Sunday, November 30, 2014

BookPastor >> "Passion for the Fatherless" (Daniel J. Bennett)

When we look at Paul's letter to the Ephesians, especially chapter 1 verse 5, we would realize one thing: We are all adopted. Some have gone on to say that the very gospel thrust is about adoption and the Church ought to be the prime force behind adoptions. This review was first published on November 17th, 2014 at Panorama of a Book Saint.


TITLE: A Passion for the Fatherless: Developing a God-Centered Ministry to Orphans
AUTHOR: Daniel J. Bennett
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2014, (240 pages).

Experts estimate the number of orphans globally stands at 163 million. In the United States alone, there are 425,000 of which 115,000 are waiting to be adopted. We may shudder at the numbers or be horrified at the huge quantity of fatherless. What about our compassion? Is it not God's will for us to care for the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, widows and orphans? Bennett believes that it is not only what God wanted the Church to do, it is also a very powerful "apologetic" when believers stand together to support the fatherless. Whether it is fostering, adopting, mentoring, or simply supporting, the transformation can go much more. Not only will orphans be reached and cared for, the ones who reached out will also be transformed.

Daniel J. Bennett is Senior Pastor of Bethany Community Church in central Illinois whose passion for orphans accelerated after his stint as a Family Pastor in 2005. He has adopted a child too. He notes how people caring for foster children are able to open up conversations about God as well. He describes his convictions as follows.

"My compassion for orphans flow from the fact that I know God and know that he passionately cares for the fatherless. I love orphans because I love God. If I did not have this theological understanding, my passion for orphans would be commendable but ultimately worthless." (19)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Midweek Meditation: Gandhi's Advice to Christians

E. Stanley Jones, an American missionary to India, asked Gandhi what missionaries could do to make Christianity more accepted in India. He asked, “How can we make Christianity more naturalized in India, not a foreign thing, identified with a foreign government and foreign people, but part of the national life of India and contributing its power to India’s uplift? What would you, as one of the Hindu leaders of India, tell me, a Christian, to do in order to make this possible?”

Gandhi responded with great clarity and directness: “First, I would suggest that all of you Christians, missionaries and all, must begin to live more like Jesus Christ. Second, practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down. Third, emphasize love and make it your driving force, for love is central in Christianity. Fourth, study the non-Christian religions more sympathetically to find the good that is within them, in order to have a more sympathetic approach to the people.

Monday, November 24, 2014

BookPastor >> "How to Think Theologically" (Howard W. Stone and James O. Duke)

TITLE: How to Think Theologically, 2nd Edition
AUTHORS: Howard W. Stone and James O. Duke
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, second edition, 2012, (142 pages).

This is a primer for anyone starting theological studies. In fact, it is so useful that I would not hesitate to recommend it for any believer wanting to learn to think theologically. The authors believe that "all Christians are theologians" which form the basis of affirming that theology is not simply for the priests or professors, seminary students or professional theologians. Theology is for all people. For those who do not think so, this book will not only explain the central place of theology in Christian living, it shows us how. For thinking Christianly is about thinking theologically. Being Christian is about learning to apply living theology into everyday practice of truth and grace. The authors are professors who had been regularly asking their seminary students to give their theological perspectives on many issues. Over coffee one day, they began to spawn the idea of writing a guidebook to enable not only students, but all Christians to practice the art and science of thinking theologically: Through listening and questioning.

"To be a Christian at all is to be a theologian. There are no exceptions." (2)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Midweek Meditation: "Spiritual Disciplines Opens the Door" (Richard J. Foster)

"When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realisation: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God's work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given." (Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline, London, UK: Hodder and Stoughton, 1989, p6)

Monday, November 17, 2014

BookPastor >> "The Hope Quotient" (Ray Johnston)

A lot of attention has been put toward faith and the age-old topic of "love." Relatively speaking, "hope" is not touched on as much apart from mere mention in passing. The authors here show us that hope is a powerful way of life. This book was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on September 2nd, 2014.


TITLE: The Hope Quotient: Measure It. Raise It. You'll Never Be the Same.
AUTHOR: Ray Johnston
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2014, (240 pages).

Many believers say that faith is the only thing we need. Others echo along with it that "All you need is love." What about the other aspect of 1 Corinthians 13:13, Hope? Why is faith and love relatively more talked about that hope when hope is the very thing the world needs more and more? Founder and President of Thriving Churches International, Ray Johnston aims to up our "hope quotient" (HQ) and inject this necessary attribute for the world at large, and for people from all walks of life. Johnston, an inspirational speaker and life coach had spent seven years researching the material for this book. It all began with a conversation with his daughter who told him that the greatest thing she can ever have is to be encouraged. Johnston in turn saw through it all, and learned that the greatest gift indeed is the gift of hope. This is because hope liberates one from the past; motivates one to bounce back from despair; initiates one's freedom to dream; and activates the making of the world into a better place. On the opposite end of the spectrum is discouragement which Johnston calls a "disease" that discourages, depresses, and destroys. The main thesis of the book is: "Raising these Seven Factors raises Your Hope Quotient which creates Fresh Vision which unleashes a Whole New Future."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Midweek Meditation: Objectivity?

I have often heard people telling me that we need to be more objective in life. Sometimes, even in emotional matters or feelings that cannot be easily resolved or explained away, they use such a hammer of "objectivity" simply because everything to them looks like a nail. Wisely, the French novelist, Jean D' Ormesson words it accurately that there are some things in life that simply cannot be objectively seen, but to be simply be seen doing things together. Today, there are two quotes. One on marriage and the other on group consensus building.

"The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together." (Robert C. Dodds)

"Where opinions, morals and politics are concerned, there is no such thing as objectivity. The best we can hope for is that freedom will enable subjective points of view to meet and complement each other." (French novelist, Jean D' Ormersson)


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lest We Forget - Nov 11th, 2014

Lest We Forget.
Wherever you are, on November 11th, at 11am, please take a moment to observe a minute's silence. Pray that the horrors and evils of war will never be repeated again, and that we and our descendants will do everything we can to promote goodness, peace, and well-being for all.

Remembrance Day around the world (link).


Monday, November 10, 2014

BookPastor >> "Know the Creeds and Councils" (Justin S. Holcomb)

There are many things we can learn from Church history. One of them is the history behind the creeds, the councils, the catechisms, and the confessions of faith. This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on September 19th, 2014.


TITLE: Know the Creeds and Councils (KNOW Series)
AUTHOR: Justin S. Holcomb
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014, (192 pages).

An anonymous person once said, "History repeats itself because no one was listening to it the first time." It is a way to say that if we do not learn well the lessons of history, we are poised to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. This is one motivation for us to learn history, and for Christians, to learn the historical settings and background to the majestic statements of tradition and faith. Four of such majors are ably dealt with in this book: Creeds, Confessions, Catechisms, and Church Councils. Episcopalian Priest, Professor, as well as author, Dr Justin Holcomb guides us through the historical background material, the theological challenges faced, the formation of councils, the interplay of powers in both Church and State, and most importantly, the reasons for the creeds and major theological statements made over the centuries. Some of the creeds mentioned are:
  • Apostles' Creed (ca 140)
  • Nicene Creed (325 AD)
  • Chalcedonian Creed (451 AD)
  • Athanasian Creed (400-500 AD)
  • ...

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Midweek Meditation: "Paradox of Our Time" (Bob Moorehead)

This note comes from Dr Bob Moorehead's "Paradox of Our Time."

We have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider free- ways but narrower viewpoints; we spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less; we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, yet less time; we have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems; we have more gadgets but less satisfaction; more medicine, yet less wellness; we take more vitamins but see fewer results. We drink too much; smoke too much; spend too recklessly; laugh too little; drive too fast, get too angry quickly; stay up too late; get up too tired; read too seldom; watch TV too much and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values; we fly in faster planes to arrive there quicker, to do less and return sooner; we sign more contracts only to realize fewer profits; we talk too much; love too seldom, and lie too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.


Monday, November 03, 2014

BookPastor >> "Rising Above a Toxic Workplace" (Gary Chapman, Paul White, and Harold Myra)

If there is one word to improve any work culture and relationships in the workplace, it is summarized in one word: "Appreciation." This review was first published on August 12th, 2014 at Panorama of a Book Saint. 


TITLE: Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment
AUTHOR: Gary Chapman, Paul White, and Harold Myra
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing, 2014, (160 pages).

Ever encountered the boss from hell? What about irritating colleagues who absolutely ruin our day? Maybe, there is a negativity so heavy that going to the workplace no longer seems fun or exciting anymore. The fact is, there are many places that have a toxic environment that can discourage and turn off ordinary workers from discharging their best. According to a Gallup poll, seven in ten people work in toxic workplaces. A bad workplace also leads to stress and reduced productivity. Class tensions create divisions within organizations.

Then there is the toxic boss from hell. They cannot take no for an answer. Not only that, they can make life miserable for subordinates who are desperate to keep their job. Some bosses are so abusive that standing up to them may very well be worse off. Greed and envy are the toxic fumes in any workplace. Even those companies that shot to fame based on their ranking in "Best companies to work for" are not immune from toxic workplaces. For what is wonderful for now is no guarantee of the future.

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