23/12/07 22:54 Filed in: Commentary
5 out of 5 - Long awaited for sequel
What are we to make of the ministry of Elisha - how always seems to be in the shadow of Elijah? What about the endless succession of kings, where it becomes almost impossible to keep track of who's who?
Davis is a brilliant at explaining the familiar stories, and showing you what is really happening. So often we read the Old Testament narrative as if it was just a filler between Eden and the Gospels - well we may not actually think that in so many words, but we read it simply as stories with a few moral lessons thrown in, instead of asking ourselves what is God doing here. Dale Ralph Davis always focuses on God, the covenant making and keeping God. The great strength of this book is that it helps us to see God rather than the people who fill the stories.
In a way that is refreshing, humorous and penetrating Davis opens up the book of 2 Kings and provides sound, wholesome teaching. It is only when you look in the footnotes at some of the weird and wonderful interpretations from various scholars that you begin to appreciate the quality of what Davis is giving to you. His quick-fire no-compromising-with-scripture demolition job of these authors, coupled with his simple clarity, reassures the reader.
His writing is deceptively simple, but underneath it lies a wealth of knowledge. And one of the great benefits of Davis' books is that as you read them you learn how to understand how books of the Bible are put together, and how to see the big themes that Davis himself keeps coming back to.
Like his other commentaries `The Power and the Fury' is pointed in its application, and revealing in its illustration. It is hard to read this book and not be encouraged by who God is, and challenged by our own faithlessness.
As I said the last time I reviewed Davis - go and buy everything he has written on the Old Testament.
23/12/07 22:47 Filed in: Commentary
5 out of 5 - Refreshing, penetrating, biblical application & explanation
"Have you ever wondered why bits of the Bible are boring?" asks Dale Ralph Davis with refreshing honesty.
Such open honesty characterises this sane and sensible commentary on 1 Kings. Perhaps the words 'sane' and 'sensible' give the impression that the book is itself rather dull and boring, but not so.
In a way that is refreshing, humorous and penetrating Davis opens up the book of 1 Kings and provides sound, wholesome teaching. It is only when you look in the footnotes at some of the weird and wonderful interpretations from various scholars that you begin to appreciate the quality of what Davis is giving to you. His quick-fire no-compromising-with-scripture demolition job of these authors, coupled with his simple clarity, reassures the reader that, in the words of Dick Lucas, we are in "a safe strong pair of hands to guide us through the treasure - and the uninspiring bits - of 1 Kings."
This is a superbly easy-to-read book on 1 Kings. There is clear explanation, and there is excellent illustration, with the central theme of each section being plainly set out. But the thing I liked best was the incisive application. It is not possible to read this book and feel unchallenged.
But what is there to be learnt? Davis guides us through such themes as the majesty of God, prayer, wise living, and God's faithfulness. He brings a challenge to shake us out of our complacency.
Look out for other books by this author - he has also written on Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel.
And why are bits of the Bible 'boring'? "Because they are the records of sinful men who simply repeat the sins and evil of those before them. Sin is never creative, but merely imitative and repetitious ... Evil carries a built-in yawn. 'And he walked in the ways of Jeroboam and in his sin.'"
23/12/07 22:43 Filed in: Christian Living
5 out of 5 - Avoid the tragedy of a wasted life
This is a tremendous book; a great book to read at the start of another year. The vast expanse of the rest of our life (or the not so vast, God alone knows) stretches before us – the question hangs in the air: Will we waste it? What will we have to show at the end of our one and only precious God-given life?
Is Jesus useful only for escaping Hell, or is he the Treasure of our lives? Do we live lives that demonstrate something of the all-surpassing value of Jesus, or lives that show only too clearly that we have the same earthbound focus as our neighbours? Are we wasting our lives?
John Piper demonstrates with passionate forceful clarity that a life lived revelling in God’s glory and seeking to bring glory to him in every sphere of life is the only way to really live your life. He issues a call to serve and glorify Christ in the ministry, on the mission field, and in secular jobs. Amidst his passion there is balance and wisdom for all believers.
In the first two or three chapters, perhaps less easy to read than the rest of the book, Piper tells us of his discovery of the preciousness of Christ. And this is his great prayer for the readers of his book – that we will not only see it, but live it out. The succeeding chapters are powerfully challenging with titles like:
‘Risk is right – Better to lose your life than to waste it’
‘Living to prove He is more precious than life’
‘Making much of Christ 8 to 5’
‘The majesty of Christ in missions and mercy’
This isn't a book to read quickly, but a book that will take you time and will profoundly challenge you – your use of time, money and life itself. If you want to live life as God intends this is a book is for you. It should be compulsory reading for every Christian!
23/12/07 22:34 Filed in: Christian Living
5 out of 5 - Straight-talking, honest, no-nonsense, non wishy-washy
Lust - a small word, a big problem. Have you ever thought, "Am I the only one struggling with these thoughts? Am I the only one who can't seem to control myself? Everyone else seems so untroubled, surely they can't know what it's like to be plagued with the constant barrage of filth that assaults my mind?"
Lust - maybe you think you're ok, you think you can handle your thoughts and feelings. Don't kid yourself - our enemy, the Devil, is extremely subtle. Perhaps you genuinely don't feel you have a problem with lust, but could it be that you are causing problems for others?
Lust - it ruins our relationships, with God and with each other, it robs us of our spiritual vitality, and it leaves a foul emptiness behind.
And this is something that affects the girls as well as the blokes.
How can we slay this demon that haunts us so persistently? What hope is there for those ensnared in its nets who have lost the hope of freedom? Joshua Harris deals with the problems that lust brings both to men and women, to young men and young women. He writes openly and honestly from his own personal experience, combining a biblical realism with practical wisdom as he sets out God's help for the battle.
This is a powerful book on dealing with sexual temptation. Harris doesn't miss and hit the wall; this is a straight talking book that deals openly and honestly with sexual purity. He does not go soft on sin. Yet it is a book that aims to "instil a love for holiness and a hatred for lust without dragging the reader's imagination through the gutter."
This is a practical book - there is a great chapter on the things that trigger lust, there is advice about dress sense and the impact that films, TV, books and music have on us. It is also a biblical book - He outlines God's high standard - "Not even a hint" - and then demonstrates how God provides the resources we need to make it a reality. There is an even greater chapter than the one mentioned earlier on how to fight lust's lies with the promises of scripture.
This is a book full of practical help, but above all it is a book that keeps bringing the reader back to the power of God not only to forgive, but to set us free.
Comment Comment |
23/12/07 19:03 Filed in: Devotional
5 out of 5 - Soul warming meditations on the Cross of Christ
"Gethsemane is not a field of study for our intellect. It is a sanctuary of our faith. Lord, forgive us for the times we have read about Gethsemane with dry eyes."
So ends the first of 13 brief, but profound, chapters on the sufferings of Christ. Here is a book to be read unhurriedly, a chapter at a time, and with time to think. It is a book that will deepen your understanding and appreciation of what Jesus went through at Calvary. It will help you grasp the depths of Christ's suffering, or at least to realise that they are beyond our grasp - what does it mean to be forsaken by God? What did he go through on the cross - this book will help you see beyond the physical suffering.
Prof Leahy brings us back to the cross to fill our hearts with gratitude to the one who "bore our sins in his body on the tree". This short book of meditations will spur you on in your love for Jesus. It will cause you to praise him with heartfelt thanks. It will show you the awfulness of sin by the immense price that Christ paid that we might be forgiven.
Often as you read it you will find yourself pausing to say, "Thank you, Lord".
I can't recommend this book highly enough.