Book Reviews

The Furious Longing for God: Brennan Manning begins with an attention grabbing sequence of short paragraphs, that you will either hook you or puzzle you.  I got hooked.  

I started reading this book aloud with a friend.  I have never done this before, I would highly recommend it, unless you want to zoom through a book.  Given that Brennan Manning writes like he has lived on the street and swallowed a dictionary, it's an interesting read, that prompted much discussion. We literally had to keep looking up words to understand all he was saying.  Don't let this put you off.  He has an interesting style. 

His style is nothing compared to the content... it's priceless. He clearly reads the mystics at the same time as laying hands on lepers, this guy has insight to impart. You can't help but listen, because although what he is sharing is not new insight, it's refreshing in our stale culture, and life giving. It's honest, full of grace and power and saturated in the Word of God. Well worth a read. In fact, out of all the books I have reviewed, I'd say 'read this one first'.

Follow Me: David Platt follows up his book Radical with an equally challenging and inspiring, Follow Me.  This book took me from a place of revelation, at how I have moulded and diluted faith within my western culture, to a place of 'how to' in living within our culture yet distinct from it.  Radical and Follow Me have changed my world view as a follower of Christ Jesus. After reading the first few chapters of these books, I wondered whether I could call myself a follower of Christ.  I was a follower of myself, and my religiousness was all part of following myself.  Now I can say I am on the way to becoming a true follower of Christ.

Radical: David Platt came out with a hiss and a roar, causing much controversy - apparently.  I'm a little slow on the uptake, so this is all happened in 2010.  A friend loaned me this book knowing I would love it. All I can say is that I find it so frustrating when you borrow a book from a friend that is so good you must mark in it, yet you can't, so you buy a copy yourself.  And while you are waiting for your own copy to arrive, you can't help but keep reading, knowing you will be re-reading it all again soon with a pen in hand. Buy your own copy, it's that good. This book challenges the way we do church, Christianity and conversion in the west.  It challenges the unbiblical nature of the sinners prayer, and triggers us all to take stock, have we bought into a religious life? Or are we a life following Christ? If the former, then we may be the one surprise when we say "Lord, Lord." And he says "I never knew you."

The Heavenly Man: Brother Yun tells his powerful journey through the growth and testimony of the Church in China.  This book will inspire and challenge.  I particularly found the final chapters about Brother Yun's observations on the western church, utterly profound and to be honest, seeing ourselves from another view felt like scales falling from my eyes.  I can conclude that if you seek more of the experience and ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life, then tell others of the Jesus of the Bible and what He has done in your life. It is only when we get out of our comfort and abilities can we totally depend on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Compelled By Love:  Heidi Baker opens with a vision of the western world "I saw the church eating crumbs from the Fathers table when they are called to eat in the celestial realms of glory. I saw people malnourished and scavenging around instead of feasting on God's incredible heavenly food" She then moves on to our mission; "Wherever you are, God wants to show you the blind, the sick, the dying, the lame and the desperate who are all around you. In the grocery store, in the mall, in the post office, and everywhere there are people who are hungry, poor, naked and blind to the things of God, He wants to release radical acts of loving-kindness through you."

Enough said.

In the Land of the Blue Burqas: Whoever this Kate McCord is, I would love to continue the conversation of this book in person.  She is clearly a Holy Spirit dependant women, giving herself to loving the people of Afghanistan for 5 years.  This book gives insight that makes it deadly clear why it was written under a protective pseudonym. If you have ever watched the news and thought, 'how horrible for them'. Read this book. It powerfully gives 'them' humanity and has you in tears, feeling you were there sharing a cup of tea and a handful of treats. The author is intelligent, passionate and insightful in sharing her faith with those who view her as a friend as well as an enemy. 

I bought this book because I have a friend who spent 2 years in Afghanistan working for a NGO. When she came back, it didn't take long to know I could never understand what she experienced there. We are incapable of understanding, until we walk the same dust and mud. I only hope this book has given me insight enough, at the very least, to really love the Afghan people, even if it is only a fraction of what she does. What a treasure these people are to God. What a treasure all people are to God.

The Girls Still Got It:  If you have ever heard Liz Curtis-Higgs in person, you will find this book exactly like hearing her speak!  She is a brilliant communicator, she has her own style, and it truly is all her very own.  She is always pulling out one-liners to entertain as she educates her readers. I did wondered if those who hadn't heard her before may find it distracting, but she is exactly who she is, and I'm sure the wealth of knowledge she conveys is more than enough to confirm she is a well researched author (with a lively sense of humour).  As she intended, you really do feel like you are right there, watching Ruth's story unfold.  Liz has dug deep to reveal cultural and contextual truth that was fresh and enlightening.  This is a great book to use for a womens' Bible study, or a general read. Read it once, reading again, this time with a pen in hand.    

Surprised by the Power of the Spirit: Jack Deere, former professor at a large seminary in America, tells of his own personal journey, and challenges  some of our  understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit today.  I found this book to be very honest, grounded in God's Word and a feast of learning. I very much appreciated what Deere had to say on many angles. A challenging piece of writing.

To Live is Christ:  Beth Moore invests Biblical and historical understanding to bring to life the story of the Apostle Paul. 

This is a highly researched book that expends huge amount of cultural context to give us a real picture of the life of Saul/Paul.

Unlike many Character studies, as always Beth Moore makes applications for our own lives. I am not too sure I like it in this book.  In her Daniel study, Beth reminds us that everything we learn doesn't have to always be about us. I just wonder if this was one occasion where personal application could have been left for the reader to ponder through the life of Paul. Maybe, maybe not.

I got over myself enough to enjoy this book. Throughout, I found the research done on the culture and time absolutely astounding. I guess in a way it has given extra colour to the journey of Saul/Paul.  I studied Romans (John Stott) with our women's Bible study group and boy did we find Paul to be straight up - 'giving it to us'. Romans is a hard book to digest. I guess that is why Paul wrote;

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?Or who has been his counsellor?  
Who have ever given to God, that God should ever repay him?
Having gained more insight into Paul's journey, I have a greater clarity of his letter to the Romans, as well as all the other books in the NT he wrote. I liked this book, and have passed it on.

The Hungry Always Get Fed: Heidi and Rolland Baker share their experiences and those of others around the world who have been involved and touched either through prayer or hands on love.  

This book is is well worth reading, even more so, it's worth thought, prayer and action.  There are so many great quotes, some to inspire those of us timid of our circumstances to walk tall, and some to get those of us unsure of miracles believing and wanting to know more of the Spirit of the Living God. If you are slightly curious of the miraculous, from a realistic point of view, this book is worth you opening up.

Unglued: Lysa TerKeurst writes from the heart, sometimes leaving you feeling like you have witnessed her struggles personally. Which you may like, or you may not.  I am uncomfortably enjoying her honesty, because it takes you from theoretical to personal and often times we can learn and learn and learn some more. Yet be in such a hurry to learn we sometimes don't take time to apply. Lysa gives you no such luxury.  Her applications sound like my own, making it impossible not to feel it.

This is not a book identifying all we get wrong.  It is not a 'you're welcome to join the stuff-up club'.  It gives practical, thoughtful ideas to move forward in areas we struggle, baby steps.  Getting closer and closer to 40 years old, I am finally learning that 'fixing' is never quick, sometimes it's simple, but that doesn't make it easy or sorted by tomorrow.  Lysa encourages us to progress, that's all, make progress, not leaps and bounds, just progress. Am enjoying this book. It's not just a Mothers book, but it is a Mothers book. Be encouraged, someone (and not just one) relates.

They Speak with Other Tongues: This book has some great reviews.  A friend of mine found it in a second-hand book sale. The pages are yellowed and brittle, however it seems she found a treasure.  
I read it in less than 24 hours.  It's one of those books!  First published in 1964, I, personally, found it hugely relevant for today.  Written in the investigative style similar to Lee Strobels' Case for Christ, it had me at the preface. I related immediately to a skeptical yet fascinated sojourner.  At this point in my journey I am finding the more I read, the more questions are raised.  This book, for me, answered more questions than it prompted, which left me feeling like I was actually making some progress on this road to discovery. 

If you do not believe in the evidence of other tongues or have no idea what the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (sometimes called the infilling), is all about, then read this very Biblical and historical investigation into "speaking with tongues - what is it?".