December 29, 2008

Reading in 2008

I made it a goal to do more reading in 2008 and I believe that I was, for the most part, successful. I managed to read 24 Christian books and 2 works of fiction (based on popular movies that came out this year - which is about the only way you can get me to read fiction).

I compiled a list of all that I read and rated them based on a 5-star system. What will follow is this list of books and some commentary by yours truly. I hope you'll find something interesting enough to buy and make it a part of your 2009!

Keep in mind I'm not a professional reviewer and therefor don't get free copies of things to review. I have to spend my own money which means I deliberately choose those books which I feel are worthy to be read and also fill holes in my Christian walk and education. So, in short, most of these books will be rated on the higher end; there won't be any 1 or 2 star entries here.

Fiction Books

"Fireproof" by Eric Wilson
Almost better than the movie. I read the book before the movie (because I just couldn't stand it) and, for me, it was a page turner. I think I finished it in three nights of reading just before passing out for the night. There's a bit of stuff that didn't make it into the movie which makes it even more enjoyable. And, of course, it's a great present to friends because it does approach marriage from the proper viewpoint (and that would be God's) and, just like the movie, presents a clear Gospel presentation; something everyone in America needs to hear

"The Dark Knight"by Dennis O'Neil
I love analyzing the characters and themes in certain movies. That's why I was so attracted to Batman Begins which tried to reset this famous comic book and film character. So when this movie was to come out, I just had to read the book that went along with it to help me in my analysis. Like most fiction these days, it isn't terribly involved making it an easy read (so that, I'm sure, it can appeal to the broadest possible audience from 8 year-old boys up to grown men like me)

3-star Books

"A Journey Worth Taking: Find Your Purpose In This World" by Charles D. Drew
This one was recommend by Tim Challies, I believe, back in 2007 and is one of the few books, I think, he said that he felt strongly enough about to read twice. I would probably benefit from reading this one again. I personally found the first half of the book to be a bit tedious and drawn out. But I am glad that I stuck it out as the second half is some good reading. The basis of the book is helping God's people to find purpose in their life using sound theology in the process. For this reason, the author takes us through creation, the fall, redemption and consummation as it relates to how we are to make sense of this world, our life and how to best live for God's glory. Be warned, the very first page may "turn you off" as it did me when reading the acknowledgements. It is in the very first few sentences of the book that you'll find how the author thanks his parents for teaching him how to love creation and all that is in it, including himself. I'm sorry, sir, but no one needs to teach you how to do that. Perhaps the author just didn't know how to express himself but it's certainly a good way to get people like me to simply close the cover and put this one back on the shelf.

"Culture Shift" by Dr. Albert Mohler
Dr Mohler is one of my modern-day heroes. I follow his blog on an almost daily basis and love his writing. Straight theology applied directly to the pertinent issues of our life and culture. I listen to his daily radio program on a fairly regular basis. So why only 3 stars? Because this work represent largely what has already been on his blog and radio program. So it's kind of old news to me. But if you aren't familiar with Mohler, stop sinning and introduce yourself ASAP ;-) For those wanting clear biblical answers to today's problems, read this small book of short commentaries and you will be edified and better prepared to defend your faith

"Fireproof Your Life" by Michael Catt
Based around the concept of the movie, you can't control your life but you can be prepared for those events in life that everyone has to struggle through. In other words, be prepared. This is a good, solid book with a lot of useful info but it is the type of thing that's been done before by any number of authors. I have read this and can recommend for new believers who haven't seen it all before.

"Still Growing" by Kirk Cameron
Cameron is my bud! Being a self-professed rabid Way of the Master fanatic, I just had to read this book. It is a biography of his entire life. It does make for a good read but having not really known about Cameron's TV career, I wasn't too terribly interested in his early years of fame. It was interesting to note that God's hand did appear to be on him, protecting him and keeping him from the many evils that our society tempts young people with who have that kind of money and fame. Where it really turned interesting for me is when he begins to confront the issue of God and finally gets saved. It details how he hooked up with Ray Comfort and the early years of the Way of the Master ministry. Read this book and be amazed at what God can do when He firmly gets a hold of someone

"The Cross He Bore" by Frederick S. Leahy
This is a small devotional-type book that covers the passion week. It's a bit more on the harder to read scale as it does make you think about many things that probably never entered your noggin before. There are a few areas where the author stated things which seemed weird or just plain confusing. But, otherwise, it is another glimpse into the final days of what our Lord and Savior had to go through in redeeming His people. And that's always worth reading about.

"How Should I Live In This World?" by R.C. Sproul
Previously released back in the 80's as "Ethics and The Christian", this 100+ page booklet covers the basics for ethics as they relate to materialism, capital punishment, war, abortion, etc. A good introduction and as usual, just good old-fashioned Sproul at his teaching forte

4-star Books

"The Deliberate Church" by Mark Dever/Paul Alexander
With recommendations by Mohler, Duncan, Mahaney, Ryken Hughes, Carson, and Rainer how could you go wrong? How should you "do" church" Read this book and find out how to have a vibrant church which does not compromise, takes the Bible at face value, lives in a community of love and proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ in all that it does.

"The Reason For God" by Tim Keller
One of the year's best sellers and rightly so. Another book written in defense of the faith and in answer to the renewed assault by the new atheists (Hitchens, Harris, etc.)

"How To Care For Your Pastor: A Guide for Small Churches" by Kent Philpott
I wrote a blog review of this earlier this year

"The Faith" by Chuck Colson
This is Colson's latest book and, in a way, it's a response much like Keller's work. Colson boils down the Christian life to the bare essentials of what is necessary to have a true faith in the God of the Bible. And it also serves as a beginning apologetic for why the Christian faith matters in today's world for without it, we are doomed as a nation to live any other way

"Holmann QuickSource Guide To Christian Apologetics"
A product of Broadman-Holmann, the publishing arm of SBC, this is a very good introduction to apologetics and can supply the average Christian with a lot of basic answers to questions and thought provoking questions for when witnessing

"Crazy Love" by Francis Chan
An easy reading book directed at the lukewarm church in America. Chan is a great pastor and his love of and passion for Christ is evident throughout. Read it and be motivated to live passionately for Him.

"Do Hard Things" by Alex & Brett Harris
An easy read and a bit simplistic, the two Harris boys give a powerful message for people of ALL ages to get off their backsides and live large for Christ. It's a scathing indictment against our culture which treats teenagers as a form of privileged class of whom nothing more is expected buy sleeping and spending (their parent's) money. A must-read for all teens and youth workers.

"The Blue Book On Evangelism" by Ray Comfort
This is kind of a FAQ in book form for all of those who feel compelled to witness to strangers but are afraid of the technique, how to answer tough subject matter, etc. This is one of those books that needs to be reread each year to brush up and fire up for the year ahead

"Knowing Scripture" by R.C. Sproul
This goes along with MacArthur's book on the Bible mentioned here. Sproul gives a great introduction on how to personally study the Bible as well as providing insights to proper interpretation and application of God's word to our lives and then finished up with a nice listing of practical tools for Bible study

"Born Again" by Chuck Colson
The autobiography of Chuch Colson, one of my modern-day heroes. A powerful read and celebration of how Christ can change people's lives ... and powerfully!

"Prepare For Rain" by Michael Catt
With an endorsement by Warren Wiersbe, what else needs to be said? This is the story of Pastor Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, which made the movies Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof. He talks about his early struggles, coming to Sherwood and how they grew as a church which crafted a vision for spreading the Gospel throughout the world.

5-star Books

"The Book On Leadership" by John MacArthur
A great read and something that should be read by every ministry leader, lay or professional, in today's church. It's just wonderful to sit back and let MacArthur take you on a journey through the life of the Apostle Paul and the cultures of his day as he made his way through the world, pouring his life out for Christ

"Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life" by Donald S. Whitney
This is the one book I feel that EVERY Christian should read. You will come away feeling ashamed for how little you live for your God. If every Christian, or even 25% of "true" Christians in the US would read and APPLY the wisdom in this book, we could revolutionize our faith in this country and see God glorified through the gospel of our Lord.

"Unleashing God's Word In Your Life" by John MacArthur
Another must-read for every Christian. MacArthur does an excellent job of providing the basics for understanding the Bible followed by chapters on how to read, study and apply God's word. Another book that could drastically alter the Christian landscape in the US

"The Marketing of Evil" by David Kupelian
This one caught me by surprise and it was one of those books that you just can't put down. This is another must-read on how Satan has done a great job of winning the culture wars and, at the same time, put Christians on the sidelines as ignorant bystanders who have let him take over. Buy it. Read it. See the world anew and adjust your walk accordingly

"The Criminalization Of Christianity" by Janet Folger
This book is in a similar vein to the one above. Folger talks at length about how Christianity has been marginalized in the US in the fight over abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, stem-cell research, pornography, evolution, etc. She explains how everything is tolerated in our culture except Christ not to mention how "faith" has been relegated to something you do at home or in the church but don't you dare bring it into society. Reading through this book it will amaze you at the amount of persecution that is going on in the US that you are not aware of. Read this book and have your eyes opened. And it only adds to her credit that she hammers home the issue of absolute truth and even gives a clear gospel presentation!

Reading Through 2009

I've already started on my next book, "Christless Christianity" by Horton. With a few chapters already read, it's definitely looking like it may earn a 5-star rating. Other books I plan on reading in 2009:
  • "Postmodern Times" by Veith
  • "What Is A Healthy Church?" by Dever
  • "What Is A Healthy Church Member?" by Anyabwile
  • "Christian Apologetics" by Van Til
  • "Trusting God" by Bridges
  • "Where Do We Stand?" by Blamires
  • "Character Counts" by Guinness
  • "For The Glory Of God" by Stark
  • "The Courage To Be Protestant" by Wells
  • "The Most Important 18 Words You Will Ever Know" by Packer
  • "Things That Cannot Be Shaken" by Oliphint/Mays
  • "The Battle Belongs To The Lord" by Oliphint
  • "Spurgeon: A New Biography" by Dallimore
  • "Respectable Sins" by Bridges
  • "Growing Your Faith" by Bridges
Does anyone have any 5-star titles that they read this past year? Are you making plans for what you'll read in 2009? Remember the old adage: if you fail to make a plan then you've made a plan to fail!

With that in mind, here are a few articles that are sure to help inspire you and give you a plan to do more reading of your own (and hopefully for the glory of God!):
10 Tips to Read More and Read Better by Tim Challies

Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books by Al Mohler

The Twilight of the Books? by Al Mohler
Happy New Year and Soli Deo Gloria!

December 19, 2008

What Would Your Child Say?

I should have posted this earlier (I posted it on my headlines web site on the 17th) and was reminded of how powerful it was when I saw it posted on another Christian blog:
Mutilated Christian Girl, 10, Forgives Attackers
What a powerful testimony for Jesus Christ! These poor, persecuted people know so much more about Christ and what it means to be poor in spirit and persecuted for righteousness' sake then most Americans ever will (including myself).

So, you're child gets attacked and scarred for their religion. What would they say about their attackers?
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. [Pr 22:6 ESV]

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you [Mt 5:44 ESV]

December 3, 2008

Want To Be Disgusted?

Then read on:

Just In Time For Holidays, Indiana Planned Parenthood Offers Gift Vouchers
Planned Parenthood offers gift vouchers
UPDATE: Use this link to write Indiana House Majority Leader Russ Stillwell and put an end to this morbid business practice: Family Research Council Action Alert.

I can only wonder how long God's hand of protection can be upon our nation given such brutality and wholesale infanticide. I can only find peace in knowing there will be a day of reckoning when God sets all thing aright.

If you want to read more about depravity and the "innate goodness of man," read the next two stories.
Police: Security inadequate at Wal-Mart where worker died
Video: 'Groupthink' Store Trampling?
And while this is nothing compared to the above, I point it out simply because stupid is as stupid does...
Some Parents Rethink Toy-buying