Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: “It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government is Wrong” by Andrew P. Napolitano

Being familiar with Judge Napolitano from his time on FOX News television and on the radio, I was not too surprised to find what I did in this anti-big government treatise, It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong.

Some readers might be a little surprised to find that Napolitano is more libertarian than conservative. He lambasts both Democrat and Republican presidents and the federal government in general for how it has far overstepped its constitutional bounds. Citing a plethora of court cases and legal opinions, Napolitano makes a case for the government to get out of our lives.

While I am most definitely a conservative with a libertarian bent (to a point), where I cannot go along with the Judge as a believer in Jesus Christ who believes what the Bible says about God established human government for good is in the areas of the legalization of drugs, prostitution, and gay marriage. Doing what is right before God is what promotes the general welfare. Yes, voters have for centuries now been willing accomplices to Presidents, Congresses, and Courts alike exceeding their bounds, but if the Judge were here with me right now I would tell him that you do not have to go to the extreme on moral issues, that government does serve a God-ordained purpose in these matters, and that we cannot throw the baby out with very dirty bathwater.

All of that said, I recommend the book to anyone interested in the role of the government, even if I cannot get fully behind Napolitano’s Ron Paul-esque libertarian conservatism.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Review: MacArthur: America’s General

This work on the enigmatic and polarizing giant General Douglas MacArthur by Mitchell Yockelson is part of “The Generals” series. MacArthur was a man who, through his sheer force of nature, played a big role in shaping the geopolitical realities of the 1940s and 50s, both here at home and abroad. In this book, Yockelson looks at the man’s family life (although not as much attention is paid to his private life as one might hope), his military career, and what made him loved by some and despised by others.

Be ready for a lot of military terminology, necessarily so… but while the book is short the reader should be aware that its heavy in this regard.

One of the critiques of this book that I share with some others who have reviewed it is that the authors seem to assume a Christianity based on relatively little, even though they do not hide all of what some might say were negative aspects of his character. The best one could assume based upon all we know about the man is that his was a cultural Christianity, not unlike many today.

All in all, if you are looking for a full-on, in depth biography of Douglas MacArthur there are probably better places to look than this book. That said, for a relatively basic sketch of the man in his times, I would recommend it with the aforementioned caveats.

This book provided for free by Booksneeze through Thomas Nelson – I was not required to give a positive review of the book.

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Book Review: “Time with God for Fathers” by Jack Countrymen

Time with God for Fathers is a short devotional by Jack Countrymen designed, as the title suggests, especially for fathers. Each page includes a few sentences that focus on something relating to God and how it can affect the father’s life.

I suppose the market for this book is of the gift variety, especially for Father’s Day, but those who do not look at the book for themselves and instead buy online should know that the book is quite short, each devotional is rather short, and they not very deep. Countrymen, I suppose by design, has kept things very simple, but in my opinion this is at the expense of writing a book that could truly have a good impact for fathers. The book is written in such a way that practically anyone claiming any type of allegiance to Jesus Christ and the Bible could endorse it, but that comes at the price of truly digging into the Scriptures to benefits dads with the wonder of the word of God. The platitudes in which the author deals are fine, but I would have preferred to see them dug into a bit.

So with that in mind I am not recommending the book, nor am I not recommending the book. It is what it is, but look through it yourself because you decide it’s what you want to give Dad on Father’s Day. Personally, I suggest Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening instead.

* Disclaimer: I received this book at no charge from for the purpose of an honest review.

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Book Review: “Truth Endures” from Grace to You Ministry

Truth Endures: commemorating forty years of unleashing God’s truth one verse at a time 1969-2009, landmark sermons by John F. MacArthur Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How does one winnow over forty years of faithful biblical exposition down to twelve sermons? That is what Grace to You ministry did with the book Truth Endures: Landmark Sermons from 40 Years of Unleashing God’s Truth One Verse at a Time. The book consists of a wonderful introduction by Ian Murray, followed by twelve chapters, each a sermon from over the course of MacArthur’s continuing ministry at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA.

MacArthur’s boldness in proclaiming the truth has inspired countless other preachers to do the same in the face of moral relativism and an era of watered-down gospel preaching. For example, his very first sermon at Grace Church was titled, “How to Play Church.” A couple of other sermons in the book include “A Jet Tour through Revelation” and “Making the Hard Decisions Easy.” The latter is a rare topical sermon from MacArthur that include great practical helps for things that may be considered gray areas for believers.

His sermon the Sunday after 9/11, titled “A Biblical Perspective on Death, Terrorism, and the Middle East” is an informative and moving sermon that teaches the listener (or in this case the reader) about why there is conflict, but of course, MacArthur ends up pointing right to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The sermons are a little long for what one might consider a devotional, but that’s how I would recommend reading it. One per day and you’re done with the book in less than two weeks. I will say that this is one book I will keep on my shelf (or my Kindle as it were) and go back to as a resource.

MacArthur has long been a hero of the faith to me, so you may think me biased, but as a believer, and more than that, a pastor, I couldn’t encourage you enough to buy this book and read some of the best sermons from one of the best Bible teachers in the modern era.

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Book Review: “The Legacy of the King James Bible” by Leland Ryken

The Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English TranslationThe Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English Translation by Leland Ryken

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In an age when it seems sometimes as if there are as many Bible translations as there are denomination, Leland Ryken comes along to remind us of the worth of the preeminent English Bible translation of the past four hundred years. In this the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, Ryken tells us who preceded it in the way of English Bible translation, how the KJV came to be, the literary value of the KJV, and its influence over the past four hundred years in everything from the courtroom to the CD player.

I bought this book for a few reasons. 1) I am a pastor of an independent Baptist church, of which many members use the King James Bible. The former pastor taught from it for over 50 years, and the environment of churches around us is very KJV-friendly, and even KJV-only to some extent. 2) Knowing Ryken’s previous work in the way of English Bible translations, I knew that a) he was not KJV-only, and b) he would approach this task with the utmost respect, attempting to convey the value of the KJV while rightly acknowledging what has been lost in the plethora of new translations that exist. Ryken has succeeded in his task.

I heartily recommend this volume for those interested in Bible translation, and beyond that, I would recommend it for any believer who needs a reminder about the value of proper Bible translation. My translation of choice is the New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, because I believe it to be the most accurate, most literal, word-for-word English translation available. The NASB, while not using the same Greek text as the KJV, is in the KJV family when it comes to reverent translation method (something for which many newer versions are found wanting). Because of that, I am happy to recommend this book for the believer to gain an appreciation for the King James Bible that in 2011 may be lacking.

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Book Review: “Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God” by John Piper

Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of GodThink: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Piper recognizes that we live in an anti-intellectual age, where thinkers lord it over those who do not and those who do not are proud that they do not because they are plain folks. Both extremes are simple and Piper goes to the text of the Bible to show that God calls us to love God and love others, something that cannot truly be done without thinking, and thinking rightly. This can only be done by the grace of God, Piper argues, but he maintains that we all have a responsibility to be thinkers.

In my opinion the greatest threat to the church today is the relativistic spirit that abounds in pulpits, pews, and out in the world. Piper effectively addresses the error of relativism and calls the Christian to love the truth and embrace the glory of God revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. While the theme of the book revolves around two texts, Proverbs 2 and 2 Timothy 2:7, I pray that you will be edified and enlightened, as I was, by Piper’s examination of many passages of Scripture (some that can be very confusing), particularly Matthew 16:1-4, Luke 10:21, and 1 Corinthians 8:1-3.

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to read and enjoy this book on thinking. If you love God you ought to want to think better for His glory. This book comes along at just the right moment. It is so needed and therefore I give it my most earnest recommendation.

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Book Review: “Pujols: More Than the Game” by Tim Ellsworth and Scott Lamb

In a day when heroes seem hard to find in the sports world, in the words of ESPN college football personality Lee Corso, Tim Ellsworth and Scott Lamb say, “Not so fast my friend” in their biography of three-time National League Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols, Pujols: More Than the Game.

Beginning with his humble beginnings in the Dominican Republic, the authors chronicle Pujols’s migration to America and to the game of baseball, which, as Ellsworth and Lamb point out, is the real religion of Pujols’s native land. But the book is more than a history of his life and his baseball career, although the baseball fan will not be disappointed by how much of the sport is discussed. Beyond that, however, the authors set out to show that Pujols is more than just the guy we see nightly on SportsCenter from April to October. He is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many athletes appeal to God, but all too often their lives don’t match up with those emotional acclamations of praise to the Creator. Pujols is different. Being led to the Lord by, Deidre, the woman who would become his wife, Pujols approaches the Christian faith like he approaches the game of baseball: all out. From seeking out ways to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with teammates to showing uncustomary concern for injured players (and even fans) to starting a foundation with his wife to express their faith in helping people, particularly those with Down Syndrome and orphans in the DR, Pujols is shown by the authors to be someone who is an authentic Christian.

Much like the Scriptures do not attempt to hide the faults of heroes of the faith like Abraham, Moses, David, or Peter, Ellsworth and Lamb do not attempt to hide the faults of the man nicknamed “The Machine.” Pujols is a sinner saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. At the risk of repeating a cliched bumper sticker, Pujols is not perfect, just forgiven, and that clearly has had ramifications for the way he has lived his life.

Baseball fans rightly lament the fact so many “heroes” of the game have fallen in what has been dubbed “the steroid era.” Pujols has always denied using these drugs and no one has ever brought forth any accusations with any meat on the bones. The authors make a case why we should trust Pujols, with few of their reasons based on the lack of evidence, but most based on how his faith in Jesus Christ is clearly demonstrated in his life.

At the end of the book this reader is thankful that it really seems when Pujols says, “Don’t be afraid to believe in me,” we know that is based on his own personal faith in Christ, and we can believe.

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Book Review: “King’s Cross” by Timothy Keller

King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus by Timothy Keller
Dutton Adult, 2011, 256 pages

* * * * (4/5 stars)

I am preaching through the Gospel of Mark so I was eager to open this one up and read it immediately. After finishing I can say that it will stay open from time to time as a resource for sermon preparation. Tim Keller writes at an easy to understand level, yet provides insights the most seasoned believing student of the Scriptures can appreciate. He is much like John MacArthur in that regard. The book takes you through the Gospel of Mark.

This isn’t a commentary on the whole book, but Keller ends up dealing with a great deal of the book as he highlights major events in the ministry of Christ. He also picks his spots in dissecting a word and bringing out the meaning of the original language (although at one point his theological persuasion comes out in saying that immersion is merely the “older meaning” of the word for baptism). Keller rightly emphasizes Mark’s thesis: Jesus is the Son of God; and he shows the necessity and beauty of how Jesus the King went to the cross.

Chapters are laid out nicely. You can easily read a chapter in a few minutes and pick it up again later. I suggest a pen to underline or make notes on the side (but I always do that). In particular, my favorite chapters were “The Stain” (dealing with Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees over traditional cleansings, “The Approach” (Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophoenician woman), “The Mountain” (dealing with the Transfiguration), and “The End” (dealing with the cross, in which I especially appreciated Keller’s thoughts about darkness in relation to the darkness between the sixth and ninth hours of Good Friday.

For anyone studying Mark this will prove an invaluable companion volume.

The only reasons I am going with four stars on the rating and not five is a) if you make everything very good five stars then the rating loses its meaning (like how the Baseball Hall of Fame becomes the Hall of Very Good), and b) the book seemed a little overly heavy with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien references (but admittedly, that may just be a personal thing with me). Still, I heartily recommend this one.

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