Saturday, January 11, 2020

Quote of the Day

"A fellow lecturer told his Bible class that it did not matter whether the biblical character Job was real or fictional.  For him, the point off Job's book is to teach us about suffering, and the historicity of Job is immaterial to that lesson.  I cannot disagree more strongly, and hopefully this illustration will help clarify why. 

Suppose you are going through a difficult time in your life.  Perhaps it is from the death of a close relative or you struggle with debilitating illness. Just like the psalmist who felt abandoned by God in his deepest time of need, you feel lost and adrift in your suffering, with no sense of God's care.  In this state, you ask me to bring you wise counsel and comfort.

I tell you a story about a man who built a spaceship to travel to Venus.  Due to a technological breakthrough, he was able to equip his vessel with heat-resistant panels, making it safe to venture close to the sun.  Unfortunately, along the way the panels failed and his eyes were burned out of their sockets.  With all hope seemingly lost, in his despair he called out for help and God rescued him.

What would your reaction be to my story?  Would you thank me for the incredible comfort I gave you?  Or would you look at me with a glare, wondering how I expect this silly story to assist you?....Fiction can provide little comfort for the realities of life.  It is akin to telling someone struggling through financial difficulty, "Don't worry, you'll win the lottery."  Or to a man who lost his legs in a car accident, "Let me read you a story about a man who drank some sugar water and his legs grew back overnight."

The real God of creation acts in the real events of human history.  Our Christian faith is not rooted in esoteric platitudes or ethereal propositional truths to which we grant our mental assent.  Our faith is rooted in concrete experiences, with God breaking into history in amazing ways…"

- Victor Kuligin - From his book: Snubbing God: The High Cost of Rejecting God's Created Order

See more quotes on my quote collection blog:

Friday, January 10, 2020

Promises of God Storybook Bible by Jennifer Lyell

The Promises of God Storybook Bible is a high level overview of many of the accounts in the Bible aimed at children. I liked several aspects of it, for one, it doesn't shy away from teaching what many would consider 'deep' truths, that even adults struggle with.  It seems to go by the premise that kids will take God's word in faith (as we all must do). Here are some excerpts to illustrate this, "…He is only one God, but He has three persons that are all completely that one God" and, "He has always known every single thing that was going to happen, and nothing ever happens without His permission.  That means when we hear about something that happened in the Bible, where someone disobeyed God or it seems like God's plans were messed up, God's plans were never messed up. "  It doesn't shy away from concepts of God's sovereignty, for instance in dealing with Rahab the harlot it says, "God had made it so that Rahab would hear all these things, and then He changed her heart to want to follow Him."

At first I was afraid that this book would promote, or at least leave room for, Creation taking place for millions of years.  At first it seemed that it was at least leaving room for that concept as it didn't initially describe six "days", but then it actually did seem to get more specific: "God filled the water with fish and animals that swim!  Big fish and little fish.  They were all created in one second because He said they should exist." Okay, the term "One second" certainly doesn't leave room for evolution! I do wish that it would have clarified creation as taking place in six days though.

This book needs some clarification/corrective commentary if read to/by kids.  I'll give a few examples:  For one thing, the book seems to assume that there were sacrifices for sin before the Mosaic law.  It teaches that God told Abraham to kill Isaac as a sacrifice for sin. I don't remember God specifying that it would be a sacrifice for sin, just that he was to offer Isaac up as a burnt offering (were all 'burnt offerings' sacrifices for sin?).  Also, later on, in dealing with Moses, after he flees Egypt, "The Bible doesn't tell us for sure, but it seems that during this time Moses asked God's forgiveness for killing the Egyptian and made the sacrifice he had to make for that sin."  Again, perhaps I'm wrong, but I thought that sin sacrifices, in particular, were not instituted by God until the Mosaic law.   

It also reads things into some of the accounts.  For instance, it talks about Abraham being worried that God really as going to make him kill his own son.  "His heart must have been beating so hard, and he was probably had tears in his eyes as he worried that maybe God really was going to make him kill his own son." The Bible doesn't say that Abraham was worried that he MIGHT have to actually kill his son, he actually didn't seem to have any question as to whether or not he would have to kill his son, rather he seemed to have instantly made up his mind that he would kill his son because God had told him to do it.  He was all in, also evidenced by his contemplating that God can even bring people back from the dead. 

In the illustrations, Aaron looks significantly younger than Moses - that seems weird as Aaron was older than Moses.  Also, and I expected this, but there are illustrations of Christ.  I always feel a bit uncomfortable with depictions of Christ, and still do - especially with cartoon illustrations.  These aren't as strange and irreverent seeming as some (Beginner's Bible), but still make me uneasy. 

Anyway, this book is sort of an overview/ paraphrase with some interpretative commentary thrown in.

Many thanks to the folks at B&H publishers for sending me a free review copy of this book. My review did not have to be favorable.

My Rating: Three Stars ***

This book may be purchased at and

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Gift Ideas for Christian Book Lovers

Having trouble finding a present for a book lover in your family? Or are you a book lover yourself and trying to answer someone's question to you, "what would you like for Christmas?" For me, that is often a hard question to answer. Good, interesting books just seem to get harder and harder to find. Sometimes I'll come across an interesting quotation or excerpt from a book, and that will answer my question.  I've compiled a list of some of my favorite books, with summaries and a quotation from each one. Perhaps one of them will spark your interest and give you an idea of what you'd like to read next.


Free Grace and Dying Love: 
The Life of Susannah Surgeon
- By Charles Ray and Susannah Spurgeon

This is a rather short biography of Mrs. Spurgeon, but still very interesting and inspiring. Susannah Spurgeon is another example of living for God in whatever circumstances and with whatever limitations He has given you, making the most of the time He has allotted for you. Also, it includes twenty-four little musings that she wrote about Scriptural truths. 

This book may be purchased at and at

More Love to Thee:
The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss
- By George Prentiss

This book is about a woman who lived an ordinary life of faith. Not very exciting sounding, is it? Ordinary...what is good about the ordinary? What purpose can be found in it? The most important purpose. God's. Mrs. Prentiss wrote books; that was exceptional. But for the most part, her life was that of a Christian housewife'. Ironically, a life of faith in ordinary circumstances is just as, if not more, extraordinary as a person who exercised faith in extraordinary circumstances. Her husband, George, put this biography together very well. It is very interesting, with excerpts from her diary and letters forming a major part. Even her thoughts on everyday occurrences are insightful and encouraging, found this biography comforting, interesting and thought provoking. We look at exhibitions of faith in all kinds of circumstances, all of them are witnesses to it being worth it. Even the ones who exhibited biblical faith in common circumstances. Knowing the sovereignty of God, we trust that He places us in exactly the right place to exercise faith.  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at and at
(The one I am recommending is the one by her husband George - there seems to be another biography about Elizabeth under the same name)

Hudson Taylor 
Vol 1: In Early Years: The Growth of a Soul 
Vol 2:The Growth of a Work of God
-By Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

I was very intrigued and fascinated with how God used Taylor and how he grew him and sanctified him. Hudson persistently tried to keep the perspective that God is completely sovereign, and strove to acknowledge it in everything he did. Much of the commentary of the authors (Taylor's son and daughter in-law) is also very interesting - they try to keep the perspective of God's working in Taylor's life and all of his circumstances as well.

This set may be purchased at Davidson Publishing - It seems that they are having a sale right now, you can by the set for $29.95 when you use the coupon code they provide on the page.

An Autobiography and Letters of the Author of The Listener, Christ Our Law, Etc..
- By Caroline Fry Wilson
Caroline Fry Wilson, I had never heard of her before, but came across some of her writings while looking for something online.  I became intrigued while skimming through some of her writings and decided to learn more about her.  She was a Christian author writing in the 1800s, who wasn't afraid to delve into theological subjects. The biographical part of this book isn't very large, but is very interesting to see her looking back in retrospect at how God brought her to Himself.  The rest of the book is made up of her letters to various people and is also very, very interesting and edifying. 

This book may be purchased at

Martin Luther
- By Simonetta Carr

Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr is a nice overview of the life of Luther for children. She writes in a way that I think children will easily understand and also manages to simplify explanations of erroneous beliefs of the day as well as important Biblical concepts. I really appreciated that she does not make Luther come across as a hero to be worshiped but rather as a man, saved by God's grace and not his own merit, who was used by God to bring people to a correct knowledge of the Gospel and to point them to the Word of God as the only authority.  Be sure to check out the other biographies in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers Series!  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at and at

The History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century
- By J.H. Merle D'aubigne

This history of the Reformation is excellent.  It can get quite detailed at times, but it is quite worth it to read through it. It shows you the various people God used, the good and the bad, to bring about His plans. Throughout it Merle D'aubigne constantly keeps you acknowledging God's hand in everything that happened.  

This book, or rather, set of books is quite expensive, Sprinkle Publications has a hardcover set for $165

Amazon has various paperback editions, I'm just not sure which ones are good.  The books can also be read for free online  


Polycarp: a destroyer of our gods 
By Rick Lambert

This book will work even for those who don't normally read novels, as it's not just fiction, it is also instructive and edifying, it's like a book on spiritual growth only in the format of a novel. Most novels are entertaining, carrying you along by the emotions and imagination and, although they are certainly enjoyable to read, it is a bit discouraging that, when one is done with them, one is left with the feeling of having catered to oneself rather than having grown in any way. This book is an edifying novel, wherein you learn along with the main character rather than merely being an observer of him and the different events in his life. You are carried along by a desire to learn, not merely a desire to be entertained. While most novels inspire you to read more novels, this one inspires you to read God’s word. Instead of making you want to live in a different time, a different place, have a romance, an adventure, become an admired hero, this book inspires you to get out into the fray of your own battles and discover the lessons promoting spiritual growth that God has for you in your own life. I highly recommend it as, not just a good read, but an inspiring one. It gives an illustration of the life of a Christian living out the reality of victory over sin and death that Christ has provided for him. Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at 

The Holy War 
- By John Bunyan

This is a fascinating allegory. Personally, I think that it is better than A Pilgrim's Progress. One of my uncles introduced me to it when I was a young teenager. I've loved it ever since. The town of Mansoul is taken over (with the peoples' consent) by an evil tyrant named Diabolus and his cohorts. The secondary rulers of the town, native townsmen like Lord WIllbeWill and Mr. Mind are compliant with all of his changes. The rightful King's Son, Prince Emmanuel comes and fights to take the town back, ultimately succeeding, banishing Diabolous and and changing nature of the townspeople within. The rest of the book deals with the townspeople's fickleness and their wars against the flesh (they are supposed to put to death the remaining diabolinians who live in the city walls)and they face foes like the army of "Election Doubters", the army of "Vocation Doubters"and the "Resurrection Doubters". They also have to contend with individual diabolinians within the town (whom at times they fail to kill and are deceived by) like Mr. Carnal Security. But the Prince is faithful, even when they are not, though they do not understand all of His ways.

I recommend the version that is abridged and updated to modern English.

This book may be purchased at and at 

Stepping Heavenward 
- By Elizabeth Prentiss

This story is written in the format of a diary, written by a woman named Katherine, who records her life struggles, from young womanhood through much of her married life. She gives the events of various days (sometimes skipping days, months or even years, but giving updates along the way), and writes down many of her inmost thoughts, questions and struggles with sin. She has questions about her salvation and whether or not she is being sanctified. God brings along many different people to teach her and to help her recognize that He really is working in her and making her more Christ like. God also brings along many different trials to grow her spiritually. Kate grows in the Faith, becomes more patient toward others, learns to not trust her own judgement, learns to trust God more and more, learns that whatever trials He ordains for her to face are lovingly ordained to make her more Christ like. The book is very well written and really keeps the attention, or at least it kept mine! Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at 


The Language of Salvation: 
Discovering the Riches of What it Means to Be Saved
 - By Victor Kuligin

A friend gave this book to me, otherwise I don't think I'd have ever come across it.  I really like it.  Kuligin does an excellent job of pulling together a biblical picture of salvation, showing that many people miss what Salvation actually is. Salvation, as described in God's Word, has so many intricate details, one can approach it from several different aspects, which Kuligin dives into in this book. I really need to give this one a full review some time. 

This book may be purchased at

The Cost of Discipleship
 - By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 This book is full of interesting insights, especially on the professing church living as though the Gospel does not transform people - leaving them unchanged but thinking that the punishment for their sin is removed.   though there are some things that I don't necessarily agree with (Bonhoeffer seemed a bit...mystical or something at times), overall I really like  it.

This book may be purchased at and at

The Spontaneous Expansion
of the Church
 - By Roland Allen

The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church by Roland Allen is a rather short but very thought provoking book.  In it,he somewhat implicitly asks the question, Who builds the Church? Leading to that thought, he critiques our method of Evangelization, are we doing it right? Do we need to organize the expansion of the church?  Do we need to establish mission stations, do we need missionaries who depend upon appeals for money for their support.  Will the Gospel spread if we don't purposefully come up with a plan to spread it?  Allen warns us that we are trying to make people into New Creations ourselves, essentially taking the job of the Holy Spirit into our own hands.  We don't need to make people moral before they can come to Christ, that will come afterward, we don't need to change people's surrounding  circumstances before they can be a vibrant Christian.  We don't need money to spread the Gospel. We don't need professional missionaries and Christian organizations to spread the Gospel. We don't need money to create a church.  Christ will build His church. READ MY FULL REVIEW 

This book may be purchased at

The Messianic Hope
- By Michael Rydelnik
How defensible are Old Testament prophecies of Christ? If someone came up to you and declares that, in the Hebrew manuscripts of the OT, Psalm 22:16 does not read, "they pierced my hands and my feet," rather, when it is accurately translated it reads, "like a lion are my hands and feet." What would your answer be? And what if they say that Isaiah 53 was not speaking of a Messiah, but rather of Israel as a suffering servant? Nowadays, too many Christians believe that many, if not all, of the prophecies of the Messiah are only indirect prophecies, not direct prophecies. And many Christians might say that these prophecies are allegorically fulfilled, or that it is perfectly alright for the Holy Spirit , in His inspiration of the Apostles, to change His own prophecies. Others say that many prophecies have a 'double fulfillment', that these prophecies were fulfilled historically, in the prophets' life-time, and that they were fulfilled spiritually by Christ.

Michael Rydelnik offers the best defense I have read on the topic, arguing for the literal/direct fulfillment of Messianic/end time prophecies. I was fascinated by his information on Rashi and his followers, how they influenced, and to some degree instigated, the change from the literal interpretation of the Messianic prophecies, to interpreting these prophecies as having historical fulfillments in the time they were prophesied. In doing this, they countered the Christians' proof texts that Jesus is the Christ. These Jews' claimed to be using a literal hermeneutic, and that the literal interpretation of these prophecies was to view them as historically fulfilled. Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at and at

Excellence:  The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtues
By Andreas J. Kostenberger

This book focuses on applying the virtues described in 2 Peter 1:3-11 to Christian scholarship, examining how they ought to be implemented in that vocation.  I found it inspiring and think that it will interest and encourage Christians in a variety of vocations (I found it very interesting and applicable to myself), not just scholars.  This is one of those books I need to write a review of sometime.  Here's a quote from the book,"Spirituality is therefore not an individualistic experience of solitude, defined by the amount of time spent in protracted periods of communion alone with God, but an active obedience to God's commands that practically demonstrates love to others and is integrally involved in Jesus' mission to the world."  

This book may be purchased at and at

Jesus' Terrible Financial Advice: Flipping the Tables on Peace, Prosperity, and the Pursuit of Happiness 
-by John Thornton
This book, Jesus' Terrible Financial Advice, was in a list of books available for review in the book reviewing program of which I'm a member.   The description of this book caught my attention.  It was described as not being the book that the author, John Thornton, intended to write.  He wanted to write about how his family had gotten to a debt free state and wanted to back it up with biblical principles.  But then He went to the Bible to study the topic and found that Jesus' teachings on money shocked him, they really seemed like irresponsible teachings, teachings that didn't seem like the type of instructions that God would give wise stewards to follow.  He put off writing the book for a long time.   I was intrigued by this information and so I requested the book.  Thornton directs us to think about why Christ came to the earth in the first place, "to glorify His Father".  And all of Jesus' teachings, including his teachings on money, stem from this purpose. God does not need money to get things done, and we Christians do not need money either because God supplies all our needs, and he does not need money to do that.  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at and at

The Forgotten Father
- by Thomas Allan Smail
Recently there seems to have been a trend towards a Christocentric hermeneutic, and an overall focus on Christ altogether in Christian circles. It has been frustrating to see, as the focus of the Bible is more Theocentric. Christ Himself points to the Father! When I saw the title of this book, it intrigued me...that's exactly what I and my dad(a pastor) have been talking about: people forgetting about God the Father. It might surprise you, as it surprised me, to learn that Mr. Smail is a charismatic. His leanings show up more towards the end of the book, so be watching out for that. But even this this is not so 'bad', as he is critical of the movement, desiring it to focused on the Father, not on the Spirit, to be biblical rather than emotionally/needs based(focused on miracles, speaking in tongues). Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at and at

Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches
- by Peter Greer and‎ Chris Horst with ‎Anna Haggard 

Why do so many Christian organizations become secular within a generation or two? How does one build a focused ministry that doesn't change its core purpose? Peter Greer and Christ Horst provide some excellent answers in Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches. They have examined and analyzed various ministries, some that have stayed focused on their Gospel focused mission, and some that drifted away from that focus have become secular in focus, not spiritual. They warn that Mission Drift is inevitable unless it is actively fought against.  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at and at 

Daily Readings from The Christian in Complete Armour 
- William Gurnall

I have read a good chunk of the unabridged Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall, it is very good but HUGE, you kind of need to plough through it. This book, Daily Readings from The Christian in Complete Armour was an excellent idea!  Breaking it up into small chunks for daily reading makes it a much easier read, and gives you a good taste of Gurnall's great skill of teaching and illustrating various spiritual warfare concepts. The best summary that I can come up with is that this book is like having a spiritual commanding officer giving you a rousing speech each day to be ready to fight the battles to come.  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at and at

Eve in Exile: 
and the restoration of femininity 
- Rebekah Merkle

What is God's purpose for Christian women? Do women have a unique roll to fulfill or is it exactly the same as men's'?  In our Christian circles, which seems to be infected by our feminist focused society, this book is quite a refreshing breath of reaffirmed biblical truth (rather than reaffirmed worldly cultural preference). In her book Eve in Exile: And the Restoration of Femininity,  Rebekah Merkle writes an excellent exhortation to Christian women of our day.   Merkle really gets one thinking about our God-given job as women and how we can best fulfill that service to the best of our ability.  When we see that we can best please our Maker by doing what He made us to do then we have something to work toward. We are here to please our Savior, not ourselves, and He Himself tells us, in His Word, how we can be pleasing to Him and fulfill our God-glorifying purpose.  Overall I really liked this book.  And Merkle is an excellent writer, she keeps the attention (especially because of her sense of humor and sarcasm), and continually pulls one's perspective back to God's Word and His purpose rather than our own.  It was a very enjoyable and thought provoking read.  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at


Greek for Everyone: Introductory Greek for Bible Study and Application
- by A. Chadwick Thornhill
Greek for Everyone by A. Chadwick Thornhill presents a unique book on New Testament Greek.  His  stated goal is to have those reading this book learn "Greek in order to become better students of the Scripture rather than students of Greek." The aim of the book is not to "gain reading proficiency but rather are working to establish the ability to use various tools to study the text in Greek".  

And I think that Thornhill accomplishes his goals with this book, he takes you through a basic (though it still seems quite thorough) overview of the various parts of Greek so that you may then use lexicons, parsing guides, and other Greek tools in your Bible study without having to become an expert Greek scholar. Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at and at


The Apostles' School of Prophetic Interpretation: With Its History Down to the Present Time
- by Charles Maitland

The Apostles' School of Prophetic Interpretation: With Its History Down to the Present Time - by Charles Maitland is a very fascinating book on prophecy.  Maitland bases his premise on the fact that the Apostles taught Christians verbally and not merely through letters, and that those letters do not contain everything they taught the early Christians.   He cites 2 Thes. 2:15, "So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours. "(2Th 2:15 ASV)  And also uses another verse closely connected with the above to prove his point, speaking of 2 Thess. Ii 5-6.  "…on this point St. Paul and the Thessalonians understood each other:  'Ye know what withholdeth.' And how had they learnt it?  'When I was yet with you I told you these things.'  They knew something not directly expressed in Scripture:  and this knowledge they were told to hand down together with the epistle." Paul told the Thessalonians to hold fast to, and by implication to pass down, what they had been taught, by letter and by the Apostles' verbal teaching.  So Maitland thinks that one of the best ways to study prophecy is to see what many of the Christians of the early church believed in regard to prophecy as they may have learned from the Apostles, or those taught by the Apostles, about certain prophetic interpretations.  This is what the author does in this book, going down through church history to see what the earliest Christians believed and observing and critiquing the deviations from those interpretations that ended up occurring along the way. Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Wipf and Stock Or you can read it for free online on Google Books or on

Amillennialism and the Age to Come

- By Matt Waymeyer

Amillennialism and the Age to Come: A Premillennial Critique of the Two-Age Model by Matt Waymeyer is an excellent critique of Amillennialism and, in the process, an excellent defense of Premillennialism. I learned a lot about Amillennialism and grew even more confident (if that's even possible) in the Premillennial view of Scripture. 

This book may be purchased at and at

Israel and the Church: The Origin and Effects of Replacement Theology

- By Ronald E. Diprose

A Fascinating exploration of how replacement theology...or as some nowadays seem to want to call it, "fulfillment theology" came to be and how it affected various aspects of Christian doctrine.  I found the section on "Replacement Theology and Ecclesiology" particularly interesting as it details how the view that Israel is now the church as a whole affected ecclesiastical practices, introducing 'Priests" and the"Eucharist" into the church as they began bringing in Christianized levitical roles.

This book may be purchased at and at

Monday, November 18, 2019

Quote of the Day

"And some cannot advance any further with regard to knowledge; they know the fundamentals, and feel as if they could master nothing more.  It is a great blessing that they know the gospel, and feel that it will save them; but the glorious mysteries of the everlasting covenant, of the sovereignty of God, of His eternal love and distinguishing grace, they cannot compass.....To hear of these things rather wearies them than instructs them:  They have not strength enough of mind for the deep things to God.  I would have every Christian wish to know all that he can know of revealed truth. Somebody whispers that the secret things belong not to us.  You may be sure you will never know them if they are secret; but all that is revealed you ought to know, for these things belong to you and your children.  Take care you know what the Holy Ghost teaches.  do not give way to a faint-hearted ignorance, lest you be great losers thereby.  That which is fit food for babes should not be enough for young men and fathers:  we should eat strong meat, and leave milk to the little ones."

- Charles Spurgeon -
From the book: Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Thomas Nettles

See more quotes on my quote collection blog:

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Quote of the Day

Faith must embrace doctrinal truth.  To the suggestion that the time would come when preaching the doctrines of grace would be passe, Spurgeon responded, "Out on ye, traitors, who tell us that we care to shape our gospel to suit this enlightened nineteenth century!  Out on ye, falsehearts, who would have us tone down the everlasting truth that shall outlive the sun, and moon, and stars, to suit your boasted culture, which is but varnished ignorance!"  No, still he would preach those truths that were mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, and he would maintain it to the death.....Without such knowledge and consent to specific truth, no faith is possible.  A strong evidence of grace is the "mind's perception of revealed truth and its obedience to it," Spurgeon argued.  Since God has lifted the veil through divine revelation, the true believer does not make or invent his own precepts, but he learns them from God.

From the book: Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Thomas Nettles

See more quotes on my quote collection blog: