Book Review: Work: It’s Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation

I've been workin' on the railroad,All the live long day.I've been workin' on the railroad,Just to pass the time away.Can't you hear the whistle blowing? Rise up so early in the morn.Can't you hear the captain shoutin'"Dinah, blow your horn?" I do not remember when I first heard these lyrics, but I think this song captures the thought of how much time we spend working. Everyone has one hundred sixty-eight hours in a week. If you work 40 hours (not including commute time), you spend 23.8% of your weekly hours working. For most of us, work is not optional but is a necessity of life. How should we think about work? Is it just a job to make money, or does it make a difference in the world? Is it where I find my identity, or is it a necessary evil? Should I leave my job and pursue a different one that pays more or gives me more satisfaction? What if...
Read More
Book Review: Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor

Book Review: Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor

I learned about Jordan Raynor's new book Redeeming Your Time through my job. We have book clubs a couple of times a year in which we read and discuss books. There were various books to choose from, and the title of this one caught my attention. If there is one thing about my life right now, I am busy and need more time! The book contains seven purposeful, present, and wildly productive principles. These are taken primarily from the life of Jesus, which Raynor then derives principles and practices for greater productivity. I appreciate that he begins by setting the tone that he wants Christians to have "grace-based productivity" instead of "works-based productively." He means that our true identity and worth are not found in what we do but in who we are in Christ. He also guards against legalism by offering many different ways to put the principles into action, without saying his methods are the best. Therefore, the reader...
Read More
Book Review: Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography by Curis Solomon

Book Review: Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography by Curis Solomon

I recently had the opportunity to read a new book by Curis Solomon called, Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography. His wife, Jenny Solomon, also wrote a companion book called Reclaim Your Marriage: Grace for Wives Who Have Been Hurt by Pornography. Solomon is a biblical counselor and serves as the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. The topic of pornography is important for biblical counselors to address. Unfortunately, the message in our culture seems to be that porn is no big deal, and my experience in the church is that many people struggle but few people talk about the issue. This new book by Solomon felt you were sitting with a friend over coffee who offered hope and wisdom to deal with this common struggle with sin. I appreciate the transparency from his own life and how he held the tension of calling pornography evil while not condemning the one struggling. Instead, he...
Read More
Book Review: Sanctification: God’s Passion for His People by John MacArthur

Book Review: Sanctification: God’s Passion for His People by John MacArthur

I have read many books and journal articles on sanctification over the last couple of years as I was doing research for my doctoral project. There are many books and differing views on sanctification, and I have not found one book that captures everything about this important theological truth. Last year I came across John MacArthur's book on sanctification and added it to my Kindle library. I attended The Master's Seminary, and I respect John MacArthur as one who has been a faithful pastor for decades and impacted my life when I first became a believer. I was very interested in how he would deal with this important topic. MacArthur wrote this short book called Sanctification: God's Passion for His People in 2020. This book is only seven chapters in under 100 pages so that one can read this quickly. He writes this book to pastors, and he says that their primary calling is the "sanctification of God's people." As with...
Read More
Book Review: Heart & Habits: How We Change for Good by Greg Gifford

Book Review: Heart & Habits: How We Change for Good by Greg Gifford

Do you have any bad habits? Be honest! Last year I attended a conference and received a book called Heart & Habits: How We Change For Good by Greg Gifford. I have read many books on sanctification, and this was the first one I read regarding habits. Most of the time, talking about habits is in the realm of self-improvement. Therefore, I was interested in learning how the author would handle habits from a biblical perspective. Habits are a normal part of life and help us do things without thinking about them. Most people get up in the morning, brush their teeth, take a shower, and put on their clothes without having to think about all of the steps involved in the process. I remember when my kids were learning to tie their shoes. They would slowly take one lace, wrap it around the other lace, and finish off with a bow. It was a time-consuming process, and life would be frustrating...
Read More
Book Review: Overcoming Bitterness: Moving from Life’s Greatest Hurts to a Life Filled with Joy by Stephen Viars

Book Review: Overcoming Bitterness: Moving from Life’s Greatest Hurts to a Life Filled with Joy by Stephen Viars

To some degree, bitterness is something that everyone will struggle with in a world that sin has broken. When I think about bitterness, Proverbs 14:10 comes to mind, "The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy." So what causes us to become bitter? How can we deal with our bitterness? Steven Viars answers these questions in his new book, Overcoming Bitterness: Moving from Life's Greatest Hurts to a Life Filled with Joy. Viars has been a pastor and biblical counselor at Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries in Lafayette, Indiana, since 1987. He has vast experience in biblical counseling and approaches this topic with clarity, gentleness, and patience. Viars explores how the Bible addresses bitterness in the book's first part. In the Old Testament, the word for bitter is marah, which is also the name that Naomi called herself after going through many trials (Ruth 1:20). In the New Testament, the Greek word is pikros, illustrated as bitter water...
Read More
Book Review: Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane Ortlund

Book Review: Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane Ortlund

Last year Dane Ortlund released a book “Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers.” This was one of my favorite books from last year. Recently, he released a new book called Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners. In this book, he addressed a common question, “how do Christians grow?” There are nine chapters that explored growing in Christ, or as he called it, “real change for real sinners.” He argued a simple point throughout the book; we grow as we deepen our relationship with Christ. He said that growth in Christ is “relational, not a formulaic experience.” The relational aspect that he focused on is the heart of Christ for sinners and sufferers, which leads believers to daily fight the ongoing presence of sin by the power of the Spirit. Ortlund simplified theological concepts and is skilled at using word pictures. For example, “justification is outside-in, and we lose it if we make it inside-out” and “sanctification is...
Read More

Dissertation Review: Covenant Theology for the Uninformed, Unsympathetic, and Misinformed by Pat Abendroth

A couple of months ago I began listening to a new podcast called The Pactum. In one of the episodes, the host Pat Abendroth was talking about covenant theology and referred to his dissertation called "Covenant Theology for the Uniformed, Unsympathetic, and Misinformed."  I was very intrigued by the title, so I decided to download it and add it to my reading list. I usually do not read dissertations as they are not the easiest papers to read, but I was pleasantly surprised that the author was engaging, clear, and straightforward. My theological background is not from a covenantal position. My first seminary experience was at a school that taught dispensationalism. We learned the primary differences between dispensationalism and covenant theology, but the primary emphasis was on understanding the different strands of dispensationalism. I am now at a church that is confessional, subscribing to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. My pastor and I have been discussing the confession which...
Read More

Book Review: When Home Hurts by Jeremy Pierre and Greg Wilson

How should the church handle domestic abuse? What steps can a church take to help those affected by abuse? In their new book, When Home Hurts: A Guide for Responding Wisely to Domestic Abuse in Your Church, Jeremy Pierre and Greg Wilson provide a new resource to help church leaders deal with domestic abuse. In this book, Pierre and Wilson provide a practical resource for the church to help care for those affected by abuse. They deal primarily with male abusers while giving counsel in the appendix for cases of female abusers. The authors divide the book into three sections: 1) How to Understand Abuse, 2) How to Respond After the Initial Disclosure, and 3) How to Care in the Long Term. In the first section, they discuss the dynamics of abuse. They explain the experience, "Abuse occurs as a person in a position of greater influence uses his personal capacities to diminish the personal capacities of those under his influence in...
Read More

Book Review: The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by Walter Marshall

Last year I bought a book on Kindle because the title intrigued me. I forgot about the book and a couple of months ago I listened to a podcast that was discussing the book. The podcast interviewed Dr. Bruce McRae who translated the original work from 1692 into modern English. The book is called "The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification" by Walter Marshall. Marshall was an English non-conformist Puritan Pastor who lived from 1628-1680. If you have ever read the Puritans, you will understand why this work was translated into modern English! Professor John Murray said the book was "the most important book on sanctification ever written." Bruce McRae introduced the book by talking about the importance of sanctification. He defined sanctification as "the lifelong process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ." He said that there is confusion over sanctification when these questions are asked, “How Christians become holy? Where does the power for godly living come from?” He...
Read More