Book Review – Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel (23/12)

Is America a Christian nation? In the recent years this notion seemed to have been challenged deeply. Yet Russell D. Moore will argue that this notion is completely wrong. America has never been called to be a christian nation and we better not have this notion at the back of our mind.

Onward: Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the GospelWithin this book, Moore wants christians to wake up to the reality that although the privilege of being in a “christian nation” has now disappeared, that is actually for the better for christians. Moore highlights the various differences that will happen to christians now. One such difference is that Christians will have to embrace a prophetic role. We have to be like the prophets of old who boldly proclaim God’s Word to a people who will not be happy with us and who will not listen to what we have to say. By the looks of how things have been going, it looks like this is very likely to happen in the near future.

Having raised his observation at the American culture and thinking, Moore then brings in different topics that he wants readers to think about. Moore very carefully helps the readers to think through these topics biblically, rather than thinking through them politically or culturally. These chapters seems to be a good wake up call for all christians on either side of the issue. Moore is careful not to push readers to the position he takes, rather he helps readers think through their own position critically and examine to see if it is really biblical or just seemed biblically.

I really appreciate how Moore ended his book calling christians not to have a defeatist mindset, rather we have to look ahead to how God will lead His own people. Our trust remains on God, the same God who has used a cult following, promiscuous man (Augustine) to further His kingdom in ways no one would have expected. I liked how Moore reminds us that the next person God might use for His kingdom may jolly well be the one who is fighting for the LGBT marriage rights or the right to abortion, just like how Saul, the persecutor of the church was miraculously changed to the apostle Paul. Moore leaves the readers with great expectation that God can and maybe will do great things in the near future. In the meantime, let us learn to live lives faithful to what the Bible calls us to and loving proclaim what God has spoken to us to the world.

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

P.S. If you might also be interested to get Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread: Taking Aim at Everyone by Carl Truman, who gives thoughtful critiques on what’s happening in the evangelical circles. Here is my review on it. And you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

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 – 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 – Overrated (14/11)

For a book that’s titled ‘Overrated’, it certainty hopes not to live up to it’s title. So does it? I think it’s hard to give a clear answer to it.

overratedEugene Cho has written a great book to challenge the mindset of christians who wishes to change the world, but are not willing to live a life that will truly change the world.  First Cho tackles the idea that we are much more in love of the idea of changing the world/loving justice, than actually doing it. Because in order to truly do that, we would need to pay some cost for it, and frankly, we are not in love enough to do just that. He tackles the problem that far too often christians wants to follow the hype instead of truly wanting to changing the world.

Next, he tackles the problem of shallowness in our era. This chapter is very insightful especially for those who are generally younger. I agree with his observation that, generally youths today are far too shallow and do not even grow in-depth in and at what they’re serving or helping. They’re more inclined to assume that by doing activities these are considered as deep involvement. That is certainly untrue, and if an individual is truly passionate about helping, he/she would most definitely want to know who they’re helping so as to be able to help them in a way that would be most beneficial to them.

Finally, Cho challenges those who do not live up to what they say. This I think is also a valid point that needs to be addressed in our culture. Cho very wisely tells the readers that if they are to commit and to encourage people to join a cause, it is only right and proper for them to lead them not just with words or ideas, but also by their actions.

However, I do see some very fatal flaw with this book. First there is a tremendously lack of the gospel in this book. This book is more about social activism, more about doing, than why you should be doing about what you’re doing. Having said that, I do agree that you do not need to have a huge section that talks about the gospel. But to have this book not even mentioning or clarifying it is a big concern. It kind of assumes the gospel, which is a danger that this book certainty has. Just to show an example this is what Cho says you should bring away from his book “If there’s one thing you take away from this book, I hope it is this: Don’t underestimate what God can do through your life. God has a long and proven history of using foolish and broken people for His glory.  (p.135).

I think the strength of the book is it challenges the mindset of those who are already serving or would like to serve in a cause. However, the weakness is that this book is very shallow in the gospel. Without the proper motivation for social justice, this book may run into the danger of being passionate for a cause, more than being passionate for the gospel. Readers may want to supplement their diet with another book that will ground them in the gospel, something like Tim Chester’s “Good News to the Poor”.

Rating: 3.25 / 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 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.

How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence And Can Begin Rebuilding It (7/6)

Do you feel as if Christian have lost it’s influence within culture?

Here’s an interview with Greg Forster, the author of Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence And Can Begin Rebuilding It. HT: Justin Taylor

If you’re interested, you can get this book here, and here (free shipping)