Book review: Invitation to Biblical Hebrew
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Invitation to Biblical Hebrew A Beginning Grammar Publisher: Kregel Publications Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg gives credit where it is due. He once praised some of his early coaches saying, “They instilled in me how to do things the right way, having good fundamentals, having good work habits – and even how to put on my socks.”  When it comes to learning Biblical Hebrew, getting your socks on correctly is of little value. However, learning the fundamentals of the language and applying good work habits will bring sure success.  This is the premise of a new Hebrew grammar written by Southern Seminary professor Russell T. Fuller and Kyoungwon Choi. They desire for students to actually use Hebrew in ministry, rather than being limited to English translations of the Old Testament. This goal will not be achieved without a solid grounding in the basics of phonology (sounds) and morphology (forms).  But can you learn Biblical Hebrew on your own? Perhaps you took some Hebrew in seminary, and now you cannot recall anything beyond the alphabet. Or perhaps you have never taken a language course at all.  Don’t fear. If you…

Book review: Putting Amazing Back Into Grace
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Putting Amazing Back Into Grace Who Does What In Salvation? Publisher: Baker Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Putting Amazing Back Into Grace is the first book I have read by Michael Horton. It will certainly not be my last. On the cover of the book J.I. Packer declares the book “a breaktaking workout” and his praise is justified. This book points us back to the Reformation and ultimately to the Bible itself as the source of an amazing grace that much of modern Christianity seems to have lost. He presents timeless truths as being as relevant to us today as they were when they were first discovered. Horton redraws the standard TULIP acronym using modern terms. Total Depravity becomes Rebels Without A Cause, Unconditional Election becomes Grace Before Time, Limited Atonement becomes Mission Accomplished, Irresistible Grace becomes Intoxicating Grace and Perseverance of The Saints becomes No Lost Causes. While the terms may have changed, the truth behind each is defended and, perhaps best of all, made relevant to life. More than a theological treatise, this book contains an element of intense practicality where Horton shows how these doctrines are relevant to everyday life. Among the other…

Book review: Discovering the Bible
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Discovering the Bible Story and Faith of the Biblical Communities Publisher: Beacon Hill Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No Publishing a textbook for introductory level Bible survey courses, Beacon Hill adds their contribution to the vast field of similar books. How does this one measure up? First, in terms of production, the book has a very durable hard cover, a must for a reference book that hopes to last a long time. However, the page layout left much to be desired, putting too much white space on the outside of the page and burying the double-column text in the cracks. The image selection is pitiful in both selection and reproduction. Then, there are some ridiculous issues of content. For example, each chapter title page includes a box of “Key Words to Understand”. For the chapter on Romans, the list includes “Martin Luther” and “John Wesley”, confusing historical theology with Bible survey. Also, “Resources for Further Study” at the end of each chapter contained items of dubious merit for beginners. Given the stated goals of a Bible survey textbook, tighter editorial work would have been helpful. All this could be forgiven, however, if Discovering the Bible could…

Book review: Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed Publisher: Harper Perennial Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes It is said that, during World War Two, the village of Le Chambon in southern France was the safest place in Europe. It was this small village where Andre Trocme, a Protestant pastor, charged his church and his entire village with the task of protecting refugees, and primarily the Jewish refugees who were fleeing Nazi oppression. The story of this man and, to a lesser extent this village, is told in Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, written by Philip Hallie, a philosopher and ethicist whose study of the horrors of the Second World War had driven him to near despair. Across all these studies, the pattern of the strong crushing the weak kept repeating itself and repeating itself, so that when I was not bitterly angry, I was bored at the repetition of the patterns of persecution. When I was not desiring to be cruel with the cruel, I was like a monster–like, perhaps, many others around me–who could look upon torture and death without a shudder, and who therefore looked upon life without a belief in its preciousness. My study of evil…

Book review: 5 Paths to the Love of Your Life
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

5 Paths to the Love of Your Life Publisher: Th1nk Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I believe it was in a Tom Clancy book I read many, many years ago where I found a statement that daughters are given by God to punish men for what they did, said and thought when they were young men. Obviously I know that is purely the imagined theology of a writer, yet I do think that having a daughter causes a man to take a look deep within himself. Every man instinctively feels the need to protect his daughters. For some reason men do not feel as deep a desire to protect their sons. Just yesterday I received a Christmas Newsletter from a family friend. He wrote about a young man who has shown interest in his daughter and will soon be coming to spend time with the family. "[He] is quite a gentleman but just in case, when he comes I intend to be cleaning my .45-caliber pistol. I also told him that if he ever touches my daughter I have no problem at all with going back to prison." Sure he is writing tongue-in-cheek but there…

Book review: Bad Ground
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Bad Ground Publisher: Bethany House Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Deep in the earth, brilliant clusters of quartz crystals lie hidden in fissures and crevices—"pyramid-tipped spires huddled together like a miniature city, cracking the light into a thousand rainbow shards…salted with pinpoints of iron pyrite, glittering like tiny stars." But such treasures can only be found in fractured, unstable, dangerous earth—places miners simply call "bad ground." Bad Ground is the story of Jeremy Prine, a seventeen-year-old boy who has been orphaned and who needs to grow up, and fast. His mother, who died of cancer, left him the only thing she could give – a letter. She tells him to find his uncle Aiden. "When you find him, stay with him. He’ll try to run you off, but don’t let him. Do whatever it takes to stay with him. You have something I couldn’t give him, and he something I couldn’t give you. I won’t tell you what – you’ll just have to find out from each other. When you find it, you’ll know." Jeremy, a sheltered and timid teen, heads into the world to find this mysterious uncle. He finds him at a mining…

Book review: The Cross Centered Life
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Cross Centered Life Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing Publisher: Multnomah Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I have had the mixed blessing of reading several of the titles in the LifeChange series. Some have been good, some have been awful. But I guess that is to be expected when the authors represented range from C.J. Mahaney to Pat Robertson; from John Piper to Bill Gothard. Of the titles I have read, none has been better than The Cross Centered Life. In his book The Discipline of Grace Jerry Bridges wrote, "The gospel is not only the most important message in all of history; it is the only essential message in all of history. Yet we allow thousands of professing Christians to live their entire lives without clearly understanding it and experiencing the joy of living by it" (The Discipline of Grace, page 46). C.J. Mahaney would have us remember that sometimes the most obvious truths are the very ones we need to be reminded of the most. The Cross Centered Life is just such a reminder. This is a small book, weighing in at a mere 89 pages. But its small stature is no…

Book review: The God of Yes
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The God of Yes Living the Life You Were Promised Publisher: Howard Publishing Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No I’m going to be straight with you: I did not finish this book. Generally I will not review a book until I have read it from cover-to-cover, but in this case I just couldn’t do it. I got about two thirds of the way through and had to call it quits. It wasn’t that the book was so heretical I just couldn’t take it anymore (though there were a few theological problems) and it wasn’t that it was poorly written. The foremost problem with this book, and the one that finally caused me just to put it down, is the author’s (David Edwards) sense of humor. The author has a very immature, sarcastic sense of humor and he seems to feel the need to put it on display on every page. You can open the book to almost any page and find some dumb comment that is supposed to be funny. I’ll give a few examples: …the object of playing the game, of course, is winning (unless you’re the Dallas Cowboys). What is born is something you’re still…

Book review: All Things Possible
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

All Things Possible My Story of Faith, Football and the Miracle Season Publisher: Zondervan Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes All Things Possible is the autobiography of football star Kurt Warner. Though in the media his story is often related as a meteoric rise to stardom, we learn that it was only through time, perseverance and God’s grace that Warner ever got a chance to live out his dream. I was drawn to Kurt Warner’s story for several reasons. First, I am a fan of the St Louis Rams, the team with which Warner has had his success. Second, I love stories about underdogs, and Warner’s story is just that. Third, I love to read about other Christians and the experiences that shaped them. Kurt Warner was an underdog and no stranger to rejection. For years he faced rejection as he tried to live out his dream of playing professional football. He was turned down by the major colleges, eventually ending up at the University of Northern Iowa where he spent three years being a backup and only one year leading the team. When he graduated he went undrafted in the NFL entry draft and was passed…

Book review: In the Presence of My Enemies
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

In the Presence of My Enemies Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes There are few people I admire more than missionaries. They represent such a selfless expression of Christ’s love – people who dedicate their lives to sharing the gospel with those who least want to hear it, but most need to hear it. Not only do they forsake the comforts of Western society and leave behind friends, jobs, church and family, but they often put their lives in danger by ministering in unstable nations. In The Presence of My Enemies tells the story of Martin and Gracia Burnham, a missionary couple who were kidnapped and held for over a year by the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group with ties to Osama Bin Laden. While celebrating their anniversary at a small resort in the Philippines they were snatched away and spent the next year of their lives on the run, fighting to survive in the Philippine jungles. They were constantly faced with incredible hardship and often lacked even the most rudimentary comforts. They were held pending the payment of a large ransom, one which missionary groups will never pay. It was not until…