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The title of the book is “Why bother with church: And other questions about why you need it and why it needs you”  This is another helpful short book in the “questions Christians ask” series put out by the good book company.  Coming in at just 95 pages this is a perfect little book for those interested in understanding the importance of the church without having to dig through much larger works.

 

Allberry ends the book by answering the title of the book with another question, “why on earth would I not bother with the church?”.  Allberry does an excellent job of getting you there throughout the pages of this book.  As one already convinced it didn’t have to work very hard with me, but I feel confident he would be successful with those less convinced of the importance of the church with this book as well.

 

The book is concise but very precise and rich.  There is a lot of great doctrine of the church in this small book and the author also helps the reader see the practical applications of much of the doctrine with really makes the book stronger.  He will move you along from understanding why church to how church.  The authors style is helpful and quote worthy which made for good reading but most of all he unwaveringly proclaims the glories of the Church of Jesus Christ.

The only criticism I might offer of the book is that he seems to have a false dichotomy of what the church can do for me mentality vs. a what I can do for the church.  I think we ought to go to church expecting to be fed and have our souls nourished by God’s ordained means, but also thinking of encouraging others and giving and serving.  I don’t think the two are against each other.  I will give the author the benefit of the doubt,  the series of books are all short and I’m guessing he had a tight page limit given by the publisher that precluded his being able to discuss in more detail his views on this.

 

Overall I would highly recommend the book for all interested in the topic.  I could see it being useful in discipling a new believer on the importance of the church in their life.  Pick up and read!

 

Publisher: The Good Book Co.

Year: 2016

Pages: 95

Boards: paperback

Binding: glue

Footnotes or endnotes: none

indices: none

Buy here : $7.19

*this book was provided to me from the publisher free of charge.  I was not required to write a positive review.

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A Well Ordered Church: Laying a Foundation for a Vibrant Church

by William Boekestein and Daniel R. Hyde

This is a book that deals with something that Jesus loves so much that he died for her, that is the church.  While I don’t expect to see this on any best sellers list soon, it will benefit those who read it.  As a Baptist I didn’t agree with all the authors conclusions but am grateful for their robust defense of a reformed (continental) church government and practice.  I would recommend anyone interested in what a church ought to look like to pick this book up and read it.

The Good

First this book is under 200 pages and has enough size to make it a great introductory level work on the order and practice of the church.  It is long enough to introduce you to topics such as pluarality of elders, dialogical principle, regulative principle, ordinary means of grace, church discipline, etc. without bogging the reader down with too much detail.  It also give recommended reading at the end of each chapter where the reader can be directed if he wants to dive deeper into any one category.  This makes this book the perfect size book to hand to church members who will read something this length or study in a small group.  The book also includes study questions which lends itself to be used with ease in a small group discussion.

The book also sets up firm foundations for the importance of the church with her relation to her head, Christ Jesus.  This beginning of the book is crucial for all the rest of the book, we may work out the applications differently but this foundation is where we must all start.

The Bad

There is nothing bad in the book, but as a Baptist I disagree with their conclusions on some things.  This is not a problem with the book because they write out the tradition of the three forms of unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Cannons of Dort).  While not falling with in the confessional heritage I do appreciate their robust working out of their heritage.  And actually recently published is An Orthodox Catechism by Hercules Collins which is the Baptist version of the Heidelberg Catechism which I am on board with.  My only desire would be to see this same type of work published by Reformed Baptist who would argue for church government in line with the 1689 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith.

If you are interested in the subject this is a good starting point especially for those in reformed or Presbyterian churches.

Publisher: Evangelical Press

Year: 2015

Boards: Paperback

Binding: Glue

Pages: 189

Endnotes or Footnotes: Endnotes

Scripture index: yes

Confessions index: yes

Subject Index: no

Persons Index: no

Bibliography: yes

Recommended reading : Yes

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The One O’ Clock Miracle is written by Alsion Mitchell and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri.
THE GOOD
The message of this book is so great. I was really reminded of the power of Jesus’ words by this story and what great blessings come by faith in what Jesus speaks. The story is based on John 4:46-54 where the royal officials son is healed just by Jesus saying “Your son will live”. You think that Jesus must go and touch the boy and be with him to heal him yet just by the power of Christ’s word the boy is healed. This reminded me that although Christ is no longer present on earth the Holy Spirit gives us hears to hear the preaching of the word of Christ each weak as pastors preach faithfully the Bible. And through this we are healed spiritually and more than that brought to life from the dead and then nourished each week by the words of Christ. This is a helpful story to teach children to trust in Jesus’ words. The book also helpfully at the end explains that the miracles of Christ are like signpost pointing to Jesus showing us he is the Son of God the rescuer king.

This book is also a great size to read to children and the pictures are beautiful and fun and I believe your children will enjoy Catalina’s style

THE BAD

The book contains images of Jesus Christ. I believe it is very difficult to avoid this and to do well with an illustrated story that is about going to see Jesus and what he says. But if you believe like I do that the second commandment and good prudence would not allow for such images it really makes an otherwise good book unusable with your children. I was excited to read this with my oldest daughter who is now 3 but can’t because of this. The only publisher I know of who doesn’t have images of Christ is Christian Focus publishing. I would love to see some great artwork and great Christ centered children’s literature done without the images of Christ.

OVERALL

While the text of the story is great and the size and most of the pictures are awesome I cannot recommend this book because of what I believe is breaking of the 2nd commandment. I look forward to finding more books illustrated by Catalina that I could recommend, I really appreciate her style.

Artwork example

Author: Alison Mitchell
Illustrations: Catalina Echeverri
Publisher: The Good Book Co.
Imprint: Tales that tell the truth (childrens)
Year:2015
Boards: Hardback
Binding: Glue

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Honest Evangelism is written by Rico Tice; Evangelist at All Souls Langham Place in London. It is coauthored by Carl Laferton. This is as the title suggest another book on evangelism. While not exhaustive on the subject it is another helpful resource for teaching and encouraging the church to be faithful in her duty. It also if up to date with current culture trends and some challenges we face today with sharing the Gospel with others. While we have always had sinners in need of a savior there may be some added obstacles we will face in today’s world where the author is helpful in thinking through.

The book is eight chapter long. The first three chapters set up what we need to know about the risk and rewards of sharing the gospel as well as reason why we do not evangelize. A helpful and recurring idea throughout is that of crossing the pain line. When we share the gospel it may be awkward or embarrassing or any number of uncomfortable things for us, but this is the pain line that needs to be crossed to see souls saved for eternity. If we truly believe in heaven and hell and what God has done for the world through Christ Jesus we out of love for neighbor must share the gospel. Chapters four through eight are very practical chapters dealing with what to remember as truths to motivate, what to say, how to act, and practical ways of getting started or continuing in evangelism. The book is a great biblicaly faithful work that should be an encouragement to all who read it.

THE GOOD

The style of the book is very easy to read. I found myself laughing, sympathizing, and imagining the situations as if I were there. The book is also very concise with just over 100 pages of text. This makes the book especially useful to those who are not big readers or to maybe read through together with another without being consumed by a larger work.

The material of the book is faithful to the scriptures. The author presents a clear presentation of the gospel and helps us to see several faithful ways to share this with others.

The book has a very helpful practical aspect as well. You will learn what truths are foundational to you in evangelizing. You will be encouraged to think about your personality and where God has placed you as things to be used helpfully in sharing your faith. No one else can be you faithfully serving God. He has placed you where you are around the people you are around for a purpose and not by accident. The author shows we are to be faithful witnesses where we are and who we are. God has given the church very different people but we are all one body and it is freeing knowing that you don’t have to change who you are to share your faith. The author also encourages doing one to one bible reading with others as a way to evangelize and gives very helpful tips on this. I believe this would be helpful for Christians discipling and evangelizing.

THE BAD (but not really)

There are so many books on evangelism that this one may just get lost in the mix and it isn’t stand out unique in a way were I would feel out of all the books on evangelism this one has to be on your must read list. That is not to say that this book is unhelpful or unbiblical, on the contrary it is both helpful and biblical. I think positively whatever readership it does reach will be benefited by it, but if they get a hold of other faithful works on evangelism they won’t be missing a lot with not reading this.

The book contains no footnotes or endnotes. I don’t understand how you can quote people and give no source of the quote. Nothing is lost in the content of the book due to this but would have been helpful to know for instance where a quote from Calvin came from.

OVERALL

Overall I would give the book 5/5 stars and would be one of the first books I would recommend new believers read on evangelism or those who haven’t thought much on it. It is a short accessible work that will definitely get you going in the right direction of thinking. It also is an encouraging work for one who has not shared the Gospel in some time to start again. I would say read this book, pray that God would give you opportunities to evangelize, and go start.

Title: Honest Evangelism: How to talk about Jesus even when it’s tough
Author(s): Rico Tice, Carl Laferton, Forward by D.A. Carson
Publisher: The Good Book Co.
Year: 2015
Pages: 105
Boards: Paperback
Binding: Glue
Indices: none
Recommended resources: yes
footnotes or Endnotes: none

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The Resurrection In Your Life: How the Living Christ Changes you World by Mike McKinley

This book about the resurrection is work that will show you the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and work out many practical applications of the historical fact for Christian living. The book substance is a number of edited sermons that are expositions of a passage in Luke and a passage in Acts. This book is not an apologetic for the historicity of the resurrection or a general apologetic for the Christian faith, rather the truth of the resurrection is assumed and the importance of it in the believers life is the point of the book. Understanding that it is more of a devotional book and what not to expect you will enjoy this read in getting an idea of how to answer “now that I believe in the resurrection why is it important to me.

STRENGTHS
One of the best things about this book is that it helps you to think through the importance of the resurrection in your life. What does the resurrection have to do with how I live my life day by day is something this book will help answer. Many times Christians spend a lot of effort on showing that the resurrection of Jesus Christ took place that they forget to dwell on what spiritual significance it has, this work helps remedy that.
The book is not a long book and is very readable. This makes this book helpful as an intro level book on the doctrine of the resurrection. Because the book is based on sermons it has a very pastoral tone to it and as you read you can imagine it being preached and it makes it easy to follow along with each point especially since these are faithful expositions of the passages, not technical commentary on the passages.

The book also has questions for reflection and a hymn at the end of each chapter which I imagine could be used for private study or also in a group setting. I found this a nice feature of the book.
On a side note the book cover is really sleek and I loved the design. I just want to know what the two green circles are representing.

WEAKNESSES
I don’t know that I can pinpoint exactly why or maybe it is just me but while I thought the book was good and found much of It helpful I didn’t feel like it was a great book. I didn’t finish this book thinking man I need to pass this one on to a friend and I hope it gets a wide reading. This is not to say it isn’t worth picking up because it definitely fills a void of a good intro into the meaning and importance of the resurrection.

Another weakness is because of the fact that it is based on sermons where Pastor Mike rightly exposits the text and not just doing a topical study on resurrection some parts of the book may feel disconnected from the theme of resurrection. Also while not a critique of the substance of the book, because of length and sermon style you don’t get a systematic study of the doctrine of the resurrection. I would of like to see something on what it means that Christ was raised for our justification. Also would love to have seen something on 1 Corinthians 15 but I completely understand why this was not given but none the less the book provides a solid footing in the doctrine.

SUMMARRY
If you want to better understand what the scriptures teach about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and why it is important to you then this is a great book to pick up. I wish more books would be published dealing with the importance of doctrine versus just the defense of a certain doctrine. Pastor Mike has done a fine job with this and I imagine those who sat under these sermons where helped mightily.

Year: 2015
Publisher: The Good Book Company
Boards: Paperback
Binding: Glue
Pages:143
Footnotes or Endnotes: NA
Indexes: none
Buy Here: Wtsbooks $13.49

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Worshipping With Calvin: Recovering The Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism by Terry L. Johnson

Worshipping with Calvin is a book that deserves a wide readership.  This book is most likely to appeal to Pastors, Music Ministers, and those in leadership of the church, but would be helpful to all of those in the pews as well.  This is an excellent book that describes the history and benefits of Reformed worship that exemplified in the liturgies of John Calvin and other reformational pastors and those reformed men who followed them.  It shows how the ministry and worship of the reformation was really a recovery of the best of the early church Patristics and ultimately and expression of Biblical worship.  One may not be convinced at every point along the way but it is definitely a primer to get one thinking about the hows and whys of our corporate worship of God, but Johnson does write in a very convincing manner.  If interested in how we ought to worship God then pick up this book.

 

The entire work may be summed up in that our corporate worship should be God centered and done in the ways God prescribes.  It is kept God centered by being Bible filled, we see worked out through the pages of this book that we are to read the bible, preach the bible, sing the bible, pray the bible and more be structured by the Bible all of this done dependent upon the Holy Spirit.  This is something not many would argue against but practically are our churches worshiping in a manner consistent with these principles.  We have a limited amount of time each Lord’s Day so we must be aware that everything done outside of what God has prescribed for us to worship Him takes away from those.  The book places an emphasis on the ordinary, or the simple in worship and therefore Johnson argues the Spiritual.  The ordinary means of grace; word, sacraments, and prayer along with singing of Psalms and Hymns are the authors argues the God ordained and most proper ways to worship God and spend our time gathered together.  Convinced of much of this already this book really deepened my understanding of the ordinary means of grace and thankfulness for them.

 

Areas that I found very interesting where the discussions on singing of Psalms and the structure of the worship service.  Having never sang and metrical Psalm in a church service his description of the history and benefits of Psalm singing were great.  Also being taught by the author that the structure or form of our worship services says something was an enlightening aspect of the book.  He talks about how the structure of reformed worship is intentional and gospel centered showing how the structure speaks as well as what is being said does.  He quotes Michael Horton saying the liturgy provides “ways of preaching the Word even before the sermon begins”.  There was much more new that I learned reading this book but those are just a couple that stuck out. 

The few critiques I have of the book are miniscule.  First is the often referenced and quoted Richard Baxter.  Several of Baxter’s works have been republished recently and even one called the “reformed pastor” and he is often talked about side by side with the reformers and puritans as one of the guys.  Yet from what I have read and heard he has some very dangerous views on justification that would be outside of the reformed doctrine of Justification by faith alone in Christ alone by the imputation of Christ righteousness.  I wish he would have made a reference in saying while Baxter’s views on worship may be helpful you want to be warned of his unorthodox views on justification.  Feel free to correct me in comments on this if I am wrong.

Another would be what I thought was a strange section where he talks about Roman Catholic missionary Matthew Ricci and says he was “… among the most successful missionaries in the history of the church.”  I hope he is saying successful in the view of Roman Catholics but bringing men into the Roman Catholic church doesn’t qualify as a successful missionary in my thinking. See page 278 for referenece. 

Lastly of concern is his doctrine of infant baptism, while I agree that baptism is a means of grace, I am a Baptist so believe infant baptism is not taught in the scriptures and is for disciples alone.  But I won’t write much on that because the book is written by a Presbyterian so it is to be expected and would be wrong if he did not defend the importance of his position.

I would recommend this book especially to those who may be considered the “young, restless, and reformed” as I know many men who have embrace the doctrines of grace but have not yet come to grasp the importance of the ordinary means of grace and the church gathered to worship.  Also excitingly the author notes that there is a follow up volume in the works dealing with the implementation of this books subject. The title for the next volume is to be “Serving with Calvin”.

Published: 2014

Publishier: Evangelical Press (EP)

Pages: 433 (320 text then bibliography and notes)

Binding: glue

Boards: Paperback (has a nice feel to it in your hands, maybe in analogy it is like eggshell paint compared to gloss, I like it a lot better than many paperbacks I have.)

Paper and typeset: The paper is thick and decent quality allowing notes with minimal bleeding and also margins are fairly wide allowing for notes and didn’t creep too far down page towards the spine for ease of reading.  The typeset was nice allowing for easy reading.

Bibliography: yes and with table of contents, is 47 pages long

Scripture index: no

index of persons: no

subject index: no

endnotes or footnotes: endnotes 75 pages of notes so made for a lot of flipping back and forth but some good material there.

This book was given to me by the publisher  in exchange for a review not required to be positive.

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When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Forward by David Platt

I have seen this book on so many online retailers and reviews in magazines and on blogs I was very interested to read it.  I have seen very positive reviews of the book and I will for the most part agree with those.  This is a book that is helpful but may not be for everyone.  The book goes into great depth on dealing with helping those in poverty and defining what poverty is.  It discusses several methods to approaching alleviating poverty with different financial strategies.

 

I would recommend this book to those who are involved in different organizations that deal with the poor and pastors predominately.  Much of the warnings are very helpful to have a grasp of even as I was thinking of the kind of charity and work that my small group bible study partakes in.  But as far as the forming financial institutions in the majority world and how homeless shelters and like ministries might work this book would be of great help for those in leadership there.  This book will help these leaders to think more critically about how they help the poor and how they shouldn’t.

 

My qualms with this book are small and even nit picking. The authors even address my concerns to an extent.  They say on page 235 “ Space does not permit a full discussion of the issues involved in finding the proper limits of the institutional church’s involvement with the larger community, and we recognize that sincere Christians disagree on this difficult issue.”  As one who holds two a form of two kingdom theology I found myself disagreeing with certain applications of the scriptures teaching on helping the poor.  They seem to hold to more of  transformational viewpoint.  This being said most of the warnings and positive advice are applicable to all it may just differ on whether a church as a whole is doing it or individual Christians.

 

Overall I would recommend this book to all those are interested in better serving those in poverty.

 

Published: 2009, 2012 (expanded edition)

Publisher: Moody

Binding: Glue

Boards: Paperback

Notes: Endnotes

Scripture Index: no

Subject Index: no

Persons Index: no

Pages: 274

 Buy Here: $13.49

I received a copy of this book from moody publishers in exchange for a review which was not required to be positive.

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