Philippians – Kerux Series

There is a multitude of resources available for pastors and teachers, a countless number are available with a variety of emphases—the exegetical, hermeneutical, homiletical, and practical. But there are few published that contain the variety of the necessary arenas for preaching and teaching. Some contain one or two of the important elements, but not all. The all-in-one volume is an almost extinct commodity.5835 kerux philippians.indd

To fill that gap (to the “rescue”) comes Kregel Publications with a commentary series entitled Kerux (KAY-ruxs). Kerux is specifically designed and written for busy pastors whose everyday responsibilities do not allow for the time-consuming task of sermon of preparation.

The current and first of the series is Philippians: A Commentary for Biblical Preaching and Teaching. Next on the schedule is Daniel. The final count is projected to be forty-five in the series. The theological bent of the series is intended to be conservative. And we pray that future authors do not stray from that.

Each volume will have two authors. One focuses on the exegetical and theological analysis of the passage and the other, a preaching expert, focuses on the preaching and teaching aspects. For this volume on Philippians, the authors are Thomas Moore (exegetical) and Timothy D. Sprankle (homiletical).

This (and each) volume begins with an “Introduction” which contains all of the vital background information of the book being studied – authorship, place and date occasion, recipients, historical background. Included throughout the text is additional information in the form of sidebars, charts, maps and pictures.

The “meat” of the volume is divided into “bite-sized” and logical preaching and teaching segments. For instance, this one on Philippians contains eighteen individual preaching/teaching segments. Each segment includes “Literary Structure and Themes,” “Exposition,” which is verse-by-verse and heavily into the original language, “Theological Focus,” and “Preaching and Teaching Strategies” which contains application of the text. To receive the maximum understanding of the Exposition, it would be necessary to have some knowledge of the original language.

In short, this concept and volume is a gem. And although the series is targeted toward the pastor, it can be used in a multitude of ways: a kick start to a sermon or Wednesday night Bible study, a guide book for a group Bible study, a teaching series on an individual book of the Bible, or even for individual study. If you want to dig deep into Philippians, this is an excellent book to have at your side as you go through the text virtually word-by-word.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Kregel Publications for a fair and honest review.

The 40-Day Sugar Fast

NOTE: This review was written by my wife, Ellie Marrandette. Ellie is a certified nutritionist and Bible teacher and the author of Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese: Nutritional & Life Lessons God Teaches Us. She is the founder of New Creations Ministries.

In The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation, author Wendy Speake focuses on sugary foods as idols. Then, in a day-by-day devotional, urges the reader to replace sugary food with Jesus. I heartily agree that Jesus Christ should always be Lord of our lives. Her sugar theme could be easily substituted for smoking, alcohol, television, sports or the myriad of other idols prevalent in today’s society.40-Day Sugar Fast

Gratefully, this isn’t simply another diet book. The reader won’t find a regimented diet plan or recipes from Ms. Speake. This has more to do with searching our soul for Biblical motivation to replace today’s false idols with Christ. Through forty-one beautifully written, inspirational and motivational devotions, Ms. Speake keeps her reader focused on Christ and away from the addiction of sugar.

As a Christian, I enjoyed reading The 40-Day Sugar Fast as a devotional and it must be understood that this is devotional in content. It is obvious the author put a lot of prayer and thought into each chapter. As a Counselor and certified nutritionist, however, I became concerned. It wasn’t until chapter sixteen, Ms. Speake finally clarified: There’s nothing wrong with sweet treats. Good. God created natural sugar. By insinuating sugar is bad, without clarification, might insinuate God created something bad which is against His Nature. Glucose, a sugar, is necessary for brain function. I also found some of her pantry recommendations to be less than beneficial. Such suggestions as beef jerky, processed sandwich meat and salt are high in sodium and could be harmful to those with heart conditions.

Ms. Speake acknowledges in Appendix B, she doesn’t focus on physiological or scientific reasons why we become addicted to sugar. That statement also should have been at the beginning of the book. What I definitely endorse through her writing is her encouragement and motivation – honoring our LORD is always better than sugar!

If you’re looking for the motivation to pursue a healthier lifestyle, I would definitely recommend The 40-Day Sugar Fast. It will steer you along the right path.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by BakerBooks for a fair and honest review.

Urban Legends of the Old Testament

Following on the heels (with a time gap of over four years) we now contend with Urban Legends of the Old Testament. In the summer of 2015 David A. Croteau, professor of New Testament Greek in the Seminary and School of Ministry at Columbia University, published Urban Legends of the New Testament, a fascinating look at forty misunderstood passages in the New Testament. Now he has teamed with Gary E. Yates, professor of Old Testament at Liberty University School of Divinity to replicate the idea for the Old Testament.Urban legends of the OT

The volume is a compilation of forty hermeneutical missteps that have been propagated over many years. The authors’ intent is to debunk the myth with a more accurate biblical interpretation. You may or may not agree with their conclusions but they do make their case with excellent logic with all conclusions coming from Scripture.

If you are used to hearing these forty “myths” from the pulpit, be prepared to be miffed. If it will upset your theological bearings to learn that the Trinity is not directly taught in Genesis 1.26, then shy away from chapter 2. If you are frequently “putting out the proverbial fleece,” please read chapter 18 with an open mind. These are the types of “Urban Legends” that Croteau and Yates examine.

This book can be engaged in two ways: You can read it straight through analyzing the verse(s) as you go or it can be used for straight reference when studying a particular verse or passage, sort of like a commentary (but it’s not really a commentary). It seems that much more can be gained by employing it strictly as a reference book although it is fascinating to peruse the table of contents and read about the authors’ view on a particular verse(s) that we might hold theologically dear to our hearts.

Urban Legends of the Old Testament is a must for every pastor and teacher of God’s Word if they desire to be accurate in their teaching. It is valuable also for serious Bible students who can’t get enough of digging into Scripture. And it is also recommended for longtime pew-sitters who have been fed lazy hermeneutics over the years. So, in short, it’s for every Christian.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by B&H Academic for a fair and honest review.

40 Questions About Heaven and Hell

40 Questions About Heaven and Hell is another volume from Kregel Academic in the ongoing series 40 Questions About… (You can check out my reviews of three others in this series here (salvation), here (church) and here (ordinances).40 Questions About Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell is just as the title describes: Everything you wanted to know about Heaven and Hell yet had never had explained – all accomplished in 40 questions. And you might wonder how there can be forty questions. Author Alan W. Gomes, professor at Talbot School of Theology, is meticulous in his approach. He leads us through the ins and outs of the afterlife beginning with nine questions on “An Overview of the Afterlife.”

The book is divided into four parts, not all equal in volume. Part 4: The Eternal State is the longest covering half the “Questions,” and it is divided into two sections: The Eternal State for Believers and the Eternal State for Unbelievers (Hell). This is likely the Part that most readers will gravitate to first. For believers, it will serve as a basis for hope and a motivation for witnessing. The volume is also well footnoted and there are questions for reflection at the end of each chapter. He has obviously done a massive amount of research for this book.

Whereas other volumes in this series are informative and educational, this particular volume is sobering. Gomes is straightforward and very frank at times. Yet, at other times, when the biblical evidence is not totally conclusive, he is not afraid to so as with “What Happens to Infants Who Die?” You may or may not agree with all of his conclusions (they are written from a conservative viewpoint), however, he will certainly pique your interest and should get you to do some personal research. Gomes presents alternative viewpoints and then graciously refutes them and presents the biblical evidence for his view.

40 Questions About Heaven and Hell is a book for all believers, not just theologians and pastors. It should be required for all who claim the name of Christ. It is well-designed for a group Bible study.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by Kregel Academic for a fair and honest review.

Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture

When most Christians think of spiritual warfare, their thoughts immediately turn to Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 6.10-20 – the whole armor of God passage. And that is not without merit for Paul lays out how to deal with the spiritual battles that every believer encounters. Yet, that is just the practical side.Spiritual Warfare

But, not only is it important to grasp Paul’s guidance, it is also beneficial to understand the history of spiritual warfare from a biblical perspective. That is what Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture offers to us. Authors William F. Cook III and Chuck Lawless, both professors with Southern Baptist seminaries, have compiled a volume detailing the realm of spiritual warfare and how it affects all of Christianity. The book is divided into two parts. Part one chronicles the “Biblical and Theological Foundation.” Part two guides the reader through the “Practical Application” – how it affects all of us today.

Part one could well be titled “A Biblical History of Spiritual Warfare.” It leads us through spiritual warfare as outlined in Scripture with a heavy emphasis on the New Testament but not to the neglect of its origin from the Old Testament. There are countless exegetical analyses of passages that deal with spiritual warfare arranged in a genre fashion – Synoptic Gospels, Pauline Epistles, etc. Virtually every book of the New Testament is examined.

Part two centers on spiritual warfare in five aspects of the Christian life: the local church, evangelism, missions, family and leaders. It is a detailed examination of not only the spiritual attacks encountered by each entity but also ways to win the battles.

This is a must-read for any Christian who truly wants to know what he or she will encounter in their everyday spiritual battles. It is not a theology book, but it does have a healthy dose of understandable theology. Understandable is the keyword here. The authors do not overwhelm us with a heavy dose of theology. It is not a self-help volume with a categorization of steps on how to engage our spiritual enemies, but it will open your eyes to our ever-present spiritual onslaught and how to attend to it. Pastors will find this volume especially useful for preaching, teaching and the everyday care of their flock.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by B&H Academic for a fair and honest review.

John’s Letters – Big Greek Idea Series

Developing expertise in a language is a process that can consume a lifetime. And the study of the Scriptures in the original languages is a skill that takes a long time to develop. Not only because it involves an intellectual mastery but also because it is a specialized artistry and, most importantly, concerns itself with the Word of God. With that in mind, pastors, preachers, teachers and students of Scripture in the original languages need as much assistance as possible. The fact is no one knows everything about the original languages.Johns Letter - Big Greek Idea Series

To that end along has come the Big Greek Idea Series by Kregel Academic publishers. The series is designed as an original language aid for busy lives involved in ministry, especially those in full-time ministry. The one at hand is John’s Letters: An Exegetical Guide for Preaching and Teaching. This is the third volume in the series with two more published or planned – Ephesians and Philippians. Currently, the series is concentrated on New Testament books.

The most verbally efficient way to summarize this book is that it is a chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, word-by-word analysis of the New Testament Greek found in 1, 2 & 3 John. Virtually every word is dissected. In a cliché “no Greek stone is left in the ground;” all of the grammar is uprooted. But, this is more than just a technical-grammatical volume. Not only is this a grammatical commentary (as described by the editor), but it also is filled with commentary “gems.” Scattered throughout the book are “expositional-like nuggets” that provide interesting and valuable grammatical, syntactical, semantic, lexical, theological or text-critical information that one will find enlightening and indispensable for preaching and teaching.

If you’re unfamiliar with this series, be sure to read the “Preface to the Series.” it contains beneficial counsel on the how’s and the why’s and explains the methodology employed in the book.

This (and the others in this series I would presume) are targeted for those with a well-developed competency in Greek. And, while there is a bit of commentary as we normally employ the word, it is not such a volume. So, if you have studied Greek and retain a well-grounded level of proficiency, this is a great volume to have at your fingertips.

If your Greek is weak,

this volume do not seek.

If your Greek is fine,

this volume is sublime.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by Kregel Academic for a fair and honest review.

The Bible Toolbox

The evangelical world of publishing is abundant with books on bibliology – how we got the Bible, what the Bible is all about, why study the Bible, how to study the Bible, and so on. So it is rare that a new one is published that is unique or at least takes a different slant of the overall subject.The Bible Toolbox

The newest offering is The Bible Toolbox, written by two professors at Anderson University, Bryan H. Cribb (OT) and Channing L. Crisler (NT). It is published by B&H Academic. And while the material is not new (It provides the reader with the who, what, where, when, why and how of the Bible and Bible interpretation.), it is packaged in a singular fashion. Per the Publisher’s Note, it is designed to be an interactive experience through the Wordsearch Bible platform. (More on this later.)

The Bible Toolbox is divided into three parts. Part one focuses on the Bible itself, not the contents or how to study and interpret the Bible. Rather, it is an introduction to the Bible and how we got it. Chapter three of this section gives us the tools to use in our study of the Bible – historical, literary, and theological. Parts two and three take the reader into the interpretation arena – how to properly evaluate and interpret the text using the three tools. Part two focuses on the Old Testament – the Pentateuch, Historical Books, Poetry and Wisdom Books and Prophetic Books. It is moderately in-depth treatment on how to deal with each form of literature. Part three is the New Testament and is structured as the Gospels, Acts and Paul’s Biography, Paul’s Letters and the General Epistles and Revelation. The treatment is virtually the same as with the Old Testament.

Since I have been a Wordsearch user for a number of years and since the “hook” with this volume is its interaction with Wordsearch, I tested it out. First, it is important to know that you do not need to have the Wordsearch program to use the interactive features. The basic Wordsearch program will be provided free of charge. Once the program and The Bible Toolbox book are downloaded and installed, you will be able to access the many internet references included in the book as footnotes. It’s as simple as a “click.” Of course, one can elect to ignore the Wordsearch program and manually enter the internet information.

The purpose of the multitude of footnotes is “bonus” information. For instance, if one wants to find out more about Julius Wellhausen and the Documentary Hypothesis, just click the link. The ability to quickly access the additional information enhances the learning experience.

I would highly recommend The Bible Toolbox for two reasons: First, it is a well-collected source of material on bibliology, and second, it has an original structure with the possibility of further study. It should be excellent for pastors and teachers.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by B&H Academic for a fair and honest review.