Monday, 29 September 2014

Book Review - Am I Called? (28/9)

What would be the first thing you would do if you feel that you have calling to serve God at full-time  capacity? What are some guidelines you would use in making this decision? And how should you evaluate yourself? Should anyone who have this ‘call’ go ahead and serve God?

Am I Called?Am I Called?’ by Dave Harvey answers many of these questions and more. The book is divided into 3 parts. First, defining/hearing the call, second, diagnosing the call and third, what to do from the call till the time you actually go in and serve.

First Harvey brings out the importance of everyone who thinks that they’re called to the ministry to be called by God first, that is, that they are firstly christian! This might seem to be a topic that’s unnecessary or superfluous for a book that’s about pastoral calling. But Harvey is right to address the call that Christ’s servant must first have: Christ himself in them! It is quite dangerous to assume that just because you have such a calling that you’re without doubt a christian. But Harvey is right to show that God only calls to ministry, those whom He has fore-known and, fore-called to be His sons.

Next, Harvey moves on to discuss about the different qualification a man must have he if he is called to the ministry. Harvey does not derive these qualifications from experience of from his own wisdom, rather he points the readers to various passages that talks about such qualifications and shows what it means for the individual. I felt the section on the agreement of the community with regards to the call was one that was addressed excellently. Harvey is able to show clearly that although the call is individualised, yet it is never individualistic. God calls us, and we are affirmed about this calling in us, though the community. If no one agrees about your call, it’s probably not a calling from God.

In the last section, Harvey then talks about what a person can do, if he’s truly called but still have some time in between his calling and his service. He gives tips and also general directions on what the person could do during this time to prepare himself for the ministry. I felt that this chapter could have been elaborated and lengthened a little bit more. Some of them were really short advises that should have been addressed at a greater length.

Harvey has also very helpfully, placed stories of different individuals called by God as a start-point for his chapters, though the link is that clear, overall, I thought it was a good start to introduce these preachers to would-be preachers. If it creates a desire to want to dig up more information about into their lives, it would certainty be beneficial to them.

If pastors wants to study this book along with some of their leaders, it would be necessary for him to generate some discussion questions to fully utilise the book. But overall the book is short, clear and extremely helpful for anyone who’s clueless about what to do when he feels ‘called’ by God.a

Rating: 4.25 / 5

If you're interested you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Book Review - Can I Really Trust the Bible (26/9)

The Bible has come under many attacks through its history. While this is not unexpected, many christians, and some non-christians after they had read the bible for themselves may be driven to put their trust into what the bible say. But they might really be uncertain about it. In our day and age, it is never advised to dive too deeply into anything. So should a christian really put theiCan I Really Trust the Bibler whole trust in this book? The answer, of course is, definitely we must!

So why should we? Barry Cooper offers 3 answers to why we can put our total trust on the Bible. Furthermore these are not five unrelated answers, rather these are answers flow very well one after another.

First Cooper examines the bible’s claim, does it claim to be God’s word? The answer as will be clear from the book (and from the bible) that it definitely does! Not only does it claim to be God’s word, it has never claims to be anything less than the very word(s) of God. This claim is seen both from what the authors of the individual ‘books’ of the bible says, this is also supported by what Jesus Himself claims it is, the words of God.

Next, Cooper explores to see if the bible seems to be God’s word. In this section, he deals with the archeological and textual support for the bible as a historically accurate document. Showing the readers how if the bible does claim to be the words of God, then these evidences ‘fits’ into it’s claims. If it’s truly God’s Word, wouldn't He, even after 2000 years ensure that we get an accurate message from Him? And He does! What wonderful news is that! He also deals with the questions about the canon of the bible — Why are some books considered to be within the bible, and why are some others excluded? Cooper has also added in a very succinct explanation what evangelical means when we say the bible is without errors and also what it doesn’t mean. I’m sure this will clear up some doubts people have not he inerrancy on scripture.

Lastly, Cooper calls the read to taste and see that the bible is God’s word. I believe that is truly a good way to sum up this book. Far too often, critics of bible do not spend much time actually reading the book they are critiquing. Of course, not everyone who then reads the bible will end up convicted that it is God’s word. But yes, we do believe God’s word is still alive today, if we read His words, He might very well convict us that this book, is no ordinary book, it is rather the very Word of God.

Highly recommend for new believers who are struggling with questions about the bible, those who would like more ‘evidences’ might have to supplement their answers with other materials. But this is a really succinct book that will answer quite a lot of questions that one might have about the Bible. This is the fourth book I’ve read in this series, and have found it extremely helpful! Looking forward to the rest of the series!

Ratings: 4.25 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you're interested you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

And here's the (cheeky) trailer for the book.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Book Review - Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (23/9)

What does the modern-day, sophisticated church has to do with the reformation of the (not so) ancient past? Well… Plenty! In this book, Carl Trueman contends that the churches today (and tomorrow) about the need to recover the spirit of the reformers.Reformation: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

In the first chapter, Trueman first gives an analyses of the current status of evangelicals. First, he described how the evangelicals have lost the spirit of the reformers, specially he explained why the reformers saw the desperate need for the church in their time to be reformed to the centrality of the Gospel and the Word, their motivation and their goal. Then, Trueman commented on how the contention within the evangelical with regards to worship often only differ merely with the outward form, which in his view, is only embracing the reformers outwardly, but missing the precise point of why the reformers saw — a need for the congregation to have a vernacular worship.

In the next chapter, Trueman looks at the theology of glory — looking at God from man’s  point of view vs theology of the cross — looking at God from Christ’s point of view. This branches out of how Luther himself saw the dichotomy of these two teaching and found the teachings to the Church then to be akin to those of the theology of glory, which thinks that God values what man values. In contrast to that, Luther responded by proclaiming that the church needs to embrace the theology of the Cross.

Trueman then raises two examples that he finds the current evangelical circle need to consider, first regarding suffer, How do we understand and view suffering? Are we unknowingly embracing the theology of glory by our preoccupation to shun away from suffering or to deem suffering as bad or ‘not according to God’s plan’? In the next example, Trueman talks about the definition of a truly successful church. Is the successful church one that entertains and attracts and gauges it’s success by numbers? Or by how faithful the word is being preached? He calls the church to recover what they have lost, to re-embrace the true marks of the ‘successful’ church.

In the next chapter, Trueman then focuses on the centrality word of God and preaching what it does, what it is for, and what the training preachers be. And in the last chapter, He elaborates on the doctrine of assurance, and how we can you find it? Do we base it on our feelings? Emotions? Experience? Or rather on what God has done for us, definitively and absolutely, through Christ Jesus death and resurrection?

Essentially, this is a call for the reform-ed (i.e. Protestant) to re-examine the importance of the Reformation and recover the spirit of Reformers. Although this may be a thin book, it does pack a punch and Trueman gives many points for the evangelical to consider how far we are away from the reformers, and to recover from it before it’s too late for us. Recommended for all church leaders and preachers who wishes to be faithful to what God’s Word say.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you're interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Book Review - John (Reformed Expository Commentary) (19/9)

Note: This review is based only on the first chapter of each volume.

John (REC)Richard Phillips has finally published an expository preaching commentary on John. After reading his book, Jesus the Evangelist, I was looking forward to see how he will expound on the whole gospel of John, and now it has come.

As with every commentaries within the Reformed Expository Commentary Series, this is no exception. Phillips handles the text carefully, each verse is explained and expounded, and he does not skim over the text, unlike many preachers today who are pretty fond of doing this. He patiently explains difficult and hard verses unhurriedly, allowing the readers to join in the conversation, and think along with him.

Richards shows the readers how he does his exegesis by explaining his how he derives his point from the verse. It is truly expository preaching, with at least one or two applications for each sermon. I anticipate that this commentary would certainly be of help for preachers who wishes to preach through the whole of the gospel of John, and also for readers who wishes to have a devotional reading of the bible passage in a systematic way.

Rating: 4 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you're interested, you can get get yours here, and here (free international shipping).

Friday, 19 September 2014

Free Kindle for Today (18/9)

Free Kindle for today:

A Quest for More by Paul Tripp

Here's an excerpt of the book:

We all want to be part of something bigger. We seek deep meaning and purpose in life, but so often go to bed feeling empty.

The Bible teaches that we’re hardwired for glory. But when we seek glory in all the wrong places, we’re left wanting.

A Quest for More introduces us to transcendence – the state of being beyond and outside of the ordinary range of human experience. Paul David Tripp reveals how only the Kingdom of God can put us in touch with transcendence.

When you stop living for the kingdom of self, real meaning and purpose is possible. When you stop living for Less, you can be part of something bigger.

Don’t be satisfied with Less. Start living for More.

Here's the book trailer:

Video - What it means to be Gospel-centered (18/9)


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Book Review - Not a Fan (17/9)

I’m a fan of a particular football (soccer) club, and a terrible one. I once abandoned the beloved club which I once supported due to their poor form and performance. I felt bad, but hey, I’m just a fan? I can choose which club I want to support any time I want. Likewise far too many approach Christianity with a fan mentality. Kyle Idleman has seen this phenomenon and wants to write something to address this issue.Not a Fan

First he defines the relationships for christians, he compares the differences between fans and followers. Then Idleman slowly goes through various passages in the new testament, examining how and what it meant for the first disciples when they decided that they want to follow after jesus. Intersperse within the book Idleman uses appropriate modern-day illustrations and also at the end of each chapter, there are personal testimonies of different individuals and what it meant for them to be a follower instead of a fan.

I felt that as i was reading this book that this is especially suitable for youths who have grown up in a christian setting, who are merely following jesus as a fan — only the outward but not as a follower — having both an inward and outward change. Since that was the precise point that Idleman was making through the chapters.

Idleman does a very good job in showing this current generation that christianity has been too blunted down and attempts to calls them to be followers, true followers of Jesus. He calls them to read their bibles honestly and ask themselves if what the bible says is true, would they still follow? Or would they still remain as fan, fan who sits at the sidelines but never actually belong to the team?

Idleman finishes the last chapter with a passionate call to follow jesus with the life of William Borden to serve God wherever, whenever, and whatever. No reserves, no retreats, no regrets. I especially like this chapter as it really shows the reader what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

However, one weakness of this book is the alarming lack of this book is the very lack of gospel to motivate the discipleship. Not much was said about what Christ has done for me, and that is why I want to be motivated to follow Jesus and give my all for him, because He has given His all for me on the cross. This is one area that will need to be addressed if further editions of the book is to be published.

Idleman shows very strongly in this book what it means to follow Jesus seriously. This book is similar to John Macauthur’s ‘Gospel According to Jesus’, but shorter, less aggressive and less gospel.

So if you have any Christians who are fans, but no followers you ought to encourage them to read this book.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you're interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Book Review - A Vine-Ripened Life (16/9)

What does it mean to be a fruitful christian? Growing up as a christian, I knew that fruit bearing was important, but what fruits am I to bear? That was always thoughts that surfaced in my mind as I grew up and over time such thoughts slowly disappeared. Until I did a bible study on the fruit of the Spirit that made me grew in my understanding in this area. Now, after reading this book, I’ve gained an even deeper understanding of it.A Vine Ripened Life

Stanley Gale has attempted to write about the fruit of the spirit in a very unique way. He not only teaches each of the characteristics of the fruit of the spirit. But he teaches it in an expository way, for each of the characteristics, Gale would centre his teaching on one particular text, focusing on how God has first shown the particular characteristics on us, and how we are then to live out that characteristics.

Gale then proceeds to shown 2 important characteristics that are ‘missing’ from the fruit of the spirit, humility and grace. It might seem weird at first as to why the author has added these 2 chapters, but, on further thought, it certainly does make sense. If one grows in the fruit of the spirit, it may cause one to grow in arrogance or pride despising those who aren’t living up to what the fruit of the spirit says. Wouldn’t this be the un-working of the fruit of the spirit? I must say that often, Calvinist and those who are puffed up with knowledge are in desperate need of this chapter. I certainly see that this together with the last chapter of grace were the best part of the book.

The last chapter on grace teaches us on will keep us growing in the fruit of the spirit: Grace. Surely Paul was right! It is only God who can let us grow in the grace-enriched soil.

This book is especially helpful if you want to grow in the understanding of the fruit of the spirit, and would be good for groups as the author has produced very short and helpful discussion questions that will help summarise and consolidate what the readers have learnt in each of the chapters.

Rating: 4.25 / 5

If you're interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Free Kindle Book - Adequate! (15/9)

I've not read this, nor am I acquainted with this author, but it looks to be a good book. Get it while it's still free!

Adequate! How God Empowers Ordinary People To Serve

Adequate! How God Empowers Ordinary People To Serve

Monday, 15 September 2014

Book Review - Organic Mentoring (14/9)

Are there any significant difference between those who grow up in the modern and post-modern era? I’m sure most people will say yes to this question. But what if I asked you, whether there would be any difference between the way we mentor those living in the modern and post-modern times? Would you be able to separate out the differences? How would your mentoring method be different? Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann is here to show us the differences and the changes we will need to make in order to better mentor the current generation.Organic Mentoring

The book is spilt generally into 2 parts, first it explains and shows why there is a need for a new method of mentoring. This half is generally descriptive, telling us about the post-modern generation and how it is different from the modern generation. In the 2nd part, Edwards and Neumann then shows how their new approach of mentoring looks like and what they would potentially accomplish.

On the whole, I felt that the first half of the book could have been shorter, and although Edwards and Neumann does show their depth of research, based mostly on qualitative research findings for the entire book.

One big drawback of this book is the lack of deep biblical teaching. Biblical teaching on mentorship only start substantially at almost halfway through the book, and even so mostly are not exegetical in nature, and deriving application from there, but it seems to be more of this is what the bible say and how we think it fits our model.

However, nearing to the end the book, on the chapter of digital connections, the authors did a superb job in handling this chapter. First they gave a description of how the post-modern generation has been shaped by the digit gadgets they use everyday. Next they showed how the modern generation ought to understand and even use such gadgets to their advantage in mentoring, and lastly the dangers of such gadgets for the post-modern generation. I felt that this was the most well-written chapter in the whole book, it was written in a balance way, highlighting the pros and the cons of the particular topic. Other chapters were more or less tilting to the side of pros and the cons were not well elaborated.

Overall, if you’re interested to have a better idea and picture about how the current generation is different from the previous generation, do read this book. But if you’re looking and hoping to find deep biblical truth in support of it, you will need to supplement it with other books.

Rating: 3 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you're interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping).

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Kindle Deals You Should Know About (13/9)

Another great day for Kindle Deal (no free stuffs though)

A.W. Pink ($0.99)

The Attributes of God

Christian Focus ($2.99)

Christ Set Forth

From Glory to Golgotha: Controversial Issues in the Life of Christ

Minority Report: Unpopular Thoughts on Everything from Ancient Christianity to Zen Calvinism ($3.99)


Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples ($2.99)

How Sermons Work ($4.39)

Book Review - Recovering Redemption (12/9)

Although on the outside this particular book might not look very impressive, you really ought NOT to judge this book by it’s cover. It has been a long time since I've read such a book that has been so clear on the gospel and also on the need for repentance.

Recovering RedemptionMatt Chandler and Michael Snetzer has written such a book that really helps the reader to see their need for the gospel, their need for sanctification and the need to fight for joy in the christian life. Chandler and Snetzer first gives starts at creation and the fall, then they move on to 4 different ways many have tried to salvage the situation and shows plainly why they ultimately fails, then they move on to the one who can solve this situation — Jesus.

The following chapters that follows really are a discipling process where several doctrines are taught and practical issues in the christian lives are considered and discussed. Many of them had very good examples that really brings out what the doctrine mean (I especially liked the illustration the used on sanctification). Practically, the authors also dealt issues like guilt, anxiety, fear, reconciling, forgiving, etc… and were all taught biblically and practically.

After I read this book, I can’t help but think of how I can recommend others to read this book. It’s really a great book. My only complain would be a lack of discussion questions. Although the contents of the book is really excellent, one wonders if those who are not as exciting about their faith would even bother to read it unless someone else was encouraging and discussion with them about what they have learnt. No doubt, it could be argued that everyone with such a burden would have thought about their own discussion questions on their own. Yet, I do think the book would be better served if the readers discusses about what they had learned in each chapters.

This book, I think will be a classical in the future, for it’s practicality and also the faithfulness of biblical teaching. I would recommend anyone who wants to really know about their christian faith or wants to grow in them to read this book.

Rating: 5 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

If you're interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Here's a video trailer for the book.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Kindle Deals You Should Know About (12/9)

New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology ($3.99)

The Ten Commandments

Enthroned On Our Praise,

The Lord's Supper,

The End of the Law,

Lukan Authorship of Hebrews,

Sermon On The Mount: Restoring Christ's Message to the Modern Church,

God's Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments,

Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged,

Believer's Baptism,

The Messianic Hope: Is the Old Testament Really Messianic?

Profiles in Reformed Spirituality ($2.99)

An Honest and Well-Experienced Heart: The Piety of John Flavel ($1.99)

A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ-Centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin

May We Meet in the Heavenly World: The Piety of Lemuel Haynes

Trading and Thriving in Godliness: The Piety of George Swinnock

A Consuming Fire: The Piety of Alexander Whyte

A Scribe Well-Trained: Archibald Alexander and the Life of Piety

A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards

"The King in His Beauty": The Piety of Samuel Rutherford

Too many choices for you to choose and not sure what to get? How about a Giftcard?

Book Review - Biblical Portraits of Creation (11/9)

It used to be that Genesis was a really simple, straightforward book to study, no big controversies maybe other than the JEDP documentary hypothesis (and if the pastor doesn't want to talk about it, it’s still relatively fine). Now however, the tide has turned. It’s one of the few books of the books that has been contested and even contested fiercely within the Christian and evangelical circles. Due to that, books that have appear on the shelves on Genesis have sometimes gone rather technical. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for such books. But it has created a barrier that Genesis is a difficult to study, when in reality it shouldn’t.Biblical Portraits of Creation

Although this is not a book on Genesis, it is however a book centred on creation, it might seem strange and indeed felt a little weird when I first started to read them. However, the authors' intention for this book is to ensure the church is not so lob-sided that we stay away from it due to the current controversies regarding it. And I agree there has been a lack of teaching on Genesis meant for the layman.

This book is really a series of sermons each expounding on one portion of passage with regards to creation. Overall I felt that the passages selected had a great spread, although sometimes we might only be able to think of 2 to 4 bible passages that are linked to creation, Walter Kaiser and Dorington Little are able to use some not-so-familiar passages to deliver on this topic. This is to be commended, they have helped me to that creation is not just a few passages linked only to creation, but the bible has many more passages that talks about it!

Having said that, I do have to say that there was one particular chapter that I thought didn't fit in this book, and that was about the genealogy of Jesus, sure, I’m aware that the greek word comes from genesis, yet, I do think it’s a bit of a stretch to make that point in this book.

Overall, I felt that the sermons by Little was slightly better, Kaiser’ ones were sometimes more technical and had more pointers and sub-pointers. However, located at the appendix is an essay by Kaiser, and that is a superb article! I felt that particular piece should be well worth the price of the book. You really ought to read it. Kaiser and Little have also very wisely added in discussion questions for each and every chapter, anticipating, in fact encouraging readers to use them in conjunction with their sermons.

In summary, if you want to have a book that speaks particular on the topic of creation, yet not too technical, this is the book to go. You’ll be able to learn not just biblical teachings from them, but also pick up some relevant application points along the way.

Rating: 3.75 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you're interested, get it here, and here (free international shipping).

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Book Review - From Jesus to the Church (9/9)

I’m personally not a great fan of history. I find that having a deluge of dates, names and places rather intimating, and don't usually find myself reading any books on history. However, I was quite intrigued by the title of this book, plus it didn't seem to be a super thick book and thus attempted to read this book. I must say, this book has been very insightful and perceptive, I came away with a deeper appreciation of the early church history.

From Jesus to the ChurchWithin this book you will find many helpful background info which you normally do not find elsewhere, for example there were many revolutionaries that had tried to revolt against the Rome governance. These revolutionaries, like Jesus, were often executed in the bid to stump the revolt, or are being intimated by the Rome governance. And these ‘solutions’ were often very effective in solving these problems.

Craig Evans first attempts to answer the question about the link between the temple (Jewish) and the Church (Christians), specifically, he wants to show the readers that the forecast of the destruction of the temple was one of the key prediction of Jesus judgement on the corrupt Jewish leaders and shows that Jesus does have the church in mind, but not in the same way as what we might often think. Evans handles this question very carefully, being careful to examine how the new testament authors used the words ‘synagoge’ or ‘ekklesia’ in their writings. Admittingly, I felt the first 2 chapters the most difficult to comprehend, but this is not due to any fault of the author!

Next, Evans examine how Jesus himself proclaims the kingdom of God, what he means by it. And how the Old Testament should shape our understanding of the concept of the kingdom of God. What is clear is that, this kingdom already has in mind the inclusion of the Gentiles even within the Old Testament. Therefore the inclusion of Gentiles into Christianity is not something novel, rather it is a outworking of what the Old Testament passages were writing about.

The third chapter talks about how James, rather than Peter was early church leader was exceptionally well written. In it, he interacts with Acts very well, and attempts to show that James was indeed the leader at that time. This was my first time hearing this, and I would have hope to see how Evans would have had attempt to explain John 1:42, where Peter is called the rock. Within this chapter, Evans also explains about the apparent ‘differences’ between James and Paul with regards the faith and work, and this was very well handled. This was the best chapter within the book and would be well-worth the price of the book.

Lastly, Evans ends by explaining why the church moved from a Jewish majority in the beginning to a Gentile majority thereafter, essentially the ‘stumbling blocks’ for the Jews to believe in the Risen Christ.

This book is exceptionally well-written and would be insightful for many. It has certainly helped me in my exegesis of the New Testament, being more careful to ask myself how would the first readers have understood this text. I do encourage pastors or motivated laypeople to read this book, and reap from the knowledge you would be able to gain from it.

Rating: 4 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you're interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Book Review - Hidden in the Gospel (7/9)

Gospel, it’s something no one can have enough of. But many a times Christians lived as if we do not need the gospel, or we’ve somehow outgrown our need for it. It’s often heard that the non-christians need to gospel, but when was the last time you heard a sermon on how much we as christians still need the gospel?

Hidden in the GospelIn this book, William Farley writes especially for christians, to remind us of our deep and desperate need for the gospel each and everyday. This book is really a mini-systematic theology on soteriology, but a lot less intimidating and a lot more winsome.

Farley first concentrates on the importance of the need for christians to be preaching the gospel to themselves each and everyday. We often need to be reminded of the marvellous gospel of what God has done for us, through Christ Jesus. Failing to do that, we will be swayed away by our situations, our thoughts or our feelings. We moved from being God-centered, to me-centered. Salvation becomes how am I performing, rather than what Christ has performed.

Farley then moves systematically, from election to incarnation, death, resurrection and accession of Christ. Then ends off with Christ’s return and the new heavens and earth. This is really a good book especially for those who are reformed, too many a times, in the pursuit of correct doctrine, we at a loss of their applicational purposes. Farley remedies it by showing the readers how each and every doctrine is comforting for christians. There is even example prayers at the end of each and every chapter to help the reader be able to visualise what all these doctrine mean for us.

This would be a great introduction to the christian faith, for those who are young and old. However, I would recommend going through the book together if the reader is younger, as the person might see the influx of these doctrines as overpowering. For the young, it introduces some very good doctrine, in an easy to understand manner. For the old, it will help us be thrilled with the gospel again. It has been a good reminder, and I anticipate myself reading this every 1 or 2 years. I certainly need this reminder always.

I felt that it would be even better if there was a specific chapter on sanctification, and/or on mortification of sin/repentance. It’s not that these are not talked about in the book, but maybe a specific chapter on these 2 topics would make this great book even better. Certainly recommended for Christians young and old, be prepared to be thrilled and grateful for what God has done for terrible sinners like us, because of His great love, mercy and grace for us. Soli Deo Gloria!

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you're interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Book Review - How Can I be Sure? (Questions Christians Ask) (5/9)

Doubts — every christian faces them in their life. So what do we do with them? Are doubts bad? Often when youths come to me with doubts they’re almost too ashamed to talk about them. So how should a christian deal with the genuine doubts we have?

How Can I be SureJohn Stevens has written a short and extremely helpful book on this important topic. Within the book, Stevens gives several examples of situations where christians faced with different kind of doubts, which is what he defines in the first chapter, and also highlights that not all doubts are wrong. Next, Stevens dwells on the topic of why some doubts are dangerous, essentially, some doubts do lead to disbelief, although that just means they were never really christians.

Following which, Stevens explores the benefits of doubts, how we can grow from it, and more importantly, how we can overcome our doubts in our christian lives.  Here is where Stevens differ from the rest of the apologetics style books, Stevens helps the readers to see that our own spirituality, and also our community plays a vital role when we deal with doubts. Which is what he further elaborates on in the next chapter, how to develop our faith so we will not doubt. This I think make the book very comprehensive. It not only wants to help believers deal with any doubts they might have currently, more importantly, it encourages and persuades readers to grow spiritually once their doubts are resolved.

Lastly, Stevens provides a short appendix for christians who have various doubts to refer to. For a book of this length, one might not expect much from it, but do not be deceived by how thin it is, this book achieves what it sets out to do, and with much clarity and gentleness! I would recommend this book especially to new or old believers, who are dealing with doubts, and for pastors to learn how to deal with doubts pastorally. One can only wished this book had been published earlier!

Rating: 4.75 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you're interested you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Bible Study Wednesday - John (4) (3/9)

John 2:1-12

1On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Big Idea: Jesus manifested (showed) his glory (what is mentioned at John 1-2) by changing water into wine, which resulted in the his disciples believing in Him.

Big Aim: Do I believe in Jesus, not as a good moral teacher? But as one who is truly God incarnate?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Book Review - Churches Partnering Together (2/9)

I come from a small church, but often we think with a big church, ‘we-are-independent’ mentality, so much so we hardly work with other churches. This book is a good start to how my church can start to solve this issue.Churches Partnering Together

It’s a wonder why no such books has been published thus far! For the christian faith that has always  around koinonia and the unity of the church, it is indeed bewildering why churches far too often chooses to work alone rather than in partnership with others and i think that is one of the reason why the churches often has too little effect on the society it’s in (of course, there are many more factors to this).

Bruno and Dirks first defines the terms of what the partnership is and is not. Bruno and Dirks centres partnership around the kingdom mindset. This is a valid point, too many churches are too centred around their own local church and therefore most of the time sees partnership, at worst, as pointless, or problematic, and mutually beneficial, at best. There has been a deep lack of kingdom mindedness in our culture today.

Bruno and Dirks then covers in a step by step format what churches will need in order to form good, well grounded partnership. Although I’m not entirely convinced on some the biblical text they used as foundations on their principles, overall I find them practical and sensible. It covers everything from starting, whilst in the midst of partnership and also how to move on after the partnership has reached it’s goal.

All these finally cumulates into the last chapter when it is all “put together”. This is a book that many church leaders and pastor should first read and then to seriously consider how they can partner with other churches, so that by our working together, we can attempt to do more and bigger stuff and that finally God will be glorified more and more.

Rating: 4/5

If you're interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.


Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Book Review - The Stories We Tell (31/8)

Chances are, you most likely would spend at least some times watching television or movie every week. The approach that christians often take in respond to this are usually asking what can I watch or not watch? What is right or wrong about this film/video? It seems as though Christians thinks that the shows and movies tell us nothing more than that.The Stories We Tell

Mike Cosper thinks otherwise and wants to show christians that movies and television does tell stories, stories that christians can easily resonate with. Cosper argues that these stories do, in one way or another show glimpses of the gospel truth, in one shade or the other, in one facet or another.

Cosper first explains the Grand Story, the story of the bible, and from it, he picks out the various main themes that runs throughout the bible, these will need be the ‘lens’ that Cosper will use to help the readers pick out and see traces of these in the various shows and movies. Cosper then goes through 8 of such lens through each chapter.

Each chapter was first explained and illustrated within the biblical context, to show the readers that these really can be done within the bible (ie. the author is not making these up!) then he would run through various shows or scenes that (sometimes intentionally) portrays topics, as examples.

I must say that as I read this book, I do find myself watching a film or watch with these lens, not that prior to these I was just ‘watching’ a show, but the strength of this book is that Cosper does manages to pick up some of the more subtle topics (or sub-topics) and the examples he give are tremendously helpful. Even though I really do not watch a lot of shows, there’s enough description within the text that allows me to ‘catch’ the point and example.

An additional value to this book is how it can be used as a conversational starter towards evangelism, many a time as I was read, I did envision myself, if I did managed to catch such topics to be able to use them as starters to engage my non-christians friends after the show.
Finally, I do not think there’s any book out that at this moment that helps christians see movies in this particular way, and therefore I do think christians should read this book, pastors, students, parents. This would be helpful to you personally, and also helpful as you interact or ministers to others as well. Pastors could even use these as a stepping stone to learn how to get illustrations they could use in the future when they are preaching these topics.

Rating: 4.25/5

If you're interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.