Book Review: The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee (five stars)
“God has only one answer for every human need—His Son, Jesus Christ.”
Nee’s classic study of the book of Romans. Published after his death, these lessons were drawn from his lectures in Europe in the 1930s. Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome provides the outline of Nee’s study.
“I need forgiveness for what I have done, but I also need deliverance from who I am. The Blood disposes of our sins, while the Cross strikes at the root of our capacity for sin.”
These lessons are not easily read and absorbed. Readers are advised to proceed slowly. Worth the effort. Nee outlines the foundation and application of Christian living in a straightforward, understandable narrative. Recommend the print, rather than ebook format for referencing and highlighting. (The ebook edition I read was incomplete compared to the print text.)
“Our work for him springs out of our ministering to him. The first thing for us must be the Lord himself, not his work.”
Watchman Nee was a giant of the Christian faith in the twentieth century. His personal story is the stuff of dramas. He died in 1972 under mysterious circumstances while imprisoned by China’s Communist regime on counterrevolutionary charges.
“Living in the Spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself.”
Book Review: Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament by Lysa TerKeurst and Joel Muddamalle (four stars)
“If I want His promises, I have to trust his process. God isn’t ever going to forsake you, but He will go to great lengths to remake you.”
Focuses on how Jesus was not only foreshadowed and prophesied in the Old Testament but how He was and is its fulfillment. Approaches the early revelations of God as types for which only God could be the complete embodiment. High levels of scholarship increase reader confidence that the authors fit their writings to the subject rather than vice versa.
“In our unseen places of hurt, where it feels like everything that could bring hope is absent, we can be reminded that God has given us the power of His Holy Spirit.”
Better than average devotional guide. Rather than a Bible study, Seeing Jesus invites the reader to introspection and change. Probing questions and room to write encourage transformation.
“Just because we can’t always see Jesus doesn’t mean He isn’t there. Just because we aren’t hearing Him doesn’t mean He’s being silent.”
Book Review: Andrew Murray on the Holy Spirit. (Four Stars)
“A life in the presence, the will, and the power of God has been opened up; men have been given the opportunity to enter into it and live in it; and you, too, can enter it.”
Andrew Murray was a prolific South African cleric who flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Extracts of several of Murray’s shorter works were compiled create this topical work on the Holy Spirit.
“This is the great objective of fellowship with God: that we may have more of God in our lives and that God may see Christ formed in us. Be silent before God, and let Him bless you.”
Foundational works for modern Christians who seek to empty themselves of themselves and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
“Your God has given you Christ, and He wants to put Christ into your heart in such a way that His presence will be with you every moment of your life.”
Chapters stand alone, encouraging the reader to reflect on the topics.
“Count upon the living Christ to do everything in your heart that needs to be done.”
Book Review: The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams
“Life is a narrow valley, and the roads run close together.”
Fascinating and sad. An anomalous document: an autobiography written in the third person by a grandson and great-grandson of American presidents; Henry Adams. Written late in life these are Adams’s reflections on his lifelong search for truth and meaning.
“He never thought to ask himself or his father how to deal with the moral problem that deduced George Washington from the sum of all wickedness. In practice, such trifles Continue reading →
Book Review: The Four Vision Quests of Jesus by Steven Charleston
“I was searching for an authentic way to be both a Native American and a Christian.”
Ambitious effort to meld Christian and Native American spiritual beliefs without compromising either. Ends twisting Christianity like a pretzel. (“What do they teach in [seminaries] these days?) Native Americans may feel the same. Tempted to condemn the book, I also would like to have rated it higher, if only because Charleston seems sincere.
“The Native American quest was pragmatic, designed to produce transformation.”
Noteworthy for Charleston’s apparent sincerity. His motive is also Continue reading →
Book Review: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, and Carlton Abrams
“The purpose of life is to find happiness. From the very core of our being, we simply desire joy and contentment.” Dalai Lama
A monumental conversation between two spiritual giants of our age. This book is a four-star treatment of a five-star topic. I rounded up because I am confident readers will sort the gems from the plaster.
“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.” Desmond Tutu
The reader is invited into a celebration of life by two of the wisest men in the world. They have been friends for decades despite differing world views. Both their friendship and their wisdom shows through.
“Those who say forgiveness is for the weak haven’t tried it.” Desmond Tutu
You expect this book to be full of epigrams; it Continue reading →
Book Review: Reconsidering ‘Pascal’s Wager in Pensées’ by Blaise Pascal (Part Two)
“The last act is tragic, however happy all the rest of the play is; at the last a little earth is thrown upon our heads, and that is the end forever.”
The first two sections of Pascal’s Pensées is filled with disconnected thoughts and aphorisms (reviewed here) generally pointing to man’s misery separate from God. Now Pascal turns to his infamous wager. Here his argument becomes dense and philosophic. The casual reader is tempted to think, “I can skim this. Everyone knows what Pascal’s Wager is.” No, you don’t. In simplifying Pascal’s argument, modern scholars miss his point, and mislead you as well. If you read only one section on Pensées, read Section Three. Here his avowed purpose was “to incite the search after God.”
In brief, Pascal reasons why you should make the wager, only secondarily how you should make it. He was surrounded by mature, intelligent people who spent their entire life diverting themselves from the most important issue of life. The following are key thoughts, in his own words:
“Men despise religion; they hate it; and fear it is true.”
“[God] will only be perceived by those who seek him with all their heart.”
“They believe they have made great efforts for their instruction, when they have spent a few hours in reading some book of scripture, and have questioned some priest on the truths of the faith. After that, they boast Continue reading →
Book Review: How to Strengthen Your Faith by Andrew Murray
“God does not require anything more than simple faith. However, He will not settle for anything less.”
Matthew Henry (1829 -1917) wrote this short volume to encourage non-believers into the Christian faith. However, it is also a valuable aid for believing Christians to examine and increase their faith.
“It is the Spirit of God who has broken your slumber and made you anxious to believe. Where there is someone who desires salvation, the Spirit will certainly work faith in him.”
This edition updates Murray’s prose to ease comprehension by modern readers.
“Faith can only come in this poverty of the soul. While your feelings of unworthiness and guilt cause so much darkness and anxiety in the depths of your spirit, it is by this means that you will be driven to your Lord.” Andrew Murray
A valuable addition to the reading of believer and seeker alike.
“Although you have no faith yet, take this word as a living seed into your heart, and it will awaken faith.”