Book Review – Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (30/11)

Living as a young christian, I’ve always been taught that christian life is full of passion and zeal for the Lord. However, my life experience has taught me that zeal and passion comes and goes very quickly. I really will not be able to keep myself in the christian faith is that is all to Christianity.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless WorldMichael Horton has observed the same problem in the christian circles and wants to bring believers back to the what the bible has to say about being a disciple of Jesus. His message to christian is quite simple, let us seek the ordinary means of grace in our pursuit of Christ in our christian life.

Horton first sets up the problem with the current teachings of the church at large. He highlights some of their problematic and wrong teaching. For example, he shows how the word ambition, which was previously referred to as a vice but has now change to be something virtuous. More crucially, Horton shows how the church has moved towards a very short-term view of christian discipleship. We have trained up a group of christians who live on passion and instant results. In the long run, they will eventually leave the church. Simply because the church will never be able to outperform the world in such areas.

Having listed out the problems, Horton then moves the readers on to the historic teaching of the church. He helps readers see the importance of the ordinary means that God has already promised and provided — the church, the preaching of the word of God, the Lord supper, and baptism. The christian discipleship process is like the life of a tree, it is not the high-and-lows the trees has in it’s life everyday that makes it big and strong, rather it is the routine daily nurturing of the sun’s ray and rain that slowly makes the tree sturdy.

After reading this book, I’ve had a deeper appreciation of the ordinary means of grace that the Lord has given to us. I have a greater anticipation of what the Lord will do as I gather each week in the church listening to the word and partaking of the Lord Supper. I’m not disheartened or discouraged when I can see no observable change in my zeal or passion because I’m assured that the Lord has promised to use those means to help me grow. The growth may be subtle and minute, but as I grow slowly week by week, I know that God is surely helping me grow slowly, but surely to be more and more like Jesus.

This book is certainty one I will recommend for any christian, especially if you think the christian life is only about being zealous to God. I hope you will see that the bible’s teaching is certainly not about zeal but about growing sustainably in the word of God. We need no other source nor do we need anything to zest it up.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

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

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.

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.

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).

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.