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6 Great New Books for Kids
October 02, 2015

Christian publishers are spoiling us—they are spoiling us with high-quality and beautifully-illustrated books for children. Here, representing 6 different publishers, are some excellent new books for children.

Marie Durand Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr. This is the latest volume in Simonetta Carr’s excellent series of biographies for young readers. “In 1730, nineteen-year-old Marie Durand was arrested and taken from her home in a village in Southern France for the crime of having a brother who was a Protestant preacher. Imprisoned in the Tower of Constance, Marie would spend the next thirty-eight years there. Simonetta Carr introduces us to the inspiring life of a woman who could have recanted her Protestant faith and gained release, but held fast to the truth and encouraged others to do so as well. Beautiful illustrations, a simply told story, and interesting facts acquaint young readers with the challenges facing Protestants in eighteenth-century France and show them that even a life spent in prison can be lived in service to Christ and others.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Biggest Story The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung. The publisher says, “The Bible is full of exciting stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those classic stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people. In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth. With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible’s core message—how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden—will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God’s promises are even bigger and better than we think.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

God Made All of Me God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb. “It’s easy to convey the message to children that their bodies or particular parts of their bodies are shameful. This misconception fuels confusion, embarrassment, and secrecy, and often prevents children from recognizing or reporting sexual abuse. God Made All of Me is a simply-told, beautifully-illustrated story to help families talk about these sensitive issues with two- to eight-year-old children. Because the private parts of our bodies are private, the home is the ideal environment where a child should learn about his or her body and how it should be treated by others.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Gods Gospel God’s Gospel by Jill Nelson. This is the most recent volume in the “Making Him Known” series from P&R. “In God’s Gospel, Jill Nelson guides parents and their young children through the basics of the gospel, exploring even complex theological topics in easy-to-understand, kid-friendly language. At the end of each ready-made lesson, Nelson includes additional questions for reflection and family activities that will help children to remember what they have learned. This full-color, illustrated book is an ideal devotional tool for families with young children. Covering such questions as ‘What is sin?’ and ‘Why did Jesus die on the cross?,’ God’s Gospel leads kids through God’s plan to save his people from their sins, directing readers to Jesus as their personal Savior.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Ology The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New by Marty Machowski. “Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner’s theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are on display and easier to understand. Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together. Read The Ology to preschoolers, read it with grade-school kids, and let older kids discover the hidden truths by reading the corresponding Scripture passages for each section. However you read it, The Ology will give your children a gift that will last a lifetime a solid foundation of life-changing biblical truth that will point them to the God who loves them and gave himself for them.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Everything a Child Should Know About GodEverything a Child Should Know about God by Kenneth Taylor & Jenny Brake. “Help your child discover the wonders of biblical truths in simple terms our child can understand. Dr. Kenneth Taylor explains in child–friendly language the essential Bible truths you want your child to know. He tells children about God’s creation of the world, why Jesus came to earth, how the Holy Spirit helps us, and so much more! Give the child you love the greatest gift of all – a deeper understanding of God.” (Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books)

August 28, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and every few weeks I like to provide a round-up of what is new and particularly notable. It has been a little while since my last update and, even though this is a slower time of the year for new releases, I’ve got a few interesting ones to share with you.

DurandMarie Durand by Simonetta Carr. Carr’s Christian Biographies for Young Readers has turned into a great series of excellent little biographies accompanied by high-quality art. This volume on Marie Durand continues the series. “In 1730, nineteen-year-old Marie Durand was arrested and taken from her home in a village in Southern France for the crime of having a brother who was a Protestant preacher. Imprisoned in the Tower of Constance, Marie would spend the next thirty-eight years there. Simonetta Carr introduces us to the inspiring life of a woman who could have recanted her Protestant faith and gained release, but held fast to the truth and encouraged others to do so as well. Beautiful illustrations, a simply told story, and interesting facts acquaint young readers with the challenges facing Protestants in eighteenth-century France and show them that even a life spent in prison can be lived in service to Christ and others.” (Read more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

GamechangersGamechangers: Key Figures of the Christian Church by Robert Letham. There are many books like this out there, but not too many that come from a very discerning perspective. I believe that is what will make Gamechangers uniquely valuable. “Weaving together biography and theology, Robert Letham delves into the life and influence of twelve key figures who have helped shape the church. Gamechangers is a must read for any Christian with an interest in learning the way the church has understood the gospel down through the centuries. Features: Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Augustine, Charles the Great, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Heinrich Bullinger, John Calvin, John Wesley, J.W. Nevin and Karl Barth.” (Read more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

UnhinderedOpenness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ by Rosaria Butterfield. Butterfield’s first book, Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, was one of those books that came at just the right time and stepped right into one of the biggest cultural conversations. Now she follows it up. “This book answers many of the questions people pose when she speaks at universities and churches, questions not only about her unlikely conversion to Christ but about personal struggles that the ques­tioners only dare to ask someone else who has traveled a long and painful journey.” (Read more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Biggest StoryThe Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung. Here’s a book for kids to read for to your kids. “The burning bush. David and Goliath. Joseph and the coat of many colors. The Bible is full of classic stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those beloved stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s love for the world. In The Biggest Story, best-selling author and father of six, Kevin DeYoung, leads readers on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to the return of Christ. Short and extremely readable, this imaginative retelling of the biblical narrative can be read in one sitting and features action-packed illustrations that will bring the message of the Bible to life for the whole family.” (Read more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Andrew Murray Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa by Vance Christie. Vance Christie has proven himself one of today’s most important Christian biographers. His most recent volume looks to a character whose name is known to you, I’m sure: Andrew Murray. “In an era that saw many gifted and diligent ministers, missionaries and evangelists being used by God to powerfully advance Christ’s Kingdom work in South Africa, Andrew Murray (1828-1917) emerged as that country’s premier preacher, devotional writer and Church leader. Andrew Murray’s writings and influence are still felt today and Vance Christie skilfully and faithfully brings his story to life for a new generation.” (Read more or buy it at Amazon)

Gaining By LosingGaining By Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send by J.D. Greear. I sure like the premise of this one, though I have not yet been able to actually read it. “When Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission, he revealed that the key for reaching the world with the gospel is found in sending, not gathering. Though many churches focus time and energy on attracting people and counting numbers, the real mission of the church isn’t how many people you can gather. It’s about training up disciples and then sending them out. The true measure of success for a church should be its sending capacity, not its seating capacity. In Gaining By Losing, J.D. Greear unpacks ten plumb lines that you can use to reorient your church’s priorities around God’s mission to reach a lost world. The good news is that you don’t need to choose between gathering or sending. Effective churches can, and must, do both.” (Read more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

July 31, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and every few weeks I like to provide a round-up of what is new and particularly notable. It has been a little while since my last update and, even though this is a slower time of the year for new releases, I’ve got a few interesting ones to share with you.

Onward Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore. This one is available now for Kindle, and tomorrow in print. “As the culture changes all around us, it is no longer possible to pretend that we are a Moral Majority. That may be bad news for America, but it can be good news for the church. What’s needed now, in shifting times, is neither a doubling-down on the status quo nor a pullback into isolation. Instead, we need a church that speaks to social and political issues with a bigger vision in mind: that of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Christianity seems increasingly strange, and even subversive, to our culture, we have the opportunity to reclaim the freakishness of the gospel, which is what gives it its power in the first place.” (Buy it or learn more at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Word Filled Womens Ministry Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church edited by Gloria Furman & Kathleen Nielson. “The Bible is clear that women as well as men are created in God’s image and intended to serve him with their lives. But what does this look like for women in the church? Helping church leaders think through what a Bible-centered women’s ministry looks like, this collection of essays by respected Bible teachers and authors such as Gloria Furman, Nancy Guthrie, and Susan Hunt addresses a variety of topics relevant to women. Whether exploring the importance of intergenerational relationships, the Bible’s teaching on sexuality, or women’s roles in the church and the home, this book of wise teaching and practical instruction will become a must-have resource for anyone interested in bolstering the health and vitality of the local church.”(Buy it or learn more at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Urban Legends Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions by David Croteau. “Urban Legends of the New Testament surveys forty of the most commonly misinterpreted passages in the New Testament. These “urban legends” often arise because interpreters neglect a passage’s context, misuse historical background information, or misunderstand the Greek language. For each New Testament text, professor David Croteau describes the popular, incorrect interpretation and then carefully interprets the passage within its literary and historical context. Careful attention is given to sound principles of biblical interpretation to guide readers through the process and reach a more accurate understanding of each text’s meaning. QR codes have been inserted at various points throughout the book. By scanning the code with your mobile device, you can view a video of David Croteau addressing a specific urban legend.” (Buy it or learn more at Amazon)

Philippians Philippians (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament) by Joseph Hellerman. “The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) closes the gap between the Greek text and the available lexical and grammatical tools, providing all the necessary information for greater understanding of the text. The series makes interpreting any given New Testament book easier, especially for those who are hard pressed for time but want to preach or teach with accuracy and authority. Each volume begins with a brief introduction to the particular New Testament book, a basic outline, and a list of recommended commentaries. The body is devoted to paragraph-by-paragraph exegesis of the Greek text and includes homiletical helps and suggestions for further study. A comprehensive exegetical outline of the New Testament book completes each EGGNT volume.” (Buy it or learn more at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Gods Crime Scene God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe by J. Warner Wallace. This one also releases tomorrow. “There are four ways to die, and only one of them requires an intruder. Suicides, accidental, and natural deaths can occur without any evidence from outside the room. But murders typically involve suspects external to the crime scene. If there’s evidence of an outside intruder, homicide detectives have to prepare for a chase. Intruders turn death scenes into crime scenes. Join J. Warner Wallace, former atheist, seasoned cold-case detective, and popular national speaker as he tackles his most important case … with you on the jury! With the expertise of a cold-case detective, J. Warner examines eight critical pieces of evidence in the ‘crime scene’ of the universe to determine if they point to a Divine Intruder. If you have ever wondered if something (or someone) outside the natural realm created the universe and everything in it, this is the case for you.” (Buy it or learn more at Amazon)

Malatya Martyrs of Malatya: Martyred for the Messiah in Turkey by James Wright. “On April 18, 2007, three men gave their lives for Jesus Christ. Two Turkish Christians and one German began their day simply wanting to spend time with local men they thought genuinely wanted to study the Bible. Instead, five hostile young men met their kindness and hospitality with betrayal and treachery. Very few followers of Christ in the rest of the world heard the story. Lost in the flood of news in our information age, it appeared to be just another senseless murder. But the deaths of Necati Aydin, Ug ur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske, while perhaps ignored or quickly forgotten even among Christians around the world, continue to speak. They proclaim the truth that there are still those among us committed to witnessing to the gospel in difficult locations. They speak loudly of love for Christ and obedience to Him. They testify above the din about their commitment to share Jesus own experience of betrayal and sacrifice that purchased salvation for people from every tongue, tribe and nation.”(Buy it or learn more at Amazon)

Going Public Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership by Bobby Jamieson. “Does everyone who joins a local church need to be baptized? What should churches that practice believer’s baptism do about those who were “baptized” as infants? This is a live question for many churches today, and it raises a host of other crucial questions: What is the meaning and function of baptism? Does baptism have any inherent relationship to the local church? How do baptism and the Lord’s Supper fit together? What exactly is ‘church membership’? To answer the question of whether baptism is required for church membership, Going Public seeks to rebuild ecclesiological foundations, digging deep into the Bible’s teaching on baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and church membership. Bobby Jamieson describes how baptism and the Lord’s Supper transform a scattered group of Christians into a gathered local church. It traces the trajectory of a church’s birth, how gospel people form a gospel polity.” (Buy it or learn more at Amazon or Westminster Books)

June 19, 2015

I am a voracious and omnivorous reader. While necessity dictates that I focus much of my attention on Christian books, I supplement with all kinds of other genres. Here are a few of those other books I have enjoyed over the past couple of months. (If you are looking for Christian book suggestions, you can browse my Book Reviews section.)

Empire of DeceptionEmpire of Deception by Dean Jobb. You have heard of Charles Ponzi, I am sure, and his infamous scheme to enrich himself at the expense of others. If history rewarded the greater scandal, the scheme would actually be called the “Koretz Scheme” after Leo Koretz. Koretz was a master swindler who carried on a very similar racket for a much longer period of time and with much greater personal reward. In Empire of Deception Dean Jobb tells the fascinating story of a forgotten figure. And it is not only Jobb who fascinates, but the thousands of people whose naivite and greed made them such easy marks. This tale makes for great summer reading and in the telling provides important lessons for us all. (Buy it)

So You Have Been Publicly ShamedSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. All through history shaming has been used as a tactic for punishing and preventing poor behavior. Shaming conjures up images of people in the town square with their head in the stocks. Eventually, though, shaming was banned for simply being too cruel. But shaming has made a sudden and vicious comeback in the digital age. Ronson traces some of the best-known recent cases of public shaming and suggests that we urgently need to address this behavior. While we must insist on justice for those who do wrong, we also need to ensure that we protect the innocent and allow due process before using our social media powers to shame whoever we believe is guilty. (Note: This book provides many real-world examples and, therefore, needs to be rated PG-13, especially because of the kind of language it quotes.) (Buy it)

Wright BrothersThe Wright Brothers by David McCullough. It is for good reason that David McCullough has twice won the Pulitzer Prize. Few historians have his ability to recount history with such skill and verve. His latest, and perhaps final work, is a biography of the Wright brothers. From their humble beginnings as bicycle mechanics in Dayton, Ohio, they achieved lasting, worldwide fame as the first to successfully take to the air in a machine-powered aircraft. This account is both thrilling and fascinating, a quintessentially American tale of opportunity, ingenuity, and determination. No one could tell it better than McCullough. All of his works deserve to be read, and this one is no exception. (Buy it)

Dead WakeDead Wake by Erik Larson. WORLD magazine named Dead Wake their history/biography book of the year and said this: “[Larson] masterfully tells the story of those responsible for sinking the Lusitania and makes us empathize with the ordinary men, women, and children who were war’s collateral damage. That appeal to emotion as well as intellect makes Dead Wake our history/biography book of the year.” I quite agree with their enthusiasm and their assessment. I found just one matter to critique: At times the author tiptoes a little too close to outright mellodrama for my tastes. Still, it is a fascinating and enjoyable read and a wonderful example of popular history. It is another ideal pick for lakeside summer reading. (Buy it)

The Successful Virtual Office in 30 Minutes by Melanie Pinola. You can only expect so much from a low-cost, 30-minute investment. However, if you are looking for some helpful tips on working from a home office or coordinating remote teams, I believe that this book will prove itself worth the time and cost. It offered me several useful refreshers and a handful of valuable tips. Since I read it I have implemented a few of its ideas to good effect. I intend to return to it regularly. (Buy it)

CatmullCreativity Inc. by Ed Catmull. Ed Catmull has been with Pixar Animation Studios since its founding and currently serves as its president. In Creativity Inc. he shares many principles that will be of special interest leaders and creatives. Of course there are thousands of books that share similar principles. But what Catmull’s book different is that he is able to describe them through the many successful and popular movies he has been involved with over the years (including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and so on). If you have enjoyed Pixar films in the past, and if you are involved in leadership or creativity, you may find this an especially accessible book. (Buy it)

Man Who Saved the UnionThe Man Who Saved the Union by H.W. Brands. I listened to The Man Who Saved the Union as part of my project to read a biography of each American president (see Biographies of U.S. Presidents). Brand’s telling of Grant’s life is lively and written at just the right pace. Of particular interest is Grant’s anonymity and consistent history of failure leading up to the war contrasted with his status as a national figure and presidential candidate by the end of the war. (Buy it)

May 25, 2015

It may be the email I get more than any other: Can you help me find a church? Sometimes I receive it when a person has come to new theological convictions and realizes that his current church is completely unsuitable, but far more often he has just moved across the country or across the world, has settled into his new home, and has now started the search for a new church.

Before I answer the question, can I encourage you to consider the importance of finding a new church before you move? If public worship and church community are as central to your life and faith as the New Testament suggests, then it can be perilous to move anywhere without first determining that there are suitable churches in that location. So many people will go and scout the neighborhoods, check out the schools, and leave a deposit on the new house, but forget all about the church until they have actually made the move and settled in. I recommend the opposite approach: Find the church first, and then start thinking about the other factors.

Now, how can you find a church in a new area? The easiest way I know is to begin with a trusted source that can make a recommendation. If you are affiliated with a denomination, it will be as simple as visiting the denomination’s web site. But for those who wish to search wider, I recommend beginning with a handful of church directories, each of which lists like-minded churches. These are the best three I know of:

The Gospel Coalition maintains a church directory that is open to any church that affirms their Foundation Documents. This at least narrows the search and can provide a few churches to visit and consider.

The Master’s Seminary maintains a Find a Church page which lists churches founded or pastored by their alumni. 

9Marks Church Search offers a similar directory for churches that wish to be affiliated with them. 

Between the three directories, you now have a good place to begin your search. In every case, a search of my area turns up very good results. One thing to keep in mind: The organizations that provide these directories simply list the churches, but do not vouch for them, so you will need to visit and assess.

Let me close with a suggestion for local churches: I think one of the most helpful features you can add to your church’s web page is an affiliations or recommendations page where you list and recommend like-minded ministries. This helps people who visit your site make connections with the wider Christian world. They may not know the name of your pastor or the theological positions of your church, but through these affiliations they can at least get a glimpse of who you are. Here is what we do at Grace Fellowship Church:

  • The Gospel Coalition is a group of pastors and churches that exist to promote gospel-centered ministry and biblically-faithful resources for the church. Grace Fellowship Church shares the doctrinal convictions and theological vision for ministry as outlined in their Foundation Documents.
  • Desiring God Ministries has influenced Grace Fellowship Church primarily through the writing and preaching of Pastor John Piper. Though we are not in formal affiliation with Desiring God, we share John Piper’s convictions about the Bible’s teaching on God’s sovereignty, salvation, mission, suffering, and the way one should live the Christian life.
  • 9Marks Ministries, founded by Pastor Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, has been formative in our understanding of how a church is to be governed.

Those who visit our site as part of their search for a new church invariably find this page just as helpful as our sermons and our statement of faith.

Image credit: Shutterstock

May 22, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and every few weeks I like to provide a round-up of what is new and particularly notable. It has been a full month since my last update, and an awful lot of books have shown up since then. I will start with new additions to several excellent commentary series, and then move to a few general interest books.

Edwards LukeThe Gospel According to Luke by James Edwards (Pillar New Testament Commentary). It is always noteworthy when a major commentary series receives a new volume, and that is the case with the PNTC, which is widely regarded as one of the most consistently excellent series. Here is the publisher’s description: “Though Luke is often thought to have a primarily Gentile focus, Edwards counterbalances that perspective by citing numerous evidences of Luke’s overarching interest in depicting Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s providential work in the history of Israel, and he even considers the possibility that Luke himself was a Jew. In several excursuses Edwards discusses particular topics, including Luke’s infancy narratives, the mission of Jesus as the way of salvation, and Luke’s depiction of the universal scope of the gospel. While fully conversant with all the latest scholarship, Edwards writes in a lively, fluent style that will commend this commentary to ministers, students, scholars, and many other serious Bible readers.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Hebrews HughesHebrews by Kent Hughes (Preaching the Word). Previously published in two volumes, Kent Hughes’ excellent commentary on Hebrews is now one volume and updated with the ESV text. “In this insightful commentary, readers will find a gold mine of helpful discussion related to a book of the Bible that is easily misunderstood and often overlooked. Written by a pastor with decades of ministry and preaching experience, this volume abounds with wise insights into the book of Hebrews. With divisions and outlines that are never forced but flow naturally from the Biblical text, this commentary will be a great resource for anyone studying or teaching the book of Hebrews.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Song of Songs DuguidThe Song of Songs by Iain Duguid (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries). Here is yet another series being updated with a volume written by a trusted author. “This Old Testament book, ‘the best of songs,’ has fascinated and perplexed interpreters for centuries. We hear the passionate melody of romantic love, and are confronted by erotic imagery—but whose love is described? Is it a couple’s love for each other, God’s love for his people, or a poem that speaks to love in all its dimensions? Iain Duguid’s commentary explains how the Song is designed to show us an idealized picture of married love, in the context of a fallen and broken world. It also convicts us of how far short of this perfection we fall, both as humans and as lovers, and drives us repeatedly into the arms of our true heavenly husband, Jesus Christ.” (Buy it or learn more at Amazon or Westminster Books)

May 20, 2015

WTS Commentaries
Westminster Books is having a great sale on commentaries—the Tyndale Commentary series that spans both the Old Testament and the New. For the next few days you can buy single volumes at $12 each. (The list price is closer to $18.) If you buy 5 or more volumes the price drops to $10 each, which represents quite a bargain. These are reader-friendly commentaries ideal for layperson or pastor alike. I get excited about sales like these because I love great commentaries!

While I am not aware of any of these volumes being bad, there are quite a few that are especially good. Some time ago I compiled a list of the top-5 commentaries for each book of the Bible (though I still need to finish out the Minor Prophets). This top-5 was not based on my assessment but on a group of experts who have written commentaries on the commentaries. Here is a list of each of the Tyndale commentaries that is considered among the best on that book of the Bible.

Old Testament

New Testament

Happy shopping! And even better, happy reading!

April 24, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and every few weeks I like to provide a round-up of what is new and particularly notable. Here’s the most recent list as we come to the end of April.

PsalmsPsalms: From Suffering to Glory by Philip Eveson. Despite their centrality to the Bible and their importance to Christian worship, the Psalms seem under-served when it comes to excellent, orthodox commentaries. This commentary is the newest volume in the excellent Welwyn Commentary Series and it looks promising. Here’s what the publisher says: “The Psalms continue to have an enormous influence on people’s lives all round the world and down the centuries they have brought comfort and encouragement to countless millions of people. In this commentary, Philip Eveson brings his skills as an Old Testament scholar, blended with a warm pastor’s heart to produce a work that will serve the student, the preacher/teacher and the devotional reader equally well.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

GenesisGenesis: History, Fiction, or Neither?, edited by Charles Halton. This is the latest volume in Zondervan’s Counterpoints series of multi-authored books, and it deals with an issue of critical importance: what exactly is the book of Genesis? “There is little doubt that in recent years the nature of the Genesis narrative has sparked much debate among Christians. This Counterpoints volume introduces three predominant interpretive genres and their implications for biblical understanding. Each contributor identifies their position on the genre of Genesis 1-11, addressing why it is appropriate to the text, and contributes examples of its application to a variety of passages. The contributors and views include: James K. Hoffmeier: Theological History, Gordon J. Wenham: Proto-History, and Kenton K. Sparks: Ancient Historiography.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

DeYoungWhat Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung. This is the publisher’s description, though I think the title pretty much says what you need to know: “In this timely book, award-winning author Kevin DeYoung challenges each of us—the skeptic, the seeker, the certain, and the confused—to take a humble look at God’s Word regarding the issue of homosexuality. After examining key biblical passages in both the Old and New Testaments and the Bible’s overarching teaching regarding sexuality, DeYoung responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike, making this an indispensable resource for thinking through one of the most pressing issues of our day.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Study BibleThe Reformation Study Bible. Ligonier Ministries recently released the second edition of their excellent Reformation Study Bible, and it’s bigger and better than ever. “The Reformation Study Bible (2015) has been thoroughly revised and carefully crafted under the editorial leadership of R.C. Sproul and the contributions of 75 distinguished theologians and pastors from around the world. Over 1.1 million words of new, expanded, or revised commentary represent 40% more content faithfully presented to emphasize the need for the grace of God to lead out of darkness and into the light of Scripture.” You won’t be surprised to know that it is distinctly Protestant and distinctly Reformed in its point-of-view. Be sure when you buy it that you are buying the 2015 edition. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Mormonism 101Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Revised and Expanded) by Bill McKeever & Eric Johnson. With Mormonism surging, and with some Evangelicals now minimizing the difference between Evangelicals and Mormons, it is wise to know a little bit about the Latter-Day Saints. “Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. For those who have wondered in what specific ways Mormonism differs from the Christian faith, Mormonism 101 provides definitive answers, examining the major tenets of Mormon theology and comparing them with orthodox Christian beliefs. Perfect for students of religion and anyone who wants to have answers when Mormons come calling.” Make sure you look for the new second edition. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Pastor and CounselingThe Pastor and Counselling: The Basics of Shepherding Members In Need by Jeremy Pierre & Deepak Reju. I don’t know of too many areas where pastors tend to feel they are weaker than in the area of counseling. “Pastors spend much of their time counseling people in crisis—a delicate task that requires one to carefully evaluate each situation, share relevant principles from God’s Word, and offer practical suggestions for moving forward. Too often, however, pastors feel unprepared to effectively shepherd their people through difficult circumstances such as depression, adultery, eating disorders, and suicidal thinking. Written to help pastors and church leaders understand the basics of biblical counseling, this book provides an overview of the counseling process from the initial meeting to the final session. It also includes suggestions for cultivating a culture of discipleship within a church and four appendixes featuring a quick checklist, tips for taking notes, and more.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

I will also let you in on a little secret: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of John MacArthur’s next book which is set to be released in October of this year. It is titled Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told. You can keep an eye out for that one this fall.

April 21, 2015

There is little doubt that abortion is one of the greatest horrors of our time. I am very confident that a day will come when future generations will express shock and amazement that we ever allowed such a genocide to take place. They will be amazed that so many stood idly by, and that so many others denied what is very obvious: That a pre-born child is still a child with the rights of any other human being.

I recently stumbled upon a new documentary series from PBS titled Twice Born. This series looks at the new and groundbreaking medical frontier that is fetal surgery. It gives access to the doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and who specialize in surgeries that are done on babies while they are still inside their mother’s wombs. This series is one of the greatest arguments against abortion you will ever see.

Through the three episodes of Twice Born we are introduced to four parents or sets of parents, though the vast majority of the attention goes to two of them: Lesly, a mother whose child was delivered via an EXIT procedure (where the baby is partially delivered so the doctors can perform her surgery) and Bobby and Shelly, whose daughter needed fetal surgery for Spina Bifida. I found myself especially intrigued by Bobby and Shelly since they make it clear that they are Christians and that they are filtering all they experience through a biblical lens.

As I watched the episodes unfold, there were several things that stood out to me.

The series testifies to God’s common grace. God is good and he freely and widely dispenses grace to the people he has made. In Twice Born we see that “The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:9). We see doctors and nurses who are not Christians and who may even deny the existence of God, but we see them using the gifts and talents God has given them to do astounding things. They perform the most difficult and intricate medical procedures, accomplishing things that just a few years ago we could not even have imagined. They do their jobs with love, compassion, and amazing skill.

The series proclaims the value of life. The parents who walk into The Children’s Hospital do not talk about their blob of tissue or their little fetus. They have absolutely no doubt that they are carrying a child and they have no doubt that they want to do what is best for that child. While the subject of “termination” does come up at one point, the parents obviously cannot even tolerate the thought of ending the life of their child. Twice Born makes it plain: life in the womb is real life.

The series testifies that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). The doctors describe the intricacy of the human body and the amazing reality that they are operating on children who are just a few inches in size and still months away from being born. The cameras catch the incredible beauty and function of the human form. The parents marvel at the children given to them. God reveals himself as the ultimate artist.

Twice Born is a powerful documentary and one I commend to you. Though it makes no attempt to further the pro-life position, it cannot help but do so. It is a joy to watch as it powerfully proclaims the goodness and the greatness of the Creator.

If you are in America you should be able to watch the series for free online at PBS.org. If you are overseas you may be able to purchase the DVD, or wait and hope that it comes to Netflix.

Note: If you are squeamish you may want to be aware that the series can be a little bit graphic when it comes to the medical procedures. Also, some viewers may object to a scene in the first episode where a very pregnant mother sits through a photo shoot wearing just a bra or bikini top.

April 17, 2015

A friend and I were talking recently, and we discussed the current state of Christian publishing. He asked me, “What really good books have not yet been written?” I thought about it for a little while and came up with 7 books I would definitely read.

Al Mohler’s memoirs. There are some people whose lives merit a biography, and Mohler is definitely among them. But I would prefer to read Mohler’s memoirs than to read a traditional biography. He has a unique way of expressing himself and of relating his experiences, and I am convinced that some of this—too much of this—would be lost if someone else wrote an account of his life. So Dr. Mohler’s memoirs: this is at the top of my list, and I hope that some day he will publish them. I’d be first in line at the bookstore.

A biography of John MacArthur. Yes, I know that Iain Murray has already written a biography of John MacArthur, and it was pretty good. But, by Murray’s own admission, it is far from the final word. After all, its subject is still alive and still active in life and ministry, so the story of his life is not yet complete. What is undeniable is that MacArthur has had a profound influence on the world and on the church; few people have a real understanding of all he has accomplished, and all the Lord has accomplished through him. A great biography would allow us to glorify God for all he has done through MacArthur’s life and ministry.

R.C. Sproul on how to teach. R.C. Sproul has proven himself one of the most gifted Christian teachers of our time. While there may be more gifted preachers, I cannot think of a single Christian leader who has greater skill as a teacher—something you probably know if you have watched any of those teaching series where he stands in front of his chalk board and simply explains theology or philosophy or any other topic for 25 minutes at a time. I would love to read a book in which Sproul provides guidance on the art, the skill, and the necessity of teaching.

D.A. Carson on Revelation. D.A. Carson is, of course, a notable theologian who has already written several excellent commentaries as well as a host of other important books and articles. He has already left his mark on the church in many ways, but I would love to see him also add a commentary on Revelation. This would give us one of our most brilliant theologians commenting on the most difficult book of the Bible. What a gift! (And yes, I am aware that Carson is slated to write the PNTC volume on Revelation.)

Iain Murray on the Young, Restless, Reformed. It was a few years ago now that Collin Hansen wrote his book Young, Restless, Reformed, and a lot has transpired since then. While it is probably still too soon, I would eventually like to read a full history of the movement—where it came from, what it has accomplished, and what weaknesses were inevitably exposed over time. I suspect Iain Murray is close enough to the movement to understand it, but distant enough to be able to bring objectivity.

The final book by John MacArthur and the final book by R.C. Sproul. This one may not be realistic, but I would love to read a book written by each of these authors that was intended as his final book. This would be a book each of them intends as his last word to the church, the last word at the end of a long and faithful ministry. Here is where they would offer their final challenge to the church as their public ministry comes to an end. I think both books would be utterly fascinating and deeply challenging.

There are many other books I would love to read, but this list represents at least a good start.