Monday, October 16, 2017

BookPastor >> "Teaching the Next Generations" (Terence Linhart)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Dec 16th, 2017.

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TITLE: Teaching the Next Generations: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Christian Formation
AUTHOR: Terence D. Linhart
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, (352 pages).

It has been often said that the young is the future of our society. In churches all over the world, the young are also the future of the leadership of the Church. How the children and formed when young often becomes the way they help lead the Church in the future. What then are the factors to guide them? How can the leaders of today help the formation of the leaders of tomorrow? How can we navigate the complex realities today for an unknown tomorrow? If adults are already facing difficult challenges, how can we expect the young to tackle their generational challenges if we do not lead by example? This book's premise is that teaching Christian Formation is an imperative, not an option. We need to help them understand spiricual formation and that learning happens at all ages. We need to be guided by important theologies and appropriate theories. We need a repertoire of creative methods and to be committed to the spiritual disciplines like prayer, and spiritual transformation. We need to teach not merely to download information but to work toward spiritual transformation and growth. This means working toward maturity and be anchored in Christ. It also means discipleship. The book is subdivided into five sections.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Midweek Meditation: "Names of God - THE I AM"

Lester Sumrall's "The Names of God
In many English translations of the Old Testament, the Name of God has been capitalized as LORD. Jews deemed the Name so holy that they dare not pronounce it. For Christians, they are free to pronounce it without the need to adhere to Jewish laws and practices. The main thing is to do so reverently and respectfully. In this regard, many in the Christian world would refer to God as YHWH or YAHWEH. The Name JEHOVAH is a carry-over from the Septuagint. For the next few weeks, we will reflect on the Name of God as used in the Bible. For this week, we look at the way the LORD referred to Himself as the I AM. We can only know God as He reveals Himself to us.

Surely, if we cannot understand the world and the events that are happening in the world, why do we have the nerve to question God about all things?


"God was never created by some greater power. He was never conjured up by some human mind. He depends upon no one and nothing to continue living; He will live forever. One Bible commentator, Francis Davidson explains it this way: 'I AM THAT I AM signifies that He is self-sufficient, the only real being and the source of all reality; that He is self-sufficient.'" (Lester Sumrall, The Names of God, New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1982, p36)

"Despite all the insights that we can discern through examining God's name YAHWEH, we must admit that we still do not understand everything about God's character. God's nature is far more mysterious than our minds can completely comprehend. Referring to the title YAHWEH, Davidson says "The Name preserves much of His nature hidden from curious and presumptuous enquiry. We cannot by searching find Him out. (cf Proverbs 30:4).

And so it must always be with God. The more of Himself that He reveals to us, the more remains hidden from our view. I'm sure that when Moses withdrew from that burning bush, slipped back into his sandals, and returned to Jethro's flocks, he still had many unanswered questions about God. God promised to go with Moses and his brother, who would act as his translator, when they went back to Egypt. However, there was very little more Moses knew about this One who spoke admidst the flame. But Moses acted on what he did knew and obeyed God." (44)






Monday, October 09, 2017

BookPastor >> "Guardrails" (Alan Briggs)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Dec 19th, 2016.

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TITLE: Guardrails: Six Principles for a Multiplying Church
AUTHOR: Alan Briggs
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2016, (192 pages).

Growing churches is a desire among many Christian leaders. Whenever there is a huge increase in the number of attendees, people get excited. They rev up their engines to make Church run as efficiently as possible. They go on hyperactive mode to ensure that all the respective departments are up and running, able to meet the needs of all age groups. The moment the number drops, worry rises. Giving drops and panic rises. The focus then shifts overwhelmingly to one concern: How do we grow the Church? Here lies one of the biggest misconceptions in Church growth. Numbers do not necessarily reflect a healthy Church. The key to Church health is not numbers but discipleship. Author Alan Briggs provides four chapters on foundations and six principles to execute the way of discipleship. The key is how to start a movement and not simply a one-off project. Briggs looks at some movements in history and notes the need to avoid models in favour of principles.  We also need to avoid the three obstacles of kingdom building:
  1. Tendency to build kingdoms for self
  2. Tendency to build idols of security for self-preservation
  3. Tendency to think only for the present moment

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Midweek Meditation: "A Thankful Heart" (George Herbert)

A THANKSGIVING PRAYER

Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart.
See how thy beggar works on thee
By art.

He makes thy gifts occasion more,
And says, If he in this be crossed,
All thou hast given him heretofore
Is lost.

But thou didst reckon, when at first
Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
What it would come to at the worst
To save.

Perpetual knockings at thy door,
Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
Gift upon gift, much would have more,
And comes.

This not withstanding, thou wenst on,
And didst allow us all our noise:
Nay thou hast made a sigh and groan
Thy joys.

Not that thou hast not still above
Much better tunes, than groans can make;
But that these country-airs thy love
Did take.

Wherefore I cry, and cry again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankful heart obtain
Of thee:

Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

George Hebert (1593-1633)

Monday, October 02, 2017

BookPastor >> "Paradoxology" (Krish Kandiah)

I've always enjoyed Krish Kandiah's writings. This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Dec 12th, 2016.

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TITLE: Paradoxology: Why Christianity Was Never Meant to Be Simple
AUTHOR: Krish Kandiah
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2017, (288 pages).

Life is viewed like a paradox because of our limited perspectives. Every situation has multiple interpretations. Every interpretation is subject to changing contexts. When we view life as a paradox, it keeps us humble and open to different understanding. This is what author Krish Kandiah has done for us. By looking at key characters in the Bible, he helps us to learn the nuances of Christian teachings throughout the ages. Simply put, there are no simple answers to the difficult questions we encounter through time. Take suffering for example. Can we explain it or understand why it happens? For if we can understand all the things of God, surely, we will be God. The author begins with the following definition of a paradox: "A paradox, just to be clear, consists of true statements that lead to an apparent or real contradiction in logic or intuition." The key thesis in this book is this:

"Paradoxology makes a bold claim: that the paradoxes that seem to undermine belief are actually the heart of our vibrant faith, and that it is only by continually wrestling with them – rather than trying to pin them down or push them away – that we can really worship God, individually and together."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Midweek Meditation: "On Remarriage" (Hot Potato #3)

(Word Publishing, 1998)

TITLE: 20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Touch (Paperback) - Common
PUBLISHER: Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 1998, (240 pages).

"Needless to say, there can be no condemnation of those who are pushed out of marriages through no decisions or no desires of their own. There is some evidence that the apostle Paul went through such rejection. We know that Paul was once married, because the Bible tells us that he was once a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of Jewish society, and membership in the Sanhedrin was contingent upon being married. Paul, who was definitely unmarried by the time he wrote the epistles to the Church at Corinth, may have been widowed. But there are many scholars who suppose that when he went through his radical conversion from zealous Pharisee to committed Christian, he alienated his one-time wife. It has been suggested that she left this man who, because of his spiritual transformation, had become a complete stranger to her." (Tony Campolo, "Is it ever ok for Divorced Christians to Remarry?" p198)

"I believe that when we are married, we are married until death do us part. To me that means that when people take the wedding vows, they make a commitment to care for each other for the rest of their lives. Thus, even if these people cannot live with each other (which seemed to have been the case for such a notable Christian as John Wesley, the founder of Methodism), the obligation to provide for the care and well-being of one's mate remains a firm requirement. Even after a marriage is legally ended, Christians are not divorced from looking after their former spouses. Thus, care for former marital partners is viewed as a responsibility to be carried out regardless of what the other person does. For Christians, a marital breakup does not mean a divorce from loving concern and service. I know this is not a widely held view, but it seems to me that such obligations are wrapped up with the marital vows and that even divorce does not end them." (199-200)

Monday, September 25, 2017

BookPastor >> "The Music Architect" (Constance M. Cherry)

This is one of my favourite books about the ministry of music and worship. The review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Nov 3rd, 2016.

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TITLE: The Music Architect: Blueprints for Engaging Worshipers in Song
AUTHOR: Constance M. Cherry
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, (288 pages).

In churches around the world, music and song are common ways in which we honour God in worship and praise. Many people serve in this ministry but not many are trained. Musicians come with deep talents but the understanding of worship may not be as deep. This is where this book comes in. The dual objectives are to:
  1. Learn about thoughtful and holistic worship
  2. Disciple worshipers in song.
This book is Volume 3 of the "The Worship Architect" series of book designed to help churches and worship leaders plan their worship flow and program. The first volume is about planning. The second volume looks at principles of preparing specific worship segments and special events. This volume covers more specifically the area of music. In all of the three books, the aim is to maintain a consistent philosophy of worship; to unite worship and practice; and to provide a resource that is helpful across denominations. On top of these, there is a pastoral element infused into the teaching. The key thesis is "who we are" is a greater impact than "what we do." This is why the author starts with defining the meaning of a "Pastoral Musician" who is essentially one who embraces the Christian faith, growing in spiritual maturity, using one's spiritual gifts, participating in community, and accountable to God and others. Worship must be relevant to God while connecting to people. There is a biblical element that guides the understanding of worship. The historical perspective is not static but dynamic, which means we ought to let worship practices throughout all generations be rendered in a manner that is meaningful. In terms of spirituality, worship forms worshipers. Thus, the title of "pastoral musician" simply tells us that worship involves lots of music but is much than music. 

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