Blog

Book Review – A War of Loves

Title: A War of Loves
Author: David Bennett
Publisher: Zondervan
Publishing Year: 2018
Pages: 266
My Rating: 4 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

There is probably no issue that is more hotly debated among Evangelicals than this issue of homosexuality.  The issue is at the forefront the so-called cultural wars and is constantly being brought to our attention in the media.  How as we as Christians supposed to remain faithful to Scripture but at the same time love our gay neighbors? Are we doomed to bigotry and hate?  Its a topic I’ve thought much about so I was thrilled at the chance to review this new book, A War of Loves by David Bennett.

Basically, the book is about Bennett’s struggle as a celibate, gay Christian.  As a teenager he came out as gay and abandoned the Christian faith altogether as he sought to be true to himself and pursue love in the arms of another man.  Yet, through his search he was plagued by the fact that nothing seem to satisfy his basic emotional needs. He tried researching various religions and philosophies, became a gay rights activist and engaged in several homosexual relationships – not one led to satisfaction.  Then suddenly, God broke through and changed his heart of stone to a heart of flesh. God worked through both friends and family to draw David to Himself. But then he was left with a new struggle, how does he reconcile his same sex attraction with his belief in Scripture? The rest of the book details how David sees his sexual struggle as an opportunity to bring God more glory.  He decided to live a celibate life choosing to find his identity in Christ rather than in his sexuality.

There are many positive aspects about this book that I really enjoyed.  First, I greatly appreciated David’s brutal honesty and candor. He spares no detail in describing his struggles before and after salvation.  He gave me a glimpse into a world I never knew existed. Second, the book sought to slay a growing and ever-present idol in the church – marriage and family.  He is not suggesting these are bad things in and of themselves but can become idolatrous. God does love and have a plan for single men and women in church. Not everyone will be married.  Also, the church seemingly ignores the need for meaningful, platonic same-sex friendships. David and Jonathan show us the value of such a friendship. Third, it is fascinating to see a man struggling through his homosexuality but still submitting to the Scriptures despite what his own desires tell him.  There is a lesson here for all of us as we struggle with sins that seem so natural yet contradict the will of God. Finally, there is a stunning rebuke of callousness and ignorance of the Evangelical church toward the homosexual community. All men made in the image of God are worthy of dignity and respect.  Instead we are often guilty of treating homosexuals as “icky” and evil without the love and compassion Jesus showed toward lost sinners.

However, there were a few parts of the book that I found wanting.  The main issue I has was the large emphasis in the book about personal experience, individual prophecies and hearing God’s voice audibly.   I would rather have seen an objective defense of Scripture rather than a subjective experience in defending the Christian faith. I know the author is capable of such a defense, but it was not clear in this book.  

But, all in all, the book is well-worth reading and the story is one that needs to be heard as we think through this issue within the church.  I would urge you to get your copy today, and perhaps lend it to a friend later.

Purchase the book here.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

Advertisements

Free E-Book Alert – The Gospel by Ray Ortlund

The fine folks at Crossway have made another excellent book as a free download.  The only cost is the time it takes you to fill out a brief survey.  Here’s the Amazon description:

How does the church portray the beauty of Christ?

The gospel is the greatest message of all time addressing the greatest need of all people. However, the good news about Jesus does more than just promise eternal life to all who believe. In the latest addition to the 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches series, pastor Ray Ortlund explains the gospel’s power to transform individuals from the inside out and create beautiful human relationships. This short book helps readers experience the power of God as they are encouraged to trust in Christ and allow him to transform their beliefs, perspectives, and practices. For everyone who wants to be true to the Bible and honest with themselves, this book offers a practical guide to the fundamental teachings of the gospel and how they affect our relationships with others.

Take the survey here.

Book Review – The Prayer that Turned the World Upside Down by R. Albert Mohler

Title: The Prayer that Turned the World Upside Down
Author: R. Albert Mohler
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publishing Year: 2018
Pages: 181
My Rating: 4 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

It’s been said that if you want to make a Christian feel guilty, ask about his prayer life.  Many of us struggle with finding time to pray, wondering if we are praying enough and sometimes it’s just difficult talking to someone you can’t see.  In his latest book, the Prayer that Turned the World Upside Down, Dr. Al Mohler takes up the request once asked of Jesus, “Teach us to pray.”

Jesus’ response to that question is what we know refer to as the Lord’s Prayer.  Maybe you remember reciting it as a child or something you often repeated in church.  As familiar as it is, how many of us have really thought through this crucially important lesson on prayer?  This book helps us do just that. Dr. Mohler takes us through the prayer line by line giving an in-depth exegesis of the text that grounds us in sound theology yet leaves us with practical application we can put to use in our own lives.  

I, personally, found the book to be quite interesting and challenging.  I especially appreciated the author’s emphasis on corporate prayer. So often I  fellow believers who believe that all prayer should take place in secret, confined to a closet as Jesus taught at one point.  But throughout the Lord’s prayer, it is plural pronouns that are used. In other words, at least some prayer was meant to be corporate, in public.  That’s just one insight of the many found in these pages.

Here’s a few quotes I found edifying:

“When we pray, we convey our entire theological system.  Our theology us never so clearly displayed before our own eyes and before the world as in our prayers.” – page 10

“God uses prayer to radically reorient our hearts, which can be disturbing.  Prayer can sometimes be ‘anti-therapy.’ This is because prayer is not first and foremost about us, but about the glory of God.” – page 15

“Prayer is not our bargaining chip with a reluctant genie.  It is our opportunity to commune with the Creator and Redeemer who loves us.” – page 17

“Jesus is reminding us that when we enter into a relationship with God, we enter into a relationship with his people.  When we are saved by Christ, we are saved into his body, the church.” – page 48

“This is why Jesus regularly referred to himself a the ‘bread of life,’ the true manna sent from heaven (John 6:35).  He is God’s ultimate provision for our spiritual lives. Each day as we pray for our daily bread, we should be reminded of our need for Christ to forgive our sins and empower us for obedience. Each time we pray for daily bread, we should recognize our deeper need for the bread of life – the only one who can truly satisfy.” – page 118

“The Bible does not teach that God helps those who help themselves; instead, God helps those who are at the end of themselves.” – page 148

Purchase the book here.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

Book Review – Cobra Kai and Sanctification

Title: Cobra Kai and Sanctification: Strike First. Strike Hard. No Mercy.
Author: Zachary Bartels
Publisher: Gut Check Press
Publishing Year: 2018
Pages: 96
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

This book will be featured in an upcoming episode of the Basic Bible Podcast.

If Johnny Lawrence and John Owen ever collaborated on book, this would be it. Zach Bartels does a great job of weaving together your favorite scenes from the Karate Kid movies, including the new YouTube series, and sound theology. Like we learned in Cobra Kai, we must fiercely fight against sin having no mercy. The illustrations he uses are helpful and quotes from Spurgeon and Owen are sprinkled throughout. This is all accentuated by the author’s keen wit and sarcasm.

As with all Gut Check Press books, this book is parody at it’s best, but with a solid, Biblical foundation. A sense of humor is a must if you want to enjoy this read.

Here are two of my favorite sections:

“As you are being made into his image, pray that the images hitting your retinas will be processed in a Christlike way! If I’m seeing that crass, spitting, swearing, shirtless guy walking down the road as loved by God—someone for whom Christ died—then I won’t find myself judging him. If that person knocking on my office door is someone whose “sheep-without-a-shepherd” demeanor would move our Lord with compassion, I’ll be unlikely to respond with annoyance. And if that woman in the yoga pants is a dear daughter of God, whose prayers he hears and whose fears he understands, then she’s definitely not some piece of meat to be ogled or lusted after.” (Kindle Locations 255-259)

“The omnipresent Christian stock photo guy with his hands up in some stupid Ted-Talk power-pose, overlooking a breathtaking vista, has done as much damage to Christianity as Nero. That friggin’ guy. He continues to reinforce the idea that Christian spirituality is a mountain-top thing to be chased during our vacation time—an add-on module that will improve your life. It’s not. Following Jesus is something you do everywhere. Ibid worshiping Jesus, ibid killing sin.” (Kindle Locations 323-327)

Download the book here.

This and That

Every Christian Must Be a Theologian – But the answer to formal scholasticism or dry intellectualism is not a neglect of theological study. Laypeople have no biblical warrant to leave the duty of doctrine up to pastors and professors alone. Therefore, I remind my church that theology—coming from the Greek words theos (God) and logos (word)—simply means “the knowledge (or study) of God.” If you’re a Christian, you must by definition know God. Christians are disciples of Jesus; they are student-followers of Jesus. The longer we follow him, the more we learn about him and, consequently, the more deeply we come to know him. – Jared C. Wilson

6 Warnings Signs of  A Bad Pastor and Spiritual Abuse – Sadly, most bad pastors refuse to believe that anything is wrong with their leadership style or the way things are headed. They remain convinced that everything is great, up until the point that everything falls apart. – Stephen Altrogge

The Book of Revelation is Not about the Rapture – But Revelation, like the rest of Scripture, is about Christ, and any interpretation that ends up with something else as central has not only missed the entire message of the book but, to put it simply, is wrong. By, “about Christ”, I mean that it is about His person (He is both fully God and fully man), and His work (His life, death, and resurrection) on our behalf, and not merely about His second coming. – Richard Gilbert

Podcast – Pneumatology with Dr. Michael Horton

This week I’m excited to have Dr. Michael Horton on the podcast. Dr. Horton is the host of the White Horse Inn, the editor of Modern Reformation Magazine as well as the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. He has written many books including his latest, Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life. So join us this week as we talk about Pneumatology – the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

Free Audio Book – The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards

The fine folks at Christianaudio.com have made the classic Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards their free book of the month.  So, if you’ve never read it before get over there and download it today.  Here is their description of the book:

The Religious Affections Quite possibly one of the most important books ever written by America’s greatest theologian. Among the questions asked is, “What is the nature of true religion?” \”What are the signs of a true revival?\” and \”How is the heart changed?\” Edwards used his pulpit and his leadership of the Great Awakening to pen one of the most challenging and inquisitive books ever written.

Download the book here.

This and That

What’s wrong with the KJV only teaching? (in 500 words or less) – KJV only proponents are usually unfamiliar with the science of lower criticism (how to determine which manuscripts and which readings are preferable), and understandably so: it was by far the most difficult class in seminary. In other words, KJV only people don’t understand how the Bible is translated and why manuscripts are accepted or rejected by translation committees. – Clint Archer

What Must We Do about Foster Care? – If churches take seriously Jesus’ command to care for our neighbors in trouble (Luke 10:37), churches should bear any burden necessary to show the love of Christ to children in need of a home. Over the past ten years, a renaissance has happened, at least among one wing of Evangelical churches, toward doing just that — with many congregations now recognized by their states and localities as the model for mobilizing people for foster care. – Russell Moore

Ten Commandments of a Disability-Friendly Church – The church should be a welcoming place for people of all abilities. This is something that is possible for everyone from the largest megachurch to the smallest rural parish. Taking these steps will go a long way toward creating a space where families with disabilities will feel at home. – Stephen J. Bedard

The Bible is More Than Stories of Morality – The simple fact is the Bible is not just a collection of stories with morals for life application; the Bible is the story of God’s grace in redemption through Jesus Christ. There is a soul-endangering consequence in virtue-based Bible study material, centered on life principles or character qualities, and ripped away from the central focus of the Bible—Jesus Christ. – Ed Stetzer

A Brief History of the Altar Call – There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing an altar call, to be sure. In your church, it may make sense as a way to focus nonbelievers on their need to receive God’s offer of forgiveness through Christ. And publicly professing your faith in Christ, which I see as fulfilled ultimately in baptism, has clear scriptural support in passages such as Matthew 10:32-33. Others such as Jonathan Leeman have written compellingly about how you can modify the practice of altar calls in order to avoid their traditional pitfalls. – Thomas Kidd

Podcast – Unpacking Forgiveness

This week on the podcast we chat about the difficult concept of forgiveness. By definition forgiveness must include some degree of hurt and pain which often makes this topic difficult to grapple with. Joining us is Pastor Chris Brauns, pastor of the Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, IL and the author of the book Unpacking Forgiveness. Listen in as we discuss just forgiveness is and issues such as should we forgive those who are unrepentant?

This and That

The Legitimate Concerns of the Next Generation of Christians in My Denomination – KJV-Onlyism is a direct challenge to the Bible-centered nature of fundamentalism, because it makes void the Word of God by our tradition—by forcing people to read that Word in a language they don’t and can’t fully understand. It also treats the KJV as perfect and inspired, as an act of divine revelation. This is very serious. – Mark Ward

Is temptation sinful? – Temptation is not sinful when it comes at us from the outside. In the wilderness temptation, the enticement to sin came from Satan, not from Jesus. And that is why Jesus was able to be tempted and yet be without sin (Heb. 4:15). But when the enticement to sin emerges from our own sinful nature, that is an entirely different matter. In that case, the temptation itself is sinful. That is an experience that is unique to sinners and that Jesus himself never experienced. – Denny Burk

Can Your Soul Survive Facebook and Twitter? – The church requires a balance between individuality and community. When individuality becomes disconnected from community, one refuses to submit to one another or to serve one another. But the opposite is also true. If I find my identity in the community, or in the community’s perception of me, I am no longer free to serve the community. – Russell Moore