Wednesday, December 30, 2015

God's Glory Alone by David VanDrunen

book cover
God's Glory Alone
by David VanDrunen

ISBN-13: 9780310515807
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: Dec. 1, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
At the heart of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation were five declarations, often referred to as the "solas": sola scriptura, solus Christus, sola gratia, sola fide, and soli Deo gloria. These five statements summarize much of what the Reformation was about.

In God’s Glory Alone, renowned scholar David VanDrunen looks at the historical and biblical roots of the idea that all glory belongs to God alone. He examines the development of this theme in the Reformation, in subsequent Reformed theology and confessions, and in contemporary theologians who continue to be inspired by the conviction that all glory belongs to God.

Then he turns to the biblical story of God's glory, beginning with the pillar of cloud and fire revealed to Israel, continuing through the incarnation, death, and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and culminating in Christ's Second Coming and the glorification of his people. In light of these wonderful biblical themes he concludes by addressing several of today's great cultural challenges and temptations—such as distraction and narcissism—and reflecting on how commitment to God's glory alone fortifies us to live godly lives in this present evil age.

My Review:
God's Glory Alone is a study on "soli Deo gloria." The author looked briefly at what the reformers and those in the Reformed tradition said on the topic and then looked at the mentions of glory in Scripture. He then discussed why this declaration still matters to our lives today. I appreciate that he didn't make simple things difficult to understand or make difficult things too simple and so lose important tensions found in Scripture. Also, he did a careful study of all of Scripture rather than just picking the verses that support his ideas.

You'll probably find it easier to follow his reasoning if you've read the entire Bible through at least once. He tended to move through Scripture quickly, assuming you're familiar with what he's talking about. I agree with his overall points and could follow his reasoning, but I still paused every few pages to think over what he said because he packed so much in.

I believe the theology presented in this book would be accepted by most conservative Protestant denominations. His main focus was on God's glory and on God's attributes and actions that bring Him glory. He did look at Scripture that teaches that God will glorify believers. He pointed out that even our glorification is God's doing, not ours, so this ultimately glorifies God. To quote him (page 106), "Soli Deo gloria is about God and how he glorifies himself, but one magnificent way God glorifies himself is through glorifying us and enabling us to glorify him through faith, worship, and whole-hearted service to him and our neighbors."

I'd highly recommend this book to those interested in a deeper look at this theological theme.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

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The Parables of Jesus
by James Montgomery Boice

ISBN-13: 9780802414496
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Released: 1983; Jan. 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
In this beloved classic, James Boice takes us systematically throught the parables of Jesus, grouping them into five categories: parables of the kingdom, salvation, wisdom and folly, the Christian life, and judgment.

In each section Boice brings Jesus' words to bear on life today. Through his careful study and clear explanation of each parable—which are born from a sermon series he preached at the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, where he pastored for 32 years—he helps us understand just what Jesus meant, and how our hearts and lives ought to respond.

My Review:
The Parables of Jesus is based on a sermon series. There was an emphasis on finding application points, but Boice generally stayed focused on the parables. For example, he pointed out that hard ground symbolized a hard heart, then he looked at what Scripture says about how someone becomes hard-hearted.

At times, though, I felt like the author tried to pull more out of the parable than was originally intended or even missed the original intent. Perhaps due to when the book was originally published (1983), he rarely brought in the cultural aspects relating to the parables or examined the hard-to-translate words. For example, he apparently didn't know that a "good eye" is a Jewish idiom for a generous person, so he talked about someone who can see well versus someone who can't. He made good points, but I still think he missed the original intent.

He also brought up Calvinist teachings as the basis for how he interpreted various parables. If you don't share his starting point, you might not agree with some of the lessons he drew from these parables. Overall, I thought he made good points and he got me thinking. I'd recommend this book to those interested in a sermon-style take on the parables.

He covered: Parables of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:1-52), Parables of Salvation (Luke 15:1-32, Matthew 20:1-16, Matthew 22:1-14, Luke 13:22-30, Luke 18:9-14), Parables of Wisdom and Folly (Matthew 25:1-13, Luke 12:13-21, Luke 16:1-9, Luke 6:46-49), Parables of the Christian Life (Matthew 21:28-32, Luke 8:16-18 & 11:33-36, Luke 10:25-37, Luke 11:5-13 & 18:1-8, Luke 7:36-50), Parables of Judgment (Matthew 18:21-35, Matthew 21:33-46, Matthew 25:14-46, Luke 16:19-31).

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Head Scratchers by Talbot Davis

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Head Scratchers
by Talbot Davis

ISBN-13: 9781501802881
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: May 19, 2015

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sometimes Jesus says things that are confusing, perplexing, or even offensive. In Head Scratchers, Talbot Davis leads you to understand some of these difficult words. In each chapter, he examines a different statement or brief teaching from Jesus, using the provided biblical and other background to help illuminate the passage in question.

Davis not only guides you to understand the passage, but shows you what it means to take it to heart and embrace a new way of life as a result. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter are designed to help leaders of small groups.

My Review:
Head Scratchers is a collection of five sermons given by Talbot Davis. Each sermon was inspired by a difficult-to-understand verse in the Bible: Matthew 11:12, Luke 14:26, Matthew 16:18, Mark 3:29, and Matthew 8:21-22.

He examined the context of the verse and clues like the meaning of the original words and cultural behaviors of the time. If you've read commentaries on these verses before, you've probably come across the explanations that he gives. Since these are sermons, he filled out each chapter by focusing on a related issue that applies to our spiritual growth.

I appreciate that the author emphasized how important it is to look at verses in context. He sometimes strayed a bit from the actual point of the verse in order to focus on an some aspect of our spiritual growth, but his overall points were good ones and lead readers into a closer walk with Christ.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Patterns of Evidence: Exodus DVD

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Patterns of Evidence: Exodus
by Timothy Mahoney

UPC: 040232271670
Length: 2 hours
Publisher: Thinking Man Films
Released: 2015

Source: Watched on Netflix streaming.

Book Description from
Did the Israelites' exodus from Egypt really happen? There's evidence that it did! Traveling from the United States to Israel and England, filmmaker Timothy Mahoney sifts through archaeological and historical clues, as well as comments from scholars and experts, to determine the truth as he builds a new case for an ancient---and often controversial---story.

My Review:
Patterns of Evidence is an educational DVD. I have a deep interest in ancient chronology, and I've read the books that contain the information that this film is based on. I thought the filmmaker did a good job of presenting the information in a way that someone with a casual interest could grasp the arguments and understand the evidence. It was also very cool to see these places on video.

The basic argument is this: if we look for evidence of the Exodus as described in the Bible, there's actually quite a lot that matches the biblical account. So why haven't you heard about it? This movie shows this evidence and then explains why people have been dismissing this evidence even though it matches up so well. It also explains why the apparent timeline "mismatch" may not be a problem after all.

I'd highly recommend this educational movie to all Christians.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Delighting in God by A.W. Tozer

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Delighting in God
by A.W. Tozer

ISBN-13: 9780764217012
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Delighting in God is the message Tozer intended to be the follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy. He demonstrates how the attributes of God--those things God has revealed about himself--are a way to understand the Christian life of worship and service. Because we were created in the image of God, to understand who we are, we need to understand who God is and allow His character and nature to be reflected through us.

My Review:
Delighting in God is a Christian living book. Apparently, this book is a collection of various sermons that Tozer preached. The first part talked about some strengths and weakness that he saw in the church at that time (pre-1963). It's much the same now, however, so it is relevant.

The rest focused on the attributes of God and how our perception of God effects our passion for God. A correct perception of the greatness and goodness of God changes how we worship God and how we live our life. By restoring a proper reverence and awe for God, we come to know God more intimately.

I enjoyed gaining further insights into the limitless character of God. However, it did feel like a collection of (fairly short) sermons rather than a book that builds upon itself. It might work well as a devotional-type book for those who want to better understand the benefits of a correct perception of God's character.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.