Book Review – Passing Through (20/7)

What one word would you use to describe the christian life? More and more, I think the word pilgrim is the perfect word to describe the christian life. That is also what Jeremy Walker wants to convey to his readers.

Passing ThroughWhy is pilgrim the word to describe the christian life? Because it tells so clearly that we are on a journey — the journey to our real home. For far too many christians, we find ourselves far too often living for the here and now, rather than living as pilgrims. Yet, we are taught so clearly in the bible that we are not to live for this age alone, rather we are to live this life and waiting to transit for the world to come.

Walker does this excellently in this book, he reminds readers that we must live this life as pilgrims who are just passing through. Walker traces this through for us in the first part, show us how the bible teaches us that we are to live as pilgrims in this world.

Walker does this by introducing the reader to the environment we’re in, and also tells us about the vicious enemy that we’re facing. As christian we shouldn’t be surprise if the world hates us, the bible tells us that this world is at enmity with Christ and His followers. Conversely, we must learn to understand our times and not seek friendship with the World.

Walker then brings the readers to see the need to actually fight the battle. We don’t just read about the enemy, we must face against the enemy. We fight the enemy using the strength and weapon provided by the Lord, and patiently endure any suffering that come with it.

Lastly, Walker reminds the readers our destiny at the end of our pilgrimage where we and the whole of creation will be made perfect, where we will be fully holy and will see God face to face and where we will spend eternality with God in heaven, world without end.

What is great about this book is how Walker always helps the readers see what the scripture says about these topics. He always puts the bible verse out clearly to his readers then moves on to explain and show the application of the text. This book will help to ground christians to see why their journey as a Christian is but a pilgrimage. Similarly, it will help them be able to walk this journey with an informed knowledge.

What I thought could be improved is how Walker could have spent more time talking about how the pilgrims journey together in a community. Our pilgrimage is certainly not done in isolation, but within a community of believers. But I must say as I was reading this book, I am reminded again of my identity as a pilgrimage and not to make this world my permanent home. I’m thankful for this book and hope christians will pick up this book and read it.

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

Book Review – Glory Hunger: God, the Gospel, and Our Quest for Something More (1/7)

We are all glory hungry creatures, we hunger for glory because we are made this way. God has made us to crave for Him, instead we would rather crave for something less than God.

JR Glory Hunger: God, the Gospel, and Our Quest for Something MoreVassar shows us how we should live not for our own glory, but rather to live for God’s glory. First Vassar brings us to the beginning. He shows us how scriptures portrait the original picture to us. That Adam and Eve were made in God’s image to reflect God’s glory in the whole of creation. Yet this picture is quickly smashed, by the introduction of sin. Now instead of reflecting God’s glory, we want to be absorbed in glory. Yet, in our never-ending pursuit of glory, we are never filled, we are never satisfied, we will never feel secured despite how much we try to achieve.

Next, Vassar points us to the salvation God has provided. Only Jesus can put an end to our endless pursuit of self-glory. Our Saviour teaches us that life is not around us, rather he shows us what life should be, life that revolves around the Master of the world. Vassar then tell us to look to the cross to see what it says about us. It tell us that we are not as awesome as we often think we are. In fact, it tells us that we are sinners who constantly sin against our God, yet in His grace, he chooses to save us, by sending his Son to die for us on the cross. The cross is the mirror that deflates our inflated view of ourselves.

We live in the age that glorify the self, as such I would think that this book is good for any christian. It teaches us how Christ has told us to live our lives, to deny ourselves, take up our cross and to follow Him. Let’s live for something bigger than ourselves, let’s live for the One who created us, and for who all things live for.

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

Book Review – Counter Culture (14/6)

I usually do not like reading books that claims that Christians can change the world/revolutionised  the world. I usually find them too far fetched or too arrogant in their claims. This book however was very different from such books. Although one might think that this book teaches how christians can do great things to change the world, this book does otherwise.

Having seen a receCounterculturent rave on this book, and having read and heard about David Platt previously, I decided to try reading this book although this is a topic I usually skip. I have found that this book does not attempt to tell you what you can do to change the world, this book however will deeply challenge how serious you take the christian faith.

Platt first starts by affirming that the most counterculture thing in the christian faith is the gospel. This I found was a point at has often been skipped over by other christian authors. Often, what is considered to be countercultural is actually the implications of the gospel (you should be…). Platt however sets the picture straight, the most countercultural thing is that God saves us by His grace through faith in Christ Jesus, and that remains always to be the most counterculture aspect of the christian faith.

Next, Platt raises to the reader’s attention several issues that challenges the christian who are living in comfort. He tackles the issue of poverty, showing how it affects the rest of the world and what we can do to help solve this problem. Time and time again, Platt points out several simple things in life that we take for granted, but these are actually huge problems in various part of the world. He challenges the christians living in modern times to examine our lives and to see how we can fight for what is biblical. Added to his, Platt often gives example of what is happening near the home. His examples do not just consists of stories that happened in a far away land, no, he often gives examples of what is happening within United States.

I have gone away being deeply challenged by this book. I have been challenged not to change the world by doing something big for God, but I have been challenged to change the many aspects of my lives so that I can be countercultural at where I am. I highly encourage all christians to give this book a read, you might be challenged to examine your lives and change your way of live because of it.

Rating: 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

Book Review – Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety With Peace (8/6)

All of us live with different worries everyday. But as most christians will soon discover, Jesus calls us not to worry about tomorrow for today has enough trouble of its own. So how can a christian live out Jesus’s word faithfully? Timothy Lane has written a book that helps to address this.

Living Without WorryFirst, Lane defines the term worry for the readers. He shows the readers that worrying within the bible often talks about a mind that is distracted to the point that it is overly-concern about the issue.  Next, Lane takes the readers through 3 time zones where we often find ourselves worrying about — the past, the present and the future.

Lane shows the readers that in Christ, our past can no longer condemn us. In the midst of our struggles with anxiety, it important to constantly find ourselves bringing our sorrows to God, bring to mind His wondrous works in redeeming us, and also to find encouragement and support within the community.

Lastly, Lane gives us practical steps that we can take to help us be less anxious. This includes cultivating a heart of thanksgiving, constant self-examination and working out the issues. Lane also raises truths that helps christians think through about their anxiety, for example, Lane shows how the book of James reminds the readers that our life is short and unpredictable, and it is only when we begin that realise that the world rest on the God for whom life is neither short nor unpredictable, can we find solace.

The book is filled with biblical truths that really aims to help christians deal with their anxiety, be it if you struggle with Generalised Anxiety Disorder or PTSD, Lane is able to help you do these issues biblically. I highly recommend anyone struggling with anxiety to read this book and to see how God and Christ can help you in your struggles.

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.

Book Review – The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World (1/6)

Should a Christian always be happy? Or morbid? Perhaps some might think that it is more “biblical” to be morbid that happy but David Murray has actually written this book to help christians be happy christians.

The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy WorldIn essence Murray wants to highlight the importance of joy and happiness in the christian life. But rather than just showing the benefits of being positive, Murray also wants to show that being positive is actually biblical. He brings 10 ideas to the readers and shows how each of them can help us be happy Christians.

Murray first shows how psychology and science has shown how important happiness is to the general health of a person. From it, he wants to teach and show how we can learn to reframe our thoughts and see things in a new light. Things that might have caused us to be frustrated, when viewed from a Christian perspective might even cause us to be thankful for it.

Murray also reminds the readers of very basic truths that christians should be happy about. For example in one chapter he writes about the good news of our salvation found in Christ. Or in another chapter, Murray writes and shows how the church is more about Christ than about Christians, and how we can learn to love those who are unlike us.

All in all, I have found this book to be a good read and backed up secular statistics or research. Though I would have preferred that Murray built up the foundation from biblical foundations first, this book is still backed with many biblical truths and principles. If you want to know how you can be happy despite the many troubles in life, this is one book that you should read.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

If you are 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 – Rejoicing in Lament (26/5)

One of the most frightening disease one can have is cancer, let alone one that is definitely incurable. Added on to this, many of us do not know how we should respond to such news. Should we pray for healing? Or should we pray for something else? How should I encourage the other person?

Rejoicing in LamentHaving some first hand experience, J. Todd Billings has written a book to help christians struggle through this issue. He also wants to help christian think christianly about such issues. First, Billings brings us through his own history, how he came to received the dreaded news that he was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Next, he brings the readers through some of the questions that he thought about constantly and how he has learnt to continue to trust in God despite what has happened.

Next, Billings brings the readers through what lamenting looks like in his life, and how he can lament honestly to God. Yet at the same time, in the midst of lamenting, he not only learns but shows us how we can rejoice even in such a situation. He also gives very helpful advice on how and what we can pray for, for an individual with such an illness.

The next chapter talks about the treatment that Billings underwent. I found this chapter to be excellent and probably the best chapter within the book. In his treatment, Billings literally has to be treated with poison that incapacitates his immune systems and renders him powerless against any harmful pathogens. Reflecting on this, Billings reminds us how we as sinners desperately need strong treatment, treatment so strong that our Saviour had to died, to give us new life in Him.

Billings ends the book with a summary befitting of the book. He leads the readers to the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism, “What is my only comfort in life and death?” to which the answer will be “That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ”. Billings reminds the readers that despite what might or could happen, our greatest assurance lies not in whether we will be freed from a terminal illness. Rather, our greatest assurances lies in the fact that no matter what happens, we will always and forever belong to our great God and Saviour, both body and soul, assured by the blood of the Lamb.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is currently wrestling with similar issues in life. This is a thought-provoking and honest book that seeks to teach good theology that will ground believers through their struggles. Individuals who intend to counsel those with terminal illness also ought to read through this book, it will help them see the situation through the eyes of one who actually had to undergo through all these.

Rating: 4.75 / 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 – Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down (27/4)

What does an ordinary christian look like? You might think that an ordinary christian looks rather ordinary, lives ordinarily and acts ordinarily. However, If we really live our lives faithful to what Jesus has taught us, our ordinary christian lives, might not be that ordinary at all.

Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside DownTony Merida has written a book to show christians what it means to be an ordinary christian. You might be wondering why Merida should write a book on being “ordinary” as opposed to be being “extraordinary”. But after reading this book, you will find that simply being an ordinary christian makes us extraordinary in the world.

Merida brings to attention five traits that are often overlooked or neglected in our christian walk. This is important as these are the traits that the first christians displayed in when they became christians. This was what made them so different from their non-christian counterpart.

The first trait Merida raised was humility. In a day and age where there is a lot of emphasis on self-promotion, Merida reminds us that humility is really one of the marks of a true christian. Merida shows the readers that unless christians depend fully on God, they will not be able to accomplish anything based not their own efforts.

Following which Merida brings across the remaining 4 traits — hospitality; caring for the orphans; speaking up for the voiceless and showing neighbourly love to the people around us — in the context of social justice. Merida reminds the readers that these are not things that only extraordinary christians do, but these are what christians should have already been doing. Merida shows the readers that the bible teaches these truths and we are far too lax in keeping them. Merida brings the readers through different stories to help the readers visualise the scenes he has seen. This helps the readers understand the situation the world is in, and also highlights the need for us to act and to act fast!

Even though it is clear that we may not be able to eradicate these problems, Merida reminds us that we ought to be christlike in our thoughts, speeches and in actions. I am thankful that Merida has raised these issues for the ordinary christians, and I agree with him that theses are things that the ordinary christians should have been doing, and should continue to be doing.

I hope families and church will read this book and see how they can be doing social justice just through ordinary means, in faithful obedience to our Lord and Saviour.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you are 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 – The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts (20/4)

We know we are to worship God alone and not mammon. But, how can a christian learn to enjoy the good things that God has given to us? To put it plainly, is it wrong to even enjoy the good things God has given us? Many christians may find themselves ridden with guilt when they feel they enjoy the things of the world far too much.

The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His GiftsJoe Rigney aims to help christians grow in this area. He wants christians to know how to enjoy God, by learning how to enjoy the things of this world. Rigney first helps the readers understand who God is, and about his role in creation. He is the director, the one who directs all things in the whole of creation. Next, he shows the readers the distinction between creator and creature, showing us how we should live as creatures created by God. Following which, he presents the problem that we face in our lives, the problem of sin. Rigney helps the readers to see that the problem lies deep in our heart, we are wont to worship anything else but God. Yet, though we are laid with such impossible problem, God has saved us through His Son Jesus Christ. Now, we are free to worship God! And one of the way we worship God, is through the proper use and appreciation of the gifts He has given to us.

Ringer then very helpful raises the issue of what it means to deny ourselves. Although God has given us these gifts to be enjoyed, these are things we can give  up so that others may also enjoy these gifts. In fact, Rigney points out to the readers that the bible calls us who are rich to be generous to those who are poor. Lastly, Rigney reminds us of our creatureliness and to live amongst our gifts in the midst of suffering and death.

I have found this book to packed with biblical teaching and it has helped me deepen my understanding of how to be appreciative of the things I have in life. I have learnt much, and found Rigney to be an excellent author. Highly recommended for those who are working, You might be thinking about how to deal with the things you have in your life. This will be a book you should be reading.

Rating: 4.5 / 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

Book Review – Prepare (Living Your Faith In An Increasingly Hostile Culture) (4/3)

Is Christianity under attack? Yes and No. Yes it is starting to be attacked, but no, much of the western world has not face the same level of persecution that our fellow brother and sisters in other parts of the world has.

PrepareCrucially, there is a need to be prepared to be ready to suffer. As such, J. Paul Nyquist has written a book that calls christians to be ready to suffer, perhaps in the near future.

Nyguist first sets the picture for the reader. He shows how the society has slowly changed and now, the society is no longer friendly for christians to live out their faith, in fact, it has slowly but surely turn hostile towards those who wishes to live according to what the bible says.

Having listed down the changes that led to what is happening today. Nyguist then shows the readers that the comfortable lives that christians enjoyed in the west is not what should be expected as normal.

In fact, Nyguist then lists 5 characteristics that christians should be familiar about. First, he tells the readers that persecution is the norm, not the exception. Next, persecution is blessed, not a cursed from God. Third, christians has long been exposed in the society rather than the specially protected group. Fourth, what we should response in these situation should be compassion towards our enemies, not outburst of angry. Lastly, there is a reward that awaits for those who suffer, God has not and will not forget His people despite what is happening.

Having reminded his readers the basic truths of christianity, Nyguist then gives the readers hope that we can have when we are suffering. First, he points the readers to God, the source of our help and hope. Next, he shows us what is happening to our fellow christians in Pakistan, how despite their suffering, people are turning to Christ. Lastly, he brings us with a deep longing for a supernatural work of God – Revival. He reminds us that God can, and might work in a supernatural way, causing many hearts to turn towards Him. With that, he leaves some advice on how Christians can handle persecution should it ever comes to us in the near future.

I found that this book has very helpfully reminded today’s christian by highlights points that many of us might have conveniently forgotten. We are to expect persecution, it has come on many of our brothers and sisters, and it may found unto soon too. We should be prepared for that. I also found the advice by Nyguist to be very well-balanced, he does not push to either extreme and tells the readers that at times we might have to suffer for it, yet at times we can defend ourselves form it.

This book is really suitable for any Christian who would want to be reminded what Jesus means when he says that following him means taking up our cross to follow him. I enjoyed reading this book, and recommend that you read it too.

Rating: 4.5 / 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

Book Review – The Grand Paradox (28/2)

‘Paradox’ – that would be one word to describe the christian faith. Our faith teaches us to lose our life to gain it, to bless those who curse us, to pray for those who persecute us and that the meek will inherit the earth. So what does it mean for us to be followers of Jesus? What is the christian faith about?

The Grand ParadoxThis is what this book wants to communicate to us. Ken Wystma presents to his readers topics and issues in the christian faith that might often be overlooked. I especially like his chapter on doubt. Wystma writes honestly to his readers that christians, even faithful christians doubt certain things in their faith. To have doubts is not wrong, yet it is necessary for us to be honest with these doubts and to wrestle with them honestly.

Wystma also help readers wrestles with the paradoxical truths within the bible. Wystma must be commended for his efforts to help christians think through about such issues. In this day and age where the prosperity gospel thrive and grow, Wystma shows us that there are indeed hard truths in the faith which we must be prepared to accept and believe.

Having said that, I did however find that the book did not have an overarching direction. As such, it seems as though each chapter was individually independent from another. Each chapter was easy to read and understand and would be suitable for any christian. I do not have any particular recommendation for any age, but I would think this book would be aimed towards new believers or for believers who are very comfortable with the christian faith. Perhaps this book will help you see how our faith might not be as simple as what we think.

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