Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: "The Gospel Commission"

TITLE: THE GOSPEL COMMISSION - Recovering God's Strategy for Making Disciples
AUTHOR: Michael Horton
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011, (320 pages).

Gospel Commission, The: Recovering God's Strategy for Making DisciplesIs there anything new in this book? No. Is there a more jazzy message in there? No. Is there something hip and clever in the book? No. Horton shows us that we do not need these things to dress up the gospel message and mission. The pure gospel and mission can stand on its own.

Do not let this book's simple innocent title fool you. True to its message, the author base his ideas on biblical foundation. True to the gospel message, he makes the reader more attentive to the gospel itself. True to the gospel mission, Horton exemplifies in this book the words of the great missionary to China who famously says:
"God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply." (James Hudson Taylor)
What the Book is About
Simply put, the book continues where the author's two previous books have left off. In Christless Christianity and The Gospel-Driven Life, Horton talks about the need to take the gospel seriously, calling on believers toward the gospel MESSAGE. In this book, Horton continues with a renewed focus on taking the MISSION of the gospel seriously. He has several concerns. Firstly, he urges Christians NOT to take the Great Commission for granted. Secondly, he is arguing for a shift away from the tendency in many churches toward 'mission creep.' Such 'mission creep' tends to puff up church mission and strategies instead of sharing God's mission and kingdom. The former is more man-centered while the latter is God-centered. Thirdly, and most importantly, Horton writes:

"There is no mission without the church and no church without the mission." (14)

He announces:

"The Great Commission begins not with an imperative, a plan, a strategy for our victory in the world, but with the announcement that Christ has conquered sin and death." (89)

This is followed by a reminder that the Church need not invent new mission or strategies. Tying together the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, Horton says that Jesus himself has given us the mission and the strategic approaches. Horton interacts widely with leaders of the Emerging Church Movement, like Brian McLaren, as well as the spiritual contemplative writers like Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. He is not afraid to disagree with them when he feels they are out of sync with the Great Commission. Yet, he is respectful of the teachings from these esteemed authors. I appreciate the sensitivity and balanced manner, as well as the measured criticism from the author.

My Comments
One stark observation is that Horton does not lace this book with fancy titles or colourful glossy covers. Neither are there any big name endorsements on the inner and outer flaps that we have gotten so used to, especially for authors desperate to attract more readers to buy their books. If a book is good, the message alone suffices. If a book is no good, no amount of who's who on the covers helps. Horton does not need nice packaging. He lets the message be the message.

Kudos to the author, who is not interested in chasing after the latest fad in spiritual matters but stick to ancient truths that are theological sound, and biblically faithful. I find myself highlighting many powerful statements that hits home. I enjoy the way the author weaves together biblical theology and the mission emphasis of God's love. It is an important book that deserves a wider readership.

One critique I have is that such a book may not appeal as much to the general reader. Leaders and concerned church members who have some kind of theological training will benefit most. Apart from this, I think Horton is very passionate about the Gospel Commission, and sees all manner of Church and Christian Living from this perspective. I am glad to see Horton applying the mission focus on the fundamentals of Matthew 28:18-20. He exhorts the reader to put a renewed energy back into preaching, teaching, baptizing, and making disciples of all nations. Calling these as means of grace, the GC is not something that Christian 'have' to do, but is one that true disciples will love and long to do.

Did Michael Horton do a good job in 'recovering God's strategy for Making Disciples?' The answer is a resounding YES!

I strongly recommend this book.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Doing Church or Being Church?

Church work is tough. Whether it is paid or unpaid, the challenges that come with it are quite daunting. In times of confusion, we need to ask ourselves whether we are 'doing' Church, or are we 'being' the Church God has called us to be. Here is a brief list of differences. For more, please read my reflections on Sabbath Walk this week here.

Doing church is content in doing exactly what is expected.
  • Being church brings to the table what God expects from the community.

Doing church only goes to add stress to people's stressful lifestyles.  
  • Being church recognizes the stress, and encourages one another to cast our cares on Jesus, to carry the burdens together.

Doing church is tiring and performs a circular rotation from one church activity to another.  
  • Being church is energizing, and is constantly on a trajectory of gospel spreading both inside and outside of church.

Doing church is content with "I have done this, or I have done that." 

  • Being church goes beyond the first, and begins with the community. It uses words like 'we, our, us.'

Doing church locks one in to maintaining church.  
  • Being church frees one to sharing the love of Christ to all, both within and without the Church walls.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sick of Your Job?

It is common to hear people complaining about their jobs. When they are unemployed, they yearn for an interview which will eventually land them a job. Some, after a while working at their jobs, they get bored. Some get frustrated. Others start to look for another job. Sometimes, the new job is better. Other times, it is worse. A common question for anyone in their mid-life is this: "What is your vocation?"

The word 'vocation' comes from the latin vocatio, which primarily means 'called out' or 'summoned to.' It is something that is unchanging, even though our jobs may change. Vocation is not equal to a job. In fact, a vocation is a calling. It is like a doctor. His job may be with a hospital, a clinic, or a medical researcher in an organization. That job as a doctor is NOT his vocation. His vocation is described more or less in his Hippocratic Oath, a pledge to use his skills and knowledge for the betterment of mankind, in the medical arena. Rev Bill Haley contributes a good article entitled, "When Your Vocation and Your Job Don't Match" that talks about the difference between vocation and a job. In it, he identifies 5 major distinctions about vocation, in particular how Christians should understand vocation.
  1. It is a calling to Jesus Christ;
  2. Our deepest vocations are NOT paid;
  3. See all our work as 'kingdom work'
  4. If we understand our vocation, we will pursue it regardless;
  5. Those who follow their vocation, their call, are prepared to take risks to fulfill the calling.
From time to time, it is good to remind ourselves again to make a distinction between our jobs and our vocation. Our jobs do often change. Our vocations do not.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday Meditation

Today is Good Friday. At 11am this morning, my wife and I went to Church to participate in the "Stations of the Cross" walk through the neighbourhood. There were about 30 of us. With one of us carrying a giant cross, the rest of us solemnly walked to seven different stations. At each station, we would pause to hear the leader announce the significance of the station. He read a short phrase, followed by a common reading response from all. A volunteer among us read a passage of Scripture. Finally a hymn was sung.

I thought about the whole process. The hymn "Were You There" remained in my head.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
      Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
      Oh . . .
      Sometimes it causes me to tremble
      Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

I tried to visualize myself there at Calvary when Jesus was crucified. Somehow, my imagination failed me. I tried to see Jesus suffering at the cross. I tried. Later, this story hit home.

A Story from "Bridge Over the River Kwai"
In the book, "Bridge Over the River Kwai," there was a WWII incident about 10 British Prisoners of War forced by their Japanese captors to build a bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand. They were given tools like shovels before the beginning of the workday, and at the end of the day, to return all of them. Any shovel that was missing would result in brutal punishment. One day, the officer in charge found only 9 shovels at the end of the day. Furious, he asked the POWs to own up. None responded. He threatened the first prisoner, and that he would not hesitate to kill. There was silence. After a seemingly long time, a man in the middle stepped forward. He was immediately shot dead.

It was soon realized that the officer had actually miscounted the number of shovels. There were none missing at all. The prisoners were shocked and moved to learn that their compatriot had given up his own life to save the rest.

This story reminded me of Jesus, who a perfectly innocent man, chose to bear all the consequences of sins of the world on his shoulder. He had given up his own life to save us. This is why Good Friday is remembered.

May we tremble. Tremble at our sinfulness. Tremble when we have been delinquent in recognizing God's Greatest Sacrifice. At the cross.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday Reflection 2011

TITLE: A Half-Way Belief is Not Faith at All 
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 21 Apr 2011
"My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished. The grave is ready for me. Surely mockers are with me, and my eye gazes on their provocation." (Job 17:1-2)
MAIN THOUGHT: Our inability to grow strong in faith stems not from an absence of faith, but from a presence of half-belief.

For some of us, we cannot wait for Easter to come. Sunday School teachers tell kids to come in their 'Easter best.' They are told things about Easter egg hunt, Easter bunnies, and all things fun. Along with it, they say things like "He is Risen," "Jesus lives!" or "He is alive!"

All things rejoicing! All things wonderful! All things celebration!

That's just the icing on the cake. We still need the cake. The cake of pain and suffering. The cake of despair and utter loneliness. The cake of carrying the weight of the world's sins on one's shoulders. Easter is nothing without the suffering. Easter is not meaningful without Jesus' sacrifice and death at the cross. If Christ has not died, how can one then say He is risen?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Prayer in Pictures

Pray and worry seems to be on opposing ends. Often they are entirely opposed to each other. The observation is plain and simple. When we worry more, we carry a lot of cares and burdens on our own shoulders. We carry more of it ourselves.

On the other hand, when we pray more, we seek to cast our cares upon God. We let God carry our burdens, and us as well.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:6-7)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: "The Scent of Water"

TITLE: THE SCENT OF WATER - grace for every kind of broken
AUTHOR: Naomi Zacharias
PUBLISHER: Zondervan, 2011, (224 pages).

The Scent of Water: Grace for Every Kind of BrokenWith wisdom and wit, Naomi Zacharias shares her journey of learning how to cope with brokenness through her own ministry travels as well as her own personal life. She invites readers to follow her in this book, which in a way is her personal memoir and observations about a world in need of grace and healing. If you are like me, you will probably feel three particular emotions: Anger at injustice, anguish at helplessness, and appreciation for grace.

The first part of the book makes me angry. Angry at the injustice perpetrated so openly in the developing world. Angry at how broken the world has become. Angry at how women have been forced into prostitution, suffered domestic violence, while governments and institutions appear helpless against it. The second part of the book brings me anguish. Anguish about the helplessness of a broken world. Agony about how the weak and the vulnerable have been abused, and the limited help people can give.  It is the third and final part of the book that the author shares deeply and intimately about her own broken life. This final part is written in a way that the author is able to use her own sense of brokenness to connect with the broken world. Put all these together, we have a book that whether anger, anguish, or agony, there is the potential of grace that can flow into every crevice of injustice, every sign of weakness, every hint of vulnerability, and every kind of broken.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Seven Reminders for Hockey Fans

TITLE: Seven Reminders for Hockey Fans
WRITTEN BY: Conrade Yap
Date: 16 April 2011

KEY POINT: Distinguish between passion and obsession; between the 'game of hockey' and the 'game of life.'

In India, people riot throughout the country if there is a power outage during a cricket game. In South America, citizens stomp out into the streets in violence when their favourite soccer team loses to their fierce rivals. In Central America, gangsters are prepared to kill if their national team loses. In Canada, whenever a major hockey event is staged, nothing else seems to matter.

Canada is a hockey nation. Politicians know it. Leaders are aware of it. Newscasters re-schedule their regular programming because if it. It is common to see people postpone activities that clash with a game. The fact is simple: Hockey wins, hands down. Mostly.

Some employers even have a television set turned on during a soccer game. For the rest of the world who wants to know why Canadians are so passionate about hockey, ask yourself about how World Cup Soccer has affected people in your country.

Canada is a strange place. They say that hockey is a religion, and they mean it. They let their passion show it. Rather than to fight it, I think it is important to be careful not to let obsession rule our heads. Hockey can be such an obsession that it threatens church programs too. I write this note so as to remind hockey fans who are also Church goers to cool it. Do not let passions turn into obsession. May the seven reminders below help keep our heads grounded in earthly realities, without turning them into unhealthy fantasies.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Forgiveness - Doing what is right

This devotional is powerful. It deals with something that all of humanity needs most: Forgiveness. It is taken from the Navigators College ministry website here. All credit goes there.

"For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men." - 2 Corinthians 8:21
On September 13, 1995, Mary Lambright was killed by a semi-tractor trailer driven by Curtis Peterson. She was an Amish woman and the horse-drawn buggy she was driving was struck by Peterson's truck. She left behind her husband Mahlon and eleven children. Following his wife's death, Lambright was offered by Peterson's insurance company a wrongful death settlement totaling $212,418. This was money for Lambright, his wife's funeral expenses and the children. Mahlon Lambright went before Wisconsin's Dunn County Circuit Court and asked the judge to drop the petition of wrongful death settlement against Peterson.

"I admire him," said David Richie, who was appointed Guardian Ad Litem for nine of the family's 11 children. He said Mahlon doesn't want the settlement "for the simple fact that he felt the money would cause more problems than it would solve."

Lambright feared his children would not appreciate Amish traditions when they grew up if he took the money, and he pointed out to the court that members of the Amish community helped them by providing food and clothing and having an auction.

Emanuel Miller, a spokesman for the Amish community said, "It shows that he's not seeking revenge, or he would have accepted the money. Our Bible says revenge is not for us."

Doing what is right brings joy to both God and man. Do you find it painful to do "the right thing"? Today in prayer, thank Christ that He receives the glory when we do what is right in His name.

"I prefer to do right and get no thanks rather than to do wrong and get no punishment." - Marcus Cato

God's Word: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men." - Romans 14:17-18

My Comments

For many of us, we will be more shocked about the story of how the hurt can forgive so generously. It is unthinkable. For some of us, we will be appalled and the seemingly lack of justice. I can understand anyone who is angry at the driver. The moment one starts to do mental gymnastics with possibilities and punishments, the road of bitterness that comes with a refusal to forgive turns into a highway to perdition and self-destruction.

For any of us who thinks it is impossible, have we forgotten Jesus' words in Luke 18:2?

Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."


Thursday, April 14, 2011


Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 14 April 2011

The year 2011 is gearing up to be an election year for a number of countries I am familiar with. Canada, Malaysia and Singapore are all gearing up for elections. Canadians are free to vote, as well as not to vote. Malaysians can vote only if they are registered on time. In fact for Malaysians, any three consecutive failures to vote can mean the forfeiture of future voting rights. In Singapore, it is compulsory to vote, only if there are no walkovers. In this note, I will argue that a stable democratic society is one that voters can freely choose, and freely agree to live with its consequences.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Only in Canada

Canada is now in the midst of an election campaign. It is the 4th in 7 years. It is also an election that most Canadian voters do NOT want. What's more? There is something else more important for Canadians. Hockey.

Only in Canada, medical personnel are warned not to chat about hockey during surgery. (new)

Only in Canada, a nationwide elections debate by the leaders of the leading political parties shift the date because of the Stanley Cup playoffs. (news)

Only in Canada, the Premier of the Province asks businesses to turn on the TV if meetings are to be held during a hockey game that involves a Canadian team.

Only in Canada, schools and employers are asked to encourage their students and employees to don hockey colours to school and to work. (news)

Only in Canada, all activities are adjusted so as to fit into a hockey playoff game.

Only in Canada, hockey is treated as the national obsession, even a religion. Between elections and a hockey game, the latter wins hands down.

Credit: The Province
Initially I cannot really understand why. To this day, it still baffles me. I have learned that in Canada, hockey cannot really be understood. It can only be experienced.

Today marks the start of the playoffs for the coveted Stanley Cup. Two Canadian teams are playing, Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks. Many will say it is more prestigious that the Olympics. It is the defacto world cup of hockey, at least in Canada.

This year, the Vancouver Canucks are ranked #1 going into the playoffs. They are Canada's best chance to bring back the Cup to the North.

Go Canucks Go!

In Vancouver, We are all Canucks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Changing Face of Learning Our ABCs

Not too long ago, this is how kids learn their ABCs.

Now, this is how kids learn their ABCs.

Time changes. So do our ABCs.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review: "The Final Summit"

TITLE: THE FINAL SUMMIT - A quest to find the one principle that will save humanity
AUTHOR: Andy Andrews
PUBLISHER: Thomas-Nelson, 2010, (245pp)

The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save HumanityBravo! Andy Andrews has done it again. In this captivating sequel to the bestselling book, "The Traveler's Gift,' the master story-teller spins another inspiring tale with his rapidly famous, David Ponder character. With regular flashbacks to historical figures first introduced in the Traveler's Gift, the author brings in additional historical figures like Joan of Arc, King David, and others to whet our appetites for more.

While the previous book touches on the seven decisions to determine personal success, this book focuses on the one main principle to save all of humanity. With only 5 chances to give a correct answer, David Ponder, as leader of the gathering of people through the ages, Ponder is able to summon additional travelers to assist him. While many of the names are known figures, there is one new character who has impacted the world hugely, but remains largely unknown. This is Eric Erickson that the author laments as one 'whom almost no information exists in a single location.' (226)

With brilliant interactions among the various historical characters, Andrews lead readers through the decision making process, often filled with humour and the idiosyncrasies of each character. In the beginning, with the multitude of help and witnesses, readers can sense some confidence that it is only a matter of time before they all get it. After the first few failed attempts, readers can begin to feel a bit concerned for David Ponder and his group of travelers. Toward the end, one may even start pondering if they will solve the puzzle at all! The answer is simple yet profound.

Book Saint Comments
Sometimes, it feels like there is no correct answer in the first place. Each of the five attempts is like clues in a literary treasure hunt. I find myself riveted to the story, often wanting to flip to the last chapter to find out the end result. I am thankful to have resisted. Otherwise, the impact will be lost. There is an answer. Within the simple story, Andrews has a powerful message to deliver. Two words bring hope to the hopeless, inject courage to the discouraged, carry wisdom to the decision process, build character in people, direct self-discipline to the enthusiastic, maintain humility to the proud, and many more. While the two words may sound simple, the application of it carries multiple opportunities.

I like the many biblical allusions Andrews weaved into the book. Stories of courage, hope, humility, repentance. The story of Eric Erickson is the single biggest reason to buy the book. In fact, chapter 7 is worth the price of the book. What this largely unknown person has done for the world remains amazingly hidden. Only time can reveal how much we owe this man and his sacrifices.

With writers like Andy Andrews, we will have no problems in raising up a reading generation. Buy three books. Give away one. Constantly loan one out, and carefully keep one for a second read.

Ratings: 4.5 stars of 5.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, April 08, 2011

Suffering: Problem with "Why Me?" question

A group I am leading is currently journeying through the book of Job. We intend to complete the entire book by the end of the year. Last night, we touch on Job 13-14. In my summary, I highlight the need to ask questions rather than provide answers. One of the most popular questions people in pain and suffering almost always ask is: "WHY ME?"

A) Why the "Why Me?" question is Unhelpful
While understandable, I feel that it is not helpful for 3 reasons. Firstly, "Why me?" tends to focus more on getting answers intellectually without helping the heart. Ok. If a pedestrian is knocked down by a drunk driver, and loses his leg, what good is the question? Will the pedestrian be satisfied with the drunk driver saying:
  • "Oh. Sorry. I just had 2 beers and I didn't know that could knock me out?"
  • "Oops. I must have driven a little too fast."
  • "Oh, I didn't see you coming."
Or will the victim be content with investigators armed with data about the lighting conditions, or the road hazards in the vicinity, or the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time prognosis? No. The leg is gone. The pain is not.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

ANNOUNCEMENT: Two New Book Review Blogs

This month, I have the longest list of new books from various publishers to be reviewed. From the looks of it, the list can only grow longer each month. Rather than overwhelming this blog with too many book reviews on any single day, I have decided to create two separate book blogs. Effective April 2011, most of my book reviews will be spread out between the two blogs below. In general, I will try to limit postings to at most once per day. You can also go to the book blog page link via the main YAPDATES blog page.

#1 - Panorama of a book Saint - (Mainly NEW / UNRELEASED BOOKS)
This blog focuses on the review of new books, and especially those that are yet to be released to the general public. The purpose is to give a telescopic view of the new book horizon.
Frequency: At most once a day.

#2 - Thoughts from a Book Loving Pastor (Good books for Spiritual Growth)
For this blog, I will attempt to review and suggest good books for the disciple. Occasionally, I will highlight some popular books of interest to educate and to inform the Christian public about the pluses and minuses of the book concerned.
Planned Frequency: One book per week.

As for my YAPDATES blog (this blog,) when necessary, I will re-post book reviews on this blog.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Changing Face of Society

This new video made by Microsoft should make us all laugh at ourselves, at how we have allowed technology to infiltrate all parts of our lives. Though I feel Microsoft is late in the mobile phone arena, they are ahead in terms of marketing the understanding of how technology are changing society. In a clever move to try to distinguish itself from the rest, as a late player, the venerable software giant is quietly trying to pave new paths. However I do not agree that it takes a phone to save us from itself. It takes an intentional sabbatical regularly to keep technology at bay. Otherwise, the future will no longer be baffled 'Really?'s but nonchalant disregard of all things human.

Enjoy the video. Take the conclusion lightly, but learn to laugh at ourselves.


Monday, April 04, 2011

Book Review: " Dating"

TITLE: DOT-COM DATING - finding your right someone online
AUTHOR: Les Parrott & Leslie Parrott
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2011, (158pp).

[This review is simultaneously published on] Dating: finding your right someone online--avoiding the liars, losers, and freaks
6 - 6 - 5. This book debunks six myths, sets forth six advantages, and posits 5 questions that must be asked of online dating and matching making websites. In a world that is increasingly interconnected, almost everything has an online presence. We search for book bargains online. We buy stuff off the net. We look for jobs. Invariably, we let the mouse do the spouse hunting for us.

The authors of this book update the age old topic of dating, particularly online dating for Christians. The book is structured in three parts. Firstly, they take pains to debunk some debilitating mindsets that hinder anyone from considering online dating. For the Parrotts, it is not an embarrassing exercise. It does not mean one is desperate. Neither does it mean that only losers and liars are online. By debunking myths like these, the Parrotts go a step further to establish come credibility to these often maligned online tools. This leads to the second part, which is to ask single people to seriously consider online mechanism, if they fit some basic criteria. Finally, on dating sites, the authors suggest 5 questions that we need to ask PRIOR to using any particular website. At the same time, the Parrotts mention the one that they have invested in:

My Comments
I must admit that this book helps me in three ways. Firstly, it changes my archaic mindset about dating. This book puts back some credibility into online dating. There has been far too much misinformation about the negatives and taboos of initiating web-based relationships. Simply put, online dating is not wrong per se. With the needed safeguards and wise discernment, it can be made to work for people. Secondly, it provides good guidelines for online usage. For instance, I really appreciate the part about free dating sites. If we want good relationships, do not cheapen the search process by dumping all our data and hopes into free ones. There is no free lunch. Free sites need to find a way to make money too. If they can use YOUR confidential information to make money, they will. Thirdly, the authors tell us how to size up the online dating sites.

This book is a welcome addition to the field of dating and finding relationships for singles. Traditional means are increasingly limited. The world is increasingly online. While I am somewhat cautious about online dating in general, I believe that this is the thing of the future. In fact, it has already come, and will replace traditional dating avenues like how EMAIL has replaced 'snail mail.' If we cannot beat them, might as well be prepared for them. Having said that, the best way is to have a good mix of both online and offline presence. Some people can communicate well online, but are tongue-tide offline. There is no substitute for face to face communications. Online dating facilitates the process in getting there. If you are single, and want to meet eligible ones out there, this book is a must read.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book has been supplied to me free by Tyndale House Publishers, without financial compensation in any way. I am not required to give a positive review. Opinions expressed are freely mine.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Book Review: "The Complete Visual Bible"

TITLE: The Complete Visual Bible
AUTHOR: Stephen M. Miller
PUBLISHER: Barbour Publishing, 2011, (271pp).

The Complete Visual BibleThis is one of those books that I fall in love at first sight. It is a visually appealing partial paraphrase of the Bible. It is a colourful rendition of the flow of the biblical story. It is a dynamic interplay of part atlas, part dictionary, part biblical history, and part retelling of the Old and New Testament Bible in narrative style. One simply will not get bored with this book.

Strengths of the Book
Clarity is the strongest point in this book. The tables, the illustrations, photographs and beautiful graphics, this book is perhaps one of the best 'photo albums' of the Bible I have seen. The author needs to be commended for the massive amount of research and painstaking details to highlight the biblical text. It brings to life even the obscure parts of the Bible. For example, for those of us who think that certain books of the Bible is 'boring,' try reading that particular book with the Visual Bible. It will give the reader a refreshing read indeed.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Book Review: "Sabbath" (Dan B. Allender)

AUTHOR: Dan B. Allender
PUBLISHER: Thomas-Nelson, 2009, (214pp)

SabbathIf there is one phrase to sum up this book, it will be four words: "Let There Be Delight." Some books on the Sabbath tend to focus more on it being a commandment to obey, lest there be consequences. Others deal with the Fourth Commandment as a command to rest and follow a list of don'ts. Not Allender. In this book, the author advocates something that is along the lines of play and delight. He builds his house of delight using the four 'Sabbath Pillars':
  1. Sensual Glory;
  2. Holy time;
  3. Communal feast
  4. Play day.
He then fills this house with three kinds of 'purposing' about how 'sabbath play' looks like. It is about three major shifts. Firstly, it is a shift from a life of dividing loyalties, to one of peaceful unity. Secondly, it is an abandonment of a life of destitution, to embrace one of abundance. Thirdly, it is to exchange despair for joy. All of these purposes are ways in which delight can be achieved.

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