The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas by Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak

The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul's Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic WorldThe Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World by Paul Copan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Given the instability and unreliability of emotions, believers should all the more carve out a place for serious thinking about life and cultivate habits of the mind to do so. Rather than letting our culture press us into its mold, we are to reflect on what is our ‘reasonable [logikos] service’ of worship in light of God’s mercies (Rom. 12:1-2 NET). True disciples of Christ are to be characterized by ‘discernment,’ ‘wisdom’ and ‘understanding’ (Phil 1:9; Col 1:9). We are to discipline our minds to take proper action (1 Pet 1:13), to think Christianly about our faith and how to live out kingdom-centered priorities.”

In this day and age we live in, it is important to be able to defend our faith articulately and in a manner that our culture understands. This book dissects the speech that Paul gives in Acts 17 to the Athenians as an example for how to meet our culture where they are at and take biblical principles to lead them to the truth. Paul knew the worldview of those he was talking to and was able to intellectually discuss with them where their worldview was wrong. He knew the customs of the day and what form would give him credibility with his audience. He did not directly quote Scripture, as those he spoke to in Acts 17 would not have found that to be a basis for what they believed. Rather, he used some of their own philosophers and poets and drew out the biblical truth from those writings to point them to the truth of God. Examples in the book were also given of other speeches by Paul (and Peter) in the book of Acts and how those speeches were different and catered to the particular audience at those places.

Really enjoyed the breakdown of what the Athens culture would have been like at that time and how we need to know the culture of our own modern Athens. This book gives tools for how to use someone’s own worldview in order to reach them for Christ. In this day and age, most people will not accept an approach that quotes Scripture to them. Rather, we need to start with where they are at, yet still be biblical in our approach. By the end of Paul’s speech in Acts 17, he was talking about truth that his audience would not have agreed with. Yet by “speaking their language” to get to that point, he gained the respect of being heard though not all would have agreed with his conclusions.

This is a great book on apologetics in modern culture and using the example of Acts for how to reach our current audience, those living in a postmodern and relativistic age.

“In our therapeutic age, Westerners commonly view God as a divine therapist rather than as the cosmic authority who commands our obedience and allegiance. To those who trust in him, God gives the Holy Spirit, not the Happy Spirit. God is more interested in our being good and doing good than our feeling good; he is more interested in character transformation than self-authentication.”

“If we don’t know what we believe or the meaning of what we believe, how can we ask others to believe it?”

*I received a copy of this book free from the author/publisher.


Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther

Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a FutureGirl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future by Elizabeth Esther
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A well-written story of one woman’s journey of growing up in a strict, cult-like religious group. Though based on Christianity, the authoritarian nature of this group made it more like a cult than true Christianity. Spiritual abuse was rampant. Authority could not be questioned.
Sadly this type of story is more common than it should be. Thinking that they are following God, people are caught up in following a leader whose word is final. For this author, she tried to break away several times before finally succeeding after she had her own children. Thankfully her husband was willing to leave with her and they began a new life for themselves.
But just leaving is not enough. The emotional and mental baggage from such an upbringing plays its toll. The author struggled with panic attacks and had to leave church for a while as it brought back many triggers causing anxiety. Sadly, in an effort to raise children to follow God, the opposite effect often happens where the children grow to resent this “God” that is so demanding. The author went through therapy to work on removing all this baggage that was so ingrained in her upbringing.
One thing that makes me hesitant to recommend this book is the author ends up praying to Mary near the end of the book. She finds Catholicism to be how she best draws near to God. While I do think there are true believers within Catholicism, there are many beliefs that are not biblical, such as being saved through our works. And praying to Mary is definitely unbiblical.
Over all, this was a good read, though horrible to see how much spiritual and emotional abuse was put on these people who thought they were following God.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.

How to Study the Bible – A Brief Overview

I’m not sure when I was originally introduced to the inductive Bible study method. For sure I learned about it in college but may have been exposed to it earlier than that, having grown up in a Christian home. For one of my classes in college we read the book Living By the Book by William and Howard Hendricks, which covers the inductive Bible study method thoroughly. I also used the Kay Arthur studies which uses the inductive study method.

What does the inductive Bible study method mean? In brief, it is going from the general to the specific using reasoning. Typically, inductive Bible study includes these 3 steps:




1. Observation – this is the stage we want to spend the most time in. In order for interpretation and application to be correct, we need to observe, observe, observe! One of the things that Bible study books on the inductive method suggest is the 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where and Why. Asking these questions of the text helps to get the observations going.

2. Interpretation – here is where we take the observations we’ve made and turn them into asking what it means. The more observation, the better the interpretation can be. It is important in doing this step to determine what the meaning is before referencing others’ views such as through commentaries. Learning to determine the meaning ourselves based on observation is a huge step in doing Bible study.

3. Application – once observations have been made and meaning determined, then comes the application. Too often we want to jump to this step right away instead of taking the time to observe and interpret properly first. Another important thing to remember in the application step is that a passage can never mean what it never meant. In other words, it’s important to determine how this would have applied to the original audience in order to apply it to our own lives. If it didn’t mean or apply a certain way to the original audience, then it won’t mean or apply that way to us either.

These are great tools to use in Bible study to dig into passages and discover what they are saying to us. There are some helpful books that go through this method in more detail for those who want to learn more about this method.

Living by the Book by William and Howard Hendricks

The New How to Study the Bible by Kay Arthur

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

To the Ends of the Earth by Haykin and Robinson

To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin's Missional Vision and Legacy (Refo500)To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin’s Missional Vision and Legacy by Michael A. G. Haykin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Counter to the accusations that have occurred throughout the years, Calvinism as a theology is not anti-missions. This book takes a look at Calvin’s teachings and writings to show how he had a heart for missions and a desire to see the gospel taken throughout the world. Those who followed his line of teaching, such as the Puritans, also reflected a heart for missions and the spread of the gospel. In spite of strong views on election, Calvinism as a soteriological belief system still holds to the importance of giving the gospel to every one out there, for after all, we do not know who the elect are and thus must give the gospel to all, that God’s elect may hear it. We are commanded to give the gospel to all and let God do His work.
I thought the book made their point pretty quickly and then it seemed to be somewhat repetitious in the chapters on Calvin’s teachings. However, then the book went on to give examples of Jonathan Edwards and Samuel Pearce. So not only was Calvin an advocate of missions but those who taught his system of theology in later years also advocated missions. Samuel Pearce in particular had a great passion for missions and desired to go himself but was meant to stay behind and be the fire that lit the flame for other missionaries to go out.
A good defense of how Calvinism and missions can still work together in the plan of God.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.

“The present work will demonstrate that Calvin, in his writings and by his own missionary activities, was decidedly pro-missions and pro-evangelism. Considered together, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, his biblical commentaries, his sermons and other writings, and the system of theology expressed in them paint a picture of a man who understood that the Great Commission given by Christ in Matthew 28 remains in force and is the obligation of every Christian.”

“Calvin makes plain that the chief end of gospel proclamation and theological engagement is its service in the missio dei, the mission of God: to glorify himself through the salvation of sinful mankind.”

“Calvin maintained, there is no contradiction between the two doctrines – God’s general call to sinners and his choosing of a people for salvation – both of which clearly appear in the Bible. Calvin chose to let the biblical tension between divine election and the free offer of the gospel stand without trying to solve what he calls elsewhere ‘an unfathomable mystery.'”

“A central aim of this book has been to demonstrate that there is a Calvinistic tradition of missionary passion that goes back from pioneers of the modern missionary movement, like Carey and Pearce, through the Puritans to the Reformed fountainhead in the writings and labors of John Calvin and, as such, puts to rest the myth that one cannot be both Calvinistic and missional. But this book is also a call to those who rejoice in their Calvinism to be sure that they are equally passionate about missions and evangelism.”

Summer Bingo Challenge by Becky

What a fun challenge idea! Original post by Becky here.

book with a question in the title

Has God Spoken? by Hank Hanegraaf

book by a favorite author
book about a specific book of the Bible
book about a specific doctrine
book with a number in the title
Missions in the Third Millenium by Stan Guthrie
reread of your choice!
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
book that intimidates you
book about prayer or book about the Lord’s Prayer
book with the word “God” in the title
From God to Us by Norman Geisler and William Nix
book under 100 pages
book you buy new or used specifically for this challenge!
book about the Bible (reading, studying, praying)

Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word by Kathleen Nielson

book with the word “Jesus” in the title
Theology book of your choice
The Theology of the Westminster Standards by J.V. Fesko
Devotional book (28 days+)
book about preaching OR worship OR church life
book about the Holy Spirit
book you’ve owned for 3+ years
book about evangelism or discipleship

Make Mature Multiply: Becoming Fully-Formed Disciples of Jesus by Brandon Smith

Collection of essays or sermons
Between Worlds by Marilyn Gardner
A biography or autobiography
Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther
book by a new-to-you author
The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim
book specifically for women OR book specifically for men
Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt
book with the word “Gospel” in the title
The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas by Copan and Litwak
book you borrow

How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler


Bible Memorization

Along with my passion for Bible reading and Bible study is a desire to memorize Scripture. I learned a lot of verses growing up through Awana and Sunday School, as well as going to Christian schools. When in college, I was able to memorize the book of Philippians. God has gifted me with a really good memory and it is easy for me to learn things. Because of that, I want to take advantage of this gift and learn as much Scripture as I can while I still have a good memory. But I also think it’s important for all Christians to learn and memorize the Bible to the best of their ability. And not just individual verses (which can easily be taken out of context and mis-used), but chapters and passages. Some of the easier passages to memorize are chapters of Psalms.

What I have found works well for me in memorizing verses and eventually chapters is to print out the verses and tape them to index cards. Then I can carry the cards around with me to work on and review when out and about. But as I started accumulating more verses, individual index cards were harder to keep organized. One of my friends suggested the spiral index card notebook that keeps them all together for easy carrying. So I grabbed one of those and put Acts 1 in it (one of the chapters I’m currently working on memorizing, due to joining Bible Quizzing this fall at our church and Acts being the book that Bible Quizzing will be working on this coming school year). Per my friend’s suggestion, I added a colorful cover.

Here’s what the inside looks like – I print out the verses (from Scripturetyper) and then cut them out and tape them to the index card.
I am also working on memorizing the book of Ephesians. But those would be more index cards than what comes in a typical spiral index card notebook and I wanted to try to keep them all together. So I grabbed one of these memo notebooks and used it to put all the Ephesians verses. 

An online resource that I have found works wonderfully for helping me to memorize is ScriptureTyper. It is a free resource that you can add what verses you are memorizing (there are several translations you can choose from). You then can type out the verse, gaining some familiarity with it, then move on to memorizing where ScriptureTyper removes every other word. Eventually you move on to mastering, where you are able to type the whole verse from memory at a certain speed. Then it goes on your review list. I have found it a great way to learn verses and then review them.
Do you memorize Scripture? What tips have you found helpful?

Know the Heretics by Justin Holcomb

Know the Heretics (KNOW Series)Know the Heretics by Justin S. Holcomb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very readable overview of some of the key heresies during the course of church history. Heresy is defined as “that which deviates from the central teachings of the Christian faith, as expressed in the rule of faith and subsequently in the church’s confessions.” The Nicene Creed is given as a way to show if someone is a heretic or not. According to this author, if they subscribe to the Nicene Creed, then they would not be a heretic, regardless of what other doctrines they may believe.
Many of the heresies that arose during the early church were an effort to better understand what the Bible was teaching on certain issues – such as the Trinity and Jesus’ divinity and humanity. These heresies caused the early church to meet and hash out these truths and to define them in better detail in order to contradict error. We do well to learn from these as many of these heresies exist in some form or another today.
Each chapter goes through the historical background of the heresy or the person primarily known for the heresy, then details what the heretical teaching was. Then the orthodox response is given along with the relevance of this for today. Orthodoxy is defined by this author as “the teaching that best follows the Bible and best summarizes what it teaches – best accounts for the paradoxes and apparent contradictions, best preserves the mystery of God in the places where reason can’t go, and best communicates the story of the forgiveness of the gospel.”
Discussion questions are included with each chapter along with options for further reading.
Would definitely recommend this as a good resource for better understanding some of the key heresies that played a part in shaping what the church believes and teaches today.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my review.

Summer Reading Lists

I’m starting to see various blog posts popping up regarding summer reading lists. I don’t usually make a summer reading list, as much as I love to make lists, actually sticking to a reading list is hard for me due to “mood” reading. I’m also currently finding that I’m requesting a lot of review books (probably more than I should 🙂 so those take precedent in my reading schedule.
Rather than create a summer reading list, here is my list of current and upcoming reads (hopefully) which basically turns it into a summer reading list.

For Review:
Know the Heretics by Justin Holcomb (currently reading)
To the Ends of the Earth by Michael Haykin
The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw by Norman Geisler and Daniel McCoy
Dynamic Women of the Bible by Ruth A. Tucker
From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible by Norman Geisler and William Nix
The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas by Paul Copan
Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther
Make, Mature, Multiply: Becoming Fully-Formed Disciples of Jesus by Brandon Smith
The Theology of the Westminster Standards by J.V. Fesko
Why Church History Matters by Robert Rea
Questioning the Bible by Jonathan Morrow
The Young Woman’s Guide to Discovering Her Bible by Elizabeth George
Between Worlds by Marilyn Gardner

Library Books:
How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word by Kathleen Buswell Nielson
Effective Bible Teaching by James Wilhoit and Leland Ryken
As Iron Sharpens Iron by William and Howard Hendricks

Own Books:
Knowing God by J.I. Packer (currently reading/group read on Facebook)
Missions in the Third Millenium by Stan Guthrie (current read)
Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (current read/summer study prep help)
Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt
The God Who Is There by Francis Schaeffer
Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission by Amy Simpson
By Design by Susan Hunt

Do you have summer reading plans?

The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim

The MidwifeThe Midwife by Jolina Petersheim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t read a lot of fiction these days, but the premise of this book intrigued me. A midwife in the Mennonite community struggles with secrets from her past and finds it difficult to allow herself to get close to anyone.
Without giving too much away, a young woman (Beth) agrees to be a gestational surrogate for a professor and his wife. What that means is that the baby inside her is not connected to her biologically but is genetically the baby of the professor and his wife. When during the pregnancy some abnormalities are seen and the parents consider having the baby aborted, Beth flees in an effort to protect the baby.
The book goes back and forth between different characters and different times (1996 and 2014). In the process the full story is unveiled for the reader. The author does a good job of piecing things together.
This was a great read and kept me reading to find out the full story and the outcome of the choices that various people had made throughout the years. Dealing with real issues in this modern world we live in, the emotional angst that Beth goes through is real and raw.
Wonderfully written book and recommended reading.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my review.

True Woman 101 by Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss

True Woman 101: Divine Design: An Eight-Week Study on Biblical Womanhood (True Woman)True Woman 101: Divine Design: An Eight-Week Study on Biblical Womanhood by Mary A. Kassian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Intended to be an 8-week study, I actually completed this book much faster as I read it for review. An advantage of reading it this way gave me a great overall view of the message of Biblical womanhood compared to what the world says that womanhood should look like.

We live in a culture that sends the opposite message of what womanhood and manhood should be than what the Bible teaches. Culture has bought into the lie that we can do things our own way and have what we want, rather than following the design and plan that God intended for our femininity and masculinity.

The book begins with creation, and God’s original intent and design in creating male and female. God created us equal but different, complementing each other in our roles. Men were created to be providers and protectors, while women were created to be nurturers, responsive and relational. Sin entered when Satan convinced Eve that having it her way was better than going God’s way. And we have been doing the same thing ever since. After discussing God’s intent in creating both male and female, the book goes on to talk about manhood and what that looks like in the Bible. It then brings out biblical womanhood and God’s design for how a woman should be that is in relationship with Him. In all this, the book brings out how God’s original intent for men and women is to reflect Him. The marriage relationship reflects the relationship between Christ and the church of believers.
“Our purpose in life is to put God on display – to reflect His glory in ways we as women were uniquely created to do.”
“Men were created to reflect the strength, love, and self-sacrifice of Christ. Women were created to reflect the responsiveness, grace, and beauty of the bride He redeemed. And marriage was created to reflect the covenant union of Christ and His bride.”

Continuing on, the book talks about the feminist movement and how the feminist ideology has now become mainstream. It affects us in ways that we don’t even realize. Feminism is a worldview like any of the other -isms (materalism, humanism, etc.).
“Most of us mindlessly accept whatever we hear and see. We listen to music, read books and magazines, watch TV programs, go to movies, surf the Internet, listen to advice, and respond to advertisements. We adopt the latest fads, and embrace the lifestyles, values, and priorities of our friends. We listen to what the world has to say about womanhood and how we should dress, act, think, and behave. We do all this without asking ourselves important questions: What is the message here? Is it really true? Am I being deceived by a way of thinking that is contrary to the Truth?”

A contrast is given to being a Lady Wild vs. a Lady Wise, based on the Proverbs passages of Wisdom and Folly. We are often “more interested in fitting into the world than in honoring and reflecting the Lord.” The study also talks about the importance of teaching and training the next generation what the true meaning of womanhood is based on the Bible and not what the world around us says.

I would recommend this study, especially for young women and teens as they are bombarded with the message of society that you can have it your way instead of God’s way, as well as telling them to take control of their own lives rather than surrendering to God and following His path. This would also be a great study for a mom and teenage daughter to do together. The path of biblical womanhood is the path that leads to joy. This message is counter-cultural. True Woman 101 calls out for us to return to what the Bible says about being a woman and how God designed us. Yet this will look different for each woman. This book covers the principles of what biblical womanhood looks like, but how it is played out practically will differ.
“Women are not the same. Womanhood will look different from woman to woman…That’s not to say that our decisions don’t matter. In His Word God has given us timeless principles about womanhood that transcend culture. It’s important that we wrestle with how to implement these principles. We need to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance to help us figure out how to apply them in our particular situation. But we must avoid a cookie-cutter mentality. We are all unique. Every woman’s circumstances are distinct. We each need to carefully discern how to apply God’s principles in our own lives, and we can encourage one another in that process; but it’s not up to us to determine how they must be applied in other women’s lives.”

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for my review.