Truth or Territory- A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare By Jim Osman (Book Review)

Spiritual warfare is often a hot topic in the church today. This book addresses two views on spiritual warfare: Truth (Scripture) or Territory (beyond Scripture), hence the title. Deliverance ministries are all the rage these days. With the latest strategies, methodologies, and revelations, non-discerning people are sure to be swept off their feet. Yet these preachers say “thus saith the Lord” to come off as legit. If you attempting to challenge or refute the message, you are labeled a religious spirit or heretic (how ironic). Not this book! This addresses spiritual warfare as a “battle for truth”.

What I enjoyed about the book is how it stays true to God’s Word. True spiritual warfare focuses on Christ; not trying to talk to Satan or his demons as deliverance ministries would tell you. Additionally, many proof texts in the spiritual warfare movement are refuted with its biblical context. What I would like to see is how demon possession is dealt in real life, not involving deliverance ministries. The solution is preaching the Gospel of course, but I have yet to see that with my own two eyes. What if you are walking down the street and someone who is demon possessed approaches you? What are you going to do? What if nothing works? Nevertheless, spiritual warfare is a hot topic that is a battle for the truth. Not only does this book succeed in defining it but also offering thorough explanations. It is worth reading and re-reading. I give this book a solid 5 stars.

There’s a playlist on Youtube in which Jim Osman and Justian Peters discuss more on the book. Check it out!

Notable Quotes

“Spiritual warfare is the most widely misunderstood subject in modern evangelicalism. When most Christians hear or read the words “spiritual warfare,” they envision some sort of mystical hand-to-hand combat that is waged with demons by certain types of prayers, mantras, incantations, or practices such as binding Satan, praying a hedge of thorns, exorcisms, or rebuking demons in an attempt to take territory from Satan and claim it for Christ.”

“We are at war over truth! Spiritual warfare is a truth war. We fight lies by advancing truth. When truth advances, God is glorified and the forces of darkness suffer defeat.”

“The gospel and the Word of God are the means of waging true spiritual warfare. Once we understand that true spiritual warfare is a war over the truth, then we are left with little doubt as to the identity of our weapon. It is the gospel of truth contained in the Word of Truth.”

“Ironically, while the modern church seems preoccupied with battling demons, it has developed complete apathy toward the truth. The modern church’s reckless disregard for truth has handicapped its ability to wage real spiritual warfare. The church has laid aside its one God-given weapon in favor of fleshly man-made weapons which can never tear down the mental fortresses in which men are held captive.”

 

 

 

God, Greed and (Prosperity Gospel): How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies by Costi Hinn

Costi Hinn’s book takes us through his spiritual journey from his upbringing in the prosperity gospel, to his desire in serving alongside his uncle Benny Hinn- one of the biggest names in the Word of Faith/prosperity gospel.  Discussed in the book is Costi’s gradual concerns of his family’s theological beliefs to his conversion, including exposure to sound doctrine and pursuit of pastoral calling.

The book separated twofold: autobiography and doctrine, providing easy comprehension to non scholarly believers. It is not just a study of the prosperity gospel but a personal story of one coming out of its deceptive grasps. Moreover, its about someone whose uncle is one of the most well known names in the movement. But by God’s grace, Costi’s eyes were opened to that with contradicts Scripture. Yet these preachers proof text their theology, claiming that it’s “divine revelation” from the Lord. However, such claims are debunked with a proper study of the Bible in context.

Furthermore, the book features a biblical understanding of health and wealth to promote healthy discussions with loved ones still in the movement. Costi Hinn has done a tremendous testimony in which many more in the movement will  open their eyes and leave, by God’s grace. So  that is you, please get this book to learn in-depth and answer any questions you have. It is one worth reading over and over again. I know, because I couldn’t put it down! In an age where false teaching is the norm, the demand of exposing it’s deceit is greater than ever. May there be a revival of sound preaching of The Word of God in the church today!

Notable in-book quotes

“By an early age, as a part of the Hinn family, I viewed Jesus Christ as our magic genie—rub him right, and he’ll give you whatever your heart desires. I quoted verses from the Bible like Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart,” and John 14:14, where Jesus says, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” The meaning of these Scriptures was so obvious to me: believe in Jesus Christ, ask for things by saying, “In Jesus’ name,” and you’ll have whatever you want. Seriously—that simple. Not difficult to understand. Besides, it sure seemed to be working for us!”

“What are we? Pastors? Celebrities? Both? It just didn’t add up. I was beginning to think that there was a difference between being well known for faithful ministry and behaving like this. Shouldn’t money be a tool for doing more ministry? I’m sure it’s okay for a pastor to own a home and be paid an adequate salary to care for his family, but tens of millions of dollars are going into our houses, cars, jewelry, hotels, and shopping. Could the critics be at least just a little bit right?”

“The sovereignty of God matters to Christianity, and we could go as far as to say that it is un-Christian to deny the sovereignty of God. The prosperity gospel certainly denies the sovereignty of God to the extent that it demeans God to the position of a puppet and elevates man to the position of a puppet master who makes confessional demands by faith. It does this by considering faith as a force and God as the one who must respond to our faith. This is a heretical twisting of true faith.”

“When we get the sovereignty of God wrong, we get God wrong. When we get the abundant life wrong, we get Jesus wrong. When we get faith and confession wrong, we get salvation wrong. Why is that a huge deal? Because all roads that the prosperity gospel paves lead to hell.”

“I’ve got good news for you: the abundant life is about the security of your soul for eternity. The abundant life is not a comfortable seventy years, courtesy of the prosperity gospel and leading to infinite suffering in hell if you don’t follow the biblical Christ as your Savior.”

“Without Jesus, heaven would be hell. All the health and wealth this world can offer can never compare to the vast riches of abiding with the Son of God for all eternity. Jesus is everything. The prosperity gospel makes human satisfaction to be material and Jesus to be the cherry on top. If it makes Jesus a central focus, it’s that he is the main avenue to getting what you want. This version of Jesus is a shell of who he really is. The prosperity gospel promises people the abundant life that Jesus offers only to deliver a gospel with no Jesus at all.”

The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson(Book review)

 

Ah shame, what a tough subject to discuss as it is tough to deal with it! Ever since the Fall, humanity has been marred by shame. It is a shadow that never ceases to follow you around and consume you. Not only does it distort your well-being but how you live life as well. You always feel like you are damaged goods, never good enough, and just never measuring up. God is seen a mean entity who cannot ever bear to look at you because you find yourself so sinful. That is merely a snapshot of how shame affects us. That is what Curt Thompson attempts to get at in this book and he does it well.

Shame is described and defined as you would expect. But one thing that Thomspson takes into account is the neurological effect on shame as a he is a psychiatrist with a neurological background. Thus adding an further in depth analysis on shame impact. For instance, shame affects our brain. The more we act out in shame, the more it is reinforced in our brain leading to a stasis in us. Moreover, shame distorts our walk with God, looking all the way back to the Fall and plenty of stories shared from people with shameful experiences. The remedy? vulnerability. First, seeing it in God who made Himself vulnerable in creating us to share in this world and also through Christ coming to die for our sins so that we would be reconciled to God the Father. As we live between now and the final consummation, the church must likewise grow in vulnerability with one another as it practices the same love and grace God bestows on us. Although shame is a life-long struggle, thankfully it will be forever gone in heaven as we will live on shameless, living fully in the very glory of God. So do yourself a favor and please check out this book. It will minister to you. It is always refreshing to see books that observe what is usually seen as psychological issues yet comes from a Christian foundation. Honestly, it is something we need more of.

 

Highlights

“When shame appears, especially in malignant forms, we are often driven to a felt sense of stasis. Our mind feels incapable of thinking. We may feel literally physically frozen in place when experiencing extreme humiliation, and if we are able to move, we feel like going somewhere we can hide and remain hidden without returning to engage others. We don’t necessarily experience this with minor insults, but there is no question that our ability to move creatively in our mind is slowed. This general idea that shame leads the world ultimately to a point of paralysis, vis-à-vis the movement that is required for creative engagement, will become more important when we explore the nature of God’s movement and its necessity for shame’s healing.”

“Attention is the engine of the mind’s train that pulls along the rest of the functional cars. Ultimately we become what we pay attention to, and the options available to us at any time are myriad, the most important of which being located within us. Paul, in his letter to the Romans knows this, stating flatly, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6). To have one’s mind set on something is essentially about paying attention. What do I pay attention to? Paul says that what we pay attention to doubles back and governs us. Hence our attention is deeply associated with either death or life.”

“Remember, attention is the key to the engine that pulls the train of our mind; shame’s first priority is distraction.”

“Judgment strengthens shame’s grinding attempt at isolation. In order for me to judge someone, I must create enough distance between us in order to analyze him or her. With that judgment the distance grows. And with enough distance comes isolation.”

Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Erswine (book review)

Charles Spurgeon is one of my favorite preachers and writers. He was definitely God’s gift to his  generation. Fortunately, his sermons and books can still be checked out today. They are well worth checking out as they are rich in biblical truth. As impactful as he is, he is still a mere man who struggled with depression. So when I heard how this book discusses that in detail, I knew I had to read it! That being said, here’s my thoughts.

What I enjoyed about “Spurgeon’s Sorrows” is that displays Spurgeon in a different light. Yes, he is highly regarded as a tremendous preacher but here, he is shown more sympathetic manner. This book makes it distinctly evident that he struggled with depression, especially in ministry. Great detail is given in Spurgeon’s depression and how he brought it up in his sermons because he knew that there were hurting church members. As church leaders, it is important to learn to suffer along with depressed congregants who usually feel intimated to share with them. Sadly,  many leader’s have erred in handling it appropriately by just telling them to snap out of it. Yet it does more harm than good. But Spurgeon’s vulnerability allowed people to see that they are not alone in their struggle and that is key for pastors to do, to become wounded with the wounded.

In closing, I enjoyed this book. It is not a “how to” book, rather it discusses the experience of someone who’s been there, a man of God no less. Moreover, we have a Savior who knows and relates to our pain. Yet He is also our hope. So please read this book, and read it alongside with someone. It is meant to be shared.  As dark as depression may be, you are not alone. And there there is light, The Light, at the end of the tunnel.

Notable quotes (Spurgeon quotes included)

“The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.” -Charles Spurgeon

“It is Christ and not the absence of depression that saves us. So, we declare this truth. Our sense of God’s absence does not mean that He is so. Though our bodily gloom allows us no feeling of His tender touch, He holds on to us still. Our feelings of Him do not save us. He does. Our hope therefore, does not reside in our ability to preserve a good mood but in His ability to bear us up.”

” In contrast to those who would tell you to get stronger and plead your strengths with God,Charles counters and tells us the opposite: “Let your weakness plead with God through Jesus Christ.”

“No matter how deep you fall, grace goes deeper still. “What was under Elijah when he fell down in that fainting fit under the juniper tree? Why, underneath were the everlasting arms.” No matter how far you fall in your depression, “the eternal arms shall be lower than you are.” -Charles Spurgeon

Christ’s Call to Reform the Church by John MacArthur (Book Review)

Repentance is not often touched upon in churches today, yet we are called to do so.  Discussed in this book are the 7 churches of Revelation, Christ’s indictment of them, followed by the end result. What can be appreciated in this book is the relevancy of biblical principles that still apply today! Each church is a case all on it’s own and Jesus deals with them all. That should speak volumes to churches today. Wherever they are at, Christ holds them accountable. It is His church, after all. It is His bride in which He will come back for and judgment begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

The historical detail in the book is well appreciated as brings these churches to life. It showed that these churches were indeed places in history and how each church operated in its surrounding society. That should also speak volumes as it should make us question: are we being salt & light in our location?  Scripture also plays a big part here as a crucial element to the church. A church that does not live by the word of God is susceptible to corruption.

In closing, I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a sober reminder to the church. It is in dire need of reformation. That of course is not easy as many have deviated away from God’s Word, settling for outside sources instead. This book is also to the complacent Christian whom like the church Ephesus, lost their first love. Yet God shows mercy and calls us to run back to Him. It is time for a renewed commitment to Christ. It is time to reform the church. Don’t delay!

Notable Quotes

“This climatic reality of the church: God redeems sinners to build His church and uses their transformed lives to reflect the majesty of His glory, whereby He draws more sinners to Himself. That awesome, blazing glory of the Lord shines through the church, illuminating a lost and dark world.”

“Fading love for Christ the forerunner of spiritual apathy.”

“Consider this: for Christians there is no such thing as meaningless suffering. The Lord is always refining us, always sharpening us for the building His church”

“If there is any hope for a new reformation and revival today, it is that the church will submit to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, that it will faithfully proclaim the message of justification by grace alone through faith alone, that God’s people will devote themselves to glorifying Him in all things, and that they hold fast to the gospel of Jesus Christ in loving devotion to their Savior”.

 

Book Review: People skills for Christians by Tony Munson

Face it. We all need people skills. Be in in the house, work, school, anywhere where people are involved. As the body of Christ, we are to grow in our people skills in loving one another. That includes edification, conflict resolution, fellowship, most importantly:pointing to Christ. Therefore, such skills must be developed.

The book is split into 2 sections: one is more informational on people skills while the latter is more practical. What I enjoyed about the book is its emphasis on people skills. As a skill, it must be practiced and developed so it would grow overtime. Whether it’s on first impressions, cultivating small talk, or in spending time with one another. People skills is an essential aspect of our growth as individuals, as a church, and as society overall. For our people skills affect our interactions with people. So the better the skills, the better the impact one makes on one another!

What I could not agree with the book are some of its theological points. For instance, speaking “life and death” are created by your words. I don’t know if the author is word of faith but that’s typical lingo. And of course, it is not biblical. Not to disregard the usage of words but it is not used in that context, only God can speak into existence. Nevertheless, there are some valuable tips that can be utilized for proper people skills.

Notable quotes

“This means that regardless of your intelligence, the majority of your success lies in your ability to effectively manage yourself and those around you.”

“Think about all of the interactions we have with people. Each of these interactions is an opportunity to sow a seed into their lives.”

“In order to be successful with people over the long haul, we’re going to have to learn how to love them. We don’t have to love all of the things they do, but we do need to love them for who they are: one-of-a-kind beings created by God for a purpose. Each and every person is an absolute masterpiece. We are the apex of the known universe! We are told (in Luke 12: 7, NKJV) that “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” God loves people so much that He even knows how many hairs are on their heads! God is all about loving people—He’s the ultimate people person.”

Book Review: Why Everything Matters- The Gospel in Ecclesiastes by Philip G. Ryken

Why Everything Matters: The Gospel in Ecclesiastes by [Ryken, Phil]

The book of Ecclesiastes is one of my personal favorite books in the Bible. I can remember reading it for the first time and relating to the constant cry of “vanity” in seeking out the things in life apart from God. This book addresses Ecclesiastes on the perplexing matters of life-why does everything feel meaningless? Is God in control of the seasons and times? What’s the point of one’s toil and pursuit of wisdom if you’re ultimately going to die? Philip Ryken makes a sobering point in which Ecclesiastes shows we will not have all of the answers in this lifetime:

“Ecclesiastes is not the kind of book that we keep reading until we reach the end and get the answer, like a mystery. Instead, it is a book in which we keep struggling with the problems of life and, as we struggle, we learn to trust God with the questions even when we do not have all the answers. This is how the whole Christian life works: it is not just about what we get at the end, but also about the people we become along the way. Discipleship is a journey, not just a destination.”

It is a journey indeed that ultimately finds it’s end in God. Furthermore, don’t expect a running commentary in reading this book because it is not intended to be one. It addresses how Christ plays into the prominent themes such as seeking wisdom, pleasure, enjoyment in one’s toil, justice for the oppressed, and suffering in this lifetime. Thus allowing one to read Ecclesiastes from a Gospel centered perspective. In the reading of this book, I found myself loving Ecclesiastes that much more as it reflects the restless inquiry of humanity that only be found in Christ who “satiates the soul”, otherwise it will always be a “striving after wind”. In Christ, one no longer just lives “under the sun” but under the Son. And Ryken does a great job in putting that on display in this book.

So do yourself a favor, quit chasing wind and read this book. You don’t want to miss this!

Highlights

“This book helps us ask the biggest and hardest questions that people still have today—questions that lie at the heart of life in a fallen world: What is the meaning of life? Why is there so much suffering and injustice? Does God even care? Is life really worth living?”

“How is that for a philosophy of history—humanity on a hamster wheel?” (referring to the seemingly endless cycle of everyday life)

“To see things ‘under the sun’ is to look at them from the ground level, taking an earthly point of view and leaving God out of the picture.”

“Remember this whenever you get frustrated, sad, angry or disappointed with everything in life that is getting broken, falling apart, and going wrong. Remember this when you feel overwhelmed and are tempted to wonder why you should even bother—with your work, with a relationship, with your faith. You were made for a new and better world. The very fact that you are weary of this life is pointing you to Jesus as the only One who can satisfy your soul.”