“The Power of Weakness”, Keith Giles

17254288I received this 100 page ebook as part of a giveaway as a result of buying Frank Viola’s new book. Gee, I hope the other gifts I downloaded are as good as this one.

Pastor Giles takes us through the stories of key Biblical figures: Jesus, Solomon, Moses, Samson, David, Gideon to name a few. He demonstrates using Scripture how they only “succeeded” by emptying themselves to fully surrender their lives to God. Samson, for example, was only powerful because the Holy Spirit equipped him with incredible strength.

This book comes at an important time for the church where I believe we may have forgotten this critical aspect of faith. God can only use us when we let Him by depending on Him. All of these Biblical people were weak so they depended on the Father to provide the power.

Well written with strong Biblical references. My only suggestion for improvement would be if we saw some modern day examples of this phenomenon. I get the concept and want to do it, but I’m still not quite sure how to. What do I need to do when I wake up each day to be “weak” and therefore depend on Jesus?

Highly recommended – 4/5

“Alone with God”, John MacArthur

107334lgSometimes we can spend too much time reading about prayer rather than doing it. However, this shortish book (180+ pages) is a great resource for aligning our focus.

Too often our prayer can be too needs-based, ie, it’s all about us. Whilst in taking us through The Lord’s Prayer and then Paul’s priorities in prayer, MacArthur provides a challenge to allow prayer to be more God focused. Most of the book walks through MacArthur’s reflections on the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve been using The Lord’s Prayer a lot recently, so I found this a good reminder of Jesus’ intentions when reciting this prayer.

However, it’s the last two chapters that spoke to me the most. MacArthur moves from Jesus to Paul’s prayer life to outline what Paul prioritised in His prayers. He highlights two key priorities:

Read more

“Talon, Combat Tracking Team”, Ronie Kendig

Talon-cover_FINAL-197x300Having read Trinity, the first in the series, a few months ago, I was eagerly awaiting Talon, the second. It exceeded my expectations. It took me a little while to get into Trinity, but I was hooked on this story from the first pages.

Kendig has created a great character in Dane ‘Cardinal’ Markoski. Cardinal has a troubled past which is intriguing and it simmers below the surface for the entire novel until it crashes into the present in it’s climactic ending. Great, great writing

I hope Kendig builds a series around Cardinal. She has developed a character with wonderful apparent complexity (or is it just male aloofness?) that drives both the action and much of the dialogue.

Aspen, his romantic interest, didn’t really grab me. There was too much reference to flicking curls away but more significantly I didn’t see the underlying strength of character that her colleagues in the book saw.

Read more

“Living a Prayerful Life”, Andrew Murray

9780764227158

Photo courtesy of Bethany House

“Satan endeavours to become the master of the Christian prayer time.”

That statement is written on the third last page of this marvellous book but is a great reminder of where the battle for our souls is played out. The enemy knows we are ineffective against him if we aren’t praying.

Andrew Murray in this relatively short book emphases the power of prayer by exploring Jesus’ commitment to it. His ministry wouldn’t have been as effective if it weren’t for His prayer life. I know I often forget this.

Murray regards prayerlessness as the scourge of the christian community: we just don’t pray enough. This book needs to be read diligently as Murray explores many new ideas. It isn’t a “To Do guide” only featuring the one small chapter on how to spend one’s prayer time but rather by focusing on the Word, the lives of Jesus, Paul and some more modern day Christian heroes like George Mueller and Hudson Taylor, encourages us to greater commitment to prayer.

It got me praying more which is the best recommendation I can make about a book on prayer.

“Fearless”, Mike Dellosso

fearlesscover

Photo courtesy of Mike Dellosso

Mike’s one of my favourite suspense authors. I’ve read most of his catalogue and continue to be impressed with his ability to create spine tingling suspense.

He is truly a master craftsman of the suspense genre.

I was fortunate to receive an advance reading copy (ARC) of “Fearless”, his latest creation. Here’s the cover blurb of the novel:

When a nine-year-old Louisa mysteriously appears in the middle of a house fire with no memory of how she got there or where she came from, Jim and Amy Spencer agree to take her in. Wrestling with the recent loss of their own child, they soon discover Louisa has a special gift. But when the same gift unknowingly puts her in contact with a serial killer, the grieving couple must unite to face all odds and save themselves and Louisa before it’s too late.

Read more

“The Way of the Heart”, Henri Nouwen

coverSolitude, silence and prayer.

I purchased this book having spent a number of months seeking to do more of all 3. For too long I’ve thought communing with God was a reflection of how many experiences I have of Him, whatever form they may take. However, I no longer seek the experiences OF Him rather to experience Him.

Nouwen’s reflections of the “Desert Fathers” ( who lived in the Egyptian desert during the 4th and 5th centuries) lifestyle are a wonderful summary of how we can experience more of Him.

At times it was a challenging read as I couldn’t immediately grasp some of the concepts presented, however, sometimes we need to allow ourselves to soak in new ideas so they can in-fill us over time. However, these few words are a great summary of the essence of the book:
Read more

“66 Love Letters”, Dr Larry Crabb

0849946409.jpgI’ve always considered the Bible to be a love story. This book helps elucidate the essence of God’s love for us in each of the 66 letters of the Bible.

I loved it.

I took on a challenge to read the entire Bible during Lent just passed. Crabb’s book had been sitting on my shelf for a year or so untouched. It kinda jumped out at me as I dived into the Bible reading challenge.

As I moved quickly through the Word, what became very clear to me was God’s absolute love for us. He is madly in love with His creation, and will do anything to have us choose Him. This culminated in Jesus living, dying on the Cross and being resurrected. So working through Crabb’s love letters was a perfect fit for where my mind was at.

Certainly this is not a commentary nor concordance but doesn’t try to be that. There is definitely room for 66 Love Letters to sit alongside commentaries and such like to provide a different insight into the Word.

Not everyone is going to get it and may find it a poor cousin to more literal interpretations.

I don’t profess to know the Bible well. What this marvellous book has left me with is an insatiable thirst to know the heart of God and to better understand His love story. As Crabb says in his introduction: “We try to reach the heart of God without listening to the Word of God.” God’s revealed His heart to us, in 66 love letters.

I’m not sure how’d this book would go if you weren’t reading through the Bible simultaneously. It took Crabb 3.5 years to write it so he obviously spent a lot of time both studying the Word, other references and seeking God’s wisdom on each book. I particularly enjoyed how Crabb used other influential authors like CS Lewis to add additional insights.

The epilogue at the end will be a useful quick reference guide as it summarises each of the 66 letters into one paragraph.

Highly recommended.

My Review of “Iscariot” by Tosca Lee

Iscariot Cover FinalI was lost for words when I finished this beautifully written novel. And I’m still struggling to find the best words to describe the power of this story.

But the incredible thing about this story is it’s part biographical, part fiction and I’m left wondering how much of it was fiction.

Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, the one that Luke described “Satan entered” moments before he committed his betrayal. The gospels never tell us exactly what the discussion between Judas and the Chief Priests amounted to, but Ms Lee, having completed extensive research, provides an insight. And boy, was I shocked. I can’t say any more without revealing too much, so will leave it there.

Read more

“The Hole in our Holiness”, Kevin DeYoung

9781433533341This is the second book I’ve read recently on holiness. The other being John Eldredge’s new one: “The Utter Relief of Holiness”

Both come from the same precepts: why did Jesus come to save us? and why isn’t holiness talked about more in Christian circles? Both are excellent and should both be read. The two authors have their own unique styles that make each book compelling reading.

DeYoung is a pastor so has a very biblically-based message. However, it is also extremely practical and instilled in me a firm desire to seek after God’s presence.

I mentioned the topic of holiness to a good Christian friend the other day who suggested I not be raising it with too many others as people are simply not ready to hear it. This saddened me. Surely, holiness is a key part of the Gospel message? But one aspect that we have perhaps de-emphasised in modern society.

Read more

“Trinity: Military War Dog (A Breed Apart #1)”, Ronie Kendig

Trinity-cover_FINALThis was a thoroughly engaging story with believable characters, thrilling action, and a budding romance.

Two aspects grabbed me the most. Firstly, Ronie’s ability to describe the goings on of military conflict. I’m not usually one for reading stories about such, however, Ronie is able to transpose the reader into the battle, the conflict. We feel the tension, the urgency of instantaneous decision-making, hear the sharpness of the violence of explosions and guns firing, even smell the grittiness of landscape. This is a very special gift.

The second, is Trinity, the magnificent Military War Dog (MWD) and the relationship she has with her handler, Heath Daniels. Ronie demonstrates her understanding of dogs, in their almost supernatural ability to “sense” danger and read the minds of their handlers.

Read more