Monday, August 26, 2013

BookPastor >> "The Calling of Congregational Leadership" (Larry McSwain)

This review was first published at "Panorama of a Book Saint" on June 21st, 2013.


TITLE: The Calling of Congregational Leadership: Being, Knowing, Doing Ministry (TCP The Columbia Partnership Leadership Series)
AUTHOR: Larry L. McSwain
PUBLISHER:  St Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2013, (288 pages).

Leadership is a calling. It is a ministry of being, of knowing, and of doing. Larry McSwain is a Professor of Leadership at the McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. The main idea in the book is about how congregational members can "model communities of obedience to the lordship of Jesus Christ in who they are and what they do." Aimed primarily at congregations that are local and autonomous, and structurally not as hierarchical or connectional, the author believes that God's power flows through the local congregation of the Church as they touch each other's lives, through the practices of being, knowing, and doing ministry.

Part One deals with the being aspect of a congregational member. This is linked with a response to the calling of each member. For people are meant to be unique, not uniform. There are four ways to understand calling. Firstly, calling is beyond the self. God must call the person. Secondly, the calling involves an experience from within, to generate purpose and passion. Thirdly, the call to leadership comes from the Church. This has implications for pastoral leadership and the ecclesiastical call, where serving the Church is not about an employment contract, but about vocation. Such a vocation is that deepest desire to serve. Fourthly, it means learning about vocational calling and discernment remains a core responsibility of the Church leadership. The response to the call is then through deeper self-knowledge, deeper growth in spiritual disciplines, and deeper responsibility in leadership.

Part Two is about knowing the mission of God. It requires the leader to know the cultural realities of the church community. It needs the leadership to understand the uniqueness of their DNA, and live intentionally God's mission for their unique contexts.

Part Three is the most practical part of the book. Congregational leadership is demonstrated through eight ways, all of which are interconnected and important.

  1. Dreaming: This is important for hope is tightly connected to dreams. Just like the Christian lives in anticipation of the promises of God, the Church leadership must adopt "pastoral imagination" that embodies the call of the people, the needs of the neighbourhood, the mission of God, and the strategic vision of the Church.
  2. Caring: It is the art of compassionate ministry that distinguishes Church leadership from other kinds of leadership. The three circles of care are pastoral care, internal congregationalcare, and external community care. Pastoral care involves friendship, comfort, confession, and teaching. Compassionate preaching can be done over the pulpit. Caring preaching can minister to the hurt and needy. Grief ministry to the suffering. 
  3. Proclaiming: The purpose of the gospel is basically to be made known to as many people as possible. The Church's mission is to declare it to their neighbourhoods. 
  4. Organizing: If there is no people to plan activities, there will be nothing for the people to look forward to. Activities in the Church include worship services, learning programs, liturgy, hospitality, social, evangelism, and so on.
  5. Resourcing: This is essentially about stewardship. Out of the need to practice holistic stewardship, education, training, and giving structures need to be attended to.
  6. Conflict Management: With change so prevalent everywhere, people do come into conflict from time to time. Various conflicts and the responses are suggested on how to deal with each.
  7. Evaluating: In order to improve, one needs to evaluate themselves.
  8. Celebrating: Serving well also means celebrating well together.

So What?

This book presents a comprehensive picture of what a Church needs. The objectives are clear. The flow is logical. The suggestions are practical. It is a powerful handbook for Church ministry and leadership, and congregation members can benefit from the book in many different ways. The three parts of the book shows us that every leadership consideration must involve recognizing the who we are created (the being). Then, we  need to be clear about the mission of God in our Churches (knowing). Know who we are. Know what we are supposed to do. Then, go ahead and be equipped for the work to be done. Churches that are aimless often do not know who they are and where they are supposed to go. It is because they lack knowledge in these, they are unable to be trained or seek education. In other words, they start barking up all kinds of different trees in search of something to do. The tragedy is that they may end up doing things that are totally out of sync with their calling. Finally, the doing aspect of the book contains many practical advice and program steps. Many of the ideas can be easily adopted by any congregation.

My suggestion is that readers should not jump too quickly to the last part of the book. Instead, they need to spend a 40-30-30 percentage. For 40% of the time, pray and fast to discover their being, their calling, and to affirm one another their uniquenesses. For the next 30% of the time, take time for knowing the self, the congregation, and the community at large. Finally, the last 30% is about implementing all of the above in specific ways. For any Church, certain ministries will be more developed than others. So, different ministries will be at different phases at any one time. Thus, it is important to take a step back and not presume the whole Church is stuck at any one phase.

Even though the author has indicated the book as meant more for congregational members of churches that are non-hierarchical and non-connectional, I think the ideas in the book can benefit the Church at large.

Great leadership resource!

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Chalice Press and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Midweek Meditation: "Prayer of Rest" (Richard Foster)

"Blessed Savior, I am not good at resting in the hollow of your hand. Nothing in my experience has taught me this resting. I have been taught how to take charge. I have been taught how to be in control. But how to rest? No, I have no models, no paradigms for resting. This is not exactly right.

Jesus, when you walked among the Jerusalem crowds and in the Judean hills, you pioneered this way of living. You were always alert and alive. You lived utterly responsive to the will of the Father. Manifold demands were placed upon you, and still you walked in unhurried peace and power.

Help me to walk in your steps. Teach me to see only what you see, to say only what you say, to do only what you do. Help me, Lord, to work resting and to pray resting.

I ask this in your good and strong name. Amen."

Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, HarperCollins, p103)

Monday, August 19, 2013

BookPastor >> "A Reasonable Response"

This is one of the best books on Apologetics. This review was first published at "Panorama of a Book Saint" on July 3rd, 2013. 


TITLE: A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions on God, Christianity, and the Bible
AUTHOR: William Lane Craig
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013, (416 pages).

Apologetics is getting more popular by the day, for the questions never truly go away. While there are many different Internet sites offering all kinds of perspectives to anything under the sun, few come close to the kind of learning and authority of William Lane Craig, an American apologist, trained in theology and philosophy in England, Germany, and the US. Currently a research professor at Talbot School of Theology at Biola, one of the world's leading schools on apologetics, WLC puts on paper what he has often done face to face in public engagements. Calling this book a "reasonable response" is already a give away, that this book is about the process, the problem, and the promise of answering tough questions facing both Christians as well as non-Christians. This book may very well be WLC's most personal book on how he engages the tough questions surrounding Christianity today.

Calling "questions" as friends, Craig and Gorra helpfully helps us to see questions not as threats but as invitations to learn and to build friendships. Readers need not be afraid of questions, even those they cannot answer. People who ask questions need to be respected and gently engaged with honesty and integrity. There are several distinctiveness in this book's approach to apologetics. Firstly, it goes beyond mere Bible answers to see the bigger picture of the Bible vision. Secondly, without wanting to wear people down with heavy textbook answer, the authors put forth a compelling concise and fairly comprehensive way to engage the questions without missing the questioner's beat. Thirdly, there is the "doing of apologetics" approach, instead of just talking about it. In other words, apart from just learning the answers toward learning to answer them. The rest of the book represents the authors' take on six major groups of questions.
  1. Part One: Questions on Knowing and Believing What is Real
  2. Part Two: Questions about God
  3. Part Three: Questions about Origins and Meaning of Life
  4. Part Four: Questions about the Afterlife and Evil
  5. Part Five: Questions about Jesus Christ and Being His Disciple
  6. Part Six: Questions about Issues of Christian Practice
Fourthly, the selections of the questions are not haphazardly done. All the questions are selected on the basis of three criteria.
  • Is it interesting?
  • Is it insightful?
  • Is it instructive? 
Fifthly, there is a participation style that invites readers to come alongside the authors to learn about engaging the question itself. It begins with a simple reading of the question. It then considers the question from the perspective of the person asking the question. Finally, it gives readers an opportunity to compare their approaches with that of Craig's. At the same time, WLC shares with readers some insights from his Biola colleague, JP Moreland on how to cultivate both a Christian mind and spiritual formation.
  1. Growing in mental fortitude via truth-seeking, honesty, and wisdom;
  2. Growing in trust and hope
  3. Growing the inner soul through humility, open-mindedness, non-defensiveness, and circumspection;
  4. Growing holistically in ardor (zeal), vigilance, and fortitude;
  5. Growing in our relationship with God in fidelity and dedication to God's mission.
Sixth, the book is comprehensive, covering six major parts of the doing of Apologetics. Part One touches on the reality of life, the place of knowledge, and essentially about epistemology (big word for knowledge). Lessons are given on how people learn, the basis for truth, the Bible as foundational to the seeking of truth, and how to persuade. Readers will learn of how WLC phrases and resits the questions in a way that is clearer but also appreciative of the questioner's concerns. He shows the way for readers not just to know the answer, but to learn how to answer the questions. For example, in addressing the question of the Authority of Scripture, WLC mounts a powerful defense via explanatory notes, showing the different critieria and the thinking processes that led to the canonization of the Holy Bible.

Part Two covers the very big topic of God and in particular Christian Theology. In explaining the existence of God, WLC draws on a wide beliefs of religion in general and adopts a personal approach in answering the question. Weaving in his own thinking and based on biblical references, he makes a distinction between mere intellectual enquiry versus honest searching for faith. Our apologetics need to be geared toward the latter and less toward the former.

Part Three is a hallmark of WLC's cosmological approach in his form of apologetics. It goes back all the way to argue that the existence of life is because of God, the ultimate cause (Creator) of the universe.  For God is not an impersonal force but a personal Being. For example, he highlights the importance to see the "is" in "God is the cause of the universe" as a predicate, that is, the second part cannot exist without the first. In other words, "God is good" is not to be understood merely the goodness of God, but without God, nothing is good. With this idea, one can begin to appreciate creatio ex nihilo (creating something out of nothing). WLC exposes how the philosophy of Hawking and Mlodinow contradicts their physics. In one brilliant example, he takes to task Hawking and Mlodinow's argument for determinism, that free will is an illusion since by twitching something in our brain, the arm can be move. WLC then goes on to say that it is wrong to presuppose that even if one can scientifically move the limbs and bypass one's freewill to choose how to move the arm, it fails to acknowledge that one can choose to move his/her arm freely on other occasions too. WLC also makes a keen distinction between "methodological naturalism" and "metaphysical naturalism," that many physicists like Hawking and Mlodinow are more about the former. The way he answers the question on time and timelessness is also a fascinating clarification to the question of eternity. He carefully touches on the question of life's meaning, arguing with passion that without an ultimate purpose, value, and destiny, there is truly no ultimate meaning in life. We need to move beyond constructing meaning about meaning which leads to nothingness and absurdity, but toward discovering meaning after meaning, leading to the Greatest ultimate purpose. For me, this part alone is worth the price of the book.

Part Four deals with the afterlife and the problem of evil. It deals with morality and to discern the goodness and the fairness of God in all things. WLC argues that the burden of proof for the problem of evil lies not with theists but with atheists! By separating the "emotional" and the "intellectual" components of the problem of evil, he makes it clear that atheists who argue against God using the problem of evil argument are merely mixing up the two. Once we separate the two, we can easily see that issues of morality and emotion cannot be easily explained from an atheistic standpoint. At best, they can argue from an intellectual capacity, which is why the burden of proof lies with the atheists, when it comes to emotional trauma. He touches on other critical topics like genocide in the Old Testament, that God has absolute right to do anything; that God is preserving Israel's spiritual health for the sake of the whole world; that the Canaanites are deserving of such judgment; that God is the ultimate Judge; and many other reasons.

Part Five comes to Jesus, the New Testament, and discipleship. WLC argues that Jesus is a real person, and not some mythological allusions. He gives a history of the Jesus scholarship movement, casts doubts on those who doubts the authenticity of Jesus, and explains how the pagan culture of the times has influenced the understanding of Jesus's life. Again, WLC argues that anything casting doubt on the authenticity of Jesus themselves have to bear the burden of proof. Christians have already stated their proofs through multiple witnesses and documented testimonies. WLC defends the resurrection of Jesus, debunking some of the common arguments that say just because they do not see more historical evidence, that Jesus' resurrection is untrue. WLC turns it around and say, just because we do not see more historical evidence does not necessarily mean Jesus' resurrection is false. In fact, Jesus' resurrection is not about proving the theory of the resurrection, but to give hope to all and to prove Jesus' claims of saving the world. On the part of being a disciple, WLC shares a powerful personal story of his own conversion, his intellectual challenges growing up in an environment of skepticism and cynicism, and how he finally comes to faith. On difficult questions, WLC poses an interesting challenge for readers, that the secret of dealing with doubt is not to have all our questions answered, but to be able to live victoriously in faith, even when not all our questions are answered.

Part Six is about Christian Practice. WLC deals with seven questions that covers issues in our modern culture; postmodern environment; unequally yoked marriages; homosexuality; physical stamina; and marriage.     For any solution, a good diagnosis is essential. He sees that it is the bed of modernism that has spawned the growth of relativism and pluralism. This version of modernism grows out of a culture that sees no big picture of life, no historical meta-narrative, and subsequently forgetfulness of historical traditions of the past. It is thus easily diagnosed that without a common story, people make up their own. Secularism, relativism, and all sorts of isms are society's ways of trying to build some meaning. He urges Christians not to marry non-Christians. He persuades people not to use "homosexuals" as genders but a sexual preference, arguing that it is more choice than genetics at stake here.

So What?

Although this is a big book to digest, the authors have made it more palatable by giving readers several useful guideposts when reading this book. First, each part has a helpful introduction to give readers a road map and the main points in the chapters that follow. Written in easy to follow point form, readers will be able to read the flow of arguments with this end in mind. Second, there are boxes of "Insight" that highlights at a glance the core arguments that WLC has to make. This is extremely helpful for readers who may find it hard to follow some tough philosophical arguments being built up. Third, the resources shared have been separated into three categories: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. Interested readers will find it very helpful for further research. A good book will generate greater interest among readers to find out more, which makes this book itself a gem to have. Four, there is a gentle movement that happens when one reads this powerful book. One moves from mere intellectual reason to a passionate desire to want to believe. Five, the questions selected in the book are some of the most frequently asked questions. One may say that the issues are old, but the fact that it continues to be asked shows us the nature of the human person to be curious about the issues of life. Six, the value of the book is not the content but the process in which the reader can be trained to be a good apologist. Each step of the way, the authors do not just tell readers. They show readers what to do and how to do it.

Finally, I appreciate WLC's sharing of some of the most personal questions posed to him. If you notice carefully, WLC takes a personal interest and appreciation for every question posed, keeping at the forefront the personal concerns and struggles of the questioner. In answering the question, WLC does not beat around the bush or to meander in circles. He is very direct and keeps the reader attentive.

These reasons and many others have given me a renewed respect for William Lane Craig. If you cannot afford to take a course at Biola where he teaches, reading this book as well as checking out can perhaps be your next best alternative.

This book has certainly moved me from mere reasonable faith to more resolute belief.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Moody Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Warning if You Take Photos With Your Smartphone

It is convenient. It is easy. It can also be very costly. With the introduction of GPS technology on our tablets, our computers, and our smartphones, we can easily expose our identity and our exact location to strangers. Check out this video.

Here are some tips that you can use to make sure your information you post online remains private.

  1. Beware of any addons you install on your browsers. If you are unsure, always say NO. 
  2. Note that many free programs out there often has a "recommended" installation option to simplify things for you. Do NOT choose the recommended option. It is actually for THEIR benefit, not yours. 
  3. Turn OFF your GPS if your smartphone has one.
  4. Ensure that your Facebook or Twitter accounts have a strong privacy settings. If you are unsure how to do that, this link can give you some idea.
  5. Avoid putting sexy or suggestive photos on the web. You never know if some of your "trusted" friends can blackmail you in the future. Again, never say never. 
  6. As a rule of thumb, always remember that convenience often comes at a cost. In modern social media terms, the cost is the loss of privacy.
  7. Finally, be wise when it comes to putting information online. If unsure, don't.

Remember, if you are planning to use your smartphone to take pictures and post it on social media, do turn OFF your GPS first.


Monday, August 12, 2013

BookPastor >> "God's Favourite Place on Earth" (Frank Viola)

This review was first published at "Panorama of a Book Saint" on June 18th, 2013.


TITLE: God's Favorite Place on Earth
AUTHOR: Frank Viola
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2013, (208 pages).

Is there such a thing as Jesus' favourite place on earth? If so, is it Jerusalem, the capital of much religious significance? Or is it in Bethlehem where he was first born? No. It's Bethany, insists Frank Viola, author of "Pagan Christianity" and "Reimagining Church." Using the biblical Lazarus as the narrator of Jesus' activities in, out, and through Bethany, Viola gives a fascinating narrative of the Bethany chapters of Jesus' life. Beginning with the facts of Bethany to prepare readers to appreciate the geography, the size, the botanical spread, filled with plenty of biblical images, Biola demonstrates passionately why it is a preferred place of refuge for Jesus. While the meaning of "Bethany" is not clear, there are suggestions that it could mean house of the poor, or afflicted, house of dates or house of figs. More importantly, in Bethany, Jesus fellowships with Mary, Martha, Simon, as well as Lazarus. Using the gospels as the main guide, Viola brilliantly recreates the biblical scene as much as possible, so that readers can understand not only the context, but the nuances of Bethany is so significant.

According to the author, Bethany is appreciated because some of the most precious moments of Jesus' time on earth were spent there. When Jerusalem rejects him, Bethany embraces him. The way Bethany, or more specifically, the people at Bethany receives Jesus, makes Jesus better able to find solace amid rejections at other cities. Viola reminds us right from the start that the Christian life is not one of comfort, prosperity, or winning successes, but one of discomfort, poverty, and suffering. It is because Jesus has suffered much, we as followers take comfort in a Saviour who fully understands us and our sufferings.

At Bethany, we see how Mary is awed by the presence of Jesus, reminding us our spiritual posture when we come before the throne of grace of an Awesome God. Here, we see a powerful exposition of the famous passage about Martha and Mary. Viola dispels the popular dichotomy that puts Martha as busy and Mary as contemplative. The main point is while Martha receives Jesus into her house, Mary receives Jesus into her heart. Martha focuses on temporal stuff and is anxious over them. Mary is captivated by the eternal Lord and is restful at the feet of Jesus. For me, it is basically the difference between "living for God" versus "living in God." Viola gives some three helpful applications on what it means to receive Christ.

At Bethany, we see how Lazarus was awakened by Jesus. In a moving narrative, Lazarus shares about how he was raised from the dead, and how emotions were free flowing by all his loved ones, as well as Jesus. The gospels record only three instances where Jesus shed tears. One was at Jerusalem where he shed tears of sorrow. The second was his tears of prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane. The third was Bethany where he wept as he expressed sympathy with Mary and Martha. Viola gives a powerful message on the significance of the resurrection.

Chapter 4 explains the breaking of the alabaster jar of expensive perfume, and how Mary anoints Jesus completely with it. In the process, the whole house is filled with the fragrant aroma of Mary preparing Jesus for his impending death. It is completely worth it. A contrast is also made with the attitude of Judas Iscariot who claims that the breaking of the jar and the use of the perfume was a waste. As we think about it, we only call it a waste when something expensive is used on a less valuable or less worthy purpose, such as using expensive water to wash our hands. When it comes to Jesus, if we believe Jesus is worth it, he is worth not just the most expensive gifts we have, he is worth our all! I appreciate Viola's interpretation of the fig tree, where he gives a deep insight into the cursing of the fig tree, relating it to the judgment of Israel that bears false witnesses.

Slowly and gently, Viola leads us toward a posture of anticipation of the great enthronement of Christ. For as we seek union with Christ, we will be inspired by the vision of the great kingdom of heaven. We will be set free from enslavement to earthly bitterness and temporal suffering. We will be able to better respond to struggles that we face on a daily basis, because Jesus himself has suffered all the way.

My Thoughts

This is one of those books that really gets me pumped up with excitement, not only with the powerful exhortations to read the gospels with a more discerning eye on the significance of Bethany, but also the many insights of the love of Jesus in spite of suffering. Things like the lessons of life is learned most through the school of suffering. Insights like how Martha sees only the small picture of serving God, while Mary takes in the whole person of the Servant God. Though much of the book is written from a first hand account from Lazarus's perspective, with some amount of fictional dramatization, we need to appreciate the book from the angle of story telling, not from the microscope of historical word-for-word replay of the first century encounters with Jesus. The best that anyone in the modern world can do is to recreate as much as possible the meaning behind the texts. One can dispute whether Bethany is indeed the favourite place of Jesus. Whatever the case, it is quite clear that where there are willing hearts, there Jesus will find his favourite dwelling place. Viola has demonstrated strongly that in bethany, he has found people who have carved out a place in their hearts, and in doing so, he willingly lets himself into their hearts.

For me, Chapter 1 alone is worth the price of the book, especially for those of us in Christian ministry. AW Tozer has said that "All great Christians have been wounded souls." Reflecting on Jesus' call to disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ, it should not come as a surprise that the Christian call is to lose, be broken, and be smitten for Christ. Frank Viola goes even further to say: "Unbroken people don't know how to lay their lives down and lose. They only know how to try and win." As I think of it, it is really true. Those of us in Christian ministry need to remember this. It's a terrible thing, but when you are in the ministry, losing is a default mode. If you are still unconvinced, let me suggest you read Matthew 5:38-42.

I highly recommend this book for your reading. Share it widely. Discuss it passionately. It is worth it.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by David C. Cook Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Midweek Meditation"Prayer for Humility" (William Barclay)

O Father, give us the humility which
 - Realises its ignorance,
 - Admits its mistakes,
 - Recognizes its need,
 - Welcomes advice,
 - Accepts rebuke.

Help us always
 - To praise rather than to criticize,
 - To sympathize rather than to condemn,
 - To encourage rather than to discourage,
 - To build rather than to destroy,
 - And to think of people at their best rather than at their worst.

This we ask for Thy Name's Sake. Amen.
(William Barclay, 1907-1978)

Monday, August 05, 2013

BookPastor >> "Jesus Pure and Simple" (Wayne Cordeiro)

Are you flooded by too much information about all the requirements to be a Christian? Have you forgotten all the steps or methods learnt at past conferences or seminars? Maybe, you are too confused about what it all mean to be a Christian. Come and let Wayne Cordeiro guide you back to keeping it pure and simple. It is all about Jesus. This review was first published at "Panorama of a Book Saint" on December 20th, 2012.


TITLE: Jesus: Pure and Simple
AUTHOR: Wayne Cordeiro
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2012, (210 pages).

Have we forgotten what being a Christian is all about? Are we loading too much excess and non-essential stuff in our small luggage bag of life? What if by working on all the steps of discipleship, or trying to fulfill all the important spiritual disciplines per se, that we have forgotten our main goal: Jesus? Indeed, the things we do reflect the primary goal of our activism. "Jesus: Pure and Simple" attempts to cut through all the flowery ribbons of busyness, to unwrap the paper covering the true identity in Christ, to open up the present of the gift of God, that is Christ Jesus, pure and simple. "It's time to get back to Jesus." No more multiple characteristics that define one's identity. No more steps to take in order to attain a certain security. No more seminars, conferences, talks, sermons, that only go to increase one's inadequacy. For only Jesus defines our identity, gives us security, and comfort us to know that Jesus is not just the answer to our mental faculties, but the Person who is our Guide for life. In order to do that, first we need to recognize and to move away from the two symptoms of Pharisaic lifestyle: self-righteousness and self-deception. Second, why choose the imperfect activism when we have the perfect Christ? Third, remember that while we are in the world, we are not of the world. This requires us to break away from the subcultures that hinder us, and to long for God in person. Four, before one can focus on Jesus, one needs to know who is this Jesus. Cordeiro helps us see the difference between getting answers and receiving promises. The former worries while the latter trusts. Such a trusting disposition is evident in our life through patient service, mature perspective, dedicated commitment, courageous endurance, regular discipline, and simple faith. Six, instead of worrying ourselves through multi-tasking activities, we can focus all our goals and efforts on just knowing God. On and on, Cordeiro goes through the Christian life from beginning to end, from knowing Christ to wanting to know Christ more. Through personal relationship, through sharing the gospel, and through living the life of a disciple.  The author ends with three challenges at the end.

  1. "Choose this day whom you will serve." - Decide whose side we are on. There is no middle ground.
  2. "Choose the posture you will take." - Choose to serve the Master.
  3. "How will you respond when tested?" - Stick to faithfulness in spite of trials.

Indeed, the saddest part about life is when we allow temporal things to fill up our prime time of life, and we only deal with the things of permanence with our leftover time, if any.

We have a choice. We can choose now.

The older we get, the more complacent we can become. Anyone who thinks that maturity comes about through the accumulation of years, think again. We are all so prone to the deceptions of the world that we can be sidetracked by the worries and cares of the world. We are easily tempted to try to take things on our own hands, turning good intentions into self-driven efforts to glorify oneself in the name of God. These things only add to our already complicated lifestyle. Cordeiro reminds us again that these things are the peripheral, not the fundamental. This book is an important antidote in a world infatuated with efficiency, productivity, and all kinds of spiritual progress that are not based on the gospel or the Person of Christ. We need to cut through all these and focus again on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. This book is a powerful resource to help us do just that.

"Nothing is as refreshing as a cold glass of fresh orange juice, pure and simple. For that matter, anything that is pure and simple is refreshing in today's artificial world of sleek packaging and million-dollar marketing." (11)

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Bethany House Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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