Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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Book Reviews
How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living. Multnomah. 208 pages. 2018
****

I’ve been enjoying the witty satire from The Babylon Bee for the past few years and had been looking forward to this book, which doesn’t disappoint. I had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading this book by Adam Ford and Kyle Mann as they give the reader tongue in cheek advice on how to be the perfect Christian.  As you work your way through the book on your journey to becoming the perfect Christian, you can get helpful updates by using The Babylon Bee’s proprietary “Holiness Progress Tracker 5000”.
The authors tell us how to find just the right church to join – one that is focused solely on you. They encourage you to find a church that emphasizes and cultivates the historical Christian virtues of convenience and comfort. The authors walk the reader through topics such as the church auditorium, worship service, worship leader, pastor, small groups, praying in public, the use of Christianese, serving (or not), your online presence (this section really nailed me), films to watch, the need to home school, vote Republican, etc. They do all of this in a humorous manner, but also in a way that hits pretty close to home at times.
Highly recommended for those who wish to be the perfect Christian!

Miracle in Shreveport: A Memoir of Baseball, Fatherhood, and The Stadium That Launched a Dream by David and Jason Benham with Tim Ellsworth. Thomas Nelson. 208 pages. 2018.
****

This true and inspirational story is about the dream of twin brothers David and Jason Benham.  Their dream was to play professional baseball. With their father’s pastoral salary, the family couldn’t take elaborate vacations growing up, so each year they would travel from their home in Garland, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia to visit their Mom’s family. On their route was Fair Grounds Field, home of the Shreveport Captains minor league team. As the family would pass by the stadium each year, their father Flip would lead them in prayer that God would one day allow his two boys to play in that very stadium as professionals and on the same team. Now that’s quite a dream. The boys and their father placed that dream in God’s hands.
The book tells the story of the two boys and their respective baseball careers, their successes and setbacks. As their father taught them to be faithful as baseball players, they watched him model faithfulness as a father even more.
The twins had great success in high school, but on a pastor’s salary, would need full-ride scholarships if they were to play baseball in college. God answered that prayer with full scholarships to play baseball at Liberty University. The boys had a dream of leading Liberty to their first ever win in the NCAA regional tournament.  They also had a dream of being drafted by major league baseball teams, a prayer that God also answered for both David and Jason.
You don’t need to know much about baseball to enjoy this hard to believe story. It’s less a story about baseball than it is about being faithful and trusting God with your dreams. The brothers interject a lot of humor in the book, and there are also numerous accounts of them dropping to their knees to pray.
This was a very enjoyable book and a quick read. I hope to see this book made into a movie in the future.

  • The Prodigal Prophet. I’m looking forward The Prodigal Prophet by Tim Keller, to be published October 2.
  • Christianaudio’s Free Audiobook. The free audio book for May from Christianaudio is Jonathan Edwards: America’s Genius by Christian Timothy George, from the Trailblazer series. These books are aimed at ages 8-12. Get it free this month.
  • New Francis Chan Book. Francis Chan’s new book Letters to the Church will be published on September 1.
  • New Tim Challies Book. Tim Challies’ new book tells stories of great Christian men who could their mother’s a primary spiritual influence. He writes “History tells of women whose love for the Bible shaped its earliest and most prominent teachers. It tells of women who were great theologians in their own right, yet whose only students were their own children. It tells, time and time again, of Christian men who owe so much to their godly mothers.”
  • Let Sinclair Ferguson Teach You Pastoral Ministry. Ray Ortlund reviews Sinclair Ferguson’s new book Some Pastors and Teachers. He writes “Some Pastors and Teacherswill bring Sinclair Ferguson into your life as an inspiring teacher and at times as a gentle goad, helping you fan into flame the gift of God which is in you, so that you fulfill your ministry (2 Tim. 1:64:5). If you will “take up and read,” with a humble heart before the Lord, there need be no end to your growth in grace and progress in ministry, all the way to your promotion to glory.”
  • So-Called Christians Have Sense of Humor. Susan E. Isaacs reviews “How to be a Perfect Christian”, the first book from The Babylon Bee. She writes “If we really are saved by faith and not works, then we of all people should be comfortable lampooning ourselves. And if we need a 10-step program in taking ourselves less seriously, Step Two is reading How to Be a Perfect Christian. Step One is making The Babylon Beeyour homepage.”
  • A Great Big List of Recommended Books. Tim Challies writes “Here are 50 or 60 contemporary authors I’ve read and a book by each of them you may enjoy.”
  • Free Audio of 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy by John Piper. I appreciate Kevin Halloran compiling the audio messages that go along with John Piper’s new book 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy.
  • Leave Your Century for a While. John Piper writes “But one of the most enjoyable and inspiring things I did to deepen my grasp of the pastoral calling was to listen to a master life-storyteller, Iain Murray.”
  • Book Review: 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. Thomas Brewer writes “12 Rules for Lifeis liberal theology and cultural moralism made palatable for a general audience. Yet at the same time, we can’t simply dismiss Peterson and his twelve rules. The book—and Peterson himself—is very popular. Many people are reading him, not just in our culture, but in our churches.

BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by Albert Mohler. 224 pages. 2018
In this new book, step by step, phrase by phrase, Dr. Mohler explains what the words in The Lord’s Prayer mean and how we are to pray them.
This week we look at Chapter 6: Forgive Us Our Debts:

  • If the petition “give us this day our daily bread” emphasizes our most urgent physical needs, the petition “forgive us our debts” emphasizes our most urgent spiritual need.
  • Saying we owe a debt to God means that we have failed to give him the obedience he is rightly due.
  • Only God’s forgiveness can clear our guilt and establish a meaningful relationship between God and us.
  • We can only say these words and ask these things of God when we stand on the finished, atoning work of Jesus Christ.
  • This petition demonstrates that the theological bedrock of the Lord’s Prayer is nothing less than the gospel. We can only rightly pray the Lord’s Prayer when we recognize that we are deeply sinful and only God’s grace in Christ can remedy our souls.
  • The sum and substance of the gospel is that a holy and righteous God who must claim a full penalty for our sin both demands that penalty and provides it.
  • First, this prayer establishes that we are sinners in need of forgiveness.
  • Second, Jesus teaches us not only that we have sinned but also that we have the hope of forgiveness.
  • Third, we see in this passage that God is willing to forgive sin.
  • Finally, this petition demonstrates the relational character of the kingdom of God.
  • The extravagant mercy of God shown in this petition should be on our lips and in our hearts daily.
  • When we recognize we are debtors, then we see ourselves as we truly are, beggars at the throne of grace.
  • What Jesus is affirming in these words is that when we experience God’s forgiveness, we are fundamentally transformed into forgiving people.
  • Jesus’ words on forgiveness are clear. Without forgiving others we will not be forgiven. Again, the grounds of our forgiveness is never our own works. But forgiveness is a necessary evidence that we have received forgiveness. If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven.

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 38 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and Colossians 3:23 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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