Book Reviews

Read here for explanation of rating


In Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas tells Bonhoeffer’s story with passion and theological sophistication, often challenging revisionist accounts that make Bonhoeffer out to be a ‘humanist’ or ethicist for whom religious doctrine was easily disposable. . . . His was a radical obedience to God, a frame of mind widely viewed today with fear and loathing, even among the faithful. In Bonhoeffer, Mr. Metaxas reminds us that there are forms of religion— respectable, domesticated, timid— that may end up doing the devil’s work for him.” ~~~Wall Street Journal

This book is long, but worth it and Metaxas did his research well. He uses letters, sermons, notes and the words of Bonhoeffer to allow him (Bonhoeffer) to tell his own story.

Most people will find the book accessible and easy to read in most places, although in many places, it's difficult emotionally to process.

"Bonhoeffer” sets out to make Bonhoeffer’s life known. I've read critics who say that Metaxas only portrayed his subject in the most positive light – maybe so. But the nuts and bolts of Bonhoeffer's life was positive and if you want to know how he lived and why he this.

I have not read much Bonhoeffer, and have never read a biography. This book made me sit back and ponder many things. - Would I stand firm in the face of adversity? Would I stand firm in the face of somebody else's adversity? Do I live, and would I die, in such a way that “Christ is honored in my body, whether by life or by death?”

I enjoyed the book, and I realize that faith and politics have always intersected, and persecution is always with us – whether “we” are the ones persecuted, or whether we watch another group. The book makes you think; read it book if you want to understand Bonhoeffer and the times and politics in which he lived.

I finished "Fierce Women" (by Kimberly Wagner) this past week and was really encouraged to learn from my own past behavior (in my first marriage.)  When a marriage breaks down, there is rarely an "innocent" party - even if it's a bad reaction to a bad situation.

Women (welcome to the human race) have an insecurity (as most human beings) and feel a need to be in control.

Written from a Complementarian viewpoint, Wagner writes from the painful spot of a woman who has been there, done that - and who, as a couple, brought their marriage from a painful union, to a joyful communion.

Teaching that women have a different role in a marriage than their husbands have, the point of the book is to help women recognize that role, how to step out of trying to fill their husband's shoes, and how to gracefully and joyfully submit to the will of God in marriage.

Whether or not you realize it, you are in a battle, and God has placed strengths within you to be used in powerful ways. When you enter the marriage relationship, you are entering the sacred metaphor God designed to explain Himself to a watching world. Marriage is the great mystery, the glorious platform God created to display His love relationship with His bride. This is why marriage is a flashpoint for Satan’s attacks; he seeks to destroy the beauty and effectiveness of God’s model. In light of this, we must strive for the Great Story to be lived out in our marriages.

I hope as you read, you will take moments to pause, ponder, and pray. May you encounter the Lord of Battles within these pages and receive insight and instruction for serving Him as a soft warrior—the Fierce Woman who is empowered by the Spirit and softened by His grace.(1)

Wagner uses examples from her own life, as well as examples from women that she knows or has known, to show how women can use their strength to either help or hurt their marriages.

Being a Complementarian does not exclude a woman to having a pastoral tone to other women, and Wagner excels.  Her "I've done this, don't follow me down that path" plea a wonderful tone to a world of women who are at once frustrated with the state of their marriage, and frustrated with the way they are dealing with it.

With these women as her audience, Wagner is uniquely qualified because she HAS been there.

My "book review template" asks at this point: What does the book promise? What is the problem the book promises to solve?

In the author's words:

I hope as you read, you will take moments to pause, ponder, and pray. May you encounter the Lord of Battles within these pages and receive insight and instruction for serving Him as a soft warrior—the Fierce Woman who is empowered by the Spirit and softened by His grace.(2)

And yes, the book delivers.

As a woman who will be entering a marriage covenant in a few months, with Christ at the center, and Complementarianism as the framework, "Fierce Women" is a playbook of how to relate to your husband in a way that is fitting for a woman who loves Christ.

What does "respect" look like?  Submission?  Do I need to be a "doormat?"

This matters because Satan wants nothing more than to strike at the soul of marriage.  If marriage reflects Christ and His bride, turning those roles upside down in a marriage leaves us with a distorted view of Christ and His church.  How should the church submit to Christ - wives should be able to reflect that.

I really like this book.  I printed out a couple of things and put them in my planner.  If you have a power struggle in your marriage and want to be part of the solution, read this book.

If you want to be a Biblically submissive wife, read this book.

If you want to build your husband up, instead of tearing him down, read this book.

I've read a lot of books on how to be a submissive wife.  This book is, at the end of the day, not how to make yourself more submissive, but how to build your husband up, to better help him to be the husband God wants him to be.


(1)Wagner, Kimberly (2012-08-24). Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior (True Woman) (pp. 10-12). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)Wagner, Kimberly (2012-08-24). Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior (True Woman) (p. 12). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

I recently started, read, and finished “Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs Are Entering The Church Through Contemplative Prayer” by Warren B. Smith, who wrote the book because he's so concerned about so many Christians reading (and falling into) “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.

The unusual use of language by the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling was also disturbing. It seemed to run the gamut from “everyday Joe” language to strange word choice, unwarranted flattery, worldly clichés, repetitive phrases, disparaging comments, and not-so-subtle mockery. All in all, Jesus Calling seemed to be an obvious attempt by our spiritual Adversary to get an even further foothold inside the Christian church. While I was surprised that Sarah Young’s devotional had become such a huge best-seller in the Christian marketplace, I was not completely surprised. Deceptive occult/ New Age teachings are swallowing up much of what calls itself Christian these days. In this book , I have done my best to raise some of my questions and concerns. I am sure my conclusions will upset a great many people who are devoted to Jesus Calling. Obviously, what you do with these conclusions is completely up to you. But I couldn’t imagine not bringing what I discovered to your attention. Hopefully, you will consider what I have presented here.(1)

Another Jesus Calling” is “quote-heavy,” drawing from a variety of sources, comparing “Jesus Calling” to New Age sources, as well as “God Calling,” in order to show how New Age beliefs, terminology, and practices have crept into mainstream Christianity.

Smith is uniquely qualified to speak to these comparisons, coming, as he did, out of the New Age movement. Armed with this knowledge, he spots and points out to his readers how the “jesus” of “Jesus Calling” pulls Young's followers toward a false Jesus.

In the prologue, Smith reminds us that Jesus said, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before." (Matthew 24: 24-25) With this warning in mind, we can work through “Another Jesus Calling” with a discerning eye, comparing and contrasting Young's jesus with the Jesus of the Bible.

I had previously worked through a bit of “Jesus Calling” and left it knowing that something was wrong there. The jesus of that book was not the Jesus of the Bible, but I had written it off to the longing voice in Young's head. Reading “Another Jesus Calling” makes it clear that it's much, much worse.

It would be a mistake to condemn “Jesus Calling” because Young uses terminology similar (okay, identical) to New Age writers. But many of these terms are very specific: visualization, co-creation, channeling...Smith spots these and more.

As I finished “Another Jesus Calling” I wanted to reach those who “like” “Jesus Calling” and tell them to follow the real Jesus, not the fake jesus of Sarah Young.

You should read “Another Jesus Calling” if you've read “Jesus Calling” (in any of its forms) and felt a little “off.” You should read it if you've contemplated giving “Jesus Calling” to anybody you like.”You should read this book (with an open and discerning eye) if you want to read (or have read0) “Jesus Calling.” You should read this book if you have a friend who wants you to read “Jesus Calling.”

Another Jesus Calling” is a warning bell that is well written, well researched, well qualified to tell us of the problems of (generally) false teachers and (specifically) “Jesus Calling.”

What it all comes down to is this: Do we have a love of the truth or do we just experience what we want to experience and hear what we want to hear? Ultimate truth is not found in channeled messages, “new” revelations, or “new” truth. Ultimate truth— God’s truth and nothing but God’s truth— is explicitly, authoritatively, genuinely, and most amazingly found in the pages of God’s inspired Holy Word.(1)


  1. Smith, Warren B. (2013-11-19). Another Jesus Calling (Kindle Locations 216-225). Lighthouse Trails Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  2. Smith, Warren B. (2013-11-19). Another Jesus Calling (Kindle Locations 2100-2102). Lighthouse Trails Publishing. Kindle Edition.



I recently read through “Tough Topics” by Sam Storms, who wrote the book in order to answer some of the basic, but hard questions believers ask.

That is my aim in this book: to articulate good theology in order to put worried minds at rest. All of us are familiar with the sorts of problems and questions and doctrinal conundrums that plague the human mind and agitate the human heart, questions like the one lingering in the thinking of Lucy: Will God ever flood the entire earth again?

In my experience these nearly forty years of Christian ministry, I’ve seen countless people worried and angry and fearful and just plain confused when it comes to some of the more perplexing issues that life poses and the Bible provokes,

The book flows easily, and addresses some of the topics that can torment a believer, like “what happens when my baby dies” and “will I enjoy heaven if my loved one goes to hell?”

The book promises to addresses these topics and more, offering to help remove doubt that Christianity could leave us in “limbo” about things that can weigh on our minds. Very shortly after I finished the book, a pastor friend came to me and asked, “what would you tell somebody who had a baby that died?” I answered “I have a book for you...” (he never gave it back...which is why I have a kindle version and -another- paper copy)

Believers struggle with these questions. When I was considering the “reformed” question, I had dinner with a seminary student. One of the first questions I asked was “what about babies who die?” That man did not have an answer that satisfied.

This book offers a primer on the questions we might not want to have asked...

I liked this book and will keep a couple of copies on hand to loan. I will, however, make a note to those I loan it to that Storms is a continuationist, and there are chapters on the “charismatic gifts” that make that clear. I may not agree with him on those chapters, but he does make his view clear in a consistent and lets his readers know how he came to those conclusions;  a good thing.

Bottom line is that this is a good book. I didn't rock my world, but it's a great reference tool, and primer for “tough topics.”

Worship by the Book” was written by Mark Ashton, Kent Hughes, and Timothy Keller and edited by D.A.Carson.


'What is at stake is authenticity. . . . Sooner or later Christians tire of public meetings that are profoundly inauthentic, regardless of how well (or poorly) arranged, directed, performed. We long to meet, corporately, with the living and majestic God and to offer him the praise that is his due.'---D. A. Carson


Each of the authors bring a different perspective of worship to the book, offering a variety of emphasis; their years of ministry give this book a unique insight of corporate worship.


“Worship by the Book” primarily aims at pastor, seminary students, and other church leaders and offers a theology of worship that comes from Scripture and points directly at Christ.


As more and more Christians seek deeper worship and begin to turn their backs on anemic worship services and Sunday morning concerts that invite the audience to sing along, “Worship by the Book” brings us back to the purpose (and object) of corporate worship.


This book sets itself apart from other “theology of worship” books because of the variety of backgrounds of the authors. One brings liturgy to the table, another a more modern method. But they all point to Jesus.


Consistently, the book illustrates a method of worship, along with an explanation about why it points to Jesus.


I'm not a pastor, worship leader or seminary student. But for years I longed for deep and meaningful worship. This book helped me to identify why the congregation I'm currently in makes my soul, along with my mouth sing!

The most profound, yet supremely simple concept:  Q) what is the most important instrument of worship? A) The congregation.

And the verdict is: Read this book if you lead worship, if you oversee somebody who leads worship, if you sit under a worship leader. Read this book if you want to know why worship works, or why it doesn't.


Buy this book for your worship leaders and pastors. It would make a great gift, especially if it came with a note that said, “this book explains why I love the way our church worships.”

"The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination" by Lorraine Boettner

For a beginner to Reformed theology, this book will give the basics of TULIP in an accessible way. If you are firmly already in the "ANTI-" camp, don't bother reading the book, you'll hate it. But if you want to learn about the theology, with an open mind, this is a great place to start.

This book begins at the beginning. Boettner teaches in this book that all of "TULIP" stands or falls together and starts with the "T" - total depravity.

For Boettner, the sovereignty of God is something to be glorified, not hated. We deserve nothing from God, and the idea that He saves some at all is a testament to goodness.

Each segment is supported with Scripture, and explained thoroughly.

There is a little bit of "here's where the other side is wrong" - and sometimes in not very graceful language - but even those are framed in "here's why from Scripture"

I read the Amazon reviews and there were a few of "one-star" reviews. ALL of these were not based on the writing of the book, but on their disagreement with Calvinism.

Every so often I start a book that just doesn't seem like it's worth finishing...So once a month I'm planning on posting a "not a review" for those "zero star" books...

First up...

JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy

at 28% done, I decided to call it a day. the book is listed at a "bargain price" and is written by a pilot who flew with the "movers and shakers" of the war. It communicates a lot of information, but in a way that is not all that readable.

I did take away a renewed understanding of the futility of the Viet Nam war, and I guess it's a good thing that we look at ALL war with the same cynical eye.

(Edit: okay, I'm working at it again...)

[relatedratings=null]This year I read through "God Is In the Manger" for Advent.

Book Description:

These forty stirring devotions will guide and inspire readers as they move thematically through the weeks of Advent and Christmas, from waiting and mystery to redemption, incarnation, and joy. Supplemented by an informative introduction, short excerpts from Bonhoeffer's letters, and passages from Bonhoeffer's Christmas sermons, these daily reflections are timeless and moving reminders of the true meaning of Christmas. Now repackaged in a beautiful hardback edition, it makes the perfect holiday gift.

For me, reading the words of Bohnhoeffer, many of them from prison, reminded me of that different time. We have felt for a while that the USA is on the verge of some version of that "different time" and the words of encouragement from prison resonated.

Each day there was a devotional, a few words from Bohnhoeffer, and a Scripture passage.

I would do this one again, and will buy a couple over the year so that I'll have some to give away.

Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots by J. C. Ryle. It's $.99 and the best buck I've spent in a while.

I have a loosely structured reading plan that includes very recent "Christian living" books and (at the same time) less recent, or even very old writings. I have benefitted a lot from going back in time, to a less "cluttered" written landscape.

A book on holiness, written more than a century ago, brings a clarity to the purpose of holiness. We've forgotten what holiness means, much less the role that holiness should play in our lives.

In the introduction, D. M. Lloyd-Jones (Westminster Chapel) wrote

The characteristics of Bishop Ryle's method and style are obvious. He is pre-eminently and always scriptural and expository. He never starts with a theory into which he tries to fit various scriptures. He always starts with the Word and expounds it. It is exposition at its very best and highest. It is always clear and logical and invariably leads to a clear enunciation of doctrine. It is strong and virile and entirely free from the sentimentality that is often described as "devotional."

The Bishop had drunk deeply from the wells of the great classical Puritan writers of the seventeenth century. Indeed, it would be but accurate to say that his books are a distillation of true Puritan theology presented in a highly readable and modern form.

The Puritans had so much to say! If Ryle boiled it down, that's great.

And in a Christian reading landscape that is full of "fluff," the "anti-devotional" writing is a welcome dive into the deep. I read devotionals and have found depth and peace and instruction - but rarely. You cannot find depth in a five minute swim.

Ryle says that a wrong view of holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption; in order to have a correct view of holiness, you have to have a correct view of sin.

This quote is one that I need to keep around and blog about later:

Justification is the act of God about us, and is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us, and cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.

Also...Don't EVER be ashamed of holiness. Not in front of the world, not in front of other Christians.

and, on spiritual warfare:

Let us remember that if we would fight successfully we must put on the whole armour of God, and never lay it aside till we die. Not a single piece of the armour can be dispensed with.

We can never forget that we need the WHOLE of the armor...

anyway...I'm going through the kindle book, looking at the highlights and they remind me of thoughts I had about the book...

If you are so inclined, click through the link and buy the book...


[relatedratings=null]"If God is Good, Why Do We Hurt?"

Because I'm hurting this was not only a good book to read, it was a hard book to read. I don't like this paint and (even though the doctors believe it's an injury and not an ongoing thing) I'm ready to be done.

Let God show me quickly what He wants me to learn and just get it over with.

Then again...

Whenever we’re tempted to think God has messed up our nice world by interjecting evil and suffering into it, let’s remember that in fact we messed up God’s perfect world by interjecting evil and suffering. Then he suffered evil by our hands so that we could forever be delivered from evil and suffering and death. Rather than blaming or resenting God, we should be overwhelmed with gratitude that because of his work of grace on the cross, our suffering need not be eternal, but only temporary.

I am called to see this pain as a reminder how much He suffered for me.

And he will deliver you through your present suffering, though not always from it. In fact, the Bible assures believers, “It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29). Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33, ESV). Suffering—whether from persecution, accidents, or illnesses—shouldn’t surprise us. God has promised it. And when it comes, people should lose their faith in false doctrine, not in God.

But even now, as you face suffering, God will give you joyful foretastes of living in his presence. That’s his promise as well, and also his instruction: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12–13).

If I take away nothing more than that from this book, it will be well read.

I read a couple of other books on suffering, this one has had more "meat" than the others...