I read Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods recently (yes, I know that I am a bit slow on the up take), and thought that it gave a wonderful angle on how we replace God in our lives. We can never really be immune from this, so I thought I’d choose “Empty Promises” to read more about this topic.
Empty Promises is about how we have an endless pursuit to feel worth and acceptance, to sacrifice everything for the promise to be a little more beautiful, richer, more powerful and successful. This book covers the seduction of achievement, addiction to approval/power, money, religion lies (e.g. works, not faith), beauty, etc.
I have two takeaways from this book: (a) life without Christ is like a refrigerator raid. We are restless and can’t sleep so we get up and go to the refrigerator. We don’t know what we want. We open the door and stare, scanning the contents, hoping something will look good and catch out attention. Nothing. So we just nibble a little on this, a little on that. But nothing tastes good, nothing satisfies. We close the refrigerator door, hungry, and unsatisfied. That’s life without Christ. That’s what all these empty promises will leave us with - hungry and unsatisfied. Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your hearts desires.” (b) The other take away is that many of these things that God has given us are intended for our good (e.g. money), but we often make an idol out of it.
This book squares in quite nicely with what I have been thinking and praying about: I have all that I need (the forgiveness of sins). Anything else (e.g. my work) does not make me anything more or less in God’s eyes.
You can buy the book at Bookdepository. Free international shipping!
Recently, I read and reviewed Stephen Arterburn’s Healing is a Choice and was very impressed by the author’s ideas. There was clarity in ideas which were well substantiated; definitely worth reading. I decided to read more of the author’s works.
But The Encounter is such a disappointment. This is a fiction book about a man reuniting with his natural mother, who had abandoned him as a kid. The storyline is cliched and boring. The plot was predictable and slow. I genuinely felt like I took nothing away from this book, though the book probably took my time away (thankfully, wasn’t a very thick book).
Everyone has a counterfeit god. These personal idols include romantic love, financial prosperity (and career advancement) or political success. At a more fundamental level, there are idols of our culture and the idol of self.
I enjoyed this book, and I think that there is so much to reflect on on the idols in my life and to surrender these idols to God, allowing him to take first place in my life.
I recommend it!
This is a daily devotional guide about (rather self evidently) praying the names of Jesus. I am tremendously blessed by this book: it has helped me to understand Jesus and how great He is. It has also humbled me to surrender to Jesus who is so many different ‘things’ at once such as King of kings, Word, Cornerstone, Alpha and Omega.
The Christian faith is so much more than just good principles to live your life by. This book really helped me to gain a better eternal perspective to the Christian faith.
This book is a bit too New Age for me.
Where I come from, adoption is rare. It wasn’t so in the past: families adopted if a fortune teller told them that they need to adopt kids, or families would give away or sell their children to make ends meet, amongst other reasons. Today, the population is hardly even replacing itself because cost of living and education is so high and parents want to maximise their resources. In the more Western part of the world, adoption is not unheard of. The Bible tells us that God loves children (Mark 10: 13-16) and that we are called to care for orphans (James 1:27). I picked this book from the Booksneeze selection to learn more about biblical adoption.
The author talks about being the biological mother of three kids (2 sons and a daughter) and later being called to adopt her fourth child. She writes about the difficult and long process of adoption, and the even more difficult and long wait before she finally met her daughter. But that’s not the end - she struggles with seeking others’ approval of her daughter and her act of adoption when she finally realises that God loves her and her daughter for who they are. There are short writeups across the book on the adoption process, the debate behind adoption, the ethics of adoption and some adoption laws.
I showed the little section of the adoption debate to this guy whom I am seeing. His first reaction was quite sharp. He asked, ‘why will people ever want to separate babies from their birthmothers?’ Can we ever be justified for separating children from their birthmothers? We make arguments that adoption gives these children better opportunities in a foreign land, or the mother might otherwise not be able to provide for them. But is adoption really the solution? Wouldn’t they be content with the best opportunity in their home circumstances; and shouldn’t the solution be to mitigate the economic vulnerabilities that these women face? Barring the exception where the babies are subject to abuse, should we ever separate children from their living parents?
If laws are amended to only restrict adoption to children of abusive parents or children whose parents have passed away, can we stop people from faking death certificates or even killing parents to get the babies? It is in these poor and lawless countries that corruption is rampant. If we fail to mitigate vulnerabilities, these people will be subject to poor choices.
I received this book for free from the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze programme in exchange for my unbiased book review.
The ‘Then Sings My Soul’ series of books is a great collection of loved hymns.
The third book has the usual music sheet on the left and hymn history on the right thing which they did for the previous 2 books and the special edition. But this book is extra special because it explores worship with hymns in its historical context. There are slightly longer writeups on particular hymns and a short writeup on how we can worship in public and in private with hymns.
I was planning to collect the entire series of ‘Then Sings My Soul’ but gave this copy away to a friend who told me that she loves hymns. Shall have to replenish the missing copy soon. Anyway, it makes for a great gift!
I received this book for free from the Booksneeze programme.
What a delightful kids book!
I wish I read it as a kid so I wouldn’t have spent so much time being bored. It has many lessons for the young and young-at-heart.
Some religious groups promote the belief that true faith means we will never have to endure pain. Ergo, you experience pain because you do not have faith. Some religious groups also expound the belief that taking holy communion can “cure” your physical afflictions. I cannot agree with either belief. I have some physical affliction, which remains a mystery after two years of numerous tests. But I don’t think I lack faith. I am quite ready to say I feel confident of my adoption as God’s daughter and rarely, if ever, question His acceptance of me. After all these years, I have learnt not to question God’s sovereignty in my pain. This does not mean that I don’t ask “why me; why now” questions, but I accept that this is part of God’s plans for me, and His ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:9). I picked this book from the Booksneeze programme to learn more about the healing process: the correct decisions that will transform my life, and the lies that prevent me from making them.
Thankfully, there was indeed a section which discusses the view that true faith means that we will never be ill or have to endure pain and suffering. It goes on to say that this lie causes people to engage in denial in order to prove themselves faithful and live up to such impossible expectations. A distinction is made between subjective peace and objective peace. In the real world, all people are subject to the human condition. Objective peace is the peace that we have because Christ died for us, and as a result, there is no enmity between God and us. Subjective peace relies on human emotions. Real Christians can have objective peace with God at all times, but no human being with experience subjective peace all the time. And as mentioned earlier, all people are subject to the human condition. There you go, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, pain does not mean that God doesn’t love you, or that you lack faith!
The arguments in this book are relevant, persuasive, and real. It does not purport to have the antidote to pain - the power to heal is ultimately in God’s hands. However, it argues that the choice to be healed is yours. I agree! It goes on to break down, systematically, the 10 choices that you need to make on this path of healing, and the 10 corresponding lies. For example, we need to choose to forgive, and the corresponding lie is that forgiveness is only for those who deserve it or earn it. Every chapter is accompanied by a workbook. I confess that with most Christian books, I skip the workbook section because it is usually at the back of the book, and I am lazy to work through the examples. But the author cleverly put the workbook after each chapter. I casually browsed through the workbook for the first chapter after reading the first chapter and found the exercises very helpful in exploring the themes discussed earlier.
This book turned out to be a wonderful read, and I dare say, that it is the first book that I am shortlisting for my “Favourite books in 2012”. Let’s see if this makes it at the end of the year. Every one needs to read this book, and I am definitely gonna get more copies to give away. As for this free review copy, I am gonna keep it for future reference (which I am sure, will be many), and lend it around.
I understand that this author is famous for his other book, “Every Man’s Battle”, which I haven’t read. I might check out his other books now that I am so impressed with this book.
I received this book for free from the Booksneeze programme in exchange for an unbiased book review.