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Monday, September 26, 2016

"The Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users" (Mark L. Strauss)

TITLE: The Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users: Grammatical Terms Explained for Exegesis
AUTHOR: Mark L. Strauss
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, (112 pages).

Studying the original biblical languages can be a very challenging discipline. Students often have to memorize as much vocabulary as possible, the alphabets, the numbers, the case endings, and the various grammar associated with genders, moods, aspect, voice, and to note the nuances of each word and phrase. Even the punctuation marks can be important expressions of biblical communications. With the invention of Bible software, many of these things are memories of the past. As the power of the software increases, the costs of owning Bible software decreases, making it more affordable to study the ancient languages without struggling through the tough work of memorization. Unfortunately, this often leads to a lack of foundation in grammatical basics. What are the differences between verbs and participles? What is the meaning of aorist? What about the dative and vocative cases? Is there a way to derive exegetical insights from the grammar? This book anticipates such questions and poses even more for those of us who had done some introductory Greek or knows a little bit of New Testament Greek. Arranging each grammatical term in alphabetical order, the book is an easy reference for readers to understand the definitions, the meaning, the case endings, and how to see the difference between the various nuances of the grammar. We learn about what the word and grammar looks like. We understand what it does and how it is used in the Bible. The exegetical insights in every chapter brings out the beauty and relevance of biblical exegesis.

As more students are moving away from traditional rote learning of the ancient languages, books like this are going to be more important with the use of Bible software. One can also see this book as the flash cards that students used to have. Meant as a companion to Bible software users, it provides a very quick and precise reference to clarify lingering questions about what the grammar means and how it is used. The Greek language is powerful because it is able to express important ideas merely from the language itself. Those of us in the English speaking world will often have to use more words and phrases just to express the same thought, and even then, the transmission relatively inferior. That is why the Greek remains the defacto standard for interpretation. With the use of Bible software, plus this companion book, while we may lose out in terms of diluting our natural memorization skills, we gain in terms of speed in getting to the meaning with the help of computers. Moreover, we would make lesser mistakes when we misread certain endings. At the end of it all, while the computers and software can provide the science of reading and analyzing, we will still need to do the hard work of interpretation and application. Hopefully, as the software helps take care of the grammatical meanings, we can spend more time connecting the grammar, the ancient contexts, and the opportunities for modern applications.

Mark Strauss is Professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary in San Diego California. He has authored many books on Bible study methods, interpretation, and all things New Testament. He holds a PhD from the University of Aberdeen and is a member of the Bible translation committee for the New International Version.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Zondervan Academic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Friday, September 23, 2016

"Money and Possessions" (Walter Brueggemann)

AUTHOR: Walter Brueggemann
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016, (384 pages).

Money is a touchy subject for many people. That is why many preachers avoid talking about it because it has become so 'sensitive.' Yet, Jesus talks a lot about money and possessions. Preachers ought to get the hint, simply because the influence of money and the impact on possessions are profoundly pervasive in many societies. Wars have been fought on many fronts just to gain a foothold on the fountains of monetary gains. In this book, renowned author and theologian, Walter Brueggemann has gone beyond the gospels to take a look at what the entire Bible speaks about money and possessions. Put it another way, if the Bible is about God, it is also warning us about the dangers of idolatry.

Unlike commentaries that are inductive in nature, examining the Scriptures for what it is saying, this Interpretation series of resources are more topical in nature. They look at what the entire Bible has to say about certain important topics through the ages, from the biblical era to modern times. In this book, Walter Brueggemann expands, explains, and expounds on the application of money and possessions on a whole range of societal matters. Through both the Old and New Testaments, he identifies relevant areas of applications and points out the pervasiveness of this particular are of our life and contrasts that with what it means to live as a believer in a culture of individualism, materialism, and consumerism. If there is one word to describe Brueggemann's understanding of the Bible, it would be two words: "Counter Culture."

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Heart Made Whole" (Christa Black Gifford)

TITLE: Heart Made Whole: Turning Your Unhealed Pain into Your Greatest Strength
AUTHOR: Christa Black Gifford
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, (208 pages).

There is a popular saying that goes like this: "Hurt people hurt people; Healed people heal other people." What about those who have been hurt but not healed? What happens when one cannot let go of the past? What then does that do to one's future? This is where we need inner healing. For some, the end result is joyfully received. For many, the process of recovery is the way forward. This book is about this way forward, that en-route to inner healing lies the opportunity to identify our own broken hearts; to manage the trauma we encounter as much as possible; to find our true needs; and to be healed in heart, in mind, and in spirit. While theory and ideas are appealing, the area of hurt and healing requires a large dosage of real life experience. Author Christa Black Gifford knows what it means to be in the abyss of despair. She begins the book with a painful retelling of her losing her child. Shortly after Goldie was born, she was gone. Full of pain and grief, Gifford shares details about how she felt and the extent of what it meant to lose a child. Yet, in one of the darkest times of her life, she chose to cling on the the Light of Christ. She shares her own journey through a spiritual open-heart surgery; her difficult and different kinds of trauma; and how these traumas lock one in the past. She learns about coping, survival strategies, and comfort through self-examination of the heart.

Friday, September 16, 2016

"Reviewing Leadership" (Robert J. Banks & Bernice M. Ledbetter)

TITLE: Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches (Engaging Culture)
AUTHOR: Robert J. Banks & Bernice M. Ledbetter
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, (240 pages).

Leadership is one of the most challenging issues in any organization. Bookstores are stocked with lots of leadership material. Seminars and conferences on leadership remained popular. Reputed leaders are frequently called upon to give talks and speeches to teach leadership. With so many perspectives, sometimes we need to have a guidebook to give us a sense of what kinds of leadership are there. In this very helpful guide, we have one of the most comprehensive guides to current approaches to leadership, especially from a Christian point of view. It has been updated with new material. The first edition stems from the "Faith at Work Movement" initiative from Princeton University during a time where laity leadership was emerging in popularity and importance. The focus was on integrating theology with practice and letting faith/spirituality resonate as one. They explore the purpose; the social implication; the theory; the practice; and the organizational challenges of the day. In this second edition, the scope has been expanded with added material on themes such as ethics; ethical leadership; spiritual leadership; spiritual maturity; spiritual values; holistic approaches; resilience; and organizational analysis. The review comprises of eight large segments of leadership.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Reading For the Common Good" (C. Christopher Smith)

TITLE: Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish
AUTHOR: C. Christopher Smith
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2016, (179 pages).

What has reading got to do with community? A lot! So says the author and editor of The Englewood Review of Books, Christopher Smith. This co-author of Slow Church continues on the tread of learning to pace ourselves in our reading and our connecting. While his previous bestselling book was on things Church and community, this book is about the general practice of reading and books and how they can cultivate neighbourliness. Smith uses the Church as a "learning organization" as a way to enter the discussion. From reading about DIY manuals to instructions about things essential for daily living, reading can be opportunities to build bridges and to share knowledge of things that matter to our community. For reading is both learning and action. Both must be held together. Learning without action is mere knowledge that does not relate to everyday life. Action without learning will have their superficiality eventually found out. Smith lists the other reasons on how reading can be used for the common good:
  • It forms us into a compassionate and faithful people who build bridges;
  • It calls us to know God in His Word;
  • It guides us to understand the brokenness of the world and how we can be a positive force for good;
  •  It helps us discern and develop our gifts and talents.

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Sacramental Preaching" (Hans Boersma)

TITLE: Sacramental Preaching: Sermons on the Hidden Presence of Christ
AUTHOR: Hans Boersma
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, (240 pages).

What is "sacramental preaching?" It is essentially "incarnational storytelling" or bringing the realities of heaven down to earth; and then pointing to Christ as the greatest reality of life. Preaching Christ is not about imposing or superimposing Christ on everything we read, but finding Christ's presence as much as we can. Sermons are to be preached with a historical awareness; with an interpretive sensitivity to culture; with exegetical diligence; and with an application that moves people toward Christlikeness. Using St Gregory of Nyssa's interpretation of the beatitudes as a springboard, Boersma resisted the temptation to replace the word 'happiness' with 'blessedness', simply because the ancient fathers see a deeper connection between happiness and spirituality, in contrast to modern disdain that tends to dichotomize happiness as worldly and blessedness as more spiritual. By retaining the use of 'happiness,' he is making a statement to reclaim the word back for Christians. Boersma teaches us how to read Scripture through what it means then and now. His rhetorical strategy shows us how to move from sacramental reading to understanding reality in Christ.

The series of sermons are laid out in four parts. Part One is "Sensed Happiness" where the author explores the various human senses of touch, smell, sight, and taste, and relating that to the enjoyment of life in eating, drinking, celebrating, and many other aspects of human life. He argues strongly for the Christological reading in all Old Testament interpretation. In other words, it is to begin with Christ in mind. He uses several passages from Ecclesiastes to highlight the aesthetic and ascetic use of the spiritual senses. In the Song of Solomon, he treads initially on the love relationship between the main characters before proceeding to making applications about union with Christ. Part Two is "Pilgrim Happiness" which looks at our spiritual quest for union with God. The journey motif is strong here, with the Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land; climbing up the hill; and our journey into the presence of God according to Hebrews 3-4. Part Three on "Heavenly Happiness" looks at what it means to arrive at the new heaven and new earth. What are the implications of the resurrection of Jesus? How is heavenly happiness related to Christ-centered living? Part Four on "Unveiled Happiness" reveals a fuller extent of life in Christ in the heavenly realm. He relates Jacob's ladder as a homiletical motif for preaching Christ. He opens up Ezekiel 1's vision of heaven and God's glory using the "wheel in a wheel" relationship between the Old and New Testament. He concludes with 2 Corinthians 3, showing us the continuity between law and grace in Christ.

Author and Professor Hans Boersma has often been asked whether Christians today can read the Bible just like the early church fathers. To what extent can we allegorize what we read? In a nutshell, it is not simply about doing what the early fathers had done. It is also about knowing our audience of today, just like the early fathers had understood about their audiences then. If there is another way to title this book, it would be "Sacramental Presence of Christ" as the author is passionate about beginning with Christ in mind in every sermon, in every passage, and in every application. There will be those who are uncomfortable with this approach because the ancient authors do not necessarily know of Jesus in the manner that we know today. After all, there was no New Testament at that time for them. They can only see through the glass "darkly" but we see face to face. Having said that, modern audiences who have the privilege of having both testaments will have to deal with the responsibility of interpreting it as best as we can, based on what God has revealed to us. It is because of this, I think it is plausible to interpret it like Boersma, to begin with Christ in mind. It is not wrong when it comes to preaching simply because all Christian preaching must have Christ in mind. What we should not do is to presume that the Old Testament authors know Jesus directly. They do not, and many of them only believe in the Messiah by faith.

I really like the "Preacher's Notes" section at the end of each sermon where Boersma spells out in greater detail what he had intended to do with the sermon. This provides powerful insights about the author's approach. This is definitely the part that is worth the price of the book.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Academic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"10000 Reasons" (Matt Redman with Craig Borlase)

TITLE: 10,000 Reasons: Stories of Faith, Hope, and Thankfulness Inspired by the Worship Anthem
AUTHOR: Matt Redman with Craig Borlase
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2016, (176 pages).

We have all heard of how the hymn Amazing Grace became a classic after it was written by a former slave-trader.  We have all been blessed by Charles Wesley's and Fanny Crosby's beautiful hymns. We love these old hymns so much that from time to time, I would hear people say that newer hymns do not resonate as much. I would disagree. Perhaps, they have not heard songs like Matt Redman's 10000 Reasons, which has inspired and encouraged many people. This book is a collection of stories from such people.

Songs have a way to touch lives in very unique ways. With words supported by melodies and strung together by a rhythm of praise, a song can be vocalized individually or celebrated communally. Beginning with the background behind the song, Matt Redman tells of how he had that 'moment' in which everything inside him seems to come together at that special moment. Since that night, communities of faith all over the world have sang, worshiped with, and translated the words into many different languages. This song was also selected as a song of worship during a funeral service, which points the the many varied ways the song has touched people. It is Redman's hope that the song would spur people toward deeper worship and to realize that it is more than a song. It is how we tell our own stories, with this song facilitating that story telling.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"Meeting God in Scripture" (Jan Johnson)

TITLE: Meeting God in Scripture: A Hands-On Guide to Lectio Divina
AUTHOR: Jan Johnson
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2016, (256 pages).

Do you want to get up close and personal with God? Why is it that some of us feel God is so distant and impersonal? If the Bible says that God is near us, why is it that sometimes we feel otherwise? Author and popular speaker Jan Johnson has provided us a way to practice the ancient art of lectio divina, via 40 guided meditations on the Bible. God has spoken but have we listened? God has written but have we read? God has revealed but have we discovered? Perhaps, we need to learn to put aside our distractions and to learn a way to hone our attentiveness to what the Bible says, instead of being anxious about our own needs when reading the Bible.

Having led many groups of people on Scripture meditation for many years, Johnson is well poised to share her experience and knowledge in writing. This book gives us an inside look about meditating on Scripture. In it, we learn about making space in our hearts and minds to prepare ourselves for reading Scripture. She divides the 40 meditations into eight sets of topics.

Monday, September 5, 2016

"Word by Word" (Marilyn McEntyre)

TITLE: Word by Word: A Daily Spiritual Practice
AUTHOR: Marilyn McEntyre
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2016, (224 pages).

As the title suggests, this book is a patient meditation on the Word using ordinary words as entry points into the spiritual practice of meditation. Words are ways in which we describe our inner longings accurately and clearly. Readers are invited to do the same using single words used in "seven different ways and seven different phrases." This is following the ancient practice of 'lectio divina' which enables us to let the power of a single word usher us into the beauty of the Word of God. Used together with centering prayer, not only does it aids our meditations, it helps us in our prayers. The purpose of it all is to slow down our hectic pace in order to keep in step with our natural speed. In a world of multitasking and distractions, these verbs used are samples for us to be creative about our own set of words. Using her own morning Scripture readings, McEntyre shares with readers her method of spiritual reading. Using verbs to guide each chapter, she lists seven ways per verb (one per day) to practice letting the words train our minds. Readers get to listen in our how the author practices the daily routines. With reflections from the Bible, she meanders through a wide range of experiences and illustrations. We learn about prayerful listening. We receive with an eye to bless. We let God's work of creation lead us toward enjoyment. We let go of control so as to appreciate God's sense of timing and direction. We watch God's timing and accept God's way of grace. We resist the ways of the world's seductions and intentionally build in good spiritual habits. We learn to be still so as to develop a sense of clarity in us. We follow the nudging of God, something which is increasingly difficult in a world of distractions. As readers approach the end of the book, it is hoped that there is a pattern that readers can learn of, so as to develop their own set of verbs to be used likewise.

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches" (Editors: D. Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider)

TITLE: Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches
EDITORS: D. Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015, (528 pages).

What is the Second Coming about? Is the Doctrine of the Future better left to the future? What has Eschatology got to do with our present life? What does it mean when people say God's Kingdom is coming? Is Revelation primarily about telling the future?

This book that comprises a series of articles on Eschatology in the past, present, and future has been published to honour the life and work of Professor Craig Blaising on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Currently a provost with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Blaising has served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2005. The many articles written in this book have been written to reflect the same way Blaising has approached Scriptures: contextually; biblically; theologically; and practically with an eye on ministry work. As past students, editors Bingham and Kreider have come together with 29 other contributors to revere the Scriptures the same way Blaising has done.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Kingdom Conspiracy" (Scot McKnight)

TITLE: Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church
AUTHOR: Scot McKnight
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2016, (304 pages).

In this book, McKnight continues to offer up counter intuitive ideas about basic Christian beliefs and practices. Like what he had done for gospel and evangelism, he is doing the same for Kingdom and the mission. In his earlier book, "King Jesus Gospel," he critiques with vigour the faulty evangelistic models that reduce the gospel to a series of spiritual laws, salvation culture, or merely saying the sinners' prayer. Likewise, in this book, McKnight offers up a critique of some common usage of the word "kingdom." After studying the various approaches by "skinny jeans kingdom people," he summarizes their understanding of kingdom as, "Kingdom means good deeds done by good people (Christian or not) in the public sector for the common good." In other words, kingdom work means social justice, world peace, good works with a tinge of Biblical principle. That is not all. McKnight takes to task the "Pleated Folks" perspective that is incorporated into two statements:

  1. Kingdom as present and future
  2. Kingdom as rule and realm

Monday, August 29, 2016

"Adoptive Youth Ministry" (Chap Clark)

TITLE: Adoptive Youth Ministry: Integrating Emerging Generations into the Family of Faith (Youth, Family, and Culture)
AUTHOR: Chap Clark
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, (400 pages).

What is adoption? What does "Adoptive Youth Ministry" mean? How is it different from conventional youth ministries? According to the editor of this book, to be adopted means becoming a full member of a nonbiological family. When applied to youth ministry, it means one, more, or even all of of the following "four foundational premises."
  1. Recognizing that in every Church and organization, there are insiders as well as outsiders.
  2. Reminding that we are adopted into God's family as a child with other children.
  3. We are vulnerable but Jesus has his eyes on us.
  4. That we as well as outsiders are called to the gathering.
Chap Clark, editor of this book of articles compiled from 20 different contributors says:
"Adoptive ministry is vital because we are witnessing the fact that in Christ God has invited those who 'believed in his name' to 'become children of God' (John 1:12). This is the message of the good news. Therefore our message—in our lifestyle, service, and word—is adoption."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Sticky Faith Service Guide Student Journal" (Kara Powell and Brad M. Griffin)

TITLE: Sticky Faith Service Guide, Student Journal: How Serving Others Changes You
AUTHOR: Kara Powell and Brad M. Griffin
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, (144 pages).

There are many short-term mission trippers who had a great experience out there in the mission field. They prepared with enthusiasm, participated in the projects with fervour, only to return with an excitement that couldn't be sustained over the long haul. Memories may stay a while but the full experience is often forgotten over time. What if the experience can propel one not only to remember but to do better? It comes with proper reflections and journaling. This is where this book comes in. Meant to be used as a companion volume to "Sticky Faith Service Guide," the book contains many triggers for reflections and journaling.

The book gives readers a refresher of the basic concepts of Sticky Faith and the ideas introduced in the "Sticky Faith Service Guide." The Big Idea anchors the chapter to remind us about our trip and our thoughts. There are ample Bible references to help us along and it is a powerful way to see how the truth of the Word comes to life when we go on mission. The journaling actually draws our thoughts out clearly. This is perhaps the biggest benefit for all mission trippers. It is hoped that the reader will be able to summarize more concretely his/her experiences and learnings in one book. After all the resources and efforts spent on going for the mission trip, surely we should maximize our learning which should enable us to take our faith to the next level. More importantly, as we solidify our journaling skills, we are better able to share of our own experiences with others.

Kara Powell is Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary while Brad Griffin serves as the Associate Director for the Fuller Youth Institute.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Zondervan Academic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"Sticky Faith Service Guide" (Kara Powell and Brad M. Griffin)

TITLE: Sticky Faith Service Guide: Moving Students from Mission Trips to Missional Living
AUTHOR: Kara Powell and Brad M. Griffin
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, (240 pages).

You've been to a developing country. You've participated in some building project; outreach programs; and lived with people from another culture. You've also learned a lot about cross-cultural missions and how to share the gospel in a different context. You've ministered to the mrginalized or the poor. You've contributed both money and time to a worthy cause. After the mountain high experience, you return to your home country. What next? Will your mission end after the mission trip? According to a missiology research journal published in 2013, over one-third of US congregations had sponsored 1.6 million churchgoers overseas. With such huge outlay of expenses, yet there is a troubling lack of 'career missionaries.' Materialism concerns continue to remain high. Most worrying, many mission-trippers never really go beyond what they had done at their mission trips. In other words, the mission enthusiasm doesn't seem to stick.

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Hearing God in Conversation" (Samuel C. Williamson)

TITLE: Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere
AUTHOR: Samuel C. Williamson
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2016, (216 pages).

Is God still speaking to us today? What if we don't hear an audible voice? What if we try and try but keep hearing echoes of silence? Is it a problem with God not speaking or is it more a problem of us not hearing? According to author and founding director of "Beliefs of the Heart" ministry, Samuel Williamson, God is always speaking. We just need to learn how to listen, but learn to tune our spiritual ears to hear Him everywhere.  This book shows the way beyond mere rationalism or emotionalism. If God is always speaking, we need to learn as many ways as possible to connect with God. The key point in this book is that "conversation is the point." For if Christianity is indeed a relationship between God and us, we will know the key things that define a relationship. Vivid interaction is preferred to constant direction. Who wants to have a relationship with people always telling what to do? A relationship is a two-way street and not a one-directional highway. It allows us to be comfortably ourselves. It is more about each other rather than the things to be talked about. The amazing thing is that our God communicates with us in multiple ways. In conviction, we have God impressing on our hearts the things we did, whether it is good or not. In insight, we get sudden bursts of inspiration. In revelation, we hear clearly what God wanted to say to us. It can be from books or the Word of God. It can be from our daily devotions. It can also be from an impression that is unmistakably God's.

Friday, August 19, 2016

"For a New Generation" (Lee Kricher)

TITLE: For a New Generation: A Practical Guide for Revitalizing Your Church
AUTHOR: Lee Kricher
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, (176 pages).

If you are reading this book, there is a good chance that you come from or know of churches trying to address the aging problem. Churches all over the world are constantly being challenged toward leadership renewal, engaging the young, and replacing the old. People don’t live forever and there will be a time in which the baton needs to be handed to the next generation. Provided there is a next generation. Are you doing enough to reach the next generation? Are we doing both church planting as well as church revitalization? Can we put in place a strategy to enable a church toward ‘perpetual church revitalization?’

For senior pastor of Amplify Church, it means developing a new generation church that has “attendees whose average age is at least as young as the average age of the community in which the church exists.” For Amplify Church that was founded in the late 1970s, by 2003 they had such a sharp decline that the less than 200 people in the church could hardly afford its monthly mortgage payment. They even needed to make arrangement with a bank to service only its interest! Most alarming was the rising average age of the congregation. By refocusing their efforts on becoming a new generation church, the numbers not only reversed but the church grew to an average weekly attendance of 1400 people. More encouraging is the average age of the congregation hovers under 35. This book is about the journey of Amplify Church, and how it takes a declining situation and turns it around to be a vibrant new generation church. It comprises five strategies:
  1. Adopt a New Mindset
  2. Identify the Essentials
  3. Reduce the Distractions
  4. Elevate Your Standards
  5. Build a Mentoring Culture

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"God Dreams" (Will Mancini)

TITLE: God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church's Future
AUTHOR: Will Mancini
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2016, (288 pages).

Vision is an integral part of Church. Mission is an outflow of the vision. Both go together but how can we make the process more effective and clear? Without clarity, how can any organization know where to go and how to motivate their members to fulfill the objectives? What is the purpose of its existence? Many people know the importance but lack the necessary tools and processes to clarify their vision and mission. Based on more than 15 years of experience, more than 500 churches, and over 10000 hours of work with church team facilitation, author Will Mancini makes vision sharpening as a key priority in this book. He lists three benefits for reading this book.
  1. Leading meaningfully
  2. Inspiring the community
  3. Focusing on God's vision
By honing on clarifying our Church's vision and direction, Mancini believes that Church Identity; Church Direction; and Church Story can be connected as one. The six parts of the book are:
  1. Restart the Conversation: of vision and dreams
  2. Discover Visionary Planning: visualizing the future
  3. Find Your Future: Adopt templates toward fulfilling the goals
  4. Focus Your Long-Term Vision: 
  5. Execute Your Short-Term Vision
  6. Lead with Freedom: personalizing the vision
(From Will Mancini's "God Dreams" Overview)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"No God But One" (Nabeel Qureshi)

TITLE: No God but One: Allah or Jesus?: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity
AUTHOR: Nabeel Qureshi
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, (320 pages).

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Is Allah the same as Jesus? This issue costs a tenured professor her job and puts her seminary at the center of a controversy. For the rest of us, it highlights the confusion behind the differences and the similarities between Christianity and Islam. On the one hand, there is a lot of similarities in the Old Testament with the Quran. On the other hand, there are distinct differences in the theology of the person of God. As a convert from Islam, author and speaker Nabeel Qureshi has a personal interest in this one issue, partly because of his acute background understanding of Islam, and also because of his new found faith in Jesus. Having struggled with the differences between Christianity and Islam in a very personal level, he knows why and how people are confused about the whole matter. This book is his attempt to tell the differences between the two great religions and to investigate who God is. For over a decade, he has struggled with the issue, together with thousands of people he have met caught between the theologies of the two faiths. It is hoped that the book will not only clarify the differences but will enable us to pray more knowledgeably for the people caught between the two faiths.