Book Review: Pray About Everything

Paul Tautges, in his short book Pray About Everything: Cultivating God-Dependency seeks to call churches and pastors to create a culture of prayer in the church.

While it is framed as an appeal to pastors, the content is accessible and beneficial for laypersons, since the bulk of the book are sermonettes designed to be given to a congregation to help instill prayer as a high value. The appendices at the end, give further ideas of how to implement pray as a central focus in a church or small groups.

I appreciate his focus on what pray should bring out in the prayer (God-dependency) as he calls the people of God to a life of prayer. His sermonettes are short but meaningful as he provides significant substance in short pieces.

I’m not sure if this book will be revolutionizing the pastor’s view on prayer, though there are great reminders throughout, but it’s more to show the pastor how to implement a pray-focused life in the church.

I received a free copy through Cross Focused Reviews and was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: The Resurrection Fact

The Resurrection Fact attempts to deal with many of the philosophical and historical arguments against the resurrection. If you are new to the discussion, it will acquaint you with many of the arguments for the proponents (e.g. N. T. Wright, Gary Habermas, W. L. Craig, etc.) as well as many of the skeptics (Bart Ehrman, J. D. Crossan etc.). Having been relatively familiar with both sides, I found the book helpful in summarizing and giving evidence against skeptical arguments.

This format is helpful as you encounter skeptical arguments that typically draw on one of the works they consider, giving the reader a chance to brush up on a particular topic. One of the great strengths of this book, as opposed to others, is that it uses scholars across a wide range of disciplines: history, theology, philosophy and even law. Most books deal with one aspect, this one gives solid summaries of each.

Throughout the book they not only reveal the facts, as discernible by a historian, but deal with the underlying presuppositions of the skeptical in analyzing the facts. The case made for the resurrection I believe is compelling.

My critiques of the book are largely the same critiques given to books that are collections of essays: the varying quality/helpfulness between chapters and a tendency to have redundant information. Since the authors are dealing with a very specific subject, they will often repeat many of the facts and ideas previously discussed. To their credit though, I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t more redundant.

I received a free copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a free review. I was not required to write a good review.

Book Review: Lighthouse Faith

Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green writes a compelling book in Lighthouse Faith. She encourages her audience toward making God a living reality in your life. She packages arguments, illustrations and anecdotes that she’s uncovered through her extensive career in a lucid and compelling way.

You hear the echoes of Tim Keller, her pastor, in her writing, which I appreciate. She doesn’t necessarily provide new information or arguments, but packages them nicely and briefly. Green also does a great job of helping them to connect to her audience not just logically and intellectually but emotionally. She writes to the heart, but unlike many, does not come across as manipulative or contrived.

As a pastor, one of the things I appreciated was the anecdotes scattered throughout to illustrate the points. Her seasoned work as a reporter has given her windows into some incredibly helpful stories that help illustrate many different themes that come up in my preaching. They were consistently helpful, engaging and would give real life examples of why these things matter.

If forced to be critical, I would say at times the writing can be redundant and there was a couple factual errors (like ascribing the Dark Night of the Soul to Aquinas and not St. John of the Cross), but overall she did a great job.

This book was provided to me free of charge through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a good review.

Book Review: Bible Studies on Mark

William Boekestein’s new book Bible Studies on Mark has set out to help lay persons study this incredible book of the Bible.

Boekestein’s writing is clear and accessible even for the novice. He takes great care to not lose the reader by filling in with anecdotes, illustrations, and helps to introduce basic theology as you come across words, phrases, and themes. He assumes almost no knowledge of the Bible, so he will explain basic terms like Christ, parable, etc. Continue reading Book Review: Bible Studies on Mark

Book Review: Good and Angry

David Powlison’s new book Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness looks to reveal the nature of anger and equip Christians to use it for good rather than evil. He first unpacks how we experience anger and reveals how we all have a problem with anger. Then he explores the nature of anger through the eyes of both a theologian and counselor, showing both how it can be a good thing but also reveals how for most it’s a negative thing. The third section of the book gives practical application on how to change from our negative uses of anger toward positive ones that flow from mercy and love. Last he deals with particularly hard cases: never getting over something, everyday irritability, anger at yourself, and anger at God.

When reading this book I was often reminded of the Dallas Willard quote how “Emotions make excellent servants but terrible masters.” Powlison does a wonderful job pushing its readers to make anger a good servant. He defines anger as the “active displeasure toward something that’s important enough to care about” (39), which indeed can be an excellent servant in the Christian tradition as it propels people to combat injustice throughout its history. In a moral universe, anger is a good necessity.

However, for most of us, anger has become a terrible master many times over. We become irritable over little things, argumentative, bitter, violent, or self-righteous. Throughout the book, Powlison shows from psychology, physiology, and Scripture what anger is about and how to work towards a use of anger that aids rather than detracts from the Christian witness. While he gives the readers tools throughout, he also recognizes the need of the Spirit to actually accomplish such a task. Without the Spirit, no matter how hard we try, anger will always be a problem.

I also like how each chapter concludes with good, diagnostic questions to help readers contemplate and use the material in each chapter. I’ve found in many books that the end of chapter questions don’t guide readers well, but Powlison’s book is the exception. I think his experience as a counselor has aided him here.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for personal benefit to help others deal with this emotion that so easily becomes a master that takes us away from design of God. I know it was helpful for me.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.