Book Review – Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness (24/11)

What does a warrior, a rights activist and a nun has in common? Answer: They can all be accomplished by a woman. Biographies on women are far and few between. This is why I’m glad Eric Metaxas has written this book highlighting the lives of several accomplished women.

Seven Women: And the Secret of Their GreatnessSome of the women in the book mentioned in the book will probably be known by many, other will probably be new to readers. What makes their lives remarkable is how they were able to showcase their lives for Christ.

Metaxas writes in a very engaging manner giving a chapter summary of each of the women in his book. If you’re new to these people, you will definitely find this book to be an extremely helpful introduction to their lives. What I liked about why Metaxas has written about these people is the fact that he recognises the fact that what makes these women great is not about whether they were able to achieve or out-do what men had already achieved. Rather he wants to write about what women has excel in by their very own identity.

For example, on his chapter on Susanna Wesley, Metaxas reminds readers that Susanna Wesley’s greatness lies in the fact that she was a superb mother who single-handedly had to raise a large family, providing, caring and discipling them and every one of them. This teaches readers that to be a great woman does not mean you have to perform as well as a man, rather you are to be excellent at the identity that God has given to you.

I’ve enjoyed the book, but one drawback of the book is that the comments by Metaxas is rather short. No doubt Metaxas does indicate his opinions throughout the book, if his concluding paragraphs for each chapter was slightly longer it would be excellent. Metaxas does a good job at highlighting the important contribution of each women, I only wish he could have written a more elaborated piece on each of them.

All in all an easy to read book, informative and engaging. If you’re a woman and want to know about what makes this women great, then you should read about them in this book.

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

Advertisements

Book Review – Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (16/11)

Francis Schaeffer has often been term as an important modern intellectual, and having read The God Who Is There by Schaeffer, it sparked my interested to read a biography on him. Through this biography, I’ve grown deeper in my knowledge of the life of Francis Schaeffer, not only so, I have grown even deeper in my appreciation of Schaeffer.

Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic LifeColin Duriez has masterfully written a good biography fit for the important christian thinker. As Duriez traces the life of Schaeffer, he not only brings out what is happening in Schaeffer’s life. More importantly, Duriez shows the progression of the thoughts of Schaeffer. For example, Schaeffer was at first quite adamant about using voice recorders to record his conversations with those living in L’Abri. He felt it wasn’t fair to his questioners that others were able to hear what he thought was private conversations. He was finally persuaded when he learnt that the participants were completely fine with letting others in to this discussion. This then sparked off to the tape ministry that is still in use today.

Duriez also shows very clearly how Schaeffer struggles through the various stages in his life. For example, early in his student life, Schaeffer had decided to embark to study theology towards the end of becoming a ministry. Duriez shows how Schaeffer struggled through in this decision, on one end, he did not want to disappoint his father, yet he knew clearly that God has called him to enter training for the ministry. In the midst of this struggle, Schaeffer with tears pleaded with God for guidance and help and reassurance. He finally emerged and given his dreaded decision to his father. Duriez shows the readers that Schaeffer, like us is one who had to work through his struggles in life, depending solely on the Lord always.

Duriez also shows how the decision to set up L’Arbi was not an ambition of Schaeffer. Rather it was a journey of faith and one filled with dependent on the Lord. In setting up and running L’Arbi Schaeffer faced many issues, funds to buy the location came only at the very last minute. Even in winter logs that had to be very sparingly due to the high cost of firewood, Schaeffer often even sieved through the ashes to see if there’s any firewood was unburned that could be used!

I have enjoyed the many insights that Duriez has highlighted in the life of Schaeffer. I’ve come to learnt how to listen, really listen to everyone who I talk to. These are just some of the lessons I’ve learnt from reading the life of Schaeffer. I hope if you interested to read about his life to pick up this book. I’m quite sure you will go away with a much deeper appreciation of Schaeffer. Schaeffer was not just as an intellectual or apologist, he was also Christian, and one who was truly concern for the people around him, hoping to help them through their struggles in life.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

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

P.S. I would also recommend The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy as an excellent introduction to Francis Schaeffer. Get it here and here (free international shipping).

Book Review – Bitesize Biographies: Ulrich Zwingli (6/6)

Many of us are familiar with the life of Luther and Calvin, they have been in the limelight ever since the Reformation. But how many of us know about life and contribution of Ulrich Zwingli? I have to say that prior to reading this book, I certainly have heard about Zwingli, yet I do not know how he has contributed to the Reformation. Now after reading this biography on him, I have to say, I go away with a great admiration of the life of Ulrich Zwingli.

 Ulrich Zwingli by William BoekesteinWilliam Boekestein has written a short but informative biography on Ulrich Zwingli. Boekestein highlights the major events in the life of Zwingli from his birth till his death. What I enjoyed thoroughly within this book is not just how the life of Zwingli is portrayed, but also it tells the history of Zwingli with the historical context clearly spelled out.

Prior to this, I would have attributed the Reformation of the Swiss to Calvin, but now I know otherwise. Without much influence from Calvin or Luther, Zwingli almost singlehandedly help reformed Zurich to the protestant camp.

The conflict between Luther and Zwingli has also been clearly spelled out giving the readers a clear picture of what the argument was about and how each side dealt with the issue. Boekestein also shows clearly not only the strength of Zwingli but also offers helpful criticism on Zwingli.

If you have not read anything about Zwingli, or are interested to read up about the reformation of Zurich, I highly encourage to pick up this book and read. You will go away highly appreciative of Boekestein excellent effort of this short biography and also of the work done by Zwingli.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping) [sorry, none can be found now].

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

Book Review – God Took Me by Hand: A Story of God’s Unusual Providence (15/4)

Is God truly concern about my life? Some might think that God is not, but Jerry Bridges hopes to convince you to think otherwise.

God Took Me by the HandFor those who have read any book by Bridges, they will agree with me how helpful his books are towards christian living. As such, I was thrilled to see him publish this autobiography. Bridges leads the readers through his life, from his birth till his career and his eventual retirement.

What Bridges brings forth clearly to the readers is how God is personally concern and involved in his life. He recounts how events in his life which should have given him “disadvantages” in life (such as his hearing loss problems) were used by God for His greater purpose. Even when he is assailed with problems in his life, God still is there to take care of him.

I have found this short book to be a testimony to how good God has been to Bridges, and has helped me grown to be more aware of how God is directing my life each and everyday.

If you have read any book by Bridges and you want to know more about his life. I do encourage you to read this book.

Rating: 4 / 5

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

Book Review – My Brief History (31/1)

Stephen Hawking is probably the most famous scientist alive currently. His iconic “voice” alongside with him in his wheelchair certainly comes to mind when one thinks about Hawking. But other than the pictures we see on the news, who really is Stephen Hawking?

My Brief HistoryThis short book is simply about the life of Hawking. He describes himself chronologically, going through his background, his parents and his own life from childhood to the time he was a student at Oxford, achieving his fame through his remarkable researches.

What struck me about Hawking was how mundane a life he had! Other than the debilitating illness that struck him, and how his research was done at an opportune time, Hawking’s life would be pretty normal. I guess even genesises do not live an exceptionally extraordinary life.

The book was very readable and filled with pictures. The only problem I had with the book was when Hawking move to talk about his research, that was much harder to follow, but it was thrilling to see how he explained his findings to us, the readers.

I did enjoy this biography, but found nothing really exciting in his life. So if you’re interested to read about the life of Hawking, do give it a try.

Rating: 3.75 / 5

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

Book Review – From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story (21/12)

History has never occurred in a vacuum, neither do historians live in a vacuum. They are shaped by what has happened in their lives, their upbringing and their topics of interests. This essentially is a book on that, and the historian in view is Mark Noll.

From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian's Discovery of the Global Christian StoryFor those who do not know who he is, you can google/wiki him. But he should be most known for a number of his works, including, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” and “Is the Reformation Over?”. And as much as one may enjoy the fruit of Noll’s labour, one might be interested to know what influenced him and what caused him to be who he is today.

And that is what this book is about, the thoughts, reflections and life of Mark Noll. I must say when I first saw his name on the cover of the book, I was rather interested to read about his thoughts on the missions, or so I thought.

After I’ve finished the introduction, I figured that I was going to be going down a very different path that I intended. As someone who has truly not read any works by Noll yet, I found this book rather intimidating at first, I feared my lack of knowledge would be my downfall. Yet, I was in for a surprise, I can very well say that this may perhaps be a good book for people who like Noll or would to know about Noll a little more than his literary works.

The books generally talks about the influences that Noll had as he was young, what were the things or people who shaped him into who he is today. Noll spends time talking about the major influences in his lives and how those have shaped his research and also his literary output. For most of the chapters, Nolll generally recounts and reflects on incidents that have happened in his life, which though can be interesting at times, it was not what I was looking out for. In his last chapter, Noll presents to the readers some of his own thoughts and reflection on the current modern context. This I felt was the best part of the book (fans of Noll may disagree with me about it!). Noll brings no specific answers but present to the readers many thoughtful pointers that should provoke readers to think further about the topics he raises.

Barring that, this book can also very helpful if you want to know why or how Noll has written some of his books. Noll gives elaborate descriptions on the reasons why and also the situations that brought him about to write what he has written.

So if you want to know about the thoughts, reflections and life of Mark Noll, you should read this book! Or if you’re one who doing research on Noll, this would be a valuable book. If however you wish to read about Noll’s insight into a specific topics, I would redirect you to his other works.

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.

Book Review – Samuel Rutherford (Bitesize Biographies) (30/11)

I’ve heard about this person Samuel Rutherford for some time, even some of his works. But thus far, I do not really know him. So it was with joy that I was able to read this book by Richard Hannula.Samuel Rutherford: Bitesize Biography

This book follows the life of Samuel Rutherford chronologically and highlights the key points in his life. I found this book very enlightening as I really do not know much about the history of the Scottish church and this book not only helped me appreciate the life of Samuel Rutherford but also helps me to have a deeper appreciation of the Scottish church.

Hannula writes in a way that’s very readable and easy to follow. For a novice in Scottish church history, I found that I was able to follow the timeline, and understand the concern they had against the crown. But, some brief knowledge of the english Puritans and the history of England will be needed.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants to have a good introduction to the life of Samuel Rutherford. You will not regret reading this book.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

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

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

Book Review – Ex-Muslim (8/7)

Naeem Fazal was a muslim serving Allah, but now he is now a christian serving the Lord Jesus Christ, and this book is his story how his life has been changed.

1400206073.jpg_4Naeem Fazal certainly lived a unique life, though he was born a Pakistani, he lived in Kuwait. And through many divine interventions came to know the Lord Jesus Christ in the US. This book is well written, recounting the author’s life chronologically (as you would expect from any biography), with in-depth details on the historical and culture context of his own life.

What is good about the book is that it’s very east to read and follow. Not only so, you can get to have a tiny “feel” of what it’s like to be a muslim, though it was not too many to overwhelm you, you do get to see bits and pieces of it scattered around the book. Furthermore, by reading this book, you do get a quick introduction to the basic belief of Islam and Hinduism.

Additionally, Fazal is able to show us how community is an extremely important area for a muslim, and if we intend to reach out to them, this is certainly one area that must never be overlooked. Also, he is able to show how there are some “point of contact” between muslims and christians that we can use to identify ourselves with them, and why the Lord Jesus is the only solution to the problem of sin.

Although much has been said about the Islamization of Europe, this book gives us hope that the muslims are searching for the same thing everyone else is — salvation from our sins, and only jesus can give that.

Although I may not agree with everything said, I do recommend it if you’re interested to read up about how to evangelise to an muslim, and/or if you generally like biographies. I have yet to read “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”, so it’ll be hard for me to conclude which is better.

Rating: 3.5/5

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.

Here’s a trailer for this book

Book Review – Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (18/6)

Books

Jonathan Edwards is often considered as the greatest (if not one of the greatest) theologian in the history of the American Church. But how much do you know about him? His family? And the context he lives in?

0851514944In comes, Iain Murray’s ‘Jonathan Edwards – A New Biography’. Murray first explains his own presuppositions about Edwards and on the biography he has written. Murray then traced the life of Jonathan Edwards chronologically, starting from the first generation of Edwards who came to New England, till the death of Edwards, and also some of his family members.

Along the way, the family members of Jonathan Edwards, was given ample space to let the reader know not just about Edwards, but also about he family that he had, especially his wife and his 2 daughters, Jerusha and Esther.

Murray has done a thorough job by quoting many times, from primary sources, and help any reader see the context that Edwards was in. Not only so, Murray often gives helpful insights and comments on the situation. Jonathan Edwards, warts and all was presented in this biography.

The last chapter talks about how Edwards has been “forgotten” in the past, and is now slowly reaching a wider readership in this generation. Hopefully this book will spur even more readers to read Edwards for themselves.

Although this is definitely not the book I would recommend as a first introduction of a biography to Jonathan Edwards, it deserves careful study, and any Edwards scholar or Edwards enthusiast cannot miss out on this volume, but the reader has to be warned, it’s over 470+ pages and is not for the faint-hearted or the uninitiated. I myself have also “given up” along the way and slowly continued till I was done with the book. Hopefully you’re gain from this book a much better understanding of Edwards, his family and his time.

Rating: 4/5

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