JRF's #28 - A Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur


I have had this book on my shelf for the past six years.  Preaching on Luke 15 gave me the push I needed to dig into it, and I'm glad I did.

In A Tale of Two Sons John MacArthur does what he does best - good old fashioned Bible exposition.  MacArthur shows that by ignoring both the Scriptural context and the cultural context of the parable commonly known as the Prodigal Son most readers have completely missed the point of this Gospel saturated story and failed to see the shocking ending that this cliffhanger of a story points to.

It was refreshing to look at such a familiar passage, taking the time to hear the message through the ears of those to whom Jesus first spoke these words.  I was often brought to tears as I meditated on the scandalous Grace that my Savior joyfully spends on me.

I highly recommend this book as a great exercise in applying solid hermeneutical principles to a familiar passage.  But more importantly I recommend you read this to refresh, renew, and restore your affections and amazement at the unfathomable love that our Lord lavishes upon us.


JRF's #26 - Called to Lead by John MacArthur

This book, formerly published under the somewhat pompous title - "The Book on Leadership", examines the life of Paul and draws 26 leadership lessons from his example.

I don't know if you are ever tempted to skip the Introduction to a book and jump right in on Chapter One, but if you read this book make sure not to neglect the Introduction.  In it, MacArthur defines leadership Biblically, which is quite another thing entirely from Worldly leadership.   That isn't to say that those who are faithful leaders in the Biblical sense will not or can not be leaders in the World, however the means, motivations, and power behind that leadership will be drastically different from those who do no follow Christ.

I also appreciated how MacArthur points out in the introduction that all Christians are called to be leaders in some sphere or another.  At a basic level all Christians are called to be leaders because all Christians are called by Jesus to be "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt 28:20).  To be a Christian is to be a teacher.  To be a teacher is to be a leader.  This book is not just for pastors, or men, or CEO' is for all who seek to be faithful to lead in whatever venue and relationships God has given you.

The first third of the book (and most enjoyable) draws leadership principles from the harrowing account of Paul's journey to Rome as a prisoner and the subsequent shipwreck recorded in the last chapters of Acts.  Seeing as how he was in chains, Paul was the least likely person to lead anyone, let alone an entire ship's crew, her captain, and the Roman Centurion who was charged with keeping Paul in chains.

The second third looks at Paul's leadership of the Corinthian church, as recorded in II Corinthians.  Here the church he had poured his life out for was falling away from him, necessitating both a firm, direct, yet loving rebuke from the apostle as well as a harsh and fierce offensive against the false teachers that were leading the church astray.

The last third of the book examines Paul's final letter, II Timothy, and discusses how a leader should aim to remain qualified to lead and finish his race with integrity.

This book was definitely challenging to me and I ask for your prayers as I seek by God's grace to live out these principles in any and all spheres of influence God places me in.

the 26 Leadership Principles:

  1. A leader is trustworthy
  2. A leader takes the initiative
  3. A leader uses good judgement
  4. A leader speaks with authority
  5. A leader strengthens others
  6. A leader is optimistic and enthusiastic
  7. A leader never compromises the absolutes
  8. A leader focuses on objectives, not obstacles
  9. A leader empowers by example
  10. A leader cultivates loyalty
  11. A leader has empathy for others
  12. A leader keeps a clear conscience
  13. A leader is definite and decisive
  14. A leader knows when to change his mind
  15. A leader does not abuse his authority
  16. A leader doesn't abdicate his role in the face of opposition
  17. A leader is sure of his calling
  18. A leader knows his own limitations
  19. A leader is resilient
  20. A leader is passionate
  21. A leader is courageous
  22. A leader is discerning
  23. A leader is disciplined
  24. A leader is energetic
  25. A leader knows how to delegate
  26. A leader is Christlike


JRF's #22 - The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: I Peter by John MacArthur

I found myself referring to this commentary enough during our Community Group's study of I Peter that I decided to go ahead and read the whole thing so I could get credit for it.

This commentary strikes a balance between being devotional, exegetical, and expository.  If you are looking to go deep into the greek grammar or syntax, this is not the techinical commentary you want.  That said, MacArthur provides enough information on the original language to understand the key points and clear flow of Peter's letter.  MacArthur also digs deep enough to satisfactorily explain tough passages such as I Peter 3:18-22.

At times it feels like MacArthur launches into lengthy rabbit trails that only seem to be peripherally related to the passage in I Peter that he is commenting on.  These rabbit trails are of course interesting and edifying but at times were distracting from the study of the actual passage.

Overall, a great tool for studying and heeding a great book of the Bible.


JRF's #13 - The Fulfilled Family by John MacArthur

This brief little book provides an excellent survey of foundational Biblical principles for "God's design for your home."  Most of the book works through the apostle Paul's instructions for the believing families in Ephesus.  Ephesians 5:22 - 6:4 is the "pivotal biblical passage on the subject," as it deals with "every key relationship in the home."  I found that looking at these key relationships and roles within the framework of the context of Ephesians 5-6 was extremely helpful especially in seeing the God-ordained roles for husbands and wives, parents and children all defined and subject to the over-arching command for families and individuals to live Spirit-filled lives of mutual submission to each other.  Understanding words like leadership, authority and submission Biblically makes it very clear that the roles and responsibilities unique to individuals within families are to be expressions of love that build each other up, not acts of selfishness that destroy.  In other words, leadership and submission defined Biblically are not opposites (as worldly wisdom would assert).  Sacrificial leadership is an act of submission.

I found another helpful aspect of this book to be its focus on principles, not specifics.  Once explaining and expounding the clear, simple principles for God-centered family relationships, MacArthur affirms that there is much freedom and need for parents and spouses to be creative in how they live out those principles.  For instance, in the chapter on parenting, the goal of discipline -addressing the child's fundamental spiritual needs - not the method of discipline, is where the emphasis is placed.  In focusing on key principles and not specifics, this book is able to provide a strong foundation for those wanting to understand God's will and purposes for both their family and the institution of the family in general.  I highly recommend.