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The wisest man to ever live wrote these words in Ecclesiastes 12:10-14,

The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

Many books can and have been written. Many are not worth the paper they are written on.These recommendations should not be seen as a blanket endorsement of everything that each author teaches. In some cases, I find severe theological disagreement with some of the authors below -- but the book or resource in particular still presents something of value on an area of agreement which can bring edification if taken on its own. When a review is linked it provides a more detailed assessment.
The books and resources listed below are items that have provided some level of edification to me in the past and are therefore recommended in some cases.

You should always look to Scripture first. Having laid this foundation, the books listed below can bring some additional value.

Church

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More Info:

About The Forgotten Officer:
"As a whole, this book is intelligently written and theologically grounded. ... a radical but well-supported idea that has the potential to reinvigorate Christian churches across the nation." -Kirkus Indie Review
The Forgotten Officer by Joe Kohler

From the back cover of Gate Crashers:
"God bless Joe Kohler for his deep concern for the lost, and for his passion to equip the church to fulfill the Great Commission in these closing hours of time." -Ray Comfort, evangelist and founder of Living Waters
Gate Crashers: The Offensive Church by Joe Kohler


Gospel

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Reviews:



Evangelism

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Reviews:


Theology

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Comments:

  • Why I Am Not A Calvinist (and its companion volume below) is a good resource for Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. I personally am neither Calvinist nor Arminian (although I've been accused of being both). Often those in opposing camps are more interested in lobbing insults than they are in extending grace. This book is as gracious and biblical a critique of Calvinism as I've found.
  • Why I Am Not An Arminian is a great resource like the above but from the opposite perspective. While some may be interested in one perspective more than the other, my recommendation is to prayerfully and carefully read both.
  • Donald Guthrie's New Testament Introduction contains a wealth of information on every book in the New Testament. It is a good companion to your study of the New Testament as it discusses important context and interpretive matters.
  • Encountering the New Testament is a very readable book. It contains basic background information for every New Testament book and helps set the context for greater understanding of the Bible. Some may find Guthrie's book (above) to be a challenging read, but everyone should be able to profit from this one.
  • Encountering the Old Testament is the same as its companion (above), just for the Old instead of the New.
  • Few biblical genres can be as difficult to understand as the Old Testament prophets. As such, this Introduction to the Hebrew Prophets: The Prophets As Preachers provides excellent context and perspective to help you understand these important biblical books even better.
  • Don't be overwhelmed by the size of this book. The content is worth whatever time it takes to see how the gospel is interwoven through the entire Bible. Wright does a commendable job of demonstrating The Mission of God remains the same from beginning to end.
  • Every preacher and teacher must have a firm understanding of the trustworthiness of the Word of God. Every generation sees new attacks on the Bible and all who seek to preach or teach from Scripture must be equipped to handle it correctly as The Inerrant Word of God that it is.


Study

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Comments:

  • How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth teaches how to properly read the different genres contained in the Bible. We don't read poems and textbooks the same, so why would we read every book of the Bible the same? The answer is we shouldn't. We should read every book of the Bible correctly and this book helps teach us how. How To Read The Bible Book By Book is similar, just instead of by genre it discusses each individual book of Scripture on its own.
  • The Hermeneutical Spiral is a difficult read. What it lacks in ease it more than makes up for in content. Those looking for more than How To Read The Bible for All Its Worth provides may want to check out the Hermeneutical Spiral.
  • It can be easy to detect the errors in others interpretations. But can you recognize your own errors? Exegetical Fallacies will help you to identify and then avoid common interpretive mistakes that we are all guilty of.
  • David Dorsey's The Literary Structure of the Old Testament: A Commentary on Genesis-Malachi helps the modern reader to make more sense of the Old Testament text. Modern readers usually read the English text alone and in their heads. The Old Testament text was originally written in Hebrew, meant to be read aloud, in groups. This radically different way of reading/hearing the text leads to different observations. Dorsey helps bridge the gap in this excellent commentary.
  • Often quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament can be a bit perplexing. I have found no better resource in these instances than Carson's Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Every time the OT is used in the NT is covered in this wonderful commentary, which also provides background information on the original OT context, how Jewish sources understood those same passages, and how the NT writer is using the text. Really an excellent resource.

History

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Comments:

  • Every Christian should have a good understanding of how we got where we are today. The church did not begin or end at The Reformation. My suggestion for a good place to start is by reading Christianity Through The Centuries.
  • Like Viola's book (below), A Survey of Israel's History attempts to put the Old Testament into one coherent narrative. This is helpful because the arrangement of books in the Old Testament by genre and not in chronological order leads to confusion for many. This book can help straighten it out.
  • While I don't agree with every conclusion Viola draws, I love the purpose of The Untold Story of the New Testament Church. Viola seeks to reconstruct the entire New Testament period into one narrative and encourages you to read the NT along with his historical reconstruction. You can create your own historical reconstruction by reading the NT background research books above and draw your own conclusions. Viola has done this and the result is an enjoying and edifying read, even if you should take some of his conclusions with a grain of salt.

Personal Edification

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Comments:

  • Spurgeon's Lectures to my Students is both entertaining and challenging. A must read for anyone considering church leadership.
  • A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Praying with Paul is hands down my favorite book on prayer. While other resources offer strategies and methods that may bless some, this is really a study on the inspired prayers of the Apostle Paul. Studying these prayers should influence our own as we learn Paul's priorities in prayer.
  • While I don't normally recommend prayer books that contain the non-inspired prayers of other people, The Valley of Vision is an interesting read. As I read through the prayers of some of our Puritan brothers and sisters, I am humbled by the superficiality of some of my own prayers. This book may be a blessing to you if you will allow your own prayers to be deepened as you dwell on the glory of our God.
  • Other journals exist for Charles Wesley. This two volume set is the one you want. This critical edition does not delete parts so you get the fullest picture you can. This journal is packed with encouragement through this faithful brothers salvation, preaching, and teaching ministry. Known mostly as a hymn-writer, Charles Wesley will blow you away as an indefatigable preacher of the gospel. Volume I and Volume II comprise the entire manuscript journal.
  • For those who prefer the more famous Calvinistic Methodist, George Whitefield's Journals are another (and cheaper) option. Whitefield and the Wesley brothers had far more in common than they did in contrast.
  • Jerry Bridges presents a balanced and biblical look at the believers responsibility to walk with the Holy Spirit empowered by the grace of God in the pursuit of living out the holiness that they have received as a gift in Christ. The Pursuit of Holiness is an excellent read and a lifelong pursuit.
  • The Practice of Godliness is Bridges' companion to The Pursuit of Holiness (above).

Apologetics

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Reviews:

  • Tactics by Gregory Koukl
  • Some Christians believe that thinking deeply is a sin or somehow detracts from faith. It isn't and it doesn't. J. P. Moreland does a great job in this book helping Christians to obey the command to Love Your God With All Your Mind. The section on logic alone is worth the price and should be read, in my opinion, by every Christian.

Books For Preachers and Teachers

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More Info:

About The Forgotten Officer:
"As a whole, this book is intelligently written and theologically grounded. ... a radical but well-supported idea that has the potential to reinvigorate Christian churches across the nation." -Kirkus Indie Review
The Forgotten Officer by Joe Kohler

From the back cover of Gate Crashers:
"God bless Joe Kohler for his deep concern for the lost, and for his passion to equip the church to fulfill the Great Commission in these closing hours of time." -Ray Comfort, evangelist and founder of Living Waters
Gate Crashers: The Offensive Church by Joe Kohler

  • Haddon Robinson's Biblical Preaching is a great read for any aspiring preacher of God's Word.
  • Spurgeon's Lectures to my Students is both entertaining and challenging. A must read for anyone considering church leadership.
  • A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Praying with Paul is hands down my favorite book on prayer. While other resources offer strategies and methods that may bless some, this is really a study on the inspired prayers of the Apostle Paul. Studying these prayers should influence our own as we learn Paul's priorities in prayer.
  • Wiersbe's book Preaching and Teaching with Imagination teaches the preacher to use biblical imagery as it has been inspired. Many communicators kill the imagery by over analysis. You may learn a lot from dissecting a frog. Sometimes it is better just to watch it jump. So too, we ought to let the inspired biblical imagery be free to jump off the page for our hearers.
  • I don't agree with all of Andy Stanley's theology. But he is certainly an excellent communicator. If you can already study the text and come up with a great idea but struggle with how to arrange your material and communicate it effectively, then Communicating For A Change is a great resource for you.


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Prayer vs. Petition

Q: What's the difference between prayer and petition? Phil 4:6 for example.

A: An excellent word study question! When attempting to study words from the text it is necessary to analyze the word being studied in the original language (in this case Greek) as attempting to look up the words in English will often produce erroneous results.

For example, in English the word petition has within its range of meanings things that are certainly not within the scope of meanings for the Greek word (i.e. “a sheet that is signed to demonstrate agreement with some principle or desire for some social action to be taken” is part of the range of “petition” but not of the Greek deesis from which “petition” is translated).

The word most commonly translated as “prayer” in our English Bibles is proseuche, which appears 36 times in the New Testament (NT) in one form or another (for the purposes of this study, we are only examining the usage of these words as nouns – the verbal forms will not be included…

Christianity Isn't Moralism

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Shop here. Don't shop there.

This is acceptable. That is an abomination.

Don't get me wrong. Christianity does have a moral code. That's undeniable.

And that moral code is not popular. Not by a long shot. The Bible is clear that the moral code is contrary to the flesh. By definition it goes against the grain of fallen human nature.

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The moral code is not the end. It's only a diagnostic. The Bible calls for rebels against the King of heaven and earth to be reconciled to Him through His Son, Jesus the Christ. The Bible calls for people to turn from their rebellion and live for Him. This means that we stop pursuing the various lusts and impulses of our flesh. It means we start living in obedience to our King. We live for the glory of His name.

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Although I became better equipped to describe the meaning of the phrases, I still mumbled them as fast as I could so I could move on to the next part of my day.

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For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
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Self-Centered Theology

I have a problem.

Maybe you do, too.

I bet you can at least relate.

I'm self-centered.

By nature, I think from my perspective. Often, more often than I'd usually like to admit, I pursue my agenda.

I like to do, what I like to do, when I like to do it, where I like to do it, how I like to do it, and with whomever I like to do it.

I think you do, too.

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Sometimes.

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