Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Book Potpourri

With much gratitude to the publishers and Graf-Martin Communications, here are 4 books that merit a brief mention. Many people do not really have the time to read many books. In fact, reviews are often needed to help people to decide whether they ought to read the book, or even buy it. I have been blessed by many Christian publishers who have continually provided me some of the best books on leadership resources, Bible interpretation, Christian living, and many others. Here are four books that I have obtained in 2012, which I will do a brief review. The books are indeed so good that they merit a longer review.

Today, I'll make a short mention on my thoughts about the books. Here goes.


#1 - "Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time "
Author: Noel Brewer Yeatts
Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Books, 2012, (176 pages)

Good works that flow out of the Good Word in the heart. Doing good to the world one person at a time. Reaching a larger world regardless of how small or how limited one is. All it matters is a big heart and willing hands. This is exactly what Noel Brewer Yeatts has done. This book is about changing the world, beginning with changing the hearts of anyone who wants to do some good in the world. The primary audience is essentially the rich West, but the scope can be easily enlarged to include other groups. Containing many stories of faith and trust, success and disappointments, Yeatts encourages us not to look at the problem, be discouraged and then do nothing. Instead, she urges us to look at what is possible, be encouraged, and then do something, even if it means just one life or one small situation at a time. Three thoughts come to mind as I marvel at the resilience and the industry of Yeatts. First, we are not responsible to solve all the problems of the whole world, just part of it. Second, we are not meant to help everybody in the world, just who we can reach. Third, we are not responsible for the ills of the world, but we are responsible if we do not do anything about it. If any of these thoughts can be planted in the reader, this book will have done its job. I'm sure readers will be moved. It is a fitting reminder that while we are not responsible for solving all the problems of the world, we are responsible for those things that we can do something about.

My Amazon Review links for "Awake."

Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Books in exchange for an honest review.

#2 - "No Matter the Cost"
Author: Vance Brown
Publisher: Minnesota, MN: Bethany House Publisher, 2012, (208 pages).

Stand up and fight for things that matter. Let hope awaken the potential in your heart. This is the crux of this book, written to exhort men to rise up, take courage, to live well and bring hope. It begins with a call to listen to the King. Instead of living lives of quiet desperation, men are called to live out their potential in great expectation. Using the Lord's Prayer as a framework, Vance Brown sends waves after waves of powerful messages of encouragement for the weary, exhortation for the perplexed, and enthusiasm for the energized. With God as our redeeming Light, God as our constant Guide, and as our Great God, men do not need to linger around as helpless lambs of doubt but mighty lions of faith. If you read this book, do not expect to sit back and relax. Instead, be ready to get up and take action!

My Amazon Review links for "No Matter the Cost."

Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Bethany House Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

#3 - "Speaking of Dying: Recovering the Church's Voice in the Face of Death "
Author: Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith
Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2012, (220 pages).

Many books talk about the Christian life and how we can live better. There is even a popular genre of books called "Christian Living." However, there are very few books that talk about death and dying. Stick a label called "Christian Dying" on the bookstore shelves, and there will perhaps be very few readers or buyers of such books. This reflects the problem of the Church at large. We prefer to talk more about life and less about death. We focus our attention on living rather than the dying. As a result, we become experts about living, and very ignorant about dying. The authors in this book seek to bring back a renewed focus on death and the dying. In doing so, the authors believe that Christians will be better prepared to cope with this eventual end. After all, we will all die one day. The more we understand death and dying, we more we are able to care for people who are dying and to care for ourselves when our turn comes.

Ten stories of dying pastors give readers a glimpse of the tragic reality of how many congregations are lost when their pastors are dying. In writing this book, the authors hope to counter the empty secular dimension with a full Christian narrative of death, redemption, resurrection, and glory. They anchor the thinking of death and dying on the Person of Christ who faces death fearlessly and faithfully. We have a renewed understanding that we too have died in Christ, and will rise with Christ on the last day. They provide seven wise words and seven examples of what to say to those who are dying. They urge more preaching on death and dying. They propose a TABLE initiative to help Christians and the Church talk more constructively about the whole matter without fear.

I am deeply grateful for this book because it shines light into a dark place where few people dare to tread. It speaks into the needs of people who struggle with the questions of death and dying. Above all, as it helps the Church recover her voice for speaking hope to the dying, it also illuminates ways in which pastors, preachers, leaders, and concerned believers can participate in the ministry of caring for the dying. Well written and researched, intelligent and practical, this book is a strongly recommended reference book for all in Christian ministry and leadership. As much as we all want to live well, we need also to learn what it means to die well. This book provides much wisdom and guidance.

My Amazon Review links for "Speaking of Dying."

Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Brazos Press in exchange for an honest review.

#4 - "Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views"

Author: Walter Wink, David Powlison, Gregory Boyd, C. Peter Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood
Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012, (230 pages).

Spiritual warfare means different things to different people. Some underplay its significance, while others hype up its importance. Even scholars and theologians are not able to agree. Instead of trying to pit one another in order to find out who is right or wrong, this book brings together four diverse but important perspectives of spiritual warfare. Walter Wink advocates the "World Systems Model," where if there are institutions and world systems that have been taken over by evil forces and principalities, the Christian is to name them, unmask them, and "engage them." David Powlison promotes the "Classical Model" where spiritual warfare is centered on fighting the flesh. Through Christian disciplines of prayer, evangelism, spiritual growth, one automatically fights the sinful desires of the flesh. The third model is the "Ground-Level Deliverance Model" which is described by Gregory Boyd as the need to deal with personal demons that requires exorcism, but raises the question of whether Christians can be demonized in the first place. Finally, Peter C. Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood helms the view of "Strategic Level Deliverance" where spiritual warfare is of a territorial and cosmic dimension.

Like iron sharpening iron, these four views are ably argued for and against by the different writers. It highlights issues that bring clarity to the original propositions, adds in important nuances to the understanding of spiritual warfare, and maintains a healthy respect for persons who agree or disagree. While I am tempted to say that the biggest beneficiaries for this book are the contributors themselves, readers are in for a treat as they are invited to listen in to the conversations and to be reminded that spiritual warfare is real, wide-ranging, and deeply mystifying too. Readers ought not to be distracted by the different views and opinions of the authors and editors. Instead, readers can acknowledge the variety of differences based on contexts, understanding of differences, and an awareness of how each perspective deals with spiritual warfare. There is nothing to lose when we learn from others. There is everything to gain when we are humble to acknowledge that together, we are stronger. This book shows us the way on how Christians may differ in views, but united in their stance against principalities and powers of evil. In Christ we stand. This is perhaps one of the best books, if not the best book on comparing spiritual warfare perspectives.

My Amazon Review links for "Understanding Spiritual Warfare - Four Views."

Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Academic in exchange for an honest review.


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