Expect a Move of God…Suddenly! by Joyce Meyer

expect a move of God

This is a nifty little book from Meyer. Only 60 pages long but full of good advice. Meyer looks at hearing from God – how we need to be silent and patient and how we should expect a move of God suddenly – how He works on his time frame not ours. This book has personal stories in which are encouraging, and although only a small book she imparts wisdom and has made me consider my prayer life and she has helped raise my expectations. I can confidfently say I am now more open to God moving suddenly, and am looking forward to the surprises!

This is well written and only took an hour or so to read. I liked how she was honest and shared stories of her life to help people grasp what she was saying. I found this a helpful book and well worth a quick read.

8/10

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The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll

radical reformission

Synopsis from Amazon:

Reformation is the continual reforming of the mission of the church to enhance God’s command to reach out to others in a way that acknowledges the unique times and locations of daily life. This engaging book blends the integrity of respected theoreticians with the witty and practical insights of a pastor. It calls for a movement of missionaries to seek the lost across the street as well as across the globe. This basic primer on the interface between gospel and culture highlights the contrast between presentation evangelism and participation evangelism. It helps Christians navigate between the twin pitfalls of syncretism (being so culturally irrelevant that you lose your message) and sectarianism (being so culturally irrelevant that you lose your mission). Included are interviews with those who have crossed cultural barriers, such as a television producer, exotic dancer, tattoo studio owner, and band manager. The appendix represents eight portals into the future: population, family, health/medicine, creating, learning, sexuality, and religion. Mark Driscoll was recently featured on the ABC special The Changing of Worship.

This book looks at how to evangelise without getting sucked into worldly cultures. Driscoll makes many comparisons between how people interpret the Bible, the traps they fall into when preaching the Gospel and he explores how to reach out without being a hypocrite and a fool.

This was not a particularly easy read  – as my Dad would say, Driscoll is a preacher not a writer, but what he has put down is worth reading if you are interested in evangelism or are a Christian. It is not a self-help book, instead he focusses on the Bible and what it says about God and the dangers one can slip into – such as legalism.  I found this a useful book and will try and put what I read into practice. There were humorous stories and comments in the book to lighten up the theology. Overall, I liked this book even if it did take me a while to read and I will read more of his books in the future as I like his teaching.

7/10

Blest Atheist by Elizabeth Mahlou

blest atheist

Synopsis taken from http://www.blestatheist.com:

As a young child, outraged by the hypocrisy she finds in a church that does nothing to alleviate the physical and sexual abuse she experiences on a regular basis, Beth delivers an accusatory youth sermon and gets her family expelled from the church. Having locked the door on God, Beth goes on to raise a family of seven children, learn 17 languages, and enjoy a career that takes her to NASA, Washington, and 24 countries. All the time, however, God keeps knocking at the door, protecting and blessing her—which she realizes only decades later. Ultimately, Beth finds God in a very simple yet most unusual way. A very human story, Blest Atheist encompasses the greatest literary themes of all time – alienation, redemption, and even the miraculous. The author’s life experiences, both tragic and tremendous, result in a spiritual journey containing significant ups and downs that ultimately yield great joy and humility.

This is the story of Elizabeth Mahlou’s life. It is harrowing and encouraging. She is honest, realistic and humble. The book begins with Beth telling us about how she spoke at a Russian Orthodox church about her role as a Good Samaritan in helping Shura, a boy in Siberia with Spina Bifida. The book is full of how she meets people, how she connects and copes in different countries and how her contacts and friends enable her to help many people. She has multiple degrees, can talk a range of languages and has many fascinating stories, such as how she was one of the only American’s allowed in Russia during the Cold War. Yet she does not brag and is not big headed. She is honest and humbled by her truly amazing experiences. She sees all of them as a chance to help others. She talks about her family and the abuse all her siblings suffered from different family members but how they supported each other and looked out for each other, and ultimately survived.

The second part of her book examines how she changed from an atheist to a practising Christian. She talks about how God has always rescued her, had a plan and loved her. How all the “coincidences” in her life were likely to be from God. She relays miracles she has seen, the faith of others and how ultimately her life was changed.

This is an amazing read. Even if you aren’t interesting in God or religion this book is inspiring and beautiful. Many lives have been changed through Mahlou’s work, and I think maybe will be changed by this book. This is a must read.

9/10

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

the prodigal god

Synopsis from Amazon:

In THE PRODIGAL GOD, New York pastor Timothy Keller uses the story of the prodigal son to shine a light on the central, beautiful message of Jesus: the gospel of grace, hope and salvation.

Keller argues that the parable of the prodigal son, while Jesus’ best-known parable, is also his least understood. He introduces the reader to all the characters in this timeless story, showing that it concerns not just a wayward son, but also a judgemental older brother and, most importantly, a loving father.

This short but powerful book is a reminder to the faithful, an explanation to the seeker, and finally an invitation to all – both older and younger brothers – to enter in to the ‘unique, radical nature of the gospel’: the reckless, spendthrift love of God.

This is the first Tim Keller book I have read, and I found it very useful in my walk with God. Keller looks at an alternative way of looking at the parable of the prodigal son. He looks at the elder brother – the one who didn’t take his inheritance, run off and shame the family. In that parable, the father shows amazing grace and love and forgives the younger son completely. The elder brother however, does not. Keller explains how Christianity is not a religion – where you follow rules, like the elder brother to get into heaven. He explores how it is by God’s grace and Jesus’ death and resurrection that we are saved. The elder brother did not have a relationship with his father, he was bitter – just like the Pharisees. He followed rules and was into legalism. Keller explains how that is something we need to break out of – that won’t bring us salvation.

This is a short book that clearly explains the Gospel message and how to adapt ourselves to live in relationship with the Father. I did dip in and out of this book, which was not a problem. It is a book that will get re-read. I did find however that when I was reading it, to take it in I had to give the book my full attention.

My fiancee started the book this afternoon and is already half way through – that is a good indication of how readable it can be – especially as he is not a big reader.

8/10

Walking With God by Ginni Otto

Synopsis from back cover:

What if you could walk with Jesus, talk to Peter and witness the miracles that Christ performed over two thousand years ago? In “Walking with God” by Ginni Otto, that is exactly what young Rachel Rosenfold does. A heated argument with her father sends Rachel racing out into the street. A squeal of brakes, her mother’s horrified scream, and blinding headlights converge to begin a journey that finds Rachel literally “Walking with God” during the time of Christ’s ministry here on earth. The Gospels come alive as Rachel learns the power of grace, the miracles of faith, and the limitless love of out Lord. Readers of all ages will enjoy making this spiritual journey with Rachel and they, too, will find themselves “Walking with God”.

Wow, what a book. I didn’t quite know what to expect from Otto, but I really enjoyed this book. Meet Rachel, a Jewish girl who had a life-changing experience at university – she became a Christian and believed Jesus is the Messiah. She tries to explain this to her father, Abraham, who is a Rabbi, but all they do is fight. Abraham banishes her from the home, so she flees, right into the path of a car. When she wakes, she is in a field, two thousand years ago, right where Jesus is about to perform his first miracle. There she joins the group of followers who travel with Jesus, and stays with him all through his three-year ministry, learning from him and making friends with the disciples and the two Mary’s. Meanwhile, at home she is in a coma. Her mother Julia starts to ask the question, why did Rachel convert, and we see a friendship form between her and Rachel’s tutor Matthew. He becomes a close family friend as Julia, and Abraham study all the prophecies too see how Jesus fulfilled them. This book is the first in a series, where we are set to see Rachel fight for Jesus in the 21st century.

I really enjoyed this book. It is not a long book, only 208 pages, but I was gripped from the start. There is a lot of Biblical teaching, with the Gospel message explained throughout the story, and the events recorded in them replayed in this book. I also enjoyed how Otto explored what the Jews believe, and how she used the Bible to explain how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies. That is a very difficult topic and extremely brave, but I think she handled it perfectly.

There were a few bits of the story I wasn’t convinced about. Obviously the first is that no one is ever going to go back two thousand years, but that didn’t affect the story – that was what drew you in. I wasn’t convinced by the coma story, as she wasn’t really in a coma, just a deep sleep, but for three years. The other thing I was unsure about was some of the theology in the book. That said, the majority of it I agree with and this is only a minor point. I am sure others will not have the same disagreements as me.

I liked how Otto wrote. Like I said, I was hooked. I was drawn into the story. Even though it jumps about in time a bit, I was not confused, I actually liked that extra element. She was engaging and entertaining. I liked all the characters and connected with them all.

What I would say is, this is Christian fiction. If you don’t like being “preached at” or reading about the Christian faith, this book is not for you. However, I thought this was a good little book and would recommend it for both believers and those who don’t believe.

8/10

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Synopsis:

‘I had a dream last night… large enough to fill the rest of my life.’ This retelling of John Bunyan’s classic story is filled with drama, excitement and adventure. On his journey of a life-time to the City of Gold, Christian meets an extraordinary cast of characters, such as the terrible Giant Despair and the monster Apollyon. Together with Hopeful, his steadfast companion, he survives the snipers and mantraps, the Great Bog, Vanity Fair, Lucre Hill and Castle Doubting. But will he find the courage to cross the final river to the City of Gold and his salvation?

I struggled with this book. Several times I considered stopping. I found it boring. I was not engaged with the story and no character stood out to me.

The story is split into two parts. The first follows Christian on his pilgrimage, and the second part follows his wife Christina on her pilgrimage. I found the second half of the book very similar to the first part as she is going along the same route as that which Christian walked. They met all sorts of people – very cleverly named, such as Hopeful, Faithful, Talkative etc. and some which attempted to prevent the pilgrims and some which enabled their mission. They face all sorts of struggles in their bid to get to the river. Giants and hobgoblins needed to be fought.

The book contains the Gospel story and is full of Bible verses. If you don’t like “being preached too” through books, this is not for you.

I just didn’t enjoy this book.

4/10

Heaven is Real by Don Piper

heaven-is-real

Synopsis
The author draws on his own near-death experience to describe the reality of heaven and to explain how it is possible, by relying on God’s love, to transform life challenges into blessings.

This is the follow up to the book: 90 Minutes in Heaven. Don Piper was killed in a car accident; an 18-wheel truck crushed the car he was in. He was pronounced dead at the scene – and the meds said he was dead for 90 minutes. He tells of how he went to heaven – well the gates, where he met his dead loved ones. He is adamant it was not a near-death experience – there was no white light; he says he instantly went to the gates of heaven.

This book talks of how to appreciate life on earth, but looking forward to heaven. There is the Gospel message in the book, and he teaches how to live in God’s grace, through suffering. The stories he use are extreme – of people who have attempted suicide, or people who have lost loved ones through illness, accidents or drugs. They are powerful stories, and it is moving to see how they have overcome their situation, worked through the pain and adjusted to the “new normal”.

Although the book is full of these stories, I did find myself getting annoyed with Piper. Firstly, he did not seem to grasp the idea of depression that occurs when nothing has happened – the chemical imbalance that causes the depression. He seemed to imply that it was our own fault, how we aren’t walking with God correctly, and that bugged me. Secondly, a lot of the book was about how his previous book and experience has helped other. He makes sure he states he is not boasting, but it does come across like that. And thirdly, he claims to be like Saint Paul. Now this really bugs me, because if he was, he would not state it.

Overall, this is a book with helpful stories for people who have suffered and are Christians who know they are going to heaven, however I missed a lot of the teaching because the way he wrote annoyed me.

5/10