The Gospel of St. John by Lightfoot

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Here is the second of IVP’s planned releases of recently-discovered commentaries by famous scholar J. B. Lightfoot. Ben Witherington , a reputable scholar himself, found the handwritten manuscripts in Durham. Though many of Lightfoot’s commentaries have been popular for over a century, these releases cover commentaries on parts of the Bible that he did pursue publishing because dear friends wrote on those same books of the Bible. Now with this publishing event, his work was not in vain.

This succinct commentary goes through John 12. There is some untranslated Greek, but an open interlinear Bible will allow you to work around it. You can tell what a thoughtful scholar he was as you read. There are many points where I could not agree with him, but I still find interacting with him profitable in any event.

Even more fascinating for me was his introduction on the authenticity of the Gospel of John, as well as Appendix A and B on the same subject. He has great points that are unlike what I have read in other places.  The context of his times and the negative onslaught of German scholarship he battled makes you appreciate it more. Appendix C by Martin Hengel will round out your understanding of German scholarship and its influence.

We have here both an interesting, historical commentary and something of a collector’s item. You will want to check it out.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

We Cannot Be Silent by Mohler

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What an outstanding book for where we are today! With precise, clear analysis of the whirlwind of social developments, Mohler’s deft hand in this book penetrates to the real causes of apparently sudden plunge over the cliff. What he well explains is that the plunge was not so sudden after all.

Where same-sex marriage has grabbed our attention in the last year or so, terrible forces have been at work for decades. In many cases, we Christians have failed to face these dangers and have, in many cases, capitulated to many of them. He confesses that urbanization changed us, but the biggest factors were birth control, no-fault divorce, advanced reproductive technologies, and cohabitation. He is not saying all forms of limiting the number of children you have is bad, but we need not break the link that children have with marriage. Easy divorce dealt a horrible blow to the institution of marriage and Christians often went along with that warped reasoning. Advanced reproductive technologies then took the necessity of man and woman away from children. Cohabitation almost replaced marriage. Along the way, marriage was redefined and seriously wounded.

There are so many more good things here: an analysis of the LBGT community’s devastatingly effective strategy, natural law arguments, and the need of Christians to not surrender to a waning culture.

This book is the best I have seen so far since the major developments a few months ago. I highly recommend it to Christians everywhere!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Rediscovering Discipleship by Robby Gallaty

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“Making Jesus’ Final Words Our First Work” reads the subtitle as it reveals the passion for discipleship that you will find between the covers of this book. I have never read a book that biblically makes the case for discipleship as well as this one. Beyond that is the practical guidelines given by one with much experience. There’s seven chapters on the why and six on the how.

Part One includes an in-depth look at how Christ made disciples. The chapter on “Thinking Like A Hebrew” is profound in its insights and one of the most powerful in the book. Then he got into the type of people Jesus discipled–blue collar, untrained, and young–and shows us there might be better candidates around us than we supposed. He also makes sure that we don’t lose sight of the goal that the disciple be transformed in the image of Christ. 

He looks at discipleship historically as well going back to Augustine. His analysis of Wesley’s effective methods will really get you thinking. His thought that a comma in the KJV did the most damage to discipleship seems overdone, but otherwise his historical insights seem hard to refute.

The second part of the book highlights what he has learned from personal experience. His way is not the only way, but his experience makes him deserve our ear. Finally, he makes a clear distinction between evangelism and discipleship. Discipleship is for believers! This work deserves the prominent place on our shelves for often use.
   

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

A Lost God in a Lost World by Tinker

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Are you sad about where Christianity is in our world today? Are you sure that it is mostly run amok? Do you wonder if you have your own head on straight? Then you will likely find comfort and guidance in this volume. Its subtitle “From deception to deliverance; a plea for authentic Christianity”  tells us that much of the problem could be the kind of Christianity many of us have.

The Foreward by David Wells and the author’s Preface are succinct, powerful, and well-written descriptions. Then, to carry the case forward,  we are treated to nine expositions from Scripture that strongly make the point. It is powerful, in my judgement, to let the authoritative Scriptures make the case. Though I might disagree on a sentence or two by the author, these are excellent expositions.

I particularly enjoyed his perceptive discussion of idolatry from Isaiah 44:9-23 called “When God Is Weightless”. Pride is also grandly exposed in his examination of Ezekiel 28 (I still see Satan where he does not, but his interpretation is the perfect application). Philippians 2:5-11 made an outstanding study on Christ and the cross. When we are discussing the big picture this book tackles we must make our way by Christ and His cross. He naturally ends with expositions on the Second Coming and a need to be heavenly minded.

This book is both thought provoking and a blessing, and I recommend it.
 

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The End Of Me by Kyle Idleman

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Popular author Kyle Idleman examines the paradox of the Christian life. When Christians overlook that paradoxical nature of our faith, they inadvertently follow the world, even to its feckless results and hollow living. This book calls us back to what our culture blinds us to.

Though based loosely on the Sermon on the Mount, I would not categorize this an exposition. It strikes me as much more belonging in the Christian living section. I was picturing A. W. Tozer walking out in a hip suit and talking in modern slang. Of course, Tozer would never do that, but perhaps you get the idea.

The book is divided in parts with four chapters each. In the first part, Where Blessings Begin, he writes on brokenness, mourning, being humbled, and being authentic. Authencity is a popular concept these days, but the others are rarely spoken of. His version of authencity is far better than much of the “I am just me” that passes for authenticity  in many places. In this first part, I thought the chapter on being humbled was the best and most challenging. The more I think about it, though, I wonder if that says more about me than the book.

I underlined several lines throughout the book. For example: “But it’s so easy for me to put on a show, add a little extra, be more than I am. Every instinct I have tells me to cover my sin deeply, to stamp a big smile across my face, and to give the impression that I have all the answers. But getting to the end of me means getting over myself so the real me can experience the real life in Christ.” See what I mean?

The second part goes on, as you might imagine, to being filled with Christ after being emptied of self. It is well done throughout. I commend Mr. Idleman for writing on these that are sorely needed but run contrary to most of what we hear these days. This is a good read.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion by Wilsey

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Have you ever read about a subject that you have known for a long time that you needed to have deeply thought about, but had not? That is the experience I have had in this unique volume. I am a Christian and consider myself first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. At the same time, I am one of those old-fashioned patriotic types who can get a lump in my throat in a whole variety of patriotic settings. Mr. Wilsey forced me to reconcile some things where I had never done so before.

He clearly had a Bible first and patriotism second attitude of which I agree. I even saw the traces of that same patriotic background in his life. I could show you several sentences and paragraphs in this volume, and even some historical assessments where I could not agree, but he gave me the tools to evaluate this issue. My final conclusions were not far from his when I finished.

He distinguishes throughout the book a helpful “open exceptionalism” and a “closed exceptionalism” that conflicts with Christianity. His categories may not always divide as neatly as they do in his mind, but his point is well made.

I intend to use what I learned in this volume going forward. It’s scholarly and helpful throughout.  I know of no other book quite like it and I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

A Christian Looks At The ISIS Attack In Paris

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It is surreal to watch the television tonight. The attack in Paris, verified to be ISIS related, is large in scope and clearly takes us to a new level of danger in our world with its broad Islamic threat.

I have flashbacks to 9/11. People were dying at that moment and I remember when that was true on our soil. There is a huge difference even if the death toll is actually much lower in Paris. 9/11 was the days before heightened security and, of course, the cause of it. That is no longer the case.

Paris was attacked in January and was under the highest security alert possible. ISIS has become sophisticated enough to pull off a highly detailed attack now. That is bad for us all. With politicians finding controlling guns among law-abiding a bigger threat than ISIS, we can’t look to our leaders for actual leadership. In fact, our President just this morning proclaimed ISIS largely “contained”.

Another difference this time is that two of my sons are watching with me and are old enough to take it in. I can’t help but think of their future in this twisted world. A few friends on Facebook have already mentioned this scaring them. We won’t even know all the details for a while.

It seems to have come up a lot lately–a time to remind oneself that the Lord remains securely on the throne. My sons are in His hands, not mine! So I am reminding myself tonight. I am sitting here grateful for the salvation He gives and the constant watch care of me and mine. It’s good to know the Lord Jesus Christ. How about you?

Safe, but I will be praying too. Prayer will ever be better than panic. Again, how about you?

I Am So Offended!! (IBTR #78)

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I am offended! Now that is certainly the tag line for the last several months in our country for sure. When the bland design of a Starbucks disposable coffee cup erupted into the latest round, I think some people have had enough no matter which side it came from.

My wife was in a fun, animated mood yesterday–a day we got to spend closely together. There were moments here and there to check our Facebook news feed and other news sites as the day went along. I watched, when we finally sat down for a very late lunch, a blog post develop in her mind. It was so good that I wished I had thought of it myself. (That’s a confession of jealousy!)

When she was finished it hit me. What she is writing about for life in general is something this series is trying to say for the Independent Baptist world. We were offended before being offended was cool. We reduced our lives to a postage stamp-sized existence where the smallest of things–a faint beat in a song, a slightly different style of clothes, etc. and etc.–could produce such a level of offense it would better be described as outrage.

I remember around 15 years ago listening to a gushing discussion about a new article entitled “The Death Of Outrage” among some fellow Independent Baptists. To be fair, the article was discussing the big issues that were afflicting our nation that were garnering far too little attention. The problem was that those talking about it figured it the perfect description of why we should outraged over the petty issues we are sometimes famous for. You know, kind of like leaving the abortion protest because the music played at the event was a little too contemporary. Our missing gift is often perspective so we become offended over so much that our offense is meaningless.

So here’s my wife’s article. I hope you will read it and if you are an Independent Baptist I hope you will see us in it too.

I AM SO OFFENDED!!!!!!!!!!! by Alicia Reagan

Find other articles in the series here.

Joshua (Apollos Old Testament Commentary) by Pitkanen

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The Apollos Old Testament Commentary series continues to develop into an important, major commentary series. This entry is a 450 page contribution on the sometimes controversial book of Joshua is another worthwhile contribution. Though it might not be as in-depth as the new 2-volume set in WBC, I imagine pastors will find it more useful. Don’t misunderstand, though, as it will still be in scholarly discussions.

The first 100 pages are an Introduction. I must confess that he has uniquely organized introductory matters. He is kind almost to a fault with liberal authors, but he well shows the plausibility of conservative conclusions on issues like the text and dating. I do not think this Introduction is as good as, say, Firth on Samuel or Petterson on the last three Minor Prophets in the same series, but it is still a valuable contribution.

I loved his explanation that the NT also discusses that unbelievers are punished, and so Joshua is not out of sympathy with the rest of the Bible. After sharing that fine observation, though, he runs amok in the next 15 or so pages. He gets completely sidetracked on current political issues. I will not as a reviewer penalize him for having a different political persuasion than me, but I do highly question why he would bring it in at all.

After that diversion, he settles back in to delivering a fine commentary in the Apollos style. I recommend it as a real help in the study of Joshua.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Churchill’s Trial by Larry Arnn

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Here is a book designed to take history and teach today vital lessons. Winston Churchill and his nuanced life is the fodder for those lessons. Larry Arnn, one of the most informed scholars on Churchill, writes from the reservoir of his deep understanding of Churchill.

The book is divided in three parts: war, empire, and peace. The idea is to take what Churchill said, and to a lesser extent, did, and apply it to free government. That approach entails Churchill facing Nazism, communism, and finally socialism in his own country. Arnn views Churchill as statesmen and guide for us in these troubling days for freedom.

Churchill truly was a once-in-a-generation statesman. What he has to say is so worth listening to, is unique and enjoyable, and so Arnn often lets Churchill do the talking. Arnn succeeds in making the case for free government through the lens of Churchill’s life. He believes that Churchill was a success because we would be much worse off were it not for the contribution he made. My miss is that we a statesman like Churchill today who could as effectively make the case–it’s sorely needed.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.