Bound Together by Chris Brauns

Book: Brauns, Chris. Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices. Zondervan, 2013. 

Pages: 208

Point: We are bound together with Adam and cast over the cliff, yet by God’s grace we can be bound to Christ and live.

Path: Brauns begins by  explaining the concept of the rope and corporate solidarity (ch. 1) and then jumps right into the bad news of our union with Adam (ch. 2). Chapter three is dedicated to the Gospel, and then the blessings of being bound together with Christ (ch. 4). In chapter 5 he answers those who would push off their responsibility on others because of the concept of the rope. The second half of the book practically applies the concept of the rope to the pursuit of joy (ch. 6), marriage (ch. 7), hurting families (ch. 8), thoughts before death (ch. 9), and our country and culture (ch. 10).

Sources: Puritans, classical literature, contemporary theologians, personal illustrations, and historical references. The book flows and is a very interesting read.

Agreement: I thoroughly appreciated this book. Here is what I think the author did a good job at:

Applying the Gospel to everyday life

Explaining a difficult subject

Answer perceived questions

Resolving tensions in interpretation

Keeping my attention

Providing practical application

Sticking to the topic

This would make a good book to do as a study with those who want to understand Sin and the Gospel in a deeper way.


Disagreement: I am not sure I would disagree with anything major in this book. It was very informative, encouraging, interesting, and valuable.


Personal App: Do I daily revel in the unity I have with Christ? Because of Christ I am accepted!


Favorite Quote: “The good news is good more than the bad news is bad.”


Stars: 4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to anyone who would desire to see the Gospel loved and lived out in their life.

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This would be a top shelf book.

I received this book from in exchange for my honest opinion

What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him Yawn, Byron Forrest by Byron Yawn

Book: Yawn, Byron Forrest. What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him. Harvest House Publishers, 2012. 

Pages: 180

Point: Sons, hear me. Manhood is about recognizing one’s identity in, and responsibility to, Christ the risen King. 

Path: Yawn walks through crucial applications of the Gospel in the life of a young man, and any man, who still has breath. To the steady stream of valuable Biblical advice, the author adds humor, stories, illustrations, and plenty of punches to the gut of “self worth.” According to the table of contents, he addresses Fatherhood, Grace, Masculinity, Affection, Ambition, Sincerity, Accountability, Confidence, Marriage, Wives, Sin, Sex, Pornography, Eternity, Consistency, Thinking, Work, and Integrity. Those are the themes, but he addresses much more than that.

Sources: He is the biological son of a distant father, the adopted son of a godly man, and the spiritual son of a Heavenly Father. He also has sons of his own.

Agreement: I really enjoyed reading this book. His humor, insight, and bare knuckle punches were both interesting and convicting. His focus on the Gospel kept it from being a moralistic pat on the back or challenge of self will. He helped me to focus on Jesus Christ more in every area of my life.

Personal App: Am I finding my identity in Christ? Am I finding my strength in Christ? Am I finding my hope in Christ?

Favorite Quote: “To the adult son who looks back and regrets, there is hope. To the confused husband who looks down on his life with despair, there is a means to victory. To the father who looks ahead to the future of his own children, there is a way. In every case it is the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Kindle Locations 146-148)

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

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John Newton: The Angry Sailor by Kay Marshall Strom

John Newton: The Angry Sailor by Kay Marshall Strom 

Product Details

Paperback: 125 pages

Publisher: Moody Press 

Point: Strom shows how God can change lives and save sinners.

Path: Through story format, the author tells the story of John Newton’s life, starting with his childhood and sharing experiences and struggles and blessings up to the point his death.

Agreement: This is an easy and quick read. John Newton is shown how he really was before conversion. I appreciate how the author also shares struggles that Newton had in his sanctification after salvation.

My favorite quote is from John Newton as he was in his last days, “My dear friends, my memory is now almost gone. But there are two things that I can still remember perfectly well. I can remember what a great sinner I was, and I can remember what a great Savior Jesus Christ is!” (Page 124)

Personal Application: It is a blessing to read over the words of the hymn “Amazing Grace” seeing where the author had been and how he had seen the truths of the song in his own life. It is humbling and encouraging to realize that God’s grace is just as great and amazing in my own life.

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

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Your Family~God’s Way by Wayne A. Mack

Your Family~God’s Way: Developing and Sustaining Relationships in the Home by Wayne A. Mack 

Product Details

Paperback: 227 pages

Publisher: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company

Point: God wants to help each of us have family relationships that honor Him.

Path: Wayne Mack starts his book with several chapters on the roles of different family members, covers communication for the next eight chapters, and ends with several chapters on family conflict.

Agreement: This is a great book to use as a tool whether you are a new believer or someone who needs to refresh over biblical principles and be encouraged to follow God’s Word and plan for life. Mack uses a great deal of Scripture and includes helpful “study and application assignments” at the end of each chapter. These assignments include surveys to test your own heart and also many Bible passages to read over and questions to ask yourself. This would be a great book to study as a group or as a couple.

Personal Application: As I read through the chapters on communication, I was challenged to check my heart and actions to see if I was honoring God through my communication habits. There are many ways that we may not even realize we are sinning and/or impeding good communication in our relationships, and this was a good reminder of that.

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

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Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson – worth reading!

Book: Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead: A Novel. Macmillan, 2004.


Audio: 8.8 hours

Point: Life can be sweet. Life can be hard. Life can be disappointing. Life can be fulfilling. Almost never is it spectacular, but also never is it not worth evaluating.

Path: This novel is set in rural Iowa and reads as the final memoirs of a Congregationalist minister who had lived in that town his whole life. You hear his loves and his heartaches, which are not necessarily experiences, but people.

Sources: Excellent representation of the inner thoughts of a small town pastor.

Agreement: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It made me think of my grandfather ministering in a small town in Montana, and my wife’s grandfather and the various ministries he held over his years as pastor. I felt as though it were written to me and I was opening a treasured journal of a beloved grandfather.

Some may see it as having no plot, but that is part of the beauty of the writing. He was a small town pastor whose “plot” of life was not defined by great experiences, but normal people. John Ames, the writer of the memoirs, spent much of his time sitting, thinking, and writing. Something each of us could do more of. The plot of the book is his working through various issues in his heart and life.

The reader of the audio book was fantastic. I have not heard a better voice to book relation in all of our book listening.

The book also walks through the various stages of Protestant Christianity in the US. There are abolitionists, fighters, pacifists, liberals, and small town pastors.

Personal App: Do I wrestle with my true thoughts and character as I should, or do I sweep them away under the rug of busy living?

Favorite Quote: “We agreed it [magazine article] must have been fairly widely read in both our congregations, because on one page there’s a recipe for that molded salad of orange gelatin with stuffed green olives and shredded cabbage and anchovies that has dogged my ministerial life these last years, and which appears at his house whenever he so much as catches cold. There should be a law to prevent recipes for molded salad from appearing within twenty pages of any article having to do with religion” (145).

Stars: 5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

If this review was helpful, let me know here.

Here is a great series of blog posts about how to read the book

From The Garden To The City by John Dyer

From The Garden To The City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology

Author: John Dyer

Product Details

Publisher: Kregel

Date Published: 2012 

Point: Though technology is a God-given and God-imaging tool which can relieve symptoms of the Fall, it cannot save our souls.

Path: Dyer walks through the story of the Bible, Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. In these broad sweeps of history he explains how technology has been used by both God and Man. Along the way explains that technology is not neutral, but by nature it changes both the world and the user. The final section of his book looks at the Modern revolution and then the present technological landscape.

Sources: Neil Postman, McLuhan and other thinkers. Internet articles, Blog posts, and more books on technology than I have heard about. His endnotes are helpful.

Agreement: This is the best book I have read on technology. I would include it in the top five books I have read all year. Dyer takes the time to not only define the terms, but to talk through the reasoning.

Technology is not neutral. It is always changing us.

Personal App: Am I evaluating not only the content but also the method that this technology is using to communicate to me?


Favorite Quote: “When technology has distracted us to the point that we no longer examine it, it gains the greatest opportunity to enslave us.” 

Stars: 5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

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Praying Backwards by Chapell

Chapell, Bryan. Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name. Baker Books, 2005.

Pages: 208

Point: “In Jesus’ name” is not merely a hashtag to get God to see your prayer. Praying in Jesus’ name is the recognition of God’s sovereignty over all things, Jesus’ intercession for all believers, and the Spirit’s understanding and communication of God’s perfect will.

Path: Miller breaks a path for the reader through the daunting jungle of prayer. He explains what “praying in Jesus’ name” is not (ch 1), praying for God’s will (ch 2), praying without doubting (ch 3), the Spirit’s intercession in prayer (ch 4), the grounds upon which a believer can pray (ch 5), hope in prayer (ch 6), persistence in prayer (ch 7), prayer and God’s will (ch 8-9), and prayer and action (ch 10).

Sources: Chapell uses helpful illustrations, good quotes, applicable scriptures, and an easy to understand style to effectively communicate great truths regarding prayer.

Agreement: This readable, helpful, and extremely challenging book is a great resource. Some books you should skim through to get the main point. Some books you should read very slowly. This book is best read chapter by chapter.

  • I loved the summary statements at the end of each chapter
  • The discussion questions at the end of the book would make this a great resource for a small group study
  • The example prayers are helpful
  • His everyday illustrations were very good

Personal App: Is my heart ready to pray in Jesus’ name?

Favorite Quote: “Praying backwards simply ensures that he comes first in our thoughts so that we are prompted to make him first in our priorities” (p. 16). 

Stars: 5 out of 5

I was challenged by this book, and look forward to going through it again with others. It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

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Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals
by John Piper
Product Details
  1. Paperback: 287 pages
  2. Publisher: B&H Publishing Group (September 15, 2002)
Point: Pastors are not professionals. We are clay pots for the Master’s service.
Path: Through a series of thirty articles, John Piper challenges the pastors of the 21st century to take up the duty with which they have been entrusted. Pastors are to passionately proclaim the crucified and risen Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Sources: Each article has a different focus and different background. It would be safe to say that Piper relies regularly on men such as John Bunyan, David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Charles Spurgeon.
Agreement: I thoroughly appreciate this work and the passion which it conveys. Piper is not concerned about perfect presentation, or flawless performances. He wants to see pastors stand up and boldly live as unashamed followers of Christ.
He takes a stand for justification, prayer, study, biblical languages, wartime living, missions, love of all, and the unborn.
Disagreement: There are certain areas in which I disagree with Piper (on his argument and application of baptism, etc.) but I deeply respect him. None of my disagreements would keep me from wholeheartedly endorsing this book.
Personal App: Am I living a life of pastoral vision, study, and care? Or am I merely making a profession out it?
Favorite Quote: “WHY Christians do what they do is just as important as what they do” (33).
Stars: 5 out of 5
It would be worth another read and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a leader in the church. This is on my shelf of “once-a-year” books along side of C. J. Mahaney’s “Humility,” “Living the Cross Centered Life,” Hendrickson “Living By the Book” and some others.

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The Dragon’s Tooth by N.D. Wilson

The Dragon’s Tooth: Ashtown Burials, Book 1 
by N.D. Wilson
  1. Audio: 13 hours
  2. Publisher: Random House
Point: When your family is in danger, you will do anything to see them to safety. Anything.
Path: Cyrus and Antigone Smith are thrown into a whirlwind adventure with Golden Archers, high speed chases, secret societies, pirate cooks, hidden chambers, sneaky thieves, and one very old, and very powerful relic. This fast passed adventure story keeps the reader turning the pages. 
Sources: A love for Latin, treasures, flying, and adventure permeates these pages. N.D. Wilson has a longing to live like the young Indiana Jones.
Agreement: This story was fascinating. I enjoyed the fast paced movement, distinct characters, developing plot, and excellent imagery. I have read four of Wilson’s young adult books and believe this is the best. It also has hints of “Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl” (which is a must read). I got so sucked into the story, I almost went out and bought a leather jacket with a boxing monkey patch on it!
Personal App: I caught myself thinking of this as the adventure unfolded, “If an adventure appeared before me, would I be ready and willing to take it?” As G. K. Chesterton once said, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.”

Stars: 4.5 out of 5
It would be worth another read and I have already recommend it to others.

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(Note: The second in the series comes out tomorrow)

Hannah Coulter: A Novel

Hannah Coulter: A Novel
by Wendell Berry
Product Details
Audio Book: 8 hours
Publisher: Counterpoint
Date Published: 2004
Point: We all face joys and hardships, victories and fears, birth and death. It is not our duty to always win. It is our duty to keep living right on.
Path: This book is based on the story of one woman’s journey through life. It takes the reader through the highs and lows of life, her life, and probably your life. You see pain, joy, anger, peace, cancer, crops, divorce and restitution. It is a hard and difficult path, but it is life.
Agreement: This book was not the average account of how we wish life would be. It explained life as it is. It is hard. It is not fair. It is full of laughter and tears. It makes one hope for the resurrection. One day, all things will be made right.
Disagreement: The author, in expressing the realities of life, also uses real language. Language of war, language of hate, language of fear all come to the surface.
Personal App: I cried as I listened through this. I longed for the future peace. I wished life wasn’t so unjust. I wished good always won, when I could see it. I wish my life were not so hollow.
Favorite Quote: “You can’t give yourself over to love for somebody without giving yourself over to suffering. You can’t give yourself to love for a soldier without giving yourself to his suffering in war. It is this body of our suffering that Christ was born into, to suffer it Himself and to fill it with light, so that beyond the suffering we can imagine Easter morning and the peace of God on little earthly homelands such as Port William and the farming villages of Okinawa.” (171)
Stars: 4 out of 5
It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.