Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Counseling One Another by Paul Tautges

April 19, 2016 1 comment


This paradigm-shifting book helps believers understand the process of being transformed by God’s grace and truth, and challenges them to be a part of the process of discipleship in the lives of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.Counseling One Another biblically presents and defends every believer’s responsibility to work toward God’s goal of conforming us to the image of His Son—a goal reached through the targeted form of intensive discipleship most often referred to as counseling.

All Christians will find Counseling One Another useful as they make progress in the life of sanctification and as they discuss issues with their friends, children, spouses, and fellow believers, providing them with a biblical framework for life and one-another ministry in the body of Christ. (From the Publisher’s Website)



Why did this book interest me?

The first thing that I have to mention about this book is the cover. I do not normally talk about that feature of the book but this one really drew me in. The design of the cover illustrates what the book is about in a compelling way. The title is good but the subtitle gripped me: A Theology of Interpersonal Discipleship. I have always thought of counseling in the professional sense but had not really considered it from a discipleship standpoint.

What does this book accomplish?

This book sets the stage for a discussion of discipleship through the medium of counseling one another. At first you might say that the command to make disciples does not include counseling. You would be right if by counseling you mean psychology or psychiatry. But Dr. Tautges firmly convinced me that biblical counseling is indeed a necessary part of discipleship. This book walks you through the why, the what, and the how of biblical counseling. The need is clearly seen, the motivation is passionately shown, and the means are convincingly demonstrated in the reading of this book.

What did I take away from this book?

After reading this book, I now see the importance of biblical counseling in the life of every believer both as counselor and counseled. Biblical counseling should not be practiced only by people in an office but by every Christian who is actively discipling as a means of bringing the one being discipled into more Christ-likeness. The counsel is of course rooted in the sufficiency of scripture and conducted in the context of the local church. Dr. Tautges brilliantly weaves these themes together in this comprehensive treatment of biblical counseling. Thank you Dr. Tautges and Shepherd Press for this timely gift to the church.

Who should read this?

It might sound cliche but I think every believer would benefit from this book. Certainly anyone involved in ministry and discipleship should read this valuable resource. I pray that this book will receive much exposure and in doing so will benefit the church for the glory of God.

Book Details:


  • Author: Paul Tautges
  • Publisher: Shepherd Press
  • Format: Softcover
  • Page Count: 195
  • ISBN#: 9781633420946
  • List Price: $14.95



About the Author:

Dr. Paul Tautges serves as senior pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Previously, he served Immanuel Bible Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin for twenty-two years. He has authored eight books and contributed to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. Paul also serves as the consulting editor of the LifeLine mini-book series from Shepherd Press. Paul blogs regularly at

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Disclaimer: I received this book from Shepherd Press via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Categories: Reviews, Uncategorized

Wittenberg vs Geneva by Brian W. Thomas

April 6, 2016 1 comment


What are the differences between Lutherans and Calvinists, and do they really matter? In Wittenberg vs. Geneva, Brian Thomas provides a biblical defense of the key doctrines that have divided the Lutheran and Reformed traditions for nearly five centuries.

It is especially written to help those who may have an interest in the Lutheran church, but are concerned that her stance on doctrines like predestination or the sacraments may not have biblical support. To get to the heart of the matter, Pastor Thomas focuses solely upon those crucial scriptural texts that have led Lutheran and Reformed scholars down different paths to disparate conclusions as he spars with popular Calvinist theologians from the past and the present. (From the Publisher’s Website)



Why Did This Book Interest Me?

This is the book I have wanted to read for a long time. Theological differences among various denominations interest me greatly, especially those born from the reformation. No denominations are more recognizable from that great period in church history than the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches. But up until now, this would have been a painstaking and enormous task. Being neither Lutheran nor Presbyterian, I simply did not want to spend that much time researching the nuances in each traditions numerous writings. I have compared the Presbyterian teachings to that of my own denomination and am very familiar with the teachings of their tradition. The gap in my knowledge comes from the Lutheran side. That is where this book fills in the gaps.

What Does This Book Accomplish?

This book details the differences between some of the key doctrinal issues to spring from the reformation as represented by the Lutheran and Presbyterian traditions. The author explores these differences by examining the main passages used by the two sides to defend their doctrinal stances. Mr. Thomas shows us that there are differences in definitions of terms as well as implications of the teachings. He takes us to the bible to help us understand that it is the measure that we have to use when establishing our doctrines. He employs two rules: scripture interprets scripture and a literal sense of the text. Thomas clearly explains the Lutheran position on the key topics of atonement, predestination, the sacraments, and the believer’s security. These are contrasted with what he understands the reformed (Presbyterian) view to be.

What did I come away from this book with?

I appreciate that Mr. Thomas employed C.S.Lewis’ illustration of the Christian church having many rooms (denominations). This sets the tone for a discussion in community and not a vilification of all those who would disagree with the author’s conclusions. I also appreciate that this book does not get distracted with the various “furnishings” of the rooms. Thomas has helped me understand and appreciate the Lutheran viewpoints concerning these reformed doctrines. While I do not agree with all of his conclusions, he has helped me to look at some of the proof texts in a fresh way and for that I am grateful. The reformers believed in “always reforming” and that means we cannot simply twist scripture to agree with our conclusions but we must align our conclusions with what the scriptures clearly teach. I do wish there had been a format, maybe an appendix, for a rebuttal from Sproul or Horton. Maybe they will respond with a book of their own. Overall, I was pleased with the book and feel that it accomplished most of its intended purpose. Thank you Brian Thomas and NRP Books for this informative resource.

Book Details:


  • Author: Brian W. Thomas
  • Publisher: NRP Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Page Count: 177
  • ISBN#: 9781945500374
  • List Price: $19.95



About the Author:

Brian William Thomas serves as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Kingston, Washington. His writing focuses on confessional Lutheranism in a post-Christian culture and reclaiming ancient pastoral practices for present day service. (From Back Cover of Book)

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Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Categories: Reviews, Uncategorized

For the Love of God’s Word by Andreas Kostenberger and Richard D. Patterson

October 17, 2015 Leave a comment

An introduction to a clear method of biblical interpretation

For the Love of God’s Word is an abridged, less technical version of Köstenberger and Patterson’s acclaimed Invitation to Biblical Interpretation. Students, teachers, and pastors alike will find this introduction to biblical hermeneutics to be an accessible resource with both breadth and substance.

Built on the premise that every passage requires careful scrutiny of its historical setting, literary dimension, and theological message, this volume teaches a simple threefold method that is applicable to every passage of Scripture regardless of genre. In addition, the book sets forth specific strategies for interpreting the various genres of Scripture, from poetry to epistle to prophecy. A final chapter is devoted to helpful Bible study resources that will equip the reader to apply Scripture to life.

This book will serve as a standard text for interpreting Scripture that is both academically responsible and accessible for pastors, teachers, and college students. This volume will enable students of Scripture to grow in love for God’s Word as they grow in the disciplines of study and discernment.  (From the Publisher’s Website)


The Bible is the most printed, most sold, and most read book in the world. It is also one of the least understood and most misquoted books in existence. Why? It does not read like any other book. It is a divinely inspired collection of 66 writings that vary in style and genre. To understand it, one needs to be taught by the same Spirit of God who inspired it and “acquire vital skills in understanding the greatest book ever written.”

Hermeneutics is the study of principles of interpretation. Without a good hermeneutic, we are prone to many interpretive errors. As the authors of this book tell us in the introduction, “Biblical interpreters are charged with a sacred task: handling Scripture with accuracy. They are entrusted with a sacred object, God’s Word of truth, and their faithfulness or lack thereof will result in God’s approval or in personal shame.”  Men’s souls hang in the balance.

Köstenberger and Patterson present a hermeneutical triad of theology, history and literature. “The interpretive task consists of considering each of the three major dimensions of the hermeneutical triad–history, literature, and theology–in proper balance, with the first two elements–history and literature–being foundational and with theology being at the apex. While discerning the spiritual message of scripture–theology–is the ultimate goal of biblical interpretation, an appreciation of the historical-cultural background of a particular text and a proper understanding of its literary features are essential.”

Chapter 1 begins with Preparation. We are given qualifications as to who can do it, why we should do it, and how we can do it using the triad. We are also treated to a short history of interpretation throughout the ages. Chapter 2 gives us the historical-cultural background of the Bible. Chapters 3-4 deal with the canon of scripture under the literary focus with chapters 5-11 discussing the genres found in holy writ. Language is discussed in chapters 12-13 finishing up the literary aspect. Chapter 14 is about the ultimate goal of interpretation which is theology. Finally, chapter 15 helps us with application of theology.

This book is well suited for the task it seeks to accomplish. Each chapter begins with a page of objectives followed by an outline. Upon completion of the chapter we are given guidelines in list form as well as key words, assignments and a chapter bibliography.  The authors have done a thorough job of introducing, explaining and fleshing out their hermeneutic.

Anyone who wants a deeper knowledge of scripture would do well to read this book. This abridgment of the authors’ previous work makes it more accessible to the non-academic. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is definitely the best book I have read on the subject. As a father who wants his children to understand the Bible, I will be using this textbook to train my children to study God’s Word.

Book Details:

  • Authors: Andreas J. Kostenberger & Richard D. Patterson
  • Publisher: Kregel
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Page Count: 448
  • ISBN#: 9780825443367
  • List Price: $34.99

About the Authors:

Andreas J. Kostenberger is director of doctoral studies and professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He translated Adolf Schlatter’s two-volume theology of the New Testament into English and is editor of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Richard D. Patterson (PhD, University of California, Los Angeles) is distinguished professor ermeritus at Liberty University. He has written well over 100 articles for major publishers and periodicals, including commentaries on Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (Moody) and Joel and Kings (with Hermann Austel) for the second edition of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary Series.

(From the Publisher’s Website)

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Disclaimer: I received this book from Kregel in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Categories: Kregel

Interpreting the Prophetic Books by Gary V. Smith

August 27, 2015 Leave a comment


Preaching from a prophetic text can be daunting because it can be difficult to place these prophecies in their proper historical setting. The prophets used different literary genres and they often wrote using metaphorical poetry that is unfamiliar to the modern reader. This handbook offers an organized method of approaching a prophecy and preparing a persuasive, biblically based sermon that will draw modern application from the theological principle embedded in the prophetic text. -From the Publisher’s website

Why should you read this book?

The prophetic books of scripture are rich with imagery about how God deals with the nations and His people. If we study these books, we will gain a fuller picture of our great God. Unfortunately, the prophetic books can be difficult for the modern reader to understand. We need to learn how to interpret the difficult prophetic passages.

So we turn to a seasoned interpreter, Gary Smith. Dr. Smith helps us with many of the hurdles that we encounter as we read the prophetic texts. This book addresses such issues as: the genres of prophecies, poetic expression in prophecy, parallelism in prophetic literature, and imagery in prophecy. The author also helps us by pointing out the major themes in the prophetic books.

Dr. Smith  equips the reader by giving us a tool box of interpretation with the goal of proclaiming the text. We are taught how to benefit from learning about the historical setting of each book. The reader is taught how to identify variant readings and choose the best reading. Dr. Smith also includes a listing of useful commentaries on each of the prophetic books. We are also guided through interpretive issues such as: literal or metaphorical, contextual, conditional or unconditional, and terms of fulfillment. The reader is then taught how to bridge the gap between interpreting and proclaiming the text. Dr. Smith illustrates this process by giving us two example texts with their interpretations and applications.

Who will benefit from this book?

Pastors, teachers, and students will all benefit greatly from this handbook. Some handbooks are cumbersome and unwieldy. This book, coming in at around 200 pages, is immediately useful and accessible. I learned much in my first reading and intend to return to this volume as I read and study through the prophetic books. My reading of these passages has gone from apprehension to delight as I have learned how to navigate and interpret these precious writings. I am grateful to Dr. Smith and Kregel for this excellent volume in the Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series.

Book Details:

  • Author: Gary V. Smith
  • Publisher: Kregel Academic
  • Format: Paperback
  • Page Count: 224
  • ISBN#: 9780825443633
  • List Price: $22.99

About the Author:

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Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Categories: Commentary, Kregel