Category Archives: Book Reviews

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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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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