June 2015

Facing the Blitz by Jeff KempMy dad used to tell me to hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and expect the unexpected. While you cannot choose what will happen to you most of the time you can choose how you will respond to what does. Life throws curve balls. You need to learn to catch them and throw them back. Like a blitz in football, surprises, though you know they can happen, can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Jeff Kemp, former NFL quarterback and now vice president of FamilyLife, is no stranger to the blitzes both on and off the field. Kemp had a successful 11 year career as a quarterback playing for some great time like the Eagles and 49ers. Since 2012 he has been working with FamilyLife as a speaker and networker as he seeks to strengthen families through Christ. In his book Facing the Blitz: Three Strategies for Turning Trials Into Triumphs, Jeff Kemp shares three strategies to handle the blitzes of life that he has learned in his own life.

In football “a blitz is what happens when an excessive number of defensive players approach the line of scrimmage with the intention of rushing the quarterback and sacking him for a significant loss in yards.” (23) Using the analogy of a blitz, Kemp lays out three strategies for recovering from and responding to the blitzes of life: (1) take the long-term view, (2) be willing to change, and (3) reach out to others. The blitzes of life could be a death in the family, the loss of a business, the death of a dream, a broken marriage, missed opportunities, and more.

Throughout the book Kemp weaves his own life experiences of failure and success, both on and off the field, into the three strategies he presents. He offers wisdom learned on his own, and taught to him by others, in some of his deepest moments of professional and personal failure. In addition to the wisdom and advice he gives, Kemp clearly shows that the ultimate wise choice and lesson to learn in life is that Jesus Christ is the best response to the blitzes of life. Kemp draws on his relationship with Christ and the words of Scripture to guide readers through the hardships of life.

As a Christian, Kemp is committed to pointing people to Christ in every season of life. He is under no illusion that following Jesus will make this your best life now. He understands that following Jesus can often times give life its greatest opportunities for blitzes.

Facing the Blitz is a fun, fascinating, and fruitful look at how one man has responded to the blitzes of life with wisdom and Christ. This is the perfect book for any sports fan or dad.

You can check out the website for the book facingtheblitz.com to see more on the book, additional resources, and Kemp’s speaking schedule to see if he will be speaking near you. You can also check out his professional website at JeffKempTeam.com.

I received this book for free from Bethany House through Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Salvation Applied by the Spirit by Peterson“The most important work of the Holy Spirit in the realm of salvation is union with Christ.” (319)

For several years now the theme of union with Christ has been the focus of a number of great books. Like with most themes in Scripture, no one book or author can capture all there is to know biblically, theologically, exegetically, historically, or practically about union with Christ. There is still more room to write on this deeply rich biblical theme.

That is why students of Scripture and the theme of union with Christ should be excited to read Robert A. Peterson’s new book Salvation Applied by the Spirit: Union with Christ (Crossway, 2015). Peterson’s book is unique among others like it in that he discusses union with Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation as applying the work of Christ to believers. This book is a work of soteriology, Christology, and pneumatology.

The book is divided into two major sections. After a short chapter on the Old Testament background for union with Christ and the Spirit, the first section deals with all of the New Testament verses Peterson believes address union with Christ. Most of the NT books are dealt with individually while the Gospels and some of the smaller NT Epistles are grouped together. Additionally there are two chapters summarizing union with Christ in Paul’s letters. Peterson is quick to point out that much of his work in these two chapters is built on the excellent book Paul and Union With Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study by Constantine Campbell (185).

Essentially, the first section is a catalog look at all of the relevant passages of Scripture related to union with Christ. The format is simple: the text is quoted and then commented on. The text is explained as it relates to union with Christ and, at least this far into the book, very little theological significance is given. The layout of the first section makes it very easy to track with the theme. The reader will quickly see that the theme of union with Christ pervades all of the NT. You will come away from the book wondering how you did not hear more about this theme throughout your years in church under regular preaching and teaching. Preachers take note!

When it comes to union with Christ there are basically three stages to its development in the NT: Synoptic Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles. The first stage takes place in the Synoptic Gospels (John’s Gospel rides the fence between the focus of the Synoptics and the Epistles). Peterson notes that the synoptic Gospels say little to nothing about union with Christ. This is because union with Christ “is a doctrine rooted in Christ’s death and resurrection.” He goes on to say, “It would be unusual to expect a full explanation of union before those events occurred.” (33-34). So the Synoptics give us the life of the one to whom we are united along with the events that make the theme possible. The second stage is in Acts which begins with Pentecost. “Pentecost marks the public announcement of the indwelling of the Spirit and the beginning of his ministry of uniting people to Christ.” (42) Acts shows us the Spirit uniting people to Christ and is the “redemptive-historical prerequisite for the Spirit’s ministry.” (42). The third, and final stage, is seen in the NT Epistles. Peterson says that, “the rest of the New Testament functions to explain what is going on ‘behind the scenes’ in Acts – the Spirit’s uniting believers to Jesus.” (42)

The second section tackles the theme of union with Christ through a theology of the Holy Spirit and then closes with some chapters on application of things learned. The chapters on pneumatology are basically a synthesis of the teaching from the passages considered in the first section of the book. In chapter twenty one Peterson looks at union with Christ from eternity past (pre-creation) to the new creation (eternity future). This views the theme from how God planned the Spirit’s role of applying salvation to believers before creation to how union with Christ looks like for believers and creation alike in eternity.

The next few chapters present a basic sketch of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as seen through His personality, deity, and work (not limited to union with Christ). A complementary chapter is written on Christ since it is to Him the Spirit unites the believer to. The final three chapters discuss the implications of our union with Christ in the Church, the sacraments, and the Christian life.

Salvation Applied by the Spirit is a biblically driven, theologically focused, and practically minded book on union with Christ. Peterson’s wedding of Christology, pneumatology, and soteriology is an excellent example of how to present the interrelation of various theological areas.

In addition to being academically driven this book is spiritually enriching as it calls the reader to reflect on so great salvation as found in the believers union with Christ. You will be moved to devotion, reflection, and meditation of these great truths. This is a book for everyone!

I received this book for free from Crossway for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

40 Questions About Creation and Evolution“No issue has less unanimity among evangelicals than the matter of discerning the best way to relate the doctrine of creation to the scientific theory of evolution.” (23) Thus begins a survey of the various views in 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution by Kenneth D. Keathley and Mark F. Rooker(Kregel, 2015).

While the debates about soteriology and eschatology draw a lot of heat and division, it is perhaps the multi-faceted discussion on the origins of man and nature that bring much more heat than light. From the academy to the church pew, there are so many view points and varieties of view points that it can be hard to keep them straight. What is important to one is not to the other and what is clear to the other is not to the one. Add to that the vast body of knowledge and information that one needs to be familiar with in order just to carry an informed discussion.

With all of the views and books supporting those views it is easy to get lost in it all. This is where 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution comes in so handy. Though the authors are theologians and not scientists (which might be the only downfall to the book), they do an excellent job of presenting the various views with reasoned critiques of every position, including their own (Rooker is young-earth and Keathley is old-earth).

Perhaps the main thing that causes so much more heat than light in the discussion is that people don’t know how to keep the main thing the main thing and the rest of it in proper perspective to that. The authors definitely model how to do this well by stating, “We must know what to hold firmly and what must be open to revision. Our commitment to doctrine must be strong, but we hold to any particular apologetic approach much more loosely.” (17) If you can read this book with a humble and open mind it will help you see that, no matter your view, no view/theory can put together everything we know satisfactorily.

It is the confusion and conflation of doctrine and apologetic approach that is the problem. It is more important to believe that God created the universe and everything in it than how He created it, though what you believe about how He created it has importance as well. It is more important to believe that God created everything than the time frame within which He created it. There is value in ‘iron sharpening iron’ in the discussion of secondary and tertiary issues but they are counterproductive if we allow them to destroy our unity over the fact that it was all done by the triune God, even if we cannot understand the how of it all.

40 Questions About Creation and Evolution is a thoughtful survey of the historical, exegetical, scientific, cultural, and worldview issues related to the debate on creation and evolution. While this book might best benefit those who are new to the study, it is a book for everyone who cares about the issues.

I received this book for free from Kregel for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”