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January 19, 2009

Take Charge of Your LifeThere may be some who will get no further than the cover or even the title of Take Charge of Your Life. There on the cover is the smiling face of the author, rather a rarity for a book that is actually worth reading. And that title sounds like it may just be the title of a book by Dr. Phil or Joel Osteen. And yet at the top are these words by John MacArthur: “Superb…Prepare yourself for a study that is at once challenging and uplifting.” It seems a study in contradictions. Yet behind the cover and behind the title is a solid book, a very good book, that will challenge any reader, believer or unbeliever alike.

January 14, 2009

I don’t often post reviews two days in a row, but today you’ll need to bear with me.

The Little Boy Down the RoadI was somewhat surprised but rather pleased to find The Little Boy Down the Road in my mailbox one morning. It was the first I had heard of the book. I was drawn to it by its pastoral cover and its simple premise—“Short Stories and Essays on the Beauty of Family Life.” As the subtitle says, this is a collection of stories and essays that attempt to reveal the beauty of family life. It is, perhaps surprisingly, the first of Douglas Phillips’ books that I’ve read. Let me share a brief overview of its chapters.

January 13, 2009

Its Not FairA couple of months ago I was having one of those mornings. I was in a grumpy mood to begin with and was grumbling as I headed downstairs to find that the children’s lunches remained unmade. With just a few minutes before they had to be out the door and on the school bus I set to work on one of my least favorite routine jobs. As I did so I grumbled, “It’s just not fair!” And in that very moment I had a little epiphany. Nothing’s fair. Fairness is not a concept that has any business in the Christian life. I gain nothing by focusing on fairness. I repented and got to work with a whole new attitude. The day got better. The more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realized that there was something to my thought that day. Worrying about fairness is a spiritual and emotional dead end.

January 06, 2009

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George MarsdenAsk those who love biography and ask those who admire Jonathan Edwards and you will find the jury split on which biography best tells the life of Edwards. Some will vote for Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography while others will opt for George Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards: A Life. Most will say, rightly, that you cannot go wrong with either one; both are excellent and both are well worth reading.

December 23, 2008

Virtual IntegrityThe internet is a minefield—there is no doubt about it. For every blessing it brings (and there are many) there seem to be innumerable dangers. For every relationship forged and strengthened, there is another damaged or destroyed. For every minute of time saved through some great technological advance, there are hours wasted in distraction and procrastination. For every good use, there are uncounted evil uses. Such is the fate of technology in the hands of sinful human beings.

December 20, 2008

It’s probably not a good idea for a drug addict to work as a pharmacist. Actually, I’d say it’s definitely not a good idea for a drug addict to work as a pharmacist. And yet, in 1996, when Jared Combs graduated from school and became a licensed pharmacist, he was heavily addicted to all kinds of drugs—any kind of drug, really.

As is so often the case, Combs had to be brought low—very low—before he could see any substantial change and healing. In his case, Combs had to spend time in prison for stealing and consuming drugs. He was twice arrested and twice fired from jobs he loved. And yet today he is a testimony to grace. He has been sober for several years and once more practices pharmacy, this time at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. He is the father of three young children and is a committed husband. The strangely-titled Incomprehensible Demoralization is Jared Combs’ story of addiction and recovery. It is a story of one man’s transformation from a hopeless alcoholic and drug addict on the fast-track to a lifetime behind bars to a sober, church-attending family man.

December 09, 2008

Dont Stop Believing by Michael WittmerMichael Wittmer feels trapped in the middle. To one side are conservative Christians demanding lockstep allegiance to narrow doctrinal statements—statements so detailed that they insist on specific theories of the end times or specific understandings of the spiritual gifts. Such people interpret doubts, questions, or appreciation for other viewpoints to be the first signs of an inevitable slide to liberalism. On the other side are postmodern Christians who question many traditional assumptions—or maybe even every traditional assumption—but who go about it in ways that discredit their arguments; they offer new and novel interpretations of key Scripture texts and refuse to state exactly what they believe. To the one side are those who want to believe like Jesus while on the other are those who want to live like Jesus; to the one side are those who love their beliefs while to the other are those who believe in their love.

December 06, 2008

Signs of the SpiritRecent years have seen a resurgence of interest in the writing of prominent Christians of days past. Christians have turned with renewed interest to church Fathers, to Reformers and to Puritans. One of the chief benefits of this interest has been the many “interpretations” and contemporary adaptations of classic books. Taylor and Kapic, working with Crossway, have edited two volumes of John Owen, giving us updated versions of Owen’s classic texts on the Holy Spirit and on Sin and temptation. Also from Crossway comes Signs of the Spirit, Sam Storms’ interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’ The Religious Affections.

December 02, 2008

Outliers by Malcolm GladwellI am an unabashed fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s books. I enjoy his style of writing and admire his ability to not only dig up fascinating stories and statistics, but to weave them together into a cohesive whole. Blink and The Tipping Point were both excellent books that, even if not particularly deep, offered popular-level introductions into topics all of us experience but few of us think about. It is little wonder, really, that Gladwell’s books are perennial bestsellers. At the moment I write this review, all three of his titles are firmly fixed on the New York Times list of Bestsellers.

November 25, 2008

TwilightTwilight is a phenomenon; or that is what I hear. I began to receive emails about it a short time ago and the requests for a review have increased as the release of the Twilight movie has approached. Strangely, I get more requests to review teenage fiction than any other genre. I usually reply with an apologetic email saying that I do not review such titles. But because of the popularity of this series I decided to make an exception. With great trepidation and with eyes fixed firmly on the floor, I went to a local store and purchased the whole series—four books. I read the first volume, which I will review today, and left it to Aileen (the fiction expert in our home) to read the rest of the series.