The Korean Pentecost
William Blair & Bruce Hunt
Summary: This book took over 100 years to write. Two authors wrote it: the first was one of the men who initially brought the gospel to Korea and experienced the amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Korean Church. The second author, William Blair's son-in-law, experienced Satan's rebuttal to the Light through an intense persecution. Follow both of these writers as they talk of their experience of coming to Korea, learning the language, gaining the trust of the people and preaching the Gospel. There's a great chapter that talks about the experience of one church in Anju. Another chapter gives a mini-biography of five Korean Christians who became martyrs. Best of all, there is a great chapter detailing that wonderful Pentecost.
Personal Thoughts: These first generation babes in Christ understood the cost of following their Master and willingly gave their lives to gain eternity. 5 wars, the occupation of the Japanese who imposed shrine worship and a Communistic regime wreaked havoc on the church. Pray for these Christians today as North Korea is currently a closed country. We have little access to the news of the well being of the church. Remember our brethren in chains.
Quote: "The great wars that have shaken the nations and changed the course of history have focused in Korea during the short period of the church's history. Nothing but the guiding presence of the Lord's Spirit has brought the church in safety to this hour. Nothing but the Spirit of the Lord poured forth from heaven in Pentecostal power could have saved the church at the time of its great testing." --pg. 70
Torches of Joy
John Dekker with Lois Neely
Summary: John Dekker and his wife Helen answer the Lord's call to bring God's Word to the Dani people of New Guinea. This primitive, stone age people who did not even possess a written language, were incredibly receptive to the Gospel, not only making great strides in spiritual maturity and embracing change, but becoming the forerunners in evangelizing the untouched tribes around them.
Personal Thoughts: This is a tremendous story about the power of the Gospel and of the work of the Holy Spirit overcoming language barriers, primitive conditions, illiteracy and superstition. In less than 20 years an untouched tribe becomes a leading force in evangelism, zeal burning in their hearts for the Lord Jesus! As you read you will love John's 'make work' projects. You will sympathize with Helen's struggles and respect the Dani's for giving up so many years of traditions in exchange for a hunger for the Truth.
The Screwtape Letters
Summary: Often, unbeknownst to us, the devil and his allies are working tirelessly in order to secure our souls for destruction. In this clever book Lewis unveils Satan's subtle strategies through a series of letters written by a devil named Screwtape. Screwtape is counselling his nephew, Wormwood, in the art of leading a man astray using various tactics. Each letter (chapter) is its own unit and deals with different outward circumstances in the Patient's life--circumstances that Wormwood tries hard to manipulate in order to gain the demise of the Patient's soul.
Personal Thoughts: This book is a classic. The devil is not a guy in a red suit who holds a pitchfork. Satan is real, he is dangerous, frighteningly subtle, and his successes only prove yet again what keen insights he has regarding the heart of man. He seeks no attention and rarely works in the extremes. Often my wicked heart was pierced with guilt by the words found in this book. Satan's silent footsteps have left behind solid footprints in my life. I have never recognized it until now. I urge you, read the book, study the tactics that are being used against you right now, and put on the armour of God in preparation for the battle.
Quote: "You will say these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." --pg. 56
Summary: "Those who've traversed the howling desert have things to say that no one else really can." (pg.89) Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, suffered deep depression, yet he was not silent about his lifelong, unwelcome 'friend.' In this incredibly unique and refreshing book, Zack Eswine digs deep into the Spurgeon archives and mines gems that allow us to hear from Spurgeon himself regarding his experiences, his helps, his hopes and the dark pain that shadowed him to his grave. There are extensive footnotes at the bottom of each page to enable the reader to read the sermon or context surrounding the quotes. As the back of the cover states, "This is not a self help guide, but rather a 'handwritten note of one who wishes you well.' "
Personal Thoughts: This book cheered my bleeding heart. While oftentimes there are no words to express what one is feeling, the words upon this book's pages are so accurate to the depressed condition that it hurts. Describing depression is about using a language of metaphors. As a sufferer, you search for just the right metaphor to describe your pain. You cling, with thankfulness, to the metaphors God has given you in the Psalms, and you receive the metaphors that fellow sufferers have spoken as whispered gifts of good friends. What a comfort to sit with Spurgeon, a brother and now a friend. How beautiful it is to sit and weep with him, knowing that on every page his voice says, "I understand."
Quote: "People like Job, Moses, Elijah and Jonah expressed their desire to die fully and without holding back. But they left the answer to their desires with God. They asked God to decide their lives, and refrained from deciding themselves. How hard that must have been, harder than most can fathom.
Yet, sometimes the most courageous acts of faith and wisdom look like a human being mentally harassed and wanting to die, collapsed and held before the throne of grace." --pg. 127
The Happy Christian
Summary: We are a negative-minded society. The worse the news the more it captures our attention. We love the bad statistics. We focus a lot harder on the hypocrites in our church rather than the earnest Christians. We're tight fisted, horribly prejudiced and lousy encouragers. And then we wonder why we feel so miserable. David Murray has written a book for us and we need its message to start permeating our homes, our churches and our lives. This book has 10 chapters that talk about 10 areas of our lives where we could improve the joy factor in our lives. To be clear, this is NOT another popular self help, 10 steps to feel better program. We're talking Scripture infused counsel to live the happy, purposeful life God intended for us.
Personal Thoughts: Another book by David Murray and of course, it's great! This book is on the more practical side, making it very readable for almost anyone. 3 chapters really stood out for me: Happy Church which discussed our relationship with other Christians, Happy Salvation which talks about what it means to live with the realization that the work of salvation is DONE, and the Conclusion which I found very encouraging in the face of a world filled with trials and difficulty.
Quote: "Whatever you will complete or not today, rest in the only work that will never need to be done again. Rest in the fact that Jesus has done the most impossible job in the world, done it perfectly, and made it available. Take it. Enjoy it. Build your life on it.
And as you reset your alarm clock at the end of each day of incomplete lists and unfinished business, rest again in Christ's 'It is finished.' The most important work has been done and covers all our laziness, all our foolishness, all our time wasting, all our bad decisions, all our temper tantrums, all our losses, all our inabilities, all our everything.
Christ offers us His perfect CV and says, 'Take this, and put your name on it. It is yours. Let this satisfy you. Let this fulfill you. Let this 'happify' you. Let this calm your mornings and soothe your evenings!
It is finished!' " --pg. 58,59
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus
Summary: Raised in the Muslim faith by kind, devoted, loving parents, Nabeel Qureshi is a true follower of Islam. He loved to defend his faith, search his Scriptures and meditate on his religion. But in the face of intense discussion and scrutiny, Nabeel starts to notice cracks in the foundation of his beloved core beliefs. What follows is an intense study and cry for TRUTH--the Bible in one hand, the Quran in the other. This book is a real page turner as Nabeel opens his thoughts and struggles to the reader in what is to be an intense battle for the soul.
Personal Thoughts: This book is real. It accurately portrays the great antithesis. It painfully reveals the shattered life of one's whose foundations have been completely destroyed--the terror, the questions, the loss of confidence, the abundance of chaos. It reveals the messiness of conversion, along with the ensuing trials and the carnage of broken relationships scattered about. Nabeel showed immense honor for his father and mother throughout this book. It was this respect and love for his parents that became the final and most intense struggle in leaving Islam. His decision devastated his family--causing a terribly painful, unfixable rift between them. It makes one consider the cost of truly following Christ.
Quote: "Please, Allah, may all this doubt not anger you...
But maybe You are showing me that the Quran is not your Word after all? So much of what I've been taught about it turned out to be false. I was taught that it has never been changed, but hadith and history show that it has. I was taught that it has supernatural knowledge of science and the future, but when I asked You to help me see it with my own eyes, I could find none. So much that I thought I knew about the Quran simply is not true. Is it really Your book? O Allah, have mercy on me.
Who are you?" --pg. 23
Loving the Little Years
Summary: There are a pile of unflattering years when moms are literally in the trenches--knee deep in chaos, mess and relentless demands. This book is for moms enduring this incredible stage of life. The author gets it. She wrote this book while living it. She's got hundreds of hilarious anecdotes and crazy situations that prove it. She deals with almost every situation a home with littles creates; from the grabby fights ("I had it," "No, I had it first!") loud, hyper car rides, sleepy whininess, endless 'accidents', cranksters, toy hoarders...yes, it's all there. Joy can be found in the trenches. Order and perspective can be maintained in a mom's mind even though outward circumstances dictate otherwise.
Personal Thoughts: I would give this book to any mom with a host of little ones. It is so fitting, so realistic, so...funny! and perfect for busy moms as it sports short chapters in this short book. Easy to read, encouraging, and you'll even find yourself picking up a few strategies that just may change your perspective on a few things. If I could recommend just one chapter, read the one entitled "A Gracious Law." The author is so right as she talks about boundaries and discipline. So lock your self in the bathroom when you need 5 minutes, read a page or two, get a little perspective and enjoy your littles. Life is short.
Quote: "I didn't write this book because mothering little ones is easy for me. I wrote it because it isn't. I know this is a hard job because I'm right here in the middle of it. I know you need encouragement every day, because I need it too." --pg 12
"Sometimes parents can discipline behaviors over and over like we are playing whack-a-mole. There is a sin! Get it!" pg. 28
The Family at Church: Listening to Sermons and Attending Prayer Meetings
Summary: This book is like having two tiny books compressed into one. The first half explains how we can derive the most amount of blessing and practical good from preaching. After 4 very packed and thought provoking chapters, the book makes a sudden shift to talk about the importance and implementation of prayer meetings.
Personal Thoughts: I thought that I would enjoy the first part of this book more than the second part. In truth, the exact opposite happened. I have experienced incredible blessing under the preaching in the past years. However, I have not enjoyed the regular company of other Christians in an intimate setting where we brings our pleas to the Lord together. The second part of the book was very instrumental in changing my opinions on the importance of the prayer meeting, and one I would like to implement. This is a very practical book on 2 important matters.
Quote: "Pray for the conversion of sinners, the edification of saints, and the glorification of God's triune name. Pray for children, teenagers, and the elderly. Pray for listening ears and understanding hearts. Pray for yourself, saying, 'Lord, how real the danger is that I will not hear well! Of four kinds of hearers in the parable of the sower, only one kind heard properly. Help me, Lord, to concentrate fully on Thy Word as it comes to me, so that I may not hear the Word and yet perish. Let Thy Word have free course in my heart. Let it be accompanied with light, power and grace.' " --pg 9
The Hiding Place
Corrie Ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherril
Summary: Corrie, Betsie and their father live in an old, unique house in Haarlem, Holland. They own and run a little watch shop in their home. As the Nazis increase the persecution of the Jews, the Ten Booms open their home to these oppressed people--even building a wall that creates a special hiding place for these Jews in case of a raid. The raid comes and the entire family goes to prison. Corrie and Betsie end up in a concentration camp in Germany. But even in the deepest darkness, God uses these two women to shine His light.
Personal Thoughts: It's hard to read this book without asking yourself how you would respond in these situations. These two women gave thanks in all circumstances. They brought the light of God and the hope of His Word wherever they went. It's a very moving account. There is an unparalleled depth found between these pages that is rare in books that possess this same setting.
Quote: “There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still.”
Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded?
Dwight L. Carlson, M.D.
Summary: There are a lot of suffering Christians walking amongst us--people with depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, OCD. Often these people suffer in silence. They don't share these trials with their healthy Christian brothers and sisters because it hurts to be told that their problems stem from sin or personal choice. It hurts to be told to 'snap out of it.' Christians are regularly shooting their wounded. As a Christian physician and psychiatrist Dr. Carlson brings a lot of light to the situation as he explains the dynamics of mental illness and brain chemistry. He also talks extensively about the balance between biological dispositions, environmental causes and personal sin/choice in mental illness. He adds a chapter for sufferers that aims to encourage them as the 'bullets' fly. Dr. Carlson also adds an excellent appendix that tackles the question regarding long term medication usage.
Personal Thoughts: This is a critical book to have on our church library bookshelves. If it could be thoughtfully read, I believe it could make a huge impact on how people respond to mental illness. Despite being fairly well read on this topic, I learned so much from this book. One thing that's really going to stand out is how hard these emotionally crippled individuals have prayed for deliverance. That in itself is tragic especially when one considers how other Christians accuse them that poor spirituality is the root of their problems. I appreciated that this book was written by a Christian doctor and psychiatrist. Far more than just personal opinion, he brought real scientific research to the table. I think the last 2 chapters in the book are definitely the best, and the appendix is really the key of the whole book.
Quote: "I hope by now that you are starting to see the overwhelming evidence that mental illness is often very physical. Furthermore, the statistics in this and the next chapter conclusively show that organic problems are not "relatively rare" --as some Christian leaders would suggest--but in fact are quite common. In no way does this detract from the sufficiency of Christ or the Scriptures. It only broadens our understanding of human nature and the effects of Adam's fall." --pg. 68