My Read of the Month:

Title: A Gift from a Friend
Author: Merry Riana
Published: 2006
Genre: Entrepreneurship/Self-improvement
Ratings: 3.0 out of 5 stars

Merry Riana is a 30-year old Indonesian entrepreneur, best-selling author and motivational speaker residing in Singapore.

At the age of 26 years old, 4 years after her graduation, Merry became a millionaire through her financial services business. And has since clinched countless awards and accolades.

In her book, Merry shares with readers her entrepreneurial journey and how it all begun. But more than just a rags-to-riches story to impress, this book provokes one to live beyond the widely-accepted and usual route of living a life of a 9-to-5 employee.

Merry weaves in a couple of key principles she practises that has produced success for her and shares them to her readers.

For instance, she encourages readers to pursue a dream or goal in the name of love. For her, she did it in order to give her family a better life. And her stand on integrity and exercising gratitude in life.

She also explains on the power of association which states how we become like those we spend the most time with. And she encourages her readers to have as many friends as possible but to choose their peers carefully. For our key associations have great influence over our lives.  

Overall, her book is easy-to-read and down-to-earth which inspires and challenges one to consider living life more dangerously in order to achieve personal goals and financial freedom.

But as easy-to-read as it is, the lessons of this book might be easily forgotten due to its presentation of contents which borders on being messy. Nonetheless, this book is for everyone and makes a good introduction to the journey of entrepreneurship!

Who should read it: For aspiring entrepreneurs.


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My Read of the Month:

Title:  That None Should Perish
Author:
Ed Silvoso
Published: 1994
Genre: Prayer Evangelism/Spiritual Leadership
Ratings: 3.7 out of 5 stars

There are two evangelists that I highly esteem, one is Reinhard Bonkke and the other is of course, Ed Silvoso.

In this book, Silvoso doesn’t present a set of formula or steps to win a city. What he does present are key principles and a biblical framework for any church or leader. This is good as it prevent prayer evangelism to be seen as a programme or job description as a Christian.

Not wanting churches and leaders to merely see prayer evangelism as part of church growth, Silvoso dedicates a large chunk at the beginning of his book in highlighting the need for unity of the Body of Christ among local congregations of a city.

He explains that unity is imperative for any city to be truly transformed. Reading this part did make me realise how much we as believers (including myself) in Singapore fall drastically short in this area. 

Clearly, there’s a real need for a unified platform for local churches and their members to gather in one collective and concerted effort.

Some might argue that there are events staged on a national level. But my take is that there isn’t really one where something really happens. Almost all events have no real sustaining impact to our unity or city. It seems to serve us believers more in creating a false reality that we’re one Body so that we feel less guilty. 

Therefore, I find Silvoso’s book both timeless and prophetic; a deafening war cry for the Church to rise up and beat in rhythm with the heart beat of God of intercession. And to put aside petty differences for the fulfilling of the bigger picture of the Great Commission as we approach the latter days.

Who should read it: For church leaders and missionaries.

My Read of the Month:

Title: Entrepreneurial Faith: Launching Bold Initiatives to Expand God’s Kingdom
Author:
Walt Kallestad & Kirbyjon Caldwell with Paul Sorensen
Published: 2007
Genre: Business/Entrepreneurship/Leadership
Ratings: 3.7 out of 5 stars

Caldwell and Kallestad bring considerable credibility to this subject of entrepreneurial faith with their personal experiences and achievements in birthing businesses outside their churches to serve their communities.

Both authors agree that today’s role of the Church has become too narrowly defined and lived out that churches have lost touch with their communities.

According to them, most churches merely focus on organisational maintenance that is targeted at meeting the needs of their congregation. But none or little is prioritised to those people outside the church.

With the objective to transcend the status quo in ministry and to encourage kingdom-minded entrepreneurship, this book serves as an excellent manual for budding entrepreneurs who see themselves as missionaries or “tent-makers” in their community.  

To them, true entrepreneurs are change agents that are not primarily in pursuit of money, but using his or her skills and expertise and knowledge and passion to make life better for others.

These group of people embody what they defined as entrepreneurial faith, one that launches the love and power of God out from the four walls of the church; taking the gospel out of the church and to the people.

Albeit this book covers a good range of topics and provides practical advice on being an entrepreneur, but it does not present any new revelation about entrepreneurship or faith. More theological depth for support would be an improvement to this book.

Who should read it: For budding social entrepreneurs and church leaders. 

My Read of the Month:

Title: Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life
Author: Donald J. Trump and Bill Zanker
Published: 2007
Genre: Business/Leadership
Ratings: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Donald Trump is arguably one of the most recognised businessmen in the world. His extremely successful career as Chairman and CEO of the Trump Organization has made him a highly sought after speaker for many who are hungry to emulate his success.

In this book, Trump not only reveals some of his personal key principles and business philosophy, he also reveals his larger-than-life personality. And he is definitely kick ass!

Trump’s first advise to those who want to be financially successful is to find one’s passion. He explains that if you love what you do, you’re going to work harder, you’re going try harder, you’re going to be better at it, and you’re going to enjoy your life more.

He encourages his readers to find a mission or purpose that go beyond monetary rewards that they can be passionate about. If they find their passion in doing something useful for people, the money will follow.

Another one of his advises is to adopt the traits of all highly successful individuals- thinking big. Displaying a big-thinking attitude stems from self-belief in his/her ability and worth. According to Trump, that kind of attitude is more important than one’s IQ as how big a person thinks determines how big a success he/she will become.

Though I do appreciate Trump’s no-nonsense leadership style, but I do not admire some of his traits as a successful businessman. However, he is incredibly open about them. He shares much of his ‘juicy’ personal life and experiences  in this book.

For instance, Trump readily admits that it is mostly his fault that led to his two failed marriages. He is now married to his third wife. On his ex-wives, he said, “I just know it’s very hard for them (Ivana and Marla) to compete because I do love what I do. I really love it.”

Like him or not, you got to give him credit for where he is today for his persistence in achieving his dreams. Through this book, I now have a newfound respect for this man.

Who should read it: For those who want to learn how to get rich in the business world.

My Read of the Month:

Title: ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future
Author: Iain Carson and Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran
Published: 2007
Genre: Economics/Politics/Environmental/Business
Ratings: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Did you know that the world consumes about 80-90 million barrels (per barrel = 100–200 litres) of oil each day? And the United States accounts for a quarter of that?

In fact, the US consumes more oil than South America, Europe and Africa combine. Clearly, this nation has quite a fixation on oil.

Interestingly, this book reveals a consequential meeting that took place towards the end of the World War II which would change the course of world history as we know today.

In 1945, Franklin Roosevelt, then US President made a pact with King Ibn Saud, father of Saudi Arabia, home to the biggest oil reserves of oil on the planet, then and now.

That historical pact between the two leaders was the US’ guaranteed access to Saudi Arabia’s vast quantities of oil and in return, Roosevelt promised full military support to the king and his clan.

In the decades since, the impact of that alliance has given rise of the Oil Curse that has plagued our world economy. Think gulf war and the Iraqi invasion by the US and you get the parts of that big picture.

As they say, “Study the past to understand the present in order to peek into the future”. And that’s what this investigative book does as it traces the emergence oil and cars that explains the forces of geopolitics and economics we can observe today.

I like that this book aims to be objective and presents both perspectives of those for oil and those against. This makes it a credible read with its avoidance of being bias or over-selling the opinions of the authors.

The only shortcoming of this book is that it is primarily addressed to Americans. Not that it is any fault of the authors since our economic and environmental woes we faced today are linked to this powerhouse nation, the US. But presenting this as a global challenge for everyone would be the next better approach.

Who should read it:For those interested in world politics or who wish to better understand our environmental challenge in tackling the world’s addiction to oil.

My Read of the Month:

Title: Keys to Financial Excellence
Author: Phil Pringle
Published: 2003
Genre: Financial stewardship/Self-improvement
Ratings: 3.7 out of 5 stars

The subject of prosperity is a sensitive one even though it is largely accepted that there is no lack whatsoever to the abundance that God has for us as His children.

Understanding that the stakes are high for the Church not to prosper, Phil Pringle attempts to provide a complete and balanced view on the biblical aspect of financial excellence; where we should not feel that it is wrong to prosper.

I liked that he addressed the perception that giving alone is all there is to prospering in life. And the idea that if people simply give, they will automatically receive abundance is faulty.

He inserts that working faithfully and diligently is essential too. According to him, our work and our desire to work ought to be motivated not by money, but by faith, hope and love. Hence, having the right attitude and motivation paves the way for abundance to be released upon our lives.

There’s quite a comprehensive portion of this book dedicated on principles of tithing which I believe would be very helpful for those who question the validity of such a practice as a New Testament Church.

For me, I concur with the author that tithing is an absolute responsibility as a believer. It is giving that reflects our faith- who our God is and who we follow and trust.

Overall this is an easy-to- read book for such a heavy and controversial topic. And one must applaud Phil’s boldness for even considering writing such a book which would have unleash the wrath of Christian detractors that are against prosperity teachings.

Who should read it: For all Christians, to better understand about biblical finances and to break free from a poverty mind-set.

My Read of the Month:

Title: Changing Church: How God Is Leading His Church Into the Future
Author: C. Peter Wagner
Published: 2004
Genre: Church Growth/Spiritual Leadership
Ratings: 4.6 out of 5 stars

 

There’s no denying that God is doing a new thing in His Church in this 21st century. But what exactly is He doing? This is what this book attempts to uncover.

Peter Wagner, of whom I had the privileged to watch preached, does a fantastic job in succinctly presenting the changing trends of the Church. I really wish someone had recommended me this book earlier before.

According to Wagner, we are now in an era termed the Second Apostolic Age. This describes the age of the 21st century in which the Holy Spirit is strongly speaking to the churches of our generation to initiate a paradigm shift from being church-centred to being kingdom-centred.

In other words, the concept of the Kingdom of God has begun to expand significantly. And this has led to a radical shift in understanding  what being the Church means and as God destined.

For instance, he explains that “no longer is it adequate to suppose that our ultimate task here on Earth is the growth of the Church. Church growth remains crucial, but the Kingdom goes beyond that”.

In the old wineskin as he coins, the Church emphasizes on evangelism and church planting as activities central to the mission. But with the new wineskin, territorial domination with quantifiable terms is not the main goal. The goal then, is service to God which translates to nothing less than the transformation of society.

Another reason why this book is a pleasure to read in spite of it being written in a scholarly manner is because Wagner shares his personal experiences and opinions. This provides not only credibility but a good depth into this subject.

As mentioned, I wish I had read this book earlier with its insights that would have served me well to make sense of my past situation. Nonetheless, reading it now has affirmed and confirmed the revelations and deductions I received.

This is a must-read for every Christian as Wagner covers a number of compelling arguments such as the corporate spirit of religion and religious covenant. With better understanding where we are and where we’re heading, would serve us well to evaluate our values and priorities towards aligning with God and His Kingdom.

Who should read it: For Christians especially church leaders or pastors, that are hungry for God and His will for the Church.