Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry & Mary by Lee Strobel

Strobel, former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, now with Saddleback Community Church, has written a book that serves well as the unofficial evangelistic philosophy of the new paradigm churches. On the positive front one cannot help but be impressed by Strobel’s passion for the lost. With so many churches and Christians content to be self-absorbed it encourages us to read of those who make reaching the lost a priority. Inside the Mind also has many fine tips on witnessing as well as an excellent chapter on living with an unsaved mate. The underlining philosophy and corresponding methodologies espoused in Inside the Mind are, nevertheless, flawed at their root; namely they emanate from surveys, polls, and pop-psychology rather than from Scripture. For example, Strobel contends that Unchurched Harry doesn’t often ask if Christianity is true, he is concerned about whether it works (i.e. if it will meet his...

In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado

Max Lucado is an excellent writer, using simple prose, masterful word pictures, and an uncanny ability to engage the emotions of his readers. Lucado claims this to be his most theological book to date. If more theologians wrote like this, more people would read theology. Unfortunately they would be little the wiser for it. That is not to say that the author does not handle some biblical truth in a useful way. He writes much that is worth reading, for instance, on his main subject of grace. But when a Church of Christ pastor (official doctrine of his church: baptismal regeneration and the believer can lose his salvation) writes as if he believes in eternal security and only vaguely mentions baptism (pp.114-115) the reader has to wonder what Lucado really believes on these important doctrinal issues. I think Lucado needs to sharpen his pencil a bit. If he believes...

In the Arena of the Mind by John Vandegriff

This volume is a simple and quick read, dealing with the thought life of the believer using Philippians 4:8 as the central passage. Its usefulness lies in the author’s review of the biblical principles and teachings on this most important subject. It does, however, lump together some rather strange bed-fellows: Jay Adams, Larry Crabbe, Bill Hybels and most strangely, Anthony Campolo, who seems to be a favorite of the author and is quoted on numerous occasions. The book is well illustrated, often with stories that have been making the Christian circuit for a number of years, but probably unfamiliar to most of Vandegriff’s targeted audience. There is considerable use of Scripture, usually well interpreted, then supplemented with practical advice and suggestions worthy of consideration. In a work in which Jay Adams places his stamp of approval (he writes the foreword), there are some surprising statements and views. For example,...

In His Grip by Jim Sheard & Wally Armstrong

If you are looking for a nice, cheap gift for your golfing buddy, In His Grip, might fit the bill. The book is part devotion (along the Our Daily Bread variety) and part golf tips. The authors attempts to illustrate the Christian life through golf and does surprisingly well. Without question the authors press some of their illustrations a little too hard. And they occasionally mix in some questionable Scriptural interpretations and advice, but overall they do a respectable job. Add this to the beautiful colored pictures of golf courses around the world (combined perhaps with the fact that I read this book in the middle of winter), and for the golfing Christian it is an enjoyable read....

In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson

In Constant Prayer is the second volume in Thomas Nelson’s “The Ancient Practices Series” which encourages a return to early traditional Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox rituals and observances. This book is written by Robert Benson, an alumnus of the Academy for Spiritual Formation and concerns itself with the “divine office.” The divine office is composed of seven (or fewer) set times of daily prayers. Each office, which takes up to twelve minutes to say, “is made up of psalms, scriptures and prayers” (p. 12). The best known of the offices was written by St. Benedict in the 6th century for use by his monks. Benson claims biblical precedent from Psalm 119:164 which says, “Seven times a day I will praise you.” He writes, “Taking their cue from the psalmist, the Hebrew people developed a set of daily liturgical offices of prayer. These little prayer services were to be...

I Believe in Jesus, Leading Your Child to Christ by John MacArthur, Illustrated by Melinda MacArthur

Parents and teachers are often looking for the right approach in presenting the gospel to children. This little book, written to be read to small children, is an excellent tool to be added to the arsenal. Well illustrated, simply written, true to the gospel, this is a booklet to be read over and over to a child until they are able to grasp the salvation message....

Humility: True Greatness by C. J. Mahaney

Humility is not one of the hot topics in Christian circles these days. As a matter of fact, the whole subject of pride and humility has been on the back burner for years. So it is with open arms that we should welcome this little volume. Mahaney writes winsomely, with humor (one of his practical suggestions to foster humility is to play lots of golf), passion and transparency. The first two sections of the book lay the biblical framework while the last two-thirds provide a list of practical ways to weaken pride and cultivate humility. Mahaney defines humility as “honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” With this definition, Mahaney goes on to state that he believes pride to be at the core of all sin because “pride is when sinful humans aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their...

How Long, O Lord by D. A. Carson

Attempting to properly understand and handle the problem of suffering and evil is one of the greatest challenges confronting church leaders today. How can a good, all-powerful, all wise God allow so much suffering and tragedy and evil in this world? Is it possible that God is the essence of love but lacks the power to stop evil? Or is He omnipotent but lacking in love? Something has to give, or at least our logical minds seem to think so. When dealing with this subject, many well-meaning authors tend to oversimplify. They dumb-down the teachings of Scripture to render them virtually useless. Others openly twist and pervert what the Bible teaches on this subject in order to fit their theology or presupposition. Carson has avoided both of these errors. What Carson offers is sound, solid, and biblical teaching on the subject of evil and suffering. He covers a wide...

Holiness by Grace by Bryan Chapell

In this overall excellent book Dr. Chapell, President of Covenant Theological Seminary, develops the thesis that it is on the basis of God’s grace and mercy that the believer is able to live out his life in holiness and obedience. Our good works do not in any way enhance God’s love for us. He loves us because of His grace; therefore, we serve Him because of our gratitude. God requires and blesses our obedience, but we do not secure our eternal relationship with Him by our actions. Chapell’s writing has much of the feel and tone of John Piper. He occasionally makes Piper-like mistakes with Scriptures like, “Without this joy that is our strength, the new obedience that should be the fruit of true repentance is impossible” (p. 90). And, “The inevitable consequences of obedience without delight is the erosion of holiness” (p. 185). I know of no Scripture,...

Holiness by J. C. Ryle

Ryle lived and wrote in the nineteenth century, and it could truly be said that they don’t write ’em like this any more. I could not imagine reading a book like this by a modern day Christian author, and I say that with sorrow. Ryle’s style is perhaps a little bit dated, but he communicates so well that any average reader will be able to comprehend him with great profit. The subject is the holiness of God’s people. Twenty-one chapters on subjects that vary from biblical characters to sin, sanctification and the “unsearchable riches of Christ,” are to be found. Someone asked me recently to recommend a devotional book. Not much of a fan of such reading, and having not yet read Holiness, I had little to offer. But this would be an excellent supplement to our Bible reading and far superior to “devotionals” I have encountered. The reader...