Book Review: And the Shofar Blew

Francine Rivers, again, did an amazing job of telling the stories of several characters which made it so hard to put the book down without wondering how it was going to end. And the Shofar Blew was full of suspense and dealt with several topics including the challenges of managing a church, being a pastor’s wife and its difficulties, being a pastor’s kid and its associated challenges, ageing, death, divorce, alcoholism, among others. 

Even though the story had several characters weaving together the plot, And the Shofar Blew centred more on a young pastor, Paul Hudson, and his wife, Eunice and child. The excitement in the story began when Paul Hudson accepted the call to manage an old church that had its traditions and an ageing congregation. Pastor Hudson did bring some life into the church but they were mainly influences of his childhood and the relationship he had had with his father. Throughout the over 450-page book, the story gradually unfolds and the young pastor becomes over-ambitious and crude in his dealings and, the consequence could not have been devastating enough.

After I put the book down, my mind has been on a journey of wondering what goes on behind the scenes in our churches.  My thoughts have been on pastors and teachers who probably may have heeded to God’s call but due to increase in the numbers of their congregation, their church’s financial obligations and popularity are twisting His words to suit the people. How many men of God are preaching God’s unadulterated word that has the ability to cut hearts and save souls? 

This may not be a challenge for pastors alone but for those of us who are Christian blogging or singing or ministering in all forms. Since you saw an increase in the number of followers, have you been preaching God’s word or are massaging the truth in order to gain more followers? Do you present the message as it is or you are afraid of stepping on toes and losing your followers?

I have really been spending my week praying for pastors and everyone who has the responsibility of shepherding. It is my prayer that we keep spending time with God to know what He has given us to tell His people. There may be financial obligations but the sheep need to know God’s word. Let’s not massage God’s word for popularity sake.

The truth is Jesus Christ came to die for our sins and He is the way, the truth and the light. No one goes through the Father, except through Him. – John 14:6.

What message are you presenting to your followers?

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Book Review: The Scarlet Thread

Set apart in different centuries, Francine Rivers tells a story of two women who were related but had never met, yet, shared a similar experience. Both women, during certain periods of their marriages, had difficulties accepting the dreams/directions of their husbands. The author must be commended for doing an awesome job of weaving the two different stories in an engaging way, leaving the reader with no choice than to keep at the almost 500-page novel.

Immediately I picked the book, I could sense how the story was going to turn out. I somehow knew Sierra’s relationship with her husband wasn’t the best. What husband accepts a new role in another organisation, in a different State without discussing it thoroughly with the wife and children? Just imagine yourself waking up to the news of your husband or close relative selling your house, in the neighbourhood you’ve lived in all your life and resettling the entire family to another side of the planet because of his new job. No prepping or orientation was conducted but that same person requires you to jump with excitement to the unexpected news with the excuse that he’s mentioned this subject once. (Really? Alex. Really?Unamused Face on Samsung Experience 9.5 )Right then, I could smell a self-centred husband considering his needs, dreams, and ambitions as paramount to everyone’s. Whatever happened to proper communication in a marriage? I guess these weren’t in Alex’s thoughts since he saw Sierra as a mere housewife who had no ambition. Person Shrugging on Google Android 9.0

But Sierra gradually became a strong force later in the story and I rooted for her when she decided to pick her life up, reject monies from her husband and welcomed her independence. I loved how she transformed from the lady who always blurted out her opinion on issues to someone who paused, thought through her words and the likely implications they may have before she uttered them. To me, the husband deserved more than what was meted out to him by Sierra, in the closing pages. How the story ended was somehow expected, maybe something more tragic or dramatic would have made the book more thrilling and different but in all, it was a good book.

I felt there were some pertinent lessons in there for every Christian, particularly, for those who are married and those seeking to get married. It makes you realise the importance of the God-factor in every marriage and lays emphasis on the role of communication in every relationship. Have you or your family taken a drastic decision which has had a seemingly terrible toll on your life? Then you need to read Francine Rivers’ Scarlet Thread. It will help lessen the burden and make the change bearable.

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If you read my post last week, you’d notice I mentioned The Scarlet Thread was my first Christian novel, therefore, if you’ve read any books in this genre or you know of other great authors I should look out for, please drop the titles in the comment box. Thanks!  Grinning Face With Big Eyes on Microsoft Windows 10 October 2018 Update

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Book Review: Good Morning Holy Spirit

Benny Hinn’s ‘Good Morning Holy Spirit’ is one book that brings to readers the enormousness of the person of the Holy Spirit by clearly outlining His power and the potential influence He can have on the Believer. It shows how anyone can receive the Holy Spirit who, according to Benny Hinn, is not simply a person but God, coequal with the Father and Christ. With several biblical references, the mystery of the identity of the Holy Spirit is unveiled, making the reader yearn to develop a ‘proper’ relationship with Him.

Good Morning Holy Spirit‘ is an important resource that dispels every misconception a Christian may have about Him. It shows how to have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, which begins after anyone confesses the Lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives. This companionship can be sustained through constant communication and the author likens this relationship-building process to what is experienced in a marital union, where a unique bond is created between a couple through constant association. The fellowship gets better with time and it’s renewed if the Believer does not ignore the Holy Spirit, who is a person, and could be grieved (Ephesians 4:30).

This book is written quite simply and starts like any novel, taking the reader into the life of young Benny Hinn living in Jaffa, Israel. A little boy who believed he was a Christian until a friend took him to a convention where he had an encounter with Kathryn Kuhlman, the Evangelist. That was the beginning of a wonderful encounter leading to his quest to seek more knowledge and build a relationship with the Holy Spirit. He admitted the journey wasn’t smooth, particularly, with his family but he followed on with his conviction and gradually, he achieved the desired results.

This book is highly recommended for every Believer because it provides cues which can be used to assess one’s relationship with the Holy Spirit. For instance, whether you belong to the category that knows of His existence and very little about what He’s capable of doing? Or you belong to that category that knows of His existence and power, making you want to fellowship with Him on a daily basis? Like Benny Hinn, do you wake up in the morning and greet, “Good Morning, Holy Spirit” while you anxiously wait for Him to direct you into the scriptures to find out what He has for you? Do you enjoy reading the scriptures because the Holy Spirit makes every word clearer to you? What about your Christian life – do you know a relationship with the Holy Spirit is what prevents you from backsliding? These are a few questions this book poses which enables you to assess the nature of your relationship with the Him.

After you close the book, your perception of the Holy Spirit will change completely. If you haven’t desired a relationship with Him yet, this book will make you start building one. If you already have one but it’s ‘all-over-the-place’, this book will show you how to streamline that relationship. And if you have a great relationship with the Holy Spirit, Benny Hinn’s Good Morning Holy Spirit will challenge you to go further.

Below are some beautiful quotes from the book which were tweeted in the course of the month:

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Book Review: Power Through Prayer

“This man must be a Christian Philosopher or a poet,” those were my first thoughts after going through the initial pages of Power through Prayer by E.M Bounds. It’s not surprising to know he was an attorney (they have some background in philosophy) and a member of the Methodist Church. The man played with words in this 75-page book, which also carried a strong message and is very relevant for the period that we find ourselves in.

Power through Prayer admonishes readers/preachers/Christians to adopt a lifestyle of prayer. E.M Bounds, in the book, established the importance of spending quality in prayer, particularly, for preachers who have the mandate to propagate the gospel and win souls for Christ. He provided the likely effects of relegating prayer into the background and bemoaned the current practice which has been adopted by preachers – spend more time to research and less time in prayer when preparing to preach. The 20-short-chapters’ book challenges ministers of the gospel to spend long and quality time with God and see how that translates to the congregation. Bounds provided examples of past preachers who spent quality time with God and how that affected their ministries.

This is one of the most pertinent messages that the church needs currently. The book’s content reminds me of a Christian broadcast I listened to where the preacher also challenged Christians, especially, Charismatics to stop hiding behind tongues-speaking and ‘pray properly.’ In the broadcast, the preacher defined prayer as talking to God and knowing you are talking to Him. In other words, our mind should be fixed on the activity that we are indulging in. He made emphasis on the duration, which shouldn’t be as important as the quality and when Christians genuinely pray to God, we become conduits for the manifestation of miracles and the power of God. I could detect hints of E.M Bounds’ Power through Prayer in that broadcast.

The book was undoubtedly exquisitely written and if you a lover of poetry then this book is just for you. In my opinion, it could have easily been simplified into fewer pages but the flowery nature of the content did not permit that but it is still a great book and the message, very strong. The book is highly recommended for preachers or anyone playing a role in the Christ-ministry and for which, Christian bloggers are not an exemption. We can’t do away with quality prayer and expect to flourish in our various callings.

There were several amazing quotes in Power through Prayer and below are three of them:

  • “The preacher is the golden pipe through which the divine oil flows. The pipe must not only be golden, but open and flawless, that the oil may have a full, unhindered, unwashed flow.”
  • “Prayer is not to the modern pulpit the mighty force it was in Paul’s life or Paul’s ministry. Every preacher who does not make prayer a mighty factor in his own life and ministry is weak as a factor in God’s work and is powerless to project God’s cause in this world.”
  • “A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon.”

Have you read this book? What are your opinions about it? Do share!

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Book Review: Strategies for Prayer

Strategies for Prayer by Dag Heward-Mills is a 40-page book, very succinct, straight-to-the-point, yet, makes some powerful revelations on the need for Christians to pray and do it effectively. It can easily be read at a sitting, but, it is important to go through this book slowly, so, to digest its content and apply it to one’s prayer life.

The book, divided into four chapters, introduces the reader to the Daniel’s Principles of Prayer and also, The Timothy, Ephesians and Lord’s prayer formula. What the first chapter does is to admonish Christians, among other things, that they are never too big, blessed or busy to pray.  It primarily establishes the importance of prayer to the life of the believer.

In the subsequent chapters, the reader is introduced to the other prayer strategies/formula. The book also raises important subjects like the need to pray for our leaders, praying always and for long hours which also summarises the Timothian Prayer in Chapter 2 of the book. The other two chapters introduce Ephesians 1 and Matthew 6 as prayer guides/strategies for the Christian.

Bishop Dag, as an author, puts his points in plain language probably for easy memorisation. If you have ever listened to any of his sermons, you’d realise he writes just like the way he speaks – concise, straightforward and instructive. He also makes emphases on some of his points by relating them to his personal life experiences. As a reader, I couldn’t help but chuckle at some of the scenarios he provided in the book. One of such was when he recalled his days as a medical student with a tight schedule but still made time to pray. On one of those occasions, he nearly walked into a wall because he was tired. Although this was easy to picture, it drives home the point that he consciously made time to pray and gave himself no excuse and looking at where he is now, that serves as a source of motivation for the reader.

The aim of the book was to ginger the reader to adopt praying strategies which will enable him/her to pray for long hours and that was successfully achieved. As Christians, we may have several reasons for not praying and even reading, the author recognises that, therefore, he provides several motivations in a few pages to help us adopt a healthy prayer life. This book is highly recommended for anyone having a hard time praying and for long hours. It is also great for Christians of all ages and for people who do not want to read huge volumes of books.

There were some powerful quotes in the book but below are three of them:

  • “My friend, if you cannot find something to thank God for, for at least ten minutes, then you have an ungrateful heart.”
  • “If you want to have peace and confidence in this life, spend time praying that the will of God comes to pass in your life.”dag

 

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Book Review: In Pursuit of Purpose

What is your purpose in life? This is one question which we have all encountered at certain points in our lives. For instance, in a job interview, you may be asked where you see yourself in five years and before one gets married, couples are asked if they know each others’ purposes, hence, making this subject a very important one to both Christians and non-Christians.

Myles Munroe’ In Pursuit of Purpose, did a remarkable job to unpack this popular question, particularly, in making his readers understand why it is very important to know one’s purpose and pursue it. This 149 page-book was easy to read and had some of the most amazing quotes that made the reader pause, think through and meditate upon. It was also written in the simplest language and made use of relateable scenarios to emphasise on some of the basic points. If you have ever listened to any of Myles Munroe’s lectures or sermons, this book actually felt like you were listening to him while he spoke – in the same style to ginger you to get up and find your purpose. He also used biblical references to situate his point in scriptures.

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Since this subject is a very important one, as a reader, I wished Myles Munroe had delved deeper in revealing the ‘how’ to finding ones’ purpose. What the book did, generally, was to let readers know the importance of finding their purposes and pursuing them. The author did drop hints on how to identify your purpose and like most books on this subjects, he directs the reader to go back to the ‘manufacturer’ who has the ‘manual.’ Subtly, he mentioned that assessing one’s uniqueness, special abilities, talents and potentials would eventually lead us to finding our purpose but what I really yearned for, while going through those pages, was a more comprehensible insight into how to identify all which makes a person unique. This was very important to me, as a reader, because there are people who are more than four decades old, and are still clueless on what makes them unique, not to talk of having knowledge of their purpose.

Nevertheless, In Pursuit of Purpose made a great read, particularly, in motivating the reader to search for what their purposes were and not to follow what the world described as ‘success.’ The world’s definition of a successful person is measured by the amount of wealth they have accumulated or their fame or accomplishments. If you mistakenly follow these and gradually get to the top, you are likely to face some penalties which have been listed in the book.

As stated earlier, there were so many beautiful quotes in this book but my favorite three include:

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  • Be what you are. Capitalize on the natural skills and talents with which you were born, and don’t lose them. When others belittle your special gifts and try to remake you according to their plans and purposes, refuse to yield to domination.

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This book is a great tool for individuals who have identified their purposes or unique talents and are looking for that push to pursue them. In Pursuit of Purpose is also useful to readers who want to understand the importance of pursuing their call.

PS: For those still searching for their purposes, here are five tips on how to go about that:

  1. Read books on this subject – Myles Munroe’s In Pursuit of Purpose will ginger you to find those special abilities of yours.
  2. Pray about this subjectIn Pursuit of Purpose has that prayer which can help you identify that which is your purpose. God ‘manufactured’ you and has your ‘manual’ and He has the ability to reveal those special potentials of yours to you.
  3. Volunteer your services – One way to identify what you are good at is to volunteer your services and the church offers those grounds for you to experiment. You can join the prayer team and if you do not enjoy that, you can go and teach, if you still do not find your place in that team, perhaps, your calling is with children – join the children’s department. Through that you can find that which you do that gives you joy and fulfillment.
  4. Keep praying – Some people are fortunate to have prophets declaring their purposes to them. Others have had people, through visions, confirming their purposes. You may be in that category.
  5. Be Introspective – Look for that thing within you that you enjoy doing and when you are not paid, you still do it anyway. That thing that you do which other people have commended you on could be your special ability – and in there, lies God’s purpose for your life.

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Book Review: How to Raise Children for Christ

As the title of the book implies, Andrew Murray submerges readers into the biblical perspective of raising children. The book, which is divided into 52 short chapters, is designed in a devotional-format with each chapter ending with a prayer.

The basic theme which runs through the book is the important role of parenting, what the Bible says about it and how that can be practiced.  This covenant, according to the author, was established during creation (Genesis 1:27) and each chapter in the book introduces a new bible verse to emphasise that.

How to Raise Children for Christ is heavily centred on scriptures and it’s quite difficult to digest immediately, particularly, if you love the novel-style of writing. Reading this book requires a lot of concentration to decipher the author’s revelation on parenting. Even though the book is divided into 52 short chapters and each chapter having an average of five pages, it requires more time to fully digest the content.

Nonetheless, How to raise Children for Christ qualifies as the manual or guide that every Christian parent needs. It is not the kind of book, you can borrow, read and return; it is one you require on your shelf for reference purposes. It is almost impossible to raise children for Christ when you hardly know what the scriptures highlight on the subject, hence, the need to own and read this book.

Some of the powerful quotes in this book include:

Parents are more than friends and advisers; they have been clothed by God with a
holy authority to be exercised in leading their children in the way of the Lord.

Let the impression our receive when they hear us speak of others – friends or enemies, the low, the vulgar, the wicked – be the love of we seek to show.

Let parents be what they want their to be.

Important notes to take away from Andrew Murray’s How to Raise Children for Christ include:

  • Parenting is an important role bestowed unto man by GOD – whether you planned to be one or it was handed to you by default, you need to be deliberate about training your children, particularly, if you want to raise Godly ones.
  • A parent needs to practise what they preach because children imitate them. You have more influence on your child with your actions than your words.
  • You need to love your children just as God loves us, therefore, if you do not know how the love of God manifests, how would you show that to your children? This is the reason a parent must be in Christ first in order to raise children for Him.

How to Raise Children for Christ can be downloaded for free here.