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April 14, 2014

Series Introduction: I live in a small house. I work in a small office in a small church. For those reasons and others I will never have a huge library. When I add a book I almost always remove a book, a practice that allows me to focus on quality over quantity. Over the past couple of years I have focused on building a collection of commentaries that will include only the best volumes on each book of the Bible. I know when I’m in way over my head, so before I began I collected every good resource I could find that rated and reviewed commentaries. I studied them and then began my collection on the basis of what the experts told me. Since I did all of that work, and since I continue to keep up with the project, I thought it might be helpful to share the recommendations.

My focus is on newer commentaries (at least in part because most of the classics are now freely or cheaply available) and I am offering approximately 5 recommendations for each book of the Bible, alternating between the Old Testament and the New. Today I have turned to the experts to find what they say about Daniel.

Daniel

DuguidIain M. Duguid - Daniel (Reformed Expository Commentary). Iain Duguid has written several excellent commentaries and has provided the volume on Daniel for the Reformed Expository Commentary series. It comes highly recommended by most of the experts. Kent Hughes, himself the author of many commentaries, writes “It is rare indeed to find a technical scholar who is also a master homiletician and preacher. But these things Dr. Iain Duguid clearly is. Here, rigorous expository methodology, nuanced biblical theology, and pastoral passion combine to expound the gospel of Jesus Christ in the ravishing narrative and exotic apocalyptic of the book of Daniel.” High praise like that puts this one at the top of the list. (Amazon, Westminster Books)

Sinclair Ferguson - Daniel (The Preacher’s Commentary). Sinclair Ferguson’s volume is considering top-notch by many of the experts. Keith Mathison praises it by saying, “Students of Scripture should read anything that Sinclair Ferguson publishes, and his commentary on Daniel is no exception. Although aimed specifically at pastors, this commentary is accessible to a general readership as well. Very helpful.” (Amazon, Westminster Books)

DanielJohn Goldingay - Daniel (Word Biblical Commentary). This commentary is more scholarly than the two that have come before. It is said to deal well with the text and to reflect an immense amount of in-depth research into both the text and the context. Longman writes, “He gives insight into historical, literary, and theological issues concerning the book. He also demonstrates an amazing grasp of the secondary literature.” The experts do warn that he takes an unusual view of the visions in the early part of the book, suggesting they are pseudonymous quasi-prophecy. (Amazon, Westminster Books)

April 08, 2014

Together for the Gospel is fast approaching, and I want to let you know about an event we are calling The True North Luncheon @ T4G. This is a time to get together to talk specifically about gospel advance in Canada. The event is intended for Canadians, or for people who are interested in joining the work in Canada, or for people who are simply interested in learning more about the church in Canada. If Canada is on your mind, or if Canada has been on your mind, you ought to come.

The event will take place on Wednesday April 9th from 12:30pm - 3:00pm (which falls during the conference’s lunch break). It will be held at Immanuel Baptist Church, which is at 1121 S. Clay St., just a 10-minute drive from the conference venue. We’d ask for a $5 donation to cover the cost of a Chick-Fil-A lunch which will be provided for you.

We’ll follow a simple format: We will have a fellowship lunch, and then a panel discussion that will be followed by an open Q&A. Panelists will include: Clint Humfrey, Paul Martin and myself (with others to be announced). Ryan Fullerton, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, will be hosting and leading the panel.

If you have a question, please leave it in the comments section below, and we’ll try to answer it for you.

RSVP

If you would like to come, please RSVP to Keith Hanson at khanson@ibclouisville.org. He can also help you if you’ll need transportation to and from the conference venue.

April 07, 2014

Series Introduction: I live in a small house. I work in a small office in a small church. For those reasons and others I will never have a huge library. When I add a book I almost always remove a book, a practice that allows me to focus on quality over quantity. Over the past couple of years I have focused on building a collection of commentaries that will include only the best volumes on each book of the Bible. I know when I’m in way over my head, so before I began I collected every good resource I could find that rated and reviewed commentaries. I studied them and then began my collection on the basis of what the experts told me. Since I did all of that work, and since I continue to keep up with the project, I thought it might be helpful to share the recommendations.

My focus is on newer commentaries (at least in part because most of the classics are now freely or cheaply available) and I am offering approximately 5 recommendations for each book of the Bible, alternating between the Old Testament and the New. Today I have turned to the experts to find what they say about Ezekiel.

Ezekiel

EzekielDaniel Block - The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24; The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 25-48 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament). Block’s commentary is thorough but not dense. He deals with the text so closely that nothing is overlooked, but he doesn’t dwell there, often zooming right out to look at the book’s big picture as well. While there are other excellent commentaries on Ezekiel, the commentators on the commentaries are unanimous in their praise and most rate this one as the most important work on the book, and a must-have for anyone who wishes to preach through it. (Amazon: Volume 1, Volume 2; Westminster Books: Volume 1, Volume 2)

Iain Duguid - Ezekiel (NIV Application Commentary). The NIV Application Commentary has some volumes that are much stronger than others and Duguid’s volume on Ezekiel is considered one of the best. Keith Mathison says, “Duguid’s commentary runs a very close second to Block in my estimation. For those who do not need the detail of Block, Duguid is the place to go. His is a very careful reading of the book from a Reformed perspective. Very helpful and highly recommended.” Other experts commend him for his pastoral tone. (Amazon, Westminster Books)

EzekielDerek Thomas - God Strengthens: Ezekiel Simply Explained (Welwyn Commentary Series). This is considered an introductory commentary and one that will be helpful for the pastor or for the general reader. Derek Thomas has written a number of highly-regarded commentaries and this one reflects his strengths—Reformed theology, sound scholarship, and a pastoral emphasis. (Amazon, Westminster Books)

Douglas Stuart - Ezekiel (The Preacher’s Commentary). This volume comes highly recommended by Derek Thomas (himself the author of a commentary on Ezekiel) and by Keith Mathison. Thomas says simply, “exceptionally good” while Mathison goes into more detail: “Stuart always has helpful insight into whatever text he is discussing, and when dealing with a book as difficult as Ezekiel, such insight is invaluable.” It seems like this would make a good third or fourth choice. (Amazon)

EzekielLeslie Allen - Ezekiel 1-19; Ezekiel 20-48 (Word Biblical Commentary). Apparently W.H. Brownlee began this two-volume set on Ezekiel but died before he could complete them. The work was taken over by Allen who has written a good, though technical, commentary. Tremper Longman assigns it 4 stars and says, “Allen is concerned with both the final form of the book as well as its composition.” Others show some caution but still regard it as a valuable reference work when taken in light of the volumes recommended above. (Amazon: Volume 1, Volume 2; Westminster Books: Volume 1, Volume 2)

And how about you? Have you ever preached Ezekiel? What commentaries do you prefer?

 

March 31, 2014

CPM
April is just about here, and to get the new month started right, here are some wallpapers calendars that will dress up your computer, tablet or cell phone. This month's wallpaper is provided in partnership with Church Plant Media and was designed by Truth for Life.

A few notes: Your desktop or laptop may take any of the sizes, depending on your monitor size and a host of other considerations. You can click here to see what your resolution is. Generally you set one of these are your wallpaper by clicking on the link to the image, then right-clicking on the image (once it’s open) and selecting “Set as Background,” “Set as Desktop Background,” or something similar. If you aren’t sure, post a comment and we’ll try to help you figure it out.

Note: We're giving away a $50 Amazon gift card (no strings attached); just scroll down for a chance to win...

April 2014

Without Calendar: Facebook Cover, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1440

With Calendar: 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1440

Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card

Just to sweeten the deal a little bit, we're giving away a $50 Amazon gift card, no strings attached. Just sign up here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
March 27, 2014

I am in the unique and enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve received boxes of them and, in sorting through the pile, here are the ones that have risen to the top. They are the few that appear most noteworthy.

How God Became JesusHow God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine NatureA Response to Bart Ehrman by Michael Bird, Craig Evans, Simon Gathercole, Charles Hill & Chris Tilling. This book released as the same day as the book it refutes. “In his recent book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee historian Bart Ehrman explores a claim that resides at the heart of the Christian faith—that Jesus of Nazareth was, and is, God. According to Ehrman, though, this is not what the earliest disciples believed, nor what Jesus claimed about himself. The first response book to this latest challenge to Christianity from Ehrman, How God Became Jesus features the work of five internationally recognized biblical scholars. While subjecting his claims to critical scrutiny, they offer a better, historically informed account of why the Galilean preacher from Nazareth came to be hailed as ‘the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Namely, they contend, the exalted place of Jesus in belief and worship is clearly evident in the earliest Christian sources, shortly following his death, and was not simply the invention of the church centuries later.” (Amazon, Westminster Books)

Now That Im a ChristianNow That I’m a Christian: What It Means to Follow Jesus by C. Michael Patton. I love the premise of the book. I still haven’t found quite the right book to hand to (or go through with) a new Christian, and this may just fit the bill. “You’ve become a Christian. Now what? Michael Patton unpacks the basics of the Christian faith, helping you think carefully about God and live fully for God as you begin your new life in Christ. In ten easy-to-read chapters, this book will introduce you to the foundational teachings and life-giving practices of Christianity—from the doctrine of the Trinity to reading and understanding the Bible. Designed as a handbook for the Christian life, this go-to guide will help you answer a crucial question: What does it mean to follow Jesus?” (Amazon, Westminster Books)

Storytelling GodThe Storytelling God by Jared Wilson. I appreciate Wilson’s books and blogs, so have high hopes for this one. “Throw away your Flannelgraphs. The prodigal son. The good Samaritan. The treasure hidden in a field. Most of us have heard Jesus’s parables before. Yet if these stories strike us as merely sweet, heartwarming, or sentimental, we can be sure we’ve misread them. In The Storytelling God, pastor Jared Wilson helps us to see how Jesus’s parables reveal profound spiritual truths about God, humanity, the world, and the future. Discarding the notion that Christ’s parables are nothing more than moralistic fables, this book highlights how each one is designed to drive us to Jesus in awe, need, faith, and worship.” (Amazon, Westminster Books)

Picture PerfectPicture Perfect: When Life Doesn’t Line Up by Amy Baker. This looks like it would be a helpful book for those people who are driven toward perfection in all areas. “The quest for perfection can be a crushing burden. When life doesn’t line up, it’s easy to be angry, anxious, or even paralyzed. Amy Baker uncovers the pitfalls of perfectionism and examines the root and purpose of the longing for perfection to show how God’s grace transforms this burdensome quest into a joyful walk of faith.” It comes with endorsements from John D. Street (The Masters College & Seminary) and Heath Lambert (Boyce College & Southern Seminary). (Amazon, Westminster Books)

March 11, 2014

I don’t think anyone could have predicted that in the twenty-first century the old doctrine of Calvinism would suddenly experience a great resurgence. Yet this is exactly what has happened. The New Calvinism, or the Young, Restless, Reformed, has been highlighted in platforms as diverse as Christianity Today and TIME as one of the ideas that is changing the world today. It has been a major emphasis in publishing and has its own celebrities, conferences and organizations.

But where did this thing come from? And how did it come to prominence? Josh Byers and I have teamed up to bring you a Visual Theology infographic we’ve titled Where Did All These Calvinists Come From?: A Visual History. We highlighted some of the dominant themes in the movement and then progressed through the people, the books, the conferences, and the organizations that have made it what it is. We hope you enjoy it.

New Calvinism Timeline
(click on the graphic above to see the full timeline; or click here for the raw file)

Note: We don’t expect that you will agree with everything we’ve chosen to include and exclude. Also, while the timeline is roughly chronological, individual events within a particular year may not be in the exact right order (so, for example, Chosen By God may have been published after Desiring God, though both were published in 1986).

March 06, 2014

I am in the unique and enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve received a veritable mountain of books and, in sorting through the pile, here are the ones that have risen to the top because they appear the most noteworthy.

Truth MattersTruth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World by Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock, & Josh Chatraw. It’s not difficult to see how this book matters. “Here is how leading experts describe our church kids today: They are unarmed and incapable of defending their faith. They possess a faith that cannot withstand the scrutiny of trials or intellectual questions. They have a shallow belief system. They lack a robust faith. They haven’t learned how to think. They are embarrassingly ignorant of our faith. Easy to read yet loaded with meat and substance, this book is a level-headed reaction to those who equate Christian faith with ‘blind faith,’ even those whose subtle or stated goal is to separate students from their religious traditions. Readers will discover the kind of historical information and thinking skills that build a sturdy backbone of confidence in high schoolers and young adults, making them able to defend by ‘reasoned faith’ what the Bible claims as truth.” (Amazon)

Everyones a TheologianEveryone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by R.C. Sproul. How did I not know this book was coming? “Many people react negatively to the word theology, believing that it involves dry, fruitless arguments about minute points of doctrine. Yet as Dr. R.C. Sproul argues, everyone is a theologian. Any time we think about a teaching of the Bible and strive to understand it, we are engaging in theology. Therefore, it is important that we put the Bible’s varied teachings together in a systematic fashion, using proper, time-tested methods of interpretation so as to arrive at a theology that is founded on truth. That is precisely what Dr. Sproul does in Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. This book is anything but a dry discussion of minute points of doctrine. Dr. Sproul, demonstrating his trademark ability to make complex subjects easy to understand, surveys the basic truths of the Christian faith, reminding us once more of what God is like and of what He has done for His people in this world and the next.” (Amazon)

Future Other HalfYour Future Other Half: It Matters Whom You Marry by Rebecca Vandoodewaard. You may recognize the title or the subject matter of this one from an older blog post. “Rebecca Vandoodewaard of The Christian Pundit blogsite gives Biblical advice for women who are in a relationship, who wish to be in a relationship, or who struggle in an imperfect marriage by addressing the spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and relational effects of intimacy and answering questions for the single or married such as: Where does love fit in? and, How do I fit in?” The blog post was excellent, and I’m assuming the book will be as well. (Amazon)

February 28, 2014

CPM
March is here, and to get the new month started right, here are some wallpapers calendars that will dress up your computer, tablet or cell phone. This month's wallpaper is provided in partnership with Global Missions Media and Church Plant Media.

A few notes: Your desktop or laptop may take any of the sizes, depending on your monitor size and a host of other considerations. You can click here to see what your resolution is. Generally you set one of these are your wallpaper by clicking on the link to the image, then right-clicking on the image (once it’s open) and selecting “Set as Background,” “Set as Desktop Background,” or something similar. If you aren’t sure, post a comment and we’ll try to help you figure it out.

Note: We're giving away a $50 Amazon gift card (no strings attached); just scroll down for a chance to win...

March 2014

With Calendar: 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1440

Without Calendar: Facebook Cover, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1440

Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card

Just to sweeten the deal a little bit, we're giving away a $50 Amazon gift card, no strings attached. Just sign up here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please visit Church Plant Media and Global Missions Media:

 
February 21, 2014

I am in the unique and enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books and I like to provide regular roundups of some of the best and brightest of the bunch. Of all the books I have received recently, here are the ones that appear most noteworthy.

Jonah and ObadiahJonah & Obadiah (Hearing the Message of Scripture). Hearing the Message of Scripture is a new Old Testament commentary series edited by Daniel Block and published by Zondervan. The first two volumes cover Jonah (written by Kevin J. Youngblood) and Obadiah (written by Daniel Block). Here is a description of the series: “With careful analysis and interpretation rooted in a study of Hebrew, this addition to the Hearing the Message of Scripture series tracks the flow of argument in the Old Testament book[s], showing that how a biblical author says something is just as important as what they say. Through a set of distinctive features, the Hearing the Message of Scripture series serves pastors and teachers in their study of the Old Testament, helping them better understand and better convey the meaning behind each biblical text.” (Jonah: Amazon, Westminster Books; Obadiah: Amazon, Westminster Books)

How to Stay Christian in SeminaryHow to Stay Christian in Seminary by David Mathis & Jonathan Parnell. Here’s a book to hand to that young man before he heads off to seminary. I’ve seen enough seminarians go off the rails to know it’s an important topic. “Seminary is exhilarating … and dangerous. Seminary can be thrilling, with the potential to inspire and equip church leaders for a lifetime of faithful ministry. But it’s not without its risks. For many who have ignored the perils, seminary has been crippling. But with an extra dose of intentionality, and God’s help, this season of preparation can invigorate your affections for Jesus. How to Stay Christian in Seminary takes a refreshingly honest look at the seminarian’s often-neglected devotional life, offering real-world advice for students eager to survive seminary with a flourishing faith.“ (Amazon, Westminster Books)

Preparing Your Teens for CollegePreparing Your Teens for College: Faith, Friends, Finances, and Much More by Alex Chediak. “Will my teens’ faith be strong enough to withstand the tests of college? Will they focus on their studies or squander their free time? Will they form healthy friendships or join the wrong crowd? Dr. Chediak has watched too many college students flounder over these and other issues. Sadly, 44 percent of those who start off at a four-year college will not complete their degree in six years. At a time when college has never been more expensive, too many of our children are failing. What makes the difference? Character, a strong faith, and a willingness to delay gratification. And where is that learned? Ideally, at home. In this book, Alex will give you everything you need to help your teens not only successfully navigate the college years but also real life. Alex covers all the hot-button issues: dating, premarital sex, roommates, grades, career guidance, God, and much more. You won’t want to be without this essential survival manual for college.” (Amazon, Westminster Books)

February 12, 2014

Tomorrow marks R.C. Sproul’s 75th birthday, and in honor of his birthday, Josh Byers and I have prepared an infographic about his life and ministry. This is part of a just-for-fun series of infographics we’ve prepared about some of our favorite people: John MacArthur, John Piper and, now, R.C. Sproul. Enjoy it!

R.C. Sproul Infographic

A couple of years ago I began to share some infographics I titled Visual Theology. Through those infographics, and with the help of some talented graphic designers, I explored some of the great doctrines of the Christian faith: The order of salvation, the attributes of God, the Trinity, Reformed theology, the books of the Bible, and so on. You can see and download the complete list here or even buy them in print format here.

 

 

 

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