Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Real Valor

 Author: Steve Farrar
A timely book to encourage our men this Father’s Day.

Real ValorReal Valor is classic Steve Farrar. It’s punchy, masculine, and peppered with little-known or quirky scenarios to flesh out his premise. This book is the third in the Bold Men of God series written to encourage men to rise up and shepherd their families.

Essentially, Farrar looks at the life of Boaz and how his responses to the pressures of a tough world ensured that the new family in his life, Ruth and Naomi, were blessed. Ultimately, thanks to his principled decision-making, his actions led to the Messiah coming through his lineage.

Farrar looks at how Ruth and Naomi were initially cursed with the results of Elimelech’s poor choices. As Naomi’s husband, his bad decisions took them out of God’s blessing and into the rewards of disobedience.  Boaz, on the other hand, based his decisions on God’s revealed principles and reaped His blessings. He faced the same pressures that Elimelech did (think drought, famine), yet didn’t try to escape them.

As usual, Farrar frequently illustrates from his own life and experiences. It makes for highly accessible and engaging reading. I recommend this book for those wanting to encourage their husbands and dads to stand strong.

In our times of extreme moral decline, our men need all the encouragement they can get, and Farrar shoots straight.

CBD PRICE:        R160.00

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Equip Book of the Month: June

Capturing God by Rico Tice                          Review by Sarah Cameron

Capturing GodBeing a mum with 3 little kids, I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to fit in reading and reflecting on this a book. But when it arrived in the post, not only did I devour it’s 60 pages in one short sitting, I found myself rereading bits and excitedly texting them to a friend. I also felt compelled to pray for opportunities to give this to a few people who I think would benefit from reading it.

Capturing God is centred around imagining a picture of God. What would it look like to capture everything God wants to reveal about himself? I wonder how you’d answer that question. Tice has a relaxed style of writing that helps make this book accessible and engaging. He weaves sections of Luke’s Gospel together with personal stories and anecdotes. And he discusses four key characteristics that God reveals about himself in the person of Jesus Christ, and specifically through his death and resurrection. They are:

  • Integrity
  • Welcome
  • Justice
  • Peace

Capturing God is a great book to read if you’re a new Christian or if you’ve been a Christian for a long time. We never graduate from needing to remember what Jesus did on the cross, and why it matters. One quote I’m going to print and stick on our fridge is “God did not hang on the cross to tell us to earn life” (p37).

It’s also a great book to give to non Christians, especially someone who is keen to investigate the claims of Christianity. Tice has thought about this, and on the Good Book Company website you’ll find some extra resources to help you use this book well as an evangelistic tool. Maybe your church could give this to visitors?

Capturing God is a short and easy read, about big and important topics. Tice helps to remind us of the great truths of the gospel, that “God has offered you one picture of himself, that captures his essence. His integrity. His plan. His welcome. His justice. His forgiveness. God is offering you peace with him and power from him. He’s the God who you need, and he’s the God who is there” (p62).

EQUIP SPECIAL PRICE: R30.00    (Booklet)   Valid until 30th June 2017

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Book Review: When Grace Showed Up

Authors: Tich and Joan Smith

One couple’s story of hope and healing among the poor.

When Grace Showed UpTich Smith grew up in a middle class home, where he played rugby and cricket Kwa-Zulu Natal, and went on to represent South Africa in the cricket arena.  His sports career derailed at the age of 35 due to alcoholism and a gambling addiction.  Joan had recently lost her husband. Their lives were at rock bottom when grace showed up and inspired the to move past the racial prejudices of thme Apartheid era and launch a ministry together.

The result was Lungisisa Indlela village (LIV), the legendary residential facility that rescues children, restores lives, and raises young leaders in South Africa. This is the story of transformed lives – both theirs and the orphans – as a country begins to embrace grace and love others as Christ loves the church.

CBD PRICE: R195.00

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Book Review: Hope when it Hurts

Authors: Kristen Wetherell & Sarah Walton

Hope When it HurtsHurt is real. But so is hope.

Kristen and Sarah have walked through, and are walking in, difficult times. So these thirty biblical reflections are full of realism about the hurts of life—yet overwhelmingly full of hope about the God who gives life.

This book will gently encourage and greatly help any woman who is struggling with suffering—whether physical, emotional or psychological, and whether for a season or for longer. It is a book to buy for yourself, or to buy for a member of your church or friend. For anyone who is hurting, this book will give hope, not just for life beyond the suffering, but for life in the suffering.

Each chapter contains a biblical reflection, with questions and prayers, and a space for journaling.

CBD PRICE: R170.00

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Equip Book of the Month: May

Can we talk about islam slider

Can we talk about Islam? by                           Review by Annabel Nixey – Equip Bookclub

Here are three reasons to read this book:

It’s short
Can We Talk about Islam?This book is short. Super short. Don’t get me wrong – it is good to read long books. But sometimes life means a short book is in order. And at 54 pages this one still packs a punch. If we gave books a value-per-page score, ‘Can we talk about Islam?’ would be 9.5/10.

It’s about Islam (and how to talk about it)
I am no expert on Islam. To be honest (to my shame) this is the first book I’ve read specifically on how to talk about Islam.  And it was so clear and so helpful! In his third chapter Tony Payne summarizes the key teachings of Islam, comparing them to Christianity. For example, in Christianity, the problem is our rebellion against God (sin) and hence the solution is atonement to restore a personal relationship with God. Yet in Islam the problem is ignorance or weakness and so the solution is guidance through the prophets (particularly Muhammad) in order to enable submission to Allah.  There’s also a really helpful summary of the diverse strands of Islam. It left me feeling much better equipped to avoid caricatures which depict extremist groups like ISIS as either representative of all of Islam or none of it.

It’s not just about Islam
The hidden gem of this book is chapter two – ‘Why don’t secular humanists want to talk?’ Don’t know what a secular humanist is? As Payne points out, chances are they are your neighbour, boss, dentist and cousin. Secular humanism is the air we breathe. This chapter is an incredibly helpful discussion of what secular humanism is and why secular humanists don’t want to talk about religion – because to them ‘whatever religious belief you have is a matter of personally chosen faith and values and opinion’ (p12). Payne explores and explains why they think this using a really clear illustration (involving a disappearing staircase!) which he admits to nicking from Francis Schaeffer. Well hats off to Mr Schaeffer because it’s a really helpful illustration! I read this chapter thinking – ‘that is what my friends think…ahhhh….that makes sense of why they think that’. It also was also helpful to see ways that I also can slip into a secular humanist mindset.

CBD PRICE: R60.00                     EQUIP BOOK PRICE: R45.00  (valid until 08/06/17)

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Book Review: Cold-Case Christianity

A homicide detective investigates the claims of the Gospels : Author: J. Warner Wallace

Cold-Case Christianity cold case christianityFor the first thirty-five years of his life, J. Warner Wallace was a devout atheist.  After all, how can you believe a claim made about an event in the distant past for which there is little forensic evidence?  Then Wallace realised something.  Christianity was a lot like the cold cases he solved as a homicide detective – it makes a claim about an event from the distant past for which there is little forensic evidence.   When Wallace applied his skills as an expert detective to the assertions of the New Testament, he came to a startling realisation – the case for Christianity was as convincing as any cold case he had ever worked as a detective, with evidence, eyewitnesses and records to solve.
This book includes gripping stories from the author’s career and the visual techniques he developed in the courtroom.   Wallace also uses illustrations to examine the powerful evidence that validates the claims of Christianity.
Warner is a unique apologetic that speaks to a readers’ intense interest in detective stories, and inspires readers to have confidence in Christ as it prepares them to articulate the case for Christianity.

CBD PRICE: R245.00  (paperback)

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Equip Book of the Month: April

Creation, Power and Truth by Tom Wright

Creation, Power and TruthJourneys have provided rich material for writers over the centuries; from Homer’s Odyssey, to Tolkein’s The Hobbit (or, There and Back Again), to de Botton’s The Art of Travel. Journeys are both the reality and the metaphor for the human life. It is no surprise then that Tom Wright begins his book (which is really a series of lectures) by describing two types of journeys. He is, in fact, quoting someone else (Dr Jonathon Sacks) when he does this, identifying the GPS type of journey, where we are given directions to where we are going; or the ant journey, where we follow each other aimlessly, ending in catastrophe.

Wright’s question at the beginning of the book is, “Will the church, and the world, do the satellite-navigation thing or the ant thing?” (2) He examines this question in terms of three challenges: Gnosticism, imperialism and postmodernism. These challenges, while considered from a contemporary viewpoint, are shown by Wright to, in fact, have been challenges that the world and the Church have faced since the Gospel was first proclaimed.

Wright states from the beginning that he is using a Trinitarian framework to consider the three challenges which he has outlined. In short a Trinitarian framework seeks to examine an issue through the relationship of the Godhead (such as we saw in the Balswick’s The Family), with particular focus on how Christ reveals the Father and the Holy Spirit. Wright is clear to point out that the Trinitarian framework was not imposed, but came about through biblical exegesis (4). This is certainly the preferred method of scholarship, as described by Gerald Bray in his essay ‘The Trinity: Where do we go from here?’ in Always Reforming (ed. ATB McGowan).

This book is quite short, and, as a result, raises more questions than Wright has room to answer, and there are certainly some difficulties with engaging deeply when much is assumed. However, in this it is important to remember two things. Firstly, that the book is based upon three lectures given at Harvard University in 2006. Thus being tied to a particular audience and context, and as the Noble lectures were founded “to arouse in young people, and primarily in the students of that great university, the joy of service for Christ and humanity, especially in the ministry of the Christian Church” (as quoted by Wright in the Preface, xii), they have specific purpose. And secondly, that given the book’s brevity we need to be generous to Wright in our judgements. I must admit that there were times in my reading that I wondered if he had wandered into having an over-realised eschatology, but this was more to do with my haphazard reading over a period of time; it is much clearer when read in one sitting.

I hope, as we look through each of the challenges which Wright outlines over the coming weeks, that we would be able to see how the Gospel of Christ is our story, our journey. And that, as we walk the life of faith in Him, we would be challenged to confront our own views on creation and new creation, power and authority, truth and justice.

CBD PRICE:  R175.00                         EQUIP PRICE: R120.00  (valid until 13th May 2017)

 

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Book Review: Why Jesus?

 Why Jesus (HC)Author: Ravi Zacharias

We are facing one of the greatest crises in the history of religion. Truth is being cast aside in the name of tolerance and cultural relativism, all under the guise of a New Spirituality. Having become accustomed to abundance and the bliss of multiple choices, we now have a spiritual supermarket before us from which we may select whatever form of spirituality we desire. But tragically we often choose without knowing how to make a distinction between truth and falsehood.

Contemporary Christians and the spiritually interested in particular need to know why the New Spirituality ideas, presented by popular celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra attract, and how Jesus alone provides a guide through this perplexing welter of beliefs, lifestyles, hopes and aspirations.

In this brilliant and compelling critique of the dangers of the New Spirituality, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias applies some vigorous therapy to counter this assault on rational thought and shows why the uniqueness of Jesus matters.  It is a compelling argument for anyone looking for the truth about the New Spirituality and who Jesus really is.  And more importantly why it should matter.

CBD PRICE: R245.00  (hard cover)

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Book Review: When the Game is Over it all goes back in the box

Author: John Ortberg

When the Game is Over It All Goes Back i2Remember the thrill of winning at checkers or Monopoly? You become the Master of the Board – the victor over everyone else. But what happens after that, asks John Ortberg?  You know the answer: It all goes back in the box.  You don’t get to keep one token, one chip, one game card.  In the end, the spoils of the game add up to nothing.

Using popular games as a metaphor for our temporal lives, this book neatly sorts out what’s fleeting and what’s permanent in God’s kingdom. Being Master of the Board is not the point; being rich toward God is. Winning the game of life on Earth is a temporary victory; loving God and other people with all our hearts is an eternal one.

Using humor, terrific stories, and a focus on winning ‘the right trophies,’ Ortberg paints a vivid picture of the priorities that all Christians will want to embrace.  If you think you might need a better game plan – one that offers an eternal perspective – this strategy-filled playbook walks you through what it takes to really win big at the game of life.

CBD PRICE: R110.00

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Book Review: Parenting

By Paul Tripp

14 Gospel Principles that can radically change your family.

What is your calling as a parent?

ParentingIn the midst of folding laundry, coordinating carpool schedules, and breaking up fights, many parents get lost. Feeling pressure to do everything “right” and raise up “good” children, it’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose as parents in the quest for practical tips and guaranteed formulas.

In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God?s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God?grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.

Freed from the burden of trying to manufacture life-change in our children’s hearts, we can embrace a grand perspective of parenting overflowing with vision, purpose, and joy.

CBD PRICE: R310.00  (hard cover)

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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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