Book Review – God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement (11/12)

Other than the 12 (or 13, if you include Paul in) apostles. Does the church have any more apostles? How then should christians response to some mega  churches whose pastors are termed as apostles? It that permissible? Or even biblical?God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement

For those who are in the reformed circles, prosperity gospel is a sure no-no these day. But what about “apostles” in this day and age? There seems to be lack of response towards the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). This is where this book fills an important gap.

First, the authors give a brief introduction of what NAR is and what their main teachings is about. Next, they present the scope of the NAR ministries, to highlight how big an issue NAR actually is.

Following which, Geivett and Pivec tackles specific doctrines within NAR which they find are simply  unbiblical. These include the meaning and usage of apostles, prophets, spiritual warfare and miracles. Geivett and Pivec always begins by first explaining what NAR actually believes and backs up their findings with references to the various sources which they referred. Following which, Geivett and Pivec would then look into the bible to see what the bible actually teaches about such topics/doctrines.

Many a times Geivett and Pivec would show the readers that their faulty understanding has no biblical basis and if we are to take the Word of God seriously, we ought to reject their teachings.

All in all, this book is suitable really for all christians who might want to quick and good introduction to what is NAR, and whether it is truly biblical. For pastors or ministries leaders, this might be a good place to start, but they must supplement it with their more substantial book on it, “A New Apostolic Reformation? A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement”. That book will discuss about the topics in greater details than this book.

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 – A New Apostolic Reformation? A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement (9/12)

Have you heard about the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)? Prior to reading this book, I have not and frankly, saw no point in trying understand what they’re about. However, after I’ve read this book, my perspective about them have changed, drastically.A New Apostolic Reformation? A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement

At first glance, I would have grouped NAR under charismatic or pentecostal. But as the authors, Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec put forth in their book, there is a huge difference between the NAR and charismatic/pentecostal.

Geivett and Pivec has written a very helpful book in response to the NAR. First Geivett and Pivec introduces what is NAR to the readers. Some readers might be surprised to find the churches or organisation that is related to NAR from reading their book.

Geivett and Pivec then covers several key points about the NAR and also examines the same points, taking note on what the bible actually says about them. The topics covered include apostles, prophets, spiritual warfare, unity of the church, and miracles. Geivett and Pivec shows the readers clearly that whatever NAR is, what they’re teaching is certainly not from the bible.

Included also is a very helpful section for parents, pastors and those who are currently involved in NAR. Geivett and Pivec gives several helpful advices to each of the groups, especially for pastors and parents who know of other christians or if their own children are already involved in NAR churches/organisations. Geivett and Pivec helps them see that it is not only important to set the doctrines straight, but also at the same time, in our lives to live out the truths which we deem as biblical. Finally, Geivett and Pivec gives some questions that one may ask to find out if a church is involved in NAR, wisdom and tact of course must be utilised when using these questions.

Pastors and ministry leaders will want to turn to this book to have good and solid understanding of what the Word of God has to say about NAR, and also see the importance of having and doing good exegesis.

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 – Preaching by the Ear (30/11)

The best preaching is preaching that comes from the heart. That’s what this book is all about, preaching from the heart. Although preaching seems not to have changed much over the years, there has been one fundamental difference between preaching done today and preaching done eons before. And that difference is, the invention of the writing.Preaching by the Ear

Dave McClellan has written a book that helps preachers see the differences between preaching done today and preaching done in Jesus’s time. Essentially this book is a book that will help preachers think critically about our preaching today. McClellan points out many pointers that would have escaped the modern preacher due to the sheer magnitude of the influence of writing to us.

For example, McClellan points out that prior to writing, words, speeches were always considered to be temporary and transient as compared to the written word now, which can be compared, edited, reference long after the “speech” has been spoken.

This has practical applications to preachers who has always been drilled and trained to think about crafting a sermon, by typing or drafting a long “speech” that one has to reads off. McClellan points out that in an era before writing, preaching would have never been done this way, rather preaching would necessarily be extemporaneous. The difference between the two would be evident to the hearers, the one who preaches extemporaneously would not expect the listeners to be able remember every word that was preached and thus come out with hooks to help readers remember the progression and the flow of the speech. “Preaching” a typed sermon, no matter how well written still suffers from the problem that it never sounds like conversations but rather as messages typed out.

From here, McClellan proposed how to help preachers preach extemporaneously, he emphasis the importance of being marinated in the word of God, not just because one has to preach on the text in the coming week, but rather the preacher ought always be found thoroughly soaked in the Word of God. Next, he also helps preachers make the task of preaching easier by showing them that the burden of what and how to preach it, never lies on the preach, rather it rests on the Word of the Lord, and preachers just have to preach what it was originally preaching about. Finally, he advises preachers with a technique to help preachers slowly be able to preach and link the sermon in a way that preachers can eventually to be able to preach without notes.

This is unlike any preaching books I’ve read so far, and it has been very insightful and has made me aware to be a more “verbal” preacher and to preach in such a way that would really sound like preaching. McClellan also redeems the problem of how should I preach this or that, by simply letting the text speak for itself. A very helpful and insightful book for preachers, and should be recommended for preachers young or old.

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.

Here’s a introduction on the book by the author.

Book Review – Invitation to James (22/11)

The book of James has often been considered the “proverbs” of new testament since it contains many short sayings. However, is there an overarching topic/theme within this book?Invitation to James

Yes, there is, and that is tightly connected to the context of the letter. Sunukjian aims to show that and does a brilliant job at it. In this book, Sunukjian really helps the reader to be in the context that James was written in, he is able to help readers see and feel the times when christians were persecuted, yet he is able to do it without boring the audience.

As with every book in this series, Sunukjian gives the readers a big overview of the whole book, and from it breaks it down into the different chapters. He repeatedly helps the readers see this overview several times within the different chapters so the readers do not miss either the trees or the forest. Next, he begins every sermons with an introduction, make not mistakes, Sunukjian does an excellent job for introductions and would be a good book for preachers to learn how to do excellent introductions to their sermons. Following which he moves on to the main teaching of the passage. This is does very carefully with one eye in the original context, and other eye with modern application.

Although this will not be a commentary that readers will want to reference for exegetical purpose, it is a good series to read as sermons on the various passages. The sermons handles the passage well and is a model for preachers to be clear in their preaching.

Recommended for preachers, or lay christians who want to read fine preaching on the book of James. You will not be disappointed.

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 – Invitation to Philippians (22/11)

Philippians have often been called the letter of rejoices, Paul in this letter uses the word rejoices several times. But do you know what circumstances Paul was in as he pen this letter? Well, he was in prison, and might have died at any moment after meeting the Caesar.Invitation to Philippians

Sunukjian in this book helps the readers to see and feel how Paul might have felt as he felt this letter to the Philippians. Sunukjian begins by giving the readers a general overview of the whole epistle of Philippians which he will always refer to as he preaches through Philippians. This is very helpful as he allows the reader to see how every single piece “fits” together in the big picture.

In every sermon, Sunukjian will always begin with an introduction. This is one of the strength of the book, he uses good and extended introductions, for preachers who are poor in this area, this is one of the books that might help your preaching. Next, he will move on to the main teaching of the passage. This is another strength of the book, Sunukjian explains the passages with much clarity, allowing young (whether in age or in christian age) readers to be able to grasp the meaning of the bible text.

However, Sunukjian does not explains the “whats” and “hows” of his sermons, and thus the reader has to do the (hard)work himself to find it out, though Sunukjian is so clear that it would easy for anyone to find them out through reading them.

This will be a good book for preachers, or for christians who wants to understand the book of Philippians in it’s context, yet in an easy to read and understand format.

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 – Invitation to the Book of Jacob (22/11)

Invitation to the Life of JacobJacob is a character full of mystery, chief among which is the question why did God decide to give His blessing to the one who acts so deceitfully? Yet as Donald Sunukjian suggests it’s really a picture of us too.

Sunukjian in this book sets out to the readers a series of sermons based on the life of Jacob, from Genesis. It is essentially his sermons on this passages. Sunukjian does not spend much time discussing what he does, or why he does certain things, rather Sunukjian allows the readers to see how he brings across the message to his audience and allow his readers to see the fruit of his labour.

The sermons inside are clear, and expository, that is, they explain the bible text. Sunukjian would always begin the book with a general overview of the passages he will cover. Thereafter for every sermon he will begin with an introduction, and his introductions are alway very varied, not only use one kind of introduction for every sermon. Next, he will move on to the main teaching and also have a few applications within his teaching.

Although I enjoyed reading his sermons, I do find his one of his sermons a rather odd-ball (No. 6, A Good Thing The Right Way) This was pretty much a modernised reenactment of the bible text, which I personally disagree with, but Sunukjian does bring his point clearly across.

Having said that, I find this sermon help for preachers or lay christians, not as a commentary but really has someone else’s sermon (think e.g. Spurgeon’s sermon) you should not expect to find guides or hooks to follow or explaining why these are done. If you’re looking for a place to start reading sermons on Jacob, this is a good place to start.

Rating: 3.75 / 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 – Persuasive Preaching (20/11)

When was the last time you heard a sermon that really helped and pushed you to really want to live out what you’ve heard? I reckon it has probably has been quite some time. So what’s wrong with preaching these days? Preaching these days have been more and more exegetical, which is certainly great, but it is not very pervasive. It does not ‘push’ people to want to live the truth preached.Persuasive Preaching

One book that aims to help remedy this situation is this book, by Larry Overstreet. First, Overstreet wants the readers to see that persuasion is a biblical idea, and uses numerous bible verses  to show his points. Next, after he has examine and shown that it is biblical, he moves to how the readers how they can do it.

This book is really a book that helps preachers see the importance of preaching, Overstreet really does an excellent job in gathering from the whole bible ideas, notions, connotations that goes with preaching, it has been a quite a tour to see Overstreet bring the readers through passage after passage on every word that is related to preaching. At times, it felt to be quite a long book since I was more interested in the persuasive part, but Overstreet does bring to the readers a very good understanding of preaching, especially good was his chapter on the theology of Paul’s preaching, something I think no other authors has done thus far.

Next, Overstreet then shows the readers 4 ways they can preach persuasively in their congregations, I found them helpful and very practical, something that you can use immediately after you read these chapters. Overstreet has also added an example for each of them in one of the appendixes for the reader as reference.

Lastly, Overstreet finishes by discussing some questions that is related to persuasive preaching like the work of the Holy Spirit and also the differences between manipulation and being persuasive. I felt the chapter on manipulations and persuasiveness could have been covered more in-depth, as yet, it did not seem to answer the question sufficiently.

All in all, if you’re looking for a book that wants to talk about what the bible says about preaching, go to this book. But, some readers may find the part about “how to” preach persuasively a bit lacking within this book. This book makes an excellent case for preachers on the dire need to preach persuasively.

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 – Biblical Portraits of Creation (11/9)

It used to be that Genesis was a really simple, straightforward book to study, no big controversies maybe other than the JEDP documentary hypothesis (and if the pastor doesn’t want to talk about it, it’s still relatively fine). Now however, the tide has turned. It’s one of the few books of the books that has been contested and even contested fiercely within the Christian and evangelical circles. Due to that, books that have appear on the shelves on Genesis have sometimes gone rather technical. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for such books. But it has created a barrier that Genesis is a difficult to study, when in reality it shouldn’t.Biblical Portraits of Creation

Although this is not a book on Genesis, it is however a book centred on creation, it might seem strange and indeed felt a little weird when I first started to read them. However, the authors’ intention for this book is to ensure the church is not so lob-sided that we stay away from it due to the current controversies regarding it. And I agree there has been a lack of teaching on Genesis meant for the layman.

This book is really a series of sermons each expounding on one portion of passage with regards to creation. Overall I felt that the passages selected had a great spread, although sometimes we might only be able to think of 2 to 4 bible passages that are linked to creation, Walter Kaiser and Dorington Little are able to use some not-so-familiar passages to deliver on this topic. This is to be commended, they have helped me to that creation is not just a few passages linked only to creation, but the bible has many more passages that talks about it!

Having said that, I do have to say that there was one particular chapter that I thought didn’t fit in this book, and that was about the genealogy of Jesus, sure, I’m aware that the greek word comes from genesis, yet, I do think it’s a bit of a stretch to make that point in this book.

Overall, I felt that the sermons by Little was slightly better, Kaiser’ ones were sometimes more technical and had more pointers and sub-pointers. However, located at the appendix is an essay by Kaiser, and that is a superb article! I felt that particular piece should be well worth the price of the book. You really ought to read it. Kaiser and Little have also very wisely added in discussion questions for each and every chapter, anticipating, in fact encouraging readers to use them in conjunction with their sermons.

In summary, if you want to have a book that speaks particular on the topic of creation, yet not too technical, this is the book to go. You’ll be able to learn not just biblical teachings from them, but also pick up some relevant application points along the way.

Rating: 3.75 / 5

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

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

Book Review – Victory through the Lamb (24/8)

When you mention the book of revelation, often people find this book confusing and hard to understand, and for good reason — we’ve been studying this book for the past 2000 years and still haven’t come to have a good grip at the book!

However, Mark Wilson has done a great service to the christian community by producing a book that aims to explain this difficult book in plain language, and he does just that with this book. Throughout the book, Wilson wants to the reader to read it through 2 perspectives, one of suffering and the other of victory. On the surface, it does seem to be quite irony/contradictory, why would the victorious be suffering or why would the suffering be victorious?

Vicotry Through the LambBut Wilson manages to weave through these 2 themes throughout the book as he explains the through the book of revelation. Initially, I found it weird for him to include stories of how Christians have suffered in the early beginning of the church before the reading of the bible passage. But as I read on, I found these stories to be gripping and sets the context of suffering very clearly in my mind as I was reading through the first-half of revelation. Wilson has also made the reading of revelation slightly easier by providing his own translation of the biblical text in the book. What his translation does very well is that it helps the readers to catch the different greek words that are used but often translated with the same word, e.g. stephanos and diadem/diddema, which are often translated as crown, and also a quick explain of the word without the need to refer to a dictionary. Secondly, Wilson refers the readers to what the original readers would be very familiar with — the Old Testament allusions used in the book of revelation and thus help the readers see the need for the importance of being familiar with the Old Testament before he/she attempts to interpret revelation. 

What this book does very well is, it does help you understand the book of revelation according to the classical premillennial interpretation. However, Wilson does not support the popular Left Behind pre-tribulational rapture, instead, Wilson firmly believes that the church will face on-going tribulations until our Saviour’s return. Even if you don’t agree with it, you will appreciate the simplicity of how Wilson explains his view in this book. And, if you really don’t want your congregation to be living on the Left Behind series as the only source of understanding revelation, maybe this will be a better alternative that you can point your congregation to.

Rating: 4.25 / 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.