Loveliness of Christ is simply a pocket-sized edition of choice quotes from The Letters of Samuel Rutherford.

The more I read this book, the more I could see the impact that these letters would have on the lives of every Christian and even more so the impact on the seminarian who is studying the things of God.  Therefore, this will not be a book review per se.  Rather, I would like to share a few of the choice quotes from The Loveliness of Christ.

Faith liveth and spendeth upon our Captain’s charges, who is able to pay for all.

The weightiest end of the cross of Christ that is laid upon you, lieth upon your strong Saviour.

When we shall come home and enter to the possession of our Brother’s fair kingdom, and when our heads shall find the weight of the eternal crown of glory, and when we shall look back to pains and sufferings; then shall we see life and sorrow to be less than one step or stride from a prison to glory; and that our little inch of time – suffering is not worthy of our first night’s welcome home to heaven.

One of the nice features of The Loveliness of Christ is the inclusion of a dictionary for words like “bairn” (child), “rueth” (regrets) and “empawned” (laid down as a pledge).  Perhaps the only negative to this particular book is that Banner does not let you know there is a dictionary in the back of the book.  It is simply tucked back there waiting to be discovered.  Fortunately, I only had to look up two words before I discovered it.

Samuel RutherfordThe Letters of Samuel Rutherford – Abridged ($7.00)

The nice thing about The Loveliness of Christ is that it merely whets your appetite to learn more about the man Samuel Rutherford.  In the introduction to Loveliness, you are made aware that the quotes are extracted from a greater work known as The Letters of Samuel Rutherford.  After reading this book, it almost becomes necessary to read the quotes in context of the actual letters.

This abridged version does just that.  Here you are introduced to a selection of sixty-nine letters penned by Samuel Rutherford.  These present yet a deeper look at how Rutherford wrote and what he believed concerning the joy of knowing Christ.

At the end of this edition, Banner of Truth did us a great service by including brief biographical information about the letters.  They also included an outline of the life of Samuel Rutherford.  Both of these greatly enable the modern-day reader to become better acquainted with Samuel Rutherford.

However…

The Letters of Samuel Rutherford ($39.00)

Andrew Bonar put together a classic edition of The Letters (I am not sure when this was done) which included 365 letters.  What is of value in this edition is Bonar’s sketch of Rutherford along with a list of his works.

The edition I own (I believe it is a 1905 edition) has an appendix that gives information on the 30 different editions to date (in 1905) of the book.  It also includes a poem created from The Letters arranged by a Mrs. A. R. Cousin.  I am not sure if this is in the edition to the left, but it is in my edition.

Recommendation

Perhaps the best thing that can be done with these three books is to, at the very least, purchase The Loveliness of Christ.  I would highly recommend that you purchase the $39.00 edition that contains all 365 letters and use it as a devotional in 2009.  I will be writing about this again toward the end of the year in case anyone might be interested and forget.  I plan on using mine as a devotional next year and if Loveliness is any indication, I will be blessed beyond measure in so doing.

What is a Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti M. Anyabwile

Anyabwile, Thabiti M.  What is a Healthy Church Member.  Wheaton:  Crossway Books, 2008.  117 pp.  $12.99.

healthy church member book

I would consider this book to be the third book in an ongoing series about a healthy church from IX Marks ministry located in Washington, DC.  The first book was entitled 9 Marks of a Healthy Church and the second book was What is a Healthy Church. Thabiti (thu-bee-tee) Anyabwile (onya-bee-wee-l-a) seeks to answer the next logical question from these first two books in What is a Healthy Church Member.

Thabiti is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman Islands.  Before you might think that that is an awesome place to be called to pastor, I think you should know something.  I have heard from his own lips, at the Band of Bloggers Conference, that he does not like the beach!  It is amazing when God calls you to a place that you would never want to vacation at while everyone else in the known world would love to go there.  For the record, I am with Thabiti on this one…I am not fond of the beach, either!

Summary of What is a Healthy Church Member?

As I said above, this book offers insight into how a church member can best participate in the local church.  Through 10 chapters marks, Thabiti shows how the original 9 marks of the healthy church must be under-girded by the church member.  In his foreward, Mark Dever states that “living the Christian life is not something that we’re supposed to do alone.”  This would include each individual member of the church as well as the church staff and leadership.  Unfortunately, many of us build invisible walls so that no one may help us (or know when to help us) when we need it.

Mark one is expositional listening whereby the church member is encouraged to listen to God’s purpose in His word for that week.  Mark two exhorts the reader to understand biblical theology and its importance in protecting them from heretical beliefs.  The third mark is a challenge to live a life saturated with the gospel.  Marks four and five deal with evangelism and true conversion as integral to our understanding of who is and who is not a true believer in Christ.

Mark six offers an apologetic for making membership in the local church a very serious concern for all believers-especially new believers.  Corrective and formative discipline is the seventh mark while mark eight deals with the spiritual growth of all members.  Mark nine offers ways that the church member can support the staff and leadership of his or her local church.  Mark ten, as a bonus, is that every member should be prayerful.  All of these marks assume that the reader and/or church member is a born-again, regenerate believer.

Critique of What is a Healthy Church Member?

Perhaps the only negative critique of this book is that the author (as well as the series) assumes a particular church polity.  That is made somewhat obvious throughout this book.  However, that does not mean that these “marks” cannot be implemented in other churches that hold to a different church polity.  It may prove somewhat difficult in some cases, but they are all still doable.

The positives are plentiful in this book.  I would begin with the manner in which Thabiti writes the book.  You get the feeling as though you are in a church membership class or a theology of church membership class at a Bible College or seminary.  He anticipates any questions and offers answers to a few objections along the way.

He also offers quite a few suggestions for resources if you would like to read further into one of the marks.  By the way, I love that the chapters are not chapters.  Rather, they are called marks.  It helps to divide them for easier consumption.  This also aids in the studying of the book.  Thabiti included questions after the discussion of each mark entitled “Further Reflections.”  This book could easily be used for a new members class or even a youth group study to help teens understand what is to be expected from them as church members in the local church.

Conclusion

If you have read the previous two books, then this book is a must read.  If you are in the ministry at a local church, then this book is a must read.  I would have multiple copies as a pastor to give away to new members whether you have adopted the IX Marks approach or not.  If the members of the local church would even read snippets of this book and work to incorporate some of what they read, I believe the local church would look more like a body of Christ than what most of them do now.

The Cure: The Divine Rx for the Body of Christ – Life-Changing Love

The Cure BookKraus, Harry MD.  The Cure:  The Divine Rx for the Body of Christ-Life-Changing Love. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008.  187 pp.  $14.99. Buy From Amazon.com

 

Harry Kraus, MD, is a general surgeon who practices his discipline with the African Inland Mission in Kenya a the Kijabe Hospital.  He has written a total of eleven books to date, including this one.  He is married with three sons.

Summary of The Cure

Using Paul’s analogy of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12 as a spring board, Dr. Kraus explains how the church is best able to fulfill the mandate of love found in 1 Corinthians 13.  His biggest charge against the church is that we have forgotten that love is the most important quality of a Christian.

We are awash with conferences and filled to the brim with discussions about methods for effective evangelism, contextualization, cell churches, culture-appropriate dress, and techniques for language acquisitions…Don’t misunderstand.  There are other important components of effective ministry…But it’s still not the main thing…What am I talking about?  Agape.  Love?  Yes, love…It’s the most important component of effective evangelism (p. 12-13).

In part one, Dr. Kraus explains that what sustains the Great Commission mandate given to us by Christ is nothing less than agape love.  He uses wonderful life experiences that we can all relate to and shows how we all crave that love that can only be filled by Christ and can only be shown by one who has been born again in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Part two shows how the church, comprised of individual bodies, must maintain a proper balance of health and nutrition if she is to remain viable.  With chapter titles like Anorexia and Spiritual Insomnia, Dr. Kraus shows how we must intake food (the Bible), maintain proper rest, hydration (soul-thirst), and oxygen (breathing grace).

Whenever we skip a meal, our stomach lets us know in short order.  A lack of rest over a period of time takes a toll on the health of the entire body.  If we go without water for three days, we will die and if we do breathe in oxygen in a few minutes, we will cause major damage and ultimately death.  Using these analogies, Dr. Kraus implores us to maintain a healthy “diet” in our spiritual life so that we may survive as a church and be more able to help those who are in need.

The third part is the prescriptions for the church.  You go to the doctor because you recognize certain symptoms as being wrong and unhealthy (part one).  He then begins asking questions to see what may be the root cause of those symptoms (part two).  Finally, the doctor prescribes whatever is needed to get you back onto the road to health (part three).

In one chapter, he discusses the approaches to cancer.  We have allowed many various cancers into the church today.  The only way we can get rid of a cancer is through treatment or surgery if it does not respond to treatment.  The most radical procedures include cutting the cancer out of the body.  In so doing, usually there is some healthy material cut away as well.  This is to assure that the cancer is completely removed with nothing left behind upon its removal.  We must be aggressive in dealing with these cancers before they deal with us!

In perhaps the most important chapter, Dr. Kraus deals with loving our enemies.  We usually define our enemies as those people whom we do not like.  However, that is not true.  An enemy is someone who hates us-sometimes for no reason at all.  We are called to love that person.  Unfortunately, the church does not have that reputation today.  His prescription is that we must strive to get love back as our identity.

Conclusion

This book is cross-centered in that Dr. Kraus says over and over that we are unable to love without Christ.  He points us to the cross in each chapter and explains that that is where we are to find the source of our love so that we may love.  His view of the human body is heavily rooted in the design of God.  Nowhere does he stray from the fact that God designed the body.  He explains that because we were designed, God has given us a manual on how to make the best use of our body-the Bible.  Our biggest problem is that most of us do not use our manuals.

At the end of each chapter, there are discussion questions that are great for small group study.  His engaging style of writing is quite honestly amazing to me.  He discusses some pretty heavy medical jargon but then explains it in such a way that even I can understand it.  I would recommend this book to anyone (I have already to quite a few of my friends).  I think this book would serve as a great tool for those thinking about missions work as well as those contemplating church planting.  The cry for love in this world is perhaps the loudest cry that is most often ignored.  If you do purchase a copy of this book, please buy one for Kevin as well.

“Truth” A review and discussion of The Courage To Be Protestant, chapter 3

This is the third part of our team book review & forum based on The Courage To Be Protestant by David F. Wells. (series index here) It was written by Terry Delaney, an M. Div. student at Southern Seminary who writes here, and at Going To Seminary and in his Diary.

The Courage To Be Protestant

SUMMARY

The classic definition of truth is, “the correspondence between an object and our knowledge of it” (72). However, we live in a post-modern world where truth has no absolutes. Because we live in a post-modern world, we should not be surprised that the erosion of absolute truth has found its way into the church. In chapter three, Dr. Wells looks to answer five questions:

  1. What in the culture has led us to such a jaundiced view of truth?
  2. Why do so many Americans believe neither in truth nor in morality that is absolute?
  3. How should we think about truth?
  4. What is the biblical teaching on truth?
  5. Why is the church that professes this truth (question 4) so untouched by it?

Wells contends that our understanding about the self is the thread that connects the Age of Enlightenment to today’s post-modern age. This thread of how we understand the self also impacts every chapter that follows in this book.

Unfortunately, with the decline of the community, we have lost the ability to transmit important ethics and values from generation to generation. The past, our heritage and tradition, has no value to much of the population today. It is in this context that truth has become less important and more suspect. It is in this context that we see a clash of worldviews on a daily basis that can easily lead one to a relativistic understanding of truth. After all, we coexist with those who have completely opposite beliefs than we do. Therefore, not only is truth relative, but there is no need for an absolute truth claim. It is no longer needed.

Perhaps the most glaring problem in the church that is founded upon the loss of truth is the struggle for power. Wells contends that today, “everything is about power. Everything is about control, manipulation, domination, using or being used for someone else’s purposes” (71). Post modern (as well as the emergent church) speech is intentionally confusing. Even though most people want to deny absolute truth, they still live in a world where they expect a proper correspondence between what is said and what is. By that, I mean that the truth corresponds with reality.

Although the church seems to espouse this low standard of truth, the Bible does not. I must include this paragraph simply because Dr. Wells says it so well.

In the biblical view, we know the truth and not just arbitrary rules and approcimations. This knowledge of what is “there” includes the truth about Christ (1 John 5:20), about God (2:13-14), his character (3:16), his redemptive purposes (3:5), our own nature (1:6, 8-11), and the (postmodern) “world” we inhabit that is filled with “the deisres of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions” and is also “passing away along with its desires” (2:16-17). On all these matters we have God’s truth, and for the truth to be shy about saying “We know…We know…We know” is an act of self betrayal.

In keeping with the theme of the correspondence of truth, the Bible is unapologetic in declaring Jesus “the way, the truth, and the life.” The emergent truth cannot say this because they desire to put the world before the church and therefore call into question the validity of their Christianity.

Dr. Wells concludes this chapter with a discussion of the parable of the sower (Mt. 13:3-8; Mk. 4:3-8, 14-20; Lk. 8:5-8, 11-15) as well as a challenge to look at missionaries who go into foreign lands and adapt to a culture without accepting that culture’s worldview. The church must remember two points: “Christianity is about truth…and those who say they are Christians must model this truth by their integrity” (92).

ANALYSIS

Dr. Wells assessment of the erosion of the assimilation of the culture into the church is dead on. I would agree that the church seeks too much to be relevant to the world–how many churches cancel regularly scheduled services for holidays and/or special events (see Super Bowl Sunday)? By trying to be so relevant, the church loses not only its relevance but its credibility as well.

We, as Christians, must be unashamed of the Truth we claim to believe. Because of passages like Romans 1:18, it is safe to assume that everyone accepts absolute truth at some level and that the Bible is the only book that is able to answer all of their questions about life. There is an oft-quoted cliche that very much applies to Christianity today: If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. It seems to me that the church must once again take a stand for truth and do so unashamedly.

We must be willing to engage the emergent church at the foundational truths that are essential to Christianity. We must also be able to engage the likes of N.T. Wright at the elitist level of scholarship. It is at both of these levels (low and high) that we must take our stand all the while preaching the Scriptures faithfully and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to change the lives of your hearers.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

  1. Do you think we as evangelical Protestants spend more time trying to convince our hearers that absolute truth does exist and that it is found in the Word of God rather than just preaching the Truth and trusting in the Holy Spirit to change the lives of your hearers? Do you? How would you go about changing the focus of arguing for truth to preaching the truth?
  2. In this age of post-modern Christianity, how does one go about deciding what is and what is not Christian? Are essential (foundational) truths necessary?
  3. On page 88, Wells says, “The church is, to put it charitably, very distracted right now.” How would you help the church regain its focus? What would/should be its focus?

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