Book Blurbs: August 2019

I love books, and every month I attempt to give quick thoughts (or “blurbs”) on books I read that month. These are not extensive book reviews but bite-size endorsements or warnings about books available for church. Enjoy!

The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity by Barnabas Piper (published by David C. Cook, 2014). 153 pages. Barnabas, if case you hadn’t figured it out, is John Piper’s son. He isn’t just a PK; he is PK of a “celebrity pastor. So, his experience, I would argue is much different than the normal PK. About 80% of this book speaks of the negative realities or serious challenges of being a PK (e.g., the fishbowl experience). Honestly, as a PK myself, I didn’t have as many of the negative challenges as the author. The author is brutally honest but respectful of his father. The other 20% of the book is speaks of the positives of being a PK, and I am glad he mentioned them because I was not going to endorse this book if he left them out. Being a PK is better than not being a PK, in my opinion, and I think the author eventually admitted that; it just took him longer to admit it than I hoped. This book would be really informative for families who aren’t in the pastorate to read. BOOK RATING: 8 out of 10 stars.

Grace Transforming by Phil Ryken (published by Crossway, 2012). 120 pages. My only criticism of this book is its brevity. Any attribute of God seems exhaustible – especially God’s grace. If you are looking for a thorough study on God’s grace, this book is not it. But I would recommend this book for a young Christian or maybe a teenager looking to receive an introduction to what it means that God is gracious. The author rightly shares that our identities are not based upon our works but on Jesus’ works. God’s grace transforms us, and this book will illustrate how. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

On Christian Doctrine by Saint Augustine (published by The Library of Liberal Arts, 1958). 169 pages. This isn’t a book about theology – as the title might suggest. It is a book about interpreting Scripture. Most readers will probably find the wording a little heavy, and yet, still clear. Augustine will make you think. Augustine says that Bible students must possess faith, hope, and love if they are ever to have hope to correct the Bible correctly. And while the book is about Bible interpretation, it’s less a list of interpretation rules, and more a list of practical tips on interpreting Scripture. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

The Gospel Unplugged: Good News Plain and Simple by J.B. Hixson (published by Lucid Books, 2007). 95 pages. I am always on the lookout for short books with a clear Gospel message so that I can get a supply to hand out to non-Christians. This is NOT a book I would use. The Gospel message is not complete. The author completely leaves our the Lordship of Christ and downplays the importance of works as a fruit of salvation. If you want to produce nominal Christians, this book is for you. If you want to read a complete Gospel message, this book is not for you. BOOK RATING 6 out of 10 stars.

The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson (published by William Morrow and Co., 1982). 111 pages. This is a short story about a young man looking to learn about effective management. I have never managed more than a small handful of people, so I don’t know how effective the principles that can be gained in this book would be helpful in a large workplace. Hot, the principles you will learn in this book are about effectiveness in the workplace, getting the most out of people and dealing with conflict in a way that refrains from making the issue personal. I appreciate one of the lessons that the young man learns about management: it can be much simpler than you think. This book is an entertaining read that can be digested in a quiet afternoon. BOOK RATING 10 out of 10 stars.

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr. (published by Moody, 2018). 294 pages. In her lifetime, Susie donated roughly 200,000 books to pastors in need of resources. This woman was a gem. She truly exemplified what it means to be a helper to her husband (Genesis 2:18), supporting his ministry to the world, laughing and crying together, raising children faithfully, showing joy in the midst of physical suffering. I would venture to say that any reader of this book will thoroughly joy all the nice surprises of what many do not know about this wife of the Prince of Preachers. She reminds me of my own blessed bride. BOOK RATING 10 out of 10 stars.

God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundations by Andreas J. Kostenberger, with David W. Jones (published by Crossway, 2004). 448 pages. Not since Piper and Grudem’s book on biblical manhood and womanhood have I read such a fine book on the biblical family. What a resource this will be for counseling and preaching. The author is very careful to synthesize and clarify the various views on divorce and remarriage, fertility, gender, sexuality, parenting, singleness, and qualifications for church leadership. I would be surprised if any reader determined something has been left out of this book. I am more convinced in the important of the biblical family for the Gospel’s effect on society. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child by John MacArthur (published by Thomas Nelson, 2003). 175 pages. Grief is natural but hope must be established in order for grief to have meaning. That is the strength of this book as the author answers the question, “What happens to babies when they die?” The biblical answer he gives applies to those babies who have been aborted, miscarriages, the mentally disabled, etc. I highly recommend this resourceful book that will give you much help in comforting those who experience this kind of loss or for yourself if you have grieved the loss of your own child. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

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