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: Fool’s Gold
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Fool’s Gold Discerning Truth in an Age of Error Publisher: Crossway Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes All that glitters is not gold. This is a lesson many thousands of men learned in the 19th century when they stormed California seeking their fortunes. While there was treasure to be found, as evidenced by the wealth many gained from their mining ventures, there was also what came to be known as fool’s gold. While this looked like gold, it was in reality valueless iron pyrite. For a miner to be successful he had to learn to discern the true gold from mere fool’s gold. A man’s livelihood depended on this. Because it was difficult to tell one from the other only by looking at it, miners develped some simple tests. One was the hardness test, where a miner could bite a rock in question. Fool’s gold was hard while real gold was much softer. A broken tooth would prove the rock to be fool’s gold. For a second test a miner would scrape the rock against a white stone. True gold would leave a yellowish streak while fool’s gold would leave one that was greenish-black. This is the…

Book review: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Video Games
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

What Every Parent Needs to Know About Video Games A Gamer Explores the Good, Bad, and Ugly of the Virtual World Publisher: Harvest House Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I used to be an avid computer gamer. From the time computers became widely available, I was using them to play games. I played them for long enough to know that they don’t make them like they used to. Modern-day games have not risen above the standards set by such classics as X-Com, Railroad Tycoon, Civilization, SimCity and so on. When these games were made, computers were primitive enough that a game had to stand on the merits of its gameplay. Graphics were not exciting enough to be able to hide a bad game within pretty graphics. With recent advancements in technology, games have undergone a radical transformation. Today’s games are rapidly becoming almost photo-realistic. This raises new issues about the morality of portraying acts of violence and sexuality that were mostly unknown even a few short years ago. Video games have often gotten a bad rap. After the awful events of Columbine High School, video games were presented as being part of the training ground…

Book review: Gospel Worship
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Gospel Worship Publisher: Soli Deo Gloria Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Only a Puritan could write a full book, 300 pages, expositing a single verse of Scripture, or more accurately, a portion of a single verse of Scripture. And only a Puritan could do it successfully. In Gospel Worship Jeremiah Burroughs (1599 – 1646) does just that. Recently reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria Publications (a division of Ligonier Ministries), Gospel Worship seeks to instruct the reader in worship that is worthy of God. Burroughs takes as his text Leviticus 10:3 which reads, "Then Moses said unto Aaron, it is what the Lord spake saying, ‘I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all people I will be glorified.’ And Aaron held his peace." He narrows in on the phrase "I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me." Through a series of fourteen chapters, which were originally delivered as sermons, he discusses worship under a variety of headings. Among those topics are: the importance of preparing for worship; suiting our duties to the God we are worshipping; sanctifying the name of God in hearing the Word; Why God will have His…

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…