Book review: The Gospel Ministry
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Gospel Ministry Publisher: Evangelical Press Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Last year I had the great privilege of attending the Shepherd’s Conference held at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. I was blessed to be able to sit under the teaching of such well known teachers as John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, J. Ligon Duncan and Mark Dever. I benefitted greatly from being challenged by the messages these men delivered. Yet I believe that the greatest blessing of the week spent in California was not in hearing these speakers, wonderful though they were, but in being in the presence of thousands of pastors. There is no vocation I hold in higher esteem than the gospel ministry and it was a profound blessing to be able to spent a week with so many of these ordinary men who have dedicated their lives to sharing and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel Ministry, edited by Philip Eveson, is a book whose contents were originally messages delivered at a symposium on the gospel ministry in the present day at the John Owen Centre for Theological Study in London, England. Like the men I was…

Book review: Transparenting
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Transparenting Mentoring the Next Generation Publisher: Broadman & Holman Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes When it comes to Christian parenting, we could always use more encouragement and more instruction. Parents know and love their children better than anyone else. They must never take lightly the development of each child’s spiritual identity, friendships, and societal contributions. So says Steve Keels in a new book published by Broadman & Holman called Transparenting: Mentoring the Next Generation. The strength of this book comes from the spirit in which it is written. Keels has an obvious love for children and students, and his love is contagious. He believes that parents are the perfect ones to influence this emerging generation for Christ. He reminds parents that they have an indescribable love for their children, they know their children better than anyone else on earth, and their children have been entrusted into their care for this very purpose. Keels stresses the importance of identifying the basic character traits of our children in order to better understand their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what makes them tick helps us to mentor them in wisdom. He directs parents to discern the spirit of the age,…

Book review: Encountering Ecclesiastes
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Encountering Ecclesiastes A Book for Our Time Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: No Old Testament scholar James Limburg brings fresh insight to the study of Ecclesiastes. Drawing on thirty years of teaching and thinking on the message of the book, Limburg explains why the message is so relevant for today. It becomes obvious that Limburg has paid his dues in terms of working and thinking through Ecclesiastes. He gets the basic message of Ecclesiastes down. He brings in a diverse chorus of helpers, from Pete Seeger to Rabbi Kushner, to aid in applying the message of the book to modern life. Some of this is good, but some of it just seems like an aging baby-boomer trying to be hip (and falling short). Furthermore, some of his discussion on how Ecclesiastes is relevant for today makes the "today" sound more like an existentialism-anguished hippie from 1969.  A word of caution is in order, for Limburg does not believe the author of Ecclesiastes to be Solomon, instead finding a second century author who lived under Greek rule. Please save all the complaining that Solomonic authorship of Ecclesiastes is not a litmus test…

Book review: The Faith of Condoleeza Rice
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Faith of Condoleeza Rice Publisher: Crossway Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes It is easy to be skeptical about the faith claims of politicians. It is rare for a politician to claim to be anything other than a Christian and yet so few of them show any real evidence of the faith they profess. Of course there are undoubtedly some who rise to power that truly are genuine Christians. In The Faith of Condoleeza Rice, Leslie Montgomery shows Condoleeza Rice to be one of these. Though this is a book about a woman who has made her mark as a politician, it is not a book about politics. Rather, it is about the faith the of Condoleeza Rice and the legacy of faith that was passed down to her by her family. Growing up in a family of Presbyterians, many of whom were clergy, Rice seems to have always considered herself a believer. She was born into a remarkable family, the only child of parents who gave everything they had to give her everything she needed to be one of the most influential people in the world. As the book traces Rice’s life, it also traces…

Book review: Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life Publisher: NavPress Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes I almost always carry a journal or notebook with me so I can scribble down thoughts as they come to me during the day. Some of these turn into articles and others turn into devotional material. More often than not I look at them weeks or months later and have absolutely no idea what they mean or what I was thinking when I scribbled them down. Recently I saw a comment in a notebook that did make sense to me. I had written about the difference between my friend Jason and myself when we sit down with a guitar on our laps and a sheet of music in front of us. I can read the music and strum those strings and make nothing but awful, painful sounds that bear little resemblance to music. Jason, on the other hand, can sit down and make music at will, even with no sheet music in front of him. The difference between Jason and myself is not necessarily inate musical ability or the quality of our guitars. The difference is in disciplined practice. Jason has dedicated thousands…

Book review: The Truth of the Cross
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Truth of the Cross Publisher: Reformation Trust Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Before I started into the text of The Truth of the Cross I read the three endorsements that came with it, one by Thomas Schreiner, one by Scott Clark and one by Bruce Waltke. It was Waltke’s that caught my eye when he said, "The Truth of the Cross is the best book on the cross I have read." A man of Waltke’s age, Christian maturity and status must have read more than a few books on the cross, making this no little statement. Having read the book, I know it was no exaggeration. The best book on the cross I’ve ever read is Frederick Leahy’s The Cross He Bore, a book I’d consider a must-read for any Christian. Could this one be as good, as beautiful as that? There are few people I’d rather read on this topic than R.C. Sproul. He has an unparalleled gift for explaining difficult theological concepts in a way that makes them accessible and easy to understand. I don’t know of anyone else who does a better job of explaining Reformed theology and the theology of God’s…

Book review: Quiet Strength
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Quiet Strength The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life Publisher: Tyndale Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Those who know the National Football League will know of Tony Dungy, the coach of the Indianapolis Colts. One of the league’s premier and most respected coaches, Dungy is a Christian and one who is outspoken about his faith. Two events in the past two years have put him in the spotlight: the death of his son in 2006 and the Colts’ Superbowl victory in 2007. Anyone who has read about Dungy or observed him on the sidelines will affirm that Quiet Strength is a perfect title for his memoir—a book that has reached as high as the top spot on the New York Times list of bestsellers, becoming the first NFL-related book to hold that honor. Born in Michigan into a serious and scholarly family, Dungy was an excellent athlete who excelled in both basketball and football. Though he was most at home on the basketball court, it was on the gridiron that he made his mark in high school and college. He also played a couple of seasons in the NFL before turning to coaching. He…

Book review: J. Gresham Machen’s The Gospel And The Modern World
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

J. Gresham Machen’s The Gospel And The Modern World And Other Short Writings Publisher: P&R Publishing Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes The writing style of J. Gresham Machen requires some acclimatization for those accustomed to twenty-first century speech patterns. A mite more cerebral-sounding than C.S. Lewis and subtler than G.K. Chesterton, Machen seems to be the dark horse among twentieth century religious pundits. But he deserves to be heard today, as he was in his time, both by secularists and religionists. Thanks to the prolific Stephen Nichols of Lancaster Bible College, who seems to specialize – among many other ventures – in rendering religious history and theology accessible for the average Christian reader, we now have a Machen taster at our disposal. Entitled The Gospel in the Modern World and Other Short Writings, Nichols has compiled what he believes to be the most relevant and underrated shorter writings from Machen’s hand. His hopes are that this booklet will act as a springboard for other Machen works, that it will “whet the reader’s appetite for more of Machen’s writings.” Nichols begins with a biographical sketch of Machen’s life from 1921 onwards, when he received an honorary doctorate…

Book review: The Bishop of Rwanda
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

The Bishop of Rwanda Publisher: Thomas Nelson Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes The country of Rwanda has seen some of the worst violence and bloodshed the world has witnessed this side of the Holocaust. If ever a nation has been in need of God’s grace and favor, this is it. In 1994 the nation was devastated by a genocidal civil war that pitted the Hutus against the Tutsis. In just 100 days during April to July of that year, over one million people were killed, the vast majority of them Tutsis. There were countless massacres with thousands of people dying ever day during that period of time. When the killing finally ended, the nation was destroyed. The economy was shattered, the nation’s infrastructure nearly ruined and the population decimated. And, of course, the people were traumatized, having seen former friends turn on each other, husbands kill wives and even the clergy willfully participating in the murder of thousands. John Rucyahana is a native of Rwanda and, though he was not in the country while the violence happened, he was appointed Bishop of Rwanda shortly after it ended and has been involved in the aftermath. More than…

Book review: Old Testament Survey
Book Reviews / June 26, 2017

Old Testament Survey Publisher: B&H Publishing Group Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team Available on Amazon Recommended: Yes Why get too excited about an Old Testament Survey textbook? I am excited, and here is why. Paul House and Eric Mitchell combine to write this new second edition (first one published about fifteen years ago) of a text designed for use by “beginning students”. In other words, this will be a required text for seminary and Christian college students for at least the next ten years! But don’t let the words “required text” fool you into thinking that this is a dry volume of facts and figures. House and Mitchell write with passion and purpose. The passion comes from their solid belief in what the text of Scripture is: “…the authors of this text want to make clear they affirm the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word. Therefore, they also believe that the Bible’s historical writing is based on solid historical principles. They believe there are good reasons to affirm what the Bible says on historical matters and that there are good reasons for using sound historical research when studying the Bible.” And what is their purpose? Stated in many ways, the goal…