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.

Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig 3rd Edition

Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008. 407pp. $26.00 Buy From Amazon.com

Reasonable Faith Book

Many have come to know of William Lane Craig when trying to find an apologetic against the accusations of a false Christianity.  Reasonable Faith has become Dr. Craig’s signature book and has just been re-released in a third edition.  The book was released at about the same time as the launching of a website (www.reasonablefaith.org) which is their web-based ministry where much supplementary material may be found for your benefit.

Fortunately, there were no retractions from the previous two editions.  What you will find is that the chapter on the existence of God has been split into two chapters and the chapter on the historicity of the New Testament has been removed.

The book is separated into five parts:  De Fide, De Homine (life), De Deo, De Creatione, and De Christo. This book is not for the faint of heart as it is over 400 pages of “thick” philosophical talk.  However, it would be a great addition to any thinker’s library since it discusses in detail both the arguments for and against God as well as the author offering his own argument.

You can download a study guide from the website above along with a “practical application” for each chapter from the same page.  While this may be a thick book, I would highly recommend it for those wanting to have a philosophic answer for the questions you get while in college or the work place.

Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce by John Piper

Piper, John. Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007. 76 pp. $7.99. Purchase at Westminster books for $5.99.

Introduction and Background

John Piper, pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, has become a noted biographer in recent years because of his 4-volume Swan Series books where he takes a quick look at the lives of some of the saints that have gone before us as well as his more in depth looks at the life of Jonathan Edwards and Andrew Fuller just to name a couple. This book on the life of William Wilberforce is along the lines of the others. It is short and full of information. In no way does John Piper pretend that this is an exhaustive sketch of the life of Wilberforce.

Summary of Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce

Piper introduces this biography by asking the question, “What made him tick?” The answer, “was a profound biblical allegiance to what he called the ‘peculiar doctrines’ of Christianity” (p.20). These peculiar doctrines were so important to Wilberforce that he wrote a book entitled, A Practical View of Christianity, that set forth the necessity of these doctrines for the Christian believer. He then spent the rest of his life and career seeking to establish these as a way in which one should live their life at all times.

Wilberforce’s early life was a bit troubling. He was orphaned at age nine and sent to live with his aunt and uncle. It turned out that God was in this, as Wilberforce would later acknowledge, because one of the family friends wound up being a man they called “Old Newton.” This was none other than John Newton.

The story of how he met his wife is impressive to read because of how fast it happened. He had been a believer for about 12 years when he met a woman named Barbara on 15 April 1797. “He fell immediately in love. Within eight days he proposed to her, and on May 30 they were married, about six weeks after they met” (p.28). They stayed married until William passed away. “In the first eight years of their marriage they had four sons and two daughters” (p.28).

His conversion came about during a time of travel with a friend, Isaac Milner, in 1784. It was at this time that Wilberforce reached a biblical view of man, God and Jesus at an intellectual level. However, his intellectual assent slowly became deep conviction. He later referred to this move from intellectual assent to deep conviction as “the Great Change.” After his conversion, Wilberforce struggled with whether or not he should leave politics altogether and go into the ministry.

A visit to “Old Newton” helped him to see that he was better able to serve God in politics than if he were to leave politics. Through this meeting, Wilberforce began the process of the abolition of slavery in Britain. Though this is what he is most noted for, Wilberforce was involved in much, much more. He was active at one point in his career in sixty-nine different initiatives. He also sought to evangelize his fellow politicians with the gospel.

Getting back to the abolition of slavery, Wilberforce began his quest in 1787. After numerous defeats, he witnessed the abolition of slave trade in 1807. He was able to see a complete abolition of slavery in 1833 just before his death in the British colonies. Thus, William Wilberforce was allowed, by the grace of God, to begin and see the completion of the total abolition of slavery in Britain.

Critique of Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce

Though this short biography was very informational, I did note two areas that I thought detracted from the book as a whole. First, there is a discrepancy in terms of the timing of the complete abolition of slavery and the death of Wilberforce. Jonathan Aitken, who writes the foreward says that Wilberforce died three months after slavery was outlawed (p. 15). John Piper says that his death took place three days after the abolition of slavery (p. 19).

I do not believe this would have been noticed had it not been for the mere four pages between the two statements. However, since it occurs so close to the beginning of the biography, it can cause a little bit of concern as to the historicity of all the facts presented. This is especially true because Aitken is Wilberforce’s biographer and Piper has become known for his biographies. I was unable to find much resolution as to the date of the abolition of slavery in relation to Wilberforce’s death, but am not too concerned because they all have the same year (1833).

I offer the second critique with the qualifier that I completely agree with the doctrine of Calvinism that John Piper discusses in the context of his biography. However, I do not see why he believed this to be necessary to insert into the biography-especially in the context that he did. In discussing what other people thought about William Wilberforce, John Piper says the following:

Hannah More, his wealthy friend and a co-worker in many of his schemes for doing good, said to him, ‘I declare I think you are serving God by being yourself agreeable…to worldly but well-disposed people, who would never be attracted to religion by grave and severe divines, even if such fell in their way’ (p.61).

Piper continues,

In fact, I think one of the reasons Wilberforce did not like to use the word “Calvinist,” is although the faith and doctrines he expresses seem to line up with the Calvinism of Whitefield and Newton, was this very thing: Calvinists had the reputation of being joyless (p. 61-62).

Piper gives a lengthy footnote as to the use of the word Calvinist as well as to the friends Wilberforce kept. The last sentence of footnote 17 found on page 62 says, “As I completed his book, A Practical View of Christianity, I could not recall a single sentence that a Calvinist like John Newton or George Whitefield or Charles Spurgeon could not agree with” (p. 62).

As I said, I am in complete agreement with these doctrines myself; however, I do not see how this is important to the context of the life of William Wilberforce given that this is only a 76 page introductory biography. It gives an appearance that John Piper wants Wilberforce to be a Calvinist even though he never came out and said as such.

Conclusion

As a short biography of one of the great Christian men in the history of the world, I would recommend this book. It is extremely readable and can be read in one sitting perhaps during an evening. I also think it would serve in a school situation where a student is learning about slavery and/or a history of Britain.

This book has whet my appetite personally to learn more about William Wilberforce and to read his book A Practical View of Christianity. This short biography can also interest the reader into wanting to know more about great men (and women) of the faith throughout history. Piper’s writing style is just conversational enough and full of just enough historical information that you feel as though you are dialoguing with a historian.

Tell Me About Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Heaven For Kids Randy Alcorn BookAlcorn, Randy. Tell Me About Heaven. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007. 59pp. $19.99. Purchase at Amazon

Introduction

Randy Alcorn was a pastor before founding Eternal Perspective Ministries in 1990. His ministry is dedicated to teaching Biblical truths. According to their website, www.epm.org, the ministry exists “to meet the needs of the unreached, unfed, unborn, uneducated, unreconciled and unsupported people around the world.” Randy has and his wife, Nanci, are the parents to two grown daughters, Karina and Angela. They have four grandsons, Jake, Matthew, Ty, and Jack.

Tell Me About Heaven is a children’s book by Randy Alcorn and illustrated throughout with the paintings of Ron DiCianni. This book can be read to your children or can be read by your children. It is designed to explain the doctrine of heaven in such a way that even the smallest of minds will be able to capture the grandeur and awe of God’s home.

Summary of Tell Me About Heaven

Jake’s Grammy has recently passed away and now he is on his way to spend two weeks with his Papa like he does every summer. This time, though, it will be different because Grammy will not be there. Immediately, we see Jake struggling with what happened to Grammy as well as how this particular visit is going to go with Grammy not around.

Over the course of the two week visit to Papa’s house, Jake asks a lot of questions about heaven and Grammy. Jake begins with hesitation as he first states that he doesn’t think he would like heaven. However, as Papa explains from the Bible what heaven is all about, Jake begins to understand that life in heaven is going to be so much better than life here on earth.

The book concludes with Jake confessing to Papa that he does not want him to ever die, but is now looking forward to learning more about heaven and can’t wait until his whole family is reunited there-Grammy and Papa and everyone.

Critique of Tell Me About Heaven

I must confess that I was skeptical about a children’s book that would attempt to explain what heaven is like. Given all the recent discussions of how much a kid can learn and should know about Jesus, his crucifixion, and other biblical truths, I was afraid that this book was going to be a disappointment even though it is authored by Randy Alcorn. I was extremely impressed with what I read in the pages of Tell Me About Heaven.

In this children’s book, the reader (or hearer) is introduced to the doctrine of inherited sin, the Incarnation, Penal Substitution, Hell, resurrected bodies, and more. The central theme of the book is that heaven and earth will pass away and God will replace them with a New Heaven and New Earth. Papa quotes scripture heavily (especially Rev. 21 and 22) in explaining what heaven is like to his grandson, Jake.

The story is very believable and at one point, I began wondering if this was a rehearsal for Randy Alcorn as he may have this discussion with his grandsons. The story line is pretty forthright and does not dance around the issues. Nowhere does Papa state something as truth if it is not based in the Bible. At one point, he corrects Jake and says that he is to always pray to Jesus and not Grammy. It is subtle, but significant in that many young children are told to pray to their loved one. However, that is not in the Bible and therefore, Papa (Alcorn) explicitly says that this should not happen.

The greatest aspect of this book is that the gospel message is presented clearly and concisely in the story itself. However, at the end of the book is a page devoted to the Roman Road along with a brief explanation of the gospel. It is very clear that the goal of this book is to be used as a tool for evangelizing children (and perhaps the adult reading to the child) as well as explaining what awaits them in the life to come.

If there is a negative to be found in this book, it is of no significant value. There are some assumptions made that I do not personally agree with, but nothing that causes any concern. For example, in a discussion about pets and animals in heaven, Papa tells Jake that he thought Moses (the dog) would be in heaven because animals were in Eden. I don’t see that as biblical precedent, but I also do not see that as a bad thing. On page 32 of the book it is said, “It’s always about God, isn’t it?” That is perhaps the best way in which to explain the book: It is always about God, isn’t it.

Conclusion

In asking my pastor and some other men in the church I attend about how much their children know about heaven, they said not much. I admit that I have not told my son much about heaven, either. That is, until now. I have already told a these men I talked with to pick up this book and am telling you that if you have children or are involved in children’s ministry, this book is a must own. It explains the doctrine of heaven in a way that a child can understand and a parent can be interested in. The book is solidly rooted in the Scriptures.

Also, throughout the book, there are hints (I say ‘hints’ because certain phrases like “penal substitution” and “inherited sin” do not appear) of other doctrines as mentioned above that will help to lay a foundation for biblical doctrine to be learned as the child grows. As a seminary student, I appreciated Alcorn’s ability to break down systematic theology into easily understood doctrines that do not require a degree to understand.

The conversational tone makes for a good story time book to be read at night, as part of family worship, or during story hour at church or a daycare. I would also highly recommend this book for a young child grieving the loss of a grandparent or parent. It would be a great resource for those who council children after the death of a loved one. This book is worth owning multiple copies of to give away during these times.

“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?

PURCHASE THIS BOOK

Worship that Pleases God by James W. Bartley

Purchase at Amazon

worship that pleases God book cover Introduction and Background

About The Publisher

Before I introduce this particular book and author, I would like to introduce the publishing company behind the book since they are based out of Nigeria with an office in New York. I must admit that I chuckled at first at the name Baal Hamon Publishers for the (hopefully) obvious reason of the name “Baal.” However, the name is found in Song of Solomon 8:11 where it reads, “Solomon has a vineyard in a place called Baal Hamon. There are farmers who rent it from him; each one pays a thousand silver coins. (GNB).

I was pleasantly surprised to discover their views of publishing and their standard for what they will publish. According to their website, “publishing is not just business. It is ministry. Our ultimate goal in publishing books is not profit but to affect lives and the society positively for Christ.” Baal Hamon says they are an “imprint” of the Joy and Truth Christian Ministry, which “is committed to promoting non-denominational, non-discriminatory, non-racial brotherliness among Christians from ALL backgrounds.”

About The Author

Dr. James W. Bartley has a Bachelor of Divinity (1951), a Master of Theology (1965), and Doctor of Theology (1975) from the Baptist Theological Seminary though I am not sure where this seminary is located. I can only assume that it is Uruguay since he taught there as well as became a missionary in that country until 1993. He has taught at numerous Baptist Seminaries throughout the world and according to the back of the book, “has earned an enviable international influence and recognition.”

Given all of his international ministry and teaching, he confesses that “This book is his confession [that] at 57 years of age and after 35 years of ministry, [he] came to discover for the very first time many of the biblical principles of worship” (p. i). That sentence is the second sentence of the Preface of the book and shows the reader the humility in which he writes. This humility is found on every page. His heart is to better equip believers to worship our awesome Triune God who alone is deserving of worship.

Summary of Worship that Pleases God

When I first picked up the book to read it for this review, I assumed that I would be reading an apologetic for the Regulative Principle of worship. In a sense, that is what I read; however, there was nothing about what we call the Regulative Principle to be found in the book. Dr. Bartley sticks to the scripture alone as his guide and offers a biblical theology for what kind of worship it is that pleases, and brings glory to, God.

The book is broke down into three sections: the Old Testament, the New Testament and a synthesis of the two. He breaks down both testaments according to the genres of books (OT: law, history, poetry, and prophets; NT: gospels, history, Pauline epistles and apocalyptic). He then systematically, and in canonical order, goes through each passage wherein the word worship is translated from the original languages. In Hebrew, the word is shachah. In the Greek, the word is proskuneo.

Dr. Bartley shows how the five modes of worship (response, dialogue, offerings, drama, and celebration) are found extensively throughout the Old Testament. He also shows how the Bible is clear in explaining what kind of worship is not pleasing to God and is considered idolatry. He has the same approach in the second section of the book looking at the New Testament.

In the final section, Dr. Bartley offers up a synthesis of what the whole Bible says regarding worship. He groups his findings under three general categories with subdivisions found in each. First, there is what precedes worship. This would include becoming aware of God and His nature. Second, there is what happens in the act of worship itself. Recognition of God’s glory and grace and man’s sinfulness are a couple of elements found in this category. Finally, there is what follows the act of worship. Here we discover God’s manifestations of pleasure (or displeasure with sin) and He is glorified further.

Critical Evaluation of Worship that Pleases God

I am not sure if Baal Harmon is a self-publishing company or not, but this book gives the feel of having been self-published. By that, I am referring to spelling and grammatical errors throughout the entirety of the book. They are not as glaring as many self-published titles, but they are present.

About the only other real critique, other than not always agreeing with his understanding of a few passages (this is to be expected for no other reason than we don’t all agree on everything), is his writing style. I realize this is more personal matter and therefore will not cause problems for others, but I found his style of writing a bit cumbersome at times. I only include this because I was asked to give the book reviewn In no way did it take away from the content of the book.

Conclusion

While I am highly suspect of smaller publishing companies who seem more along the lines of a self-publishing company, I found this book to be fairly sound theologically and exegetically. I find the subject matter to be unique in the sense that most people write for a particular historic understanding of worship with an appeal to the Bible. Dr. Bartley, on the other hand, appeals to the Bible in order that we may worship God according to what pleases Him.

I cannot recall seeing a book or bible study devoted to solely to understanding what the Bible says about worshiping God and therefore would recommend this volume to be added to your library for a couple of reasons. First, the author sticks to the Bible alone for his study material. Second, he writes with passion and humility on a topic that, while it has been divisive in the past, should be at the heart of everything we do in our lives. Obviously, you will not agree with everything Dr. Bartley says, but that is not the point of his book. His goal is to offer a systematic and biblical study of what kind of worship it is that God finds pleasing. I believe he met his goal.

Don Whitney–Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (audio book)

Don Whitney Audio Book CoverDr. Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is available for the first time in audio book format. Dr. Whitney is the Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality (2005) and Senior Associate Dean of the School of Theology as well as the president of The Center for Biblical Spirituality.

The book is read by Grover Gardner and is available as an MP3 download at ChristianAudio.com. If you would like to purchase the audio cd, you can purchase it at the Westminster Book Store or ChristianAudio.com, or if you would like to support Dr. Whitney’s ministry directly, you can purchase it from The Center for Biblical Spirituality.

Truth and Grace Memory Books edited by Tom Ascol

***Originally posted at Ministry-to-Children***
Ascol, Thomas K. Truth and Grace Memory Book, 3 Volumes. Cape Coral: Founder’s Press, 2005. $15.00 (or $5.95 ea.). 

Purchase at Amazon

Introduction and Background Information

Dr. Tom Ascol has been the Senior Pastor of Cape Coral Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida since 1986. He also serves as the director of Founder’s Ministries which, according to their website, says that part of the purpose of the ministry “is the recovery of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the reformation of local churches.” He is editor of the books Reclaiming the Gospel and Reforming Churches and Dear Timothy as well as Truth and Grace Memory Book (3 books). His heart is for the local church and that shows through in these books that he has edited.

These three books are based upon the instructions of the Lord to fathers (and mothers) found in Ephesians 6:4: “bring them (children) up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” While these books can be used by Sunday School teachers and children and youth ministers, they are meant for use in the home during a time of family worship, dinner, or anytime throughout the day. Continue reading Truth and Grace Memory Books edited by Tom Ascol

Holiness by Henry Blackaby

Book Review Holiness Henry BlackabyBlackaby, Henry. Holiness: God’s Plan for Fullness of Life. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003. 106 pp. $14.99. Purchase at Amazon.com

Introduction and Background Information

Henry Blackaby has been in the ministry for over 50 years. He has served in the local church, as a college president, as a missionary, and as an executive in the Southern Baptist Convention. Of the many offices he has held in the convention, his role as the leader of the Revival and Spiritual Awakening division is why Dr. Blackaby is qualified to talk about revival. Currently, he serves as the president of Henry Blackaby Ministries.

He states on the first page of the introduction he states, “these messages are the heart of my present ministry. They are my life-messages to God’s people, as God calls us to renewal, revival, and spiritual awakening” (ix). Having traveled all over the United States, Blackaby has witnessed revival in local churches and communities. However, he has witnessed more lip service about wanting revival than ministers and lay people actually doing something about it. This book is about the prerequisite for God’s people that must be met if true revival is to break out across the land or in your own church.

Summary of Holiness

The book is broke down into three chapters easily read in one sitting. The first chapter deals with a general sense of a loss of the fear of God by His people. Blackaby contends that it is the people of God who steer the nation. Many believe that because God does not judge immediately, He will not judge ever. We are too dull to notice God’s judgment on our nation.

In chapter two, Blackaby discusses seeing sin from God’s perspective. He traces the problem of a loss of fear of God in America (in a general sense) back to the 1960’s and then builds his case that most Christians in America no longer see sin as an offense to God. Rather, we now proclaim sin to be that which is not acceptable by the culture in which we live. He makes the point that most of what we find “acceptable” would have led to our being stoned in the Old Testament.

By far the longest chapter of the book is chapter three. This chapter entitled, “The highway of holiness” comprises more than 40% of the entire book. Based upon Isaiah 35, Dr. Blackaby shows how God moves in the lives of His people when they live a life holy unto the Lord. He argues that as Christians, we need to be accountable to living a holy life to God. We must first seek holiness if we expect God to bring about revival.

Critical Evaluation of Holiness

Given the nature of the book, my critiques are to be held subjectively in that not everyone will agree with me. For some, what I view as a weakness will be a strength. With that in mind, I felt there were two glaring problems with Holiness.

First is Dr. Blackaby’s use of his own paraphrase of Scripture. While he does not violate the texts, in my opinion, he does reword some passages to make his point come more into focus. This is especially evident when he discusses the sins of David and God’s dealing with him. He uses his paraphrases so frequently that it is sometimes a bit difficult to discern what he is saying versus what God has spoken in His Word.

Second, on pages 24-26, Dr. Blackaby sounds the alarm that he believes this generation to be the generation in which Christ returns. I guess at some level, we must all think as though this is the case-it seems as though every generation since the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ has thought this. While there is nothing wrong in thinking like this, I believe that those who preach this particular message have caused many to become callous to the call of the gospel. How many preachers must proclaim that “this is the generation” and then the next generation comes and goes and we are still here?

I realize this is an extremely volatile issue for many so I do want to be careful with what I am saying. In my opinion, we should preach, “the end is closer than you think” because for you, it may be that you will die today. However, I think to preach the end of time will be this generation is extremely dangerous and unnecessary.

Conclusion

I have owned this book for more than three years and have read it at least a dozen times (I try to read it once a quarter). This book should be on the shelf of any believer whose heart cries out for revival. This little book, easily read in a couple of hours, is a must read for ministers and missionaries. Actually, a missionary serving in Botswana recommended the book to me. There are many “gut-checks” found within the pages of this book that ought to be meditated upon. Every time I have read this book, I find myself putting down in order to stop for prayer. It is a sobering call for personal holiness, which we could all use, in order that we may experience true revival that is of God and not man.

Available at Amazon.com

Pastor Daddy by Lindsey Blair and Bobby Gilles

***Originally posted at Ministry To Children***
Pastor Daddy BookBlair, Lindsey and Bobby Gilles. Pastor Daddy. Louisville: Sojourn Community Church, 2008. 16 pp. $11.95. (available directly from the publisher)

In 16 short pages, this book introduces the view that the home is a little church. This was espoused by great divines such as Martin Luther and Jonathan Edwards and more recently by men like Donald S. Whitney and R. Albert Mohler.

As I read this book to my two children, they enjoyed the pictures and the stories. This book is a great introduction to the practice of family worship and how the church and the home are interrelated. The authors alternate between church and home and show how each element of worship (outside of baptism and the Lord’s Supper) can be done at home through family worship.

This has become an important direction that many in the church are beginning to move toward. There has become an emphasis on family worship and its importance to the health of the church in recent years. If you are involved in children’s ministry, this is an excellent resource to own. It is also a way in which you can introduce family worship to the parents through the children.

Short, introductory reviews of Christian Books