Book Review: How Does Sanctification Work

This is a quick little book that can be read in a couple of hours at normal speed. Its value is found in chapters 3 & 11. Those chapters alone are worth purchasing the book for and deserve 5 stars. I especially loved the concept of unbalanced and rebalanced truth that was shared. Powlison draws from decades of experience and wisdom as a Christian counselor who has proven himself very astute with Scripture and humanity.

I appreciated the aspects of advice sharing that he mentions: no one truth reigns supreme in all situations. Jesus sought to bring to light certain truths to certain people, and the truth that was brought out was relevant to the individual’s situation. This rings true to me as a pastor. Most of counseling is seeking out what emphases of Scripture to shine unto someone’s life.

The case studies were shaky to me. I appreciate that Powlison brings his individual story out – I hadn’t heard his background before and this made me appreciate the man and his work even more. The other case studies seems slightly arbitrary to me and were not helpful in thinking through the truths presented elsewhere in the book.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.


Reset by David Murray

Do I know how to rest? After reading Reset by David Murray, I realized that I have much to put into practice. David Murray, who in addition to keeping a great blog also writes excellent books, challenged me in areas that I desperately needed to be challenged. He draws from his experience as a pastor to address all men in the area of rest and a sustainable lifestyle. While he is able to hit pastors the most directly (and he acknowledges this in his book), he also is able to impart wisdom to all men.

Sadly, the ones who need this book the most will probably be those who will refuse to find time to read it, or alternatively only read reviews and summaries of the book. Let me encourage those of you who find yourself in that camp to take the very limited amount of time needed to read its pages and implement the very practical suggestions that Murray gives. Once you do that, you might then realize that you now have more time to read and grow and truly live.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Book Review: A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament

The Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament serves the study of the Scriptures as nine well-known Biblical scholars participate in introducing each book of the New Testament to its readers. There is also a companion Old Testament Introduction that does the same work on the other testament.

Each book is broken down with an introduction, background issues (authorship, occasion and date, audience), structure and outline, message and theology, and a select bibliography. In its breakdown, this book models many Biblical introductions that have come before it.

So what sets this introduction apart from others? First of all, it goes deeper than most other introductions. Each author spends more words in each of the breakdown sections than many other introductions, which serves the reader to go further into their studies of each biblical book. Secondly, the section on message and theology does what many other introductions fail to do – it connects the book into the biblical-theological framework which serves the reader excellently in looking at one book in light of the whole of Scripture. This is truly the value of this book that sets it apart from the rest. It will not replace in-depth commentaries, but it will serve as a good two volume set on the whole Bible to ground the reader firmly in each book.

As a pastor, I can see the value of this book for those within my congregation that have a thirst for Scripture that exceeds that of an average Christian. It would be difficult to place this book in the hands of someone who has a nominal or average desire and ability to study Scripture.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Book Review:Habits of Grace / David Mathis

Habits of Grace / David Mathis

Habits of Grace / David Mathis

Many books exist on the topic of the spiritual disciplines. Believe that I have read most of them. Some are immensely helpful and others are trite and not very beneficial. I admit that I approach a new book on the spiritual disciplines with more skepticism than most other genres of books. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised.

The introduction is an excellent setup to the rest of the book. Mathis introduces the concept of the spiritual disciplines by establishing three succinct and helpful principles: hearing God's voice, having his ear, and belonging to his body. He then further summarizes these in words: word, prayer, and fellowship. This small list helps to focus the reader on how his following of Christ can be fleshed out in the living of life. The book continues to lay out each of these areas both philosophically and practically. Many of the chapters are very valuable, but I found the chapter on listening to be one of the best.

As a pastor, I can see myself placing this book in the hands of many people. It will serve both the new believer and the follower of Christ who has been on the journey for quite some time.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Easter Resources for Your Family

Here are some resources to take a look at for this Easter season.

To teach children:

  • Benjamin’s Box is a book that talks through the story of the week leading up to Easter. It can be used along with a set of Resurrection Eggs.
  • What’s in the Bible has done a good blog series on Easter. Today’s post is on talking to your kids about the crucifixion. You can see the list of all their Easter posts here.
  • You can come to our church’s Easter Egg Hunt Saturday morning at 10:30am. We’ll be sharing the story of the resurrection during that time.
  • Resurrection iWitness teaches kids (& whole family) the evidence of Christ’s resurrection. There is also an iPad app.

For the whole family:

  • Come out for our Easter services and learn about the implications Christ’s resurrection has for your life.
  • Read through one of the gospel’s accounts on events surrounding Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Luke 20 and following would be a good place to read from.
  • Justin Taylor has a good series on his blog detailing what happened in the life of Christ during each day of the week preceding Easter. Thursday’s post can be found here.

Enjoy this season of remembering the sacrifice and the victory of Christ.

Can Facebook kill your marriage?

Facebook heart c

Facebook is a behemoth of the social media world. If you do not realize its impact on our society, then you are dead and are not reading this anyway.

I read a thought-provoking article that gives some excellent advice on preserving your marriage in light of Facebook. I appreciate that the author does not attempt to label Facebook-usage as sin, but she does accurately portray it as being a medium by which sin can come to light.

The article lists some “marriage check-up” questions to ask in order to gauge the level of intimacy and communication within a marriage relationship that would be an excellent tool to work through with your spouse. The article attributes the questions to Mark Gaither, who has written a book for those who have been through a divorce.

Here are the questions:

  • “Do you express your desires to your partner without demands, or do you simply expect him or her to know what you want?”
  • “Do you know what makes your partner feel loved, and, if so, what is your response to that knowledge?”
  • “Do you and your partner discuss expectations and then negotiate, or does someone bear the blame when one or the other is disappointed?”
  • “In a conflict with your partner, do you use words for any reason other than to be understood?”
  • “In a conflict, is your first priority to understand your partner or to be understood?”
  • “Do you and your partner view issues causing conflict as the enemy, or do you turn on one another?”