Book Reviews From 2017

Saturday In The Psalms—God’s Voice Of Peace

Lord, You have been favorable … You have forgiven … You have covered all their sin. Selah (Psalm 85:1-2).

God’s favor, forgiveness, and covering of sin. Justice would say that God doesn’t have to do any of these things. The people sinned—they violated the holy law—and thus deserve death. But pause and consider this [that’s what Selah means]: God instead shows His favor, deliverance, and forgiveness. All His anger has been turned away!

How do we respond to this? The psalmist asks for restoration and revival. Revival comes when we turn back to God and turn away from our sin, and here we see God initiating revival … making revival possible.

Listen to God’s voice: He speaks peace, which allows us to experience revival. Jesus didn’t say, “Go and sin no more; I do not condemn you.” No! He said, “Neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

The removal of the wrath of condemnation makes the revival of the soul possible!

Once we hear God’s voice of peace, we can then know His…

  • … mercy
  • … truth
  • … righteousness
  • … goodness
  • … pathway
  • … freedom

God, You are so good! So loving, kind, merciful! Showing Your favor to all who will listen to Your words of peace!

10 Quotes From “Longing For A Changed World”

Longing For A Changed World will help you (re)establish a prayer focus that could be the beginning of the next great revival! You can check out my full book review here, and then enjoy some of the quotes that especially caught my attention.

“Our age, severed from its Biblical moorings, is neglecting history’s lessons.”

“Another characteristic of today’s Church is a lack of prayer. Instead of communing and listening to God, lifting our needs and concerns to the Lord, we rely on our own abilities and in technology to compensate for any inadequacy we may have. Thus armed, we are confident in taking on the challenges of our day, even those spiritual in nature.”

“True revival impacts all aspects of life, even to the concerns of the last, the least, and the lost. A people who uphold justice and righteousness and seeks to alleviate the plight of the poor and needy, are a people truly gripped with revival. For when we are consumed with God’s holiness and how blessed we are by His grace, we are compelled to take this Gospel to all aspects of our culture.”

“Our propensity is to focus on being doers—to be on the battlefield, sword in hand, fighting for the Kingdom and for righteousness. But as in the battle with the Amalekites, battles are won by God’s people lifting up their arms to the Lord.”

“I have been more focused on what I wanted to say in my prayer than on Whom I am approaching in prayer. This often leads to prayer that amounts to a tallying-up of my wants, without proper regard for the One into Whose presence I have come.”

“Our prayers as a whole, and prayers for revival, should reflect our poverty and powerlessness before a God who is forgiving and gracious.”

“Pray for boldness in the church—boldness to proclaim God’s Word and to firmly stand on it. Pray for boldness to confront sin yet boldness accompanied with humility as the church is aware (painfully aware) of its own sinfulness. And pray for boldness to present Christ as the Way and the Truth.”

“Praying expectantly requires us to pray to God in line with His Word and His promises. Thus a decline in biblical literacy has resulted in our prayer life wavering as well.”

“Our pleas for revival will go unheeded until we stand up for God’s Word, forsake the idols of our age, shake off the trappings of our secular and materialistic age, and embrace God’s truth.”

“As we pray for revival—for changed lives, renewed churches, and a transformed culture—our tendency might be to enlist the charismatic, the eloquent, and those who project confidence and success, traits that so readily appeal to us. But God’s manner of bringing revival has often been through ordinary people who endure affliction, hardship, and suffering, much as he did with Paul and Timothy and the Apostles.”

I’ll be sharing more resourced and thoughts from this book soon, so stay tuned!

Longing For A Changed World (book review)

I grew up with this axiom ringing in my ears: “The Church moves forward on its knees.” Lately, however, it seems that the Church is attempting to move forward in every way she can think of, and only turning to prayer as a last resort. Ralph Lehman has given the Church a clarion call to return to its only reliable posture for success: Constant, unwavering prayer. Longing For A Changed World will challenge you to return to this dependable supply of prayer once again.

This book is written as a series of short challenges for us to (re)consider how indispensable prayer is for both the individual Christian and the collective Church. Ralph recalls both biblical and historical revivals in which prayer played the vital role of bringing people back to their knees in humble prayer to God for His help.

The subtitle of this book is Meditations on prayer for revival. At the close of each chapter, Ralph has included questions on which you can reflect. I found these introspective questions to be quite confronting as I compared my prayer life to those revival-starting prayers of the past.

Ralph mentions that women have an almost innate desire and propensity to turn to God in prayer, while men typically try to “fix” things themselves before asking for prayer. So Longing For A Changed World is really targeted at the men in our churches, although anyone who desires to see the Church revived will benefit greatly from reading this book.

Please don’t put off prayer any longer! This book will help rekindle your passion for prayer!

I am a Waxed Tablet Publications book reviewer.

Praying For Muslims (book review)

During 2017 I wanted to spend more time in prayer for our Muslim friends around the world, that they would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. My prayer guide every Friday afternoon this year has been Praying For Muslims by Sobhi Malek.

This book has opened my eyes and ears, and softened my heart, for Muslims. Each Friday I read a short, informative devotional that gives me greater insight into the Islamic community, and then I use the included prayer as a way to ask God to shine the light of His Son Jesus into dark places around the globe.

Sobhi Malek reminds us:

“This warfare is not against people of any religion or affiliation. Christ, who died for all human beings, instructed us to love our neighbors. Rather, this war is against the evil powers which control people and hinder them from seeing the light of the Gospel of Christ (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, we are warring against satan who ‘has blinded the minds of unbelievers.’ His goal is to keep people from seeing ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). When we pray and ask others to pray, this does not mean that we feel superior. We do not think we are better than Muslims or any other people.  Rather, we believe we are fallen human beings like all others, but we have been saved by God’s grace.”

I urge Christians everywhere to get a copy of this book and join other prayer warriors around the world in this concerted effort to see a revival breakout in Muslim strongholds.

Paths To Power (book review)

As I read A.W. Tozer’s words I find myself saying two things: (1) “Ouch!” and (2) “Amen!” Tozer’s Paths To Power is a continuation in those responses as he outlines what robs the Church and individual Christians of the power God wants them to have.

Right at the outset, Tozer identifies a key element robbing the Church of power: a lack of obedience in the things God has commanded us. “A knowledge of the truth is not enough,” he writes. “The truth must be followed if we would realize in actual experience the blessedness which is here described.”

Another power-blocker is an unwillingness to let God confront us and help us change. We get stuck in a this-is-how-it’s-always-been rut and then shut our eyes to the times of refreshing God wants to send to us. Other blockers include poor doctrine, putting the Holy Spirit in a box, justifying our sin, and not unleashing our faith, to name just a few.

Thankfully, Tozer also points us to the straightforward cures for all of the blockages to power. If we are willing to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to God’s voice, His unlimited blessings could flow uninterrupted into our lives and churches.

Paths To Power contains only seven short chapters, but the digestion, contemplation, and implementation of Tozer’s cures will be something that will involve a lifetime commitment for those ready for God’s fresh power to be poured into their lives.

I am a Moody Publishers book reviewer.

Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

This is Part 2 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

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