Thursday
Jan092014

‘In Defense of the Bible’ – a comprehensive apologetic 

Book Review by 
Tim Yarbrough

A summary on the back cover of “In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture” accurately encapsulates this volume as “a comprehensive apologetic for the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture, featuring essays that tackle all major contemporary challenges: philosophical, methodological, textual, historical, ethical, scientific and theological.”

Through 18 author essays, writers address important topics designed to guide biblical discussions to assist casual readers of the Bible – as well as seasoned theologians. Topics range from “What Does It Mean to Say that the Bible Is True?” and “Is the Story of Jesus Borrowed from Pagan Myths?” to “Does the Bible Conflict with Science?” and “Is the Bible the Word of God?”

Editors Steven B. Cowan, associate professor of philosophy and religion at Louisiana College in Pineville, La., and Terry L. Wilder, professor and chair of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, are straightforward in their desire to increase biblical knowledge and reinforce the traditional Christian view that the Bible “is divinely inspired and therefore infallible and absolutely true in what it asserts,” counteracting what “has been under relentless attack for several generations … transgressing even popular media.”

Cowan and Wilder even dedicate the compilation “to Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler, contenders for the faith,” adding, “Untold numbers of Christians are forever in your debt.”

In an introduction, the editors state, “It almost goes without saying that if we live in a post-Christian culture, we also live in a post-Bible culture. Despite the fact that the Bible is still the world’s number one best-seller, biblical illiteracy abounds. Apparently, many people buy the Bible but not so many actually read it. Still fewer give it any serious study.” They later add, “We believe that it is incumbent upon Christians, for the sake of the church and for the sake of the world, to meet the Bible’s critics head-on and to respond to all the major challenges to the inspiration and authority of Scripture. This we intend to do in this book.”

Essay authors include Paul W. Barnett, a former Anglican Bishop of North Sydney, Australia; James M. Hamilton, a graduate of the University of Arkansas and associate professor of biblical theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Mary Jo Sharp, assistant professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University, in addition to Cowan and Wilder.

Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.

Wednesday
Dec112013

‘Telling God’s Story’ – a biblical narrative

Book Review by 
Matt Ramsey

Many of us have grown up hearing stories from the Bible – stories about God’s love and His redemption of mankind. But how well do we know the overall story of the Bible? Helping readers understand the Bible’s overarching story is the goal of the book “Telling God’s Story: the biblical narrative from beginning to end.” 

This book shows how many smaller stories come together and reveal one larger story about God’s purpose for His creation.

“Telling God’s Story” looks closely at the Bible from its beginning in Genesis to its conclusion in Revelation. By approaching Scripture as one purposefully flowing narrative, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the text, this book reinforces the Bible’s greatest teachings. 

This book is co-authored by former Ouachita Baptist University professor Preben Vang, who currently serves as professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and Terry Carter, current Ouachita Baptist University professor. Carter is the associate dean of the Pruet School of Christian Studies at Ouachita Baptist University. 

The authors’ goal is to help readers improve their ability to share God’s story effectively with others. This is summed up by what John T. Brady, vice president of global strategy at the International Mission Board, writes at the beginning of the book. He says, “In the young vibrant movements to our Lord around the world today, there is a strong emphasis on knowing the acts of God through the people whose lives are recorded in the Bible. The simple but powerful storyline of God’s Word reveals the truth the Lord has used to set multitudes of men and women, boys and girls from around the globe free from bondage to sin and death. Vang and Carter have masterfully provided a tool in “Telling God’s Story” that will not only be personally transformational but empowering for those who seek to train others to be tellers of God’s great story.” 

This expanded second edition of “Telling God’s Story” now features beautiful charts, maps, photographs and illustrations in color. 

This book is ideal for classroom settings, such as Sunday school classes, that involve discussion time. Each chapter ends with discussion questions for your group to talk about and assignments for the following week’s class. Studying this book will give readers a better understanding and background of God’s story and its application to their lives.

Matt Ramsey is the director of communications for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Thursday
Nov282013

Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole

Book Review by 
Caleb Yarbrough

In his new book, “Manhood Restored,” Eric Mason, lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, urges men to turn their focus to the gospel. Mason writes, “From beginning to end, God has a purpose for men. It’s a purpose that’s been lost but, in and through Jesus Christ, one that might yet be recovered. It’s time for manhood to be restored.” 

Consisting of eight chapters on specific and practical aspects of manhood, “Manhood Restored” is a call for men to recognize their Creator, their fall and the redemption and renewed “manhood” made available through Christ.

In the book’s preface, Mason writes, “I have written this book because men need to know that only through the gospel of Jesus Christ can they be what God intends.”

Mason states that he wrote “Manhood Restored” to be used as a  curriculum and “catalyst and primer for the intentional development of men,” in Sunday school classes, small groups and men’s ministry settings. Each chapter works together to paint an overarching message of Christ-centered manliness – yet they can also function individually, making the book a valuable tool for many ministry applications.

In chapter one, Mason addresses creation, God’s intended role for men, man’s fall from grace and how men can be made whole again through Christ, laying the foundation on which the rest of the book is built. In subsequent chapters, Mason addresses issues such as, sexuality, family, church, worldview and the prevalence of fatherlessness and how they can all be transformed through Jesus.

The subject of fatherlessness, or what Mason calls “Daddy Delinquency,” is one on which Mason focuses much time. He argues that the breakdown of the family and lack of strong fathers in many communities is due to the fact that many fathers do not base their lives and manhood on the model set forth by God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

“Manhood Restored” is an insightful resource for men of all ages. Mason tasks men not only to proclaim Christ, but also to actively emulate His life and relationship with God the Father. Often challenging, yet offered in brotherly love, “Manhood Restored” is a must-read for men seeking to grow closer to and be more like Christ in
today’s world.

Caleb Yarbrough is staff writer for the Arkansas Baptist News.

Thursday
Nov142013

Two-Minute Drill to Manhood

Book Review by 
Aaron Earls

For John Croyle, the clock continues to tick. Whether on the football field or in the life of a child, the seconds slip away until the outcome is clear.

Playing on championship teams for legendary University of Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, the former All-American defensive end knows the value of every moment in a game. But mistakes are magnified when the clock starts winding down, which inspired the title of his book “The Two-Minute Drill to Manhood: A Proven Game Plan for Raising Sons.”

Football games often are determined in the final two minutes of a game and, often with teenagers, parents are coming down to their two-minute drill, Croyle said. 

“Before our sons leave our home, they have to know how to be a good man, a good husband and a good father,” he said.

In addition to raising two biological children, Croyle has been a father figure to nearly 2,000 children at Big Oak Ranch. Croyle began the boys’ ranch 40 years ago for abused, neglected and abandoned children. Big Oak Ranch, which has since added a girls’ ranch and a Christian school, will receive 100 percent of the author proceeds from “The Two-Minute Drill.”

The lessons learned from the hurting hearts of those who come to stay with “Mr. John,” along with experiences with his son and daughter, served as the foundation for the parenting book from B&H Publishing. 

The book has garnered endorsements from sports legend Bo Jackson, Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban and other prominent men in sports and entertainment.

Years ago, in preparing for a trip with his then-13-year-old son Brodie, who would later become a quarterback at Alabama and in the NFL, Croyle felt God impress on his heart one question: “What do you want to teach your son about manhood?” The question inspired Croyle’s seven life principles based on the acrostic M-A-N-H-O-O-D.

Aaron Earls writes for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Thursday
Oct312013

‘Level fields of play’ - the Bobby Shows story

Book Review by 
Caleb Yarbrough

In “Level fields of play: Bobby   Shows’ life and ministry through sports,” James O. Preston Jr. tells the story of Bobby Shows, Mississippi native, basketball star, devoted sports evangelist and former Arkansas Baptist minister.

The book takes the reader through Shows’ early years growing up in rural Mississippi in the 1940s and 1950s, up to his time as a member of the Mississippi State University varsity basketball team and finally through his distinguished career as a minister of the gospel.

The book focuses on Shows’ lifelong love of sports and how he used that love as a tool with which to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ both at home and around the world.

One major topic of “Level fields of play” is Shows’ involvement in the 1963 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The highlight was Mississippi State’s historic matchup with Loyola University of Chicago. In the midst of the American Civil Rights Movement, Loyola started four black players against an all-white Mississippi State team from the Deep South. The game became know as “Game of Change,” because of its impact on the desegregation of American sports.

While he did not play in that game, which Mississippi State went on to lose, Shows said it was an experience he would never forget.

“We simply wanted to go and play basketball and do as well as we could and hopefully win the game. But as you look back and you see the things and the comments and people involved and how they felt about it, it becomes pretty obvious that it was a lot more than a game,” Shows told Preston.

At the beginning of Chapter 10 Preston writes, “Little did Bobby realize when he dedicated himself to the Lord that he would serve God, not as a basketball star, but as a sports missionary.” 

The author goes on to cover Shows’ life after college, how he met his wife, Jane, and how God blessed him with the ability to minister to the lost with his passion for sports, including by serving as recreation pastor of Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock, for 14 years.

“Level fields of play” is a well-written book that tells the story of a gentle giant who used the gifts and passions God gave him in order to grow the kingdom of Christ. Whether you are a sports fan or not, it is well worth a read!

The book is available in print or in digital form from Amazon.com. Visit www.levelfieldsofplay.com for more information, or email jameso.preston@gmail.com. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book goes to benefit Sports Crusaders, a ministry founded by Shows.

Caleb Yarbrough is a staff writer at the Arkansas Baptist News.