Anger & Stress Management God’s Way by Wayne Mack

Anger & Stress Management God's WayAnger & Stress Management God’s Way by Wayne A. Mack

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don’t know if I read this book years ago or not. Most of it seemed pretty familiar, but that could be due to the reading I’ve done regarding anger management and biblical counseling. Very simple and succinct, if you are not familiar with how biblical counseling addresses anger, this book is a good overview of recognizing anger, whether anger is sinful, and how to respond to it. We often get angry because of wrong expectations or a perceived violation of our “rights”. There are quite a few application questions throughout the book to ask ourselves so that we can properly deal with our anger.
The second half of the book deals with stress and how we cope with stress. A reminder is given of God’s sovereignty and how remembering that helps us in coping with the trials we face.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the book, but I don’t know if that was because I was already familiar with the material. It was a quick, easy read.

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

How to Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets

How to Read and Understand the Biblical ProphetsHow to Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets by Peter J. Gentry

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This is a short, succinct book on the genre of prophecy and how this Hebrew literature was written. In our Western mindset, we often don’t properly read and understand Hebrew prophecy, as it was written in a style that we are not accustomed to. Peter Gentry takes us through the characteristics of Hebrew prophecy and how to better understand it. He uses multiple examples, particularly in Isaiah, to show the style and genre and demonstrate how this would have been understood to the original readers. As I’m currently studying Isaiah, I found this helpful to better understand what I am reading. There are charts throughout the book to demonstrate the chiastic structure that is common in Hebrew literature. We are not properly understanding the Bible if we don’t understand it the way the original readers understood its meaning. This book is a helpful resource to better understand the genre and structure of the biblical prophets so we can better grasp the original readers’ understanding of the text.

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

Book Review: A Practical Guide to Culture

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's WorldA Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is geared toward parents, pastors, and youth leaders but could also be read by teens themselves. The authors present the challenges that Christians face in today’s culture and provide practical solutions for facing these. We all have a worldview and often the culture we live in affects that worldview. As Christians our worldview is to be based on the truth of Scripture. When much of the culture we live in flies in the face of that truth, it becomes a challenge to navigate. Teens today especially face these challenges and we need to help equip them properly to know the truth and defend it.
While this book is geared toward those who parent and mentor teens, it could also be used as a small group study amongst teens to help them learn tools for facing some of the most common issues in today’s culture – homosexuality, transgenderism, a hook-up culture, addiction, etc. The authors take us through these key issues and provide answers to the lies that the culture tells us about our sexual identity, relativism, etc. Each chapter in the book ends with further resources on that topic as well as discussion questions to talk through.
I would highly recommend this book as a resource for parents of teens to read, along with youth ministry leaders. We cannot hide our heads in the sand regarding these issues in the culture but need to challenge them with the truth and grace of the gospel. This book is a quick, easy read that provides tools to deal with these issues as well as pointing to further resources for deeper study.

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

12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, if you weren’t already convicted by how much time you spend on your smartphone, you will be after reading this book! The pros and cons of technology are discussed, particularly when it comes to our use of social media. The author asks some hard-hitting questions and talks about reasons we use our smartphones, things such as distraction and to avoid responsibility, for diversion, for affirmation and community.
“The question of this book is simple: What is the best use of my smartphone in the flourishing of my life? To that end, my aim is to avoid both extremes…” The author gives both downsides and upsides to our use of smartphones. It appears the intent of the book is to open our eyes to why we are using them and for what purposes. We need to be intentional in the decisions we make and the author reminds us that we will answer to God for our words and deeds. He does not tell us we shouldn’t use social media or smartphones, but rather to gauge our use and motivations for use and to be wise with our time and resources. “Before you text, tweet, or publish digital art online, honestly ask yourself: Will this ultimately glorify me or God?”
In a world that speeds by us, this book is a good reminder of what matters and to remember what is truly important. Are we living life for God’s purposes or our own?

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

This Changes Everything by Jaquelle Crowe

This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen YearsThis Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years by Jaquelle Crowe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is excellent! It is written by a teenager for teenagers. Now, I am no longer a teenager :-), but I have been getting involved with teenagers and wanted to see if this would be a good resource for them. And yes, it is!
The author delves into how the gospel and following Jesus changes everything about our lives. I was getting convicted in her chapter about how we use our time. She spells out the gospel and then shows how this affects us in various ways, such as community in the church, our time, spiritual disciplines, relationships with others, sin and sanctification. I loved her chapter on disciplines and the importance of memorizing Scripture!
This was a quick read and very impactful. I highly recommend this, not only to teenagers, but to anyone who wants a reminder of why the gospel is important and how it affects our daily living.

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

Biblical Doctrine by John MacArthur

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth
The long-awaited, much-anticipated systematic theology by John MacArthur is finally here. Though there are several areas where I disagree with MacArthur theologically, he is a sound Bible teacher and pastor who has remained faithful to the Word of God through the many years of his ministry.

However, as I tried to read this theology book I found myself getting frustrated with the tone and manner in which it is written. The view of the author is put forth as the correct view, matter-of-factly, as if no other view has any validity. Contrary to Grudem’s theology book, which gives the different views within orthodox Christianity, MacArthur’s theology comes across as being the only correct view. I have noticed in past messages by MacArthur that he does not fairly represent opposing views but often uses straw-man arguments. It may well be that he doesn’t understand the opposing view or really thinks that is their view. But his arguments fall flat because he is not accurately teaching what the opposing view actually believes, only a caricature of what he thinks they believe.

I could not continue reading this book with him only giving his view and teaching it as if it is the only way to read and understand the Bible. Many well-respected scholars and theologians down through the centuries would not agree with MacArthur’s interpretations. His view is not the only correct, biblical view. When it comes to salvation and the doctrines that matter (primary issues), we would agree. But on secondary issues, he comes across as his way being correct without any alternative views being allowed for. While I don’t think he actually feels that way, as he has partnered with others such as Sproul, it smacks that way in his book.

For those who hold similar views to MacArthur in secondary issues, you will likely love this book. It is written in an easy-to-read and normal MacArthur manner. But if you believe differently on some of these issues (such as covenant theology, amillenialism, etc.), you may have a hard time stomaching what he writes. Perhaps I may go back and try to finish it in the future, but with so many books out there that I want to read, the rest of this one is going to remain unread for now.

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

Chasing Contentment by Erik Raymond

Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented AgeChasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age by Erik Raymond

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Discontentment seems to be an American or Western culture issue. With the rise of materialism and wealth, dissatisfaction has also grown. With so much available to us, we still struggle with being discontent with all that we have. There is a tendency to want “just a little bit more.” In this book, the author addresses this problem from a Biblical perspective.
This was a convicting book! It is so easy to fall into the sin of discontentment. We tend to worship the created things instead of the Creator. And this causes us to not be content with what we have or our current circumstances.
One of the chapters that stood out to me was the one on self-denial. In the Gospels, Jesus calls us to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Him. When we deny ourselves, it is much easier to be content. Our focus is on serving God and others, rather than our own desires.
I would definitely recommend this book to challenge you in your Christian walk. It’s a quick, short read that packs a punch!

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

Finding God in My Loneliness by Lydia Brownback

Finding God in My LonelinessFinding God in My Loneliness by Lydia Brownback

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The path out of loneliness begins by letting go of all our attempts to make life work on our own terms. It’s about taking up our cross and following Jesus.”
This book is not a “quick-fix” help to dealing with loneliness. Rather it goes to the heart of the matter, what is behind our loneliness, and the fact that we are not made for this world and loneliness will exist until the new heavens and new earth are ushered in. Having dealt personally with loneliness, the author can relate to this very human emotion that we all deal with at some point in our lives. Different chapters deal with different reasons for why we suffer with loneliness – for being different, in a difficult marriage, during grief, and in singleness. She talks about the wrong ways to deal with loneliness and points us back to Christ as the One we must turn to. This doesn’t mean the loneliness will go away, but He is with us during it. He also has borne our griefs and sorrows (see Isaiah 53). Each chapter ends with discussion questions, so this book could be used in a small group study or book club.
While not an in-depth look at this topic, this book can be an encouragement to those going through loneliness and also help us to realize that we are not alone in dealing with this issue.

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

New Year and Reading Lists

I love this time of the year, when the old year ends and the new begins. While it is an arbitrary point on a calendar, I like the idea of a fresh start, a new beginning and the start of a new year lends itself to this thinking.

I also love to make lists. So making a reading list for the new year is something I enjoy. Whether I actually stick to that list is another story. But the making of the list is fun, so I continue to do it, even if I don’t actually stick to it. Tim Challies’ 2017 Reading Challenge also provides an opportunity to make book lists.

I also find that the new year is a great time to make goals. I’ve learned to be more realistic in my goal-setting, yet still trying to stretch myself. But never accomplishing goals can be discouraging so I try to make goals that are somewhat attainable. However I do have some ambitious book goals for 2017. The last few years I have had the goal of reading 100 books. Once again I hope to read 100 books in 2017. But this year I have added the goal of trying to not buy any books during 2017. This is mostly to work on reading my own books and getting my to-be-read mountain lowered. I’m not sure I can go a whole year without buying any books. This should be interesting.

One of my other goals includes reading Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith. I love theology and have several monstrous tomes to read. Picking one to read each year should help me wade through them. Because I read so much and I love trying different Bible reading plans, in 2017 I plan to start an annual goal of reading through the Bible twice each year. For 2017 I plan to read through the NKJV Chronological Bible (which I’ve already started) and also read the Bible along with Thomas Schreiner’s The King in His Beauty book (there is a reading plan for reading the book along with the Bible).

I also have a Scripture memory goal that I’m working on and a health goal. Do you make goals for the new year? What about reading goals or lists?

No Little Women by Aimee Byrd

No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of GodNo Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God by Aimee Byrd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was “preaching to the choir” as they say, for it echoes much of what I have seen in the last several years. We are all theologians, but not necessarily good theologians. The “fluff” that is often published for women’s ministries has not helped Christian women to grow in their knowledge of God and His Word. And women are not being equipped to properly discern what is truth and what is error. Aimee tackles this difficult and often emotional topic in this book, challenging women not to be the “little women” that Paul warns about in 2 Timothy 3:6-7: “For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”
While first defining the problem, this book doesn’t just leave us frustrated at what seems to be an insurmountable problem of Biblical illiteracy and lack of discernment. Aimee gives practical advice for how to combat this and equip women in how to be better discerners and studiers of God’s Word. Each chapter has discussion questions at the end for further reflection and thought. She encourages us to read critically and thoughtfully. In the last section she provides excerpts from popular women’s books and asks thoughtful questions to think about what these women are saying compared to God’s Word. In order to better detect error, we must be firmly grounded in the Bible. She also talks about theological triage and what is considered primary or first-order doctrine and is thus heresy, versus secondary doctrines that we might disagree on but still be within orthodoxy. Doctrines like the Trinity, Christ being both fully God and fully man, these are doctrines we cannot compromise on.
A lot of this book resonated with me. I get angry when I see the lack of discernment among Christians and their seemingly whole-hearted acceptance of false doctrine because it makes them feel good. It saddens me to see a lack of Bible knowledge and verses ripped out of context for their warm, fuzzy appeal. It encourages me to see books like this, that others see what I see and want to equip women to know their Bibles and thus know God, having their lives transformed by His truth. It thrills me that I’m not alone in my desire to learn theology and that there are other women out there that want to grow and learn together. I would love to join other women and have theology reading groups. The need is great!
I didn’t agree with everything in this book, but I think its overall message is much needed. I highly recommend that church leaders, women’s ministry teams, and the lay person in the pew read this book. Be aware of the need and see solutions for how to make needed changes. Let’s be passionate for truth – the truth found in God’s Word!

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