Anticipating the Return of Christ

Devotional Articles • Books • And More

This page is a collection of book reviews and commentary on various authors.

This page is constantly being updated. Check back frequently for new updates.


Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Movement by Dan Lucarini. This book is highly recommended for a synopsis of the use of contemporary music in church. While the book was written a number of years ago, it now seems rather prophetic of what the movement would actually become.

Anything by Bill Hybels cannot be recommended. Given recent revelations of his (lack of) character, it is impossible to separate the bad from the good in his books and to know just how much of the bad influenced his writing.

Tactics by Greg Koukl. The review is mixed. While the book itself has good points and will prove helpful, there are some obvious omissions. These omissions have to do with the source of our power in soul-winning and evangelism. In Matthew 17:14-21 (NASB), Jesus clearly and plainly teaches that the source of our power in overcoming evil and sin in the world is prayer and fasting. Throughout the book of Acts in the Bible, prayer and fasting are central to the accomplishments of the early church. One cannot separate the role of prayer and fasting from the achievements of the early apostles. Thus, everything which we accomplish in the world for Christ is through the power of Christ. In reading Tactics, I did not find any mention of prayer, fasting, Bible study, or any of the essentials the early apostles relied upon to establish the early church. In reading the book, I suppose all this is assumed to be necessary; unfortunately, there will be those who read the book and attempt to implement the practices without prayer, fasting and Bible study. Will it work? Like a number of new(er) books on Christianity, it isn’t wrong, it just isn’t right.

The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshal and Tony Payne. I did not get past the first chapter and only conducted a cursory review of the remainder of the book. In analyzing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), the authors questioned the authority of Christ in issuing the command to go. They essentially botched the whole purpose for the command to go into all the world and to all the nations. Outside of the gospels, similar verses are found in Isaiah 42 as well as Acts 1. In the authors’ commentary on the Great Commission, they suggested that going does not literally mean to go into all the world but instead that we are to teach the gospel, make disciples and baptize them “as we go” places. This is not wrong, but it is not right either. Another book review written by a pastor pointed out that no translation of the Bible supports this view of “go” in the Great Commission because it is an incorrect interpretation of the original text. The concept of the original command to “go” was necessary because Israel and the Jews at that time viewed themselves as the exclusive beneficiaries of God’s grace. Therefore, they despised all other nationalities and were rightly punished by God for their exclusivity. Nevermind that they were violating the Old Testament instance where Israel is to be a light to the nations. Their own doctrines prevented them from sharing the good news of salvation through Christ. In the Great Commission, Christ is breaking down this barrier. The gospel of Christ is universally available to all people. We violate the Great Commission when we think others are not good enough to receive the gospel or others are less-than or God did not intend certain people to be saved. Thus, the command to “go” transcends time because we are always justifying the refusal to “go” and must be reminded that Christ’s example was to break down barriers, not erect them. The flawed and, frankly, incorrect analysis of the Great Commission by the authors (which seems to question Christ’s authority) makes the remainder of the book mere works which are ineffective. Mind you, the premise of the book is not wrong, but the approach or solution is not right either. As with Tactics, there is no meaningful mention of the necessity of prayer and fasting. Any book which uses as its premise the questioning of the authority of plain Scripture should be avoided. It will hold little meaningful benefit for the serious Christian. If we are serious about evangelism, then we will take seriously and practice what we find in the book of Acts and measure all such books against Acts.

Prayer Circles by Mark Batterson. The Tactics and The Trellis and the Vine reviews are a good segue into the review on Prayer Circles. The entire premise of the book is a false statement disguised as a quote from the Talmud. The story supposedly lifted from the Talmud never occurred and is completely fictional. The remainder of the book purports to use Scripture verses to support the ink spilled on each page. The book has no redeeming value for the serious Christian. I was in a Sunday school class that used this book, and once I began investigating the book (because it was getting farther from the truth in each chapter), I literally tossed the book in the garbage and discussed it with the pastoral leadership. Anything based on a lie cannot be reformed into something good.

The Shack by William Paul Young. I have not read this book and will not be reading it. The book should be avoided. The ministry Leading the Way by Dr. Michael Youssef has very good resources explaining the host of problems with this book. If you have read it or are curious about it, I very much recommend reading Dr. Youssef’s literature.

Marks of a Movement by Winfield Bevins. Like Tactics and The Trellis and the Vine, the author is not necessarily wrong, but the author is not right either. This subtlety is what makes books like this troublesome. Because my review is lengthy, you can find it here.

Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven books should be avoided.

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster. I read this 20-25 years ago before I understood as much as I do now about the emergent church, modern mysticism, church growth movement, and disciple-making movement. As time has gone by, Mr. Foster has become much more closely identified with modern mysticism. In hindsight, this is the thrust of the book, although when I initially read the book I would not have said as much. Modern mysticism has significantly departed from the church as given to us by Christ in the New Testament, so I cannot recommend this book.

Books and Authors I Enjoy Reading and Recommend


A general rule of thumb for me is to avoid books by living authors and instead read tested and true books by authors of days gone by. If it’s a New York Times best seller, it’s not going to have content meaningful for the serious and committed Christian.

E. Stanley Jones

Samuel Logan Brengle

S.D. Gordon

R.A. Torrey

E.M. Bounds

Leonard Ravenhill

Hudson Taylor – there is a two volume set written by his son that is exceptionally good.

Elizabeth Elliott

John Lightfoot

Alexander MacLaren

George Mueller

Oswald Chambers