Monthly Archives: May 2011


Ron’s #16: Hudson Taylor by J. Hudson Taylor

This autobiography has special significance for me, as Hudson Taylor is the namesake of our son, Hudson Coia. We like that our son is named after the man who impacted China with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by becoming one of the Chinese, adopting the language, cultures, and practices.  Taylor follows the Apostle Paul at Mars Hill, and our prayer is that our Hudson will have a passion, love, and longing for a people group in this world.

Read this short book, and your faith in the God of all peoples will increase.



Ally’s #8: “Redemption Accomplished & Applied” by John Murray

Here’s a truncated version of the book review I turned in for my theology class:

Looks can be deceiving, and upon first glance, I would not have anticipated such breadth and depth to reside within the cover of John Murray’s petite text, Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Admittedly, I also did not expect that Murray would be able to carry on a discussion of redemption that was so consistently profitable, systematic, and concise. As I pressed on into this text, I was delighted and challenged by Murray’s presentation, motivated to draw ever closer to the treasures of the atonement described therein.

Murray has a knack for knowing when to switch gears in order to be better understood, and he rather effortlessly flows between academic language and writing that is more accessible to the average reader. It was a comfort to know that whenever I saw phrases like “in other words,” I was about to receive clarification on a rather heavy point the author did not want me to miss. That is one of the beauties of this text. Murray genuinely desires to get through to his audience, as the eternal weight of the subject matter demands it.

While other books on doctrine and theology can be somewhat convoluted and thick enough to use as an end table, Murray allows readers to gaze into his own meditations in a format that is neither daunting nor drab. His immediate goal is to impart knowledge and understanding so that gaps might be filled and what is out of joint might be corrected; his ultimate goal is that God would be glorified as joy and marvel in Christ’s redemptive accomplishment abounds.

The book is divided into two distinct parts, which lends to Murray’s sense of organization and linear thought. Part one addresses four aspects of Christ’s redemptive accomplishment—its necessity, its nature, its perfection, and its extent—while part two addresses the application of redemption in the life of the believer. In general, each chapter launches into a series of questions. Murray then seeks to respond to those questions through Scripture analysis in a very sequential and progressive fashion. Often times, these answers expose additional questions, which Murray also addresses with great detail and attention.

So what does a reader walk away with after investing time and thought into this book? Certainly more than can be portrayed or deliberated in this review! In his preface, Murray explains that his goal in writing this book is to bring facets of the truth of Christ’s redemptive accomplishment into clearer focus. I would say enthusiastically that Mr. Murray has achieved his goal. Though I will have to read this book a few more times before I will fully be able to wrap my head and heart around all that is explained, the author’s meticulous efforts have helped clarify a great deal relating to the atonement and its application in my life.

The doctrines and biblical truths set forth in Murray’s book incite awe, celebration, and humility. Part I lays the foundation for such a response, then Part II serves as icing on the cake as it informs the reader of the initial, continuous, and future activity of the Godhead in the life of the believer. In Hebrews chapter 10, the author discusses the full assurance of faith for the redeemed. I sense that my assurance has increased over the course of this semester. I believe the Holy Spirit has used this text to open my eyes to the intricacies of the truth to which I am holding fast, thus making my grip more firm and empowering me to wield that truth more accurately as I live out the gospel message.


Mark’s #24 – Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell

Malcom Gladwell set out to answer the question, “Why do some people really succeed, while others don’t?”  In particular, why do the best of the best succeed? For example, in this book, what was it about Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, The Beattles, professional hockey players, top lawyers like Joe Flam, and Asian students who excel in math?

As Americans, we love the “pulled up from their own bootstraps” “rags to riches” success stories.  Parents often tell their kids, “you can be anything you want to be when you grow up.”  But is that true?  Is it all just a matter of hard work and perseverance, or are their other factors in play?  Is it just natural talent?  Is that what made Mozart – Mozart?

In this book, Gladwell argues (convincingly) that there are other factors.  To be sure, extremely hard work and intelligence are necessary conditions for the successful (sorry, no shortcuts to success), but there almost always is one very key element to a person’s meteoric rise to the top; opportunity.

Opportunity is the reason Bill Gates became the richest man in the world.  Two key factors for Bill: First, he was born in 1955 – which turns out to be the exact right time to be born to be a pioneer in the world of computers (by the way Steve Jobs was also born in 1955).  Second, as a teenager, when access to a computer terminal was very limited and very expensive, Bill Gates was given the opportunity to have unhindered access to just such a computer at the nearby University of Washington.

Opportunity is what set the Beatles up for their unprecedented success. They were given the opportunity as a young band to play for eight hours a day, every day in the clubs of Hamburg Germany. After about 10,000 hours (the number of hours one needs to become an expert in any field – including Bill Gates time as a teenager on a computer), when the band returned to play in England, they were much better when they left, and much better than anyone else at the time.

Those are just two brief insights and examples from this book.  In Part two of the book, Gladwell goes on to demonstrate just how profoundly our heritage and the legacies we inherit shape us in both positive and negative ways.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book to read.  I also have a renewed gratitude for all of the opportunities I have been given.



JRF’s #16 – The Cambridge Seven by John Pollock

This true story recounts one of the key moments in modern missions history, when God seized the hearts of 7 Cambridge students, all very different from each other, and compelled them to give up their all to join Hudson Taylor in bringing the Gospel to the lost of China.

The book focuses on how God beautifully worked and weaved these men’s lives together in a way that not only brought the Good News of Jesus Christ to hundreds in China, but also awakened thousands of Western Christians to embrace the long neglected command of their Lord to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Although at times difficult to follow due to the stilted writing style and many names to keep track of, this book was a thrilling and encouraging read.  It was thrilling because the hand of God is so clearly seen as He responded to the prayers of His children, from a missionary professor in China to an old widow in a poor English cottage and countless others, so that at the right time and the right place the right men would respond to His call.  It was encouraging because the author was not shy about conveying not only these men’s victories but also their failures.  In particular, Stanley Smith, the foundational member of the Cambridge Seven, was a man of great ebb and flow in his spiritual growth.

As my wife and I move towards pursuing missions in Indonesia, the story of the Cambridge Seven will be a clear reminder of the power and necessity of prayer and the truth that, “God does not deal with you until you are wholly given up to Him, and then He will tell you what He would have you do.”

“…the very content of the word ‘sacrifice’ seemed reversed: and each man wondered whether he could afford the cost, not of utter devotion and worldly loss but of compromise and the loss of spiritual power and joy.  Nothing less than the experience of these two men was worth having.”

- the reflection of an undergraduate who had heard Stanley Smith and C.T. Studd speak of their surrender to God’s call


Ron’s #15: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

When I told people that I was currently reading a book on the start of, the response was always the same: “Why?” I’m not exactly sure what interested me in this book, but I found it in the thrift store, and I was eager to read it. Aside from theology, my favorite topic to read is the history and evolution of the computer industry. Reading a book on how an online shoe store became a powerhouse retailer seemed to be perfect.

This book is part autobiography of Tony Hsieh and part how-to-be-a-leader book (a genre that I usually try to avoid). I enjoyed reading the start of young Tony with his entrepreneurial endeavors and accidental encounters that led him to Nick Swinmurn, the owner of a business called, which then transformed into what we now know as Tony’s dedication to Zappos (even when business logic told him it is a losing proposition) was inspiring. It made me want to buy shoes at Zappos.

Before you readers get too inspired and leave this review to buy the new Nike Frees, I want to give what annoyed me most about this book: Tony Hsieh himself. He is an arrogant, condescending, and strange man. He is smarter and richer than you, and he makes sure you know this. He loves to refer to his friends as his “tribe” (so annoying), and tells of the epiphany he has in a rave. (Tony makes it clear that he liked raves before they were popular). Somehow, that trippy experience inspired him to provide excellent customer service.

Hsieh pontificates how amazing the Zappos culture is, and, frankly, I don’t care. While I appreciate good customer service, let’s keep in mind that they are selling shoes, not running the United Nations.

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