Category Archives: Book Reviews

Sturday Sampler: January 8– January 14

Tulip Sampler 01Anxiety is (sigh!) yet another sin I continue to battle. So I appreciate Clint Archer for writing Don’t Worry, Be Godly — Pt 1 for The Cripplegate this week. Archer adds a touch of whimsy to this difficult topic, and he offers a helpful working definition of anxiety. I can’t wait for next Monday’s post in this series.

Denny Burk’s article, “I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both” examines Meridith Maran’s New York Times article by the same title. Interesting reading. Hopefully it will educate those who believe same sex marriage is simply a mirror of traditional marriage.

I write incessantly about reading Bible verses in their proper context, and I expect to do so for quite some time. The Beautiful Art of Biblical Knowledge that Autumn Beck authors for She Disciples uses a frequently quoted (and usually misapplied) verse to teach us how context leads us to the correct interpretation of God’s Word.

Leave it to Jen of One Hired Late In The Day. She’s Finding Encouragement From That Which Discourages. Perhaps her essay will inspire you to do the same. I also highly recommend her article, Let’s Talk About Evangelism, which contrasts Biblical  evangelism with the Church Growth Movement.

Sometimes I wonder if I like Rebekah Womble’s blog, Wise In His Eyes, simply because she shares my mom’s maiden name. But posts like Restless: Because You Were Made For More, in which she reviews Jenny Allen’s book of the same name, assures me that Rebekah deserves to be read because of her Scriptural insight and her fair approach to analyzing what she reads. Jenny Allen’s book probably isn’t worth your time, but Rebekah’s blog definitely is!

Stephen Altroggie of The Blazing Center gives us 5 Reasons To Read The Bible When You Feel Absolutely Nothing. Since I’m presently reading Leviticus without much excitement, I find Altroggie’s blog post refreshingly encouraging. I also agree with his assessment.

Elizabeth Prata often receives questions from readers of her blog, The End Time. She answers a particularly intriguing inquiry with her post, Mail Call 4: Why do some women discern false teachers and others accept false teachers? Elizabeth gives a basic reply that, sorry to say, we usually overlook.

My many years in seeker-sensitive churches cause me to cheer Owen Strachan’s article, The Hot ‘New’ Church Growth Method, in the Gospel Coalition Blog. Please, seeker-sensitive proponents, people like me have been trying to tell you this very thing for quite some time!

Save

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: December 25– December 31

Five Easter BabiesTim Challies reminds us that Christ’s birth ultimately points forward to His death. His powerful essay, For They Know Not What They Do, showcases the Lord’s compassion towards those who really deserve His vengeance.

Expanding on the theme that Christmas shouldn’t stop at the manger, Erin Benziger Do Not Be Surprised writes a worshipful piece, punctuated by Scripture, tracing the Lord’s entire ministry. I love the way that she exalts the Lord in all her writing, but From First to Second Advent is particularly beautiful.

This, traditionally, is the time of year when people think about Bible reading plans. I’ve lost count of the blog posts I’ve read on the topic over the past couple months, but Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace provides a different perspective in his article, Three Reasons Why You Should Read the Whole Bible in 2017. Those of you who follow my Tuesday series on the Reformation will especially enjoy his article.

And while we’re on the topic of Bible Study, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life shares Conditions for Profitable Bible Study to help us approach God’s Word with proper attitudes. Leslie derives her conditions from How to Study the Bible by R.A. Torrey.

As we pull out of 2016, what attitude do we convey (particularly on Facebook and Twitter)? John Ellis, writing in A Day In His Court, challenges us with his article, In Praise of 2016. His points might make you uncomfortable momentarily, but he quickly reminds us how to find comfort and encouragement from the Lord.

In her review of Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word, Rebekah Womble’s article, also titled Women of the Word, thoroughly examines both the pros and cons of the book. I haven’t yet read Jen Wilkin’s book, but Rebekah’s examination of it has convinced me to put it on my Amazon Wish List. But even without reading the book, this review gives me plenty to think about. Rebekah blogs at Wise in His Eyes.

In Tired of Controversy? An Encouragement for 2017, Mike Leake of Borrowed Light questions the wisdom of basing blogs on controversial issues instead of unleashing Scripture to do its own work.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Book Review: Another Jesus Calling

another-jesus-callingWarren B. Smith of Lighthouse Trails, himself a  convert to Christ after heavy involvement in New Age philosophy and practice, wrote Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs Are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer. For the most part, the book successfully critiques Sarah Young’s popular but heretical book Jesus Calling. I wanted to better equip myself to address Young’s false teaching, so I approached Smith’s book with great eagerness.

In one respect, Another Jesus Calling disappointed me, largely because it lacked focus and repeated many points unnecessarily. Smith went off on tangents about other New Age teachers, leaving me a bit frustrated. I wanted to read about Sarah Young’s book,  not about teachers that don’t even claim to be Christians. At points, I almost literally felt my eyes glaze over as I waded through passages about Smith’s pre-Christian experiences with meditation and self-deification. Although his comparisons of Jesus Calling to New Age ideas were necessary to Smith’s thesis, he prolonged them so much that they ended up distracting me.

In short, Smith’s writing skills need work.

Having voiced my problems with Another Jesus Calling, allow me to say that the book did supply many helpful examples of how Sarah Young presents a false Christianity that actually leads readers into New Age beliefs. In Chapter 2, for instance, Smith lists several terms that Young repeatedly employs throughout her book.

So much of God Calling is permeated with metaphysical/New Age terminology and thinking. The following is just a sampling of the occult/New Age terms that continually jump out at the reader—Universal Spirit, Supreme Being, Divine Powers, Great Divine Heart, Divine Forces, Spirit Forces, God-Power,spiritual plane, channels, Spirit-consciousness, heart-consciousness, Spirit Sounds, Spirit-communication, Divine Mind, Secret of Prosperity, Law of Supply, Law of Discipleship, Sonship, spiritual level, path of initiation, order out of chaos, soul-balance, oneness, and many others.

As Smith points out, none of these terms is Biblical. Yet Young claims that she has written down words that Jesus spoke directly to her. I join Smith in finding it curious that Jesus would choose New Age vernacular over the terminology He used in His Word. These phrases should alert Christian readers that there’s something dreadfully wrong with Young’s writing.

Smith demonstrates (using the King James Version) that Sarah Young’s counterfeit Jesus contrasts with the true Jesus by elevating his presence over Scripture.

The true Jesus Christ tells us: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

God is always present with us—a presence that will never be magnified above His Word. If we choose to put experiencing God’s presence above His Word, we are leaving ourselves open and vulnerable to the visits of a counterfeit presence.

For the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling, experiencing His presence is everything. This is his invitation:

Open yourself to My loving Presence, so that I may fill you with My fullness. I want you to experience how wide and long and high and deep is My Love for you, so that you can know My Love that surpasses knowledge. This vast ocean of Love cannot be measured or explained, but it can be experienced.

Taste and see that I am good. This command contains an invitation to experience My living Presence. It also contains a promise. The more you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness.

Notice that Sarah Young’s Jesus never encourages people to look for Him in the Word of God? For Young, Scripture lacks sufficiency to give us everything we need for living godly lives (1 Timothy 3:15-16, 2 Peter 1:3-4). In addition, the emphasis on experiencing his presence allows people to imagine him any way they want. The true Jesus gives us His Word, expecting us to discern Who He is  from what is written.

If you want good writing, Another Jesus Calling will probably disappoint you. But if you need evidence that Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling contradicts Scripture, I highly recommend that  you read Smith’s book and carefully consider his points. Please make sure that you listen to the Jesus of the Bible rather than a New Age imposter.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: October 23– October 29

salsa-samplerOn her DiscernIt blog, Kim Olsen shares That’s Not Jesus Calling by Jeremiah Johnson. Johnson evaluates Sarah Young’s book, but he also warns of the larger danger that this book represents. Ladies, I pray that this article will help you understand the sufficiency of Scripture.

Women do tend to struggle with guilt differently, and perhaps more intensely, than men do. Abigail of Hope and Stay writes about our battle in her blog entry, Unraveling Guilt With God’s Holiness. I love her Biblical perspective on this matter!

As part of her current Bible Study series, Lisa Morris of Conforming to the Truth asks Do We Have a Paul Heart for the Lost? Her challenging post serves as an overview of Romans 10. For deeper study, sign up from within the blog post to participate in Lisa’s online study of Romans.

I’d never heard of Ted Dekker. And after reading Ted Dekker’s The Forgotten Way: Book Review and a Discernment Lesson by Elizabeth Prata of The End Time, I gather that I’m not missing anything. Elizabeth teaches us valuable principles of evaluating books, and for that reason  I want to recommend this blog post as a practical example of how (and why) women should exercise discernment.

In For The Church, Zach Barnhart shows us the 2 Words That Kill Effective Bible Study. His points can’t be overstated!

Mark McIntyre has been writing daily posts bringing us through the questions of the Westminster Shorter Catechism on his blog, Attempts at Honesty. His treatment of Question 6, How many persons are in the one God?, emphasize the marvelous mystery of the Trinity. After reading this post, you might want to read the whole series!

Wow! Michelle Lesley has written the absolute best commentary on this year’s election that I’ve read to date! Revival: In America We Trust turns our minds back to the Lord Jesus Christ. But Michelle does it with a level of passion that bloggers rarely manifest, leaving me shaking my head in delighted admiration. Wow!

Monday, October 31, 2016 will mark the accepted 499th anniversary of the Reformation. In recognition of the occasion, the Ligonier blog features W. Robert Godfrey’s article, Why Did the Reformers Conclude that Reformation Was Urgent and Necessary in the 16th Century? Godfrey provides wonderful historical background to explain key theological reasons for the Reformation.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Reviving New England Book Review

reviving-new-england-coverAbout 11 years ago, a friend graciously drove me and John down to Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum that recreates the original settlement of the Separatists who came to America on the Mayflower. The interpreters portray some of the actual people who lived on the settlement in 1629, remaining resolutely in character as they interact with their 1st Century visitors. When we visited, several conversations revealed the deep Christian convictions of those men and women who came from England to establish a society built on Scriptural principles.

How, I wondered, did Massachusetts go from that godly foundation to the first state in the union to legalize same sex marriage?

I found my answer by reading Reviving New England by Nate Pickowicz. But Pastor Nate’s book went far beyond giving me a history lesson on New England’s distressing descent into apostasy; it gave me hope that the Lord might once again restore this region to  its Biblical roots.

One key element to revival, according to Pastor Nate, is  a return to expositional preaching. Since John and I became part of our present church two years ago, we’ve experienced the joy of sitting under expositional preaching, and agree wholeheartedly that this type of preaching most effectively brings people a clear understanding of God’s Word. God’s Word in turn,  transforms hearts so that people experience regeneration and grow into mature and productive Christians.

The book highlights the importance of personal holiness as a component of revival. Unconfessed and unrepentant sin can infect an entire church body, rendering it ineffective in setting an example to a lost world. True revival calls out sin, proclaims forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and demands repentance as evidence of saving faith. The chapter on repentance challenged me to make sure I continue to pursue holiness in my walk with the Lord.

Time prohibits me from detailing any more of Pastor Nate’s points. I pray that you’ll get the book for yourselves. You see, it’s not about reviving New England only. In truth, a revival in New England would ultimately lead to revival all over America. Consequently, the principles laid out in this book apply to all the regions of our country. As we’re on the verge of electing a president who demonstrates just how far this nation has strayed from the devout faith of those believers who landed on Plymouth Rock, we clearly need to pray earnestly for revival whatever we live.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin