Book review: Me, Myself, and Bob
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Me, Myself, and Bob A True Story About God, Dreams, and Talking Vegetables Publisher: Nelson Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I never really caught on to the VeggieTales craze. I was introduced to them by friends when I was in my late teens but couldn’t bring myself to watch and enjoy a kids’ show featuring talking vegetables. I could appreciate some of the humor, but I usually opted out of the VeggieTales evenings others enjoyed. At that time I had no idea, and nor did anyone else, I suppose, what a phenomenon the Veggies would become. VeggieTales was created by Phil Vischer in 1990 with the first video being released three years later. It was a significant film as it was on the cutting edge of computer animation and was, in fact, America’s first widely-distributed computer animated video production. Where’s God When I’m S-Scared? marked the founding of an empire that has gone on to sell over 50 million videos and countless plush toys, games, neckties and every other conceivable piece of merchandise. The flagship product of Vischer’s Big Idea Productions, VeggieTales was meant to be only the first franchise produced by a media empire…

Book review: Whatever Happened To The Gospel of Grace?
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Whatever Happened To The Gospel of Grace? Rediscovering the Doctrines That Shook the World Publisher: Crossway Books Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes “Whatever Happened To The Gospel of Grace?” is exactly the sort of book you might expect a traditional, Reformed pastor and theologian to leave as his final message to the world, for before this book was published, James Boice, long-time pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia went to be with the Lord. This book stands as a call to the church to rediscover the principles upon which the Protestant church was built. It was Boice’s conviction that much of what passes as Christianity today is anything but. The church will only be able to be an effective witness for God when it returns to the foundation of the five solas that defined the Reformation (Scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, glory to God alone). The book begins with a critical examination of the modern evangelical church. The author shows that where the evangelical church was once known for and defined by what it believed, today it is increasingly defined by its style. He is especially critical of the church growth movement,…

Book review: Jesus the Evangelist
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Jesus the Evangelist Learing to Share the Gospel from the Book of John Publisher: Reformation Trust Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Jesus the Evangelist had its genesis in a series of expository sermons Richard Phillips preached on the gospel of John. As he studied and explored the book, he immediately saw John’s continual emphasis on the theme of gospel witness. As a talented expository preacher, Phillips’ sermons took the theme of the passage and he preached sermons on "the privilege and obligation of evangelism." Having preached the sermons, he realized there would be value in compiling into book format what John teaches on the subject of evangelism. Jesus the Evangelist is the result and he hopes it will service to "both motivate and instruct the practice of evangelism among Christians." The book is written for two audiences. The first is the many committed Christians who do little in the way of evangelism. This book is meant to enhance the zeal of these people by emboldening their witness with biblical wisdom, guidance and instruction. The second audience is those who are zealous in their witness but who would profit from understanding Jesus’ approach to evangelism that they…

Book review: Polishing God’s Monuments
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Polishing God’s Monuments Pillars of Hope for Punishing Times Publisher: Shepherd Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Polishing God’s Monuments was an unexpected surprise. A book that arrived (as do so many others) without any fanfare, I quickly skimmed the four endorsements and paused only when I saw Bruce Ware’s name and his claim that this title is “so gripping and moving and inspiring that one cannot put the book down.” Based on my respect for Bruce Ware, on the enthusiasm of his endorsement and on the track record of the publisher, Shepherd Press, I decided I should at least give the book a try. Am I ever glad I did! Polishing God’s Monuments is the story of a young woman and her devoted husband who have faced a lifetime of mysterious, devastating illness. Written by Jim Andrews, the young woman’s father, the book intersperses narrative with teaching, experience with theology. When she was young, just a senior at Wheaton Conservatory of Music, Juli Andrews contracted mononucleosis. Though mono is not usually a devastating or long-lasting illness, in Juli’s case it set in motion a bizarre series of events that culminated in her being diagnosed with…

Book review: The Three Are One
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Three Are One Publisher: Evangelical Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes As a pastor I am always on the hunt for helpful books in explaining some of the fundamentals of the faith.  One oft-neglected author of books in this category is Dr. Stuart Olyott. Pastor Olyott has written some wonderful little commentaries of Evangelical Press, as well as a number of other books that are excellent tools to give folks in your church.  More people need to know this author and appreciate his excellent work!  Years of faithful ministry in local churches and the mission field have equipped this dear brother to “scratch where people itch.”  He answers common questions with plain language. “The Three Are One” is one of the most useful books I have ever read on the subject of the tri-unity of God.  Olyott wrote the book as a primer on the Trinity, and even includes a further reading list at the back of this book for more detailed study.  But here he answers all the common questions with lots of Bible: Is Jesus God?  What is the Holy Spirit? How can three be one?  How are Father, Son and Holy Spirit…

Book review: Through Western Eyes
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Through Western Eyes Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective Publisher: Mentor Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes According to estimates provided by Robert Letham, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 million Eastern Orthodox believers in the world today.  Until recently, Protestants in the West had little contact with the Eastern Church and, as a consequence, little knowledge about it.  That is no longer the case.  Immigration of people from the East into Western countries, continued urbanization, and Internet communication have made this church much more visible to a larger number of people.  Prominent conversions have also put Eastern Orthodoxy on the map for many Western Christians, Reformed and otherwise.  One of the most notable was the 1996 conversion of the noted Lutheran church historian Jaroslav Pelikan.  A decade earlier in 1987, Peter Gillquist, a former evangelist for Campus Crusade, led more than 2,000 evangelicals into the Orthodox Church.  The 1990 conversion of Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer, to Eastern Orthodoxy put the Orthodox Church in the Reformed spotlight for a while.  Pelikan, Gillquist, and Schaeffer have not been alone, as many Western Christians, have found Eastern Orthodoxy to be an attractive alternative to the trivial…

Book review: Escape
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Escape Publisher: Broadway Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Escape is undoubtedly one of the most bizarre memoirs you are ever likely to read. It is small wonder that it quickly made its mark on the New York Times list of bestsellers. Written by Carolyn Jessop, a woman who was born into the Fundamentalist Lattery Day Saints (FLDS), the book describes what it is like to live as part of this cult which is distinctive primarily for its beliefs about polygamy. The FLDS, which emerged in the 1930s as a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon church, holds that God has ordained polygamy and not only that, but that it is a requirement for anyone who wishes to attain the highest level of heaven. Most men eventually have at least three wives, with more prominent members of the cult holding far more than that. Some of the leaders are believed to have fifty, sixty, or even one hundred wives. Women are generally placed with husbands at the whim of the cult’s leader (who claims to receive divine guidance about which women belong with certain men). There are around 10,000 adherents to this cult living in the United States…

Book review: Love That Lasts
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Love That Lasts When Marriage Meets Grace Publisher: Crossway Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes “A potter begins by centering his clay on the wheel. When the wheel starts turning, he can’t just grab the clay. He must carefully but firmly keep the clay in the center of the wheel. He has to work it gently but deliberately, applying just enough pressure to shape it while constantly adding moisture. If he lets the clay get cold, it becomes stiff, resistant, and unworkable. If he neglects the clay and fails to add water, it will dry out and crack. If he stops the process and then starts again, he may force the clay off center, or he may mar it by putting his hands on it too quickly or aggressively. It takes time, but if the potter is patient, creative, and firm but gentle, there’s no limit to what he can create.” This brief excerpt is drawn from Love That Lasts, written by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. Gary, who wrote these words, applies this metaphor to a husband learning to practice romance as an art. “I am to pursue my wife consistently, warmly, and affectionately, lavishing her with…