Monday, November 30, 2015

BookPastor >> "Understanding Prophecy" (Alan S. Bandy and Benjamin L. Merkle)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on August 21st, 2015.


TITLE: Understanding Prophecy: A Biblical-Theological Approach
AUTHOR: Alan S. Bandy and Benjamin L. Merkle
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015, (272 pages).

What is prophecy? Is it only something limited to the biblical prophets? Do prophets still exist today? What do we make of the unconditional, conditional, and unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible? How do we understand prophecy in the first place? In this book, two authors, one holding a Premillennial disposition and another an Amillennial perspective come together to describe the common themes in interpreting biblical prophecy. At the same time, their diverse background allows them to interact constructively without necessarily compromise their respective theological stands. Alan Bandy is Professor of New Testament at Oklahoman Baptist University while Benjamin Merkle is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Arranged in three parts, the book covers the basics and keys of understanding biblical prophecy (Part 1); followed by an application on Old Testament prophecies (Part 2); and the same for the New Testament (Part 3).  Closely related to prophecy is the word "eschatology" which is often perceived as foretelling the future. Readers will learn how the word can be nuanced in at least seven ways: Individual; Historical; Consistent; Realized; Existential; Comprehensive; and Teleological. For the authors, they use "eschatology" as an all-encompassing term to denote the "cosmic, spiritual, and historical realities" fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ. Prophecy needs to be understood within the confines of the Bible and the redemptive narrative. It is to be understood in terms of Gospel-Centric and Christo-Centric.  Most important is the need to read prophecy with "contextual sensitivity to the history, literature, and theology of an individual writer, book, and passage." This is then interpreted in line with the larger biblical narrative. Prophecy is also understood as "progressive revelation" where certain things were partially revealed to the people in the old Testament, and fully realized in the future. One use is to see the New Testament as fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Readers are cautioned not to use the Bible as proof texts of some precise prediction, just like the Left Behind series of books and film. Others avoid prophecy totally and lose sight of the role of prophecy altogether. With a biblical, theological, and christological approach, we will be able to approach biblical prophecies with expectancy and much encouragement of God's purpose for us.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Midweek Meditation: "Do Not Judge"

When trying to understand Jesus' teaching on DO NOT JUDGE (Matthew 7:1), remember that it means "hypocritical" or "self-righteous" kind of judgment. Eugene Peterson's explanation is superb when talking about such self-righteousness.


Monday, November 23, 2015

BookPastor >> "40 Questions About Creation and Evolution" (Kenneth D. Keathley and Mark F. Rooker)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on March 9th, 2015.


TITLE: 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution (40 Questions and Answers Series)
AUTHOR: Kenneth D. Keathley and Mark F. Rooker
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2014, (432 pages).

Is there a conflict between science and faith? Is there a way to understand both? When is the beginning of the world? What is the origin of the human species. How did the world come into existence? These questions have challenged people through the centuries. From archaeology to philosophy; humanistic thought to theology, the questions about the beginning of the world and man continue to fascinate. In this book, forty questions are posed with regards to creation and evolution. All of the questions are categorized in 6 major parts.

Part 1 - Doctrine of Creation
Part 2 - Creation and Genesis 1-2
Part 3 - Days of Creation
Part 4 - Age of the Earth
Part 5 - Fall and the Flood
Part 6 - Evolution and Intelligent Design

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Midweek Meditation: "Prayer at the End of Pilgrimage" (Stephen Doyle)

Often associated with a journey, the Christian life is a familiar one with ups and downs. This prayer gives thanks to God as one is at the end of a pilgrimage. Written by Stephen Doyle, it also reminds us that the end of one journey also prepares us for the start of the next one.

"Father, we have walked in the land where Jesus walked,
We have touched the soil and rocks where the seed falls.
We have seen the lilies of the field and heard the birds of the air.
We have been warmed by the sun that warmed Him and
      cooled by the breezes that touched His face.
We have been to the sea where He walked,
      and to the river where He was baptized.
We have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit where He first
      sent it, and anguished at the spot where He gave Himself for us.
We have rejoiced at the emptiness of the tomb and the
      fulness of His love in our hearts.
Be with us, as we continue our earthly pilgrimage to the new
     Jerusalem where every tear will be wiped away,
     and we will be with You,
     Your Son and the Holy Spirit, forever.

(Stephen Doyle, OFM)

Monday, November 16, 2015

BookPastor >> "Help My Unbelief" (Barnabas Piper)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on May 22nd, 2015.


TITLE: Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not the Enemy of Faith
AUTHOR: Barnabas Piper
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2015, (176 pages).

Doubt is not the enemy of faith. Unbelief is not necessarily bad. In fact, for author Barnabas Piper, it is necessary for authentic faith. As a son of the famous evangelical, John Piper, Barnabas is no stranger to the Church or all things evangelical. Go to Church. Join the Sunday School. Have faith. Be baptized. Pray. Obey your parents. Believe in the Bible. Be well behaved, especially when you are a pastor's kid! Growing up in such an environment, there is a strong tendency to dumb down doubts so as to raise up the level of faith. It may work for kids, but as kids grow into young adults, they will start to be more inquisitive, to probe, and to question the norms. Looking at the famous words of Mark 9:24, which the book's title had borrowed from, Piper moves beyond the "Lord I believe" toward the "Help my unbelief" phase of life. He eases readers toward the tension of faith and doubt; belief and unbelief; the ups and downs of the spiritual life. There are parts of the Bible that are very clear to us, and parts that are mysterious. The reason for the tension is because both sides shed light on truth. The Bible does not simply spout out answers to life, it raises questions too. Asking questions does not mean a lack of faith. It simply means wanting to know the truth at a more profound level. It is acknowledging the mystery without giving up our faith. Such an attitude brings us back to what faith and belief is about. Knowledge without experience is incomplete.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Worship - I Will Go For You

Loved this.

我願為祢去 (D)
          D        A7         Bm                  G          D      Em    A7
          D        A7         Bm                  G          A7   D
          D        A7         Bm                  G          D      Em    A7
          D        A7         Bm                  G          A7   D

                D        F#      Bm               G   D     Em  A7    
                        G        D        F#m          Bm    Em        A7     D     





神聖的愛 融化我
神聖的火 熬煉我
神聖的使命 佔有我
神聖的靈 引領我




Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Midweek Meditation: Compassion

The refugee crisis is reaching unprecedented proportions as many Syrians fleeing the wars in their home country are flooding the shores of Europe. It is a reminder for all believers:

"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" (1 John 3:17)

Here's a moving video from Samaritan's Purse organization.


Monday, November 09, 2015

BookPastor >> "Blind Spots" (Collin Hansen)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on March 27th, 2015.


TITLE: Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church (Cultural Renewal)
AUTHOR: Collin Hansen
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2015, (128 pages).

Whether one's Church is growing or declining, young or old, large or small, there will be blind spots from the leadership level down to the ordinary member. It is simply human nature to have blind spots. Noting the hostility that the Church is increasingly facing, Hansen has written this straight-forward book that categorizes three types of Christians as "Courageous" (Prophet), "Compassionate" (Priest), and "Commissioned" (King). Each group focuses on a specific gospel thrust but often at the expense of other equally important initiatives.

The "Courageous" group is passionate about truth and wants to stand up boldly in defending and proclaiming the truths of the faith. It is about courage to stand up for the truth even when the stand is unpopular. This is necessary for the endurance of the faith. Especially when the world is facing a crisis in Syria and Iraq with ISIS threat. Bold moves and decisions need to be made before more innocent lives are sacrificed. The blind spot for such Christians is the tendency to fear the future and bemoan our present situations. They tend to remember the past so much that they belittle the present and the future. What is necessary is for these Christians to be consistent in their practice of courageous standing, not only for issues of marriage and sexuality, but also for justice, for compassion, against racism, and against war. Hansen believes that courage is more about challenging culture rather than plainly saying no to them. By praying for our enemies, and seeking to reach out in love, we avoid falling into our blind spots. Courage flows from humility and care for humanity.

Friday, November 06, 2015

"The Other Letter"

With Christmas approaching, many people will be busy shopping once again. In a twist to the holiday spirit of buying and accumulating, children were asked to write two letters. The first was a conventional one to Santa Claus or the Three Wise Men for a gift. The second was to parents. This is a powerful wakeup call to parents.Watch the powerful Ikea video here.


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Midweek Meditation: "Abandoning Ourselves to God" (Charles de Foucauld)

This prayer is a deeply personal commitment of faith in God, made to God. Made by Charles de Foucauld who lost his faith when young, he came back to God after a powerful spiritual experience when in his 20s. His faith led him to the people in the Sahara. Born to an aristocratic family in France, he was eventually assassinated when the country he was in had an uprising against all things French. The words of this prayer showed his abandonment of himself to God completely.


Charles de Foucault (1858-1916)
Father, I abandon myself into Your Hands;
Do with me what You will.
Whatever You do I thank You.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your Will be done in me,
As in all Your creatures,
I ask no more than this, my Lord.
Into Your Hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to You, O Lord,
With all the love of my heart,
For I love You, my God, and so need to give myself,
To surrender myself into Your Hands,
Without reserve and with total confidence,
For You are my Father. 
(Prayer by Charles de Foucauld, 1858-1916)

Monday, November 02, 2015

BookPastor >> "What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?" (Kevin DeYoung)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on April 20th, 2015.


TITLE: What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?
AUTHOR: Kevin DeYoung
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2015, (160 pages).

Many people claim that the Bible speaks specifically about homosexuality by simply quoting the few popular verses. Not many offer to begin by asking the fundamental question, "What does the Bible really teach about everything?" This is what author and pastor, Kevin DeYoung did. He goes back to the beginning of creation, the Fall, the land, the temple, the coming Messiah, and the expectant future of a new heaven and new earth. He points out that the Bible is not about God giving us a lecture about homosexuality. Rather, it is learning to see what the Bible really focus on before we even talk about homosexuality. Having said that, he makes this statement about the book, that it is a "Christian book, with a narrow focus, defending a traditional view of marriage." In other words, DeYoung is writing from a Christian point of view. He is exploring the way the Bible verses talk about homosexuality. It is about defending the traditional view of marriage as between a man and a woman. Aware of the contentious subject, he addresses three groups of potential readers. The first group is the already convinced where he aims to remind them to argue respectfully and appropriately. This means learning to recognize one's sinfulness and imperfections too. The second group are the skeptics or contentious, where he hopes will argue strictly on biblical grounds rather than on charged up emotions. The third group are the confused or those who just do not know how to respond.

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