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Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Spirit-Led Heart" (Suzanne Eller)

TITLE: The Spirit-Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith without Borders
AUTHOR: Suzanne Eller
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2018, (208 pages).

What does it take to have a heart that is Spirit-led instead of self-led? In a world where Christianity is increasingly seen with disdain, and even Christians seem to feel God is far away from them, we need guidance from time to time regarding things of faith. Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit coming to us. Even when we feel God is far away from us, we cannot let feelings dictate reality. Just like the presence of the sun. Just because we are in a dark room does not mean the sun is not out there. We need guidance to sense the presence of God in more ways than one. This book is one resource to help us do just that. In addressing each emotion that arises out of fear, weakness, and a sense of insecurity, Eller helps put things in perspective to help us recognize that God is Sovereign and He is in control. We need to trust His leading. Spurred by the prayer of her friend, Jennifer Dukes Lee, she feels a sense of relief and is released to trust God more. From uncertainty and self-doubt, she seeks out faith in God via a promise from God. Instead of relying on our own power, we learn that the Spirit-led heart is empowered by God for the greater good and purpose. Our lives are not defined by opinions or mass appeal but by truth alone. She shows us the lies that we often fall prey into and replaces them with truth; with direction; and with boldness. I like the way she describes Spirit-led direction.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Best Bible Books: NT Resources" (John Glynn)

TITLE: Best Bible Books: New Testament Resources
AUTHOR: John Glynn
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2018, (336 pages).

We are blessed with a rich collection of biblical resources. Not only are there many reliable translations of the Bible in different languages, there are also many reputable commentaries, atlases, historical documents, ancient languages helps, and all kinds of resources for all levels of learning. With all the information available, there is another problem. How do we choose? How do we differentiate the good and the not so good; the different theological perspectives; and the many that have been published but unknown to large segments of the public. What about levels for beginners to advanced; Bible study guides to scholarly references; preaching helps and pastoral research? Amid the clutter of materials, many churches and leaders need to budget for the most appropriate set of materials at the right price. Even if we have the budget to buy complete sets of Bible materials, we still need a catalog or some guides to help us understand the resources we have and do not have. Enter this reference book that sheds light on all of the above. This thick volume contains many useful annotated references to the best Bible resources available now for all levels, across different technical difficulty. There is even a price indication! Now in its 11th edition, this volume has gotten so huge that it is dedicated to just New Testament resources. A separate volume is being prepared for the Old Testament. Some of the features include:

Friday, July 6, 2018

"Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders" (Aubrey Malphurs)

TITLE: Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders: How Emotional Intelligence Can Help Transform Your Ministry
AUTHOR: Aubrey Malphurs
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2018, (240 pages).

Our emotions are critically important for effective ministry and mature leadership. Learning to manage and cultivate our emotional well-being is key in leadership. For author Aubrey Malphurs, this is also known as "emotionally mature leadership." While skills can be taught and experience can be gained, maturity is something else altogether. It is closely linked to our emotional conditions. The author puts forth six reasons why.

  1. Emotionally mature believers are also spiritually mature
  2. The Godhead is characterized by emotions
  3. An emotionally mature church is a symbol of hope to the world
  4. Emotionally intelligence is crucial for God-honouring leadership
  5. Scripture affirms the importance of emotional maturity
  6. Emotions are central to the human being and living.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

"Therefore I Have Hope" (Cameron Cole)

TITLE: Therefore I Have Hope: 12 Truths That Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem in Tragedy
AUTHOR: Cameron Cole
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2018, (208 pages).

What is the worst thing that could happen to any one of us? Maybe it's losing a job or flunking out of school. Perhaps it is foreclosure of our house or the loss of our precious car. Far more than any of these things, it is about losing a loved one. Tragedy has a profound impact on our emotions. It could render us unable to function normally or to even go about the most basic of routines. We become another person in every way. Tragedies can affect anyone. From the joy of seeing the conversation of their son to the trauma of seeing him die, emotions can wreak havoc to our soul. How do we sustain a narrative of hope amid such trying times? Author Cameron Cole highlights truth that many of us know but refuse to see. He writes as follows:
"How could a person survive if one did not know the gospel? How could one subsist if one did not accept the sovereignty of God? How would one function if one did not know the possibility of joy in suffering? How could one move forward without the hope of heaven? There are some truths that mean nothing to a person who is gasping for existential air."

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

"Every Job a Parable" (John Van Sloten)

TITLE: Every Job a Parable: What Walmart Greeters, Nurses, and Astronauts Tell Us about God
AUTHOR: John Van Sloten
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2017, (220 pages).

Is God really interested in our jobs? What if our jobs are powerful windows into God's work in our lives? What is the relationship between our faith and our jobs? What does it mean to work joyfully as for the Lord? Can ordinary routine jobs be as significant as those mover-and-shaker jobs? These are everyday questions that would pique the interest of anyone out there working in the marketplace.

Your work matters to God because you matter to God. Every job is a story of this relationship. Through our jobs, we exercise our vocation to demonstrate God's grace in our work and the daily things we do. Through each vocation, author and preacher John Van Sloten has discovered a unique narrative in each of them. He calls it a "kind of parable," a unique story in which God manifests Himself in our work through us. He hopes that this book will spark in each reader a "renewed vocational imagination"to trust that because God is with them in their workplace, they would reveal God's glory in everything they do. In a secular age, it would seem impossible to even talk about things of faith in the marketplace. Yet, there is a way. Opportunities abound for the discerning. He shares about how a Walmart employee named Shirley puts customers before herself, just like Christ who put others before Himself. The forensic psychologist in searching for healing recognizes the powerful role of the Holy Spirit to heal and to make people whole. For Sam Kolias, one of Canada's largest residential landlords, it is a reminder that we are all God's tenants on earth. Through the many vocations, we learn about the different ways in which our gifts and talents are put to good use, all reflecting God's creative work in us.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Israel, the Church, and the Middle East" (Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, eds)

TITLE: Israel, the Church, and the Middle East: A biblical response to the current conflict
EDITORS: Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2018, (304 pages).

This year is the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the modern state of Israel. In conjunction with this momentous event, a team of scholars and theologians have come together to reflect upon the identity of Israel, the role of the Church, and the conflicts in the Middle East. For Israel, it is the constant struggle against threats against her existence. For the Church, it is about the contrasting arguments between those who are Pro-Israel and those who are Pro-Palestinian. For the Middle East, it is that constant tensions arising from a melting pot of historical dimensions; political ambitions; religious contentions; ethnic dissensions; and social apprehensions. This book attempts to cast light on all of these with a specific coverage on the relationship between Israel and the Church. At the heart of it all is to challenge the super-sessionist standpoint among many Christians who are arguing that in God's overall plan, the modern Church has now replaced Israel. In Part One, four contributors highlight the biblical foundations. The underlying belief is that the Bible must inform all views on contemporary issues surrounding the way we view Israel. Dr Richard Averbeck discusses the theological covenants of Israel, Jews, and Gentiles with the hope that a biblical understanding will ease the conflicts between Jews and Gentiles. Dr Walter Kaiser writes about the relationships between Israel and her neighbours with Isa 19 as a guide, and hopes that the day will come where both Jews and Arabs are able to go to the house of God together. Mark Yarbrough looks at the big picture of the Bible story from Genesis to Revelation and draws out four significant genres before concluding with a "surprise narrative twist." Michael Rydelnik takes a step back to examine the "hermeneutics" of the conflict from the Old Testament arguing that both the Old and New Testaments tell of one integrated story. Using four propositions, he traces the covenant promises from Genesis to Revelation, and to say that even though the New Testament is relatively "quiet" about the land promise, it nevertheless affirms the Old Testament in many ways.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

"A Gospel of Hope" (Walter Brueggemann)

TITLE: A Gospel of Hope
AUTHOR: Walter Brueggemann
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018, (200 pages).

There is a sense of familiarity in many Christian books. They are essentially about the Christian faith and perspectives taken from Christ. Yet, there is also a sense of freshness that even when it is about the same old gospel there is a strange fresh new truth to be reminded or to be reaffirmed. Books of hope tend to come into such a category. For hope is always about something fresh, something new, something to look forward to. Such is the gospel of hope. In this compilation of wisdom and sayings from his past sermons and published materials, Richard Floyd does the heavy lifting by putting together Brueggemann's memorable words according to the theme of hope. Brueggemann acknowledges Floyd as one who has "entered" his mind enough to know what he wanted to say most, and his rhetoric enough to know when he is most likely to say it. The gospel of hope has many sub-themes such as abundance, generosity, alternative worlds, freedom, fidelity, faith, justice, Jesus, identity, love, public witness, responsibility, and so on. In our world of short quips and concise statements limited by a tweet, a text, or a FaceBook post, we sometimes use words devoid of contexts. A master with words, Brueggemann's ability to nuance meaning upon meaning with literal devices and rhetoric makes this book a delightful read. With many quotes and quips, readers have many new things to learn. Rather than a series of random thoughts, there is a central theme in all of these: Hope. It is interesting to see how Brueggemann's thoughts can form a picture for the gospel of hope. Beginning with "Abundance and Generosity," we are reminded that hope is about enduring generosity, that the same God who had given us much yesterday and today, is the same God who would provide for us for the future. It is about being overwhelmed with the abundant generosity of God instead of being bogged down by the worries of today. Hope helps us become mindful of "alternative worlds." He contrasts the way we try to secure our future through economic, military, and other forms of human endeavors. Being content with what God has given us and what He will give us should spur us toward an alternative faith that is different from the world. One of the reasons why hope is so often needed is because of the restlessness of the human soul which is masqueraded as anxiety and a desire to be free from what enslaves us. Whether it is anxiety due to fear or fatigue, we must be constantly mindful that the gospel of hope is in Jesus. How? By remembering that what Jesus stands for is completely different from what the world stood for. Hope is sustained by a recognition that God is faithful and God will promise to give us what we need, even when we do not deserve it. God is not limited by anything. His heart is big for anything that we may thrown at Him. Jesus embodies hope. He is hope.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

"Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age" (Stephen D. Lowe & Mary E. Lowe)

TITLE: Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age: Spiritual Growth through Online Education
AUTHOR: Stephen D. Lowe & Mary E. Lowe
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2018, (250 pages).

We are living in an increasingly digital world. In such a ubiquitous environment, almost everything seems to be going digital. From printed papers to ebooks; groceries to e-shopping; communications to GPS directions; anything that could be digitized would be digitized. With the Internet at a global scale, more people are interconnected than ever. What about faith? What about spiritual formation matters? What about online theological education? According to the authors, two of the biggest challenges to teaching spiritual education online "were community formation and spiritual growth." It could be due to the difference between digital natives and digital immigrants. It could be due to the lack of experience in the new digital world. It could also be due to the skepticism among many educators. Whatever the case, both Stephen and Mary Lowe believe that online education is not only here to stay, they are poised to become a major part of spiritual formation, both communally and personally. Rather than outright rejection or cynical avoidance, perhaps a model to teach and help people Perhaps, just like the speed of evolutionary progress, why not use the ecological model of spiritual formation? For using ecology as a metaphor gives at least three advantages. It is interconnected. It takes time. It requires mutual dependence. It brings together the importance of both communal and individual health. Moreover, this motif is biblical. From Genesis to Revelation, the gospel parables about ecological growth, ecological references in Paul's epistles, there is a strong motif about ecology and faith.


Friday, June 8, 2018

"All Together Different" (J. Brian Tucker and John Koessler)

TITLE: All Together Different: Upholding the Church's Unity While Honoring Our Individual Identities
AUTHOR: J. Brian Tucker and John Koessler
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2018, (272 pages).

What comes to mind when we think about Church unity? For some it might mean doing a lot of common activities together. For others, it is about being able to live together cheerfully and happily ever after. Whether it is ethnicity, cultural uniformity, class homogeneity, or generational similarities, many churches believe that common look and common activities are keys to unity. Unfortunately, ethnic cultures have multiple subcultures. Class distinctions grow over time as individuals change jobs or are laid off. Generational gaps happen at all levels. Gender uniqueness do not necessarily guarantee togetherness. Common activities may involve bodies but not necessarily the hearts. In the early Church, unity is a key concern for the Apostle Paul. Jesus also prayed for unity. Unfortunately, Church people never seem to learn. Today, it is even more needed as the Christian public are more divided than before. Whether it is worship or strategy, Church boards or combined programs for all, the challenge is to understand what true unity is about and to learn to manage conflict in a constructive manner. In this book, authors Brian Tucker and John Koessler tackle this issue by focusing on identity. They argue that we are naturally diverse and different in so many ways. What we need is not more common activities or similarities. We need a right understanding of identity: The Church and our individual selves. Unity is not forced uniformity. It is not holding similar theological positions. Neither is it something that can be resolved by doing things together. We need to be allowed to be different and aided by a healthy acceptance of our uniqueness. The gist of this book is to find answers to the following questions about identity: "Who am I? What sets me apart from those around me? What unique value do I bring to the table that others do not?" They concluded that we are not "altogether different" but "all together different."


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

"Messiah in the Passover" (edited by Darrell L Block and Mitch Glaser)

TITLE: Messiah in the Passover
AUTHOR: edited by Darrell L Block and Mitch Glaser
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2018, (384 pages).

The Passover was a significant event in the history of Israel. It was a demonstration of God's final straw for Pharaoh who refused to let the enslaved people of Israel go. It represented the night when the angel of death passed over any home their front doors painted with the blood of the lamb. It was a time where the firstborn of every Israeli slaved lived while the firstborn of every Egyptian family died. After this Passover, Israel was free to begin their journey to the promised land. Since then, the importance of the Passover had been written in the first five books of the Old Testament, the Torah where it remains one of the seven great festivals of the Jews. The Passover is about deliverance, freedom, community, hope, life, prophecy given, prophecy fulfilled, and much more. This book gives us more, especially about Christ the Messiah. The five parts of the book are as follows:
  1. Biblical and Theological Foundations of the Passover
  2. Passover and Church History
  3. Jewish Tradition and Passover
  4. Communicating the Gospel Through the Passover
  5. Celebrating Messiah in the Passover

Saturday, June 2, 2018

"Leading Major Change in Your Ministry" (Jeff Iorg)

TITLE: Leading Major Change in Your Ministry
AUTHOR: Jeff Iorg
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B&H Publishers, 2018, (240 pages).

The only constant is change. Just like the popular phrase, "survival of the fittest," only those who change survive. For the fittest are the ones who are most adaptable to change. People who are able to lead change are leaders. They are the ones who must be on a constant lookout for dangers that threaten surviving and opportunities toward thriving. Just this week, the largest theological school in North America, Fuller Theological Seminary announced a major change in their history: Leaving Pasadena by 2021. After 70 years of ministry, this marks a dramatic shift in adapting to fast changing ministry and financial contexts. Even before Fuller announced their decision, other seminaries had already made plans of their own. Back in 2004, the author's school, Golden Gate Seminary also had to make a tough decision to sell all seminary-owned property and to move to a new location over 400 miles away. That is not all. They remodeled, retooled, and refreshed their strategies, even changing their name to Gateway Seminary. It was the success of such a major change that deepened the author's conviction that whether it is relocating, reorganizing, or rebranding, skills in leading are critically important. The good news is, they could be passed down to others and success could be replicated. Iorg frames this book in two parts. The first part sets out the foundations for leading major change. Iorg acknowledges the proliferation of books about leadership best practices and all kinds of great resources. He notices that many of these books do not deal with fundamentals sufficiently. Moreover, there is a lack of Christian perspective. Fundamentals such as the necessity to be influencers for Christ in the midst of leading change. He links back basic teachings about servant leadership. The three foundation stones are:

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

"Small Church Essentials" (Karl Vaters)

TITLE: Small Church Essentials: Field-Tested Principles for Leading a Healthy Congregation of under 250
AUTHOR: Karl Vaters
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2018, (256 pages).

It is no secret that in North America, many churches are either closing down or shrinking. It is also said that the single largest growing pool of believers are the NONES, the non-affiliated, non-church-going, and non-aligned group of people who still consider themselves believers. Statistics are dire with regard to the state of the Church. At the same time, there is a glimmer of hope. Small churches do have their strengths. As far as Jesus is concerned, the minimum number of believers to form a community with His Presence is two or three gathering in His Name. Jesus must have foreseen our modern world long time ago! While many of us would like to see numerical growth, we need to learn how to take care of churches that are under 250 in size, which is the majority of North American churches today. What is more essential is to learn the tools and principles about how to lead these congregations toward healthy growth and life. Karl Vaters is proudly a pastor of small churches for over 30 years. He is the goto guy for the small church guy. Though his church, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship is located not far from megachurches in the area, he is convinced that small is good. Over 90% of the churches in the world are under 250 in size. About 1 billion people are in small churches worldwide, making small churches the single largest people group in the world! If that is so, why not focus on doing whatever we can to support and rejuvenate the small Church with big thoughts? This is exactly what the author seeks to do. Small churches must not let their size minimize their ministry. They need to see the greatness of God regardless of size. They need guidance on how to run a small church effectively and enthusiastically. What if small churches are centers of friendliness; neighbourliness; mission; innovational generosity; and worship? With these objectives in mind, Vaters proceeds to share how we can do just that.


Monday, May 28, 2018

"The Bible in a Disenchanted Age" (R.W.L. Moberly)

TITLE: The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith (Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic)
AUTHOR: R. W. L. Moberly
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018, (240 pages).

This book is based on a series of Earle lectures on Biblical Literature at the Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, held on November 16-17, 2015. It is a theological exploration by the scholars and researchers on current issues and Christian thought, shared to the larger Church for their edification. Society is becoming  more secularized. Bible is perceived as less relevant than before. Faith is increasingly under attack by atheists and non-believers. As a result, some Christians are backpedaling on their fundamentals just to appease the modern hostile climate. Unfortunately, for the ardent skeptic, no arguments are sufficient if they do not wish to believe in the first place. Author Moberly tries to defend the Bible not by way of historical evidence or persuasive rhetoric, but by walking with the company of trustworthy people both past and present. He argues that there it is not clear that historical evidence should lead to faith. Moreover, the words "history" and "historical reliability" could mean so many different things to different people.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

"Introducing the Apocrypha" (David A. deSilva)

TITLE: Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance
AUTHOR: David A. deSilva
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing, (Second Edition) 2018, (528 pages).

Roman Catholics and Protestants have slightly different Bibles. The difference lies in the additional books that the former have. Depending on how you classify or call them, they are considered "apocryphal" (hidden) texts by some, deuterocanonical (second canon) or "pseudepigrapha" (authors using pseudonyms) by others. They lie between normal texts and sacred texts. They are too good to be excluded but don't fit under the canonization criteria. Arguments can be made for both. Why then do we need to study them? This book gives us several reasons.
  • They are a primer for understanding what the Apocrypha is.
  • Gives us a fuller picture of Judaism from 200-100 BCE, to close the gap between the OT and NT.
  • NT authors are familiar with these texts and consider them highly.
  • Formative in the early years of Christian Theology, central to Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians.
  • They help us appreciate the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls as a key document.
  • It underscores the ancient obsession with theodicy, fairness, and retributive justice.
  • It gives readers a deeper understanding of the Jewish culture during the times of Jesus.
  • Addressing basic questions about those unfamiliar with the historical development of the additional books.
  • Learning to see these books as a value in themselves and not what others tell us.
  • The word 'hidden' is not to be interpreted in a pejorative manner, but to be seen as a vital witness of the faith by early believers. 
  • Understanding why these books are not in the Biblical canon.
  • Address some of the fears among Protestants about studying (or not studying) them.

Monday, May 21, 2018

"Believe Me" (John Fea)

TITLE: Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump
AUTHOR: John Fea
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2018, (208 pages).

Famous words are often uttered by Presidents. For President John F Kennedy, people remember his powerful words "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." President Jimmy Carter is remembered as a man who fought for peace: "We cannot be both the world's leading champion of peace and the world's leading supplier of the weapons of war." President Barack Obama rode into office under the banner of change said: "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." For Donald Trump, it's the cliche "Believe Me," a phrase peppered throughout his rallies and speeches to his party faithful.  In this book, author John Fea takes a closer look at Trump's appeal to the evangelical public in America. More specifically, he tries to examine why despite Trump's denigration of women; his superficial Bible knowledge; and multiple moral questions; many evangelicals, particularly "die-hard white evangelical supporters" still think he is a Christian. This contrasts with James Davison Hunter's warning to believers not to politicize faith. The problem is less of Trump but more of the unwavering support for Trump's brand of politics in spite of moral failings. How do we make sense of it all? What does it say about the evangelicals in America? Why are these evangelicals supporting Trump's politics of fear, power, and nostalgia? These three factors are examined in greater detail as Fea looks at why the 81% of white evangelicals supported Trump for presidency. He attributes the frustrations among evangelicals due to the widening separation of Church and State; the secularization of public education; how government is creeping and controlling individual beliefs; and issues like abortion. The desire for change is strong. Underlying this mood is a climate of fear. This fear leads to a desire for power which in turn is linked to a nostalgia of a past where Christendom dominated culture.


Friday, May 18, 2018

"Along the Road" (John A. Beck)

TITLE: Along the Road: How Jesus Used Geography to Tell God's Story
AUTHOR: John A. Beck
PUBLISHER:Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2018, (192 pages).

How does one read the Bible? One can read it literally, word for word, from the lens of our contemporary backgrounds. Bibles like the NASB and the KJV would be great companions. While we honour the Word in its original syntax, we lack the cultural contexts to truly understand how the ancient audiences heard. One can read it chronologically, but it would take an experienced historian and theologian to guide us through the many centuries of events, periods, and political upheavals to appreciate the flow of the biblical story. Resources such as the chronological Bibles in which the books of the Bible are placed it according to time of occurrence. Then there are also those who try to understand the Bible archaeologically, which led to the publishing of the Archaeological Bible. There are also those who organize the Bible theologically, or topically. This enables readers to look for common themes through the Bible to have a better understanding of the biblical perspective of important matters of concern. What about understanding the Bible geographically? Though this book is not a Bible, it draws lots of biblical references to piece together what it means to walk with Jesus through the ancient lands of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine. What is it like to walk where Jesus walked? A lot, says author and Adjunct Professor John A. Beck.

Monday, May 14, 2018

"Building the Body" (Gary L. McIntosh and Phil Stevenson)

TITLE: Building the Body: 12 Characteristics of a Fit Church
AUTHOR: Gary L. McIntosh and Phil Stevenson
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2018, (204 pages).

The Bible mentions several metaphors on the spiritual life. In the gospels, we have Jesus reminding us about the parable of the four types of soils. Without the right growth conditions, we cannot see fruit. In Jeremiah 2:15, we learn about perseverance that, "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?" Timothy was exhorted to fight the good fight (1 Tim 6:12) while Paul himself confessed to completing the race and keeping the faith. These highlight one common principle: Fitness. Just like the human body needs to be fit in order to be fruitful in our works, the Church as a body of Christ needs to be fit. How does the Church go about it? How do we measure a fit Church? The fitter the Church, the further she could go. A healthy human body would have a healthy cardiovascular endurance; robust muscular strength; sturdy muscular endurance; able flexibility; and balanced body composition. All these components are to be present. A healthy heart pumps fresh oxygen to nourish the whole body. Robust muscles help overcome resistance. Firm endurance provides strength to push on ahead. Flexibility enables one to embrace new challenges when they appear. A balanced body composition brings all these together in appropriate ways. In this book about spiritual fitness, readers get to hear 12 characteristics, compositions that would make a fit Church. Written by two experienced church leaders, Gary McIntosh and Phil Stevenson, we learn of fitness described through the characteristics of:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

"Saving Truth" (Abdu Murray)

TITLE: Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World
AUTHOR: Abdu Murray
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018, (256 pages).

The Renaissance gives rise to a new age of confidence in humanism. Modernism ups the bar to through science, technology, and all manner of human advancement. Postmodernism introduces an era of skepticism and relativism. As the age of Christendom diminishes, the age of atheism and secularism emerges with greater boldness and confidence. Some calls the present a Post-Christian world. Others deem it a Post-Postmodernism society. For author and North American director of RZIM, it is simply a "Post-Truth world," which he defines it as a "Culture of Confusion." In a culture of relativity, without an absolute to anchor oneself upon, we risk losing clarity. We lose a sense of purpose. We lose ourselves. Incidentally, those who declare that there are no absolutes are guilty of making their theory of relativity as an absolute in themselves. For if relativism is not an absolute, it is but a flaky philosophy. Truth is about fixed points of reference; about solid ground; about objectivity; and about the clarity of thought and life. From a big picture view, Murray moves to deal with the seductions of a "Post-Truth Mindset." Surprisingly, this mindset is not just non-Christians, but involves Christians as well. Things such as a wrong understanding of "judge not let ye be judged." Truth is, Jesus is not forbidding any forms of judging but reminding us about the purpose and motive of judgment. Other ways in which Christians are not helping clarity is when they overcorrect in their desire to defend the truth. Be calm, caring, and clear. Following the chapters on Post-Truth world and Post-Truth mindset, Murray goes into various specifics such as the proper understanding of freedom; about human dignity that does not elevate itself above God nor dumbs us down. Gospel clarity will help resolve true workmanship and worthiness.