Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Waves of Mercy

Book Review by Val Viljoen

waves-of-mercyI thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and have recommended it to a number of friends. The book has two alternating narratives, both taking part in the 19th century, 50 years apart.

The earlier story is that of Geesje, who together with her family and large church community led by a pastor, make the long and dangerous journey from Holland to create a new life for themselves in Michigan. Religious persecution, together with the potato blight, have made conditions unlivable in Europe and forced this difficult decision. The journey to an unknown land is made all the more difficult for Geesje by the fact that she has recently fallen in love with a young soldier. Hendrick promises that after his time in the army is over he will follow her to America. Will he ever find her?

Fifty years later Anna travels to the area of the earlier settlement and stays for a time with her mother in a lakeside hotel. She needs time away from her home in Chicago — her engagement has recently been called off and she needs time to think. She meets up with a young man who happens to be a neighbour and close friend of Geesje, now an elderly widow.

Complex and not predictable
The various romances are well conceived — they are complex and not predictable. There is of course an interweaving of the two stories which makes for a fascinating read.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that this novel was based on historical fact — persecuted Dutch Christians did indeed settle in virgin forest on the Michigan penisula. They established an area called Holland, which still exists today. Some dramatic happenings in the narrative – a devastating fire and a tragic shipwreck on Lake Michigan — did actually happen. Many other dramatic events as well as twists and turns in the plot will keep you turning pages.

The book presents a window into an extremely interesting pioneering era when life was much harder in so many respects than today. It is also a good reminder of the calibre of faithful Christ followers who were among the first settlers in America.

CBD PRICE: R250.00

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Equip Book of the Month: March

Different by Design: By Carrie Sandom                   Reviewed by Elissa Moran    

Different By DesignMany years ago I was at a beach mission on the far north coast. I have fond memories of teaching little kids ‘My God is so big’; of singing with gusto in the massive tent as we washed up after dinner; of visiting local residents and sharing life with them. Another distinct memory at beach mission was an event that helped me to begin to understand what it means to work together as men and women.

I was moving a table in the massive tent and a guy came up to me and offered to help. I was quite adamant. “That’s fine, I can do it”. I was trying to be patient but I was thinking, “Who does he think I am? Does he not think I’m capable to move a table? Just because I’m a woman!” He said to me, “It’s not that I don’t that think you can do it, but I want to serve you.” That was quite a humbling experience!

Different by Design has reminded me, once again, of the goodness of being made differently as men and women. We live in a world where feminism has reshaped our thinking about who we are as men and women and seeks to undermine our differences. Being a Christian chaplain at a university means that this topic comes up a lot! These educated, capable women are told that they can do it all and in fact, they have a right to do so! This book helpfully shows how this worldview could actually be damaging our families and our churches.

Different by Design shows how our differences as men and women are not only biological but essentially theological. The relationship between men and women is actually a reflection of who our Creator is. In God himself (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) there is perfect unity and yet diversity and perfect equality and yet order. What a privilege to reflect God’s image in the world as we relate as men and women! I’ve been reminded that this isn’t something to be ashamed of but to be thankful for.

“To be made in the image of God necessitates being made in relationship with others, just as God himself is in relationship with other members of the godhead.”

Carrie Sandom offers such a thorough and engaging exegesis of Genesis (it’s worth reading just for this!) to show what it means to be men and women, distinct yet dependent on each other. She shows the goodness of God’s order in Adam leading and Eve helping him in the task of having dominion over creation, and yet how devastating it is that Adam and Eve overturned the order in which God has made them. We are no longer complementing each other but competing with each other, we are no longer appreciating our equality under God but seeking to be supreme over each other. And I think we can clearly see this in our world today! The world wants us to believe that women are superior to men and that they can do things better than men. Yet I was reminded that God is not pleased when we despise or belittle or mistreat the opposite sex (page 60). We are not supposed to be competing with each other, but being thankful for each other and for the different roles we play.

CBD PRICE: R130.00                       SPECIAL EQUIP PRICE: R80.00    (valid till 18/04/17)

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Book Review: No Little Women

No Little Women by Aimee Byrd

No little womenWhy are so many well-intentioned women falling for poor – even false – theology? The Devil has been effectively targeting women from the beginning, so why are they often left to fend for themselves in so-called women’s ministries?

Strengthening women in the church strengthens the whole church.  Cultivating resolved, competent women equips them to fulfill their calling as Christ’s disciples and men’s essential allies.  Writing to concerned women and church officers, Aimee Byrd pinpoints the problem, especially the commodification of women’s ministry. Aimee answers the hot-button issues:-

  • How can women grow in discernment?
  • How should pastors preach to women?
  • What are our roles within the church?

Aimee points us in the direction of a multi-faceted solution.

CBD PRICE:   R190.00          SPECIAL PRICE: R150.00 (until end March 2017)

Aimee ByrdAimee Byrd is just an ordinary mom of three who has also been a martial arts student, coffee shop owner, and Bible study teacher.  Aimee hails from West Virginia and has been married to Matt for almost 17 years.  They have 3 children, 2 girls and a boy.

Author of Housewife Theologian, she now blogs about theology and the Christian life and cohosts The Mortification of Spin podcast.

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Book Review: Frederick

 Authored by Frederick Mdabaramiye & Amy Parker

frederick“Then the leader turned to me.  I’m not sure why he chose me.  Because i was a teenage boy?  Because I looked like a Hutu?  Because I didn’t have an identity card?  I will never know.  But I do know that what he said next I will never forget.  “I want you to kill all of these people.” He gestured towards them with his machete.  I stared at him horrified.  “Kill these people!” This time he raised the machete at me.  

I knew what would happen if I refused.  Yet obeying  the order meant I would become one of them – I would join their mission to fill the Tutsi’s and Tutsi-sympathizers of Rwanda.  If I didn’t obey him, I knew that I would die.  But it didn’t matter.  The way I felt at that moment – exhausted, battered, humiliated – I was already dead.”

“My God won’t let me do that”

These seven words of boundless hope would irreversibly change the life of the teenage boy who spoke them.

On April 7, 1994 the life of Frederick Ndabaramiye and his family changed forever as the Rwandan genocide erupted in their homeland. When Frederick faced those same genocidaires a few years later, he noted the machete that hung from the right hand closest to him and wondered if his would soon be added to the layers of dried blood that clung to the blade. Either way, young Frederick knew that he wouldn’t be able to carry out the orders just given to him, to raise that blade against the other passengers of the bus, regardless of the race marked on their identity cards.

That bold decision would cause Frederick to lose his hands. But what the killers meant for harm, God intended for good. The cords that bound him served as a tourniquet, saving his life when his hands were hacked away. This new disability eventually fueled Frederick’s passion to show the world that disabilities do not have to stop you from living a life of undeniable purpose. From that passion, the Ubumwe Community Center was born, where “people like me” come to discover their own purposes and abilities despite their circumstances.

Through miraculous mercy and divine appointment, Frederick forgives those who harmed him and goes on to fully grasp his God-given mission. In this extraordinary true story of forgiveness, faith, and hope, you will be challenged, convicted, and forever converted to a believer of the impossible.

CBD PRICE: R350.00  (hard cover)

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Book Review: Does Atheism make sense?

New from Dr John Blanchard

Does Atheism Make Sense

Atheism:  A disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

This book is straightforward and readable, yet it is serious enough to tackle one of today’s major issues. It asks six key questions, then shows that atheism has no positive answer to any of them. It goes on reveal the worldview that points clearly to the only dependable alternative, and shows that embracing it is a life-transforming experience.

‘No one in our generation has done more than John Blanchard to explain the gospel with winsome clarity and biblical accuracy He has a wonderful gift for communicating even the hardest biblical truths in simple terms – and he is driven by an indefatigable passion to rise above the silliness, anger, negativity, noise and shallowness of today’s public discourse. The tracts and booklets he has written are some of the most lucid, persuasive, thorough, helpful gospel presentations available today. I thank God for John’s faithfulness and his influence.’
Dr John MacArthur, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California, USA.

CBD PRICE: R60.00 

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Book Review: The Vine Project

Vine project







Authors: Colin Marshall & Tony Payne     Reviewed by Author/Blogger Tim Challies

The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne was a surprise bestseller. Coming from a small Australian publisher, it made its way into Mark Dever’s hands and he declared it “the best book I’ve read on the nature of church ministry.” The rest, as they say, is history. Pastors and church leaders were introduced to its helpful illustration of the vine and the trellis: the vine representing gospel ministry that reaches and nourishes people, and the trellis representing the framework or structure necessary to support and sustain Vine project 2such ministry.

“The problem which T&V tried to name, and which struck a chord with many of its readers, is that it is very possible for a church to be busy and active, and to have all the usual programs and apparatus of church life in place, but for the basic common task of disciple-making through the prayerful speaking of the word of God to have drifted to the margins. It is very possible to have a well-built, well-maintained trellis on which a bedraggled vine is struggling to grow.”

This is the background to The Vine Project. The Vine Project is a kind of implementation guide for the principles of The Trellis and the Vine. “As we’ve talked and thought constantly about these issues over the past six years, we’ve become convinced of the need to answer the question … How can we shift the whole culture of our church in the direction of disciple-making?” To see the kind of church described in The Trellis and the Vine, it is not enough to make small, cosmetic changes. It is not enough to adapt a ministry here and there. It requires a complete change of culture. This is why the authors chose to speak of their book as a “project.” “It’s not a set of detailed answers or prescriptions delivered from on high to solve your problems. It’s a set of processes, tools and guidelines for you to work through with a small team of like-minded fellow workers—starting from wherever you happen to be, with whatever strengths and weaknesses you happen to have.”

This makes The Vine Project a book that is not just meant to be read, but a book that is meant to be done.  Read more…

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Equip Book of the Month: February

Word-Filled women’s ministry – Loving and serving the Church
By Gloria Furman

Word-Filled Women's MinistryThe Bible is clear that women as well as men are created in God’s image and intended to serve him with their lives. But what does this look like for women in the church?

Helping church leaders think through what a Bible-centered women’s ministry looks like, this collection of essays by respected Bible teachers and authors such as Gloria Furman, Nancy Guthrie, and Susan Hunt addresses a variety of topics relevant to women. Whether exploring the importance of intergenerational relationships, the Bible’s teaching on sexuality, or women’s roles in the church and the home, this book of wise teaching and practical instruction will become a must-have resource for anyone interested in bolstering the health and vitality of the local church.  This book is part of The Gospel Coalition Series & is also available in e-book format.

“There is no question that the women in your churches will be discipled. The only question is whether they will be discipled by the world or the Word. That’s why I’m so excited about Word-Filled Women’s Ministry. It’s more than a book. These contributors represent a movement of teachers guiding women to find hope and freedom and salvation in the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in his Word. I couldn’t more highly esteem these writers, and I pray that you will take up their charge to take up the Word.”
Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition; author, Blind Spots

CBD PRICE: R245.00            SPECIAL EQUIP PRICE: R150.00   (until 28th February 2017)

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Review: Praying with Paul Bible Study

Authors: D.A. Carson & Brian Tabb
Reviewed by Chris Thwala

“What is your church’s greatest need?” asks Brian Tabb & Don Carson (the authors of the Bible Study: Praying with Paul). Perhaps your church is struggling financially, the numbers are dwindling or there are massive pastoral issues that need to be sorted out immediately. But is that your church’s greatest need? If we run the local church like a business, wanting it to grow economically and popular, that is dangerous.

Praying with Paul (DVD Leader Kit)

The church’s greatest need is not to be known as affluent or well established; the most important thing for the body of Christ is to be always connected to God. In order for the church to be fresh and in clear conscience connection with God, it has to be in communion with its maker, which can only happen through prayer.

In their Bible study on “Praying with Paul” Tabb & Carson brilliantly refocuses our hearts on prayer. They wet our apatite to hunger and thirst for God as the Apostle Paul was in his prayer life given for us in the epistles. In praying with Paul, we learn a lot about who the Trinitarian God is, what the gospel has achieved for us and how we can address God in Prayer meaningfully.

Here are three things that stood out for me from this Bible study:

(a) God centered Prayer life;

(b) Framework of Prayer;

(c) Power in prayer.

This Bible study will help you and your church (a) To have prayers that are more biblical than prayers that are self-focused, (b) to have a deeper meaningful prayers that have structure, and (c) to grow in your gratitude towards God, loving people as you pray for their growth and to be mission minded church.

“Our prayers reveal what we believe about God and what we really value and desire.” Tabb & Carson.

Workbook: R160.00                                          Leader Kit: R690.00

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Book Review: God’s Outrageous Claims

Author:  Lee Strobel

God’s-Outrageous-Claims (1)Did you know that:-

  • God’s views on Sex can liberate you?
  • A dose of doubt can strengthen your faith?
  • God has a cure for your loneliness?
  • You can learn to forgive yourself?
  • You can survive the Rat Race without becoming a rat?
  • You can make an eternal difference?

Discover how to grow in virtue, relate to God and others with authenticity and make a real difference in the midst of a culture that’s unraveling at the seams.

God’s astounding claims about Himself and His work on our behalf are embedded throughout the pages of Scripture. He sees potential in us that we don’t see in our wildest dreams. He sees qualities that we don’t think we can ever achieve. He has faith in us that we lack in ourselves. But when we know and fully understand what He has promised, we are liberated to grow in virtue, live out our faith as an adventure, earn a living with integrity, and make a difference in our culture – all through his power.

Using true stories, including his own, Strobel shows that Christianity really works, that we really can live transformed, authentic, and effective lives – and that God’s promises and power are very real and very true.  This book is your guide to an exciting and challenging spiritual journey that can change you and your world profoundly

CBD PRICE: R285.00

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Equip Book of the Month: January

Engaging with Muslims by John Klaassen.
Reviewed by Erik Raymond from  The Gospel Coalition

engaging-with-muslimsAccording to the latest reports, the fastest growing religion in the world is Islam. It is also leading the way in the western countries like the US. This presents a unique challenge for us a Christians; not only do we have a different religion but we have a very different culture to engage. As the Muslim population in our cities increase it is accompanied by the culture that envelopes Islam.

As Christians we are by in large pretty ignorant about Islam and its adherents. To make matters a bit more complex, many Christians are a bit unsettled by terrorist events and therefore increasingly xenophobic of their Muslim neighbors.

Acknowledging the xenophobia, cultural distance, and religious ignorance, John Klaassen aims to help Christians and whole churches understand more about he variety of Muslims living in the West, and to reach to them with the gospel. Klaassen is up for the task having served as a missionary and presently as Professor of Global Studies at Boyce College in KY.

In this short little book (100 pages), I think Klaassen hits his mark. He helps us to better understand Muslims and then provides some basics for engaging them with the gospel.

He provides helpful intel on why and how to pursue a friendship with a Muslim. And then he walks you through how to not be a culturally insensitive American (I’m sure he was referring to Americans) when you spend time together. He provides practical social etiquette such as hand shaking, not eating all of your food when served, how to show gratitude, and other items. This was very informative for me and doubtless a resource I will come back to when given the opportunity in the future.

Klaassen wants you to do more than just have Muslim friends, he wants you to pursue gospel conversations that lead to gospel conversions. In this he reminds us that we are ultimately talking about souls. This should and must impact our heart. Further, he helps us to build the context of a Muslim’s thought about who God is and who we are. He provides simple examples and Scriptures to help relate the gospel to a person from a culture that is quite different than the one we live in. He maintains the text in a different context.

Some of the most powerful parts of this book were the stories from his Muslims friends that have now become his brothers and sisters in Christ. To read their words is to enter into the story. It’s powerful. The fact that Klaassen writes well about this topic is one thing, however, he has also applied it and has the fruit of it to encourage us with.

CBD PRICE:  R100.00                   SPECIAL EQUIP PRICE: R70.00

Valid for the month of January 2017 or while stocks last.

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Book Review: The Broken Way

Author: Anne Voskamp

broken-way-theAnn Voskamp sits at the edge of her life and all of her own unspoken brokenness and asks:

What if you really want to live abundantly before it’s too late?
What do you do if you really want to know abundant wholeness?

This is the one begging question that’s behind every single aspect of our lives, and that this book rises up to explore in the most unexpected ways.

This one’s for the lovers and the sufferers. For those whose hopes and dreams and love grew so large it broke their willing hearts. This one’s for the busted ones who are ready to bust free, the ones ready to break molds, break chains, break measuring sticks, and break all this bad brokenness with an unlikely good brokenness.  You could be one of the Beloved who is broken – and still lets yourself be loved.

You could be one of them, one who believes freedom can be found not only beyond the fear and pain, but actually  within it.  You could discover and trust this broken way – the way to not be afraid of broken things.

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Book Review : Prince Warrior (for kids)

Prince Warrior by Priscilla Shirer

prince-warriors-theAs brothers, Xavier and Evan are used to battling each other.  But now they’re discovering that there is a much bigger battle going on all around them. And it’s their turn to fight.

Based on Ephesians 6:10–18, The Prince Warriors is the first book in Priscilla Shirer’s epic new series that brings to life the invisible struggle ensuing in the spiritual realm. Xavier, Evan, and their friends have typical lives until they enter a mysterious land called Ahoratos. There they meet their guide, Ruwach, who offers wisdom and direction as the kids’ initial adventure begins- an adventure filled with armor and danger and a very real enemy.

This book will make a perfect Christmas gift.

CBD PRICE: R260.00  (hard cover)

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