Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Primal Fire by Neil Cole

            I had heard Neil Cole's name mentioned a few times in reference to church planters and church planting movements, but I had not read any of his writings prior to acquiring a copy of his latest release "Primal Fire". So, I was very interested to read it and learn about him when I was offered a copy for free from thhe book review program for bloggers, available at This book evoked a variety of responses from me. I'll explain what I mean below.
            Neil Cole is the founder of Church Multiplication Associates and is a seasoned church planter, author and leader. Primal Fire is a discussion of the five gifts of Jesus, given to the church, that are found in Ephesians 4:11. At first, when reading, I was not understanding his viewpoints, much of which challenges the traditional Biblical models of church. At that point, I would have rated it 2 out of 5 stars. But, I kept reading...
            After the opening few chapters where we rediscover these gifts of Jesus, he then begins with a 'reinterpretation' of each individual gift - Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. And this is the section where I found myself agreeing with strongly. So I moved my rating up to a 3 out 5 stars. But, I kept reading...
            In the final section of the book, he gives a fresh look at reimagining the gifts in practice. And I found this a good way of combining all of the teachings into a coherent synopsis with vivid illustrations, that allow the reader a different perspective on how these gifts can (and sometimes do) function today.
            This was not a book to bash the church or to say that everything is wrong, though I thought at first that it might be. It is a way to evaluate in the light of scripture whether or not  we see the five ministry gifts being appropriated today as Jesus intended. If you don't believe that all five of these gifts are valid for today, or that the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 are valid for today, then you won't like this book. But if you want to be challenged to think through what you believe and why you believe it, then Primal Fire may open your eyes to a realm of new possibilities. By the time I finished reading, I gave it 4 stars out of 5. And I hope to see more books from Neil Cole in the future.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

    I have been wanting to blog about this book almost since I started reading it. I have very little time to read, and have to usually squeeze it in. But, it was very hard to put this book down. This is one of the best books I have read in probably a year and I would recommend it to anyone who likes biographies, wants to learn more about Islam, wants to understand how to better communicate with Muslims or who just wants to sharpen their ability in knowing what they believe and why they believe it. I can't say enough about it. I received this book for free from the book review program for bloggers available at and no one required me to write a positive review.
        Nabeel Qureshi was raised in a devout Muslim home, having family roots in Pakistan. His father was in the Navy and they travelled around the world. But, when they landed in Virginia, the tale of his life took quite a turn when befriending a college classmate named David. Nabeel weaves the tale of his life, from childhood to conversion, with all of the potholes, roadblocks, detours, accidents and upheavals that he had to face along the way to becoming a believer in Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah. Today, he serves on the staff of Ravi Zacharias Ministries. Though a true story, it almost read like first person fiction, not because it is hard to believe, but because it captured my attention and made me hunger for more details.    
        Among the other things that I liked about this book was the understanding of Christian beliefs that he recognized and was able to counter as a Muslim. I took an entire semester class on Islam in college from a credible professor, but never understood that many Muslims have apologetics and actually do understand much of Christian scripture. Many, like Nabeel, are taught to counter these Christian beliefs even from a young age. I also appreciated the details of the journey he undertook in countering the main objections he had to Christianity and how they were individually dismantled over time. I learned a lot about being patient as others are investigating the Christian faith.
        And finally, I was humbled and touched with compassion for the people he was willing to lose in order to embrace the truth. I pray for Nabeel and his family that they will one day be completely reconciled under the banner of Jesus the Son of God and not just their family relationship. All in all, this was a great book and I hope that you will read it, grow from it and be more encouraged to patiently learn to present Jesus Christ to others so they too can know Him as Lord,

And Now For Something Completely Different by Matthew Martin

             When I received a copy of "And Now For Something Completely Different" free as part of the book review program for bloggers at, I knew nothing about the author,
Matthew Martin. And in some ways, I'm very glad that I didn't know anything about him. I was, then, able to objectively examine his book "And Now For Something Completely Different" without any preconceived notions and simply delve into the contents. I am glad I had that chance, as it was a decent book.    
             Since you may also not know much about author Matthew Martin, a little information may be helpful. Matthew is a graduate of the Memphis School of preaching and serves as the preacher for the brethren in Guy, Arkansas. His book, "And Now For Something Completely Different" is actually a verse by verse commentary on the book of Hebrews from the New Testament. The title is derived mainly because, unlike most Bible Commentaries, the book does not focus on the notes of other commentators, uses very little scripture from other Bible passages and simply quotes the verse and explains it in context. By those criteria, it is definitely different from other Bible Commentaries.
             What I liked about the book was it's simplicity in presenting the material. Each verse from Hebrews is in bold type to set it apart from the commentary portion. It does not use tremendously long, theological terms. And it offers easy to understand explanations. As with any commentary, I couldn't help but notice the author's theological slant at times, but nothing overtly blatant. I also would like to have seen the text in it's entirety at the start of each chapter, before diving into the individual verses and their explanations. But, this is just a commentary, so there are no literary thrills to keep you captivated.
             All in all it was a good read, if you are more study minded. Some may find verse by verse Bible exposition to be uninviting, while others will probably be tankful that such a simple book explains the scriptures thoroughly. Whichever is your preference, I hope that you hunger to learn the Word of God, and this might just be a good place to start.  If you desire, you may purchase this book at