Book Review: “Enjoy Your Prayer Life” by Michael Reeves

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Before you dig in with this review, I would like to invite you to read my favorite quotes from this book by clicking this link just in case you missed it.

The first book I read from Michael Reeves is Delighting the Trinity which is awesome. Reeves wrote it as if it’s not introducing the doctrine of the Trinity for the reason he lifts up the preconceive burden of understanding a complex doctrine. Instead, he pointed out the relationship of the between the Godhead. In similar vein, the same treatment can be found with this short book, Enjoy Your Prayer Life

  Reeves acknowledge that we struggle with prayer. The reasons might be the lack of time, becoming a dead routine or just plain boring. Reeves attempts in this book to convince us that prayer is not just important but it is enjoyable. Enjoyable? Yes, prayer is enjoyable. Well this book doesn’t present a new method of prayer or drive some guilt for your lack of praying. Instead, Reeves states that prayer is more than an abstract thing. It’s  a natural expression of faith that flows from the relationship of the Godhead. Reeves focuses on how each of the Godhead relates to the praying believer. Like what Reeves treatment with his award winning book, Delighting the Trinity , he handles the subject of prayer well and penetrating.

A short read but has meaty content,  will give you a refreshing perspective on prayer. Praying is truly enjoyable in the light of who we are praying to. If you want a new light for your prayer life let Enjoy Your Prayer Life shine on it.

My verdict:

4.5 out of 5

Book Review: “The New Testament in Seven Sentences” by Gary M. Burge

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I’m so pumped up this set of new books by IVP that I never think twice of getting this book and Write Better by Andrew T. Le Peau. I think I’ve  been reading and reviewing books that are either about salvation or Christian living that I long to read something about the Bible. This new book by Gary M. Burge really rewarded me of that craving.

The New Testament in Seven Sentences tackles the major themes of the Bible and not just the New Testament as the title may suggest. These themes helps us better understand the Bible and it’s message. Further it helps us focus on what God’s sovereign plan through Jesus from here and eternity. Burge crafted this book that as you read, you’ll find the Old and New are inseparable and indispensible. Burge is absolutely good in this part stitching both OT and NT together, that you’ll get glued in reading this book. He imparts his skill to provide a solid read that requires less illustration that won’t overwhelm or bored you to death. I was hooked that I read a big chunk of it the moment I started reading it. And I hope you’ll find that enthusiasm over connecting youself with the topic of this book.

The seven sentences in the title are seven verses in the New Testament that presents the seven themes. They are Matthew 16: 16, fulfillment;  Mark 1: 15, kingdom; Luke 9: 22, cross; 1 Peter 2: 9, covenant; Romans 8: 9, spirit; and Revelation 21:1, completion. Some of these verses are familiar and you might know what they convey.  You might dismissed this as another one of the books that will have the same content discussing themes of the Bible. Think again! Burge breaks the familiarity and brings insights that you might have missed as he digs deeper to the OT to bring light to these themes.

My favorite chapter of the book is Burge tackling grace. Burge excellently delivers the the familiar mash up with insights that will further elavate the familiar and illuminate insights you might not heard of. The well balanced blend in the book is a delight for the readers.

The New Testament in Seven Sentences is an engaging book that supersedes its intention as an introduction for the major theme of the Bible. It’s not an introductory book that you will feel hurried or summarized that will leave you wanting but gives you a satisfying read. Please don’t supplement it for something less or it might steal the other book’s thunder. In fact, you might just need this one to do the job in understanding the crucial themes in the Scriptures. Highly recommend!

My verdict:

5 out of 5

(InterVarsity Press provided the digital copy for this review)

8 Favorite Quotes from the Book “Carpe Diem Redeemed” by Os Guinness

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Hello guys! I would really appreciate it if you’ll include a friend of mine in your prayers. Greg my conference buddy, is going through a trial with his father who will undergo surgery. Please uphold him and his father in their dark providence and may they focus on Christ as their ultimate comfort in this life.

Anyways, here’s some quotes from book by Os Guinness, Carpe Diem Redeemed, published by 10 of Inter Varsity Press. If you like these quotes, please get yourself a copy of this book by ordering at IVP.

“God’s providence overarches history and reins in human pretentions, but under providence, however small and insignificant we seem, we humans are significant agents for either good or ill. Thus those who respond to God’s call, who come to know God and walk with him, become entrepreneurial partners with him in advancing his purposes in the world. We are never more than junior partners, of course, but providence ensures that history has a purpose and a point.”

“Relevance is at the heart of the message of Jesus. The gospel is good news, indeed the best news ever. It addresses our human condition appropriately, pertinently, and effectively as nothing else has, does, or can—and in generation after generation, culture after culture, and life after life, all across the world and down through time. It is of course possible that Christians make the gospel irrelevant by shrinking or distorting it in one way or another. But in itself the good news of Jesus is utterly relevant, or it is not the good news it claims to be.”

“Under the twin truths of God’s sovereignty and human significance, time and history are going somewhere, and each of us is not only unique and significant in ourselves, but we have a unique and significant part to play in our own lives, in our own generation, and therefore in the overall sweep of history.”

“Providence is the ultimate check and balance, the final moral limit to human power.”

“Seizing the day or redeeming future time is rising to life within a powerful matrix of truths that sets out an entire way of life in which the ideal of carpe diem can come to its highest fruition. God calls us in the flux and flow of time and history, and the gift of being able to seize the day flowers from a way of life that weaves together three principles: “Walk before God,” “Read the signs of the times,” and “Serve God’s purpose in your generation.”

“A life of faith is the story of the truths Christians believe but are embodied in human form. Each such life adds its support to the voice of the Bible as the grand story of a thousand smaller stories of God’s breaking into the experience of human beings in real life.”

“Clarity of faith is essential, loyalty to truth is all-important, and truth claims must always be set out as cogently as possible. But the multilayered reality of truth comes into its own in the visible, audible, and tangible reality of a life lived by faith.”

“End” in the Bible is sometimes seen as finis, in the Latin sense of conclusion, full stop, period, or ending, but the Bible also sees “end” as telos, in the Greek sense of goal, purpose, culmination, or climax. Both “end” as conclusion and as climax and culmination are always at work in history, and as much so today as ever. We must remember both, appreciate how they are linked, and live our lives with a firm grasp of both truths.”

 

 

5 Questions You Need to Answer In Writing A Superb Book Review

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Book reviews are “staple food” here at Delighting Grace and I hope everyone is enjoying every morsel of it. But you might ask, what does it takes to write a book review? How can someone start writing a review? Well for starters I’m not an expert on whipping up one. However, I do have questions I need to answer when ever I write a book review. It serves as a guide to me. Here are five of them:

Is the title, sub-title or book cover appealing? There is nothing special about me. I may have a blog and I review books, still I’m just an ordinary Joe who likes books. Like many, the name, sub-title, and cover  also influence what I want to check out. For me the cover and title are Easter eggs for things to expect to the book. It might be titled boldly and reveals in the sub-title some claims that raises my eyebrows. So along with a great book cover, it will lead me to want to investigate if it really holds up to what it says up front. Will it keep what it wants to say to the end or will it be a meh? That’s where the the book aesthetics may cause me to read it.

Is it relevant to me, my ministry or church? This is important to me because . On one hand I reading it for pleasure and in another I consider if its important to my personal growth, ministry or church. After all, I’m investing my time reading this book to learn something I might as well invest on what will benefit me. It might be controversial or popular as long as it will provide solid food for the various areas of my faith. It might not be for immediate application but something I can take note of.

After reading the book, does it push me to action? When I put down this book, does it move me to do something? Does this book points back to God’s will for me as a Christian? I’ve encountered books that is so engaging that I didn’t need to finish it and I just sat down for a few minutes and meditate on it. It makes you want to apply the truths that touched your heart. This might  be getting your hands dirty for the Lord or sharing this truth to other Christians, either way, the words from the book connected to you is enough to hack up a great review.

Is the book biblically solid? Does the book centers on Jesus and the gospel? Does the author digs deep on the passages of Scriptures and not just slapping a verse here and there in the book just to make it biblical? Does he exalt enthusiastically Christ in the book that brings a certain excitement as you read the book? These are some questions that will guide someone when writing a book review.

Did I enjoy reading the book? It doesn’t matter who wrote it, or if it’s a long or short read nor who endorses it, it matters if I enjoyed it. It might come through how creative the topic was presented, or the style of writing of the author. His cool illustrations,  wit and humor that keeps you reading are also some factors to consider as long as the truth is thoroughly conveyed and satisfied my expectation for the book. Simply put, do I walk away happy?

That’s my 5 questions that will prep you up if your considering to write a book review. Now get a pen and paper (or laptop) and start writing that great review.

 

 

Book Review “Revolutionary Work” by William Taylor

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If you can’t stop singing “Everything is Awesome” because of the cover that reminds you about the Lego movie, then it’s OK.  Because this book is indeed awesome!

Revolutionary Work tackles on the biblical view of work. This book is based on a series presented at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate by William Taylor. Revolutionary Work shows us the work as God’s gift because of our stewardship role in creation. Therefore, it is essential to us. Also it shows a balanced view of it as all vocations are equal and we should not call one as “special”. Despite of being a gift from our Creator, futility can be seen as we are fallen humans as we toil for ourselves, our family and for God’s mandate. However, work should be done knowing God is our boss and the means for us to bring the gospel to our co-workers.

There are four chapters which are a bit long but you can read their summaries at the end of each chapters, which is cool. If you want to skip all of it and distill the essentials, you should go for the summaries.  However, as much as possible read all of it.  The indexes and the Q and A section are must reads also, so don’t put this book down yet.

I love how Taylor’s treatment of  John 4 on the work of God which is the end goal of all our work. The work of God meaning evangelism. That’s on chapter four, which for me is the most engaging part of the book.

All in all Revolutionary Work, though it’s a slim volume, delivers a meaty content that you can find in a thick book. So this is my third time to give 10 of Those and this book a two thumbs up! Now sing some more “Everything is Awesome”

My verdict:

5 out of 5

8 Favorite Quotes from the Book “Revolutionary Work” by William Taylor

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By God’s providence, my phone’s down time helped me to slow down and gave me this mini digital sabbath here and there. It allowed me to focus more on what matters. I still get to write for my blog but in a slower phase (and a slow laptop). I get to join a FB group that is very active in prayers so I grab the opportunity every time I open my FB and there is an update from that group, I’ll stop and pray for these brethren who covets my prayers. Its was a blessing to me.

Anyways, here’s some quotes from book by William Taylor, Revolutionary Work published by 10 of Those Publishing. If you like these quotes, please get yourself a copy of this book by ordering at 10 of Those.

“Work is good and work is grim, but work should be governed by the gospel. Therefore, you need to be thinking how you can be of greater service to the gospel in your particular position.”

 “So how does God do his work? It is through his word. He brings people in to the harvest through his word; he keeps people to the end of the harvest through his word; and he brings people to himself and builds people up and sustains them as harvesters through his word. This is how his work is done.”

“…the God of the Bible is a worker: he made the universe. Unlike the pantheon of Greek gods or Eastern deities, he gets his hands dirty, as it were. God himself dignifies work. Since God made man in his image, we find that we are workers too.”

“God is the ruler and God is a worker but humanity is to rule and work under him. This is a delegated task, given to us by God, and therefore we are answerable to God for the manner in which we undertake it. We are to rule over the world and care for it in an accountable and responsible way. We are to develop it and to design within it, but must not forget that it has been given to us on trust.”

“Realising that all jobs are dignified should have a profound impact on how we view ourselves and the position in which God has placed us, and indeed it will influence what kind of work we are prepared to do for the sake of the gospel. All roles are of equal value.”

“All work is delegated to us by God and designed by God for our human good and for his glory. Therefore, no area of work is somehow of higher value or more important or more significant than another.”

“Our contemporaries are ignorant of the way God’s world works. They have only their own dreams to guide them. They do not have a word from outside explaining the universe. Yet in the Bible God speaks to us and makes clear the correct way we should perceive work.”

“Many companies issue business cards or uniforms that make clear to others that their employees work for their company. Every Christian’s emblem should be, ‘I work for Jesus’. He is our ultimate master; throughout our entire working week we serve him.”

Book Review: Abide by Warren W. Wiersbe

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I think it’s safe to say that you can’t go wrong with a Wiersbe book. His Bible commentary and Be Series  are a must have for Christians. And having 10 of Those reprinting a Wiersbe book is a great move, not just it will sell but how a believer will really profit from the pen of this great author.

With great clarity and precision, Wierbe unpacks John 15 revealing the “secret” of living for Christ. In John 15, we are told that we are the branches and God is the vine dresser. Wierbe made that pivotal episode in the ministry of Jesus Christ unforgettable, endearing and comforting as he deals with the issue of fruit bearing for the believers. Abide is not a stiff or cold lesson rather a vivid and lively excursion to John’s gospel that will excite believers to get their hands dirty for God.  Every chapter drips with pastoral care only Wierbe can deliver.

 Abide is simple, practical and thoroughly biblical, something you’ll expect to Warren W. Weirsbe. The secret is out! Live for Christ by following and knowing these secrets. This book will push you back to the Scriptures and look at God’s best for His elect. By far one of my best reads from 10 of those and I’m looking forward for more . Highly recommended!

My verdict:

5 out of 5

Book Review: Richard Dawkins, C. S. Lewis and the Meaning of Life by Alister McGrath

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In Richard Dawkins, C. S. Lewis and the Meaning of Life,  McGrath brings out the two of the greatest thinkers of our time on the table and (objectively) scrutinize their beliefs focusing only on the meaning of life.  I love how McGarth presents these extraordinary gentlemen in this book. Both Oxford fellows (including the author), both had a landmark book and both experienced atheism and Christianity. This adds the level of thrill in diving in to this brief book. And I have to say, I got really hooked.

Richard Dawkins, C. S. Lewis and the Meaning of Life is not the usual apologetics book. It’s a short and accessible book for atheist, Christians or anyone who both wants to know Dawkins and Lewis in one sitting. It’s serves as a springboard for other bodies of work these two intellectual giants have dished out (or to books of McGarth on the topics). There are lots of superb books that have great treatment with these gentlemen but if you want a starting point, this is the book for you.

By reading this book, I think you have gotten to the core or the most important part of any book that discuss these authors and their view of life. Peak inside the minds of these brilliant thinkers and how their views influence the world.  Pick up this book and you’ll surely love it!

My verdict:

5 out of 5

(InterVarsity Press provided the digital copy for this review)

Book Review: Essentials by Lee McMunn

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It’s great that McMunn starts his book with the Trinity unlike the usual gospel presentation. At first you might think it’s a short book about doctrine, but it’s not. Essentials is an evangelistic book . Essentials is giving a step by step explanation of the gospel. And as I have said McMunn started this book with the Trinity and ends with an invitation to have a relationship with God. Essentials is a presentable evangelistic tool because of appealing title, chapter title and cover image.

There are downsides in book. First, in chapter 3 which illustrates how Jesus rescues. Although the context is answering the question “So why didn’t he save himself? Why did Jesus stay on the cross?” an illustration of a kid drowning is not the biblical way to represent humanity submerged in sin. Total depravity points us that we are not drowning but dead at the bottom of the river.  Second the sinner’s prayer at the last part of the book, which is for me unbiblical. Decisionism is not part of the gospel message.

Essentials is a good book but has problematic issues. If for not those issues, I would have graded this book a bit higher.  Still you can benefit reading it for yourself and use some parts of it for your personal evangelism.

My verdict:

3.5 out of 5

Book Review: A Week in the Life of a Slave by John Byron

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I think this is my second time to review a fictional book and this one is my first biblical historical fiction.

At first I’m abit surprise on how Paul, Philemon and Onesimus was portraited. Adding to that Demas was also in the story and had moments, knowing in the back of our mind, he will be a backslider according to the Bible.

A Week in the Life of a Slave delivers an interesting and page turning story of Onesimus and Philemon. It follows the fugitive slave to his journey to escaping his master, meeting Paul, the crisis with his presence in the prison where Paul was in, his conversion and his return to Philemon.

If you think this is just a simple and boring story about slavery in Bible times, well you’re mistaken. I was mistaken till I got that light bulb moment. It gives you the glimpse on how we as Christian are heir to Christ.

There are no boring or dragging parts in the book. You’ll find this book a delightful read every time you jump back in.  The supporting characters are interesting and had all been given a fair share of spotlight both real and fictional ones. Then every conversation are spot on. You can feel the emotions jumping over you without being over the top.

The latter chapters before the conclusion for me are the best conversations that I read from the book. The sub plot was well executed and it really helped the main plot.

If the narrative itself is good, the “information box” that accompanies the story is superb. Well written and with great images, it gives out the backstory in every twist and turn of the story. It feels like your reading book within a book. You can use it in either; read it so you’ll for the some cultural background of the story; ignore it and still the story is solid or for future reference material. But if you ask me, the information box will definitely enhance the reading of the already solid narrative.

A Week in the Life of a Slave is a must read that tackles Christian issues of equality and forgiveness that can’t be easily done in a non-fiction format. It doesn’t just fill your mind but this book wins your heart. Highly recommended!

My verdict:

5 out of 5

 

(Review copy of this book was provided by Inter Varsity Press)