Free Lectures: Credo Courses

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For this week, Credo Courses is offering free audio downloads of their courses; you can check it out here.

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Free Audiobook: Reading the Bible Supernaturally

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For the month of July, Christian Audio is offering a free download of John Piper’s Reading the Bible Supernaturally; you can access it here.

“The Bible reveals glorious things. And yet we often miss its power because we read it the same way we read any other book. In Reading the Bible Supernaturally, best-selling author John Piper teaches us how to read the Bible in light of its divine author. In doing so, he highlights the Bible’s unique ability to reveal God to humanity in a way that informs our minds, transforms our hearts, and ignites our love. Ultimately, Piper shows us that in the seemingly ordinary act of reading the Bible, something supernatural happens: we encounter the living God. ”

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Free eBook: Not Yet Married

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Desiring God is offering Marshall Segal’s Not Yet Married for free download this weekend; you can get it here.

Learn to live and date for more than marriage.

Many of you grew up assuming that marriage would meet all of your needs and unlock God’s purposes for you. But God has far more planned for you than your future marriage. Not Yet Married is not about waiting quietly in the corner of the world for God to bring you “the one,” but about inspiring you to live and date for more now.

If you follow Jesus, the search for a spouse is no longer a pursuit of perfection, but a mutually flawed pursuit of him. He will likely write a love story for you different than the one you would have written for yourself, but that’s because he loves you and knows how to write a better story. Trust him, and he will help you find real hope, happiness, and purpose in your not-yet-married life.”

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Free eBook: The Masculine Mandate

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Ligonier Ministries is offering a free download of Richard Phillip’s The Masculine Mandate; you can access it here.


In this book, Richard D. Phillips cuts through the cultural confusion, highlights God’s mandate for men, and encourages readers to join him on a journey of repentance and renewal. Phillips begins in the Garden of Eden, drawing foundational teaching for men from the earliest chapters of God’s Word. This is teaching that reaches into all of life. Christian men today need to examine their hearts and embrace their God-given mandate. Only then will they be able to recognize their high calling, and by God’s grace, serve faithfully in whatever context God has placed them.”

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Free eBook: Newton on the Christian Life

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Crossway is offering a free download of Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke in exchange for a survey; you can access it here.

“John Newton is best known as the slave trader turned hymn writer who penned the most popular English hymn in history: “Amazing Grace.” However, many Christians are less familiar with the decades he spent in relative obscurity, laboring as a “spiritual doctor” while pastoring small parishes in England. In the latest addition to Crossway’s growing Theologians on the Christian Life series, Tony Reinke introduces modern readers to Newton’s pastoral wisdom by leading them through the many sermons, hymns, and—most importantly—letters that he wrote over the course of his life. Considered by many to be one of the greatest letter writers of all time, Newton has valuable insights to offer modern Christians, especially when it comes to fusing together sound doctrine, lived experience, and godly practice.”

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Book Review – When I Don’t Desire God (Brian Yuen)

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Book Review:

When I Don’t Desire God

by John Piper

(1) Summary

This book written by John Piper is meant to be a follow-up to one of his previous books, Desiring God. Piper wrote this book is to respond to those who basically agree with what Piper was trying to say about Christian Hedonism, but also didn’t feel that genuine joy in following Christ. This is the reality of all Christians living in this world: we are so mired with our own sin that we fail to see the joy God wants us to have. Fortunately, we don’t have to be burdened with forging godly joy all by ourselves, because God is the one who gives it to us, as a privilege. However, we ourselves also need to wield the Word of God and prayer as a light in order to find our way through the darkness of sin, in order for this joy to reach us. Overtime, we hope to fully accept this notion of joy, where we don’t need to rely on worldly possessions as a crutch for joy, but in God Himself. In fact, we are called to die to the world, and live in Christ, as Phil. 1:21 says: “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The journey to God is not an easy one: it will be a fight, but a good fight. God commands us to be alongside Him on this winning side, and He is glorified when we are all satisfied in Him alone. God also wants us to experience Him rather than just thinking about Him, by actively desiring and delight in Him with our fullest emotions. Joy is not something that can simply be forged by following a checklist, as real joy tends to be spontaneous. However, to experience that spontaneous joy with God, we need discipline. Like in farming, God uses discipline as part of the process for us to reap the rewards of spontaneous joy (p.116). Thus, further in this book, it basically takes all the concepts of the last book Desiring God and puts them to practical use, in real-life scenarios. It lists of practical reasons to be reading the bible, to pray multiple times daily, and to use the world itself as a means to experience God’s gift to His creation.

(2) Interaction – What I liked (or didn’t like)

What I liked:

The second half of the book is probably what engaged me more, since it aims to improve what we already know and enhance our fight for joy, in practical ways. The subjects are of Bible Reading, Prayer, and the World. In terms of Bible Reading, the book came with several tips to read and memorize the bible, as well as a way to schedule how to do so, in small methodical steps, borrowed from Andrew Davis’s method. Piper emphasizes memorization because having verses on hand would be able to “solve a thousand problems before they happen”, “heal a thousand wounds after they happen”, and “kill a thousand sins in the moment of temptation” (p. 123). For Prayer, the IOUS method of prayer is especially helpful, since it is the central point of the book. Often, we don’t even know what we are praying for, and just blurt out the first thing that comes to our mind. The 4 steps are Incline, Open, Unite, Satisfy. Sometimes, the hardest part is always the first step, and in this case it is to be inclined to even start the prayer and listen to what God has to say to us in the first place. The World itself can also be used for our fight for joy as well, even when sometimes it may not seem like it. Piper mentions a lot of interesting philosophical concepts, such as joy in Christ not being identical with physical brain waves, but having an existence above material reality. For example, C. S. Lewis talks about listening to piano music, where different spiritual emotions can play on a same piano key. (p.179- 180) The last chapter is the one that brings the grand fight for joy back to reality. It deals with depression, that sometimes medicine is needed to alleviate pain, but it mentions that in order to eventually get out of it, we need to involve other people too. Also in the chapter, it reminds us that at the end of the day, serving God at 50% is still better than not serving at all, but we should still continue working towards
100%. So overall, the chapter serves as a nice encouragement to end the book off.

What I didn’t like:

Piper seems to be a very experienced reader, and he might make reading, especially the harder books, look a bit too easy. It’s one thing to read at a consistent speed as he recommends, but it is another thing to comprehend everything, especially spiritual concepts that are more abstract and often up to interpretation by the reader himself.
In the same vein as reading advanced material, memorizing entire bible books is definitely a huge step up for newer readers, especially those who don’t have the time to do so. Piper also seems to have a bias against the newer, younger writers of doctrinal books, and deeply favours the older doctrinal books from past generations and centuries. He seems to be of the opinion that most devotional books that the younger generation are enjoying are simply “feel-good” reads with  less substance. I think the method in which people get their supplemental material of God from doesn’t matter, as long as they are able to apply it in their daily lives. There are too many books in the world, and not enough time to read all of them, so indulge in what works for you, as long as you experience God at the end.

As a personal recommendation, it would be more helpful to list key verses all Christians should memorize, to help assist readers in getting his point across. The average person is not a scholar, and he will not be able to memorize a book, much less even a chapter, effortlessly.

(3) Would you recommend it or not, and to who?

Would recommend to:

This book is for people who understand the concept behind books like Desiring God and now want more practical ways to apply this knowledge. This would imply relatively advanced knowledge of the Bible and experience in reading Christian books. This would probably be more suited for people who have a bit more time on their hands to ponder
about life and improve their spirituality, perhaps for those who may be facing a mid-life crisis, or are stay-at-home parents with kids. For people who are very busy, the best thing you can really do is spend a couple of minutes every day after work to read parts of a chapter, as it could take a week to fully digest one chapter.

Would not recommend to:

Like in Desiring God, this book would be tough on people who are new to the faith, as it will come with a couple of higher expectations of the reader. In a certain chapter, there is more of a focus of persuading the reader to pick up even heavier material from authors of past centuries. If the same reader already has trouble picking up concepts from books of this era, it will probably be a stretch to recommend books of probably greater difficulty. Again, it could be a difficult read if you are tired or not in the mood. This time, I think Piper organized the material a bit better for less experienced readers. However, it is impossible to remember everything in one go, you will need to go back and review many concepts because he usually comes up with long lists.

Book Reviewer: Brian Yuen

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Free eBook: Habits of Grace

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For this weekend only, Desiring God is offering a free download of David Mathis’s Habits of Grace; you can access it here.

Hear his voice. Have his ear. Belong to his body.

Three seemingly unremarkable principles shape and strengthen the Christian life: listening to God’s voice, speaking to him in prayer, and joining together with his people as the church.

Though seemingly normal and routine, the everyday “habits of grace” we cultivate give us access to these God-designed channels through which his love and power flow — including the greatest joy of all: knowing and enjoying Jesus.”

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Book Review – Desiring God (Brian Yuen)

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Book Review:

Desiring God – Meditations of a Christian Hedonist

by John Piper

(1) Summary

This book written by John Piper is meant to be an encouragement for us Christians to glorify God, by enjoying the lives he made for us.  In other words, he is promoting a philosophy called Christian Hedonism.  It is human nature for everyone have feelings of happiness, just as God created us to have.  Thus, Piper encourages us not to shut out these feelings, but instead to continue to cultivate them with lasting resources.  These resources are meant to be the small but important every activities that we do to please God, instead of the worldly possessions and beliefs that are used to simply please the flesh.

Whenever we come to point where we are filled of joy from God, we end up sharing it with others in forms of love, which is elaborated in perhaps the most important chapter, “Love: the Labor of Christian Hedonism”.  Love is described as “the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others” (pg. 119).  This is where enjoyment in Christian Hedonism is experienced at its fullest, and witnessed by other people.

On the other hand, this book also aims to speak to those who are following God begrudgingly, to try to spark a “fire” under them.  If we are forsaking our own pleasure when we are carrying out our lives, we are also forsaking God, and we are doing everything without love for him and for other people.  Thus, there is nothing wrong with experiencing happiness and pleasure when we glorify God.

John Piper also connects several aspects of daily life to this belief of Christian Hedonism, such as reading scripture, saying prayer, spending money, and maintaining a marriage.  His stance on these subjects oppose the popular worldly view of them, such as on marriage, where Piper describes it primarily as a relationship where one man shares the love of God in another person, and not just a form of leadership or submission between two people.

Failure to consider God in all things of life, while also not enjoying it, is a form of disobedience to God.  In other words, a Christian who lives a happy life will be living a life of obedience to God.  There are many pleasures in this life that generate happiness in a short time.  However, as Christian Hedonists are supposed to think, we need to deny ourselves of these lesser goods for a greater good by following God.  In the short term, it’s a sacrifice, but as God will let us know in the long run, we will be saying “I never made a sacrifice” , as quoted by David Livingstone in the “Missions” Chapter (pg. 243).  Instead, it will be our pleasure.


(2) Interaction – What I liked (or didn’t like)

What I liked:

The chapters and subsections are well categorized, with different sections for a variety of topics.  There is also an index at the back of the book for all the subjects in alphabetical order, in case you feel in the mood for a particular topic to dwell on.

Sometimes I find myself getting more engaged in the quotes of different people he mentions (e.g. David Livingstone in “Missions”), and the touching anecdotes (Sergei Kourdakov and his experience with Natasha in “Suffering”).  These are serve to enhance the already heavy material Piper is explaining at great length.

The Missionaries section was interesting, and I didn’t expect to spend as much time on it as I did, as Missions is rarely one of the things I think about doing in the near future.   It is interesting to see John Piper’s perspective combined with some actual numerical data and background about “People Groups” and the “10-40 Window.”  I also realized that we can all be missionaries in our own little communities.  In the end, it’s our motivations and intentions that drive us to do so.

The Epilogue was a good way to tie everything together.  It also offered some differing opinions presumably from other people on the concept of Christian Hedonism. Without being too antagonistic and giving everyone a fair turn at bat, Piper was able to refute these viewpoints with good content, which also serve to strengthen his argument with different perspectives.  A good point he mentions is in “Reason Five: Christian Hedonism Combats Pride and Self Pity”, where boasting is the “voice of pride of the… strong” while self-pity is the “voice of pride of the… weak” (p. 302).  I can definitely relate to both, though more on the self-pity side where sometimes it becomes a form of false humility.

Overall, there is just so much content to unpack if you are enthusiastic about it, and it is definitely better to spread out the read, especially when you are in a good mood to do so.  I honestly do appreciate his time and effort is proving how serving God shouldn’t be all about “work”, but also should not be just mindless, fleeting fun either.

What I didn’t like:

The book is admittedly a long read, and it can take a while to get to the point sometimes, as again, it is really packed with content.  I personally struggled with some chapters more than others, especially with Ch. 4: Love.  For example, it might be more difficult to picture more abstract concepts like “the overflow of joy in God” in everyday life.

It was written in 1986, and I would appreciate a more comprehensive rewrite to accommodate younger readers (especially millennials) in this generation and their current social problems (I read the 2003 version).

In Page 300 of the Epilogue, Piper writes “I am often asked what a Christian should do if the cheerfulness of obedience is not there”.  Piper sort of glances over this question briefly and offers a quick answer, then refers the reader to appendix 4 for “more practical counsel on fighting for joy”.  This section “How Then Shall We Fight for Joy” is much shorter, since he just gives pointers but not full explanations.  He mentions future plans to turn this part into a small book, but I feel he can expand on this a bit more for this particular book instead, since I feel a section like this could help “Desiring God” appeal to millennials and new believers.

A big part of Piper message is that he tells us to “be joyful”.  It is something that doesn’t always come naturally for some people, as one cannot flip a switch to simply “be joyful”.  Piper probably didn’t intend for this book as a “quick-fix”, but rather a book for people to mull over for a while, as “joy” takes a while to cultivate.  If that is the case, maybe he can be a little less heavy-handed in telling people this, especially for a subject like finding joy in serving God.  Let the readers have the freedom to naturally feel out this joy that God wants them to feel.

I would also appreciate more examples from Piper’s own life (not that there weren’t, but have it more balanced out against the C.S. Lewis quotes etc), as it make the book to be more personable, especially on something like Christian Hedonism and joy.


(3) Would you recommend it or not, and to who?

Would recommend to:

Very well-read people used to reading higher level Christian books (or looking for a more challenging read) and have at least semi-solid theology (or are used to the writing style of knowledgeable theologians like John Piper).

Older (or more mature) people who have been serving for a while and have perhaps lost touch on what it means to serve God, either though pride or self pity.

Would not recommend to:

People new to the faith, as it might be a difficult read for millennials (who don’t read as much nowadays unfortunately.)  Not the easiest book to start out with in terms of Christian books; would first recommend books targeted towards millennials, that deal with their specific issues.

Definitely a hard read if you are tired, it’s not the kind of book where you can find a quick “pick-me-up” to feel better, because you really have to dig for those “nuggets” in this book.  You would probably need to spend a lot of time re-reading chapters and pondering over a lot of the concepts, in order to cultivate the specific feeling of joy and pleasure Piper wants you to feel.

Book Reviewer: Brian Yuen

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新書介紹: 逆道 – 路加福音品讀



耶穌來,光照這原本黑暗的世界。 光,源自那讓世界不安的火。刺眼的火光,熾熱那權勢操弄、人們昏睡的世界,為了呼喚世界悔改,辨識創造主才是真正的歷史主宰。顛覆的道,喚醒那手下沉、腿發酸、視野模糊的跟從者,瞥見主的恩情、憧憬和心意。 悔改是生命道途上一百八十度的轉向,顛覆是逆轉上下倒置。這世界、這一代的教會,必須再一次聆聽、相信、跟從耶穌和他的教導。 逆道,是以為名。……這書是為「提阿非羅」——渴慕神的人而寫。如果讀者在讀這書及其引發的默觀的過程中重新相信、瞥見神依然在我們中間工作,從而整頓人生,這是最大的回饋。 這書為基督的跟從者而寫。如果讀者在讀這書及其引發的默觀過程中重拾跟從的腳步,忠心地服侍恩主所關愛的社群,這是大的獎賞。 是的,如果讀者在讀這書及其引伸的默觀中看見自己和身處的社會…… “(摘自本書自序)



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