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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.

April 14, 2015

No Regrets No RetreatI don’t use the television much anymore. There was a time when I watched a lot of movies and a lot of programs, but these days there isn’t a lot that catches my attention enough to actually dedicate the time to it. There isn’t much that promises more value than I would get from the same time spent with a good book. But I always make an exception for Dispatches from the Front.

Dispatches from the Front is a growing series of videos that follow Tim Keesee as he travels around the world, looking for the hidden and persecuted church. Previous dispatches have taken him to Eastern Europe, North Africa, India, and just about every other region where the church is in danger. The most recent episode, No Regrets, No Retreat takes him all the way to China.

But fittingly, Keesee begins in England. It was, after all, England that first sent Christian missionaries to China. The great Hudson Taylor caught a vision for China and founded China Inland Mission which eventually sent a host of men and women to the far side of the world. As Keesee says at the outset, China has always been to missionaries what Everest is to mountain climbers. The sheer size of the country has always been both daunting and challenging. For most of her history, and certainly her modern history, China has been hostile to the faith. And yet the scope and danger of the challenge has only served as increased motivation for generation after generation of missionaries.

Those missionaries did what God called them to, and the gospel did its work. Today there may be as many as 100 million Christians in China, and China has a growing and thriving church movement all her own. While there are still dangers associated with being a Christian, and especially so outside of the government-sanctioned churches, the government is having to face the reality that their attempts to stamp out Christianity have utterly failed and, if anything, have only catalyzed greater growth. With the church in rapid decline in the west, it is not hard to imagine a future in which China returns the favor, and begins sending missionaries to England and North America.

In this episode, Keesee spends most of his time with one Chinese Christian, one woman, who for decades has been active in teaching and evangelism and even running Christian bookstores. He goes with her to major population centers and to smaller locations, always meeting other Christians, always hearing their stories, and always being encouraged by their deep-rooted faith.

I have enjoyed each one of the episodes of Dispatches from the Front and equally enjoyed the book by the same title. (You can read my review here.) I even took some time out of my vacation last summer to sit and enjoy a coffee with Tim. I regard him as a trusted guide to each of the locations he visits, and have benefited immensely from his interactions with Christians in those places I will never be able to visit. I look forward to each new episode and gladly commend to you both this episode and the entire series. Watch them and you will be both challenged and encouraged.

No Regrets, No Retreat: China is available only in DVD format; for the next few days you can get it for just $6 at Westminster Books (which is a 60% discount). You can also get the complete collection of 8 episodes for just $42.

April 10, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and, well, they just keep coming! In the last couple of weeks my mailbox has been very nearly flooded by books, many of which look just excellent. Here are a few of the highlights.

Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves. I intend to give this one a read, simply because of how much I enjoyed Delighting in the Trinity. “If we want to know who God is, the best thing we can do is look at Christ. If we want to live the life to which God calls us, we look to Christ. In Jesus we see the true meaning of the love, power, wisdom, justice, peace, care and majesty of God. Michael Reeves, author of Delighting in the Trinity, opens to readers the glory and wonder of Christ, offering a bigger and more exciting picture than many have imagined. Jesus didn’t just bring us the good news. He is the good news. Reeves helps us celebrate who Christ is, his work on earth, his death and resurrection, his anticipated return and how we share in his life. This book, then, aims for something deeper than a new technique or a call to action. In an age that virtually compels us to look at ourselves, Michael Reeves calls us to look at Christ. As we focus our hearts on him, we see how he is our life, our righteousness, our holiness and our hope.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Quest for the Historical Adam: Genesis, Hermeneutics, and Human Origins by William Vandoodewaard. Here’s a work by a trusted author on an awfully important subject. “Was Adam really a historical person, and can we trust the biblical story of human origins? Or is the story of Eden simply a metaphor, leaving scientists the job to correctly reconstruct the truth of how humanity began? Although the church currently faces these pressing questions exacerbated as they are by scientific and philosophical developments of our age we must not think that they are completely new. In The Quest for the Historical Adam, William VanDoodewaard recovers and assesses the teaching of those who have gone before us, providing a historical survey of Genesis commentary on human origins from the patristic era to the present. Reacquainting the reader with a long line of theologians, exegetes, and thinkers, VanDoodewaard traces the roots, development, and, at times, disappearance of hermeneutical approaches and exegetical insights relevant to discussions on human origins. This survey not only informs us of how we came to this point in the conversation but also equips us to recognize the significance of the various alternatives on human origins.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Song of Songs: A Biblical-Theological, Allegorical, Christological Interpretation by James Hamilton. I deeply respect both the author and the commentary series, so I suspect this must be a really good resource. “In the Song of Songs the son of David, King in Jerusalem, overcomes hostility and alienation to renew intimacy between himself and his Bride. This most sublime Song sings of a love sure as the seal of Yahweh, a flashing flame of fire many waters could never quench. James M. Hamilton Jr, in this latest addition to the popular Focus on the Bible series, pours fresh light on this inspiring and uplifting book.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement: 3 Views, edited by Andy Naselli & Mark Snoeberger. This is one of two new volumes in B&H’s “Perspectives” series. “Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement presents a point-counterpoint exchange concerning God’s intention in sending Christ to die on the cross. All three contributors recognize a substitutionary element in the atoning work of Christ, but disagree over the nature and objects of that substitution. Carl Trueman (Westminster Theological Seminary) argues that Christ’s atoning work secured the redemption of his elect alone. While infinite in value, Christ’s death was intended for and applied strictly to those whom the Father had elected unconditionally in eternity past. John Hammett (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) argues that Christ’s atoning work had multiple intentions. Of these intentions two rise to the fore: (1) the intention to accomplish atonement for God’s elect and (2) the intention to provide atonement for all mankind. Grant Osborne (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) argues that Christ’s atoning work provided atonement generally for all mankind. The application of that atoning work is conditioned, however, on each person’s willingness to receive it.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Perspectives on IsraelPerspectives on Israel and the Church: 4 Views, edited by Chad Brand. And here’s the second new volume in the “Perspectives” series. “The relationship between Israel and the church is one of the most debated issues in the history of theology. Some hold the view that there is almost seamless continuity between Israel and the church, while others believe there is very little continuity. Additional perspectives lie between these two. This debate has contributed to the formation of denominations and produced a variety of political views about the state of Israel. To advance the conversation, Perspectives on Israel and the Church brings together respected theologians representing four positions: Traditional covenantal view by Robert L. Reymond; Traditional dispensational view by Robert L. Thomas; Progressive dispensational view by Robert L. Saucy; Progressive covenantal view by Chad Brand and Tom Pratt Jr.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships with the Love of Jesus by Jessica Thompson. “It’s hard, sometimes, to get over that thing your husband said weeks ago; or to resolve that tension with your colleague at work; or to fix a lifelong friendship that’s taken a bad turn. The biggest problem with relationships is they always seem to involve sinners—including ourselves. So how can we form strong, resilient bonds with people who, like us, are bound to mess up? Thankfully, it’s not all on us. Through stories and biblical teaching, Jessica Thompson helps us move beyond trying to “fix” the people we interact with, and shows us a better way. Though our relationships may be marred by tension and frustration, because we are welcomed and known by Christ, they don’t have to stay that way.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

March 19, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and at this time of the year my desk is almost overflowing with all of them. Here are a few of the highlights that have shown up in the past few weeks.

PhilippiansPhilippians: A Mentor Commentary by Matthew Harmon. The Mentor commentaries from Christian Focus has long been an excellent and trustworthy series. Harmon’s volume now extends the series to Philippians. I have only skimmed through the book, but have already found some excellent insights. It comes with endorsements from Thomas Schreiner, Douglas Moo, Robert W. Yarbrough, Justin Taylor, and James Hamilton. Here is the publisher’s brief description: “Christians throughout the centuries have loved Paul’s letter to the Philippians for its call to rejoice in the gospel of Jesus Christ regardless of life’s circumstances. But our familiarity with the letter can cause us to neglect or overlook Paul’s message to the Philippians. Dr Matthew Harmon in this uplifting and inspiring work brings context and application to this wonderful book.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

ActsActs by Guy Prentiss Waters. Mentor commentaries is not the only series that has grown this month. Evangelical Press Study Commentaries is another fantastic series and it has now added a volume on Acts written by Guy Prentiss Waters who is Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. Derek Thomas commends the volume with these words: “Dr. Waters is the ideal commentator on Acts. Scholarly, pastoral, theological all these and more combine in making this my first resource for Luke s second volume. An outstanding contribution to the series and deserving of the appellation, Essential!” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

MacArthurThe Shepherd as Preacher: Delivering God’s Word with Passion and Power, edited by John MacArthur. This is the first of a short series of books called “The Shepherd’s Library,” and the material is a kind of “best-of” from the many years of The Shepherd’s Conference. Here is the publisher’s description: “When you consider all that God desires to accomplish through preaching, it becomes apparent why it’s such a big deal. It’s God’s main means of feeding, comforting, correcting, and protecting His people—as well as pointing unbelievers to Christ. Such an enormous responsibility deserves a pastor’s best. In The Shepherd as Preacher, you’ll find the best encouragement and guidance available on how you can preach God’s Word God’s way. With John MacArthur and other outstanding Bible teachers, you’ll survey the essentials every minister needs to know, including the focus and purpose of biblical preaching, the character of a faithful preacher, the keys to effective preaching, how to preach in the Spirit’s power.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

BillingsRejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ by J. Todd Billings. I have heard a lot about this book, and every word of it has been glowingly positive. The publisher says, simply, “A Christian theologian shares his journey, struggle, and reflections on providence, lament, and life in Christ in light of his diagnosis of incurable cancer” but you may gain more insight by Michael Horton’s endorsement: “Every chapter brims with pools of insight, pointing us beyond platitudes to the God who has met us—and keeps on meeting us—in the Suffering and Risen Servant. This is a book not just for reading but for meditation and prayer.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

ThiseltonThe Thiselton Companion to Christian Theology by Anthony Thiselton. This is a big reference volume that looks very helpful. “Covering everything from “Abba” to “Zwingli,” The Thiselton Companion to Christian Theology offers a comprehensive account of a wide sweep of topics and thinkers in Christian theology. Written entirely by eminent scholar Anthony Thiselton, the book features a coherence lacking in most multiauthored volumes. Drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge, gained from fifty-plus years of study and teaching, Thiselton provides some six hundred articles on various aspects of theology throughout the centuries. The entries comprise both short descriptive surveys and longer essays of original assessment on central theological topics…” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

30 Events30 Events That Shaped the Church: Learning from Scandal, Intrigue, War, and Revival by Alton Gansky. I like books like this one, that approach history not only chronologically but also thematically. “The church of today did not appear on the earth fully formed; rather, it developed over the centuries. Following Jesus’ command to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth, the apostles and their spiritual descendants have grown the church through times of peace and times of war, through persecution and pilgrimage. The church that began as a ragtag group of Middle Eastern fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots became the multiethnic, multifaceted church we know today through historical events that, while they may seem distant, have a direct effect on our everyday lives. Now thirty of these course-altering events are brought vividly to life by consummate storyteller Alton Gansky. Spanning twenty centuries of history, this lively book will entertain, educate, and enlighten you even as it enriches your appreciation for those who have come before us in the faith.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

February 27, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and with a new year comes a whole new batch of books that qualify as notable. Here are a few of the highlights that have shown up in my mailbox recently.

Tough Topics 2Tough Topics 2: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions by Sam Storms. Between this book and the volume that preceded it (which, curiously, was published by a different publisher), Sam Storms has built quite a nice little collection of good answers to tough questions. Here is the publisher’s description: “Countless people are worried, angry, fearful and just plain confused when it comes to some of the more perplexing issues that life poses and the Bible provokes. Tough Topics 2 provides solid and scriptural answers to 25 such questions. Sam Storms seeks to tackle frustration by looking deeply, not superficially, at what Scripture says, deriving clear and persuasive explanations for these thorny matters.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

HosannaHosanna, Loud Hosannas by Barbara & David Leeman. Here is a unique resource. “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna is a hymnal, it is a textbook, and it is a devotional book. 115 essential hymns that every child should sing. … This book was written for use in worship chapels at Christian Schools, children’s ministries of churches, and family worship.” Keith and Kristin Getty endorse it, saying: “We are so excited about the publication of this hymnbook for children. Our prayer is that our children will be singing theologically-rich hymns such as the ones found here long after we are gone and will continue to pass them on from generation to generation.” For more information visit studenthymnal.com. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

HappyThe Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World by David Murray. “Hopelessness has invaded much of our culture, even reaching deep into the church. But while the world is awash in negativity, Christians have resources to live differently. In The Happy Christian, professor and pastor David Murray blends the best of modern science and psychology with the timeless truths of Scripture to create a solid, credible guide to positivity. The author of the acclaimed Christians Get Depressed Too, Murray exposes modern negativity’s insidious roots and presents ten perspective-changing ways to remain optimistic in a world that keeps trying to drag us down. The Happy Christian invites readers to shed negativity and become countercultural missionaries by demonstrating the positive power of the gospel in their lives.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Porn-Free Family
February 13, 2015

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and, thanks to one surprising bestseller and its new film adaptation, the whole world is buzzing about pornography and deviant sexuality. 50 Shades has done everything it can to beat and brutalize an otherwise sweet occasion. The day of hearts and flowers has been turned into a day of whips and chains. It’s abhorrent.

Sadly, pornography is one of those subjects I have written about many times over the years. I did not set out to write so many articles, and even a short book, on the subject. Yet as someone who has invested a lot of effort in discipling young adults, and who has at the same time been attempting to make sense of the digital explosion, it has been sadly inevitable.

Here are ten articles I’ve written on the subject of pornography and deviant sexuality:

7 Good Reasons to Stop Looking at Porn Right Now. In this article I sketch out 7 reasons you need to break your porn habit, and do it by suggesting 7 different costs: The cost to your soul, to your neighbor, to your church, to your Savior, and so on. Pornography is not a private sin done in darkness, but a sin against the entire community.

50 Shades of Porn - This one was written almost exactly 2 years ago and contained this warning: “Women, you need to be aware because the pornographers are coming after you. Yes, you.”

Pornolesence - Pornolesence is a word I coined to describe something I have seen a hundred times over: Pornolescence is that period when a person is old enough and mature enough to know that pornography is wrong and that it exacts a heavy price, but too immature or too apathetic to do anything about it. Pornolescence is that period where he feels the guilt of his sin, but still enjoys it too much to give it up. It is a very dangerous place to be.

The Porn-Free Family Plan - The Porn Free Family Plan is a step-by-step plan to help your family be, and remain, porn-free. It will teach you the tools, and the character qualities, you will need to protect your family. (Note: It has been revised and expanded in the second edition of my book The Next Story which releases in a couple of weeks.)

Hope in a Pornified World - Despite all the bad news, I believe that we can have great hope for the future. In this article I share two of those reasons for hope: God’s common grace, and a whole new generation of parents.

Sexual Detox - Pornifying the Marriage Bed - This was the first of a series of articles that eventually became a book. While the book was expanded, improved and edited, the blog series maintains some of that urgency.

Mobility, Privacy, Pornography - The takeaway from this one is very simple but also very important: The majority of pornography is now being consummed on mobile devices. Yet the majority of our efforts in protecting our families has gone into our fixed computers.

Please Don’t Give Them Porn for Christmas - Every Christmas (and birthday and graduation and …) a lot of children will receive porn from their parents. It not what they wanted, and not what their parents intended for them to have. But they will get it anyway. That’s because parents are not properly training their children to use their devices.

Help! My Kids Are Looking at Porn! - It’s a tough reality that so many parents have had to deal with. This article suggests ways to approach your children when you learn of their struggles.

7 Lessons from 50 Shades of Gray - I collaborated with Helen Thorne on this article that attempts to address the 50 Shades phenomenon.

Book Recommendations

Here are books I recommend on the subject of pornography.

Top Recommendation

Finally Free by Heath Lambert. 

Having read many books on this topic, I quickly identified three unique and noteworthy strengths in Finally Free. The first is its commitment to the gospel of grace. Lambert avoids using “gospel” or “grace” like buzzwords that have no real meaning. He speaks of grace as a power that we can discover, that we can use, that is available to us as we fight against sin. The second is the books sheer practicality. No other book I have read so helpfully lays out strategies—strategies you can actually do and that will actually work—in the fight against porn. The third is its encouraging tone. He encourages by focusing on Christ’s power over sin and he encourages by his authority on the subject, earned in those thousands and thousands of counselling sessions.

Other Recommendations

  • Undefiled by Harry Schaumburg. Schaumburg’s particular strength and ministry is in recovery from sexual sin. This book is ideal for hurting spouses who are attempting to recover together.
  • Wired For Intimacy by William Struthers. Struthers explores the important link between pornography and biology.
  • Purity Is Possible by Helen Thorne. Written for women, this book addresses the issues of pornography, fantasy and erotica from a female perspective.
  • Sexual Sanity For Men by David White is geared toward helping men build or recover a healthy sexual identity. Also consider Sexual Sanity for Women by Ellen Dykas (Amazon). 
  • My own Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn is a short, punchy book on pornography geared particularly to young men.
  • Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin is a gut-honest book about porn and one that provides a hopeful way forward.

February 05, 2015
I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and with a new year comes a whole new batch of books that qualify as notable. Here are a few of the highlights that have shown up in my mailbox recently.

Who Is JesusWho Is Jesus? by Greg Gilbert. This is the latest volume in an ongoing series of books from 9Marks. Like many of the others, it looks like one to buy in bulk and give away. Here’s the description: “A famed historian once noted that, regardless of what you think of him personally, Jesus Christ stands as the central figure in the history of Western civilization. A man violently rejected by some and passionately worshipped by others, Jesus remains as polarizing as ever. But most people still know very little about who he really was, why he was really here, or what he really claimed. Intended as a succinct introduction to Jesus’s life, words, and enduring significance, Who Is Jesus? offers non-Christians and new Christians alike a compelling portrait of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, this book encourages readers to carefully consider the history-shaping life and extraordinary teachings of the greatest man who ever lived.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Discovering RomansDiscovering Romans: Spiritual Revival for the Soul by S. Lewis Johnson (Adapted by Mike Abendroth). It is tough to overlook the strength of the endorsements for this book, as they range from Sinclair Ferguson to Steve Lawson to Danny Akin to Sam Storms. All of them agree that Johnson was a great expositor and that this volume is a worthy read. “Discovering Romans: Spiritual Revival for the Soul is a popular level guide by outstanding Bible teacher S. Lewis Johnson that opens up the motivating truths found in the apostle Paul’s powerful letter to the Romans. Anyone hungry to grow in practical understanding of Scripture will profit from Johnson’s rich teaching that stimulates both mind and emotions. This beloved pastor and professor works through the text engagingly, providing both clarifying insights and life applications along the way. Each chapter ends with reflection questions, making this volume useful not only for individual reading (or preparation for teaching) but also in small group Bible studies. John MacArthur once said, ‘Through the years I have listened to the preaching of S. Lewis Johnson far more than any other preacher.’ Reading through this volume will be a soul-reviving experience.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

BeholdBehold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Russ Ramsey. This one looks like a slightly different view of that same old story we so love. “Enter into the greatest story ever told. In this carefully researched retelling of the story of Jesus, Russ Ramsey invites us to rediscover our wonder at his sinless life, brutal death, and glorious resurrection. Featuring forty short chapters recounting key episodes from Jesus’s time on earth, this book expands on the biblical narrative in a fresh and creative way—giving us a taste of what it would have been like to walk next to Jesus and experience his earthly ministry first hand.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Mary SlessorMary Slessor: A Life on the Altar for God by Bruce McLennan. I can’t say that I had even heard of Mary Slessor until I received this book. But now I want to know more! “Mary Slessor was no ordinary woman, indeed she was no ordinary missionary. Brought up in Dundee, one of eleven children, Mary was called to mission and set sail for West Africa in 1876. Bruce McLennan examines this remarkable story of a woman who shared the gospel, stood up against inequality and impacted all areas of life in Calabar with boldness and conviction.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

ResurrectionThe Resurrection in Your Life: How the Living Christ Changes Your World by Mike McKinley. I enjoy McKinley’s writing. “Christians often spend time arguing that Jesus rose, but we forget to appreciate why it actually matters. In the follow-up to his brilliant book on the cross, Passion, US pastor and well-known author Mike McKinley considers the revolutionary consequences for each of us of Christ’s resurrection, ascension and the sending of his Spirit. Walk through Luke 24 and Acts 1-2 and discover how the reality that Jesus lives can and should change every aspect of our world. Whether you’re a new or a mature Christian, let the joy, peace, confidence and purpose of the resurrection flood into your everyday life.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

The Trailblazers series from Christian Focus has a whole collection of short biographies of noteworthy Christians targetted at younger readers. It is an excellent series, and I am glad to see they have just added three new volumes: Hannah More: The Woman Who Wouldn’t Stop Writing by Sarah Allen, Lottie Moon: Changing China for Christ by Nancy Drummond, and Frances Ridley Havergal: The Girl Who Loved Mountains by Lucille Travis. You can buy them all at Amazon: Hannah More, Lottie MoonFrances Ridley Havergal.

January 09, 2015

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and with a new year comes a whole new batch of books that qualify as notable. Here are a few of the highlights that have shown up in my mailbox recently.

Doriani1 Peter by Daniel Doriani. I’ve often said that the Reformed Expository Commentaries are just about my favorite commentary set. They are always well-written, theologically-deep, and doctrinally-pure—a killer combination. Because they are based on sermons, they are useful for Bible study, sermon preparation or personal devotions. 1 Peter has been written by Daniel Doriani, a regular contributor to the series, and D.A. Carson says this about it: “Among the many expositions of 1 Peter, this REC volume stands out. It is exemplary in its careful handling of the text, theological robustness, and fresh writing. Unsurprisingly from the author of Putting the Truth to Work, which is the best treatment available on application, this exposition of 1 Peter is loaded with the best kind of application: faithful to the text, reflective, never forced, often telling.” (Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon)

EcclesiastesEcclesiastes by Douglas Sean O’Donnell. 1 Peter is not the only new entry in the Reformed Expository Series. Douglas Sean O’Donnell has prepared the volume on Ecclesiastes and it is shipping now as well. Derek Thomas provides this endorsement: “Ecclesiastes is a book for our time: its relentless examination of the source of meaning and relevance finds echoes in every facet of contemporary life and its restless pursuit of happiness. Douglas Sean O’Donnell’s treatment of Ecclesiastes is both fresh and thorough. … A wonderful achivement.” I can hardly wait to read it! (Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon)

MinglingThe Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption by Matt Chandler. Matt Chandler has teamed up with Jared Wilson on several books and their partnership continues in this one, which is based on Chandler’s sermons on Song of Solomon. Here is what the publisher says about it: “The Song of Solomon offers strikingly candid—and timeless—insights on romance, dating, marriage, and sex. We need it. Because emotions rise and fall with a single glance, touch, kiss, or word. And we are inundated with songs, movies, and advice that contradicts God’s design for love and intimacy. Matt Chandler helps navigate these issues for both singles and marrieds by revealing the process Solomon himself followed: Attraction, Courtship, Marriage … even Arguing. The Mingling of Souls will forever change how you view and approach love.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Hand in HandHand in Hand: The Beauty of God’s Sovereignty and Meaningful Human Choice by Randy Alcorn. Few authors have left a more indelible imprint on my life than Randy Alcorn, so I am looking forward to diving into this new book which examines the tension between God’s sovereignty and human choice. “In Hand in Hand, Randy Alcorn says that the traditional approach to this debate has often diminished our trust in God and his purposes. Instead of making a one-sided argument from select verses, Alcorn examines the question in light of all Scripture. By exploring what the whole Bible says about divine sovereignty and human choice, hand in Hand helps us carefully and honestly examine the different views on this issue; gain a deeper understanding of God; appreciate God’s design in providing us the freedom of meaningful choice; learn how to communicate about the issue in clear and compassionate ways,” and more. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

PsalmsThe Book of Psalms by Nancy deClaisse-Walford, Rolf Jacobson & Beth LeNeel Tanner. A new volume in the venerable New International Commentary on the Old Testament series always qualifies as noteworthy, and especially when it takes on a book as significant as Psalms. In this 1,000-page volume the three co-authors provide commentary on all 150 psalms. I am certainly not qualified to evaluate the quality of their work, so while we wait for the reviews we will simply consider it new and noteworthy. (Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon)

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