Book review: Reaching the Ear of God
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Reaching the Ear of God Praying More…and more like Jesus Publisher: P & R Publishing Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Charles Spurgeon’s famous statement that a Christian’s life of prayer is like the slender nerve which moves the hand of omnipotence should signal the huge level of importance God places upon our prayers.  Could anything be more important and exciting to the Christian than seeing Almighty God being moved to answer your own specific prayers?  Wayne Mack emphatically doesn’t think so, and that is why he has written a marvelously helpful and instructive book on prayer which you now hold in your hand.   ‘Wait a minute’ you say! ‘You’re trying to sell me on the idea of buying another book on prayer?’  ‘No thanks.’ ‘I’ve read my fair share of Christian books on prayer and I certainly don’t need another one.’  I admit when this book first came across my desk, I might have been tempted to agree.  I too have already read many Christian books on the subject of prayer (who hasn’t?), and I too have seen Christian bookstore shelves lined with that many more books on prayer (again, who hasn’t?!), so why yet…

Book review: Expository Listening
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Expository Listening A Practical Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word Publisher: Kress Biblical Resources Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Have you ever arrived at church on Sunday in a “less-than-ready” condition for worship? Maybe you were up too late the night before, argued with your spouse while getting ready, possibly snapped at the kids, or even kicked the dog on the way out the door. By the time you get to church, you’re truly not ready to listen to a sermon! But getting your mind and heart ready is exactly what expository preaching requires. Listening to a sermon, really listening’as in thinking, praying, following the argument, concentrating on the meaning and its application to your life’now that’s hard work! Merely hearing a sermon is easy; it requires a properly functioning auditory system, but it’s essentially a passive exercise. Actively listening to the preaching of God’s Word requires mental alertness, focused attention, and a spiritually receptive heart. That’s the kind of listening Solomon implored his own sons to do: My son, if you will receive my sayings, and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if…

Book review: The Multiplying Church
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Multiplying Church The New Math for Starting New Churches Publisher: Zondervan Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No In a series of three books published by Zondervan Publishers,* Bob Roberts, Jr., founding Pastor of NorthWood Church in Fort Worth, Texas, casts a new vision for how society can be transformed by Jesus Christ.   In the third work of his, The Multiplying Church, Roberts seeks to show how local churches must see their primary vision as multiplying churches. Churches should not merely strive to plant another local church here or there; they should actually multiplythem through the proven methods of Roberts and others for church planting. This will make it possible to proliferate hundreds if not thousands of others churches all over the globe.   A REVOLUTION IN CHURCH PLANTING   Roberts believes that imbedded within the very nucleus of every local church must be a clear desire and a strategic plan for aggressively reproducing themselves into countless other local churches, whether it be in their metropolitan backyard or other parts of the world (targeting specific countries, like his church has done with Vietnam).   Roberts calls for a virtual revolution in current thinking regarding church planting….

Book review: Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ Publisher: Crossway Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes What could be more edifying for the Christian than to read about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ? Robert A. Peterson, Professor of Systematic Theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, has written Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ, a lengthy summation of the Person and Work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What is both a rare and commendable feature about this book is how Peterson provides excellent, detailed, and lucid exposition of virtually every Old Testament and New Testament passage which either anticipates or explains the various aspects of the earthly (and beyond) work of Jesus. He provides significant exegesis in order to substantiate his various perspectives on the work of Christ, especially where disagreements and disputes have arisen. The book is an attempt by Peterson to comprehensively portray a distillation of the entire biblical teaching on the doctrine of salvation. In the first section of the book (21’269), Peterson capably fills out our understanding of what he calls the nine ‘saving events’ of Christ. Obviously, some of the events he…

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

The Cross Where All Roads Meet Publisher: Evangelical Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes As a seminary student, occasional preacher, and book reviewer, my reading list is fairly tight and regimented. Even so, one of the pleasant benefits of the reading life is picking up an unplanned book on a whim or a sudden impulse. Such was the case with Cesar Malan’s The Cross: Where All Roads Meet, formerly titled The True Cross in its original French edition, first published in 1831. Delving into it for choice quotes about the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), I was pleased to discover a brief but meaty narrative concerning the free gift of salvation offered through the work of Christ and the right Christian response to it: rest and trust. More than half the book records a purported narrative between the author, who was a Swiss Evangelical pastor in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and an elderly traveler whom the author encounters while the latter pays respects to a wooden cross beside the path. The narrator strikes up a conversation with the genuflecting man and discovers that the man operates under…

Book review: Christopher Marlowe
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Christopher Marlowe Poet & Spy Publisher: Oxford University Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No Why review a biography about a historical figure that most Evangelical Christians would rather forget, assuming they knew of him in the first place? Those who know Christopher Marlowe by name or reputation might also wonder what lessons we have to learn from a shadowy theatrical figure that lived in the same era as the great William Shakespeare. I count at least three types of lessons in the pages of Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy by Honan Park, but even so I would not recommend this book to anybody but diehard Elizabethan period theatre buffs. Before identifying the lessons, a word on the style and content. While I have not yet read Park’s works on Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, Jane Austen, and the matchless William Shakespeare, based on his Marlowe work Park appears to be a meticulous biographer. To say “meticulous” is not to say all of Park’s conclusions are swimming in firewalled evidence. As one might expect in a 400-page biography of a somewhat mysterious figure, Park makes good use of conjecture and speculation. But even Park’s considerable biographical skills cannot…

Book review: Theology Remixed
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Theology Remixed Christianity as Story, Game, Language, Culture Publisher: IVP Academic Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes The chief end of books is to glorify God and to be enjoyed by man. Theology Remixed by Adam C. English is such a book, accomplishing these dual ends directly by virtue of the author’s approach and intent: to describe features of the Christian Faith by employing and exploring four elucidatory analogies. The super-intelligent English does so humbly, setting up his analogies by identifying similarities and dissimilarities. This book is a thought experiment designed to deepen faith, and 99.9% of it did just that for this reviewer. Before we arrive at the faith-deepening aspects, however, we first must deal with the remaining 0.1%. English begins his book on a provocative note, if you happen to be a reader that possesses any sort of Reformed sympathies. Invoking the late Christopher Hitchens, whom English debated many years ago, English reports how the following ‘stereotype’ of Christianity ‘unnerves’ him: For too many people, Christianity comes off as this absurd idea that God killed his Son to pay for some violation against God’s honor perpetrated by humans who were, for the most part, unaware…

Book review: Relationships
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Relationships A Mess Worth Making Publisher: New Growth Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes A quick search of the terms “must read” and “must-read” on this review site reveals that we have assiduously endeavored to avoid applying this superlative quality to too many books, and even when we have done so, it has always been applied to a certain segment of the church, i.e., pastors or preachers. This run ends today. In Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp, I can confidently say it is a book that every Christian should read on the threefold basis of theology, applicability, and accessibility. THEOLOGY We all need to hold and seek out sound, biblical theology. While it’s true that the term “biblical” has been bandied about to an unhealthy and unhelpful degree in the contemporary Western Church, at times even employed as a weapon, it is equally unhealthy and unhelpful to dismiss the term because its true meaning is glorious: adherence to the “norming norms” of Holy Scripture in matters of faith and practice. Relationships is such a book. Lane and Tripp begin by conducting a half-dozen chapters of theological cartography, defining and…

Book review: Pattern of Wounds
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Pattern of Wounds A Roland March Mystery Publisher: Bethany House Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Definitely not for the squeamish, Pattern of Wounds picks up where Detective Roland March left off in Back on Murder, the inaugural book in this mystery series from Bethany House Publishers. If you have not read the first book, do not pass go, do not open the front cover of the second book. A few Amazon reviewers have done so and have paid dearly – they did not enjoy the second book. It is a series and is meant to be read as such. And a fine series it is, thus far. Roland March, a surly but intriguing Houston Police Department homicide detective, is “back on murder” after redeeming himself in the first book. Patterns of Wounds opens with a brutal murder scene (caveat lector to the sensitive reader) which evokes the mood of the best crime dramas television has to offer. Where Pattern of Wounds exceeds its predecessor is in its characterization. Whereas I felt a bit alienated from Charlotte, March’s wife, and Teresa Cavallo, March’s sidekick in Back on Murder, both women evoked a fresh sympathy in me this…

Book review: The Fort
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Fort A Novel of the Revolutionary War Publisher: HarperCollins Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Historical fiction has the power and the potential to teach the reader much about the human condition. And, of course, it can teach much about events and cultures and lifestyles of bygone decades, centuries, and millennia. In the wrong authorial hands it can co-opt history to advance subversive agendas, but its judicious use can open up a world hitherto undiscovered. In his novel The Fort, prolific author Bernard Cornwell turns his literary guns on the ill-fated Penobscot Expedition of 1779. Forty years before Maine separated from Massachusetts, a small British expeditionary force was deployed to Majabigwaduce, a small loyalist settlement on Penobscot Bay. It was a strategic area, fortifiable and defendable. The British felt confident in sending only three ships and less than a thousand men to defend it. Once arrived, they began to construct a makeshift fort optimistically and grandly christened Fort George after King George III. While the fort was in the early stages of construction, an American force of 1700 men and over 40 ships arrived to conduct military operations against the British entrenched there. The events and…