Book Review: The Choosing to Forgive Workbook (Author: Frank Minirth, Les Carter)

Doctors Frank Minirth and Les Carter are Christian counselors who have written an excellent book on forgiveness entitled The Choosing to Forgive Workbook. This workbook is informational as well as application oriented. It includes numerous questions and checklists to help one work through the process of forgiveness and think well about what it means to forgive.

I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly and working through the questions and checklists. I think it is a great resource for anyone struggling with forgiveness and also makes a great resource for pastors to give out to congregants who are struggling with forgiveness.

The authors outline twelve steps to forgiveness, which they explore in detail throughout the book:

  • Step 1. Openly recognize wrong deeds to be wrong deeds.
  • Step 2. Recognize that your anger is not only normal, but necessary.
  • Step 3. Realize how ongoing bitterness will ultimately hurt you.
  • Step 4. Learn from your problems by establishing better boundaries.
  • Step 5. Refuse to be in the inferior position and resist the desire to be superior.
  • Step 6. Avoid the futility of judgments, letting God be the ultimate judge.
  • Step 7. Allow yourself permission to grieve.
  • Step 8. Confront the injuring party if appropriate.
  • Step 9. Find emotional freedom as you let go of the illusion of control.
  • Step 10. Choose forgiveness because it is part of your life’s mission.
  • Step 11. Come to terms with others’ wrong deeds by recognizing your own need for forgiveness.
  • Step 12. Become a source of encouragement to other hurting people.

Here are a few choice quotes I jotted down:

  • “Even if you can point to your own failings, you will still need permission to admit the depth of your anger or hurt or disillusionment. To do so is not a denial of your own faults. Rather, you can recognize that your feelings about someone else’s mistreatment are a separate and distinct issue that deserves attention. Forgiveness can occur only as you first let yourself admit the extent of your hardship.” – pg. 5.
  • “By clinging too strongly to a victim status you are certain to remain stuck in a troubled way of life. You will find balance, though, when you realize you are, indeed, a victim but are not obliged to live forevermore in defeat and futility.” – pg. 7.
  • “Choosing to forgive will not be authentic until you first allow yourself to wrestle with the question of why you should forgive.” – pg. 14.
  • “You’re setting yourself up for failure if you assume that you’ll be able to be as complete as God is in the forgiveness process.” – pg. 24.
  • “When trying to forgive, many people make the mistake of assuming that all anger should be removed. That is neither possible nor desirable. Bitter anger…needs to be resolved, but some anger may remain and that can be okay.” – pg. 25.
  • “Your desire for vengeance may need to be removed. Perhaps you will even need to accept the fact that wrongdoers may go unpunished. Forgiveness will help you in such instances. But your forgiveness will not require you to let go of your values. Hold on to them. Yes, you may need to monitor the intensity of the emotion accompanying those values, but let’s not throw morality away.” – pg. 35.
  • “Inherent in our definition of forgiveness is the willingness to leave ultimate justice to God. Forgiveness does not require you to suppress your feelings, to shrug at the wrongs dealt to you, or to become allies with your antagonist. But forgiveness does require that you hand over the ultimate consequences of another’s wrongdoing to God.” – pp. 52-53.
  • “While you cannot change the attitudes and feelings others have toward you, your task can be to monitor your own behavior to determine if you are unwittingly enabling others to persist in their insensitivity.” – pg. 63.
  • “While all humans are inferior to God’s standard of perfection, no human was ever intended by the Creator to be held in higher or lower esteem to another human. God’s plan is for equality among individuals. While we each differ with respect to skills and achievements and gifts, we each hold a similar core value in His eyes. The apostle Peter struggled with feelings of superiority over the centurion Cornelius. But finally as God showed how He loved them both Peter concluded, ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality’ (Acts 10:34).” – pg. 90.
  • “…you may be operating on the assumption that the sooner you can pronounce forgiveness, the less you’ll have to deal with the lingering effects of the wrongful deed. In truth…this reasoning only increases your emotional healing time since you are only storing up emotions that grow more intense and more negative with time.” – pg. 124.
  • “There are also two good reasons to confront: (1) To establish self-respect through an improved understanding of your needs, or (2) To potentially restore (or establish) a relationship.” – pg. 148.
  • “You’re never going to forgive if you cling to the wish that you could make them believe correctly as you do. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you should drop your convictions. That would be irresponsible. But I am suggesting that you not be stuck in an emotional dungeon that results from falsely thinking that somehow you might be able to control their decisions. Forgiveness begins as you recognize their freedom to be who they are, even if they choose the wrong path.” – pp. 170-171.
  • “Don’t assume that your struggle makes you abnormal. Rarely is forgiveness the easiest or most natural path to take, particularly when the offending person is unrepentant.” – pg. 187.
  • “At the core of every personality is the characteristic of pride, the preoccupation with one’s own desires and preferences.” – pg. 209.
  • “Your heartfelt gratitude for the mercy of God will be the single most important ingredient in your journey to offer forgiveness toward others. As you claim that mercy, you will want to give it to others. If you feel you have no need for mercy, you likely will not feel compelled to offer to to those who have wronged you.” – pg. 222.

Study Bibles.

Introduction

This post is a review of the currently available study bibles. These are English translations of the Old and New Testaments found in the Christian Bible that include notes, maps, cross-references, and other features that delineate them as a “study” bible. At the time I performed this aggregation (1/16/12) there were 1,127 results for study bibles on Christian Book Distributor’s website.[1] I have attempted to compile almost all of them below – excluding study bible’s which differ only by translation or are foreign language. I’ve also excluded a number of others which I include at the bottom in a list for anyone interested in performing further research.

Options

Bible: Versions: Notes: Visuals:(1) Cross-Refs: Concordance: Book Intros: Published:
MacArthur Study Bible NKJV, NASB, ESV 25,000 140+ 80,000 Yes Yes 1997
ESV Study Bible ESV 20,000 440+ 80,000 2009
Zondervan Study Bible NASB, NIV 20,000 80 100,000 Yes Yes 1999
Life Application Study Bible NIV, NLT, NKJV, NASB
Archaeological Study Bible NIV, KJV
NLT Study Bible NLT
Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible
NASB New Inductive Study Bible NASB
Scofield Study Bible (Original) KJV
Scofield Study Bible (Revised)
Scofield Study Bible (III) NIV
NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible NRSV
C.S. Lewis Bible NRSV 2010
ESV Reformation Study Bible ESV
Transformation Study Bible NLT
The Orthodox Study Bible
HCSB Study Bible
Serendipity Bible
Ryrie Study Bible NASB, KJV
The Jewish Study Bible 2011
The Literary Study Bible
NET Bible
The New Interpreter’s Study Bible NRSV 2003
The Wesley Study Bible
The Harper Collins Study Bible NRSV
The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible

Other Notes About Versions

  • MacArthur Study Bible – Written by Rev. John MacArthur. MacArthur is well-known for his evangelical commentaries and controversial position on lordship salvation. This study bible takes a premillennial eschatological position and a limited atonement interpretation.
  • ESV Study Bible – Includes 50 articles.
  • Zondervan Study Bible – Includes articles.

Other Options

The following for various subjective reasons where not included in this list…if you believe these offer some distinctive feature which should be included please let me know and I will reconsider…

The Chronological Study Bible KJV Study Bible The New Defender’s Study Bible New Spirit Filled Life Bible (aka FIRE Bible) The Charles Stanley Life Principles Bible
Rainbow Study Bible Life in the Spirit Study Bible The American Patriot’s Bible HCSB Apologetics Study Bible The Geneva Bible.
Quest Study Bible Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible Thompson Chain Reference Bible The Evidence Bible Prophecy Study Bible.
Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible Cambridge Study Bible Lutheran Study Bible African Heritage Study Bible. The King James Study Bible, 400th Anniversary Edition (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
Faith in Action Study Bible. The Matthew Henry Bible. HCSB Life Essentials Study Bible. The Case for Christ Study Bible. The Maxwell Leadership Bible.
The Master Study Bible. The Revival Study Bible. Living Water Bible. NRSV Access Bible. Life Lessons Study Bible.
The New American Catholic Study Bible. Mission of God Study Bible Harper Study Bible. Stewardship Study Bible. Blackaby Study Bible
Comparative Study Bible. Andrews Study Bible. Full Life Study Bible. Life for Today. Praise and Worship Study Bible.
Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible. The Inspirational Study Bible. The Journey. Little Rock Catholic Study Bible. Faith in Action Study Bible.
Reflecting God Study Bible. Discover God Study Bible. The Everyday Study Bible. Disciple’s Study Bible. The Discipleship Study Bible.
The People’s Study Bible. The Life Plan Study Bible. Prophecy Study Bible. The Legacy Study Bible. The Henry Morris Study Bible.
The Experiencing God Study Bible. The Discover Study Bible. The Living Insights Study Bible. The Expositor’s Study Bible. Cambridge Annotated Study Bible.
The Message Study Bible. The A.W. Tozer Bible. Concordia Self-Study Bible.

Amplifications

  • The Expanded Bible (Thomas Nelson, 2011).
  • Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible (Kregel Publications, 1994).

Bibliography:

  1. [1]I also utilized Amazon’s site. A search for “study bible” on the same day filtered down to include only books returned 10,309 results. I reviewed 528 of these results, after which time I was fairly confident I had located most of the major study bibles and a few of the smaller ones.

Book Review: Streams of Mercy (Author: Mark Rutland)

At Philadelphia Biblical University, in the school bookstore, there is a section for used books. I don’t know who the suppliers are (a few folks who sell used books I think) but they keep several hundred volumes stacked on the shelves at low prices all year round.

As an undergrad student (and to this day) I loved walking into the bookstore and browsing through the shelves – looking for some gem to take home. So many of the books are priced between $1 and $3 it is just a beautiful opportunity to buy books.[1]

In any case, as I was perusing the shelves so many years ago I stumbled upon a small blue paperback entitled Streams of Mercy and subtitled “Receiving and Reflecting God’s Grace.” I’d never heard of the book or the author before – but I was struggling horribly with scrupulosity and so I picked up the book and went home.

I’m not sure when I actually began reading the book. It is not unusual for me to acquire a book and for it to sit on a shelf for a year or two before I actually crack it open (or even longer), but when I did, God used it as part of some major renovations He was doing in my heart and life.

Rutland’s book is not a complex theological treatise, rather it is a humble, passionate, and logical discussion of humanity’s need for mercy, God’s provision of mercy, the many ways in which we deny and ignore mercy within and without the church, and a discussion of how receiving mercy allows us to be completely changed and minister to others from the overflow we have received.

Rutland doesn’t attempt to tease out every theological complexity – instead he allows paradoxes to stand and instead focuses on what we do know and understand about the nature of God. He carefully attempts to balance his portrayal of God so as not to diminish God to a you-can’t-do-anything-wrong Grandpa in the sky.

Rutland’s book is filled with personal experiences, anecdotes, and thoughtful stories that bring me to tears. I’m reading the book again – for a third or fourth time. For anyone who knows me – you know this is astounding. I do not read books more than once. There are a very few I might read twice…and I absolutely do not read books three or four times!…and when I finish it, I have every intention of starting at the first page and reading it again and again and again.

Rutland’s book is balm for the soul and he does it in such a way as is sure to upset all forms of Christians equally and soothe all forms as well. Rutland is a charismatic Christian, but he does not emphasize or even acknowledge this within his work – instead focusing on a common truth that all Christian’s share about the grace and mercy of God.

Every once in a while I look into where this Rutland guy is and what he is up to…and always I’m impressed. Now, all glory belongs to God for the work of grace He has performed in Rutland’s life – and I am sure that he would be the first to state this…but for those who are interested, take a look at the Wikipedia article describing Rutland’s life and ministry thus far.

Dear Father, Might you extend to us grace and mercy in abundance that we might reflect your grace and mercy to others in an overwhelming manner. In Christ we pray, Amen.

  1. [1]Yes, I struggle with not buying books like the stereotypical member of the female gender struggles with not buying more shoes. :)

Theological Journals.

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A collection of some theological journals with annotations…

  • Doon Theological Journal – based out of India, offers only article abstracts, but titles of many are very fascinating – focusing on post-colonial theology amongst other topics.
  • American Theological Inquiry: A Biannual Journal of Theology, Culture, and History – includes the full articles for free, a lot of fascinating titles – significant focus on post-modernism, seems to include a wide variety of authors from varying religious traditions within the Christian faith.
  • Seat of Wisdom: A Theological and Pastoral Journal – a relatively new journal, from the Roman Catholic Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, offers full articles online.
  • Themelios: An International Journal for Students of Theological and Religious Studies – offered by The Gospel Coalition, takes an evangelical standpoint, offers articles by well-known evangelical scholars (e.g. D.A. Carson), available for free online. Here are a few articles I’m looking forward to reading:
    • Garrett, Stephen M. “The Dazzling Darkness of God’s Triune Love: Introducing Evangelicals to the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar.” Vol. 35, Issue 3.
    • Atherstone, Andrew. “Divine Retribution: A Forgotten Doctrine?” Vol. 34, Issue 1.
    • Schreiner, Thomas T. “A New Testament Perspective on Homosexuality.” Vol. 31, Issue 3.
    • Briggs, Richard S. “Gender and God-Talk: Can We Call God ‘Mother'” Vol. 29, Issue 2.
    • Crisp, Oliver. “On Barth’s Denial of Universalism.” Vol. 29, Issue 1.
    • Tasker, R.V.G. “Biblical Doctrine of the Wrath of God (Part 2).” Vol. 26, Issue 3.
    • Tasker, R.V.G. “Biblical Doctrine of the Wrath of God (Part 1).” Vol. 26, Issue 2.
    • Groothius, Daniel. “The Postmodern Challenge to Theology.” Vol. 25, Issue 1.
    • Lilley, J.P.U. “The Judgement of God: The Problem of the Canaanites.” Vol. 22, Issue 2.
    • Gray, Tony. “Destroyed For Ever: An Examination of the Debates Concerning Annihilation and Conditional Immortality.” Vol. 21, Issue 2.
    • Beckwith, Roger. “Intertestamental Judaism, its Literature and its Significance.” Vol. 15, Issue 3.
    • Travis, Stephen H. “The Problem of Judgement.” Vol. 11, Issue 2.
    • Alexander, Desmond. “The Old Testament View of Life After Death.” Vol. 11, Issue 2.
    • Harris, Murray J. “The New Testament View of Life After Death.” Vol. 11, Issue 2.
    • Smeeton, Donald Dean. “Hans Kung: The Architect of Radical Catholicism.” Vol. 7, Issue 2.
    • Davis, Stephen T. “God the Mad Scientist: Process Theology on God and Evil.” Vol. 5, Issue 1.
    • Wright, N.T. “Towards a Biblical View of Universalism.” Vol. 4, Issue 2.
    • Blum, Edwin A. “Shall you not surely die.” Vol. 4, Issue 2.
    • Bauckham, Richard. “Universalism: a Historical Study.” Vol. 4, Issue 2.
  • Reformed Theological Journal – from the faculty of the Reformed Theological Journal. Some volumes tables of contents are available online and the entire volumes available for purchase.
  • Theological Studies Inc.– A Catholic journal, around fifty years of articles online for free.
    • McKenzie, John L. “A New Study of Theodore of Mopsuestia.” 10.3.
    • Harvey, John F. “Homosexuality as a Pastoral Problem.” 16.1.
    • Dyer, George J. “Limbo: A Theological Evaluation.” 19.1.
    • Clarke, Thomas E. “St. Augustine and Cosmic Redemption.” 19.2.
    • Bligh, John. “Principalities and Powers.” 23.1.
    • Clarke, Thomas E. “The Problem of Evil: A New Study.” 28.1.
    • Ring, George C. “The Death of the Immortals.” 3.2.
    • Peter, Carl J. “Renewal of Peace and the Problem of God.” 30.3.
    • Hill, William J. “Does God Know the Future? Aquinas and Some Moderns.” 36.1.
    • Burns, J. Patout. “The Concept of Satisfaction in Medieval Redemption Theory.” 36.2.
    • Burns, J. Patout. “The Economy of Salvation: Two Patristic Traditions.” 37.4.

Good Read: Evangelical vs. Liberal (Article)

Cover of "Evangelical vs. Liberal"
Cover of Evangelical vs. Liberal

Matthew A. Sutton has written a summary/review of James K. Wellman Jr.’s book Evangelical vs. Liberal which looks at the church in the contemporaneous Pacific Northwest and compares the life of both liberal and evangelical congregations.

The book itself seems interesting, but the articles provides a good summary for the time being for those of us who are already overwhelmed with books to read. Why is this article particularly interesting?

  • The Pacific Northwest is the statistically most “unchurched” region in the U.S.
  • Wellman is more liberal in his theological outlook, but finds something fascinating in the vibrancy and growth of the evangelical community.

The article is only two pages long (even though it claims to be three). A good, ten minute read.

An Introduction to Intergenerational Ministry.

So, tomorrow I’m preaching and I mentioned that the topic would address multi-generational interactions. Steve Weir pointed out that my terminology was incorrect (thanks!) and that the correct term is “intergenerational.” I googled it – and boy did that make finding relevant articles and sites easier!

In any case, I just wanted to highlight several excellent posts on the topic by Kara Jenkins over at Ministry to Children’s site. Each is meticulously researched, relatively short, and worthwhile reads. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of intergenerational ministry – give these articles a gander!

My Struggle with Faith (Joseph Girzone) – Review Part 1.

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When I read books I take notes. Usually I take these notes on my computer – so that I can search through them at a later time – when I want them for something I am writing or a sermon I am preparing. When a book is especially filled with interesting or noteworthy material I end up taking a pen to it – b/c I am too impatient to write all the entries while reading into my computer…then I’ll go back later and put the notes into the computer (or at least so I tell myself…sometimes it doesn’t happen). On rare occasions there are books that are so filled with wisdom that I almost end up underlining the entire volume. Girzone’s book falls high on this scale.

Over a number of upcoming posts I’m going to delve piece by piece into Girzone’s My Struggle with Faith, an autobiographical and gently polemical explanation of his theological understanding. I want to take this as an opportunity to both laud the highpoints of the book as well as note some areas of disagreement which my personal theology reflects with Girzone, and specifically where those disagreements reflect the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism.

For those who are not familiar with Girzone, he was a Catholic priest who after retiring began writing books about a man named Joshua – a modern day Jesus – and how this man interacted with the church as well as the rest of the world. They are beautifully and powerfully written and enjoyed by both Protestants and Catholics.

Girzone writes his book in a somewhat unique unfolding manner that follows him through his personal ventures with faith and reveals bit by bit what he learned with age and struggle. As such, one feels much as a co-traveler throughout much of this extremely readable and yet profound book. Lets begin just with the introduction and opening chapter today…

Introduction:

Only two pages long rather than explain I will simply quote a key portion of this note:

“Belief itself is not simple. It is not a single conviction or idea. It is a complex network of convictions that subconsciously evolves over a lifetime into what becomes our philosophy of life, and the engine that drives us, and in the process transforms all our relationships with God and all God’s creatures.” (pg. xi)

Chapter 1. Is There a God?

Girzone shares how in childhood he had a deep and experiential faith and was a model follower of Christ. But as he progressed in age he found himself questioning:

“My problem was the guilt I felt in questioning what I had been taught. But then I began to realize that I was not being disloyal; I was just trying to understand. My next question was: Am I losing my faith? I knew that my faith was still strong, but I had a need to understand why I believed. And that did not mean that I was losing my faith.” (pg. 2)

He went off to seminary at the young age (to me) of fourteen and notes that during the first year experientially his relationship with God was amazing but that during his sophomore year, “I could no longer feel God’s presence. I could no longer feel the love of Jesus in Communion. My heart had turned cold and empty. I became depressed and frightened.” (pg. 3)

Girzone throughout this chapter reflects heavily upon the deadness of his emotional/experiential relationship with God – something which I can identify with during significant portions of my life…I sometimes ponder if I have been destined in part to repeated Dark Nights of the Soul (St. John of the Cross).

Girzone reports, “…it all left me cold…could not pray. It was a drudge. It was without feeling or comfort.” (pg. 3) I love how he reflects on Moses leading forth the Israelites from Egypt – so many hundreds of thousands of people – and how this was depressing rather than relieving to him. I have echoed this fear of success or calling in my own life.

He powerfully describes his continuing struggle on page 5, “At night I would slip down to the chapel and, in the darkness and emptiness, hope I would find God again. It didn’t happen. I just sat there dumb and broken. Gradually a deep depression drifted through my being like a heavy fog that settles on a mountainside and obliterates all reality of the village below. The spirit world was now deeply lost in that fog, and all the joy and comfort it used to bring me.” Haha, I apologize if I focus on this too much – but these passages struck such a resounding echo in my own life.

In the midst of all this Girzone never doubted that he was called to be a priest, even though at his ordination he was still suffering from doubts – more than ten years later! Yet Girzone also notes that all was not empty. While the feelings were not present the growth in knowledge and grace was present, “even though I no longer had the emotional sense of God’s presence, that presence was revealing itself in a much deeper way and at a higher level than mere emotion, as if God was leading me somewhere that was unfamiliar…” (pp. 6-7)

It is at this juncture that we get the first hints that Girzone will not be the ideal image of the religiously and politically conservative priest. He argues strongly against capital punishment and suggests it is worse than murder (pg. 7) and he begins for the first time to begin offering insight into the resolutions to some of his questions of faith – particularly how his observations of the complexity of nature and the reality of the universe inspired his belief in God. I think both arguments are fairly strong – and powerful when you read them in the context.

So far it is a great read – I recommend it. 🙂 I’ll unfold my perceptions as we work through the book – much as Girzone unfolded his – allowing the complete thought to be slowly unfurled.

Logos Bible Software Review.

1611 King James Version Title Page
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If you love studying the Scriptures – you’ll want to get your hands on a copy of Logos Bible Software. Logos is probably the largest manufacturer of bible software – and while there are competitors out there none can compare with both the sheer quantity of material available and the quality of the Logos 4.0 underlying software engine.

I buckled down and put myself on a payment plan and purchased the Logos Bible Software Scholar’s Edition Silver and I haven’t looked back since. This software is amazing and a huge blessing in my Scriptures studies and teaching!

Software Engine Highlights:

Logos is built on an impressively robust software engine that runs on both Windows and Mac computers. There are also user interfaces for the Apple iPhone and the web. Here are a few of the features I love:

  • Mouse over any word in any resource and see a dictionary definition of the word.
  • Extensive cross-referencing with a variety of resources – beyond the usual linking to commentaries, concordances, and bible dictionaries – for example, the inclusion of related images (of high quality and relevance), links to audio and transcripts of sermons on the same topic, and PowerPoint layouts for specific sections of Scripture.
  • The automatic passage and word study guides that appear when you search for a specific passage of Scripture and garner together the innumerable resources you need to pursue your studies.

Content Highlights:

The underlying engine would be magnificent in its own right, but it is really the content that I am most interested in and that will attract others. You can buy Logos at many different levels and each level includes differing content. I would suggest getting at least the Scholar’s Silver Edition. You can go on a payment plan and the resources included are simply amazing. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • New American Commentary – This commentary series is written from an evangelical perspective and is exhaustive in its approach. It offers a tremendous amount of background and content analysis before one even dives into the commentary and the commentary focuses on providing insight not only at the verse level but also at the thought level. The cost to purchase this commentary set alone in print nearly covers the cost of Scholar’s Silver Edition.
  • The Bible Knowledge Commentary – A smaller, two-volume commentary on the entire bible written by the faculty at Dallas Theological Seminary it is a bit dated at this juncture and will upset some for its heavy dispensational focus – but provides excellent insights from a conservative, evangelical, dispensational perspective in a concise format.
  • The Bible Exposition Commentary – Warren Wiersbe’s ‘BE’ commentaries covering the entire New Testament. These commentaries are more lay/devotional in nature but still include a good bit of technical thought and are useful in sermon preparation or other teaching/devotional arenas.
  • Holman New Testament Commentary – A series on the entire New Testament. This series is written more for pastors/teachers than academics – but does a good job of providing applicable insight into various passages.
  • There are numerous volumes of a practical nature also included – these books focus on effective ministry and are extremely useful for anyone working in ministry.
  • Just about any bible version you can imagine is included such as the NASB, NET, ESV, NLT, KJV, HCSB, and The Message.

What’s Missing:

There are a few enhancements I’d like to see Logos make. I’ve outlined them below:

  • Audio Pronunciations: I’m self-taught in reading, and this is great except for when one needs to pronounce complex or unfamiliar words. I have sometimes been embarrassed when I accidentally butcher a word I’ve only seen on the printed page and never heard anyone speak aloud. It would be great to simply click on a word and hear a correct enunciation of English, Hebrew, and Greek words.
  • Latin to English Translation: There are oftentimes phrases in Latin in the commentaries and various resources. Unfortunately, I don’t read Latin. It’d be nice to have a built-in translation facility to convert these phrases into English.
  • Processing Offloading: The Logos software has always been known for being a bit heavy – liable to slowdowns and freezes – due to the heavy processing it is doing behind the scenes. Its certainly worth it for the intelligence the software has in providing the correct resources on-the-fly, but my Intel Centrino Duo laptop with 4 GB of RAM and a 256 MB video card still grinds to a halt. I’d like to see Logos work on offloading some of this processing to centralized servers, rather than doing all the work on my machine – and thus hopefully speeding things up a bit. They should still have the ability to do it on my local machine, in case I’m not connected to the internet or have a slow connection – and should do a quick analysis to determine which method will be faster – but this could make Logos an amazingly fluid application.

A Philosophical Difference:

I’m a bit of an open source fan. I grew up in a poor family – there was not a lot of extra money floating around. My computers were always several years behind the times and oftentimes were given to me by generous individuals in the church or at great sacrifice in saving by my parents, or later, through significant endeavors on my own to earn and save money. I had no money for software and learned to scavenge for free alternatives for many years – out of necessity not b/c I didn’t want to spend anything on software.

Logos dominates the market and rightfully so…but I would like to see them move to a more open source philosophy. No, no, I’m not suggesting they abandon their model entirely. I’d like to suggest a nice hybridization which would be beneficial to those less economically fortunate individuals looking to study the Scriptures as well as to Logos.

Specifically, I’m suggesting that Logos continue to raise purchases of public domain resources as they do now – that is the way they gather together individuals who are willing to pay for the software to cover costs before they begin producing the software – but then once they have recouped the costs they move the public domain resources to be free.

Yes, yes, I understand that they bring significant added value to these free resources via all the interlinking, cross-referencing, and other features they integrate, but…that’s what the prepub would exist to accomplish.

How would this benefit Logos? Individuals such as myself used free applications like e-Sword for years. Many of the individuals using free alternatives know nothing of the power and content of Logos. Imagine getting your shoe in the door. Many a poor college student who currently uses a free application would switch to Logos – and when they secured their first position, purchase upgrades. Many individuals who now can only afford the base might one day secure a different economic position that allows them to purchase more content.

This would be a significant commitment on Logos part. They offer a significant number of public domain products at fairly high prices and these products make up a significant portion of their base products – but still, I think they could maintain their economic income while expanding their user base.

Further, I would suggest it is necessary to open the process of developing resources for Logos. They could use a verification process like Apple does for the iPhone app store to keep people from creating illegal materials – but there needs to be an ability for third parties to create resources – at least free resources – there could still be a licensing fee / royalty structure associated with premium resources.

Conclusion:

Logos Bible Software is simply amazing and well worth the monetary investment. I hope that Logos will move towards offering a free base edition which includes public domain resources. I believe this would allow Logos to consolidate its market leader position and would significantly assist the spread of the gospel throughout the world.

Group Magazine

Group Magazine is a well-done, bi-monthly magazine aimed at individuals who work with teenagers in a youth ministry context. Group is well-known for their various curriculums, books, and tools that cover not only youth ministry but also children, group, and adult ministry. Their magazine is filled with practical tips, hints, and articles that assist a youth leader in staying current and keeping the idea bin fresh.

Español: Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
Español: Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said, I really wanted to take just a moment to reply to the editorial in the latest edition (Sep./Oct. 2010) by Rick Lawrence entitled “the two prodigals.” In this article Lawrence tackles the question of whether youth ministry focused on those reaching the unchurched or the churched is more demanding and worthwhile – his end conclusion is that they are both valid and challenging fields.

I’d agree with Lawrence’s evaluation of the situation but would also share my philosophy of youth ministry. I’m not suggesting it as the only way, just as a way.

In my mind the church is primarily about educating and edifying believers for the purpose of outreach. That is, the church is not primarily someplace you bring individuals who don’t agree with you or believe in Christ, but rather a place where you go to learn about Christ, to be encouraged, challenged, and strengthened and then go back into your daily life where you reach out to those you interact with every day. This seems like something that could carry over to a youth group as well – at least its regular meetings.

In my mind, then, the idea is to equip teenagers to share their faith and remain consistent to their faith in their daily lives – rather to bring individuals who don’t agree into the group and change their beliefs. Why? The simplest reason is that those who claim to be “Christians” are at least marginally (supposed to be) interested in maturing in Christ and you can take them through a path of teaching/education, whereas when you attempt to bring in a group of people who do not believe – it is likely each one will be on a separate page that could perhaps be better addressed on an individual level.

So, my suggestion is – use the regular youth meetings to train up the teenagers, use special events to bring your teens together and as outreach opportunities, and be continuously encouraging your teens to be involved in evangelism in their context – e.g. school, work, home, sports.

A Christian Library.

[This is a work in progress…Revision history now added at the bottom of this article.]

Introduction:

I’ve read a lot of books in my lifetime – some have been life-changing others time-wasting. The sheer volume of books being published each year is overwhelming – how do we choose what books to read? In this article I will attempt to create a constantly evolving corpus of volumes that might serve as a basic primer for individuals looking to progress in their personal and spiritual growth.

It will include, first and foremost, volumes which apply to all readers and which I would consider life-changing for any reader. It also includes more “niche” topic books – books which apply to a single gender or life situation – but the “niche” will be statistically significant (e.g. a good number of readers will either have experienced or will know someone who has experienced these situations). I don’t expect anyone to read all of these niche volumes – they are here primarily as a resource. I don’t know how many times I’ve been faced with difficult circumstances in my life or in my relationship with others and felt at a total loss for how to successfully travel through these dark days. Hopefully, these resources will provide some guidance.

Purchasing Note:

I’ve linked these books to Amazon – b/c I have an Amazon Affiliate account and get a percentage of the sales I send to Amazon. That said, some of these books can be found for cheaper through Christian Book Distributors (CBD). Ach, it pangs me to give up my referral fees. =)

Coding:

I’m building a library I hope others can use, but it is also a library I will use. As such there are numerous volumes herein which seem to me to be the best possible volumes on a subject – however this comes from appearances, from hearsay, from reviews, from popularity, and so on. Please feel free to suggest alternative volumes. Those volumes which I have personally read are noted with an * following the title. Titles not given a full reading but at least glanced at are marked by **. All others have no markings – indicating I have not read them. Should authors, publishers, or others stumble upon these pages and desire to see these volumes moved to a * or at least a ** status, I won’t argue with free copies of the books in question.

Bibles:

Christian Living:

Bible Study (General):

Beginner:

Advanced:

Church History:

Evangelism:

Prayer:

Theology:

Personal Development:

Parenting:

Marriage:

Finances:

Physical Health:

Mental Health:

College:

Sexuality (General):

Homosexuality:

Marital Infidelity:

Divorce:

Politics:

Abortion:

Leadership:

Social Justice:

Disability:

Church:

Worship:

Classics:

Grieving:

Suffering/Pain:

Conflict:

Heaven/Hell:

Gender:

Worldview:

Youth Ministry:

Missions:

Biography:

Science:

Ongoing Reading:

  • Max Lucado – Facing Your Giants, Fearless*, It’s Not About Me, Cure for the Common Life, The 3:16 Promise, You! God’s Brand New Idea, The Applause of Heaven**, Just Like Jesus, Cast of Characters, In the Grip of Grace, 3:16–The Numbers of Hope, He Chose the Nails, In the Eye of the Storm, Come Thirsty, He Still Moves Stones, God Came Near, The Great House of God, Outlive Your Life, For the Tough Time, Six Hours One Friday
  • John Eldredge

Fiction:

  • Adam (Ted Dekker).
  • Demon: A Memoir (Tosca Lee).
  • The Oath (Frank Peretti).

Secondary Bible Study:

Secondary Theology:

Secondary Christian Living:

Secondary Church History:

Secondary Classics:

Research Sources:

Revision History:

  • 3/23/16 – Primarily behind the scenes work, updated code overall, removed unnecessary code, increased size of headers, and changed some Amazon links to short links.
  • 6/5/10 – Added additional footnotes. Added Obsessive-Compulsive Trap to Mental Health. Added Secondary Classics section and moved The Great Divorce (Lewis) to it.
  • 6/5/10 – Split Bible Study into Beginner and Advanced sections. Created Secondary Bible Study section, moved Jasper’s Hermeneutics, Enn’s Inspiration and Incarnation, and Walton’s Ancient Near Eastern Thought to secondary.
  • 6/4/10 – Installed WP-Footnotes and rewrote all footnotes using this technology, also, updated footnote content.
  • 6/3/10 – Added friends feedback on various worthwhile books.
  1. [1]I am a big fan of the NLT as a readable translation of the Bible. I have heard great things about what the Study Bible notes provides, but haven’t personally had the opportunity to read these notes. I’ve decided not to respond to the inevitable criticisms of reading a thought-for-thought translation here, but if you wish to bring up the challenge…I believe I have a good response. =)
  2. [2]An extremely even-handed, readable volume written by a young author who balances the new trends of postmodernity with our historical and evangelical legacy. I especially appreciate his challenge to the new generations to not simply abandon the “old” churches which have hurt us and his extensive bibliography which provides a great jumping off point for further reading.
  3. [3]Covers the spiritual disciples. One of the best books I have ever read on the topic – extremely practical in nature. Foster’s Quaker beliefs do place some of his writings outside of what many would comfortably define as fundamentalism. Foster also depends heavily on Quaker figures and mystical figures for his quotations and sources, which will be foreign to many.
  4. [4]It took me three or four times to read this book…and then only a period of over a year. Piper is one of our brightest contemporary theological minds…yet, his pervasive Calvinism in the beginning of the book caused me to throw the volume down several times. Once one struggles past this (for those who struggle with Calvinism) the book is quite amazing.
  5. [5]If you only read a few books off this list, make this one of them. Stuart and Fee do an amazing job of enlightening our understanding of Scripture by helping us to understand the importance and role of history, culture, and literary form amongst other items as we read.
  6. [6]I read most of this volume during my undergraduate studies at Philadelphia Biblical University. While not extensive nor providing all views on the Scriptures it does provide a great quick reference on a book. In general, I imagine the studies will be acceptable to those in most evangelistic denominations with the exception of some prophetic materials which will be heavily dispensational in slant – something which many churches differ on.
  7. [7]William Barclay is one of the best commentators I have ever read. I have never found a replacement for his DSB series of commentaries – which are written for the lay reader yet reveal insights for all. His ability to make complex truths simple, intimate knowledge of Koine Greek, deep historical and cultural knowledge – all make his commentaries timeless. Barclay does have fairly unorthodox beliefs but tends to maintain a more orthodox position within these commentaries.
  8. [8]Winner of the 2008 Bible Reference & Study Christian Book Award. See also Tony Reinke’s review.
  9. [9]Winner of the 2005 Reference Works/Commentaries Christian Book Award. See Robert J. Cara’s review here. Note that Marshall is not dispensationalist, holds a more Arminian viewpoint, and argues against the New Perspective. Volume is generally evangelical in tone.
  10. [10]Gonzalez is a hero to me. I’m still reading this volume – b/c its actually two volumes with perhaps 1400 pages – but every word is worthwhile!
  11. [11]While I haven’t personally read, I only hear good things.
  12. [12]An extremely valuable book in our American work-a-holic culture.
  13. [13]A perpetual best-seller, no personal experience.
  14. [14]Heard high praises from many and have read a good portion myself. At times is a bit redundant – but perhaps that is because we forget truths, especially in our most intimate relationships?
  15. [15]A very small and easy read with a lot of helpful information on OCD. My subjective experience is that people with this disorder (including myself) seem to be a higher percentage in churches than the general population.
  16. [16]I’ve read this book and it is a good book. Being a sheltered homeschooler it introduced me to some aspects of male sexuality I was unfamiliar with at the time. Generally, though, I expect the topics tackled are well understood in the teenage male population.
  17. [17]Not read it, but it sounds interesting. At CBD its $2.00! Has received solid reader reviews at both CBD and Amazon.
  18. [18]John Maxwell is an excellent resource on leadership, has experience in both ministry and corporate leadership and writes in a very readable/enjoyable manner. His books are fairly concise as well.
  19. [19]I know, I know. Everyone hates the Purpose Driven Church…or at least a lot of people who frequent the circles I travel in…but I insist this is due to the misapplication of Warren’s principles rather than Warren’s principles in and of themselves. Warren repeatedly warns against cookie-cutting one’s church after Saddleback, and yet this is what has occurred in many situations and this is (largely) what people revolt against. Give it a chance – its still the best and most practical guide to “doing church” I’ve read.
  20. [20]MacDonald wrote this after losing two of his adult children in the same year. He wrote it over a period of a year – one small poem each day. It is a beautifully deep and devotional work and the poems tie into each other and reflect a soul hungering after God.
  21. [21]A challenging and insightful book by psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb. I don’t agree with everything Crabb says and find psychoanalytic theory (which seems to be appropriated) only a partial perspective…but still, worthwhile.