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Tag: book review (page 1 of 31)

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done

I set out to read 1 book every week this year, and I am happy to say that I made it to book #52.  What’s Best Next is not only the last book of 2017 but maybe my favorite.  It definitely has such a rich combination of doctrinal vibrancy and practical brilliance that is a great read in preparing for a new year.

I love gospel-based productivity books, and this volume is a great one.

The only problem with the book is I have too much to change as a result of it.  I need to read it a few more times to get all the goodness in it!

Book Overview

Do work that matters.

Productivity isn’t just about getting more things done. It’s about getting the right things done—the things that count, make a difference, and move the world forward. In our current era of massive overload, this is harder than ever before. So how do you get more of the right things done without confusing mere activity for actual productivity?

When we take God’s purposes into account, a revolutionary insight emerges. Surprisingly, we see that the way to be productive is to put others first—to make the welfare of other people our motive and criteria in determining what to do (what’s best next). As both the Scriptures and the best business thinkers show, generosity is the key to unlocking our productivity. It is also the key to finding meaning and fulfillment in our work.

What’s Best Next offers a practical approach for improving your productivity in all areas of life.

Favorite Quotes

  1. My aim in this book is to reshape the way you think about productivity and then present a practical approach to help you become more effective in your life with less stress and frustration, whatever you are doing (20).
  2. Gospel-Drive Productivity (GDP) is centered on what the Bible has to say about getting things done while at the same time learning from the best secular thinking out there – and seeking to do this with excellence and original thought, rather than simply taking over secular ideas and adding out-of-context Bible verses (28).
  3. More important than efficiency is effectiveness – getting the right things done (43).
  4. We can be productive in an ultimate sense only if we center our productivity around God and the gospel (60).
  5. The entire purpose of our lives – what God wants from us – is to do good for others, to the glory of God (74).
  6. Don’t just do good works; be zealous, energetic, and eager in doing them (90).
  7. Gospel-driven Christians are Christians who are enthusiastic in doing good not to gain acceptance with God but because they already have acceptance with God (112).
  8. Your mission is discovered, not chosen (150).
  9. We need to both carve out time for focused work and then also weave into our days the flexibility to be freely available so that we can recognize interruptions as opportunities for productive interaction (248).
  10. There is one simple practice that, if you do nothing else, will keep you on track.  That practice is weekly planning (257).
  11. Do what’s important first, not last (292).
  12. To change the world, first change your world (321).
  13. If your work is that easy, you probably aren’t challenging yourself – or seeking the good of others – sufficiently (331).

Humility: True Greatness

Humility by C. J. Mahaney is a great read and full of great reminders regarding humility and pride.  I wanted to read this book because it was written 10 years prior to Mahaney’s resignation due to issues of pride.

Book Overview

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” —1 Peter 5:5

A battle rages within every one of us every day. It’s the clash between our sense of stubborn self-sufficiency and God’s call to recognize that we’re really nothing without Him. It’s pride versus humility. And it’s a fight we can’t win without looking repeatedly to Christ and the cross. C. J. Mahaney raises a battle cry to daily, diligently, and deliberately weaken our greatest enemy (pride) and cultivate our greatest friend (humility). His thorough examination clarifies misconceptions, revealing the truth about why God detests pride and turns His active attention to the humble. Because pride is never passive, defeating it demands an intentional attack. The blessing that follows is God’s abundant favor.

“This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit.”
—Isaiah 66:2, ESV

Favorite Quotes

  1. The person who is humble is the one who draws God’s attention, and in this sense, drawing His attention means also attracting His grace – His unmerited kindness (20).
  2. Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him (31).
  3. We cannot free ourselves from pride and selfish ambition; a divine rescue is absolutely necessary (52).
  4. But I’ve also learned that the very act of opening my Bible to read and turning my heart and mind to prayer makes a statement that I need God (72).
  5. Each night, as I confront my need again for sleep, I’m reminded that I’m a dependent creatures (84).
  6. Our deliberate pursuit of obedience and growth in godliness isn’t something we enter into with self-confidence, but as an expression of humble dependence upon the God who is actively working (105).
  7. Though we find the promises of God throughout Scripture, they don’t come with specific dates and times (145).
  8. If you’re a parent, don’t celebrate anything more than you celebrate  godly character in your children (160).

Perspectives on the Ending of Mark

As I prepared for a sermon series through the Gospel of Mark, I wanted a resource to help guide me through the debated last few verses.

Book Overview

Because it is conspicuously absent from more than one early Greek manuscript, the final section of the gospel of Mark (16:9-20) that details Christ’s resurrection remains a constant source of debate among serious students of the New Testament.

Perspectives on the Ending of Mark presents in counterpoint form the split opinions about this difficult passage with a goal of determining which is more likely. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professors Maurice Robinson and David Alan Black argue for the verses’ authenticity. Keith Elliott (University of Leeds) and Daniel Wallace (Dallas Theological Seminary) contend that they are not original to Mark’s gospel. Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary) responds to each view and summarizes the state of current research on the entire issue.

Favorite Quotes

  1. If Mark intended to end his Gospel at 16:8, as I will argue, it’s a Gospel that leaves the reader hanging, wanting more (2).
  2. If Mark’s Gospel ends at 16:8, there are no Resurrection appearances by Jesus to his disciples (13).
  3. Further, if the text is already suspicious because of external data, then these linguistic peculiarities are strong evidence of the spurious nature of the LE (longer ending) (31).
  4. The point is that if someone did not embrace Jesus in his suffering, he did not get to see him in his glory (38).
  5. Whether this occurred due to accident (an archetypal lost leaf) or intent (authorial decision to end with 16:8) the result is problematic (51).
  6. The LE can be supported and defended as canonically original in accord with the consensus established from theological, thematic, historical, and transmission considerations (74).
  7. By contrast with these three evangelists, Mark seems rather blunted at both ends (81).
  8. I conclude that no author would have chosen to end a piece of writing, sentence, paragraph, and even less a book, with a postpositional particle, and so we must decide that, originally, a continuation of v. 8 existed (alongside a possible Easter appearance) until the final page of the original Gospel of Mark was irretrievably lost (89).
  9. If I am right, then we are left with the argument that it was a later – probably second century – editor who found this paragraph and, despite its imperfections for such a purpose, used it (in time for Irenaeus to know it as part of Mark’s Gospel) to round off a dissatisfyingly incomplete Gospel – especially if that Gospel was by then being used to complete a fourfold Gospel canon (92).
  10. If these arguments are correct, then we have corroborative evidence that Mark’s Gospel was damaged at both ends (although not necessarily simultaneously nor, initially, in the same manuscript) (98).
  11. Inerrancy is not coterminous with canonicity (100).
  12. The word “canonical” does not imply “original” and it certainly does not involved appeals to divine protectionism, inerrancy, or inspiration (whatever those words are said to mean) (100).
  13. I will argue that Mark originally ended his Gospel narrative (comprised of the actual words of Peter) at 16:8 and then later supplied the last twelve verses himself as a suitable conclusion (104).
  14. The real significance of Mark lies in the fact that it was Peter’s guarantee that Luke was fit to be read beside Matthew in the churches of both Peter and Paul (121).
  15. What is taught in the longer ending for the most part is taught elsewhere in the New Testament (125).
  16. Examples of narrative ending with an open ending in the New Testament include how Israel is handled at the end of Acts (if not Paul’s fate) and the story of the Prodigal Son (135).
  17. So in Mark fear can paralyze or lead into faith.  The choice is with the one who fears.  It is here that Mark ends…So Mark leaves the reader with a choice (136).
  18. Mark was the least utilized of the four Gospels…a primary reason for this is relatively simple – most of Mark is found in Matthew or Luke (138).

Jonathan Edwards on Revival

Jonathan Edwards on Revival is a great volume collecting three great works.

This volume contains one of Edwards’ most analytical treatises on revival, Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, and his famous Narrative of Surprising Conversions, a detailed account of the famous revival of religion at Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1735.

Favorite Quotes

  1. But as the gospel is the same divine instrument of grace still, as ever it was in the days of the apostles, so our ascended Saviour now and then takes a special occasion to manifest the divinity of this gospel by a plentiful effusion of his Spirit where it is preached: then sinners are turned into saints in number, and there is a new face of things spread over a town or a country (2).
  2. This remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God, which thus extended from one end to the other of this county, was not confined to it, but many places in Connecticut have partaken in the same mercy (17).
  3. Persons are first awakened with a sense of their miserable condition by nature…Some are more suddenly seized with convictions…Others are awakened more gradually (23).
  4. The way that grace seems sometimes first to appear, after legal humiliation, is in earnest longings of soul after God and Christ: to know God, to love him, to be humble before him, to have communion with Christ in his benefits… (35).
  5. There is still a great deal of religious conversation continued in our town, amongst young and old; a religious disposition appears to be still maintained amongst our people, by their holding frequent private religious meetings; and all sorts are generally worshipping God at such meetings, on Sabbath-nights, and in the evening after our public lecture (72).
  6. Let us all be hence warned, by no means to oppose, or do any thing in the least to clog or hinder the work; but, on the contrary, do our utmost to promote it (130).
  7. A man may have those extraordinary gifts, and yet be abominable to God, and go to hell (138).
  8. The people also seem to be much more sensible of the danger of resting in old experiences, or what they were subjects of at their supposed first conversion; and to be more fully convinced of the necessity of forgetting the things that are behind, and pressing forward and maintaining earnest labour, watchfulness, and prayerfulness, as long as they live (160).

The Case for Christmas

Book Overview

I enjoyed reading through The Case for Christmas.

By focusing on the hows and whys of Christmas, this warm yet journalistic book will help believers reaffirm their faith while guiding seekers as they pursue solid answers about this miraculous occurrence. With material from The Case for Christ as well as new ideas from author Lee Strobel, this book is designed to be a tool to give away to family, friends, neighbors, and others who want to understand what happened at Christmas 2,000 years ago.

Favorite Quotes

  1. Those names carried much more weight than the names of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  So to answer your question, there would not have been any reason to attribute authorship to these three less respected people if it weren’t true (16).
  2. In AD 385, Pope Julius I declared December 25 as the day for celebrating Christ’s birth.  “He chose that date,” Christian researcher Gretchen Passantino told me, “partly to challenge the pagan celebration of the Roman god Saturnalia, which was characterized by social disorder and immorality” (20).
  3. “If I really do believe in a God who created the universe,” Craig said, smiling, “then for him to create a Y chromosome would be child’s play!” (30).
  4. Most novae explode once, but a few undergo multiple explosions separated by months or years.  This, he said could account for how Matthew says the star appeared, disappeared, and then reappeared and disappeared later (50).
  5. Dr. Ben Witherington III, author of The Christology of Jesus, told me: “Did Jesus believe that he was the Son of God, the anointed of God?  The answer is yes. Did he see himself as the Son of Man?  The answer is yes.  Did he see himself as the final Messiah?  Yes, that’s the way he viewed himself.  Did he believe that anyone less than God could save the world?  No, I don’t believe he did” (63).
  6. “When you interpret Daniel 9:24-26, it foretells that the Messiah would appear a certain length of time after King Artaxerxes I issued a decree for the Jewish people to go from Persia to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,” Lapides replied…”That puts the anticipate appearance of the Messiah at the exact moment in history when Jesus showed up…certainly that’s nothing he could have prearranged” (84).