Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: Ego Trip: Rediscovering Grace in a Culture of Self-Esteem


Book Review: Ego Trip: Rediscovering Grace in a Culture of Self-Esteem

By Glynn Harrison

The culture of self-esteem has taken over America, and it is as popular as it is ineffective, according to psychiatrist Glynn Harrison. My guess would be that this book will not be a favorite of most of today’s Christian counselors who, for the most part, have swallowed the self-esteem ideology hook, line and sinker. But dismissing the book out of hand would be a huge mistake, especially for those whose calling in life is helping those that are emotionally suffering.

The author is right that the struggle for significance and self-worth in our lives is what has given the theory of self-esteem a lot of steam (no pun intended) in modern society. From the secular world to the church we are immersed in the ideology that what people need more than anything else is to feel good about themselves.

The complex research that looked for hard evidence that the gospel of self-esteem delivered on its many promises came up empty and Harrison shares the findings; among them that what the culture of self-esteem has actually increased has been selfishness and narcissism.

What our modern society needs (and, yes, our churches too) is a return to sanity in the pursuit of self-realization by giving of themselves selfishly for the good of others. For those that have read the Gospels, that sounds a lot like the message of the Carpenter from Nazareth. Could it be that the solutions that Psychologists and Psychiatrists have been looking for was in the Word of God all along?

Read Harrison’s book with an open mind (and with an open Bible); you will be blessed, and may be able to bless someone else that’s still looking for the right answers in the wrong place.

5/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Net Galley book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an unbiased one.

Book Review: Raising a Lady in Waiting


Book Review: Raising a Lady in Waiting: Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Daughter Avoid a Bozo
By Jackie Kendall

Based on principles the author finds in the Book of Ruth, she helps mothers navigate the difficult waters on raising a virtuous young lady in a world filled with “Bozos.” She wants to make sure no young lady will sell herself short or be entangled with someone not deserving of her qualities.

Among the unforgettable lessons taught is the one about the “Ideal Mom—Former Prostitute” Rahab, who raised her son to be a godly example for many generations to come: Boaz. The same man who would eventually be in the genealogy of the Messiah of Israel.

The book is based on Kendall’s previous book, “Lady in Waiting” where she shares the principles she followed to find herself a “Boaz” (the virtuous “hero” in the Book of Ruth) instead of ending up with a “Bozo” for a husband.
Our young girls need this book. Youth workers need this book. Every mother needs this book. I even think every father should read this book and teach its principles to every boy.

Unfortunately, the book is written for mothers about daughters only. Also, the book could be better edited (how many times does the reader need to see the play on words, “Boaz” vs. “Bozo”? We got the point in the Preface, thank you), but the advice is timely and the strategies priceless. I recommend the book to any parent of a girl.

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Net Galley book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an honest one.

Monday, November 18, 2013

DVD Set Review: The Tabernacle — Rose Publishing

DVD Review: The Tabernacle

By Shawn Barnard, MDiv

Important Note: This review is for the 6-Session DVD and printable Leader Guide edition only. Therefore, other items in the Complete Kit For The Tabernacle DVD-based Bible Study were not available for review.

Rose Publishing is currently a leader in publishing study books that are attractive, well laid out, and very useful; most of them are truly eye-candy. It is no different with The Tabernacle 6-Session DVD.

I teach Tabernacle typology at a local Bible school; therefore, my expectations of Barnard’s teaching may be a little higher than most. Barnard is a good communicator and the multimedia features added to the lectures are very helpful in aiding further understanding. Unfortunately, the audio in the lectures is uneven (the right channel is very low and unclear); still, the images used are beautiful; I just wish they had used more of the relevant images throughout the presentations. Also, I’m not sure how I feel about some of the camera work; looking at the back of people’s heads may seem interesting to some while unnerving others.

Of course, most of the teaching was familiar to me; however, I did find one or two nuggets of gold in Barnard’s teaching. As is common with any typological teaching, I think that sometimes Shawn went beyond the Biblical evidence in some applications (e.g. the Trinity in the Tabernacle?), but overall he tries to stay grounded in Scripture. Further, I could not agree with his statement that, “Everything in Scripture points to and finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.” Most current scholars of Hermeneutics would not agree with that position. I think most of us can think of Old Testament passages that cannot point to Jesus in a typological fashion (descriptions of geographical locations, numbers, genealogies, descriptions of sinful behavior, etc.). That is not to say that Jesus is not present in the Old Testament; He certainly is present in every division of the Hebrew Bible! (See John 5:39: Luke 24:27, 44–45.)

All the video sessions come in one DVD; the second DVD contains marketing materials for the class and also a 96 page Leader’s Guide that is very nicely done and could be useful in teaching a class on the subject at your local church as it contains suggestions on group activities. Of course, the student’s would have to avail themselves of the Student’s Notes with fill-in-the-blanks elsewhere since they are not included in this package (see the Complete Kit for the Tabernacle from Rose Publishing that does include those).

Viewing all sessions takes about three hours; hardly enough time to give an adequate overview of the richness of the typology found in the descriptions of the Tabernacle plan and function. This need not be seen as a negative comment; I just wish Barnard took his time explaining each lesson in more detail; he seems to have more to share than he had time to. Maybe Rose Publishing will produce a more complete course on the subject (one also has to keep in mind that Rose has a book and other materials on the subject that can complement the DVD series). Having said that, I think the DVD study is an excellent primer on Tabernacle typology for the average church member. Get this resource. You won’t be disappointed.

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The DVD set was received for free from the Rose Publishing book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an honest one.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Book Review: Five Steps to Breaking Free from Porn

Book Review: Five Steps to Breaking Free from Porn

You may not want to hear it, but Joe Dallas will tell it like it is; the wishy-washy ways Christians use to attempt to get over any type of sin are clearly exposed in this book. It lays the guilt where it really needs to be, asks for repentance and gives the steps that any truly repentant sinner caught by the tentacles of pornography will want to follow to be set free once and for all.

The steps seem easy at first, but they involve a level of commitment few books request from the sinner:

1. Access. Do not just purpose in your heart you will never look at porn again, break every possible avenue of access to it!

2. Accountability. Be transparent and rely on a mature Christian and your wife to keep you on the right path.

3. Awareness. Be always on the look-out. Sin is sneaky.

4. Amends. Repentance involves restitution to those your sin has harmed.

5. Anticipation. Live your life in light of eternity. How will you be remembered?

The first thing that the addict must understand is that his/her sin is grievous and that it violates God's clear commandments. Second, we must be delivered from the pride of self-sufficiency and stop kidding ourselves. We need help. We cannot overcome alone.

Anyone dealing with this problem or counseling someone who is must avail themselves of this resource. It is concise, yet Scriptural. Get it, read it, share it!

5/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from NetGalley book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an honest one.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: 5 Conversations you Must Have with your Daughter by Vicki Courtney

Book Review: 5 Conversations you Must Have with your Daughter by Vicki Courtney

Parenting does not come with its own Manual, but it should. No worries, help is available in this incredibly interesting book. The author's wise approach to raising her own daughter is an inspiration in this easy to enjoy book. From the beginning she will get you interested in finding ways that you too can "loosen my grip, and ask God to tighten His."

As a father of a beautiful two-year-old I don't want her to grow, yet I know I must be prepared to make the most of the brief time the Lord has given me to help her prepare for life. The author does not sugarcoat the frustrations that will come along the way, the difficulties of being successful in having those five conversations with your daughter (over and over again), and for that I am grateful.

I, for one, appreciate the fact the book is written from a strongly biblical point of view. Who better than God to give us principles that actually work? He knows better, because He is the designer.

I recommend the book to anyone that has a daughter or is planning on having one.

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from B&H Publishing Group through NetGalley's book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an honest one.

Book Review: Embracing Shared Ministry by Joseph H. Hellerman

Book Review: Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why It Matters Today by Joseph H. Hellerman

A fresh take on how pastoral ministry was done in the early church, contrasting the contemporary senior pastor model with a multiple elders model, which, the author contends was the way pastoring was done in the first century. Furthermore, the author deals with authority abuse in churches, advocating, as a solution, for a “cruciform” type of life modeled by those in authority. He takes his clues from Paul’s letter to the Philippians in order to cast a markedly alternative vision in a truly biblical theology of leadership.

The author also compares the single pastor model to the plurality of elders one and makes a good case that the latter is, at the very least, the practice in the early church, particularly as lived out in Philippi. By giving modern day examples, biblical theology is brought into the realm of practical theology and helps the reader to ascertain the prevalent weaknesses in today’s popular pastor-as-CEO model.

It is possible that many pastors do not realize they have come to see the church as their own playing ground where they exercise supreme authority. It is possible that they honestly think that anyone not singing the pastor’s praises is a carnal individual that would be better off attending elsewhere. The book should at the very least help them think through how they do church government. Maybe they would learn a thing or two about pastoring the biblical way, and maybe other sheep will be spared the spiritual abuse that has victimized countless souls.

Every pastor, minister, elder, deacon and member of the board in the church should read this book!!!

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an honest one.