The Storm-Tossed Family, How the Cross Reshapes the Home by Russell Moore

The Storm-Tossed Family was honored with Christianity Today’s 2019 Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year Award, so I was curious as to why. I found the book interesting in places, even if Moore often wrote in generalities and loaded the work with clichés.  I was bothered by his constant references to the “gospel,” without defining the gospel clearly.  This is especially true when he quoted positively several Roman Catholics who presumably would reject Moore’s understanding of the gospel: Thomas Merton (p. 136), Flannery O’Connor (p. 249), and J. R. R. Tolkien (p. 263), along with Wendell Berry who never claimed to be a Christian (p. 83).  Concerning the gospel, I would assume that Moore accepts penal substitution (p. 27 alluded to this), but he emphasizes the Christus-Victor view on the atonement, writing, “At the cross, Jesus defeated the accusing spirits by break the deception they have over human image-bearers.”...

How to Bring Your Children to Christ…& Keep Them There by Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort admits that the title of this book is not the best.  No parent is capable of bringing their children to Christ, nor to keep them there, both being a work of God.  Still he chose to stick with the title (p. 13).  Nor does the author turn Proverbs 22:6 into a promise that all children raised in a godly home will turn out great (pp. 7-8), yet he strongly implies that his children did because he and his wife “adhered to certain guidelines and principles from God’s Word” (p. 18), and because they prayed for their children’s salvation (p. 22).  Taken too far these all but guarantee a crisis of faith for parents if their children do not come to Christ, and live for Him. In fairness Comfort is rightly concerned about the danger of false conversions (pp. 14, 23-26, 81-92, 130).  False conversions happen often because...

The Resolution for Women By Priscilla Shirer

The Resolution for Women was written as a companion book to The Resolution for Men and both are part of the follow-up material for the movie Courageous. The author, 31 year old (p. 234) Priscilla Shirer, is a popular women’s speaker and daughter of Pastor Tony Evans. Shirer began her career as a motivational speaker for Zig Ziglar (p. 112) and now often travels with Beth Moore and Kay Arthur (p. 189) speaking at Bible conferences for women. She is clearly an articulate and winsome communicator. Both books are designed to encourage Christian men and women to make a number of resolutions which will aid in their spiritual growth and usefulness. I have some reservations about this approach (see my review of The Resolution for Men), nevertheless both books offer some helpful insights and instructions, although I would be more supportive of the material found in the men’s book....

Home Improvement, The Parenting Book You Can Read to Your Kids,by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller (Lawrenceville, NJ: Effective Parenting, Inc., 207), 197 pp. paper $12.99

Home Improvement is a highly practical, biblically sound book which provides eight tools for effective parenting. Each chapter develops one of these tools which are: Action point (the point at which a parent takes action) Positive conclusion (“discipline is not complete until the positive relationship between the parent and child is restored” – p. 38) Taking a break (which is different from a “time out” because it focuses on heart change – pp. 57, 195-197) Teaching values Dealing with anger Consistency in discipline Learning from life Dealing with deep-rooted problems and teaching character qualities Each chapter opens with a related story, teaches the appropriate truth and follows with hands-on, practical steps to apply these truths within the home. Each chapter ends with helpful discussion questions for small group studies. Home Improvement is an excellent tool to provide parents understanding in how to apply biblical teachings in child rearing. I...

Real Marriage, the Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together

Real Marriage uses the backdrop of the Driscolls’ own marriage, with its numerous struggles, to provide marital advice on a number of topics such as friendship, respect, submission, sin, repentance and forgiveness.  These subjects are covered in the first section of the book and for the most-part the authors offer no unique insights.  The Driscolls do believe in the headship of the husband and submission of the wife but also believe in mutual submission as a result of their misunderstanding of Ephesians 5:21 (p. 64).  They also wrongly teach that providing for the family is man’s curse (p. 52), that 1 Peter 3:7 is about men being better physical fighters than women, and they open the book with an out of context quote of Revelation 21:5 (p. 3).  While much of their advice is biblically solid, a good portion is opinion based on either statistics or pop-psychology—for example love...

Growing a Wise Family, 100 Devotionals from the Book of Proverbs by Bryan R. Coupland

Our congregation has recently been involved in a special emphasis on the family.  As our leadership has sought ways of helping and encouraging the parents within our flock to raise their children for Christ we were in search of some material to use for family instruction.  We did not want to use a catechism but struggled to discover other appropriate aids.  That is when Bryan Coupland’s book found its way into my study and our search was over. The title is developed around 100 proverbs, each to be used in family instruction.  Each proverb is explained and well illustrated by the author.  At the end of each study three well chosen, age-appropriate discussion questions are provided.  The author then offers suggested answers to each question. Bryan Coupland writes well.  He is interesting, biblical and creative.  I found his book easy to use and of real value.  He wrote the...

The Duties of Parents by J. C. Ryle

In 1888 famed British Pastor J. C. Ryle wrote a little booklet on parenting that is remarkably up to date.  Ryle offers 17 biblical and highly practical principles that will aid any Christian parent in their efforts to raise godly children.  The booklet is barely 50 pages long but could revolutionize many a home if taken seriously and applied. ...

What He Must Be…if he wants to marry my daughter by Voddie Baucham

Voddie Baucham, well-known author dealing with family related issues, has an eighteen year old daughter—old enough to begin contemplating marriage.  While Baucham’s daughter has never dated, her father knows those days, and ultimately marriage, cannot be far off, especially with Baucham’s acceptance, even promotion, of early marriages.  With all this in mind What He Must Be is dealing with the qualifications necessary of a man who would marry his daughter and, of course by extension, the characteristics any Christian young woman should be looking for in a husband. The stated premise of the book however goes deeper:  “I believe fathers have a God-given responsibility to see to it that their daughters marry well and that their sons become worthy husbands” (p. 27).  While most Christian fathers would pay lip-service to this premise, Baucham makes it a central focus of his life.  He does well in this book by encouraging...

Everyday Talk by John A. Younts

Everyday Talk is a helpful little book based on Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and directed at parents raising children.  The key to parenting, Younts insists, is to have the commands of God in their hearts and to impress those commands on their children (pp. 13-14).  Parents do this best through everyday communication as they instruct their children in the ways of God in the normal activities of life.  The things of God are best explained as we work, play, eat, deal with joy and sorrow and generally work though issues of living.  Younts does not address the subject of family worship (sometimes called the family altar) nor does he offer a complicated program.  Instead Younts believes the best means of influencing our children for Christ is through simple God-centered communication.  For example, the parent is to help their child see the fingerprints of God in creation, in disappointment, in failure or...

Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr

Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr.: Crossway Books, 2007. 224 pp.,  Cloth $19.99 Baucham is well known in Christian circles as a strong advocate for the family, homeschooling and the family-integrated approach to church life.  He is a Southern Baptist who by age 34 had served on numerous church staffs. Baucham’s overall emphasis on family is welcomed and refreshing.  In a world, including a Christian culture, gone mad over success, sports, money and endless activity, it is good to be encouraged to slow down and evaluate what is important in life.  When we look into Scripture we discover that the Lord is not particularly interested in what drives most people.  Translated into the family structure this means that God does not place a premium on Christian parents raising children to be sports-stars, achieving the American-dream, or embracing a worldview of the society around us.  The Lord places a...

When Sinners Say “I Do” by Dave Harvey

Harvey has written a solid, biblical book based on a dual premise.  First, as per the title, all marriages are the union of two sinners, therefore problems are inevitable because in the heart of each of us resides a sinner (p. 51).  Harvey does not deny the transforming work of the Holy Spirit which is ever drawing us nearer to Christlikeness (p. 140), but a battle with sin rages in the heart of God’s children.  When sin gets the upper hand, not only do we offend a holy God, but we bring damage to others including our spouse.  Wise then is the couple which recognizes that two sinners united as one will sin against one another, bringing pain and hurt.  But all is not lost, for the second premise, “What we believe about God determines the quality of our marriage” (p. 20), offers great hope.  Marital happiness and fruitfulness...

The Excellent Wife a Biblical Perspective (Expanded Edition) by Martha Peace

Martha Peace has done Christian marriage a great favor by accumulating and explaining the biblical teachings and principles for being a godly wife.  The Word of God is clear when it comes to roles and responsibilities, and Peace has written a valuable book to remind women of their biblical role.  The Excellent Wife is comprehensively filled with Scripture, exhortation and practical advice.  It is also counter–cultural.  Even some within evangelical circles will bristle at Peace’s strong emphasis on submission, being workers at home and other duties seen today as subservient by many.  But Peace refuses to compromise, laying out the biblical mandates as she comprehends them and, with a handful of exceptions, I believe she understands the Scripture’s teachings correctly.  Any concerns I have about Peace’s teachings are minor in nature.  For example,   I would question her suggestion that a wife should “think about what you would like for...

The Myth of A.D.D. Biblically Redefined by Andrew George and Lindsay Pretious

The philosophy and worldview of secular psychology have not only shaped much of the world but have also inundated the church of Christ. Believers have somehow forgotten, or have chosen to ignore, that psychological systems (and there are hundreds of them) are not neutral—they are competing with the teachings of Scripture. Therefore, any attempt to integrate the views of psychology with those of God’s Word are doomed from the start. Yet Christians, who have been warned not to “walk in the counsel of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1), to beware of the “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1), to have nothing to do with worldly fables (1 Timothy 3:7) and to seek God’s wisdom not the world’s (James 3:13-18), insist that great profit can be had by combining biblical truth with worldly precepts found in psychology. Nowhere is this trend more evident than with the ADD and ADHD lie which...

The Complete Husband by Lou Priolo

This volume contains a familiar rehash of neuthetic counseling principles and concepts. There is nothing particularity new here for those knowledgeable of this genre, but for those who are not, a great deal of the contents should prove helpful. While The Complete Husband contains much good information there are also several issues of concern. Some of these issues (listed below) are important enough that I would recommend limited and careful use of this book. 1. Believers are broken into two categories that will be familiar to readers of neuthetic literature: the feeling-oriented and the obedience-oriented (p.24). But what about a third option, one more in tune with New Testament teaching as opposed to Old Testament? I speak of the Spirit-filled or Spirit-controlled-oriented person. 2. I Peter 3:7 does not tell us to understand our wives, but to live with them in an “understanding way” (p.24). There is a world...

Successful Christian Parenting by John MacArthur

At last, a book on raising children that claims to be biblical and actually uses the Bible. This is far rarer than might be imagined since most Christian writers give passing notice to Scripture then thrust upon the unsuspecting reader a philosophy of parenting that is either based on pop-psychology or legalism. MacArthur manages to thread his way between these two land mines and give us solid principles based upon the Word of God. We must distinguish here between the unquestionable teachings of Scripture and the subjective applications, as I am sure MacArthur would agree. Elevating an application or technique to the level of biblical authority is a common error among Christian “family experts.” MacArthur attempts to avoid this, and I believe he does a good job. Successful Christian Parenting deals well with all of the major passages on the subject. I was happy to find that in the...

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

Eggerichs has placed his finger squarely on the key to a God-honoring and happy marriage. Love and Respect is based on the commands found in Ephesians 5:33 that crystallize the responsibility of the husband, which is to love his wife, and the responsibility of the wife, which is to respect her husband. Many have theorized as to why our Lord chose these particular things as foundational. Eggerichs believes that they are needs—the husband needs respect, the wife love. Perhaps, but it could also be that God so designed marriage to function with the love/respect dynamic, or it could be that these specific traits are the most difficult, the most unnatural for us to give one another. Or, it may be all three. Nevertheless, Eggerichs’ focus on these two actions/attitudes is right on the money. The author lays out three cycles around which his book is developed. The “crazy cycle”...

Lawfully Wedded by Renald Showers

This little booklet tackles the question of “what is marriage?” and its corollary, “what makes a man and woman husband and wife?” Through a careful examination of Scripture, Showers demonstrates that the sexual act does not constitute a marriage, rather it is the making of a marriage covenant in which a couple vows to be husband and wife. “When the covenanted man and woman enter into sexual union, they are putting into practice what they previously had covenanted to do” (p.16). This is an excellent little study for any dealing with this particular subject....

I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris

Harris’ book has caused quite a stir in the Christian community and with good reason. He has dared to scrap the Western dating system and replace it with one that he believes more fully honors God. I Kissed Dating Goodbye, while certainly not the final word on the subject, is well worth reading and pondering. Harris has rightly observed that our present dating scheme is froth with dangers. First, there are the moral temptations that challenge the resolve of even the strongest Christian. Next there is the issue of over commitment at a time of life when lasting commitment is impossible. Add to that the broken hearts, distracted minds, lopsided relationships and spiritual retardation that often accompanies dating, especially of the young, and you start to get a handle on the problem. Harris’ solution is to develop a different mindset. He encourages young people to focus on family, friends...

He’s H.O.T., She’s H.O.T. by Jeramy Clark and Jerusha Clark

A number of fine Christian books have been published recently dealing with the subject of dating. Josh Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye is perhaps the best known, and certainly the most hotly debated. The Clarks have written two books – this one and I Gave Dating a Chance, to offer an option for those who could not buy Harris’ concepts. The Clarks believe that believers can date to the glory of God, but the key to godly dating lies in the pursuit of proper qualities, qualities they describe as HOT. “H” stands for holy and “T” for trustworthy. Searching for a dating partner and/or an eventual mate who is holy and trustworthy would, without question, modify and enhance the overall dating environment of believers. I was not as enthusiastic with the “O” or outrageous, which is defined as “remarkable, exceptional, extraordinary, special, unique, memorable, wonderful, marvelous, striking, electrifying, and...

Discovering the Mind of a Woman by Ken Nair

This is one of those marriage books which scores points on the big issues and loses them in the details. Nair’s central thesis is right on the money: “Christlikeness is God’s first priority for every man” (p. 6). He then takes this thesis and attempts to work it out in the dynamics of marriage. Again Nair’s broad strokes are good, since a Christlike man will make every attempt to understand his wife (1 Peter 3:7) and lead her spiritually (Ephesians 5:25-27). The Christlike husband will put his wife’s needs before his own and love her as Christ loves the church. All of this is excellent—and if this is all Nair said then we could highly recommend Discovering the Mind of a Woman. However, he says much more. First, Nair is very careless in his use of Scripture, often ripping verses out of context or simply creating strange interpretations (pp....

As for Me and My House by Walter Wangerin Jr.

This is an excellent book on Christian marriage, written in autobiographical form by someone who really knows how to turn a phrase. When I first sat down to read this book my intention was to skim through rather quickly, gleaning whatever was of value. But I was soon arrested by first the writing ability of the author, and then impressed with the content of the volume. The strongest section of the book, which contains five chapters, is on the subject of forgiveness. There he covers well the biblical teaching on forgiveness but he does so by opening a window to his own marriage, which sailed through turbulent waters for a number of years. While As for Me and My House would be helpful to any couple, it is best suited for those who have been married a while and perhaps are struggling with their relationship. If the principles within...

Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp

This is the best book I have ever read on the subject of raising teenagers in a biblical manner. Happily absent from this volume is the usual homage to psychobabble and Dear Abby self-help. Instead the proposition of the book is, “What controls my heart will control my life” (p. 30), therefore, the Christian parent’s task is to raise children with a heart for God. The principles found in Age of Opportunity are drawn from Scripture. In addition, Tripp suggests many practical ways to apply these principles. Refreshingly, Tripp admits some failure, both of his and his teens. But if there is a negative in the book it would be that the subject of rebellious teens is never addressed. What happens if the parent does all of these things and yet junior turns from God and home anyway. In Tripp’s world children all seem to respond rather quickly to...