Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Forgotten God

Francis Chan is the former pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA. This book is a follow up to Chan’s best selling book Crazy Love. It is an invitation to comprehend, accept, and pursue the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives. We often pray to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but we seldom live in recognition of the Spirit.

Chan tells us the Spirit is more obviously active in places where people are desperate for Him, humbled before Him, and not distracted by their pursuit of wealth or comforts like we are. The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes purely a human creation. We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God.

Our modern church teaches frequently about Jesus and about God, but the Holy Spirit is seldom taught, frequently misunderstood and occasionally neglected. Pentecostals frequently misinterpret the role of the Holy Spirit, while Calvinists undervalue the Holy Spirit. The Spirit and his role as an equal and valuable member of the Trinity are imperative. Throughout the New and Old Testament the Spirit plays an active role in churches and individuals lives.

The term Holy Spirit appears nearly 100 times in Scripture and is featured prominently before the birth of Christ and after his death. The roles of the Holy Spirit in every Christian life includes: conviction of sin, bringing to conversion, enabling the Christian life, a comforter, inspiration and interpretation of scripture.

As Christians we frequently neglect the Spirit and Chan tries to nudge us to embrace the Spirit as a loving part of our faith.

Book Review: A Retrospect

First published in 1894 this book is compiled from the journals and letters of J. Hudson Taylor, the 19th century missionary to China. Taylor spent 51 years as a pioneering missionary in China and changed the way many view missions today.

This short book covers from Taylor’s conversion in 1849 to the beginning of his second voyage to China in 1866. During this period he hears and heeds his call to missions, spends seven years in China, resigns from his mission society, returns to England, forms his own mission society and returns to China. The true beauty of this book is that these pivotal and influential years are documented in Taylor’s own words.

In the second half of the 19th century Hudson Taylor completely bucked conventional wisdom in the world of missions. Many of his peers spent much of their time bringing “civilized” culture to other countries ahead of the gospel. Taylor, on the other hand, immersed himself in the Chinese culture. He lived, talked, dressed, ate and traveled like those he came to serve. Other missionaries and many senders viewed him as too radical and denounced his efforts. Taylor was revolutionary in the way he financed missions, treated female missionaries and addressed the spiritual needs of the Chinese people.

This book provides an honest and insightful look into the thought process of one of the most successful and significant missionaries in modern history. The sincere words of this transparent man are a benefit to goers and senders alike. He displays his fears, self-doubt, uncertainty and unflappable faith in Christ for all to see.

While this is not the most popular book on Hudson Taylor it is the most honest. It is a rare and precious glimpse into the heart of one of God’s greatest missionaries.

Book Review: The Secret of Contentment

William Barcley is the pastor of Sovereign Grace Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has served as Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary and taught at Gordon College. Barcley addresses the issue of discontent and how the reader can find contentment from knowing God and enjoying his sovereignty and loving mercy.

Barcley does a fine job outlining a heart condition that frequently accompanies greater theological concern. As we demonstrate discontent we are calling into play a questioning of God’s sovereignty. How could we not be content if we truly understand and embrace God’s plan and perfect orchestration of his will in our lives?

It is natural for humans to complain and be discontented. It is part of our sin nature. Our murmuring, however, is a clear sign we are not satisfied with an aspect of our life. We are either out of God’s will or lack an understanding of the depth of his sovereignty.

A believer who truly rests in God finds contentment in the joy of God and being conformed to the image of Christ. Contentment does not mean our lives are painless and exactly as we foresaw them. Contentment means we find pleasure in knowing God is in control and his flawless will is unfolding, even if it is not our ideal plan.

The book is ideal for group study with subsections and discussion questions following each chapter. Barcley uses Scripture, tales and personal accounts to guide the reader into a deeper understanding of the joy and peace that can be found in our contentment.

Book Review: Don’t Waste Your Life

Don't Wate Your Life by John PiperJohn Piper has been the Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 1980. He is the author of over 50 books, several of which have been Christian bestsellers including this one.

The core of this book comes from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, which states, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Very simply put, God paid a great penalty for you. Because of his literal sacrifice you should spend your time, your wealth and life serving God.

It is clear throughout this book that Piper highly respects the missionaries and pastors who dedicate their lives to fulltime service of Jesus Christ. But, he does not insist all Christians must be in fulltime ministry in order to be God honoring. He does, however, insist no matter where God has each believer that we acknowledge God placed us there for his purposes. An accountant, taxi driver, teacher, lawyer or housewife has been placed in that job, at that location, at that time in history to glorify God and spread His saving message, love and mercy.

As sinners we are well experienced in finding ways to distract us from serving God. We find countless ways to justify why our plans, our rest, and our recreation are more important than God’s design for us. We have been created by God to live only to exhibit his absolute superiority in every aspect of life. Our life is a waste if we do not, at all times, display his glory. We have been fashioned by God to work for his benefit, not to please ourselves. A Christian who does not live his life with the all-encompassing purpose to glorify God has wasted the sacrificial gift that has been given to us.

Piper’s book is a radical departure from our comfortable, twenty-first century, Western brand of Christianity. His conclusions will rock the foundations of many readers’ contented lives. But, Christ intended his gift and his message to be radical. Piper’s book is not new theology; it is a 2,000-year-old truth that many of us have consciously chosen to ignore.

Book Review: An Introduction To The New Testament

Introduction to the New Testament by D.A. Carson & Douglas MooD.A. Carson and Douglas Moo join together to write this introductory text to the New Testament. The authors take a book-by-book approach to breaking down the New Testament. Each chapter is a stand-alone study of a book or books of the Bible.

Every chapter examines a particular book based on content, author, audience, date written, reason for the book, adoption into canon, recent studies, contribution and more. The authors make an in-depth examination of each book. They investigate and analyze each letter methodically. Carson and Moo do a balanced job and include the major dissenting opinions and the views of detractors.

While the bulk of the book is theological in nature it includes scrutiny from historical, sociological, linguistic, and anthropological perspectives. The authors are brilliant at contextualizing the writers, recipients and settings for the original letters. There is a detailed picture painted explaining why each letter was written.

Carson and Moo address historical and modern controversies within each letter. Liberal, conservative and outlandish viewpoints are represented. The authors critique the major positions and offer solid scrutiny to benefit the reader.

This book is written at an academic level, but it is certainly practical for casual readers. The high level analysis within this book lends itself nicely to both individual reading and group studies. The novice theologian and the scholar will find this as beneficial read. Without a doubt, this is a superb introductory overview of the books of the New Testament.