Short Book Review: Stronger by Jim Daly

December 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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Daly, Jim. Stronger: (Trading Brokeness for Unbreakable Strength). Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook; 2010. 237 pp.

You can read the review on my Book Review page.

Short Book Review: Jump by Efrem Smith

December 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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I’ve just posted a new review on my book review page.

Smith, Efrem. Jump: Into a Life of Further and Higher. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010. 183pp.

Short Book Review: Sweat, Blood and Tears by Xan Hood

December 6, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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I’ve just posted a short book review on my book review page. Along the lines of young men growing in maturity, let me offer you a good quote from www.jcrylequotes.com.

Sow Righteousness in Your Youth!

Go and ask believers now, and I think many will tell you: “Oh that I could live my young days over again!” He will most likely say, “Oh that I had spent the beginning of my life in a better way! Oh that I had not laid the foundation of evil habits so strongly in the springtime of my journey!”

Young men, I want to save you all this sorrow, if I can. Hell itself is truth known too late. Be wise in time. What youth sows, old age must reap. Do not give the most precious season of your life to that which will not comfort you in the latter days of your life. Sow to yourselves rather in righteousness: break up your hard ground, don’t sow among thorns.

~ J.C. Ryle

 Thoughts For Young Men, [Moscow, ID: Charles Nolan Publishing, 2002], 17.

Book Review: The Baby Bible Christmas Storybook

October 14, 2010 at 5:26 am | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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Book Review by Kim Mazey

Currie, Robin. The Baby Bible Christmas Storybook. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook. 2008. 32 pp.

 Basaluzzo, Constanza. Illustrator

The Baby Bible Christmas Storybook is one book in a series of books written for children ages birth to three years old.  It is the first one I read in this series.  Its sturdy construction and compact size (5 1/8” x 6 ¾” x1 1/8”) make it easy for little hands to hold and carry. The illustrations are simple and colorful making them appealing to children.

The Biblical Christmas story is divided into thirteen chapters. The fourteenth chapter portrays a modern day Christmas celebration. Each chapter is two pages; one containing an illustration and the other containing a title, scripture reference, four simple sentences that tell the story, action idea for each sentence and a basic prayer. 

The book can be easily propped up or set on your lap while you read it and do the actions for one or a group of children. The prayers are varied from thanksgiving to God, prayers for self and for others. They assist children in talking to their heavenly Father in everyday language.

Children and adults should enjoy this book. Teachers, parents and grandparents should find this book useful in telling the Biblical Christmas story to young and active children.

I received a free copy of this book from www.davidccook.com and offer objective feedback for this review. 

Book Review: Be Compassionate by Warren W. Wiersbe

August 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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This is a revised edition of Wiersbe’s popular “Be” series. Some of the content has been updated and there is a new introduction and study guide questions added by Ken Baugh. I would label Wiersbe’s commentaries as devotional and practical. They are not highly academic and there is no bibliography given. They are useful, especially for newer Christians or those who want a pastor’s practical insight to a particular book of the Bible.

At first I wasn’t sure if a revised “Be” series was entirely necessary. As I went through the revised Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13), I was reminded of Wiersbe’s practical insight. There are twelve chapters that will take the reader through the first thirteen chapters of the Gospel of Luke. I like Wiersbe’s writing style and this approach to a commentary. You cannot solely use this commentary for preaching or teaching preparation, but it can be a good compliment to more scholarly commentaries.

There are study guide questions at the end of each chapter to help an individual or small group dig a little deeper into their study. Some of the questions make use of other Scriptures and others ask the reader to think and dig deeper into what was read. There does not seem to be anything here that would be too difficult for an inexperienced believer to understand. But there should be an experienced, maturing believer leading the small group. The questions look like they would generate discussion among small group members.

Taken for what it is, a basic devotional commentary, I would recommend this commentary for other believers. It can be used with benefit for those who want to study Luke 1-13 on their own or in a small group. Pastors may not need this version, but they could benefit from owning and using the “Be” series. I received this book for free and offer objective feedback.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13

Book Review: The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: John

July 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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Wiersbe, Warren W. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: John. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook. 2010. 186 pp.

Let me start by saying that I have owned the entire “Be” series of commentaries by Warren Wiersbe for many years. I have used them during sermon preparation at different times throughout my ministry. I have benefited from using them and have recommended them to others. Now, all that aside, getting this book to look over and review is a blessing.

From the back cover; based on Dr. Wiersbe’s popular “Be” series, each study provides topical, relevant insights from selected books of the Bible. Designed for small groups, this twelve-week study features excerpts from Dr. Wiersbe’s commentaries on John, Be Alive and Be Transformed, along with engaging questions and practical applications, all designed to help you connect God’s Word with your life.

 There is a short introduction to the book of John that covers some basic background information. Next there is a short chapter with tips on how to use the book and get the most out of your study whether on your own or in a group.

The study of John is then broken into twelve chapters. Each chapter is divided into the following format: Getting Starter; Going Deeper; Looking Inward; Going Forward and Seeking Help. Before you begin each study you are encouraged to pray and read the Scripture passages that will be studied. There is a reading from the commentary and questions based upon the Scripture passage. Space is given in the book to record your answers to the questions.

Tips are given for those who may be using the book for group study. These tips are designed to encourage interaction among group members. There are Real-Life Application Ideas given to the readers also. The question from lesson one has to do with baptism and specifically how well does the reader know their church’s stance on baptism? I thought that was a pretty good question.

Each lesson closes with seeking God’s help through prayer to work in your life in various ways. The reader is encouraged to follow through on what they have learned. The same format is followed in each chapter. This is a simple, straight forward, easy to use Bible study. If that is kept in mind I could see its value and benefit to many Christians who desire to grow in their knowledge of God and His Word.

Brother Wiersbe has the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor. He takes the deep things of God and makes them understandable to anyone. I would recommend this book be used by young and old Christians individually or more importantly in groups. I received this book for free and offer objective feedback.

Book Review – Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on John

July 29, 2010 at 9:29 am | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on John. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2010. 363 pp.

Here is the first volume in what will be a multi-volume series on the books of the New Testament. It is by a highly respected pastor, leader and educator who has not lost his passion for teaching God’s Word to others. The book is simply divided into two main parts: 1) The Introduction to John and 2) The Commentary on John.

This volume makes use of endnotes which will prove useful to the reader who wants to do further study. Another useful section is the Key Terms in which Greek words are defined and background information is given. There are also pages designated, From My Journal, but I found those less helpful to me and unnecessary to the book.

Swindoll’s commentary follows a simple and helpful format. He gives the passage for study, his exposition of the passage and then application from what was learned. If you liked his Insights for Living broadcasts, you will like this approach. Personally I found the format and commentary both interesting and encouraging.

There is a balance between the exposition of a passage and the practical application. I would have to say that the pastor’s heart of Swindoll is shining through. Here is a commentary from a man who is a pastor first, but a pastor who is well read, who study’s deeply and who can communicate in a way to connect with people and connect people with God’s truth.

I used this commentary as a part of my studying for a recent sermon from the Gospel of John. I found it helpful as part of my preparation. As I write this short review I would encourage any young man studying to be a pastor or who is currently pastoring to get and use this book. It is written by an old man who has walked the walk and talked the talk and has earned the right to be listened too. Chuck Swindoll has a lot of wisdom and insight to offer to those who want to listen.

There is no Hollywood glitz or flash here. There is no loud cocky voice demanding to be heard. There is a simple commentary from someone who has spent many years following and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a deep commentary, but it is a useful commentary. Since this is part of a ten year project I think it is safe to say that Chuck Swindoll wants to keep on following and serving the Lord and teaching the Church what he has learned. I look forward to future volumes.

I received this commentary for free and offer objective feedback.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; 2 Peter 3:18

Book Review – AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church

July 16, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | 1 Comment
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Halter, Hugh and Matt Smay. AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2010. 205pp.

Here are two leaders that have sought to find balance in what they believe and how they live out their beliefs. They have planted a church in Denver; it would seem by “accident.” But there is a method to their madness. Their struggles and victories are the basis for their story. It is an interesting read of how they found balance and harmony between being attractional and missional.

There is an introduction and eight chapters to the book. They use some basic graphics to help illustrate some of their points. On a personal level I would have liked to see some documentation, especially when they used the terms sodalic and modalic. They do give information on how to access Ralph Winters’ original article. But I would have liked to see some more of their research and documentation. But I think this book is more of a testimony than a textbook and that is alright.

Overall this book is a testimony of how God worked in Hugh’s life and how that transferred to the lives around him. The story of how God began the planting of their church on pages 45-48 is pretty good. I especially appreciated Hugh’s honesty on page 47 about God waiting on him. I am also sure that anyone who has been hurt or deeply discouraged in any church context could relate to the story.

The questions of “how to do church” and “what the church must do” (p. 26) have been asked for a long time. The AND is their testimony of finding the balance between gathering and scattering. They would also tell you that not every church should or could be a church like theirs. They allow freedom in the quest to know both yourselves and your community and then to find the balance in gathering and scattering. I thought chapter 6 spoke very well to this point.

I especially liked a thought from chapter 7. “…… if you try to start a church or grow a church, you often attract people who just want to do ‘church things’; but if you start with a mission, God will draw people together and church will happen naturally” (p. 174). I think every church planter and pastor should keep this in mind and teach it regularly.

Many people over many years have been trying to find the harmony of being “gathered and scattered.” This is not a new problem or question for church leaders. That issue has crossed many generational lines and probably will continue to challenge God’s people until Jesus returns for His Church. But Hugh and Matt share their testimony and present the Church with some interesting and encouraging material for us to read and learn from.

On a clearly personal note, they may have planted and are leading a church that is very different from someone else’s church and that is o.k., really, that is o.k. There are different expressions of the local body of Christ. God works in His children’s lives however He wants too. I may not attend a church like theirs, but I am glad their church is here reaching people I would not be able to reach. So I appreciate their obedience to God in living and serving how they believe He wants them too. Thank you for helping to build His Kingdom.

I would recommend this book to any church leader or potential leader as a helpful tool in learning more about being the Church and living out the mission of the Church in their context. A few differences or disagreements aside, I am glad I spent the time reading this book. It would be a helpful addition to any church leader’s library. I received this book for free and offer objective feedback.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; 2 Peter 3:18

Book Review – The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards

July 12, 2010 at 11:07 am | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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Lawson, Steven J. The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing. 2008. 168pp.

Introduction

Here is a book about one of the best known personalities in American church history. It focuses on Edwards’ “Resolutions” and how he practically lived them out. The author presents a lot of research through many citations of works on Edwards.  Some of the books referenced look like interesting reads also.

The book covers most of Edwards life and gives insight into his thinking. I learned some things about Edwards’ accomplishments that I did not know before. Even thought there are numerous references the book is an interesting read. It flows well and keeps the readers interest.

Summary

The “Resolutions” and how they came about and shaped Edwards’ life are the basis of the book. Lawson does a good job of breaking up and combining the “Resolutions” into groups that have a similar theme. They provided the basis for Edwards’ quest for practical holiness. As chapter 2 states, they were the compass for his soul.

From the Preface we read that Edwards thought the pursuit of holiness was the key to his spiritual growth and that he disciplined himself for the purpose of godliness.  Edwards was also an intellectual genius. He graduated from college at a younger than normal age (I won’t say how old, so you can read the book) and then went on to earn a master’s degree.

As a recent convert at the age of 18 he began to write his “Resolutions” and they took him approximately a year to complete. Edwards sought to diligently pursue practical holiness, but in complete dependence on God. As I read the book I was struck by Edwards’ resolve to do what God expected of him and to trust God to do only what He can do. Edwards was determined to live for the glory of God.

Critical Evaluation

There were so many citations that at times I wondered what the author thought about Edwards. I wondered if there were too many references. Even with that personal feeling the book was an interesting read. The book made good use of the “Resolutions” and how they impacted his life.

From Chapter 4, The Priority of God’s Glory: The first resolution sets the tone for all that follow. In this statement, Edwards declared that the glory of God would be his chief aim and the factor that would guide all his actions and decisions (p. 65).  This thought or aim would be good for any Christian to follow.

Chapter 6, The Precipice of Eternity is very good. It covers both his use of time and the anticipation of Christ’s return. Edwards believed procrastination to be an obstacle to God’s glory. Delayed obedience is no obedience. Slowness to carry out a task dishonors Him. Thus Edwards felt he must do his duties as quickly as possible. But he candidly admitted that he struggled with procrastination (p. 99).

The book is fairly balanced regarding both Edwards’ diligence and struggles. Edwards does not come off as a super saint but as committed to grow in spite of himself. He was not afraid of self-examination as Chapter 9, The Posture of Self-Examination shows us. He sought to trust God’s Word more than his own feelings.

Each chapter ends with a challenge to the reader to put into practice what the chapter taught. I found the authors closing remarks encouraging and challenging. The closing words of each chapter were a good summary and challenge to the reader. I appreciated these words from the author.

Conclusion

Edwards was not presented as a super saint but as a wholly committed child of God. His personal struggles and self-doubts were presented well and balanced with the presentation of his strength of will to persevere. What if Edwards is simply a model of what a normal Christian life should look and sound like? What if any of us could resolve to live completely dedicated to the glory of God?

This book would be a good addition to any Christian’s personal library. It will help you learn about Jonathan Edwards and yourself. It will also help you learn about how God helps those who are completely dedicated to Him and don’t make excuses for their shortcomings. I highly recommend this book to any Christian who needs some encouragement on how to live completely dedicated to the glory of God.

I received a pdf of this book and will receive a free hardback copy for this review. You can purchase the book at: www.ligonier.org/reformation-trust.

Book Review – Exponential by Dave and Jon Ferguson

June 10, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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I’ve posted a review of Exponential, How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement on my book review page. It is both an encouraging and interesting read. I would also say it is well worth the time to read it.

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