Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review: On This Day in Christian History by Robert J. Morgan

On This Day in Christian History is a collection of stories about various "saints, martyrs, and heroes" throughout church history. As its title suggests, each story is told on a date relevant to the event and/or character (i.e. birth, death, sermon preached, imprisonment, etc.). Robert Morgan also selects a relevant verse or two from Scripture to be read following each day's story, one for each day of the year. Additionally, there is an index of selected topics at the conclusion of the book which some readers may find beneficial.

In reading On This Day in Christian History, I learned something about myself: I do not do well with snippets. What I mean is, I, personally, do not enjoy reading a short, isolated devotion on some aspect of history. This book seemed a bit disjointed (and at times, redundant) to me. Perhaps it is because I have a limited understanding of Christian history and so, have difficulty placing individual devotions into the "bigger picture."

That being said, there is nothing expressly wrong with this book. Robert Morgan freely quotes the individuals of whom he writes and frequently makes use of primary sources (though lacking documentation). It reminds me of a textbook approach to history. I did not find the writing style “inspiring” as the subtitle suggested one would. However, my family visited for the holiday season, and my dad enjoyed reading the book each morning while he was here.

In sum, if you like a condensed, matter-of-fact telling, you will probably like On This Day in Christian History. It is clear, concise, and somewhat informative. As for me, I think I'll stick with a chronological approach in the future.

*Many thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Large Family Logistics Sale

If you've been looking to get a copy of Kim Brenneman's new book Large Family Logistics, now may be a great time to pick one up as Vision Forum has them on sale for $10.80 until December 31, 2010. This is a great price as the book is typically $19-$24, depending on where you seek to purchase it. I got my copy just before Christmas (it was on sale for $12 and I had a $10 off coupon!). I've read over half of it and skimmed the rest. It is an excellent resource! I think it would be valuable for any Mom seeking to better organize her household management to the glory of God. I plan to do a comparison of this and Managers of Their Homes in the future (once I complete reading this volume and refresh on the other), but if you are looking for that information now, please feel free to email me, and I'll share my preliminary thoughts. ;)

Happy Reading, Friends!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Review: Exegetical Commentary

I recently had the privilege of reading a good portion of Zondervan's Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Galatians. Several unique features of this commentary (compared to others that I have seen) are its interaction with the original language of the New Testament, its concise main idea sentences, its emphasis on the theology presented within each passage, and the application of said theology.

I found this volume to be Christ-centered and focused on the truth of the Gospel and the cross of Christ. For example, Thomas Schreiner expounds upon Galatians 1:4, stating:

"The Galatians are only entranced by circumcision because they have forgotten the significance of the cross...A right relationship with God is not obtained by circumcision but only through trusting in the cross of Jesus Christ" (pg. 76).

This message, echoing a major theme in Galatians, is found repeatedly throughout the volume. It is a good reminder for all of us who are tempted, at times, to trust in our works to make us acceptable in God's sight.

Another thing that I found particularly helpful, is that Mr. Schreiner doesn't merely inform his reader(s) on matters such as the situation to which the epistle is written, but rather, clearly suggests principles which could be applied when reading other epistles. In this way, Mr. Schreiner not only teaches his reader about the particular situation of which Paul is addressing in his epistle to the Galatians but also equips the reader to discern these matters when reading other Biblical texts in the future.

All in all, I would say that this is a helpful commentary volume (albeit lengthy), especially for those who enjoy examining the original languages but also for those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the theology of the text and its application for the church today.

*Many thanks to Zondervan for providing a copy of this text in exchange for my honest opinion!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review: God's Mighty Acts in Creation

God's Mighty Acts in Creation

Idolatry.  Few books written for adults go beyond the concept of worshipping images of false gods (i.e. the golden calf, Exodus; Baal, Artemis, etc.). Even fewer children's resources tackle the subject. While it isn't the primary purpose of Starr Meade's new book, God's Mighty Acts in Creation, idolatry is one of the many subjects that she explains in a way that young children can easily grasp without watering down the truth.

God's Mighty Acts in Creation goes through each of the days of creation showing how God created everything in nature to tell us something about Himself. What does light tell us about God? What does the grass tell us about God? God, in His infinite wisdom, created everything to declare His glory. Starr Meade effectively connects God's Word and the Gospel to many aspects of creation helping her reader understand many difficult Biblical concepts including idolatry; general and special revelation; God's holiness, wisdom, omniscience, omnipresence; our sinfulness and depravity, our need for a mediator, atonement, and many other things-especially God's character and attributes. While the publisher recommends this book for children ages 8-12, I found that my seven-year-old daughter thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from Starr Meade's writing. Each of the forty-five devotions within this book: begin with a Scripture, contain a two-page commentary, and close with a simple question and/or activity. The questions/activities at the end of each reading are easy but effective at  "driving home" the concepts about which Ms. Meade has written. God's Mighty Acts in Creation is a spectacular resource for parents wishing to help their children better understand how "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1, ESV). I look forward to reading the volume to which this is a companion, God's Mighty Acts in Salvation.

See what others are saying about this book @ the Crossway Blog.

*Many thanks to Crossway for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Book Review: "Think"

God uses Piper to stir my affections afresh. Through Piper's writing, I am encouraged to study harder, think deeper, and to pursue God with greater intensity. Piper's latest book Think is no exception. It is written for those who thrive on thinking and for those who would rather not think much at all.

As usual, Piper has written a deep, thought-provoking, immensely helpful book. He discusses the importance of reading and of taking time in reading to ask questions and of working hard to understand. 

"If you cannot embrace the pain of learning but must have instant gratification, you forfeit the greatest rewards of life. So it is with reading the Bible. The greater riches are for those who will work hard to understand all that is really there" (pg. 47).

Furthermore, Piper expounds upon the role of thinking in coming to faith and in loving God.

"…we cannot love God without knowing God…If we do not know anything about God, there is nothing in our mind to awaken love" (pg. 90).

This book is filled with Gospel-truth. In it, Piper talks about saving faith at length because "you can have a zeal for God and not be saved" (pg. 162).

In Think, you will also find tools to counter the "true for you, but not true for me" relativist sentiment that is so prevalent in society today as well as other challenges (i.e. anti-intellectualism and avoiding knowledge that puffs up) . I wish I had had this book before I headed off to college!

"The aim of this book..." Piper says, " to encourage serious, faithful, humble thinking that leads to the true knowledge of God, which leads to loving him, which overflows in loving others" (pg. 20).

Do you find that Christ is supremely valuable in your life, more to be treasured than everything that the world offers? Would you give up everything just to be with Him? Can you say with Paul, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil. 3:8 as quoted by Piper, pg. 71)? If not, grab this book. Meditate on the Scripture and the Biblical truth found therein. Let it stir you afresh.  It is an awesome read!

*Many thanks to Crossway for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!