In The Bride(zilla) of Christ, Ted Kluck and Ronnie Martin hope to encourage those who have either wounded others or have been wounded by others in the church community to not give up on the bride of Christ. The authors begin the book by sharing their own experiences of hurt and pain providing readers with a very intimate look at the extensive impact of hurtful words and actions in a variety of different settings. Although church is the last place we would expect to be hurt, it happens much more often than we realize. The reason is that even though we are redeemed through Christ, the sinful nature within us still wages war against us daily. In the second half of the book, Kluck and Martin move on to discuss how Christians are to approach this difficult issue with repentance, forgiveness, and love. The authors point out that we often expect others to be holy when we ourselves are still fairly immature in our own pursuit of holiness. Furthermore, it is precisely within the church that God has placed us to progress in greater holiness. As those who have experienced forgiveness and grace, we should be quick to dispense forgiveness as we have also been forgiven much in Christ. Because of this shared identity and future hope, we must work together to preserve the unity of the church instead of insisting on getting our own way. Thus, the authors urge readers to take the initiative in asking and giving forgiveness whenever there has been dispute or disagreement instead of waiting for the other party to begin the process of reconciliation. In the last section, we are reminded that true unity and harmony will only occur when we are joined together once again in eternity with Christ. We should not distance ourselves from the body of Christ but understand that Christ is continually transforming the church to become His holy and perfect bride. Readers will find the book’s content engaging although the writing style and tone is sometimes disorienting as some chapters are split between the voices of both authors. However, I applaud both authors for being fairly forthcoming in sharing their own stories of hurt. The advice and counsel presented may be difficult to practice but the unity of the church is at stake and we have the duty to preserve it.
I would recommend this book to all Christians as we all have undoubtedly either experienced or dispensed hurt to our brothers and sisters in Christ. One section in the book that left a deep impression was the discussion on mending relationships that have been broken. The authors admit that there are situations in which the other party may withhold forgiveness temporarily or perhaps not forgive at all due to the intensity of the pain and hurt experienced. In such cases, we should ensure that we have first repented to God who is always willing to forgive and restore us. While we cannot force the other party to forgive, we can pray for the offended individual to eventually one day experience the grace to forgive through the power of the Holy Spirit. The aftermath of our sinful actions often have long-lasting repercussions but we know that we are accepted in Christ and look forward to the day where He will restore all things. May we always be reminded of the forgiveness and love that we have experienced in Christ as we strive to exhibit the same to those around us.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from The Crown Publishing Group in exchange for a book review.
“Many things that were concealed during the Old Testament period
have now been revealed in the light of Christ’s appearing. Some
things will remain partially hidden from our eyes until the consummation.
Nevertheless, the consistent and plain message of the gospel
runs throughout every page of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation.
The Bible’s message of the gospel repeatedly points the saints
of all ages and generations back to the sufferings of Christ and the
glories that will follow.”
Ian Duguid in Seeing Christ in All of Scripture
In Snuggle Time Psalms, Glenys Nellist and Cee Biscoe bring children and parents on a journey through the Psalms in a fun and engaging way. The thirty page book introduces fifteen different Psalms with topics ranging from finding safety under the wings of God to locating blessings in God’s nature. In doing so, young children get a generous sample of the riches found in the Psalms. The author selects a few verses from each psalm and writes a short poem that helps children relate to the core message of those few verses. For example, in the Psalm 23 chapter, the first few verses are highlighted and an illustration of sheep lying on the field depicts how we can find safety and security in having God as the good Shepherd. The words in the poem are simple enough for 1-3 year olds to enjoy while the pictures are vivid and colourful.
I would be happy to recommend this book to young children especially as parents begin to establish a bedtime routine with them. The Psalms have always been central to the Christian life and the variety of themes will allow children to have early exposure to the beauty and magnificence of our Creator. Moreover, having children grow accustomed to hearing and reading the Psalms at an early age will greatly aid their spiritual growth.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a book review.
In Conscience, Andrew Naselli and J.D. Crowley hope to help readers gain a better grasp of conscience and its effects on life, church, and missions. The authors assert that conscience is God’s gift to discern what we ought or ought not to do in the midst of the decisions we need to make every day. However, our conscience is not fixed and can shift for better or worse. For Christians, our conscience is no longer our own but should be subject to the lordship of Christ. Thus, Christians need to actively calibrate their conscience to align with God’s commands while also leaving room for disagreement on disputable matters. In the book, the authors helpfully suggest different ranking systems to help differentiate whether issues should be considered disputable or non-disputable. However, I think the authors could have expanded more on this topic as there is much discernment involved in making the correct assessment. As the authors noted, all Christians should be able to agree on core doctrines such as the Trinity and the Incarnation. However, when we encounter matters such as gender roles and baptism that are more difficult to categorize, how should Christians approach these issues?
Assuming though that we can properly assess the issue at stake, the authors provide more advice on how we should exercise our conscience. Firstly, if our conscience stops us from doing something, we are wise to take heed and not deviate from it. However, as we dig into God’s Word and listen to the Spirit’s promptings, we may find that some issues we used to hold dear seem trivial while other issues that were non-controversial are now matters of much importance. The book also touches on our interactions with others at church whose conscience may not align with ours. When this occurs, we need to exercise our freedom or restraint on an issue in relation to the opposite party’s faith. The authors point out that in dealing with disputable issues, the bottom line is that we are to glorify God while subverting our own preferences to those of our brothers and sisters. In the context of missions, the authors also provide guidance on how missionaries should aim to learn more about the culture of the people groups they are serving in order to discern whether differences in both party’s consciences are cultural or doctrinal.
I would recommend this book to all Christians as the topic of conscience is one that is hardly mentioned even in scholarly circles. An improper understanding of conscience has plagued the Christian church ever since its beginnings creating great schisms and disunity in the body of Christ. In the past few years, I have learned to be more aware of instances where I should stop and gauge whether the issue at hand is a matter of doctrine or preference. In this book, the authors have succinctly summarized the critical points in exercising the Christian conscience which is based on the three foundations of love, freedom, and gospel. When we truly love those around us, we are willing to give up any freedom or restriction on a disputable issue for the sake of the gospel and church unity. May we all learn to use the precious conscience God has given us to glorify Him and build His church.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.