Monthly Archives: December, 2012

Free E-Book – Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith

This free e-book is from a pastor I’ve been following on twitter for awhile now.   I’ve found his tweets to be gospel-centered and edifying.  Here’s the Amazon book description:

How would life be different if we could think, see, and do all things in light of the person and work of Jesus? With this inspiring collection of 365 Scripture-centered prayers, Scotty Smith helps readers pray the Scriptures through the lens of the gospel, mining the resources of God’s grace and applying them in every season of life. He frees readers to abandon any posing or pretending in favor of an honest, no-spin relationship with a God who claims them as his own.

Each day includes a Scripture reference and an inspirational original prayer, born from both moments of great faith and moments of crisis. Like a modern-day book of Psalms, Everyday Prayers is a year’s worth of growing in grace that readers will lean on year after year.

Download the book here.

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Kevin Thompson’s Top Ten Books of 2012

The following list is my nominees for top books of 2012.  The qualifications for such a prestigious position are simple – I had to have read it, enjoyed it and found it somehow helpful or convicting.  These books are in no particular order.

Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian

“In this world, one thing is certain: Everybody hurts. Suffering may take the form of tragedy, heartbreak, or addiction. Or it could be something more mundane (but no less real) like resentment, loneliness, or disappointment. But there’s unfortunately no such thing as a painless life. In Glorious Ruin, best-selling author Tullian Tchividjian takes an honest and refreshing look at the reality of suffering, the ways we tie ourselves in knots trying to deal with it, and the comfort of the gospel for those who can’t seem to fix themselves—or others.

This is not so much a book about Why God allows suffering or even How we should approach suffering—it is a book about the tremendously liberating and gloriously counterintuitive truth of a God who suffers with you and for you. It is a book, in other words, about the kind of hope that takes the shape of a cross.”

Bring Me the Book Review of Glorious Ruin.

Conviction to Lead, The: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters by Albert Mohler, Jr.

Leadership Principles from a Renowned Agent of Change

Cultures and organizations do not change without strong leadership. While many leadership books focus on management or
administration, the central focus of The Conviction to Lead is on changing minds.

Dr. Mohler was the driving force behind the transformation of Southern Seminary from a liberal institution of waning influence to a
thriving evangelical seminary at the heart of the Southern Baptist Convention. Since then he has been one of the most prominent voices in evangelicalism, fighting for Christian principles and challenging secular culture.

Using his own experiences and examples from history, Dr. Mohler demonstrates that real leadership is a transferring of conviction to others, affecting their actions, motivations, intuition, and commitment. This practical guide walks the reader through what a leader needs to know, do, and be in order to affect change.

Bring Me the Books Review Coming in January
Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families by Douglas Wilson

Fatherlessness is a “rot that is eating away at the modern soul,” writes Douglas Wilson, and the problem goes far beyond physical absence. “Most of our families are starving for fathers, even if Dad is around, and there’s a huge cost to our children and our society because of it.” Father Hunger takes a thoughtful, timely, richly engaging excursion into our cultural chasm of absentee fatherhood. Blending leading-edge research with incisive analysis and real-life examples, Wilson:

Traces a range of societal ills―from poverty and crime to joyless feminism and paternalistic government expansion―to a vacuum of mature masculinity
Explains the key differences between asserting paternal authority and reestablishing true spiritual fathering
Uncovers the corporate-fulfillment fallacy and other mistaken assumptions that undermine fatherhood
Extols the benefits of restoring fruitful fathering, from stronger marriages to greater economic liberty
Filled with practical ideas and self-evaluation tools, Father Hunger both encourages and challenges men to “embrace the high calling of fatherhood,” becoming the dads that their families and our culture so desperately need them to be.

“Wilson sounds a clarion call among Christian men that is pointedly biblical, urgently relevant, humorously accessible, and practically wise.” ―Richard D. Phillips, author of The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men

“Father Hunger illulstrates one of the greatest influences or lack thereof on the identity of a man: a father. Read a book that will strike an invisible chord in the lives of men both lost and found.” ―Dr. Eric Mason, pastor of Epiphany Fellowship, Philadelphia

Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith by Larry Osborne

Zealous faith can have a dangerous, dark side. While recent calls for radical Christians have challenged many to be more passionate about their faith, the down side can be a budding arrogance and self-righteousness that ‘accidentally’ sneaks into our outlook. In Accidental Pharisees, bestselling author Larry Osborne diagnoses nine of the most common traps that can ensnare Christians on the road to a deeper life of faith. Rejecting attempts to turn the call to follow Christ into a new form of legalism, he shows readers how to avoid the temptations of pride, exclusivity, legalism, and hypocrisy, Larry reminds us that attempts to fan the flames of full-on discipleship and call people to Christlikeness should be rooted in love and humility. Christians stirred by calls to radical discipleship, but unsure how to respond, will be challenged and encouraged to develop a truly Christlike zeal for God.

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Jared C. Wilson

Even if you go to church, it doesn’t mean that you are being exposed (or exposing others) to the gospel explicitly. Sure, most people talk about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn’t there—at least not in its specificity and its fullness.

Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, popular pastor Matt Chandler writes this punchy treatise to remind us what is of first and utmost importance—the gospel.

Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!

VIDEO: To see the video of Matt speaking on The Explicit Gospel Tour, please visit Crossway’s vimeo page here: https://vimeo.com/41100864

Traditional TheologyAnd the SBC:  An Interaction with And Response to The Traditionalist Statement Of God’s Plan of Salvation By Tom Ascol

This is Tom Ascol’s response to the recent anti-Calvinist The Traditionalist Statement Of God’s Plan of Salvation – a document published by some within the Southern Baptist Convention and signed by such men as Ergun Caner and Jerry Vines.

I found this book to be incredibly insightful not concerning the debate within the Southern Baptist Convention but also insightful concerning the doctrines of grace in general.

The Life of God in the Soul of the Church: The Root and Fruit of Spiritual Fellowship by Thabiti Anyabwile

In this transformational book, trusted pastor Thabiti Anyabwile repositions our thinking about spiritual fellowship. Extending the concept of Divine life presented in Henry Scougal’s classic The Life of God in the Soul of Man, Anyabwile contends that union with Christ is not individualistic, but is discerned in the soul of the local church. This vision of spiritual fellowship is not centered on external activities and programs, but on our shared life in Christ.

Listen to my interview with Pastor Thabiti about this book.
The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness by Kevin DeYoung

The hole in our holiness is that we don’t seem to care much about holiness. Or, at the very least, we don’t understand it. And we all have our reasons too: Maybe the pursuit of holiness seems legalistic. Maybe it feels like one more thing to worry about in your already overwhelming life. Maybe the emphasis on effort in the Christian life appears unspiritual. Or maybe you’ve been trying really hard to be holy and it’s just not working! Whatever the case, the problem is clear: too few Christians look like Christ and too many don’t seem all that concerned about it.

This is a book for those of us who are ready to take holiness seriously, ready to be more like Jesus, ready to live in light of the grace that produces godliness. This is a book about God’s power to help us grow in personal holiness and to enjoy the process of transformation.

The Church: The Gospel Made Visible by Mark Dever

Christians face lots of practical questions when it comes to life in the local church: How is the gospel displayed in our lives together? What are we supposed to do and believe? Different followers answer differently—even as they preach the same gospel! What should we think about such differences?

A church’s life, doctrine, worship, and even polity are important issues. Yet they are so rarely addressed. The Church is Mark Dever’s primer on the doctrine of the church for all who see Scripture alone as a sufficient authority for the doctrine and life of the local church. He explains to the reader what the Bible says about the nature and purpose of the church— what it is, what it’s for, what it does.

Indeed, Scripture teaches us about all of life and doctrine, including how we should assemble for corporate worship and how we’re to organize our corporate life together. God has revealed himself by his Word. He is speak- ing to us, preparing us to represent him today, and to see him tomorrow! A congregation of regenerate members, fulfilling the responsibilities given to us by Christ himself in his Word, regularly meeting together, led by a body of godly elders, is the picture God has given us in his Word of his church.

Fundamental Flaws: Seven Things Independent Fundamental Baptists Get Wrong (And How to Fix Them) by Darrell Dow

For years people who have read the satire and parody on the Stuff Fundies Like blog have asked for someone write a companion that not only points out the problems in Baptist Fundamentalism but also provides solutions. Fundamental Flaws strives to look not only the negatives that are so easily found in these fundamentalist churches but also to point to a better way.

Those who are long time readers of the blog will find some familiar material in this book as well as some newly written sections to address the seven key areas of church, standards, education, sex, missions, history, and authority.

This book does not attempt to be exhaustive in its approach to any of these topics but provides a solid starting place for an ongoing conversation that is vital to the spiritual health of those both in fundamentalism and those who have recently departed from it.

Listen to my interview with Darrell concerning the book.

Free E-Book Alert – Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur

Today’s free e-book is by the legendary John MacArthur.  This is a short pamphlet dealing with the issue of finding God’s will for your life.  If I’m not mistaken, this free offer ends today, so don’t wait!

Here’s the Amazon book description:

Does God have a path for me? How do I make the right choices in life? Why is it so difficult to uncover God’s will?

Trusted pastor and teacher John MacArthur answers these vital questions and more. Found: God’s Will shares six powerful principles that will give you direction, fill you with purpose, and give you the confidence to live out His plan for you.

Download the book here.

Book Review: Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian

Title: Glorius Ruin:  How Suffering Sets You Free
Author: Tullian Tchividjian
Publisher: David C. Cook
Publishing Year: 2012
Pages: 208
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

When I first order this book for review, my main reason for choosing this particular title was because of the name of the author – Tullian Tchividjian.  I have to admit, I get swept up into the hype of big name preachers and authors.  Yes, it is quite superficial.  However, this book’s content is so gospel-rich and intensely encouraging, you won’t care who wrote the book by the time you finish reading it.  You will be too busy focusing on Christ to even notice the author’s name…

I was drawn in immediately.  I began the book early one morning when I could not sleep.  Little did I know that I would not be putting it down till hours later.  That is not normal for me…

This book is written for those in the midst of suffering, which means most of us.  What sets this book apart from others I’ve read on this topic is the reality it is willing to face – suffering exists.  That seems so obvious, yet so many Christians are unwilling to accept it.  Instead of admitting the suffering we face, we plaster a fake smile on our faces and try to put a positive spin on everything.  What is even worse is that we feel guilty when the hurt doesn’t go away and the happiness act becomes harder to perform.  You know what I am talking about, you’ve been there.

Glorious Ruin confronts us with this reality – suffering is a part of life.  Even after we are saved, the suffering does not decrease.  In fact, our suffering may even increase!  Yet instead of instructing us to look for a silver lining, try to find a lesson in the midst of this, or to simply cheer up, Pastor Tullian reminds us that Christ is there with us in the midst of suffering.  He’s not at the end of it waiting for us to get through it.  He’s not above it looking down at us throwing lightning bolts of trials due to our sinful habits.  No, He is the Man of sorrows acquainted with our grief, right there next us shouldering the burden.

At the heart of the issue is a theological divide that is as wide as it is deep.  On one side you have what has been termed a theology of glory.  “’Theologies of glory’ are approaches to Christianity (and to life) that try in various ways to minimize difficult and painful things, or to move past them rather than looking them square in the face and accepting them. Theologies of glory acknowledge the cross, but view it primarily as a means to an end—an unpleasant but necessary step on the way to personal improvement, the transformation of human potential.” (page 41).

The focus clearly is on me.  I will face suffering because in the end I will be better.  This temporary trial will all make me stronger, so I will look for the lesson God is trying to teach me, learn, and then move in victory! Or we simply try to ignore the obvious, grin and bear our way through it, thus showing how strong we really are.

“In the church, one hallmark of a theology of glory is the unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of ongoing sin and suffering and lack of ‘victory’ in Christians.” (page 76)  We promote hypocrisy by demanding that everyone be happy and victorious all the time.  It’s just not possible this side of heaven.  We live in a fallen world.  Things are not as they should be.  Even our own bodies are effected by the curse of sin.

On the other side there is the theology of the cross.  “A theology of the cross accepts the difficult thing rather than immediately trying to change it or use it. It looks directly into pain, and ‘calls a thing what it is’ instead of calling evil good and good evil. It identifies God as ‘hidden in [the] suffering.’” (page 42)

The great blessing that we do have in the midst of our pain is that at the Cross we are met with grace and mercy, not cheap platitudes and get-well-quick schemes.  We are met by a Savior – one who came for the sick not the righteous.  In our suffering we see layer after layer of self-righteous pride stripped away till all that is left a sinner desperately clinging to the Cross for any hope of justification.

I don’t know about you, but I find encouragement in this thought.  As I read through these pages all I could think was – this is a guy who gets it!  There’s freedom in admitting that I suffer.  There – I said it.  I suffer.  I am not victorious in every sin I struggle against.  I still fight against temptations I know to be sinful even when I force myself to recall the great treasure I have in Christ.  I get depressed even when I remind myself of the sovereignty of God.  There’s freedom in not having to put on a false veneer of outward happiness and piety that at best is skin deep.  I can be who I really am, a sinner in need of God’s grace.  I may never know the reason for any of my human suffering or faithless failures beyond this simple purpose.  But, I know I have a Savior who knows my pain and suffers along side of me.  So, I will continue on in the fight.  I’ll get back up after each failure.  I’ll continue to repent of sin and once again renew my courage in the Lord to fight another day knowing in the end my Lord will conquer each and every one of those sinful desires, depraved actions and false insecurities that plague my mind.  Jesus shall reign!  In that glorious day I’ll praise Him all the more knowing that the One who will be crowned the King of King was the same one who fought beside every step of the way in the trenches of my sinful existence.

Well, there is so much more I could write about this book.  But, instead, I will let this book speak for itself.  I’ll end my review with some quotations that really encouraged and challenged me.  I hope they will whet your appetite enough to purchase the book for yourself.

Thankfully, the good news of the gospel is not an exhortation from above to “hang on at all costs,” or “grin and bear it” in the midst of hardship. No, the good news is that God is hanging on to you, and in the end, when all is said and done, the power of God will triumph over every pain and loss. – page 24

Certainly we have enough works on the topic already, books that attempt to explain why God allows suffering, presumably in a way that ultimately lets God off the hook. And while much smarter people than me have constructed elaborate systems in this pursuit—the fancy word for such a theory is theodicy—they are by definition exercises in speculation. To know the Why would be to grasp the mind of God, which is something none of us can do.  We have enough books tackling the How. How suffering can and will transform our lives, how we can leverage pain and tragedy to make us better people.   Results, results, results!  Underneath this hopeful veneer, such philosophies tend to fall flat when things don’t go according to plan, when we find out that our power, especially in the face of suffering, is a lot more limited than we thought. Pain would not be pain if we could harness it for personal gain, though the tendency to attempt to do so is a universal one. Thankfully, this is not one of those philosophies either. This is not to say that How and Why are not honest questions. Of course they are! And we will explore a few common attempts to answer them. But How and Why can also be a prison. They can leave us cold and confused, just as they left Job cold and confused when his friends tried to formulate their own tedious answers. Information is seldom enough to heal a wounded heart. The question I would like to emphasize instead—and the only one that will ultimately point us toward the truth—is the Who amid our suffering. Which is fortunate, since it is the only question that God has seen fit to answer, concretely, in the person and work of Jesus Christ. – pages 24-25

“A person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their arms grow back” may be the best description I’ve ever read of what it feels like for a depressed person to try to cheer herself up. – page 54

The gospel frees us to speak honestly about the reality of pain, confident that nothing rides on our ability to cope with or fend off suffering. Before we can even begin to grapple with the frustrations and tragedies of life in this world, we must do away with our faithless morality of payback and reward. We must reacquaint ourselves with the biblical weight of the problem that we less-than-perfect human beings are contending with in the face of a holy and righteous God. We must return to the beginning (and end) of the whole affair: the cross. – page 68

If you have suffered the loss of a family member to chronic disease, if you suffer debilitating seasons of depression, if you lost your job and livelihood, or if you went through a divorce that came out of the blue, know that God is not punishing you. He is not waiting for you to do something. You don’t have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and find a way to conquer the odds, be stronger, or transform yourself into some better version of yourself. The pain you feel (whatever the degree) may be a reminder that things are not as they should be, in which case it is appropriate to mourn the gravity of that brokenness.  While God does indeed use the suffering in our lives, He is interested in much more than improvements in your personality or circumstantial happiness; He is interested in saving you. He is more than your Helper; He is your Redeemer. We do not have the primary role in this drama after all; we are the actors, not the directors. Sometimes it requires getting on our knees for us to see the truth. – page 69

Translated into spiritual terms you might say, “I’m having a bad day, but at least I don’t have pancreatic cancer. God has too much on His plate for me to bother Him with my petty concerns. He clearly cares more about starving children than He does about my seasonal depression.” There may be something noble about keeping things in proper perspective, but soon we are dictating to God what He should or shouldn’t care about.  And it is a slippery slope! Eventually we’ll edit our prayers along these lines, as though we were giving a political speech, rather than simply speaking with our heavenly Father. If the only things that qualify as suffering in your life are natural disasters or global warfare, you will soon find yourself plastering a smile on your face and nodding overenthusiastically whenever someone asks you how you are doing. – pages 76-77

Grief, of course, is not something that operates according to a specific time frame, and it seems cold to suggest otherwise. Yet when we do not grasp that God is present in pain, we eventually insist on victory or, worse, blame the sufferer for not “getting over it” fast enough. This is more than a failure to extend compassion; it’s an exercise in cruelty. – page 77

When the goal becomes conquering our sin instead of soaking in the conquest of our Savior, we actually begin to shrink spiritually. (page 82)

The tragic irony in all of this is that when we focus so strongly on our need to get better, we actually get worse. We become even more neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our guilt (instead of God’s grace) makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective. And what is Original Sin if not a preoccupation with ourselves? What needs to be rooted out and attacked is not immoral behavior; it’s immoral belief—faith in my own moral and spiritual “progress,” rather than in the One who died to atone for my lack of progress. (pages 82-83)

Christians believe that Jesus severed the link between suffering and deserving once for all on Calvary. God put the ledgers away and settled the accounts. But when you and I insist on that all-too-comfortable paradigm of cosmic score keeping, we stop talking about Christianity and in fact adopt a Westernized form of Hinduism. We are talking about karma. If you are a bad person and things are going well for you, it is only a matter of time before karma catches up with you and “you get yours.” If you are good person, the inverse is true: just be patient and your good deeds will come back to you. This is a simplification of the complex Hindu understanding of history as determined by the past lives of others:  that we are all stuck in an eternal cycle of suffering perpetuated by reincarnation. (page 100)

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

Purchase the book at Amazon

Free E-Book Alert – Relational Apologetics: Defending The Christian Faith With Holiness, Respect, And Truth

This look very intriguing to me.  I’ll be moving this up on my reading list.  Here’s the Amazon book description:

How do you know that there is a God? How do you answer someone who says that truth doesn’t exist? What do you do when someone asks you how you know that Christianity is the right religion? If you are like many people, the only answer you can offer is, “Well… I just have faith.” But to a world that wants to know if God is real, this is not a good enough answer. Christians must be ready to give a reason, a good reason, for their hope in Jesus, and their lives must be a holy reflection of their message.

In Relational Apologetics, Michael C. Sherrard seeks to help Christians do just that: become holy people that defend Christianity both in word and deed. Using stories and drawing upon personal experiences, Sherrard teaches the importance of personal holiness, treating skeptics with respect, engaging in authentic conversations instead of shouting matches, and having well thought out answers to the skeptic’s questions. In the process, you’ll learn that defending Christianity is as much about who you are and what you do as it is what you say. And you will find that your life is intended to be an apologetic for God and a light for men to find Him

Download the book here.

Free E-Book Alert – Men of God, Men of Science by Dr. Henry M. Morris

Master Books and Creation Conversations is making this e-book available as a free download for a limited time only.  I’ve not read it and, to be honest, I’m always concerned about revisionist history from a Christian perspective. But it seems to me like its worth checking out and it is free!

Here’s the book description:

One of the most serious fallacies today is the belief that genuine scientists cannot believe the Bible.

THE TRUTH IS that many of the major scientific contributions were made by scientists who were dedicated men of God. In Men of Science, Men of God, Dr. Henry Morris presents 101 biographies which include Christian testimonies of scientists who believed in the Bible and in a personal Creator God . . . scientists who were pioneers and “founding fathers” of modern scientific disciplines.

“This is a must for every Christian library, and should be required reading for students.” – Baptist Bulletin 

Dr. Henry M. Morris is the father of modern Creation science, the founder of Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and the author of many well-known apologetic books. His thriving legacy continues to equip Christians to be able to defend the accuracy and authority of Scripture today.

Download the book here.

Christianity Today’s Top 10 Books of 2012

Christianity Today just released their choices for the top ten books of 2012.  Here they are:

Alvin Plantinga (Oxford University Press)
“This book offers topnotch scholarship to pit against the very best arguments of contemporary atheism, as well as to clarify what truly is at stake in the battles orthodoxy faces in science, biblical studies, philosophy, and more. A tour de force by one of our era’s great philosophers—and we can be glad, again, that he is on our side!”

G. K. Beale (Baker Academic)
“This is Beale’s ‘great work,’ and will mark his career for many decades to come. He’s been working on it for 25 years, and it shows. It is dense, exhaustive, and provides a compelling theological framework for understanding Scripture (Creation, Judgment, New Creation), helping us see what the New Testament is doing with the major Old Testament themes. … I can see many of us referring to it for decades.”

Ross Douthat (Free Press)
“A searching and illuminating reading of our times that is probing in judgment while sympathetic in mood. It makes sense of the history we have lived in a way that inspires renewed—and im-proved—movement forward.”

Amy L. Sherman (InterVarsity)
“This practical, lively, theologically grounded book provides guidance for congregations trying to bring their faith to bear upon a needy world. It’s also a compelling invitation to look beyond individual moral and spiritual concerns to the ways faith is always and necessarily about the community. Sherman’s many well-told examples of Christians who have taken inventive initiatives to bring their vocational skills together with others’ needs are helpful in their specificity.”

Timothy Keller (Zondervan)
“It would be hard to find a pastor who thinks more deeply—and more theologically—about his work than Keller. Center Church represents not just a case study for the growth and development of Re-deemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, but also a theological blueprint for doing ministry in the 21st century. Words like thorough, comprehensive, and even magisterial come to mind to de-scribe it.”

Douglas Wilson (Canon Press)
“An insightful satire on contemporary Christian culture that moves seamlessly from laugh-out-loud funny to startlingly poignant. Wilson’s critique of the church is sharp, humorous, and uncomfortably accurate, but he doesn’t leave it at that. With honesty and heart, he portrays the difficulty of forgiveness and what it means to live in community. I loved this book!”

Lamin Sanneh (Eerdmans)
“Sanneh, one of the most original Christian thinkers of our time, recounts how he made his way as a poor boy from a remote, colonial West African town to become a distinguished professor in one of the world’s greatest universities. At once a personal memoir, a conversion and pilgrimage story, and an intellectual excursion, the book shows how Sanneh’s lineage and life encounters have shaped his remarkable body of scholarship. With sharp insight, Sanneh … reveals some of the trials he has endured at the hands of prejudiced and unwelcoming colleagues and congregants. But even when doing so, he stays gentle, speaking the truth in love.”

Daniel Philpott (Oxford University Press)
“Philpott’s authoritative study of the ethics of political reconciliation offers new hope for solving one of humanity’s most intractable problems: bringing justice in the aftermath of human con-flicts. Philpott focuses on restoring right relationships—going well beyond conceptions of human rights that do not redress wounds of injustice. He appeals to Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions for resources on restorative justice.”

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

Lauren F. Winner (HarperOne)
“Despite deep pain and doubt, Winner relentlessly searches God’s mysteries, seeking peace and authenticity in her faith. Her spiritual memoir is unblinking, credible, and compelling.”

The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott (Oxford University Press)
“This truly impressive volume combines two virtues that rarely coexist. It is accessibly deep. Many books cover their subject matter in an accessible manner, and many others plumb the depths of their subject matter. [This] successfully does both. Organized clearly and written well, I can imagine no better introduction and in-depth analysis of this incredibly important figure.”

You can read the entire post here including honorable mentions.

Free E-Book of Your Choice from WaveCloud!

Right now WaveCloud is running a promotional deal.  All you have to do is open up a free account with them a you get a free e-book!  Its an awesome deal.  There is no credit card information required.  The free book is a book of your choice from a pretty wide selection.    Often times a free e-book is limited to a few cheap but decent picks.  Not here.  Just take a look at just some of the books you can choose for FREE:

          

         

     

(Yes, I realize the Glorious Ruin graphic is from Amazon, but the link will take you to WaveCloud)

This is too good of an offer to pass up so make sure you head over there today while this deal is still available!  Click the image below to get started.  (By the way, even without this free deal, the e-book on here sell for a pretty reasonable sometimes downright cheap prices.)

Helpful Book Review 12-29-12

Jesus is Calling by Sarah Young – James Montgomery Boice once said that the real battle in our times would not be the inerrancy or infallibility of Scripture, but its sufficiency—are we going to rely on the Bible or will we continually long for other revelation? In Jesus Calling we see this so clearly. Young teaches that though the Bible is inerrant and infallible, it is insufficient. It was not enough for her and, implicitly, she teaches that it cannot be enough for us. After all, it was not reading Scripture that proved her most important spiritual discipline, but this listening, this receiving of messages from the Lord. It is not Scripture she brings to us, not primarily anyway, but these messages from Jesus. – Tim Challies

The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial that Captivated America by David Stokes – It’s important to keep in mind, however, the difference between strong preaching and sensationalistic preaching. Strong preaching is grounded in the text of Scripture and reiterates forcefully what the text says plainly. Sensationalistic preaching is motivated by what will draw attention. It may use the text as a launching pad, but the bulk of the message is the pastor’s forceful delivery of his own personal opinions. – Trevin Wax

Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp – In a pastoral tone, Tripp also exposes the real danger of being so familiar with the things of God that we lose our awe of God. When we no longer fear God, our ministry will be motivated by fear of other, false gods: failure, man, circumstances, or future. For some, a loss of awe leads to mediocrity in ministry. But Tripp reminds us that the neglect of personal devotions and spiritual disciplines reveals most obviously that a pastor has lost his awe of God. Perhaps nowhere is this neglect of private worship more obvious than in how we approach sermon preparation. All preparation should be devotional, but we must not allow preparation to “crush devotion” (184). “The commitment to a regular time of communion with your Lord,” Tripp writes, “stimulates the battle in your heart between the essentiality of private worship and the necessity of adequate preparation” (185). – Juan Sanchez

Free E-Book Alert – Near to the Heart of God: Meditations on 366 Best-Loved Hymns

I admit it – I still love the old hymns.  Yes, I’ve embraced modern Christian music with a little more beat and every so often a little more depths, but the great hymns of the faith still hold a place in my heart.  They keep us connected with not only memories from my younger years, but keep us connected with God’s people spanning back through the ages.  Today’s free e-book features 365 of these hymns and the stories behind them.  It’s worth checking out.

Here’s the product description:

The lyrics of our favorite hymns are rich in images that can help us in our daily walk with God–they are miniature Bible studies that lead us effortlessly toward worship, testimony, exhortation, prayer, and praise. They’re bursts of devotional richness with rhyme and rhythm. They clear our minds, soothe our nerves, verbalize our worship, summarize our faith, and sing our great Redeemer’s praise. Bestselling author Robert J. Morgan has gathered 366 hymns, including favorites such as “Amazing Grace” and “Rock of Ages,” as well as classic, lesser-known gems such as “In the Garden” and “Teach Me to Pray.”Each devotional begins with Scripture, includes a story about the hymn or its writer and the lyrics to the hymn, and ends with a prayer. An index of hymn titles and first lines is included. What better way to end your devotional reading than with a song in your heart?

Download the book here.