This Month's Book Reviews


Kevin DeYoung



Ken Shigematsu


Crazy Busy is a short but penetrating insight into the causes of busyness. Kevin DeYoung’s amusing exposé of what really makes busy people tick is so true and poignant that the conviction hurts. His honest reflections on his own busyness quickly made me identify with him. DeYoung’s analysis covers the many manifestations of pride, our sense of obligation to others, how our priorities drift, the worry and hassle of parenting and the subtle time sink of technology. The end of the book explains well the importance of rhythms of rest and keeping connected to Jesus in the basic spiritual disciplines, but for me the real power of Crazy Busy is the analysis. 

If Crazy Busy gives us the killer diagnosis and points the way, God in my Everything prescribes a comprehensive cure for busyness.

Rarely have I read such a wise and holistic book, written by a man who has clearly walked his talk. Ken Shigematsu is a Japanese businessman turned Canadian pastor who travelled to Ireland and rediscovered the ancient practice of developing a ‘rule of life’. Instead of getting trapped by the legalism of rules, he developed a strong, yet flexible framework of habits and practices that help busy people enjoy God in everyday life. 

Shigematsu likens our lives to a plant ? strongly rooted in the disciplines of Sabbath, word and prayer ? growing up a trellis with crossbars of relationships, restoring ourselves and reaching out to others. The trellis becomes a personalised framework of habits and practices that not only protect us from busyness, but also enable us to be present with God in all of life. Offering practical examples of people who applied this teaching, he invites us to build our own ‘rule of life’. An excellent contribution to Christian living in today’s world. JL


Charlotte Gambill

Thomas Nelson

At first glance this might appear to be yet another book claiming to have the answer to toning up our flabby Christian lives. But it turns out that the author is not making any extravagant promises. Charlotte Gambill simply challenges us to have confidence that the God who created the world and has brought change into many hopeless situations can do the same for us. She tackles some of the excuses we use and the obstacles that can stand in our way, and encourages us to look beyond them.

The book is saved from being just spiritualised common sense by the way Gambill grounds her message in scripture and illustrates her points with analogies from her own life and experience. Her personal stories are homely and practical which makes them very accessible; her story of accidentally driving down a canal tow path is particularly memorable. It is also moving to read about the beginnings of her church’s ministry in Belfast.

I found it a straightforward and enjoyable message with the potential to inspire and motivate people to put aside their fears and limitations and do great things in Jesus’ name. CN


Phil Ryken


Phil Ryken is a Presbyterian theologian from Wheaton College in Illinois; this book is based on a collection of sermons he gave at the college chapel, having perceived a lack of teaching on the second coming of Christ. The subtitle of his slim volume hints at a study in eschatology, but after some opening pages debunking the ‘nonsense’ of the more extreme versions of end times theology, Ryken devotes the rest of his book to examining what the prayers ‘Thy kingdom come’ or ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ mean for our daily lives as Christians. As Ryken puts it succinctly, ‘The problem with saying that Jesus will come again next October is not that he probably won’t come that month after all, but that we should expect his return much sooner!’

Ryken makes an interesting point that Christians often say they are advancing or building the kingdom of God. He notes that this is a theological error; the kingdom already exists, sovereignly created by God. Our challenge as believers is to pray for and proclaim the kingdom, and to resist the rival false kingdoms of success, stuff, sex and self. With a good theologian’s understanding of the biblical context, and an insightful deconstruction of the parable of the talents, Ryken’s book is an excellent summary of the hope that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. JM


Richard Scott

Wilberforce Publications 

Media reports of legal challenges against Christians for publicly expressing their faith seem increasingly common. GP Richard Scott is one example, having been reprimanded at a professional misconduct tribunal for talking to a patient about his faith. Here he tells his story, and a dozen others, highlighting the possible disciplinary or legal consequences of a visible or verbal expression of faith in the UK today.

Scott adds more background to widely reported stories and reveals the stress and financial burden for defendants. He considers how disproportionate the sanctions can be, given the nature of the alleged offence.

Scott presents each case entirely from the accused’s point of view; we don’t know whether a more nuanced picture might emerge if both sides to each story were presented. The book ends with some analysis, albeit rather brief, of the current challenge all Christians face resulting from changes in the law and in the public mood. JL 


Rod Garner


Wisdom, writes Rod Garner, is both one of our most valued aspirations and one of our most elusive. This is a beautifully written commentary on the concept of wisdom, in which Garner first discusses the presentation of wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes, then in the prologue of John and the writings of St Paul. He goes on to consider its presence in the world around us and how we may encounter it through music, the emotions and through silence. 

It is not a ‘how to’ guide for anything, but rather a series of reflections on a central theme. The subtitle ‘Growing in Discernment and Love’ may be a description of the journey the author undertook; indeed there are lots of personal stories as well as references to films, individuals and examples from other religions. But although it is thought-provoking and gentle, I did not feel it helped me in the day-to-day application of this elusive spiritual gift. CN

REVIEWERS: RUTH GARNER ? writer and blogger; KRISH KANDIAH ? executive director, churches in mission, the Evangelical Alliance; JOHN LAMBERT ? vicar of All Saints’ Preston-on-Tees and St Mary’s Long Newton; JEREMY MOODEY ? CEO, Embrace the Middle East; CAROLINE NEWBOLD ? chaplain of Lady Margaret School, Parson’s Green and associate minister at St Stephen’s Church Ealing; JOHN PANTRY ? head of music, Premier Christian Radio; ANDY PECK ? tutor at CWR and author