Book Review - October 2014


After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles, Bryan Liftin, 2015, Moody Publishers, Chicago, ISBN 9780802412409, 192 pages, $14.99, softcover.

What happened to all those biblical figures once the Bible was finished? We've all heard it said: "According to early church tradition Peter was crucified upside down," or "Paul went to Spain." Did Thomas found the Indian church? Or did Mary live in Ephesus? Were the twelve disciples all eventually martyred? Where do these ancient traditions come from, and how historically reliable are they? What is meant by the term "early Church tradition?" After Acts opens up the world of the Bible-right after it was written. Follow along with New Testament scholar Litfin as he explores the facts, myths, legends, archaeology, and questions of what happened in those most early days of Christianity.

 

Look and Live: Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ, Matt Papa, 2014, Bethany House, Bloomington, Minn., ISBN 9780764212512, 256 pages, $15.99, softcover.

Matt Papa was a "professional Christian" in full-time ministry, ready and determined to change the world. All the while he was depressed, addicted to the approval of others, and enslaved to sin. But then everything changed. He encountered the glory of God. All of us live in the tension between where we are and where we ought to be. We try our best to bully our desires into submission. And we all know, this is exhausting. Are you tired? Stuck? Still fighting the same sin you've been fighting for years? The call in these pages is not to work or to strive, but to lift your eyes. You don't need more willpower. You need a vision of greatness that sweeps you off your feet. You need to see glory. "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."



Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom, Carl R. Trueman, 2014, Crossway, Wheaton, Ill., ISBN 9781433525025, 224 pages, $17.99, softcover.

Martin Luther's historical significance can hardly be overstated. Known as the father of the Protestant Reformation, no single figure has had a greater impact on Western Christianity except perhaps Augustine. In Luther on the Christian Life, Church historian Carl Trueman introduces readers to the lively Reformer, taking them on a tour of his historical context, theological system, and approach to the Christian life. Whether exploring Luther's theology of protest, ever-present sense of humor, or misunderstood view of sanctification, this addition to Crossway's Theologians on the Christian Life series highlights the ways in which Luther's eventful life shaped his understanding of what it means to be a Christian.



Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture, J. Paul Nyquist, 2015, Moody Publishers, Chicago, ISBN 9780802412560, 160 pages, $14.99, softcover.

Much like a person who has awaked from a decades-long coma to be introduced to a radically different world, evangelicals are just awakening to the reality that they have lost the culture war in this country. We are seeing the rapid deterioration and dismantling of a Judeo-Christian culture in America, and believers are finding themselves in unfamiliar positions. Trend lines, unless altered, point to accelerated cultural change and even greater drift from the historic roots of this country. As a result, there is a growing intolerance towards believers and their message. Increasingly, followers of Jesus are being viewed as narrow, bigoted and hateful. Yet all of this was predicted by Christ before His departure. Prepare sets forth a biblical, theological, and practical approach to navigating the challenging days ahead and a reason for hope and optimism-the power of the Gospel and the possibility of societal transformation.

 


The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth, Mike Cosper, 2014, Crossway, Wheaton, Ill., ISBN 9781433537080, 240 pages, $15.99, softcover.

Studies show that the average American watches 5 hours of television every day. Collectively, we spend roughly $30 billion on movies each year. Simply put, we're entertainment junkies. But can we learn something from our insatiable addiction to stories? Mike Cosper thinks so. The tales we tell and the myths we weave inevitably echo the narrative underlying all of history: the story of humanity's tragic sin and God's triumphant salvation. This entertaining book connects the dots between the stories we tell and the one great Story-helping us better understand the longings of the human heart and thoughtfully engage with the movies and TV shows that capture our imaginations and our neighbors shaped by this culture.



This Is the Life!: Enjoying the Blessings and Privileges of Faith in Christ, Warren W. Wiersbe, 2014, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Mich., ISBN 9780801016516, 144 pages, $12.99, softcover.

 You have received an inheritance of joy, peace, and grace-so live like it! When we are redeemed by Christ, we are given new life. A life of pervading joy, persistent grace, and promises kept. Yet we so often live as if we must trudge on day by day, just getting by until we reach a heavenly reward. We let the things of this world determine our outlook, attitude, and actions. But God has promised so much more-and He always keeps His promises. In This Is the Life! beloved theologian Warren W. Wiersbe shows that the way to joy is through cultivating a close relationship with God and obeying His Word, calling us to enjoy all the blessings and privileges of a life of faith-right now. He helps us confront the habits that bind us, the negative attitudes that control us, the people who bother us, the needs that depress us, and the challenges that frighten us-showing how they can all be handled by God, if we will let Him have His way.

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