Category Archives: Books

The Answers Book

I’ve been reading a book about creation and evolution entitled, The Answers Book by Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling, and Carl Wieland. The subtitle is, “Answers to the 12 most-asked questions on Genesis and creation/evolution.” If you are looking for one book to answer your questions, this would be a good one to purchase. I’ve read the first five chapters so far and have appreciated the answers given — especially about frozen mammoths, carbon 14 dating, and the six days of creation. There are some things that were over my head (particularly the section on Carbon 14 dating), but the authors go out of their way to make things understandable. (My eight year old is reading it, so it must not be too difficult to understand.)

The copy I am reading was published in 1998. Since then, the book has been updated and made available online. Click here to read the updated 25 questions and their answers. As always, compare the answers to what the Bible says for the best understanding of what God has done.

So Close!

During my time as assistant pastor our congregation learned that my intellect had been shaped by such peerless literature as the Hardy Boys detective stories. It was little wonder then that we got a call from a church member to see if I was interested in purchasing some of them. They were going to be sold at a garage sale to benefit the missionaries.

I ended up buying 6 volumes at $2 each. What a deal! Now we have Hardy Boys volumes 1-54 and 56-57. I do have a reprint version of #58, but I’m a purist. I’d rather have one of the original blue spine volumes.

Jesus Christ Disciple Maker — Chapter 3

Chapter three concludes the book’s first section, “Come and See,” which covers the initial stage of Jesus’ method of discipleship. In this chapter he covers many good things including the need for patience, carefulness, leadership, and longevity. I was thinking about using the book with our teens, but believe it would be better used as a tool for training youth group advisors (our youth workers). In any event, this was an exceptionally good read and highly thought provoking.


… As the message of deliverance is carried to the world, it seems that often people are unchallenged and bored by the very news that should indeed excite their souls. And yet at the same time we should recognize that if the ones who deliver the message are bored, the ones who hear it will probably be bored as well. (p. 40)

Success in evangelism comes only when we follow what God commands; the results are his concern, not ours. It is not our responsibility to lead people to Christ. God simply asks us to tell others about Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to take care of the rest. If we obey God with dedication and creativity in our evangelism attempts, then we are successful in his sight no matter what the results. If, however, we experience no positive results over an extended period of time, we should evaluate our methods and motives. (p. 46)


Jesus wanted to give these men time to allow the seeds he had planted to settle in their souls. This was one of his most effective methods of ensuring the right selection of men. He gave them time to pray and think over the call to discipleship—the invitation to a radical investment of time and effort. … Plan to allow people the time and information they need, thus ensuring that decisions are made during a time of clear-headedness and emotional balance. (pp. 56, 59)

Ministry Gifts

Recognize your place of ministry and then stay there. When you exercise your gifts faithfully, you always meet needs. You should never try to evade your calling by going off into some other ministry for variety or escape. (pp. 59-60)


Demonstrate that you know where you are going. One sure sign of successful leadership is that the person in charge understands the plan and communicates it to those he wishes to enlist in the enterprise. (p. 61)

Bill Hull, Jesus Christ Disciple Maker, (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1984), pp. 40-62.

Too Busy for People

In Jesus Christ Disciple Maker, the author points out the similarities between the spiritual leaders during Jesus’ earthly ministry and the leaders of evangelical churches today. His main thought is that we have become so involved with meetings and miscellaneous other things that we are failing to fulfill the real purpose of the Church.

Many churches across America, like the leadership of Israel, have forgotten the reason why the Church exists. … Many churches simply need to reorganize themselves so that the biblical priorities can be fulfilled. The key is to release the strongest leaders fom the shuffling of papers and the maintenance of the machinery of the church to the freedom of ministering directly to people. Such a strategy inevitably strengthens the body of Christ.

Bill Hull, Jesus Christ Disciple Maker, (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1984), 31.

While all churches have not fallen prey to this, it is nonetheless a danger into which even the best can fall. Having served as an assistant pastor, I know the time required of pastors, elders, and others serving on various committees. As the author points out, if we are not careful, we will not have time for our main purpose.

Putting things off…

. . . is generally thought to be a bad practice. You remember the old saying: “Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be done today.” But after reading Ephesians 4:21-24 you will agree that some things should be put off.

If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Having completed the final chapter of Changed into His Image by Dr. Jim Berg, a friend and I are now working through the Appendix. That’s not usually a very interesting activity, but this time it was different. On page 297, the author includes a section about “Becoming God’s Kind of Person.” The one-page handout explains three steps to follow according to this passage: (1) put off the old man, (2) be renewed in your mind, and (3) put on the new man.

What caught my attention was the explanation of the second step: Be renewed in your mind. Berg says, “Write out below the verses that show God’s viewpoint about the issues you have identified in Step 1. You must meditate upon them in order to have a renewed mind.” I guess I’m a bit dense, but I hadn’t really thought about how the renewal was to take place.

That idea makes sense. As I meditate on Scripture and accept what it says, my thinking will be renewed. In other words, I should be “transformed by the renewing of [my] mind, that [I] may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). That is the only way I will be changed into Christlikeness.

But, as G.I. Joe always said, “Knowing is the half the battle.” Now it’s time to make the application.

Reform From Within

Once a denomination or association of churches has been infested with unbelief, is it possible to reform it? Edwin H. Rian (who authored The Presbyterian Conflict in 1940) was very skeptical of the possibility.

The “reform from within” movement in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. is based upon the belief that the Church has a sound Confession of Faith and, although the courts, Boards and agencies of the Church have been disloyal to the Standards in many instances and are controlled by those who are out of agreement with the Confession, nevertheless, it is the duty of each minister and member to contend for the faith and to lead the Church back to place of faithfulness to the Bible. This is the position of men like the Rev. Samuel G. Craig, D.D., editor of Christianity Today, who wrote, “Reform is imperatively needed and every true Presbyterian should give himself for the task” (258).
Reform is a good thing when possible, but after finishing Rian’s book, it became quite clear to me that the PCUSA was beyond reform in the 1930’s. Some men with reformation in mind chose to stay in and form The Presbyterian League of Faith in April of 1931. They “met every month or two for the purpose of discussing the present situation in the Church and of laying plans for combating the advance of Modernism” (260). But Rian still asked “What are these advocates of ‘reform from within’ doing to alter the serious doctrinal defection in the Church and to return it to the control of those who believe that the Bible is the Word of God?” (260) Unfortunately, “no real program of reform was ever adopted or executed” by the League (262).

When Dr. E. G. Homrighausen and Dr. Emil Brunner were chosen to be professors at Princeton, many inside and outside of the PCUSA were outraged. “Professor Van Til pointed out that Dr. Brunner does not believe in the infallibility of the Bible nor even in the Scriptures as a trustworthy record of history” (266). Brunner eventually returned to Switzerland without taking the post. But Homrighausen was eventually “appointed to the Chair of Christian Education” even though he had “repudiated a belief in the full trustworthiness of the Bible” (268). How did such a man get appointed? He “issued a declaration of his faith which seemed to prove that he had changed from a Barthian to a staunch believer in the Bible and Calvinism” (268-69). Dr. Van Til was not impressed with the decision and voiced his opposition. But others were pacified by his sudden change in beliefs.

These events and several others caused men such as Edwin Rian to disallow the possibility of ever reforming the PCUSA:

With respect to the whole movement to reform the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. from within the question might well be asked, “‘What are the chances for success?” The answer to this question can be given quite positively: The chances for success are very poor indeed! This unequivocal reply is based upon two considerations: First, the “reform from within” group has no thoroughgoing plan to reform the Church nor is any program being actively promulgated. Secondly, the facts of church history are arrayed against the successful reform of an individual communion when once the ecclesiastical organization has come under the control and influence of Modernists (270).

Edwin Rian wrote these words in 1940 soon after the events had taken place. Some left the PCUSA feeling it was a hopeless situation. Others remained in hoping to reform the denomination they had grown to love. Which position was right? Did the reform movement eventually work? Visit the PCUSA web site to see for yourself.

Quieting a Noisy Soul

Dr. Jim Berg has come out with a new book called Quieting a Noisy Soul. At first I thought the last word was “son” and wondered if it was a book about child discipline, but then I read the introduction and discovered my error. (No doubt noisy sons need help, too.)

Sounds of guilt, anxiety, anger, despair, and even entertainment can generate overwhelming noise in our souls. The quiet rest and joy promised by the Lord Jesus can seem illusive, and almost impossible. Yet His words still beckon to us: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

If you are not familiar with Dr. Berg, you should read this description of him. Just the picture on that page, won me over. The web site also gives a good introduction to each book and the media which accompanies it. For the new book, a DVD video series is also available. You can view a sample here.
If this book is anything like his previous works, it ought to be a worthwhile read.