Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Gone Case by Dave Chua and Koh Hong Teng


I first heard about Gone Case either through a friend, or perhaps reading about it online in an article, I can't remember. What I do remember is that when I saw it at Kinokuniya, I thought it might be a good read, so I bought it.

As far as graphic novels go, this isn't the prettiest of them. But underneath the ordinary characters lie a poignant story about a boy about to sit for his PSLE, how his life played out between his playful friend, his grandmother, and his parents.

Set in the HDB heartlands, this is a read that will probably resonate with many Singaporeans.

The black and white illustrations and accompanying plot were so plain I stopped reading after a couple of pages when I first started.

However, when one ploughs on, we discover a story that tugs at your heartstrings, probably because it could have been a story that is easily one's own.

I liked the part when the main character was made prefect, his actions would have been my own had I been made a prefect when I was younger.

I must say although I didn't take to the book in the beginning, I began to appreciate Koh's drawings as I continued through the book. He has managed to capture Singapore pretty accurately, in both the good and (sometimes) ugly sides of it.

I think this would be a graphic novel that would be an interesting read for most Singaporeans, and would also offer a glimpse of local life for foreigners.

Pick up your copy today!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

When Changing Nothing Changes Everything by Laurie Polich Short



Here's an excerpt:

"I remember the morning well. It was a few months after I had moved to Santa Barbara, California, and the pastor I was working for invited me to give the sermon at my church. People were still getting to know me, so I decided to start by sharing a typical scene from my life. Here's how I began:

I got up this morning in my apartment, and I was all alone. I have no husband, so there are no kids. The owner recently put a "For Sale" sign in the front yard, so I probably won't be able to stay in my place much longer. The rent will go up, and I'll have to find something else. Dating at my age is not easy, because everyone you meet has baggage. It's just a matter of choosing what luggage you can live with. Whether it's a divorce, shared kids, or the reasons that accompany prolonged singleness, it's been impossible to find anyone I am interested in. I love it here, but working at a church is one of the hardest jobs a single person can have. You feel your singleness everywhere you go.

I paused, and an awkward silence fell across the crowd. Noticing the pastor staring at me with a look of wonderment (not the good kind), I took a deep breath and started again:

I got up this morning and I had the whole place to myself. It was quiet, and I could do whatever I wanted. The "For Sale" sign is still in front of my place, so I'll be able to live there another month. If it sells, there's a chance I might find something even better. Dating is much easier at my age because you know yourself more. You are better equipped to make a good choice. You also have a lot more grace for the people you date because you realize that circumstances make life complicated. And my job? Working at a church is such a gift! What a blessing to have an extended family in the place where you work when there isn't one at home.

I should have stopped my sermon right there. Because this was the only part of the talk people remembered. It's been ten years since I gave that illustration, and there are still some people who remember it."

As you might have noticed from the above excerpt, this is an excellent book that teaches the reader how to reframe various situations in one's life.

The book is arranged in 4 different sections as follows:

Lens 1: The Big View

Lens 2: The Present View

Lens 3: The Rear View

Lens 4: The Higher View

In the first part of the book, the reader learns how to see things with a bigger picture in mind. Small, inconsequential actions made by us today may have a tremendous impact in the future. We read about the stories of different individuals where this has proven to be true.

Next, we learn about how to be in the present and enjoy the moment we are in. This may seem trite to some people, but the author manages to mould this section in such as way that is earnest and heartwarming.

Then, we look to the past to learn how it affects us presently.

Finally, we realise that God often views things differently from us. There is purpose for any pain we might currently be experiencing now and knowing this helps us cope with it.

These different parts of a book provided a clear picture of the various lenses we should put on when attempting to reframe parts of our lives.

Apart from the fact that it was slightly confusing to learn that she was single (in the beginning of the book), to being engaged (in the middle), and then having it fail, and then eventually getting married (in the middle and at the end), it was a good book with clear examples and vivid anecdotes.

All in all, I would say this is an easy and informative read that would be useful to anyone needing a paradigm shift. Get your book from IVP today!





Disclaimer: The publisher provided a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sex & Money by Paul David Tripp


I've always been interested in reading more about the topic of sex in a Christian setting which faithful readers of this blog might have noticed in previous reviews of "Same Sex Attraction and the Church", "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ", "Meet Mr. Smith", "Sex Difference in Christian Theology", "Counterfeit Gods" just to name a few.

But this one takes the cake.

By popular speaker Paul David Tripp, this book discusses the topic of sex and money from a Christian perspective.

Unlike other books that take a prescriptive approach on how to handle sex, doling out advice such as being accountable and having boundaries and all, this book takes a bigger picture view on the topic.

We learn how, strange as it may seem, sex is ultimately about worship, and that pleasure is God-glorifying. I can already see some of you shaking your heads in disbelief, but hey come on, just give it a chance. Here's a tiny extract:

"God's creative intention was to bring glory to himself by the pleasure that he created. Each pleasurable thing was perfectly created and designed to reflect and point to the greater glory of the one who created it. These things were designed not only to be pleasure inducing but also for a deeply spiritual purpose. They were meant to remind you of him. They were meant to amaze you not just with their existence but with the wisdom, power, and glory of the one who made them. They were put on earth to be one of God's means of getting your attention and capturing your heart.


You see, you will never understand pleasure if you think that it is an end in itself. Pleasure is pleasurable, and you should never feel guilty that you have enjoyed its pleasure or that you want more. This is all according to God's design. But you and I must understand that pleasure has a purpose beyond the momentary enjoyment it will give us. Pleasure exists as a sign of the existence of one in whose arms I will enjoy the only pleasure that can satisfy and give rest to my heart. Pleasure exists to put God in my face and remind me that I was made by him and for him. Pleasure, like every other created thing was designed to put God at the center, not just of my physical joy but also of the deepest thoughts and motives of my heart. Pleasure exists to stimulate worship, not of the thing but of the one who created the thing. The glory of every form of pleasure is meant to point me to the glory of God.

The pleasure of sex is meant to remind me of the glory of my intimate union with Christ that only grace could produce. The pleasure of food is meant to motivate me to seek the heart-satisfying sustenance of the bread and wine that is Christ. The pleasure of all things beautiful is designed to cause me to gaze upon the Lord, who is perfect in beauty in every way. The pleasure of sound is meant to cause me to listen to the sounds of the one whose every utterance is a thing of beauty. The pleasure of touch was created to remind me of the glory of the one whose touch alone has the power to comfort, heal, and transform. The pleasure of human affection is meant to induce me to celebrate the glory of God's eternal, underserved, self-sacrificing love. The pleasure of rest is meant to draw my heart toward the one who in his life, death, and resurrection purchased for me an eternal sabbath of rest. 

Pleasure doesn't detract from God's glory. It doesn't necessarily deaden your heart. Rather, it is one of God's means of reminding you of the satisfying glories that can only be found in him. Pleasure in Eden and now, like every other created thing, was created to lead you and me to worship."

In the later part of the book the author dwells on the topic of money and how it has become an all-consuming passion for many people today, including Christians.

He then offers advice on how, as Christians, we might approach money with eternity in mind. After all, we won't take any of it when we go.

This book reads like how the writer preaches, in a sensible, easy-to-read style. However, the content can be slightly dense at times, which prompted me to reread several pages as I journeyed my way through the book.

All in all, I would say this book is the best of its kind, on par with Timothy Keller's "Counterfeit Gods".

I'd recommend all Christians to read it to develop a broader perspective on the topics of sex and money.