Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Reviews

Basics for Believers

Don Carson
published by: Baker Book House Company

Review by Jared Hey

Don Carson is the type of guy who reads commentaries as if they were kiddies books, so you can imagine how well read he is and how much knowledge he has. You may be feeling a bit intimidated right about now, that’s OK, the Don (i.e. Don Carson) does that to people. Don Carson is a man who calls himself the ‘stomach’ of the church, because he believes his gift is to take BIG Christian truths and ‘digest’ them so that they are easily read and explained to others. I personally am grateful for him and pray for more ‘stomachs’ to rise up in our church body.

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Counterfeit Gods

by Timothy Kellor
London: Hodder & Stoughton. 2009

 

Review by Chris Ramsbottom

I suspect that a book entitled Idolatry wouldn’t hit the bestseller lists! Counterfeit gods on the other hands tweaks our interest. It’s a catchy title, but is Keller actually addressing anything new? It doesn’t look like it when we read the subtitle: ‘When the empty promises of love, money and power let you down’. So is this just another book on money, sex and power?

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Desiring God

John Piper
Multnomah Books

Review by Shirley Emms

This book is an absolute must read; it completely blew me away. John Piper challenges our idea of joy and being a pleasure seeker. Piper steers our attention to Scripture and shows us how God not only commands us to be pleasure/joy filled, but to find it the only place that can satisfy – the knowledge of God!

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Dig Deeper!

Tools to unearth the Bible's Treasure

Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach
published by: Nottingham IVP 2005

 

Review by Chris Ramsbottom

I read this book many years ago as a ‘young Christian’. At the time I thought I’d struck the motherload! I have just finished reading it again as a ‘mature Christian’ and my opinion hasn’t changed.

Whether you’re just starting out in your Christian walk or have been a follower of Jesus for many years, you will find Dig deeper! an immensely helpful book. In fact I’d go so far to say that this should be compulsory Christian reading.

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Entrusted with the Gospel

Da Carson (ed)
Crossway (Wheaton, Illinois)

Review by Geoff Gertzen

The “Gospel Coalition” is a fellowship of evangelical churches, committed to the scriptures across denominational lines. Its national conference in 2009, brought together six of the ‘big guns’ in the evangelical world in order to expound the book of 2 Timothy. This little book is the product of that event. These six speakers John Piper, Phillip Ryken, Mark Driscoll, K Edward Copeland, Bryan Chapell, and J. Ligon Duncan are amongst the finest Bible teachers in the Western world. They deal with the sacred text of 2 Timothy in a faithful and thoughtful manner despite their vastly differing styles and backgrounds.

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Festo Kivengere
(Bite-size Biographies)

by Frank Retief


Review by Jared Hey

 Reading about great Christian men/women of the past is always encouraging and motivating. It reminds us of the real power of God and His great plan of uniting people to each other and to Himself. It gives us great hope and encouragement to see God working great wonders in what looked to be a seemingly hopeless situation. This book does just that and more.

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Generous Justice

Tim Keller
published by: Hodder and Stoughton

 

Review by Geoff Gertzen

An all too common experience in our lives is the ring of a door bell. As we approach, standing outside is person usually with a long guilt inducing story which when summarised is a request for money. As Christians we feel guilty that we have so much while others have so little. Of course many a beggar is masterful at manipulating our guilt…and so we hand over a couple of Rand with a sinking feeling in our stomachs. We know that all the statistics indicate that that money will be spent within the hour at the closest liquor store or on some form of drugs…and so we are caught between our own generosity and really knowing how to help…

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God is Enough

by: Ray Galea

Review by Jared Hey

 “We are simply not satisfied with our spiritual blessings in Christ. We end the statement, for me to be content, I need…with anything but Christ alone.”

If you are anything like me then this statement from Ray Galea’s book will ring true for you. Life is always so busy and things never seem to go our way, we are constantly fed the lie that we need to be better and have more stuff to be content. The truth is as Christians we have everything we could want or need, we have Christ that is we have a relationship with God the almighty creator, nothing else compares to that.

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Good News to the Poor

Tim Keller
published by: Inter-Varsity Press (2004)

Review by Jaki North

This book will appeal to the more academic reader.  Tim Chester lays out not only the biblical grounds for the necessity of a Christian’s involvement in social justice, but also gives the political, economic, historical and philosophical arguments for what has been done wrong in the past. 

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Hallelujah for the Cross

Newsboys

  

Review by Geoff Gertzen

 The Newsboys were recently on tour in South Africa. They are a contemporary Christian band whose musical style is fast, upbeat and joyful as they seek to bring glory to God. They have also just released a new album of older hymns that they have translated into their own style. This would be a great buy for ‘’Moms Taxi’ or for the family to listen to at home. If hymns are not your think then try some of their other albums like Restart  or God’s Not Dead. Get it at CUM books or download from itunes.

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Humility - True Greatness

by CJ Mahaney

Review by Shirley Emms

Humility is not something we think we have a major struggle with. We pride ourselves on being somewhat humble. Yet, pride is the foundation under very sin. Cultivating humility is not something we think we need, let alone something we actively pursue. But this book leads one simply to acknowledge the battle that we all face -pride.

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Just Walk Across the Room

Bill Hybels
published by: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan (2006)

Review by Chris Ramsbottom

HYBELS, B. 2006. Just walk across the room. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
It’s not often that a book will make me cry. This one did. Not tears of sadness. Tears of joy. Just walk across the room is essentially a book on evangelism. It encourages Christians to take that first step. To…just walk across the room…and start a conversation.

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Leading Better Bible Studies

Essential skills for effective small groups

Karen & Rod Morris
published by: Aquila Press

 

Review by Chris Ramsbottom

Whether you’re new to leading a Bible study group and need some extra help, or a veteran of many years wanting to brush up on some skills, you will find this book extremely helpful. The husband-and-wife team of Rod and Karen Morris have put together a book that is informative as well as practical.

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Respectable Sins

Jerry Bridges
NavPress, Colorado Springs

Review by Geoff Gertzen

 There are some books that are not worth reading, then there are others that are worth reading once, and then there are books that are ‘Desert Island’ books. These are the books that you want to have with you when you are stranded on a desert island alone. These are books that are so good that you want to read them again and again. ‘Respectable Sins’ is a ‘Desert Island’ book.

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Saving Eutychus

Gary Millar and Phil Campbell
Matthias Media

Review by Geoff Gertzen

 Eutychus fell out of the window after falling asleep during a sermon. The Apostle Paul preached through the entire night and Eutychus couldn’t stay awake. Thankfully in God’s mercy he was raised from the dead.

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Shepherding a Child's Heart

Ted Tripp
published by: Shepherd Press 2005 (2nd ed)

 

Review by Chris Ramsbottom

Tedd Tripp’s thesis in this book is that God is concerned with the heart. Children are always serving something, either God or a substitute for God (an idol of the heart). He notes that all-too-often we parent for a change in behaviour rather than a change in heart. He argues that when we miss the heart we miss not only the gospel but also the glory of God.

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Simply Jesus

by NT Wright

Review by Geoff Gertzen

Tom Wright is one of the most prolific Christian writers of our day. His influence is massive and his output monumental. There is good reason for this. His works are stimulating, engaging and show decades of scholarship. You won’t always agree with everything Wright says, in fact thoughtful readers will often find themselves disagreeing, but you will certainly be stimulated to think carefully about the Jesus you worship.

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The Gospel-Driven Life

Michael Horton
published by:Baker Books 2009

 

Review by Chris Ramsbottom

Reading a sequel before the original isn’t always a great idea. But that’s what I did with this book by Michael Horton, a professor at Westminster Seminary in California. This is the follow-up book to Horton’s Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. While reading that book would be worthwhile, it isn’t necessary to understand this book.

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The Trellis & the Vine

by Tony Payne & Colin Marshall
2009. Matthias Media

 

Review byy Jaki North

The book is aimed mostly at church leaders and engages with the concept of the Pastor being engaged principally in training and disciple making rather than purely teaching. However, the book would be useful for anyone who is leading a church based ministry program, or a Christian NGO.

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The Unquenchable Flame

by: Michael Reeves

Review by Ed Ender

 Hearing the words church history and Reformation might produce in you a monumental yawn. But when you encounter the subject, as it is relayed by Michael Reeves, you cannot help but be drawn out of your stupor. Reeves writes an introduction to the Reformation, which means it isn’t painfully long or heavy going. Actually it’s fast-paced, it cuts straight to the highlights (and lowlights), and it even manages to be funny.

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True Friendship

by Vaughan Roberts

 

Review by Geoff Gertzen

Ours is a generation that is struggling to maintain real relationships. We talk to each other by texting, marriages disintegrate because of poor communication, people are busy yet lonely and we all long for the kinds of relationships portrayed in sitcoms like Friends and Cheers.  In a world where to be a friend means the click of a mouse button, comes this little book that helps us to think about true friendship.

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Virtually Human

Ed Brooks & Pete Nicholas
published by: Inter-Varsity Press (2015)

Review by Geoff Gertzen

 

Technology – some love it; others loathe it, we certainly can’t escape it. It shapes the way we interact and relate with each other. It shapes our commerce, our entertainment and our work. We live in a world of increasingly interconnected devices; a world where data is silently collected about our every activity; a world where words like the cloud and drone take on new meanings; a world where information is just a ‘google’ or a ‘Siri’ away.

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Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

Tim Keller
published by: Penguin Publishing Group (2015)

Review by Jaki North

I am a huge fan of Tim Keller because he writes in such a way that he applies biblical truths into everyday life situations.  This book is no exception and is probably the most insightful of any of his books that I have read to date.  

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What is a Healthy Church Member?

Thabiti M Anyabwile 
published by: Crossway

 

Review by Chris Ramsbottom

Perhaps you have been a church member for years. Or you may have only recently filled out a membership application form. Either way, this short book deals helpfully with the topic of what it means to be a healthy church member. If you aren’t an ‘official’ church member yet but still consider yourself part of the body of Christ, then this book will be helpful for you as well.

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When Helping Hurts

How to Alleviate Poverty without hurting the Poor… and Yourself

by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert

  

Review by Jaki North

I have read many books on poverty alleviation and the ‘social gospel’. This is by far the best that I have read. It is very clear in its aim and goal and yet it is also incredibly diverse in both its definition of poverty and the specific targeted (yet broad) solutions that it promotes. The book has been so well received that the authors have now also produced a small group work-book and created a web-based resource center.

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Will you be my Facebook Friend?
Social Media & the Gospel

by Tim Chester

  

Review by Jared Hey

 Today it’s all about speed, and technology has a lot to thank for this. Every minute of every day there are 48hrs of new videos uploaded onto YouTube, over 2 million search queries typed in to Google and 680 000 pieces of content being shared on Facebook. It is no wonder we struggle to have real personal friendships, where we take time to meet up with people and see them face to face.

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