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I have been woefully absent from blogging for a long time. In the midst of life adjustments I forgot about blogging, but I think I’m back. And I have also moved.

Come check out the new digs here: www.EveryManComplete.com

Relationships

Today I finished Paul Tripp & Tim Lane’s book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making and was pleasantly surprised. I have heard great things from Paul Tripps books and ministry, but didn’t know very much of Tim Lane. (On a side note, I am excited to meet both men at Biblical Counseling Training at Faith Biblical Counseling the first week in February.)

Right from the start the authors make it clear that they are no experts in relationships, but are still frail humans dependent on God’s grace to do what they do for God. Their aim for the book is that it “…will help you look through the shattered glass of our sin to see the glory of a Redeemer who is ever-present, always at work to rescue and change us.” (p.2)

The book is broken down into fifteen chapters highlighting major tenants of almost all of our relationships. Every chapter begins with a one or a few vignettes that help the reader envision the purpose of the chapter in their own relationships. Throughout each chapter they do a great job with presenting the material through the lens of scripture.

I think the overarching theme throughout the book is that relationships here are on earth are for God’s Glory and our benefit. “…your relationships have not been designed by God as vehicles for human happiness, but as instruments of redemption.” (p.110)

I highly recommend this book, whether you work in a church ministry or in a secular job.

by Thabiti (thuh-BEE-tee) Anyabwile

I picked up What is a Healthy Church Member early in 2009 as part of a reading group with a few men. It only took a few days to consume it, but it’s content was meaty enough to chew on for a few weeks following. I have enjoyed the materials coming out of Nine Marks ministries, and this book has found a restful position in my bookshelf. With it’s small frame (117 pages, only 7.1 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches big) it packs a powerful punch. He breaks down the book in the same way Mark Dever breaks down his book 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, but adds a 10th mark for good measure. Chapters deal with what a healthy church member is: an expositional listener, a biblical theologian, is gospel saturated, is genuinely converted, is a biblical evangelist, is a committed member, seeks discipline, is a growing disciple, a humble follower and finally, a prayer warrior.

With each chapter only a few pages long (longest is 12 pages) any member of the church, whether young or old, can easily read through this book in a week or two. I’ve found that most church members desire to be a part of a healthy and growing church, but as Thabiti aptly writes,

“The health of the local church depends on the willingness of its members to inspect their hearts, correct their thinking, and apply their hands to the work of the ministry.” (p.15, INTRO).

I believe this book should be on the required reading list for any prospective member of a local church. I cannot recommend a better book than this one for church members to grow in their knowledge on how to better serve Christ in their local church.

Here are a few more books to pick up for further reading about the church: Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris; What is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever, and Why we Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck.

North! Or Be Eaten.I just finished Andrew Peterson’s next installment of the Wingfeather Saga Series, “North! Or Be Eaten“. I must say at the outset that I am not a big fiction reader, in fact I can count on one hand how many fiction titles I have read in the past 10 years.

I couldn’t dig into this book until I had to re-read his first book “On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness“, of which I am glad I did to refresh my mind of the characters and the setting. Where the first book was mostly set up and back story, this book is all action. North! Or Be Eaten keeps up a proper pace for an adventure-fantasy. This book is filled with hidden dangers, jealously, anger, remorse, and deadly secrets (for clarification, they are not the same as hidden dangers). Despite all the troubles that the characters faced, North! Or Be Eaten definitely ends on a hopeful note. I still have lots of questions and I am very curious about what the future holds for the Igiby’s. I have a strong feeling that there will be another book or two in this series.

I am also quite sure kids will be riveted by the story and on the edge of their seats. I also encourage parents to read this along with their kids or to them so that you can bring out some of the questions the story poses.

There is also a very cool website devoted to the Wingfeather Saga which brings more clarification to the story and characters and also a note to the parents section. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to future installments.

APAuthor bio.:

Andrew Peterson is the author of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Book One in the Wingfeather Saga, and The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats. He’s also the critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and recording artist of ten albums, including Resurrection Letters II. He and his wife, Jamie, live with their two sons and one daughter in a little house they call The Warren near Nashville, Tennessee. Visit his websites: www.andrew-peterson.com and www.rabbitroom.com

jsbIt was a momentous night last night in our home, we finished The Jesus Storybook Bible for the first time before Madelyn went to bed. We started reading this every night about three months ago and have been pretty faithful with it. It takes only a few minutes to read and captures a story from scripture with great consistency in pointing the reader (or listener) that the rescuer is coming (OT) or He is here in the NT with Jesus. The pictures are great too, enough excitement to capture the attention of a three year old most nights.

Here is a good review by Tim Keller,

“I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian–from pew warmers, to ministry leaders, seminarians and even theologians! Sally Lloyd-Jones has captured the heart of what it means to find Christ in all the scriptures, and has made clear even to little children that all God’s revelation has been about Jesus from the beginning–a truth not all that commonly recognized even among the very learned.”

I would highly recommend you purchase this book, especially if you have little ones in your house. If you are curious before purchasing, you can check out the new website for the Jesus Storybook Bible when you can listen to samples of the new audio narration and view PDF stories. The new deluxe version will be coming out in October.

Also, visit Timmy Brister’s blog for another review of this book – he finished it in their family last night too!

I was directed to Tevin Wax’s blog to read his review of “The Shack” from Justin Taylor’s blog. I have been following Trevin on twitter (@trevinwax) for some time and have been impressed with his viewpoints and comments.

His review seems to be very balanced and clear on his likes and dislikes of the book. As I was when reading this book, there are some things that are positive like his portrayal of evil and how God can comfort us in our suffering. But the list really ends there and then is filled with a lot of negatives. My biggest beef is the shining reviews on the book itself and by other “christiasns” that say it changed their view of the Trinity. I think it really confuses what scripture says about the trinity and probably does a lot of harm.

Wax’s review of using non-fictional characters in a fiction story is right on:

Let’s say you meet an author who wants to use your grandparents as the main characters in a novel. The author tells you that the narrative will be fictional, but that your grandparents will have the starring roles. Sounds great! you think.

But when the manuscript arrives in your hands, you discover that the story does not accurately represent the personalities of your grandparents. The relationship between them is all wrong too. Grandma berates Grandpa. Early on, they run off and elope (which is totally out of character). At one point, they contemplate divorce.

When you complain, the author responds, “Remember? I told you it would be fictional.”

“Yes,” you say, somewhat exasperated, “I knew the story would be fictional, but I thought you would get my grandparents right. The grandparents in your story aren’t anything like my grandparents.”

“Who cares?” the author responds. “It’s a work of fiction.”

“Well, I care,” you say, “because people will put down this book thinking that my grandparents were like the way you portrayed them.”

My biggest problem with The Shack is its portrayal of God. I understand that the book is a work of fiction, not a theological treatise, and therefore should be treated as fiction. But the main characters are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are actual Persons. To portray God in a manner inconsistent with his revelation to us in Scripture (and primarily in Jesus) is to misrepresent living Persons.

I guess this was my view, but couldn’t express it as well as Tevin does. I am also baffeled on why this book is still being “sold out” on bookshelves everywhere and the most downloaded Christian audiobook on iTunes. Tevin covers that too:

  1. Missing fathers. So many people have grown up with absent daddies or abusive father figures. For many, the mother is the rock of the home. To portray God the Father as a matriarch is bound to resonate with a good number of people.
  2. The anti-authoritarian tendency of our culture. At one point in the book, God speaks of there being no roles of hierarchy in the Trinity. God even submits to humans. This resonates with a culture that already eschews traditional understandings of role and authority. (I can picture my Romanian friends rolling their eyes at The Shack and saying, “That’s so American!”)
  3. The immanence of God. Evangelicals too often bring God down to the level of understanding, faithful friend. Ultimately, this view of God is shrunken and reductionist. Just like it is misrepresenting God to make him so other that he is virtually unknowable, it is misrepresenting him to make him so close and human that his God-ness is absent.

You can read the whole review here.

HT: JT

difficultdoctrineWe have always heard in Christian circles from a young age that God loves us, but seldom do we study the doctrine of the Love of God. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson is just a short book (96 pages) that is drawn from four lectures he delivered in 1998. This book makes for an easy read, despite some deep theology.

The book is broken down into four chapters, On Distorting  the Love of God; God is love; God’s Love and God’s Sovereignty and God’s Love and God’s wrath. Each chapter does well in exploring what the Bible teaches on the given subject. He also does a great job in presenting a balanced view without sounding judgemental towards those that might be differing. His discussion on the view of limited atonement is worth the purchase price of the book.

Overall I found this book refreshing and thought provoking. It was nice not having to sift through hundreds of pages of text, but being able in a short hour or two to cover this doctrine with great ease and explanation. I highly recomend this book.

peterson-2

I just received confirmation today that have the priveldge to read and review Andrew Peterson’s upcoming new release “North! Or Be Eaten

Here is a little summary of the book:

“Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.

Their escape brings readers to the very brink of Fingap Falls, over the Stony Mountains, and across the Ice Prairies, while villains galore try to stop the Igibys permanently. Fearsome toothy cows and horned hounds return, along with new dangers: a mad man running a fork factory, a den of rockroaches, and majestic talking sea dragons.

Andrew Peterson’s lovable characters create what FantasyBookCritic.com says made Book One “one of the best fantasy novels in a very long time,” and Book Two contains even more thrills, exploring “themes universal in nature, ranging from the classic good versus evil, to the importance of family, and burdens of responsibility.”

This is the second book in The Wingfeather Saga series. To prepare for book #2,  I am re-reading his first book in this series “On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness” while we travel to Germany this week.

Check back the week of September 14th for my full review!

CoverThere are very few books that take me longer than a month to read through entirely because of content and not length. This book is one. I was drawn to this book because of the deep content and fluid writing style of Jerry Bridges.

The book is laid out in two parts: (1) Christ’s Atonement: Overview and Context (2) The Apostle-authored Scripture on Christ’s Atonement. At first glance you might think that it is another theology book that just dives into the facts of Christ’s atonement throughout the New Testament and not much more. But as I finished part one and started part two, I knew this would be a different kind of beast.

I really could have finished this book in a week (only 290 pages) but as I started part two I knew that I needed to take my time and chew on each chapter. I won’t go into great detail of what I read, because that would result in a really long post. (If you would  like a better breakdown of the book, check out this website put out by Bridges & Bevington) But I have referenced this book in prior posts along the way of reading it. (you read them here, and here.)

I will close with a endorsement on the back of the book by Michael Horton,

“The Gospel announces a great exchange: the innocent God-Man assuming our debt as we inherit his righteousness. Those who love to hear that story will love to read this book and will be filled with fresh enthusiasm to share it with others.”

That is exactly what this book has done in my life. It has given me a greater passion for ministry and evangelism as I read along with Bridges & Bevington the great gospel truth throughout the New Testament pages, that a Holy God sent His Perfect Son to die in my place. And with His death a Great Exchange happened that could never be accomplished on my own.

May God receive all the Glory!

I highly recommend this book for reading of any and all believers that would like to grow in grace and knowledge of their Lord Jesus Christ!

You can download the Foreword, Preface, and Introduction – PDF from Monergism Books website.

I recently joined Thomas Nelson Book Reviewer program and my first selection was N.D. Wilson’s, Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl.

_140_245_Book.61.coverIn Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, Nate Wilson takes us on a confusing journey exploring the world we live in and the God who spoke it into existence. He explores many snapshots of the world as through his own unique eyes and tries desperately to relate that sense to his readers.

I really wanted to enjoy this book, to be bowled over by his writing style and imagination but sadly it left me wanting. I felt as though I was reading a journal of sorts, maybe one that has not learned to organize their thoughts for literary consumption. His resolutions to the discord felt forced and unwarranted. The book felt very awkward. His style of writing left the reader dizzy and with their head spinning from trying to keep in line where the point lay.

I will say he is one of the more creative writers I have read in a while, but he tries so hard to be deep and really insightful. When he does attempt to be funny he comes off very exaggerated and confusing.

I cannot endorse this book for purchase. You are much better served saving the $10.19 from Amazon and purchasing a month’s supply of gum. In fact, if you want my copy send me your address and I will send it to you free of charge.

In conclusion, I am very disappointed with this book after watching a few introductory videos from Thomas Nelson.

Maybe round two will be better.

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I’m a book reviewer

I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers