books and reviews

Mar

31

2011

Expository Listening, by Ken Ramey

Expository Listening, by Ken Ramey is a helpful book on how to listen to the word of God preached. Those who listen to sermons have much more preparation to do than those who preach sermons--and have an equally great accountability to obey God's word as those who preach. It is not only pastor who much "practices what he preaches", the congregation must also "practice what he preaches"!

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Mar

21

2011

Reverberation

Having recently read The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love, I was excited to pick up Reverberation by Jonathan Leeman and see what he had to say about how the word of God works in the life of the church, and what this means for how pastoral ministry is to be done. As I mentioned in a recent post, his thesis is, "God's Word, working through God's Spirit, is God's primary instrument for growing God's church" (Reverberation, 19).

I came to the book with two desires. For one, I wanted to see how he would map out the trajectory of God's word in the life of the church. I want to make sure that my expectations are set on the right things and have the right priorities in the church. Secondly, I wanted to learn more how the word works so that my confidence in it may be deepened. All in all, mission accomplished.

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Feb

10

2011

Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome

Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome, by Kent and Barbara Hughes is an encouraging book. Begins with them telling their story of how they ended up discouraged in ministry on account of a sense of failure, and how this sparked their study that led to this book. This is followed by their definition of success in about seven different points. These provide a helpful way to truly measure success in God's eyes. They conclude with encouragements and sources of encouragement to the discouraged pastor, as well as ways the congregation and wife can help.

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Feb

09

2011

Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church

Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry, by Michael Lawrence is a book I picked up with two motives: (1) to understand what the 9Marks people meant by "Biblical Theology" as the second mark of a healthy church, (2) a growing interest in Biblical Theology (in the technical sense) and thus a corollary interest in how this discipline can practically applied to the life of the church.

(The first point is still a little unclear. They seem to go back and forth between "theology that is biblical", and "biblical theology.")

The Main Point

I think his main point boils down to this: The Bible is not just an answer book, it is also a story of what God has done and is doing, albeit a normative and authoritative one.  

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Feb

08

2011

The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love


The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love by Jonathan Leeman contains a surprising thesis supported by solid argument, pictured with continuous illustration and tethered down from its theological heights by good practical considerations. 

The subtitle of the book is "Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline." This may not sound like a very exciting topic, but if you're interested in the topic (and even if you're not!) I think you'll find  it a very exciting book! As he describes it, it is a systematic theology of church membership. I have agreed with these concepts (and taught them!) for some time, but this book put a foundation under my feet. It changed the issue for me from something "good" to something "mandatory", from it being not unbiblical, to being biblical. Seriously, a landmark book for me.

The basic thesis of the book is that while church membership and church discipline today are argued against as unloving and counter-productive to producing true community in the church, these are the very things given to us to define God's love for the world to see. God's love is a boundary-drawing love. 

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Jan

06

2011

A New Path to Theological Liberalism? Wayne Grudem on Evangelical Feminism

Al Mohler, "A New Path to Theological Liberalism? Wayne Grudem on Evangelical Feminism"

Mohler summarizes:

In Evangelical Feminism, published by Crossway Books, Grudem argues that evangelical feminism now represents one of the greatest dangers to the continued orthodoxy of the evangelical movement.

I saw this book awhile back on Amazon and browsed through it a bit there. The table of contents is quite complete and gives you a good overview of what the book is about and what arguments are made. 

I think Grudem is totally on target here. This is exactly why I am wary of any seminary that concedes on this issue to accept women M. Div students or women teachers. (This is not a matter of preference or discrimination, but a matter of roles ordained by God and the authority of his word.) This reveals something about seminary and their view of Scripture. If they are willing to concede here, it is only a matter of time before something else gives.

Nov

04

2010

The Messianic Hope: Is the Old Testament Really Messianic?

Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope

In The Messianic Hope, book six of the New American Commentary Studies in Bible & Theology series, Jewish Studies professor Michael Rydelnik puts forth a thesis that the Old Testament was intended by its authors to be read as a messianic primer. He explains at length how the text reveals significant direct messianic prophecy when read in its final form. Users will find this topical study an excellent extension of the long-respected New American Commentary series.

Really excited to get this book and read it. Just read Chapter 3 on Google Books preview, and it is fascinating!! It surveys textual-critical evidence comparing the MT to the LXX, and shows that the MT often slants away from a Messianic reading, and that the MT contains at times the influence of rabbinic Judaism.

The word of God is inspired when it was written. Textual criticism is that discipline that examines the textual data we have to establish what that original text is. The Bible is inspired, but the Hebrew vowel points in the MT are not.

Very interesting. I look forward to studying more!

Sep

09

2010

Politics - According to the Bible, Wayne Grudem

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Interesting-looking new book from Grudem on Politics. You can also see its Table of Contents and introduction for more about it. Definitely could use some refinement and clear biblical argument on this topic!

Sep

02

2010

George Whitefield in High Gear

Arnold Dallimore, George Whitfield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990)

George Whitefield's life was absolutely amazing.  He is a man remarkably used by God in the 18th century. He's the kind of guy that makes your jaw drop. 

From his early twenties to his death at age 55, he preached 30,000 sermons! That's an average of 20 sermons a week for his entire adult life! There were times when he would be speaking 40-60 hours a week--that's speaking time, not including any personal study or travel time. 

We must also remember the sizes of the crowds he would speak to. Benjamin Franklin estimated he could be heard audibly by a crowd of 30,000 people. He is reported to have spoken to crowds of at least that much, crowds filling 3 acres. 

Here was a man of unique eloquence in speaking, unique passion and zeal for the Lord, unique energy for sacrificial, and unique effectiveness in preaching. God used him for the revival of religion not only in England but also in America. Read this book to get excited about what God did during that time, and excited about what God might do again at any time he may so please!

This is a wonderful biography of this man's life. The author (Dallimore) has also written a two-volume biography of Whitefield, each volume running about 600 pages! He has condensed this full work into this short 200-page abridged version. It is the life of Whitefield in high gear indeed! It is fast paced, and keeps you on the edge of your seat from the get-go. 

Read this for a great introduction to the life of George Whitefield. Though, I must admit, after reading this, I definitely want to get into the more in-depth two volume work!

Review of Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990).

Mar

25

2009

William Carey: A man on a mission

Wow. William Carey is amazing.


Amazing...


Read this book if you want to get enthralled, not by Carey, but by Carey's God, and how he was used to begin an enormous missionary "enterprise" in India, much larger and extensive than he had ever dreamed. (cf. Eph 3:20)

One thing seems to ring true throughout, which was as true of Carey as it was when Jesus said this of Paul:

"I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:16)


Carey was used by God in breathtaking ways. But he was much afflicted. He suffered greatly and he suffered often. But he was a rock, because he knew God was his Rock. He stood firm, because he knew he had a "Firm Foundation." He was a man on a mission, and he stayed the course, because he knew it was God's mission, and it must succeed. Jesus' blood guaranteed it, and nothing could deter him. He was sure that India fell under the "all nations" that God intended to save, and God's sovereign grace drove him. At the end of his life, he was "as cheerful and happy as the day is long." (379)

See in Carey a man driven by doctrine. So read this book if you want to get fired up over missions, but don't just read it. Pray that God would grab hold of you and make that fire burn steadily and constantly. Pray not just to grapple with and understand the truth, but that the truth would grab hold of you as it did Carey. Missions is not a simple matter--it comes with hardship. Greatness for Christ's sake seems always to come hand-in-hand with suffering for Christ's sake. May he cause the fire within you to burn, and to "joyfully accept the seizure of your property"--and much worse--and confound the world, in order that people might know there is something beyond this life, in order that Christ may be seen to a lost world as glorious as he really is, as the only sure Anchor of our souls.

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Matt Hauck (郝柏昇)

A once enemy now son, forgiven and freed by Jesus' blood, adopted and called by grace for glory.   (more...)