A Praying Church – Paul E. Miller

Paul E. Miller, A Praying Church: Becoming a People of Hope in a Discouraging World (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2023), 279 pp.

Ask any Christian if they are satisfied with their prayer life. Ask any pastor if he is satisfied with the emphasis on prayer in the church he pastors. Most responses will be discouraging. Hence the need for Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Church.

Miller builds on his earlier work, A Praying Life by urging pastors and their congregants to commit to a rigorous practice of prayer. The author begins by making the case for praying together. He proceeds to explain the functions of a New Testament church and reveals how the Spirit of God reshapes a praying community. Finally, Miller gives practical suggestions for cultivating a church that is saturated by prayer.

At one point, the author commends the popular video series, The Chosen, a move that does not fit with the general tenor of the book. The lack of discernment is concerning but does not distract from the major arguments in the book.

In the end, Miller succeeds in motivating Christians to return to a passionate pursuit of prayer. He writes, “We don’t learn the Spirit abstractly, separate from the person of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus loves hidden places where he isn’t turned into a show. He loves to work in broken people, people who realize that they can’t do life on their own.”

May churches gather in prayer, in the power of the Spirit, so that our great God will be known and cherished around the world.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church – Michael J. Kruger

Michael J. Kruger, The Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2022), 164 pp.

Spiritual abuse is one of the last topics that people want to discuss in the church. But it is imperative that this problem is explored and addressed. Better yet, the problem of spiritual abuse in the church needs to be rooted out once and for all. Michael J. Kruger tackles this challenge in his book, Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church. 

Dr. Kruger documents several cases of spiritual abuse including men such as Ravi Zacharias, James McDonald, Bill Hybels, and Mark Driscoll. These examples are indicative of the kind of spiritual abuse that plagues the church. One of the problems that surfaces is that churches place a high priority on the competency of leaders, while neglecting the character qualities that Scripture commends and commands. This oversight tends to attract narcissistic pastors, which only perpetuates the problem. 

The author defines spiritual abuse in clear and unambiguous terms:

Spiritual abuse is when a spiritual leader – such as a pastor, elder, or head of a Christian organization – wields his position of spiritual authority in such a way that he manipulates, domineers, bullies, and intimidates those under him as a means of maintaining his own power and control, even if he is convinced he is seeking biblical and kingdom-related goals.

The symptoms of spiritual abuse, according to Kruger, include various signs such as cruelty, threatening behavior, defensiveness, and being hyper-critical. Perhaps the most dominant quality of a spiritual abuser is manipulation. 

Kruger surveys the long history of spiritual abuse in both the Old and New Testament, helping readers understand that his problem goes back to the Fall of man. It is a problem and sin, nonetheless, that needs to be addressed and uprooted. 

The Bully Pulpit does not claim to have all the answers. But it does address the vexing problem in a straightforward and biblical way. Dr. Kruger describes the problem and offers helpful prescriptions for dealing with spiritual abuse and preventing it. He writes boldly and graciously, confronting sin and consoling those who have been sinned against. In short, The Bully Pulpit strikes a biblical balance that is much-needed in our day. May the church rise up and confront every spiritual abuser and may victims move down a path of wholeness and healing as they cling to the cross of Christ and his gospel.

Evangelical Pharisees – Michael Reeves (2023)

Michael Reeves, Evangelical Pharisees: The Gospel as the Cure for the Church’s Hypocrisy (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2023), 112 pp.

Evangelicals can be accused of many things. But of the most offensive things to be accused of is being a Pharisee. These ancient “high-brow theologians” knew their Bibles and worked hard at being religious, yet Jesus called them, “white-washed tombs.”

Evangelical Pharisees: The Gospel as a Cure of the Church’s Hypocrisy by Michael Reeves tackles this subject in a straightforward and biblical fashion. The author remarks, “Pharisaism, after all, is the sort of heartless formal religion that marks the first subtle step in the spiritual decline of a church before it ever flies into outright hypocrisy.”

Reeves argues that the Pharisee’s primary problem was with the gospel: “The Pharisees were as they were and acted as they did because they denied the gospel … Their character was a manifestation of their theology.”

The critical theological mistakes of the Pharisees lay in three areas: 1) Their approach to Scripture, 2) Their understanding of salvation, and 3) Their disregard of regeneration. The core of the book focuses on these three areas, namely – revelation, redemption, and regeneration.

Anyone familiar with Michael Reeves will attest that his treatment of a given topic is always fair, thought-provoking, and most importantly – biblical. After exploring the three theological mistakes of the Pharisees, he summarizes his central argument:

In the gospel we receive the revelation of the Father, the redemption of the Son, and the regeneration of the Spirit. Through the gospel shines the light of the knowledge of the glory of a speaking God, a merciful and gracious God, a God who is love and who therefore looks more on the heart than the appearance. The gospel brings us to enjoy him.

I’ve never known a Christian who didn’t bristle at the thought of being labeled as a Pharisee. However, Reeve’s book shines the spotlight on sinful hearts and reveals that lurking beneath is the spirit of the ancient Pharisees. Evangelical Pharisees is the proper response to the problem that plagues us all. May we return to the heart of the gospel, which is the cure for our hypocrisy.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country – Shelby Steele

Shelby Steele’s book, Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country is a stunning portrayal of America and the shift from Thomas Jefferson’s version of liberalism, which included free speech, equality, and freedom to the version of liberalism that emerged in the ’60s. Steele summarizes:

This new liberalism does not pursue the actual uplift of minorities and the poor. It pursues dispensation from America’s past sins for whites – the imprimatur of innocence. Minorities and the poor, seduced by all the promises scattered like rose petals in their path, are thus manipulated into bestowing that imprimatur.

This new liberalism which has essentially held America captive since the days of the Johnson administration has only grown and been perpetuated by President Obama and Biden. Steele adds, “It befriends them, promises them all manner of programs and policies. It makes a show of being deferential toward their woundedness, of bowing before their past victimization as before an irrefutable moral authority.” In short, new liberalism lies to minorities, short-circuits their path to productivity and success, and curtails their liberty.

Steele’s explanation of the scourage of so-called new liberalism continues: “Liberalism in the twenty-first century is, for the most part, a moral manipulation that exaggerates inequality and unfairness in American life in order to justify overreaching public policies and programs.” The author’s excursion into the slough of progressivism helps readers understand why so many people are held captive by this pernicious ideology. It reveals the underbelly of one of the most destructive forces in America, which falls under the banner of the Democratic Party.

Shame is more descriptive than prescriptive, which in no way detracts from the effectiveness of the book. Steele’s penetrating insight and analysis of the lie of new liberalism (i.e. progressivism, neo-Marxism) is a welcome addition to the growing number of critiques and will help set the trajectory for a more stable future.

The Day of Trouble – Joy Tomlinson

Joey Tomlinson, The Day of Trouble: Depression, Scripture, and the God Who is Near (West Lorne: Joshua Press, 2022), 136 pp.

Like a boa constrictor, depression slowly squeezes hope from its victims. Some people struggle in the shadows; others seek help from a counselor, pastor, or physician. Joey Tomlinson’s new book, The Day of Trouble, addresses the topic of depression with biblical clarity and pastoral sensitivity.

Tomlinson acknowledges that depression may stem from personal sin. But he also confesses that some depression is biological in nature. No matter the case, his aim is to offer hope in Christ for anyone who battles in this area. The author approaches the topic of depression holistically and affirms that images-bearers of God and composed of soul and body. This crucial observation helps guide the discussion throughout the book and avoid errors that plague the church.

A Book Worthy of Commendation

Several features make The Day of Trouble a noteworthy book. First, the counsel that Tomlinson offers is deeply biblical. Scriptural meditation is at the heart of the book. As Tomlinson notes, “Meditation is a critical balm for us on the journey of struggle with depression.”

Second, the author draws heavily on the Puritans. These godly stalwarts of the faith are cited frequently and offer a deep well of biblical wisdom that helps bolster the effectiveness of the book.

Next, the book is realistic and encouraging. It never shies away from the horror of depression. But at the same time, it offers gospel-rooted hope that reminds sinners that Christ loves them and will deliver them in their time of need.

Finally, the author reminds readers that depression is temporary. Tomlinson writes, “As we struggle this side of eternity, it is essential for us to remember that a world in which Christ rose from the dead cannot stay the same. It is impossible; therefore, we must hope. And that hope should change our perspective on everything. Just as Christ resurrected in this world, so will we one day.” The book ends on a triumphant note which is centered on the reality of the new heavens and earth, where Jesus will one day make all things new. 

I recommend The Day of Trouble without reservation and trust that the Lord will use it in a mighty way to bring hope, healing, and health to many people.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Come, Lord Jesus – John Piper

John Piper, Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2023), 304 pp.

The second coming of Christ is a critical theme that emerges in the New Testament. Tragically, the blessed hope is often eclipsed by love for things of the world. John Piper sets out to challenge this problem in his new book, Come Lord Jesus. The book’s goal is to help readers love the second coming of Jesus Christ. Piper stands with Paul the apostle who wrote:

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

The book is arranged in three parts:

Part 1: Reasons to Love Christ’s Appearing

Part one is the heart of the book and the most helpful part of the book. The author sets forth twelve reasons why followers of Christ should love his appearing. Each reason is grounded in God’s Word and loaded with encouragement.

Part 2: The Time of His Appearing

The second part of the book is the most controversial as Piper presents the rationale for the post-tribulational return of Christ. I urge pre-tribulational proponents to carefully weigh the arguments that the author proposes.

Part 3: How Then Shall We Live?

Finally, the book focuses on practical concerns that relate to the second coming of Christ. Readers are urged to be alert, patient, and gentle, plug into the local church, and pray for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

A Commendation

As usual, John Piper “delivers the goods.” Come, Lord Jesus is a thoughtful book, packed with biblical wisdom and encouragement. Dr. Piper skillfully navigates through the eschatological fog and points the way forward by focusing on the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I commend Come, Lord Jesus without reservation and trust that God will use it to strengthen his people as they wait for the glorious return of his Son!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Spineless: Restoring Courage and Conviction to the People of God

Don’t miss this special sale on the Kindle version of Spineless – only $2.99!

Spineless: Restoring Courage and Conviction to the People of God addresses the insipid kind of “Christianity” that has subtly slipped into the church. It carefully diagnoses the decline of Christian courage and traces its tragic demise. The book sets forth a carefully crafted plan for recovering lost ground in our generation. And it presents biblical strategies for restoring our spiritual muscle and sets a course for moving forward with bold courage and conviction in a world that is hostile to the historic Christian faith.


“Every generation of church history demonstrates that the people of God must exercise courage and conviction in order to pass on the truth to the next. In our own generation, we have seen countless men and women capitulate God’s truth in exchange for cultural relevancy. Spineless is the manifesto we so desperately need. Thoroughly biblical, David Steele has served the church well by setting courage and conviction as the necessary virtues that will ensure that believers never surrender the high ground of God’s truth in Christ.”

  • DR. DUSTIN BENGE, Provost and Professor of Church History, Union School of Theology, Bridgend, Wales

“Spineless is a call for courageous and convictional Christianity in the midst of an evangelicalism that is often more prone to capitulation than to fearless proclamation Author David Steele, identifies the problems afflicting both the church and the world but he is not content to simply “curse the darkness”; he shines the light back to the path of courageous Christianity. The need is great. The stakes are high. The time is now to stand up for truth and to stand confidently on God’s inerrant Word. Steele skillfully utilizes history, theology, and worldview scholarship as he illustrates the biblical call to courage. This book is biblical, timely, and needed. You will learn, grow, and be challenged to a life of courageous faithfulness. I recommend this excellently written work.”

  • DR. RAY RHODES, JR., Author of Yours, Till Heaven: The Untold Love Story of Charles and Susie Spurgeon and Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon.

“This is a timely call from Pastor Steele to avoid, in a time of great opposition to the Christian faith, the sin Christians fall into of passivity and cowardice. It is a helpful reminder of the importance of staying rooted in Scripture and being helped by the example of heroes of the faith, like the OT prophets, the apostles, the Reformers, the Huguenots, and the Puritans. Also being instructed by theologians like Luther, Calvin, Bavinck, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J.I. Packer, C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer and Al Mohler in his book, The Gathering Storm. Specifically, strong Christians must settle the matter of worldviews, and be aware of the stark contrast between biblical Christianity and false religious and philosophical systems of our day, knowing that only the Christian worldview is sufficient.”

  • DR. PETER JONES, Director, TruthXchange; author of The Other Worldview, Escondido, CA

“My comrade in ministry has hit another home run with this book. One of the most detrimental quotes attributed to Francis of Assisi so many Christians have latched onto is the saying, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” Dr. Steele balances this ancient pragmatism with the facts that those who have most, and will most transform society are those who know the Word, are convinced and convicted of its authority and truth, and apply it daily in their thoughts, hearts, actions and proclamation of the gospel. Never more than today do we need men and women of conviction that know their Bibles and proclaim and live its message boldly with grace and truth. Thanks again, Dr. Steele for such a motivational manifesto to be theologically and theocentrically courageous in our time by speaking and proclaiming the gospel clearly and loudly.”

  • DR. DAVID P. CRAIG, Lead Pastor, Valley Baptist Church, San Rafael, CA

“In his latest book, Spineless: Restoring Courage and Conviction to the People of God, David Steele takes readers by the hand and guides them as only a pastor-theologian par excellence can into the rich soil of biblical-theological convictions that will help shape their lives. In our day, we need Christians who are unafraid of the truth and unashamed to stand upon God’s Word. David, in this work not only gives the correct diagnosis, but the remedy to the ills of why many Christians lack a backbone by steadying our gaze upon the biblical text and the person and work of Jesus Christ. By doing so, he helps his readers discover from the Bible and Church History how men and women of God have stood upon the truth of God’s Word with courage and conviction. Wherever you are at in your walk with the Lord and whatever station you have in the church reading, Spineless will help you grow and be shaped by the Word of God, for a life lived under the gaze of God, for the glory of God.”

  • DAVE JENKINS, Executive Director, Servants of Grace Ministries, Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine, Host, Equipping You in Grace, Teacher, Servants of Grace and Warrior of Grace Podcasts

“Drawing from the rich legacy of bold and courageous men of church history, and chock-full of sound biblical teaching, Spineless is a must-read for all Christians who desire to boldly live with courage and conviction in an age of timidity and rampant compromise.”

  • JEREMY PICKENS, Senior Pastor, Good Shepherd Church, Ferndale, WA

“I not only highly recommend this book to you, but just as importantly, its author. Dr. David Steele doesn’t just write words well, he lives them out. His character is worthy of emulating and his writings should be read and reflected on. We need more men like Pastor Steele, men of Gospel grit, who confront our age’s spinelessness with courage and boldness.”

  • BRYAN PICHURA, Senior Pastor, Mount Olivet Church, Huron, SD

“The negative effects of pride and domineering church leadership have been well documented, but not enough has been said and written about the perils of cowardice and passivity. Drawing from Scripture, church history, and personal life experience, Dr. David Steele pens a well-researched book for Christians to get serious about being men and women of courage. The amount of relevant church history references in this book is stunning. It’s the kind of book that will be particularly suitable for young Christians.”

  • DAVID QAOUD, Associate Pastor, Blogger, Bethesda Evangelical Church, St. Louis, MO gospelrelevance.com

The Dawning of Redemption – Ian J. Vaillancourt

Ian J. Vaillancourt, The Dawning of Redemption: The Story of the Pentateuch and the Hope of the Gospel (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 224 pp.

After the creation of Adam, God spoke in clear terms to the first man: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16–17, ESV). The apostle Paul confirms what God revealed in the garden: “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23a). After our first parents disobeyed, the rest of humanity fell under the curse of death – not only physical death but also eternal death. Every creature was on the fast track to hell, that is until God intervened.

Ian Vaillancourt’s book, The Dawning of Redemption reveals how God stepped in and saved a people for his own possession (1 Pet. 2:9). The author presents nine movements, beginning with creation that unfolds progressively and unveils the Messiah who forgives sin and promises to make all things new.

The central theme of the book, of course, is redemption. Dr. Vaillancourt is meticulous in his research and relentless in his passion to present the gospel of Jesus Christ. His work is a helpful addition to the growing number of titles that focus on biblical theology. In the end, the author succeeds in his presentation of the meta-narrative that runs through sacred Scripture, namely – the plan to redeem the elect of God.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Be Killing Sin

Don’t miss this special sale on the Kindle version of Be Killing Sin. Now only $2.99!


“Be Killing Sin is a heart-penetrating read and profitable for both new and seasoned believers who sincerely desire to be exhorted regarding the danger of personal sin and educated in the biblical means of defeating sin in their lives. I highly recommend Dr. Steele’s uncompromising and practical book on this much-needed topic!”


Senior Pastor, Spring Creek Bible Church

“I was discipled as a young Christian under the ministry of David Steele. For years, I witnessed his life and sat under his faithful preaching and teaching. I know no man who is more well-read, self-disciplined, or biblically and theologically astute. For decades, one of Pastor Dave’s specialties has been apologetics and engagement with cultural issues, teaching followers of Jesus to be discerning, “think Christianly,” and live for the glory of God in all that they do. So, what you’ll receive in Be Killing Sin is guidance that is as biblically grounded as it gets, and which speaks practically to the issues of sin in our culture and in our hearts. If you need help in the fight against sin (and we all do), take up and read!”


Senior Pastor, Homestead Country Gathering, La Grande, OR

“Dr. David Steele’s book, Be Killing Sin, is an excellent reminder of how every believer ought to live the Christian life on a daily basis. Pastor David provides a strategic blueprint for “fighting the good fight of faith,” while standing against the world, the flesh, and the devil with God’s armor in place. In addition to the clear biblical teaching that permeates this book, David also provides a treasure chest of valuable quotes, references, and biblical truths that you will want to access time and again. I highly recommend that you add this book to your library and read it repeatedly to fortify your soul against the temptations and struggles we all have with sin.”


Pastor Emeritus, Faith Bible Church, Hood River, OR

“If you talk about sin in our day, you might get some interesting stares from people, even in the Church. Even in the Church today, a large segment thinks sin is a dirty word, and they believe that perhaps we should do away with it. The only problem is if you do away with sin or even talk about it, you do away with the reason Christ came, bled, died, and rose again. If you minimize sin, you minimize the glory of the grace of God. If you live however you want, you minimize the glory of Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who resides in every Christian. If you think you can live however you want or that there are no differences between a man and a woman, you undermine the clear teaching of Scripture. Understanding sin in our day is vital to rightly understand the prescribed medicine in the finished and sufficient work of the Lord Jesus. A surgeon doesn’t deal only with some of the symptoms; he aims to get to the heart of the problem and deal with the issue so the patient is helped and can recover appropriately. With the skill of a surgeon, from the hand of a seasoned pastor- teacher of God’s Word, and the mind of a scholar, David Steele has gifted the Church with a magnificent and needed book in Be Killing Sin: The Art of War on the Battlefield of Faith. Whether you think sin is a “little matter” or a grave matter, this book is needed in a day that devalues sin and focuses on psychological aspects of our humanity, which causes us to look first to ourselves, or worse, to find a cure that isn’t possible outside of Christ. Wherever you are on that spectrum, I encourage you to read this book, to be taught from Scripture about sin, the glory of Christ, and how putting on Christ in all of life is not some part of the Christian life; it is the whole of the Christian life because of our union with Christ.”


Executive Director, Servants of Grace Ministries, Executive Director, Theology for Life Magazine, Host, Equipping You in Grace, Author, The Word Explored and the Word Matters

Grace at Work – Bryan Chapell

Bryan Chapell, Grace at Work: Redeeming the Grind & the Glory of Your Job (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 233 pp.

Grace at Work: Redeeming the Grind & the Glory of Your Job by Bryan Chapell is a deeply encouraging book that addresses the topic of vocation. Chapell draws on Scripture to help readers understand the redemptive purposes of work.

Every person is created in the imago Dei. Therefore, God’s creation possesses dignity and worth in his eyes. This reality causes them to flourish and provides the necessary biblical context for work.

With the foundation in place, Chapell focuses on a host of subjects including integrity, money, success, leadership, and many others. Each topic assumes the creature’s dignity and enables them to approach work with God-centered resolve.

The author summarizes his excellent work:

Throughout this book, I have emphasized that every place we work is holy ground and that we have a vocation, a calling, to represent our Savior in the workplace. Our vocation is where we exercise our profession – both in terms of our training and our testimony.

Grace at Work is a powerful little book that reorients the mindset of Christians and reshapes their hearts in a way that honors God and puts the gospel on display.

Highly recommended!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.