Book Blurbs: April 2019

Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope by Trevin Wax (published by Moody, 2011). 226 pages. Ever heard of the therapeutic gospel? Judgmentaless gospel? Moralistic gospel? Quietist gospel? Activist gospel? Churchless gospel? Each of these false gospels are being propagated today and this book addresses each of them with biblical insights, honest critiques and suggestions for how to protect ourselves from believing or modeling these gospels to others. The only criticism I have of the book is the chapter on the churchless gospel (Chapter 9). While the author had some good concerns about professing Christians not attending church on a regular basis or that segment of society that loathes the institutionalized church, I am not convinced that we should call that a false gospel. Seems more like a heart issue to me. Other than that, this book is a helpful read on the modern evangelical movement. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

P.T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man by A.H. Saxon (published by Columbia University Press, 1989). 437 pages. What compelled me to read this book was my overindulgence in viewing The Greatest Showman a few years ago. I simply wanted to compare the Hollywood character with the genuine person. I excepted some liberties to be taken with the movie, and I was right. However, the more I read the book, the less I thought about the movie. Barnum was not just a showman. He was heavily involved in politics all his life and a financial supporter and member of the Universalist Church. As far as his contribution to entertainment, he was a Walt Disney figure before there was a Walt Disney. In fact, historians estimate that more people purchased tickets for his museum in its 1st year than they did for Disneyland when it opened up. Barnum was the Steve Jobs of the entertainment industry; he changed the face of entertainment. The most challenging part of reading this book was its length and font size. I would estimate the font size of the book to be about 11-point and with very few pictures, it was a bit cumbersome to read at times. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

How to Walk into Church by Tony Payne (published by Matthias Media, 2015). 64 pages. There are few books that tackle the subject of what we should be before, during and after a day of assembling with the church body. In fact, I only know of one another book (and it’s a good one if you want to know its title). This book is extremely practical and would be a good book to put into the hands of the irregular church attendee to help them recapture the reason for gathering with the saints. My only complaint – too short! BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop (published by Crossway, 2015). 220 pages. It seems that every time I read a book by 9Marks, I come away with fresh ideas for implementing old truths. This book does not disappoint. If you choose to read it, you will be stirred up to take advantage of the community that God has placed each Christian into – the church. I am more devoted to the church as a result of reading this book. The Gospel’s power brings different people together and puts them into God’s family, and this book will help you celebrate that truth. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

The Imperative of Preaching: A Theology of Sacred Rhetoric by John Carrick (published by Banner of Truth Trust, 2016). 202 pages. You cannot preach application without declaration. Or to put it the way this author does, you cannot preach imperatives without indicatives. Go on a journey of how the Scriptures use indicatives, exclamations, interrogatives, and imperatives and how every preacher should as well. You will see this rhetoric masterfully used in examples shared by this author from the preaching ministries of Samuel Davies, Jonathan Edwards, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Asahel Nettleton, and George Whitefield. A must read for every preacher. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love by Jonathan Leeman (published by Crossway, 2010). 374 pages. This is my favorite from 2019 so far. What I thought would be a book only on the “why” of church membership and church discipline turned into a book about what it means to enter into a covenant with God’s people and how that truth informs our church membership policies and implementation of church discipline. Rarely do I read a book where I have so much “food for thought.” In particular, I have been compelled to do what I can to help Christians see the benefits and joy and compulsion for church membership. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (published by Nelson Books, 2014). 242 pages. If you lack organization, feel daily stress due to chaos, lack energy, feel rushed, can’t stay “on task,” have a hard time saying “no” to people, and generally feel stuck, you will appreciate reading this book. The author offers many practical suggestions for simplifying life and, yet, remain efficient. Even though the author is a professing Christian, it’s not really a book that would fit the “Christian living” genre. It’s more about life management from someone who has learned to be a homeschool mom, popular blogger, conference speaker and wife. BOOK RATING: 8 out of 10 stars.

Hero Maker: Five Essential Practiced for Leaders to Multiply Leaders by Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird (published by Zondervan, 2018). 268 pages. I’d like my money back, please! I bought this book hoping it would provide insights on II Timothy 2:2 and the subject of developing leaders in the church, and I bought it at a conference I attended without any previous knowledge of the book or authors. Actually, I bought it thinking, “The title is so cheesy, the book might actually be good.” Nope! What I discovered was one clever idea after another about planting and multiplying churches with few attempts at grounding ideas in Scripture and when those attempts were made, they were not helpful and not clear. Really, their ideas for multiplying leaders won’t work for most of the churches in the world who will never be over 100 people. It is not really a book about leadership training as I had hoped. BOOK RATING: 7 out of 10 stars.

Beyond the Battle: A Man’s Guide to His Identity in Christ In an Oversexualized World by Noah Filipiak (published by South Francis Press, 2017). 231 pages. This book was a surprise. I had never heard of the author or the publisher. Filipiak has an affiliation with Covenant Eyes, which I am familiar with, but that was about the only connection I recognized. His writing style seems to be more appropriate for the teenager or collegian, even though he addresses married men and older single men throughout the book. What you will find in this book is a biblical look at heart issues related to sexual purity – our identity in Christ, pride, the image of God, as well as a plethora of application and ideas for being and becoming more sexually pure. His analogies and humor are well-timed. The book is written to be used in male small groups, and there is an accompanying series of videos to watch with each chapter (Accessible by QR code at the end of each chapter), along with devotional studies in the back of the book for each chapter. I can see this being a helpful resource to any church group or even an individual wanting to address their purity. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

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