Book Review: The Apologetics Study Bible (CSB)

ASBThe Apologetics Study Bible (Christian Standard Bible) is a revised and updated version of their classic study Bible filled with apologetics footnotes, articles, biographies, book summaries, and key Scriptures that have been twisted and misused by Christian and non-Christian groups.

The quantity of contributing authors and the quantity of articles is a major plus to the Apologetics Study Bible. In areas where there is room for interpretation within the orthodox Christian faith, the authors by-in-large do a great job of briefly presenting multiple views in a balanced and relatively non-biased view.

Some of the topics brought up in the Study Bible are more areas that seem to be targeting current hot topics (i.e. Climate Change) and risk making the resource one that could become outdated as the hot topic cools. Another area that could have been a bit stronger is the dealing with areas within the orthodox Christian faith that seemed a bit picked-on (i.e. Lord’s Table every Sunday or not) even if done so without condemning a stance the editors didn’t prefer.

Overall, the Bible is a good resource worth keeping to reference when certain hot topics come up in gospel conversations.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B& H Publishing Group through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Hope for the Prodigal

hope for the prodigalHope for the Prodigal: Bringing the Lost, Wandering, and Rebellious Home by Jim and Bill Putman speaks from the hearts of two fathers who have experienced the heartache of having a prodigal son and have firsthand experience of being a prodigal son.  Given their experiences, the authors write from a position of empathy without guilt-trips yet also avoiding giving permission for simple blame-shifting.

The authors do a wonderful job of expanding the definition of prodigal away from just the imagery of a person living with abandon in sin by focusing in on the heart as well as the actions – drawing attention to potential prodigals who are around and maybe even serving in the church yet drifting from or far from the Lord internally though outwardly doing all the “right things” (like the older son in the parable of Jesus).

The book provides great tips for building a home and church worth staying for – preemptive actions to help prevent prodigals through healthy environments – yet don’t come close to promising that these are magic solutions or assurances. Though these elements may help prevent a person from choosing the life of a prodigal, if a person goes astray, these elements can also be healthy magnets that make it easier for a prodigal to return repentant and be fully restored.

Though I do not agree with all of the secondary theological elements of the book (e.g. the authors’ positions that a person who is a prodigal may have lost their salvation – instead of backsliding or not having been saved in the first place), the book is solidly biblical in the primary elements.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Pastoral Theology

pastoral theologyPastoral Theology: Theological Foundations for Who a Pastor is and What He Does by Daniel L. Akin and R. Scott Pace is a great resource to help the reader pull focus to the big biblical picture of pastoral ministry in the midst of the common (and good desire) to focus immediately on the “how” skills of pastoral ministry.

The authors use a trinitarian focus of theology as the basis for the various elements of pastoral ministry. The theology is good and the authors spend a large amount of time (maybe excessive amounts of time sometimes) exploring the trinitarian emphasis for the various elements of pastoral ministry which is a good foundation and good food for thought.

If you are looking for specific “hows” of pastoral ministry, this book probably isn’t the best choice though it does lay out some good principles to consider implementing the “hows” in your particular context.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B& H Publishing Group through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Immutability of God’s Holiness

sun couple

Here is an interesting and insightful excerpt from Stephen Charnock’s two volume set The Existence and Attributes of God (Volume 1) pp 345-346:

God always acts according to the immutable nature of his holiness, and can no more change in his affections to good and even, than he can in his essence…The will of God is unchangeably set to love righteousness and hate iniquity, and from this hatred to punish it; and if a righteous creature contracts the wrath of God, or a sinful creature hat the communications of God’s love, it must be by a change in themselves. Is the sun changed when it hardens one then and softens another, according to the disposition of the several objects? Or when the sun makes a flower more fragrant, and a dead carcass more noisome? There are divers effects, but the reason of that diversity is not in the sun, but in the subject; the sun is the same, and produceth those different effects by the same quality of heat; so if an unholy soul approach to God, God looks angrily upon him; if a holy soul come before him, the same immutable perfection in God draws out his kindness towards him: as some think, the sun would rather refresh than scorch us, if our bodies were of the same nature and substance with that luminary. As the will of God for creating the world was no new, but an eternal will, though it manifested itself in time, so the will of God for the punishment of sin, or the reconciliation of the sinner, was no new will: though his wrath in time break out in the effects of it upon sinners, and his love flows out in the effects of it upon penitents. Christ by his death did what was consonant to his eternal will; he come not to change his will but to execute his will: “Lo, I come to do they will, O God” (Heb. x. 7). And the grace of God in Christ was not a new grace, but an old grace in a new appearance; “the grace of God hath appeared” (Tit. i. 11).

Book Review: When Your Church Feels Stuck

stuckWhen Your Church Feels Stuck: 7 Unavoidable Questions Every Leader Must Answer by Chris Sonksen is a book that promises helpful advice and solutions for the church leaders that are feeling frustrated and the lack of progress in impacting their communities for Christ.

The most helpful part of the book was when it helped the reader look through the state of their church in the stages of growth and decline. While the book gives strategies for how to address the situation of the church and then craft a vision and a plan, the book doesn’t give answers to what to do once that has been done and yet the church seems to have been not able to get “unstuck.”

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: The Imperfect Disciple

imperfect discipleThe Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together by Jared C. Wilson is a well put together book with multiple chapters that provide insight into the struggles of many who have grown up struggling with being good enough for the religious standards that others have placed upon them or they have placed upon themselves.

The strength of the book is the way it can resonate with the disenchanted and wounded churched. The weakness of the book is that may miss the mark of resonating with those who don’t have a churched background.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.