Book Review – From the Pen of Pastor Paul (17/2)

Making the Word of God understand and applicable is one of the key responsibility of a preacher. One way for preachers to improve in this area is to listen or read good preaching. Daniel R. Hyde has written a commentary on the book of Thessalonians that will help pastors in this aspect.

From the Pen of Pastor PaulThis is not a typical commentary, Hyde doesn’t start off the commentary with a detailed discussion on the authorship, providence and theology of the letter. Rather Hyde dives right into the text and starts his preaching immediately after the preface. Astute readers will be able to see how Hyde uses his resources in his sermon. This will help budding preachers understand the value and how much of the commentary he should quoting in their preaching.

Preachers who prefers preaching sermons on a few verses each time will like this commentary by Hyde. Hyde mostly preachings on 3-4 verses for each sermon, and each of his sermons is always peppered with applications thoroughly. Preachers will find this helpful for this own devotional reading and for their preparation.

Given that I have previously reviewed another similar commentary by Richard D. Phillips, it would be helpful to give readers a quickly comparison between the two. In my opinion, the one by Phillips is certainly more exegetical, whereas the one by Hyde is more homiletical. In terms of the breakdown of verses, both are comparable. If I have to choose only one, I would choose Philips over Hyde simply because the I like the whole series of commentaries thus far. Pastors can be assured that they will be well served by both commentaries no matter which they choose.

Rating: 4 / 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

P.S. As an alternative, the commentary by Phillips is also one that you might to consult. Get it here and here (free international shipping).

Book Review – A Lost God in a Lost World (22/11)

The notion of God has almost certainty been absent in our world, even in some churches. As such christian grow up with a shallow and minute understanding of God. Our understanding of God is certainty far too small. Melvin Tinker wants to use this book to address this issue and help christians grow in their understanding of who God is.

A Lost God in a Lost WorldTinker teaches the readers through 9 beautifully written exposition the different aspect of God. Within the expositions, Tinker lets readers draw deeply from the Word of God while at the same time explaining the bible verses used in his expositions. Tinker also showcases how a sermon can be Christ-centred, or how a teaching in the old testament naturally finds its fulfilment in Christ.

What sets this book apart from others is really how Tinker holds no punches back, and speaks relevantly to people of this age. Tinker highlights the problems of our age, and points out how the bible rebukes us on it. But Tinker does not stop at that. Most importantly, Tinker shows us how our problem has been solved by God Himself, through the person of Jesus Christ. Following which, Tinker brings us to the future world that awaits those who belongs to Him.

I have found this book to be excellently written. I would recommend anyone who wants good exposition on the doctrine of God to read this book. For pastors who want to learn how to give biblical expositions that engages the modern world, you should really give this book a good read. I hope this book will help teach pastors how they can preach biblically in our times and also engage the minds of Christians to see that God has not and will not disappear from our world and our lives, no matter how hard we try.

Rating: 5 / 5

If you’re interested you can get it here.

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

Book Review – Martyrs of Malatya (4/10)

How much is Christ worth to you and to your neighbour? That was the thought that constantly came across my mind as I read this book. I love biographies and this books talks about 3 christians who had to pay the ultimate price for their faith and because of their desire to bring the gospel to those who are utterly lost.

Martyrs of MalatyaJames Wright starts by narrating to the readers the life story of the lives of these three christians. All three of them came from very different background. One was from Germany, another was groomed to be a devoted muslim while the last was university student. Yet each of them found Christ in their own time and was called by Him to serve together in the land of Turkey.

Wright gives an inside picture into the life and thoughts of these christians showing how their lives have changed as they slowly opened up themselves to the truth of the Bible. Each of them was slowly but surely transformed by what they have read in the bible. They were finally convinced that Jesus is the Son of God, the Saviour of the World and follow Him till the end.

Wright also shows very clearly the difficulty of the work that Necati, Uğur and Tilman was involved in. They were not fools, they knew the danger and the courage they needed to be doing this work. Each of them were ready to give their best, their all for the Lord.

As I read this book, I mourn with those who has lost their beloved because of the faith, and I groan with the rest of the world that the lost may finally be turned from their lost state towards Christ. I have been encouraged and challenged by what I’ve read. It was a stark reminder that martyrdom is not just something that happened in the past, but it is something that still happens even today. May the Lord keep us all faithfully to the end and may He come quickly!

Rating: 4.25 / 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

P.S. I would recommend Foxe’s Book of Martyrs as an companion to this book too. Get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle

Book Review – A Well-Ordered Church (11/8)

Running a church isn’t easy. What is a church? What is worship? What does the Lord Supper represent? These are some of the questions this book will answer you.

A Well Ordered ChurchWilliam Boekestein and Daniel R. Hyde writes this book which aims at introducing the reformed church to it’s readers. First, the book starts by informing the reader that the authors are not keen to explain how a church should work from any other perspectives other than what the bible says. This reminds to be the primary text for the whole book. Boekestein and Hyde first tells the readers the identity of the church. They are reminded that the church consists of both the invisible and visible church, there is only one church and that Christ is the head of the church.

Next the authors bring up a touchy topic. They introduces the authority of the church. In this day and age, this may not be an pleasant topic to raise, but the authors make clear, if the bible says it, then we are to pay attention to what it says despite what we might feel about it. They also explains why and how the ministers of the church use their authority. Following which Boekestein and Hyde explains how a reformed church should interact with those who are of the same denominations and those of different denominations.

In the last section, Boekestein and Hyde talks about the activities of the service. These includes things like worship, teaching and evangelism. The authors explain clearly the rationale and basis of all these activities. Given that this is a book on the reformed churches, one should not expect the book to raise any alternate perspectives on such matters.

As one who is reformed, but who does not attend a reformed church. I have found this book to be especially enlightening. I have found that what I have learnt in this book will really help me in the future when I attend a reformed church. As such, I would recommend those who are attending a reform church to read this book. In doing so, you will see the biblical basis of why your church is ran in such a manner. This book is an introductory material and are broken down into short readable chapters that should be suitable for anyone who is high school and above. Boekestein and Hyde has written an excellent book for the reformed churches and some of them might want to see if this is a helpful book as an introduction to those who wants to learn about the reform church.

Rating: 4.25 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and Kindle.

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

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 – Acts (EP Study Commentaries) (5/4)

The Book of Acts is a book that many christians are familiar with. Yet, not many has preached on the whole book of Acts. While I do see many good commentaries out there on the book of Acts, some of them are far too technical for the layperson, others are far too brief to be helpful for the pastors preaching.

Acts (EP Study Commentaries)EP has now published something that lies in the middle, a commentary that discusses about technical things, but not too overly detailed about it. And it has some nuggets inside that the pastor will be able to use in his preaching.

I have found this commentary to be very readable. I think any layperson will be able to pick it up and use it without any issues at all. Although this might seem to be a very readable book, Waters shows the readers he has done his research by the sources he reference with, and the issues he discusses about.

I have found the application section especially useful within this commentary. Every so often, after exegeting and explaining the bible text, Waters brings up the application of the text. This is akin to what you will find in the NIV Application Commentary, though considerably shorter, yet it helps the pastors to think through how the teachings in Acts can be applied even to christians today.

As a comparison, this commentary is similar to what you can find in the Focus on the Bible Commentary series, or the Mentor Commentary series. I have found it useful and helpful in helping me understand Acts a lot more.

Rating: 4 / 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 – Salt, Light and Cities on Hills (1/1)

Happy New Year Guys!

Here’s the book review as promised. Hope you’ll find it useful.

The struggle between social actions and evangelism has been a hotly debated issue that has been discussed repeatedly throughout church history and also recently. One might be incline to think in terms of “which one should the church do more of?”. But as Melvin Tinker shows, both are important.

Salt, Light and Cities on HillsTinker first starts by summarising what has been discussed about this topic in our recent past. Tinker shows clearly how the idea of evangelism with social action has shifted or progressed through the decades, and why these have happened. Next, Tinker then gives in his own opinions on what has happened, giving his criticism on those whom he disagree with and explaining why he agrees to some of the points raised.

Next, Tinker brings the readers to the bible. He first concentrates on the New Testament, working on the two metaphors Jesus used to describe his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount — salt and light. Following which, Tinker then brings the readers into the Old Testament to see how a Jew would have understood these two metaphors with their background and their upbringing. Though I do not agree with that Tinker has raised in this chapter, I do find many helpful pointers that he has raised that helped me reconsidered about my own views too. Following which, Tinker showed how in Acts the believers lived out what it means to be light and salt. Tinker shows clearly that the church did not choose one or the other, instead they did both. However, the preaching of the gospel was always the crux of the disciples, while the social actions was always the “follow up” or implication of the gospel. Lastly, Tinker ends by sharing about his own experience and also how the church can consider about how they can start such a ministry in a blue-collar region.

I found the summary of the history of social actions and evangelism, and the discussion on what it means to be salt and light to be cogent and thought-provoking. I enjoyed this book a lot, though I’m not very well read in this area, I think the strength of this book is how Tinker tries to think about this topic as biblically as he can.

Albeit it would be worth considering if the two words — salt and light — would really be a good basis to think about social action and evangelism, Tinker helps readers think what these two words would actually mean. This is where the book excels, it shows the readers what the bible has to say about it. Pastors or those involved in church evangelism ministry should be challenge to read this book especially if they want to stay think biblically about what the bible has to say about social action. I’m sure you’ll benefit from the pointers raised in this book.

Rating: 4 / 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 – 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.