Wednesday, May 1, 2013
When I first started to read this book, I was skeptical of another ‘cheap grace’ kind of author expounding overarching encompassing grace of God to envelop humanity. Everyone would have a sweet aroma of life on earth and “and they will live happily ever after” stuff at the end of the book. But I was wrong. The author knew his stuff as a well-traveled man who has seen, read and experienced what was truly grace. I was particularly excited when he mentioned the grace that Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, wrote about. Grace is not cheap! Moore’s comprehensive and thorough takes on the grace of God thrilled and inspired me. It made God to be more wonderful that I ever thought before. It also made me to be much smaller, more stinkier that I ever thought before. I was not worth the effort Jesus put in for me, yet He did it anyway.
All in all, it was a very well-written, a book that will perhaps transform perception of many readers of the Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Grace personified! And I love the catchy title too.
Thank you Book Sneeze for allowing this free ebook for the purpose of this review. I give this book a five-star!
Monday, April 8, 2013
When it was announced last Sunday by my senior pastor at the pulpit over the suicide of Rick's youngest son, I was deeply saddened. The first thing that came to my mind is "why?" as usual. Human words will never be sufficient to ease the pain but God's Word and His Holy Spirit will eventually be able to penetrate the deepest hurt and heal them.
To Rick and Kay, although I am in Malaysia, I felt the grieve and so did great many pastors and members I know here. You are greatly loved and we are all praying for you and your family.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
One of the best books I have read on finding our identity in Christ. Interspersed with real life stories, the author brought to life the passages of the epistle to the Ephesians. In today’s upside down world of brokenness, the importance to grasp our solid foundation in Christ cannot be taken for granted anymore. Many young people have lost their footing in Christianity and wavering about between what is the philosophy of the world and what is of the Bible. Peer pressures and the unreal world of entertainment have clouded the eyes from seeing what God sees in His sons and daughters. Mark Driscoll’s seriousness of wanting readers to stand upright in this broken world is permeated in every page of this book. The reading of this book must not be rushed. I hope this book can help Christians appreciate the Bible even more as they grasp the full meaning of who we really are in Christ. The title of the book also gets the attention of everyone, both believers and unbelievers. I urge everyone to get hold of this book and praise God for what He has given to us and done in us! I give this book five stars!
Thank you, Thomas Nelson's Publishers, for providing this ebook for the purpose of this review.
Friday, February 8, 2013
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” - Romans 10:14.
When Jesus Christ walked on the earth, He was a Master Communicator. There are many lessons we can learn as we read about His dealings with all kinds of people. The most outstanding one would be His motive in giving the best to those He connected with.
I would like to share step by step how Jesus communicated with the Samaritan woman and also to His disciples found in John 4:1-42. In the end, He won the woman and many villagers over to God. He managed not only to show a tangible example of winning the lost to His disciples but also challenged the disciples to see that the Harvest was ready!
There are six steps we can deduce from Jesus communicating with the Samaritan woman.
Now He had to go through Samaria (John 4:4). The word, “had” speaks of Jesus’ prayer that led Him to the woman. There is undeniable fact that Jesus always prays to the Father before He does something significant - His prayers scattered throughout the Gospels. His life was entirely led by the Spirit. His intention was to do the Father’s will and going through Samaria was part of the plan. Jews would go one big round instead of stepping into this town to avoid meeting with Samaritans, considered impure Jews.
He chose the place, Jacob’s well, to meet with the woman (John 4:4-6). Jacob’s well was not just any place but a common ground where Samaritans gathered to talk about old times, spiritual things, a place of discussions and drawing of water. Common ground is like a starting point for contact. It interests both parties, breaking ice and easing tension along the way. Jesus connected with her not only with the place but also He spoke with her about the subject at hand - water!
We can start communicating with our not-yet-Christian friends with many common-ground subjects such as football, or any kind of sports, business, food, community works.
Once we make the connection, we engage with the person in CONVERSATION!
Notice that Jesus did not go to her back while she was drawing water and said, “I am the Messiah”. That would definitely frighten her and kill the connection even before the conversation began.
First of all, to make any conversation fruitful, there should be respect for each other. Jesus showed her respect by asking her for water. Jews were forbidden to have anything to do with the Samaritan (John 4:7-9). Furthermore, the men of the day would not ask anything or listen so much to a woman! When Jesus asked for water from her, He made an impact in her life by going against the social norm of the day.
John, the gospel writer placed a parenthesis (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food) in verse 8. John knew that if they were there that day, it would not be conversation but commotion. They would not show respect for her. They rather died from thirst than asking from the Samaritan woman.
There was two-way conversation when Jesus spoke to her. He listened to her as she spoke. Jesus showed interest in her, a Samaritan and a woman! People can smell from afar if you are uninterested in them during a conversation.
In the midst of the conversation with her, Jesus offered her living water (John 4:10)! This is the step I called ATTRACTION.
To make conversation fruiful and exciting, you offer something. Something tangible that you can do for the person you are having conversation with. Listen out for anything that you can help or do!
When the woman initially gave a sarcastic remark, Jesus did not react (vv. 11-12). Jesus did not get overly sensitive . He did not defend Himself even though He was the Creator of the Universe! He offered even more things about this living water (vv. 13-14)! Let us not be sensitive when people at first reject your Christ! Don’t fight them, walk alongside them calmly.
5. LIFE COMPLICATIONS
When she got excited, Jesus went for the heart issue. It had become personal! Everyone has complications in life, some more painful than others.When the Samaritan woman admitted, she opened up her soul to God! She was in essence saying to Jesus, “My life’s broken!” She needed a Savior! That living water!
If a person can open up to you personally, then it is much easier to share with them Christ! This person has a higher chance to embrace Jesus! This is the step we want to achieve in our sharing of faith! we watch for opening into life’s complication!
Jesus did not condemn her loose living, merely acknowledged her honesty. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save the world through Him (John 3:17). Let the Holy Spirit convict the pre-believers. Let the Judge from on high judge His own creation! Our job is to draw them to Christ!
Here Jesus spoke about worshipping God in spirit and truth the solution for the woman (John 4:23). What does it mean?
I. Worshipping in spirit
“A pure, a holy, a spiritual worship, therefore, is such as he seeks the offering of the soul rather than the formal offering of the body - the homage of the heart rather than that of the lips." - Albert Barnes
The emphasis here is on the spirit of man, not his physical senses! Outward worship is not so important as inward worship! Therefore, we are not bound by a place to worship God! Samaritans didn’t have to wait for Mount Gerizim to begin the worship experience with God. The Jews didn’t have to find God only in the temple in Jerusalem.
God is Spirit and people can worship God in spirit. They do not need to go to specific mountains, caves, temples, churches, or houses to look for God. Not only that, they need not be bound to an earthly person. We don’t need Feng Shui Masters to tell us what’s good or what’s not. Neither do we need to go to some gurus on some caves, special monks or powerful preachers in churhces! (I am not saying here that earthly pastors are not important. But they are not mediators to go to God). We are free to worship everywhere in our spirits! God is in us! Wherever we go, God will be with us! His Name is Immanuel! God with us! All the Samaritan woman needed was the Messiah, Jesus! The solution is Jesus Christ! Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
II. Worshipping in truth.
Worshipping God in truth here is not talking about true and false worship. But between that which is true or reality and that which had been a shadow. In today’s context, people are following certain traditions passed down from generation to generation much the same like this Samaritan woman - “our fathers worshiped on this mountain!” Jesus spoke to her, “you worship what you do not know.... “ (John 4:20).
On my marriage day, I asked my grandma why we have to put a red cloth on top of the door and she didn’t know, saying that it was always been done this way.
In the OT, both the tabernacle in Moses’ time and temple in times of the kings were shadows of things to come, all pointed towards one Person who was to come! God in flesh! God does not want anyone to shadow worship Him anymore! No more following blindly those earthly traditions passed down from generations of old. Everyone can now seek the truths in Christ!
Martin Luther, the Great Reformer in the sixteen century defied death to proclaim the truth. He desired the Word of God being released to everyone and not just in the hands of some priests. How many young people today are like Martin Luther? Instead of just following their parents’ faith, they must seek truths for themselves. No longer satisfied with second hand crumbs, but fresh hot bread from the oven of heaven!
Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “I who speak to you am he” (v. 26). Jesus led her to Himself! We lead the lost to Jesus!
Let us turn our non-Christian friends to the PERSON that matters the most - Jesus Christ! The One who made everything possible! He is risen! He is alive! And God is still in the business of saving souls!
The Samaritan woman was saved and not only that, she went back and told people about Jesus! That’s great evangelism! Our gospel must be an attractive solution!
After offering the solution to the Samaritan woman, the Master Communicator spoke to the disciples.
Jesus told his disciples, “Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35).
The harvest is NOW! How come many Christians could not see people are ready to receive Christ today? Perhaps, there are two kind of eye problems blocking their view on this,
1. Blurry Eyes - This condition comes when the Christian has entangled himself/herself with too many unessential things of the world.
2. Apathetic Eyes - This condition comes because of lack of sensitivity to the things of God and the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Let us see the pre-believers through the eyes of God! The compassion of God towards the lost! All Jews would have passed by Samaria but Jesus went to talk to the one, lonely, sinful Samaritan woman! (Some Bible teachers said that the Samaritan came out to draw water at noon where no one wanted to do so because of the blazing sun. This is because the Samaritan didn’t even want to meet with anyone to avoid being ridiculed).
While the disciples concerned for food, Jesus’ concerned for God’s work on one soul, the Samaritan woman (John 4:31-34).
Jesus spoke also about reapers and sowers in the Harvest fields as both were needed (vv. 36-38)! As sowers look with anticipation to harvesting, so we must look forward in faith that one day what we shared would come to fruition! Reapers rejoice at the bringing in the Harvest! But we must not think that we did it all by ourselves! We are merely contributors to what was already sown!
If we are called to be sowers in any given opportunity, let us introduce Jesus to the pre-believers and guide them to the One who is the only solution to their lives. If they are ready to embrace Jesus, let us take up courage to be reapers!
The Harvest is NOW! God is ready! Are we ready?
Friday, January 11, 2013
This Book is a moving, practical, fictional story written by a pastor at heart. Although the story pans out quite perfectly in the book, (real life may not be so smooth) the focus is there. Are the churches today willing to pull every resource and manpower together to cultivate deep people for greater influence in the world? Gordon MacDonald has provoked thoughts from both young and old. The elders and the leaders must continue to learn and then be available to cultivate deep people of the church, especially the younger generation. They are to be patient with them. The younger generation must be willing to be cultivated. Anyway, it takes two hands to clap. The author makes it clear that not everyone would love to be cultivated or willing to go deep in God. Some obviously are not ready.
While I love all the practical lessons learnt, somehow, I still think this book is written for those whose age in ministry has caught up on them. These elders must now pass on the mantle. Nevertheless, the book has brought out a sharper focus on discipleship, albeit through some new captivating words. A good read. I give this book a four star.
Thank you, BookSneeze, for this free E-Book, for the purpose of this review.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
What I found interesting about this book is the authors’ eagerness to make sure everything seen in heaven is being verified by the Scriptures. This well written book also grants readers a sense of suspense of what’s next. I know that everyone wants to know a little bit more about heaven, but to me, heaven is not only what this book is all about. The authors’ intention is to uplift readers as they struggle through many areas of their life by this heavenly journey. Today’s world is all about visuals and this could be the best method to present Christ and inspiring messages to the masses. Personally, I always have been careful when someone told of his or her journey from heaven to earth but this book did change me quite a bit. An inspiring book for all and I recommend it for everyone!
I want to thank Book Sneeze for giving me this ebook free for the purpose of this review.