Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God – John Piper

John Piper, Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 159 pp.

Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper explores the sweet and bitter providence of God in the book of Ruth. The author lays the book out in a clear and compelling way, inviting readers to engage with God and trust his promises.

Piper’s concluding appeals are worth the price of the book and are worth noting in order:

  1. Study the Scriptures
  2. Pursue Sexual Purity
  3. Pursue Mature Manhood and Womanhood
  4. Embrace Ethnic Diversity
  5. Trust the Sovereignty of God
  6. Take the Risks of Love
  7. Live and Sing to the Glory of Christ

The principles that Dr. Piper articulates will be controversial in some minds. But careful readers will note that he is merely unpacking biblical reality and commending God’s truth for anyone with ears to hear. These principles cut against the grain of postmodern culture and help encourage a strong and robust Christian faith.

The sum of the matter concerns a great eschatological reality. In Piper’s words:

The best is yet to come. That is the unshakable truth about the life of the woman and man who follow Christ in the obedience that flows from faith. I say it to the young who are strong and hopeful, and I say it to the old, for whom the outer nature is quickly wasting away. The best is yet to come. And God is at work in the darkest of your times to get you there.

Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God is a deeply encouraging book. It will challenge and encourage anyone who has a heart that heeds the Word of God!

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

Give Me Understanding That I May Live – Mark Talbot

Mark Talbot, Give Me Understanding That I May Live (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 236 pp.

Give Me Understanding That I May Live by Mark Talbot addresses the topic of suffering with the heart of a shepherd and biblical faithfulness. The author presents a well-rounded framework for understanding suffering in categories that are clear and compelling. The author observes:

Suffering prompts us to reconsider our lives now, before it is too late. It can burn the fat off our hearts, teaching us by God’s grace to delight in his ways.

Dr. Talbot has the ability to weave answers to the thorny subject of suffering through a redemptive grid that is helpful and encouraging.

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

I Belong – Joyce Holstege

The Heidelberg Catechism is a game changer. John Frame calls it “one of the great devotional works of all time.” Elector Frederick III secured the services of a twenty-eight-year-old theology professor from Heidelberg University named Zacharias Ursinus and a twenty-six-year-old preacher named Casper Olevianus to pen a catechism that would help disciple young people. This Catechism would also be a tool for pastors and help them equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12-14).

The first question and answer is posed:

Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?

A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Joyce Holstege beautifully captures the essence of the answer to the first question in the Heidelberg Catechism in her book, I Belong. The author walks slowly through the answer in ways that children can understand and includes artwork that corresponds to each section. The narrative is engaging, personal, practical, and most importantly – biblical.

The book assumes that listening children are regenerate. This is in keeping with the tenor and tone of the Catechism. However, parents should be sure to emphasize the importance of placing faith in Christ with their children. They should never assume or presume that children are regenerate until a child has turned from his or her sins and placed personal faith in the risen Savior.

I Belong is a helpful discipleship tool that parents should use to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.


Is Hell Real? – Dane Ortlund

Dane Ortlund, Is Hell Real? (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 48 pp.

The doctrine of hell is under attack. Voices that fuel the fire against the doctrine of hell come from philosophers, and university professors, and are tragically opposed by some pastors. Dane Ortund makes a biblical case for the doctrine of eternal punishment in his recent book, Is Hell Real? Ortund’s work is included in Church Questions, a series produced by 9Marks ministries.

Dr. Ortlund summarizes his work at the beginning: “Hell is needed, awful, close, and deserved by everyone – but there is a way to avoid getting there. This fitting summary becomes the basis for the remainder of the book as the author presents his case for the doctrine of hell. The book is clear, compelling, winsome, humble, and most of all – biblical.

Churches would do well to make this book available to people in the pews for instruction and help with evangelism.

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

The White Flag: When Compromise Cripples the Church – David Steele

The Kindle version of my book, The White Flag: When Compromise Cripples the Church is available for a limited time for only $2.99.

“Here is a passionate call from a pastor’s heart, from a man widely read, who sees with great clarity the difficult situation the church now faces, with opposition without and weakness and compromise within, who believes the battle will be won by the faithful believing and by the courageous teaching and proclaiming of the Word of God.”

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

“In every generation, believers are called to contend earnestly for the faith, and pastors must act as watchmen on the wall, protecting the flock from danger. David Steele does exactly that in The White Flag. This book is overwhelmingly biblical, meticulously thorough, and refreshingly practical. Frankly, I love books like this; books that inform the mind and stir the soul!”

NATE PICKOWICZ, pastor, author of Reviving New England and Why We’re Protestant

“Dr. David Steele exposes a clear and present danger threatening our churches. This is a biblical, bold, urgent call-to-arms reminding us that our Commander-in-Chief has entrusted to us a “Precious Treasure” that must be protected as well as proclaimed.”

WAYNE C. PICKENS, Senior Pastor, Homestead Country Gathering, La Grande, OR

“David Steele is a champion for the truth of God’s word. The White Flag not only exposes the destructive enemy of doctrinal compromise that threatens the contemporary church; it inspires godly courage in all believers to stand firm in defending the truth of Scripture no matter the cost. Read this excellent book to be blessed and emboldened by its timely message.”

STEVE BALVANZ, Senior Pastor, Spring Creek Bible Church, Bellingham, Washington

“A scholar with a shepherd’s heart, Dr. David Steele guides the reader through the waters of compromise. Desiring to see the church pure and sound in doctrine, he pours out his heart with the call to be alert, for the “wolves are growling at the gate.” Dr. Steele’s book is saturated with Scripture and seasoned by his own pastoral experience. A must-read for anyone who loves the church.”

BRYAN PICHURA, Associate Pastor, Valley Heights Community Church, BC Canada

“We are living in a day when not only is truth under attack, it is belittled, and dismissed. Our popular culture continues to churn out a message through the mainstream media that we can be all that we can be if only we will succumb to its message regarding gender roles, abortion, humanity, the climate, and more. Even as secular humanism continues to rise in our day, the Lord continues to raise up voices that challenge the status quo by calling Christians to remain faithful to biblical orthodoxy. One of these voices is Dr. David Steele. In his latest book, The White Flag: When Compromise Cripples the Church, Steele calls his readers to stand firm not in their own might, nor in their own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ. Along the way, he not only identifies the problem but points to the cure, Jesus Christ. Steele’s wise and biblical counsel will help new and seasoned Christians to navigate the shifting sands of compromise by buttressing themselves in the ancient paths of sound biblical orthodoxy. The White Flag is a welcome addition to the calls to reformation, revival, and renewal in the church. It not only diagnoses the problem, it lays out a biblical-theological vision grounded in the gospel that will help every Christian navigate the way forward in our hedonistic, humanistic post-Christian culture to the glory of God.”

DAVE JENKINS, Executive Director, Servants of Grace Ministries, Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine, Host, Equipping You in Grace Podcast

Glorification: An Introduction Graham Cole

Graham A. Cole, Glorification: An Introduction (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 138 pp.

The three pillars of the Christian life are justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification is a past event that takes place at a point in time. Sanctification is the necessary result of justification and takes place during the course of one’s Christian life. Glorification is a future event that every follower of Christ anticipates. Glorification: An Introduction by Graham A. Cole explores the wonder of this encouraging doctrine.

The author grounds his argument in a discussion that focuses on the glory of God. God’s glory is defined and described. The author is quick to suggest that God shares his glory with his creatures.

Dr. Cole explores what he refers to as “the glorious divine project,” where God reveals himself in the person and work of his Son and redeems a people for his own possession. It becomes apparent that the cosmos is not a place where accidents take place or where “chance” rules. Rather, God intentionally shares his glory with his creatures. “The glory Adam lost, Christ as the new Adam regains for us.”

These grand realities put us in a position where we are prepared to walk on the pathways to glory. Cole writes, “The prospect of glory provides motivation to live a godly life in the here and now.” The pathways to glory are marked out by the sovereign work of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. This work eventually finds its culmination in the glorification of the elect.

Heaven is explored but must be seen as “penultimate.” For “the final home for God’s people is the new earth and the Jerusalem that has come down out of heaven to the renewed earth.” Here the Platonic vision of heaven is eschewed and the biblical model of real bodies on a real new earth is celebrated.

Glorification: An Introduction is a commendable book and recommended for anyone who wants to dig deeply into the subject of personal eschatology. Dr. Coles is a clear writer and engages fairly with authors who disagree. This work is an essential part of every growing theological library.

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

Suffering Wisely and Well – Eric Ortlund

Eric Ortlund, Suffering Wisely & Well: The Grief of Job and the Grace of God (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 191 pp.

Every follower of Christ will face suffering at some point. Some face more than others. Eric Ortlund’s book, Suffering Wisely & Well addresses the topic of suffering by analyzing the book of Job. As the title suggests, the book seeks to help Christ-followers suffer well by being wise about suffering.

Dr. Ortlund traces Job’s suffering and highlights key observations along the way. He examines the unbiblical counsel that Job receives from his friends and commends the “beauty of gospel friendship.” Job is set forth realistically. His godly character is noted and the struggles that he faces are dealt with honestly.

One of the most refreshing aspects of Suffering Wisely & Well is Ortlund’s ability to integrate biblical principles into daily life. He writes:

Our journey through the long and frustrating debate deepens our ability to journey with our friends in their Job-like ordeals without falling into the friends’ trap of condemning them, while also remembering that the dark things our suffering friends utter in their pain are not the final truth of their lives.

Each chapter concludes with a summary and concluding principles that readers may immediately put into action. Sufferers will be encouraged by Ortlund’s clear biblical presentation and come face to face with the hope held out in the gospel.

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

The Sower – Scott James

Scott James, The Sower (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022).

The Christian band Wolves at the Gate has a lyric that is a weighty theological reality and prompts much thought:

A bloody tree and empty tomb sends root below for life to bloom.

These words immediately came to mind when I read Stott James’ new children’s book, The Sower. This short book uses a creative narrative to draw in young readers, making them aware of God’s redemptive purposes. The book begins in eternity past:

Once there was a Voice in the darkness, full of life and life, it was the Voice of the Sower. With a word he sowed seeds, and a garden grew.

The author reveals the creating and sustaining power of the Sower and shows how sin separated the first parents and all of humanity from him. People stopped listening to the Sower and their hearts turned away from him.

Young readers will discover how the Sower pursued his sinful creatures and how he revealed himself in God’s Word and also in human flesh:

To mend broken people, to make them whole again, he took their brokenness and made it his own. He laid himself down, buried like a seed in the ground.

Ultimately, The Sower paints a beautiful picture of how the Lord Jesus redeems a people for his own possession. The Sower is a tool parent can use to introduce the Christian worldview to children. But more important, he rivets their attention on Jesus – the Sower, the One who came to set his people free.

Scott James teams up with Stephen Crotts who provides incredible art to accompany this powerful little book.

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

Be Killing Sin

My newest book, Be Killing Sin: The Art of War on the Battlefield of Faith is available now!

The book guides followers of Christ on a journey that exposes the vicious monster of sin, explains the posture of sin and expounds on a plan to defeat it. The book leans heavily on the Puritans, those physicians of the soul who cherished God’s Word and offered godly counsel for spiritual soldiers.

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 on the biblical means of defeating sin in their lives. I highly recommend Dr. Steele’s uncompromising and practical book on this much-needed topic.”

STEVE BALVANZ, Senior Pastor, Spring Creek Bible Church, Bellingham, WA

“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.”

BRUCE PARKER, Pastor Emeritus, Faith Bible Church, Hood River, OR

Pick up your copy today!

The King and the Dragon – James Shrimpton

James W. Shrimpton, The King and the Dragon (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 32 pp.

The King and the Dragonis a creative tale for children. James W. Shrimpton teams up with Helena Perez Garia, a world-class illustrator in her own right. The story is about a King with a great golden throne. A Dragon tries to usurp the King’s throne and deceive his people. Thankfully, a child is born who grew up and fought the Dragon. The Dragon defeated the Knight but rose again on the third day, to rule with the King on his throne.

The purpose of the book is to give parents a creative tool to share with their children the story about God’s redemptive plan that unfolds with the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The King and the Dragon is a creative book, short enough to keep the attention of small children, and helps parents begin to put the pieces of redemptive history together in a way that is understandable for children.

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