Word Association Game with Books

I am going to attempt to play a word association game with random books in my library. The way this will work is that I will pick 15 books at random from my personal library and try to summarize the entire book in 1 word. How they will be chosen would require a very nerdy explanation, which I won’t bore you with in this blog post.

The word I choose will hopefully be a word that both tells you a little about the book and is also in the spirit of a book review. Thus, I hope to compel you to read the book or encourage you to stay away.

Let’s go!

  1. Redating Matthew, Mark, & Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem by John Wenham. COMPLICATED
  2. Lectures to My Students by C.H. Spurgeon. INSPIRING
  3. The Death of the Messiah (2 volumes) by Raymond E. Brown. MOVING
  4. The Vine Project by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. FORMATIVE
  5. A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey by Brian D. McLaren. BIZARRE
  6. Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional by Martin Luther. THEOLOGICAL
  7. Your Adversary the Devil by J. Dwight Pentecost. ENLIGHTENING
  8. Reformation Europe: Age of Reform and Revolution by De Lamar Jensen. YAWN
  9. Anointed Expository Preaching by Stephen E. Olford. EQUIPPING
  10. Seeking God by Richard Mayhue. DEVOTIONAL
  11. The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. WORSHIPFUL
  12. The Battle for the Beginning: The Bible on Creation and the Fall of Adam by John MacArthur. SCIENTIFIC
  13. Tender Warrior: God’s Intention for a Man by Stu Weber. EISEGESIS
  14. The Last Christian Generation by Josh McDowell
  15. Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 volumes) by John Calvin. FOUNDATIONAL


Book Blurbs: June 2018

Here are some books I had the privilege of reading this past month and some brief thoughts about each one.


#1 – Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice by Bryan Chapell (published by Baker Academic, 2009). The benefit of reading this book is two-fold. First, you will learn the practices of the church throughout history (early church to modern church) when it comes to a worship service. You will see what worship services were comprised of, how they were ordered, and given explanations for why certain elements existed and why others didn’t. Second, the author gives commentary on a variety of elements that churches schedule (e.g., benedictions, Lord’s Supper, call to worship, etc.), offering suggestions for how to “make the most” of them in a worship service. The book will mostly be useful for church leaders and any leaders involved in the planning and orchestration of worship services. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#2 – Serving as Senders by Neal Priolo (published by Emmaus Road International, 1991). Caring for missionaries extends well beyond sending them money every month or praying for them every-now-and then. This book will equip the church with very practical ways to minister to missionaries as they prepare for their departure, whey they are in the mission field, when they are on furlough, and when they return. If you love missionaries, read this book. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#3 – Preaching the Whole Counsel of God: Design and Deliver Gospel-Centered Sermons by Julius J. Kim (published by Zondervan, 2015). We don’t need more books on “how to preach.” Thus, I didn’t learn anything from this book that I haven’t read elsewhere (e.g., Haddon Robinson’s Biblical Preaching, John Stott’s Between Two Worlds, Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers) – with one exception. Chapter 9 is a memorable one as the author explains why understanding the brain’s functionality can make one a more effective preacher. Other than that, I don’t believe I will need to consult this book again. BOOK RATING: 7 out of 10 stars.

#4 – The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives edited by John MacArthur (published by Crossway, 2016). If you attended the Shepherd’s Conference in 2015, you have sort of read this book already. The book is a compilation of the general sessions and many of the breakout seminars that occurred at that conference. Thus, it’s like reading a bunch of sermons and lectures, which is not always as enjoyable as hearing them spoken live. While the context is informative, the delivery medium (reading and not preaching) wasn’t as memorable as being at the Conference “in person” (as I was). BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

#5 – The Pastoral Handbook of Mental Illness: A Guide for Training and Reference by Steve Bloem (published by Kregel Ministry, 2018). You can read my review here. BOOK RATING: 6 out of 10 stars.

#6 – We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee (published by Weinstein Books, 2008). As usual, the book and movie are not too similar. But something that was unusual, the movie was way better. There are a few discrepancies that are noticeable but the liberties that the movie takes (which I won’t spoil for anyone wanting to read the book) make the story more compelling. Generally, speaking the author’s writing style is a but cumbersome to take in, but if you are an animal love, I am sure you will appreciate the rabbit trails where the author recounts facts about a variety of animals. BOOK RATING: 8 out of 10 stars.

#7 – How to Talk So People Will Listen by Steve Brown (published by Baker Book House, 1993). This is more of a book about public speaking than preaching, but most of the principles taught are applicable to either form of speech. You will also be helped if you find it difficult to make ordinary conversation on any given day. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

Book Review: The Pastoral Handbook of Mental Illness

Book Review Score – 6 out of 10

Book Title: The Pastoral Handbook of Mental Illness: A Guide for Training and Reference by Steve Bloem (published by Kregel Ministry, 2018)

What drew me to reading this book was the subject. As a biblical counselor and pastor, I am always on the lookout for resources that equip me to be a better shepherd. Certainly, one area of counseling that seems to lack adequate resources – in my opinion – is mental health and how to counsel those who have been diagnosed with such an illness.

The book is structured to be a quick glance at no less than 21 different forms of mental illness. With each brief chapter, you will usually encounter a definition of that illness, the age it is usually diagnosed, the risk factors, options for treatment, tips for pastors who encounter this illness in their church attendees and members, and referral locations for further help.

I had hoped to find a reliable resource with this book because of the plethora of mental illnesses it addresses, but I was disappointed instead for the following reason: the author embraces and models a philosophy of integration in his counseling where one attempts to borrow secular counseling philosophy with biblical counseling philosophy, and I reject such a counseling philosophy.

In short, secular psychology approaches counseling from the perspective that man is basically good, and, thus, counseling begins and ends with man and his ideas. There may be a “nod” to the Bible for help or even a heavier consulting of Bible for guidance, but the Bible is often viewed as an equal authority to man’s ideas of treating man’s problems, and that certainly comes across in this book. The goal seems, at times, to build the counselee’s self-esteem and not their sanctification.

I would not recommend this as a helpful resource for biblical counseling tips, but there is value in having a resource like this one that gives you a quick glance at certain types of mental illnesses and what separates them from other mental illnesses.

I would like to thank Kregel Ministry for giving me a copy of this book to read, review and apply to my current ministry.


Book Blurbs: May 2018

#1 – The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women by John D. Street and Janie Street (published by Harvest House Publishers, 2016). This book takes a chapter-by-chapter look at a variety of counseling issues that women need guidance in. Each chapter tells the story of the problem and how one might equip such a counselee to overcome and begin gaining victory in a particular area. You will find biblical help on anger, anxiety, appearance, bitterness, borderline personality disorder, chemical abuse, depression, anorexia, grief, guilt, adultery, OCD, panic attacks, PTSD, schizophrenia, transgenderism, and abuse. I commend this book to men and women in the church who are actively counseling or wanting to be equipped to counsel on any of those issues. And if you buy this book, buiy the author’s companion book Men Counseling Men. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#2 – Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church by Keith and Kristen Getty (published by B&H Publishing, 2017). If I could require new members of our church to read certain books, this would be one of those books. The value of this book is that is addresses the heart. While other books about worship and congregational singing focus on the song lists, stage production, and calling the congregation to sing, this book targets our heart’s preparation to sing to our Creator. Rarely have I read a book on worship where the authors will say, “Singing to God is an act of obedience. And when you attend a worship service and don’t sing, you are actively disobeying.” Amen! BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#3 – What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert (published by Crossway, 2010). A good Christian book is easy to find” figure out the problem and then see if the author solves it. In short, this is a good book for those reasons. The question of “What is the Gospel?” is simply explained. I can see this being a good resource for churches to give out to visitors on a Sunday morning or to anyone looking to know more about salvation. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#4 – A Small Book About a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience and Peace by Edward T. Welch (published by New Growth Press, 2017). This book is almost too short. It’s 185 pages feels more like 85. It’s meant to be a book you read in 50 days. While the chapters are devotional in nature and filled with wisdom, the reader is left wanting more. Just when the reader is getting into another angle on anger, patience or peace, the author shifts gears to another angle. BOOK RATING: 8 out of 10 stars.

#5 – A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D.A. Carson (published by Baker Academic, 1992). Move over W. Bingham Hunter. There is a new “favorite book” on prayer on my book shelves. This collection of expositions on prayer are thorough, insightful, provocative, and biblical. The book is one the more accessible books by the author. Typically, books that are a collection of sermons aren’t as engaging as this one. Every Christian should read this book first when needed to stimulate their own prayer life. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#6 – Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship by John Piper (published by Crossway, 2018). This book is not about the mechanics of preaching. This book is not about the crafting of a sermon. This book is not about the different methods of preaching (e.g., exposition, topical, biographical, etc.). This book is about one thing: how preaching is an act of worship. There are a few chapters I found confusing and not directly related to the book’s overall theme, but I would still recommend this book to seasoned preachers who feel they may be on the verge of burnout or complacency. This book will get you “fired up” to preach as a dying man to dying men. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

#7 – The Summons by John Grisham (published by Doubleday, 2002). Somehow I have never read a Grisham novel until I got this one from a local library. Loved it! I can see why he is a favorite author of some. The story in this book takes unexpected twists and turns as the source of $3 million dollars left in dozens of boxes from a dead judge is investigated. The main characters of the story are depicted one way at the beginning of the book, and at the end your perspective of them will completely change. It’s a book that always keeps you guessing. We call that a page-turner. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.


Image result for one blood perkinsBook Review Score – 10 out of 10

Book Title: One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race by John M. Perkins (published by Moody Publishers, 2018)

The author is right to point to the church as the agent of change when it comes to the sin of racism in our country. The church must model love, repentance and outreach. As a “dying man to dying men,” Perkins writes a stirring to all of us professing Christians to believe and tap into the power of Gospel to love our neighbor(s) as ourselves.

The matter is urgent and this book gives us hope that we can help effect change if we apply the Gospel’s empowering to love our neighbor.

I would like to thank Moody Publishers for giving me a copy of this book to read, review and apply to my current ministry.


BOOK REVIEW: The Hermeneutics of the Biblical Writers

Image result for the hermeneutics of the biblical writersBook Review Score – 10 out of 10

Book Title: The Hermeneutics of the Biblical Writers by Abner Chou (published by Kregel Publications, 2018)

This book on interpreting Scripture is not for the “faint of heart” – or more specifically the stereotypical laymen. While Chou’s writing style is accessible to many Christians, the book does not strive to be a devotional “pick me up,” but an instructive tool for seeing the intertextuality of Scripture.

And for that reason, I loved this book!

Chapter 3, where Chou demonstrates how all of Scripture relates and correlates to each other was one of the most stirring chapters I have ever read in hermeneutics. I came away thinking, “All Scripture IS inspired by God…clearly.”

I would commend this book to anyone wanting to better understand the mind of the prophet and apostle who referred to and quoted Scriptures before his lifetime. You will also receive instruction on how the Old Testament and New Testament relate.

I would like to thank Kregel Publications for giving me a copy of this book to read, review and apply to my current ministry.

Book Blurbs: April 2018

Here are some books I had the privilege of reading this past month and some brief thoughts about each one.

#1 – Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture by John Piper (published by Crossway 2017). If you have read one Piper book, you have read them all. “God is most glorified in us when we are satisfied in Him” is the thesis of this book, as it is in every one of his books. This book will show you how that motto applies to Bible study and reading. You won’t learn study techniques (other than arcing in the appendix), but you will be inspired to know God deeper in the Word He revealed. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

#2 – Gospel DNA: 21 Ministry Values for Growing Churches by Richard Coekin (published by The Good Book Company, 2017). It’s cliché to say that churches should be Gospel-centered. This book shows you how that can become a reality. Whether you are a pastor or laymen, there is very insightful and provocative suggestions for how to encourage the effectiveness of Gospel ministry in your church. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#3 – A Biblical Answer for Racial Unity with contributions from H.B. Charles Jr., Danny Akin, Juan Sanchez, Richard Caldwell, Jim Hamilton, Owen Strachan, Carl Hargrove, and Christian George (published by Kress Biblical Resources, 2017). What you will most discover in this resource are expositions of passages that address the sin of racism and the means to build unity in the local and universal church. This collection of chapters are the edited messages from the Speaking the Truth in Love Conference in 2017. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#4 – Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow (published by Nelson Books, 2005). I decided to read this book due to the provocative title and also, I am a pastor who is always thinking of ways to develop men. If you are looking for a book with raw data about male church attendance, involvement, etc., this is a tremendous tool, even though the data may be over 10 years old. If you are looking for a book with biblical solutions on how to address the need for men to be more involved in the church, this book comes short of that need. It may be a source for illustrations in a sermon or seminar, but not necessarily one that will give you non-psychologized ideas for developing men. BOOK RATING: 8 out of 10 stars.

#5 – The Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future by Andy Stanley (published by Multnomah Publishers, 2003). As most of Andy’s books are, you will find him land somewhere between Joel Osteen and John Maxwell on the subject of leadership…and I don’t mean that as an endorsement. You won’t discover any outright heresy but a fair amount of pop-psychology on the issue of leadership. Nowhere does he deal with leaders in the Bible, and many examples of leadership in the book are secular. You could use this book to speak to the issue of secular leadership, but I would not commend this book to be used in the church to be used to develop male leaders. There are too many better resources on that subject than this one. BOOK RATING: 5 out of 10 stars.

#6 – John G. Paton: Missionary to the Cannibals of the South Seas (The Banner of Truth Trust, 2018). This was my 2nd biography I have read of Paton. This book differs from the previous one in that it covers his life more thematically than it does chronologically. And while I would prefer the chronological approach, this bio on a missionary that endured tremendous hardships in the missionary life (e.g., death threats, family deaths) will inspire and motivate any reader to be more faithful to spread the Gospel. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#7 – From Crip to Christ: Change from the Inside Out (Thatch Tree Publications, 2013). A friend of mine at church gave me this book to read about one of his mentors. The story is one of the power of the Gospel and its ability to reach a young man from a gang-saturated, drug and alcohol-filled areas of Los Angeles and mold him into a servant of churches and missionaries in Wichita, KS. If you read this book, you will find yourself rejoicing in the sweet provisions of God and His faithfulness to provide for those who love Him. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.