Book review: Doctrine That Dances
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Doctrine That Dances Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life Publisher: B&H Academic Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes The title of Robert Smith’s book Doctrine that Dances is enough of a juxtaposition to make most of us curious.  Some, coming from proudly anti-theological traditions, find it moderately amusing to discover books still being penned on doctrine at all. Others, though fully persuaded of doctrine’s consequence, may still raise eyebrows at the sight of ‘doctrine’ and ‘dance’ in the same terse sentence. The idea of some of our most cherished theological doctrines doing ‘the foxtrot’ is a new one for most of us! However, the subtitle of Smith’s volume brings us quickly to his point: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life.  Smith is Professor of Preaching at Beeson Divinity School, and as such, is on a passionate crusade to make dull-doctrinal preaching a thing of the past. Smith is clearly aware that doctrinal preaching has often had a bad wrap: too dry, too dead, too dreary. But Smith’s answer is not to abandon doctrinal preaching; he aims to transform the modern sermon into what he calls “joyous doxological dance to the glory of God.” Two convictions…

Book review: His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy Living the Ten Commandments and Giving Them to Our Children Publisher: Crossway Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes If you are a Christian parent, then you understand the awesome, sometimes overwhelming, responsibility and joy we have in sharing our faith in Jesus Christ with our children. Having not been raised to honor Jesus over self, I often wonder how I’m doing when it comes to raising children who delight in knowing God and loving Him. In His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy Jani Ortlund emphasizes that delighting in the Lord is caught more than taught. If I want my children to love the Lord with all of their hearts, souls, minds and strengths, then it is imperative that I love Him that much. The psalmist, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us that one of the keys to raising godly, mighty, blessed children is found in a man fearing the Lord and taking great delight in his commandments. His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy will invite you into deeper delight in God as we consider how he loves us through the Ten Commandments. The purpose of this book is to…

Book review: The Politics of Abortion
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Politics of Abortion Publisher: Encounter Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Why does it seem that Americans are dead-locked regarding the issue of abortion? Of course, one could argue that there is actually no room for common ground on the abortion debate, since one side believes that the unborn is a human being with rights and the other side denies the status of the unborn as well as its rights. But could there be a political reason why the pro-life side has such a hard time making legal progress? Anne Hendershott thinks so. In The Politics of Abortion, Hendershott documents much of the history of the political debate over abortion in the United States. She makes the case that the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision effectively radicalized the abortion debate by denying pro-lifers the ordinary tools of politics. We remain deadlocked in a divisive culture war, Hendershott says. And unfortunately, the Democratic Party has abandoned its traditional position as the champion of the underdog and instead embraced the pro-abortion stance for financial gain. Hendershott recounts a 1964 meeting with several members of the Kennedy family. The meeting took place with clergy who made the…

Book review: Choosing Gratitude
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Your Journey to Joy Publisher: Moody Publishers Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Perhaps your mother trained you to show gratitude by sitting you down at the table with a stack of cards, envelopes, and a pencil as soon as the last birthday party guest walked out the door.  “Write your thank you notes,” she might have said. Mom understood something that it seems we’ve forgotten: it is not enough to feel grateful. Gratitude comes to fruition when it is expressed. Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Christian author, speaker, mentor, and host of Revive Our Hearts, would say that writing your thank-you notes is a good place to start, but an attitude of gratitude is the goal and encompasses more than saying, “Thank you” for our gifts. In Choosing Gratitude, DeMoss elevates gratitude to the status of spiritual discipline. She is convinced that Christians ought to be most the expressive people when it comes to gratitude. Or, as she calls it, “going gratitudinal.” Following a succinct explanation of God’s gospel, she writes, “Undeniable guilt, plus undeserved grace, should equal unbridled gratitude.” But this unbridled gratitude, quite distinct from generic gratitude, is Godward and must be cultivated and…

Book review: The Prophetic Imagination
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Prophetic Imagination (Second Edition) Publisher: Fortress Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes In his book The Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann examines the witness of the prophets toward the nation of Israel (specifically the monarchy) and applies that critique to our contemporary situation in the church, recognizing that Jesus has fulfilled this role and passed on the ministry to us. He argues for a ‘prophetic ministry’ which is fueled by a ‘prophetic imagination’ that creates and nurtures an alternative consciousness, which in turn creates and nurtures an alternative community. Brueggemann views the radical break of Israel from Egypt through the actions of God through Moses as the framing consideration of this alternative consciousness and community. He views the drift in Israelite community toward the monarchy as a drift to a pre-Exodus consciousness, a reversal of the liberating act of God in their past. The role of the prophet, then, was to constantly recreate and nurture the new consciousness defined by Moses and the Exodus. Prophetic ministry, according to Brueggemann, is characterized by two actions; critique and energizing. Critique is not simply aiming darts at something that we disagree with, but it is engaging the dominant powers…

Book review: Stand
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Stand A Call for the Endurance of the Saints Publisher: Crossway Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes “How on earth am I going to get through this?” must be one of the most frequent questions a Christian asks. For all of life’s blessings, difficult situations arise on a regular basis and each new problem demands a unique response. These situations require the Christian to endure in faith, believing God for resolution, even blessing. The supernatural ability to endure is related to the theological term perseverance, the application of which to the Christian life was the main topic under consideration in Desiring God’s 2007 National Conference. Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints is the published outcome of that event. Many of the usual suspects in today’s Reformed circles stood alongside John Piper as headliners for the conference, including Jerry Bridges, John MacArthur, and Randy Alcorn. They were joined by iconic missionary doctor Helen Roseveare. All five speakers brought eminently practical messages of enduring hope for those attending, messages which deserve to be widely distributed among English-speaking Christendom. Check that: in 2009 Editorial Portavoz released the Spanish version of the book, Como Perseverar Hasta El…

Book review: The Fitting Room
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Fitting Room Putting On the Character of Christ Publisher: David C. Cook Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Kelly Minter may be a name you’ve not encountered much in the Christian musician, speaker, author, Bible study, conference circuit; I only heard her name for the first time about a year and a half ago. Lately, though, I’ve read mention of her on several blogs and listed as a featured speaker at various conferences for women. The author of three books, three Bible studies, and the songwriter and composer for four studio albums, Minter is prolific and passionate in her ministry to women. In The Fitting Room, Minter shares her spiritual journey to imitate Christ. Though each chapter is titled for a specific virtue or Fruit of the Spirit, it is not a study of that virtue. Minter does not provide long definitions nor word studies revolving each virtue; she is not all that interested in the theoretical or ideal manner in which one can apply scripture to life. Instead, she engages women in an honest conversation about her struggle to exhibit the virtues of Christ in the midst of her daily life. She shares the details…

Book review: Fearless
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Fearless The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown Publisher: WaterBrook Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Adam Brown was one of the elite of the elite, a member of SEAL Team SIX, the counterterrorism unit that has among its accomplishments the capture of Osama bin Laden. Brown was also a man with a history of addiction and all that attends it – theft and broken relationships and devastation. Most important of all, Brown was a man who had experienced grace and forgiveness through a relationship with Jesus Christ. His story, told by Eric Blehm in the book Fearless, is making waves today, having established itself on The New York Times list of bestsellers. n many ways Fearless is typical for the biography of a warrior. It tracks Brown through his childhood and then, once he had made up his mind to join the Navy, through bootcamps, other forms of training, and eventually, through deployment in South America, Afghanistan and Iraq. Along the way we read of his brutal battle with addiction to crack cocaine, an addiction that followed him and haunted him even years after he had been through recovery. We…

Book review: A Sweet and Bitter Providence
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

A Sweet and Bitter Providence Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God Publisher: Crossway Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Only a confident author like John Piper would begin his book saying he wasn’t “sure that you should read this book.” Of course, he then lists seven reasons why readers might be helped by the message of Ruth: Ruth is the Word of God which is our unwavering rock and anchor. Ruth is a love story’conveying the richest and deepest truths in the form of a passionate love story. Ruth is the portrait of beautiful, noble manhood and womanhood. Ruth addresses one of the great issues of our day: racial and ethnic diversity. Ruth’s most prominent purpose is to “bring the calamities and sorrows of life under the sway of God’s providence and show us that God’s purposes are good.” Ruth teaches risk-taking love’the gift of hope in God’s providence is meant to overflow in radical acts of love for hurting people. Ruth aims to show the glory of Christ’all of history, even its darkest hours, serves to magnify the glory of God’s grace. God Is at Work in the Worst of Times Piper gleans his…

Book review: Learning My Name
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Learning My Name Publisher: Zondervan Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes For me there are few stories which epitomise the relationship between God and I than the parable of the prodigal son. It fits my life in so many ways, and consistently provides new insights into my relationship with the Father. Pete Gall, in his book Learning my Name, opens up about his own journey toward the Father using this parable as a guide to his reflections. When Zondervan sent me this book I was a bit skeptical. Do we need another book on the Prodigal Son? Turns out Gall does not really discuss the parable much. Rather he shows the different ways that his own life has overlapped with the story. What I’m about to tell you is good news, but it might not seem like it at first: Who and what we are is defined by relationship, not by function. He agrees that this may not be different from what we have been told our whole lives; however, the real meaning of this good news has been removed as the words have been dissected and discarded. The church has a tendency to interact with our…