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The Bible

It may sound crazy to some of you, but it makes perfect sense to me.

Why would I read the Bible?

Isn’t it simply an out-of-date book with no relevance for today?

Isn’t it a book written by sexist men who want to subjugate women?

Isn’t it simply a book of rules?

Isn’t it filled with contradictions?

Don’t only superstitious, old-fashioned people believe the Bible?

I’m going to answer those questions from last to first.

There are many highly educated people who believe the Scriptures are divinely inspired, people with more letters after their name than in their name.

I won’t deny there are many hard-to-understand, seemingly contradictory passages in the Bible, but I believe that should make for more diligent study, not disregard.

The Word of God overflows with promise after promise. And yes, there are rules, but they are written for our good. Understanding and insight come from a study of all 66 books, not just picking out bits and pieces here and there.

If people took the time to understand the culture of Jesus’ day and came to realize just how radical his dealings with women were, their minds would be put to rest. Those who observed his actions would be amazed.

The Bible deals with topics that are every bit as relevant as they were thousands of years ago. Funny, the human condition boils down to the same things generation after generation.

While I can never convince you the Bible is the divinely-inspired Word of God, it boils down to faith. If you are willing to prayerfully open its pages and read it diligently, you will be amazed. (Even if you’re an atheist or an agnostic, there’s no harm in praying, “God, if you’re real and if this is your Word, please make yourself known to me.”)

Happy Thanksgiving from Canada

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Our Witchdoctors are Too Weak

A book about grammar, syntax, and an unwritten language. A book about missionaries in a far away jungle.

Now, before you shake your head and say, “That’s not for me,” let me tell you why this book is now one of my favourites.

Friend Number One loaned OWATW to Friend Number Two. She began to read it and immediately thought of me. (Why reading a book with a chapter titled “The Interoggation of a Suffix” makes you think of your friend the writer and editor, I can’t imagine.)

I had several books on the go, not to mention a To Do list that went on and on and on. However, when Deb dropped the book off that afternoon, I decided to take a peek. What a great decision!

From the first page, the author is all the things I admire most – not just in an author, but in a human being. Honest. Transparent. Real.

A fellow writer and I were talking yesterday. We agree that good writing is good writing no matter what the subject. On one hand, I’m willing to excuse mediocre writing if I really care about the characters. On the other, I’m willing to read a book in practically any genre if the writing carries me away. And then there are the rare and delightful finds, books with characters that draw me in and stories that transport me to another place. This is one of those books.

I’m a visual learner, and the Janks paint a vivid picture. It’s as if I’m sitting in my living room with them, watching a home movie of their adventures and hearing them tell me all about their lives among the Wilo people. Relationships are what life is all about, and I feel as if I’ve made two new friends.

With candor and humour, Davey and Marie Jank demystify what it means to reach out with love and truth. Maybe, just maybe, if they can do it, I can too.

Radical Together

If you haven’t read my review of David Platt’s Radical, I invite you to do so: https://bookrevu.wordpress.com/page/2/

In my review I called it “the second most influential book I’ve ever read.” I consider it next only to the Bible. If you haven’t read Radical, I highly recommend it.

As with Radical, Radical Together is one of the hardest easy-reads I’ve ever picked up. It challenges churches – and individuals – to openly and honestly examine not only our theology, but our methodology. Do we go about making disciples and caring for widows and orphans as we are commanded? Do our programs do so in the most effective way possible?

According to the Book of James, “faith without works is dead.” Platt warns against Andys and Ashleys. Andys believe if they claim to believe in Jesus, it’s irrelevant how they live their lives. Ashleys feel if they do enough good works they can earn their salvation. Of course, neither is a biblical view of Christianity. We must show our faith by living out scripture’s commands.

Platt does not try to guilt anyone into living sacrificially, but he does challenge readers to live radically. To effectively make an impact on the world, we must do so in community. That community is most often our local church.

In many ways, this book would be most effective if read and implemented by leaders in the church, but they can’t do it alone. All of us can become leaders if we are willing to examine our lives, begin to live radically, and encourage others to do the same by our example and an explanation of what God is doing in our hearts, minds, and lives.

Both books receive a five out of five from me.

I received Radical Together free from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Since it was a book I intended to purchase anyway, I was thrilled to see it on their list.

 

Refresh

What a wonderful title!

I’m refreshed just looking at the cover. Slices of grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime overlap one another.

Funny how I came to purchase this book…Ron Hughes, the author, came up to me at the Write! Canada conference and handed me the bookmark for Refresh. “Shameless self-promotion” he called it…tongue-in-cheek of course. “If I find a $10 chicken,” I teased. (Suffice it to say, the lady who runs the bookstore is a chicken farmer.)

You guessed it. I found the chicken–and bought the book. I’m so glad I did.

The subtitle of Refresh is 19 Ways to Boost Your Spiritual Life. Lessons such as Pray, Study Your Bible, and Worship are to be expected. But I’m personally thankful that the first two chapters stress the importance of quiet, not just external, but internal quiet as well. When I’m not talking (it does happen from time to time), my mind is still going a million miles an hour.

I’m just learning the benefit of telling the many ideas that flit around my brain to sit down and wait their turn. I’m also learning to enjoy the outdoors, where I can enjoy a sense of peace, where my computer and my housework aren’t constantly calling. At least, it they are, I can’t hear them.

Each brief chapter of Refresh begins with a dramatized Bible story written in the first person.  The story is followed by a look at what exactly the lesson is and how it applies to us. The chapters also include potential pitfalls and words of encouragement.

Refresh is not a book to rush through. It is a book filled with lessons we must drink in, apply, and allow to change our lives.

Radical

Radical by David Platt is the second most life-changing book I’ve ever read. (The first being the Bible.)

It is written in an easy-to-read style. And yet, there is nothing easy about the message. Christians are challenged to live a radical lifestyle. In short, we are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned, all the while, sharing the Truth of the Scriptures.

Platt does not condemn material possessions nor those who have them. In fact, he is the pastor of a mega church. However, he is calling his congregation and millions of others to use that wealth to reach out in the name of Jesus.

He uses statistics in a way that got my attention. And believe me, I am not a numbers person. Don’t get me wrong; Platt doesn’t include long lists of numbers. He incorporates the information into each chapter in a very efficient and eye-opening way.

Maybe it’s because this book confirmed what the Lord has been teaching me. Maybe it’s because it answered some of my questions. Maybe it’s because it removed some of my long-held excuses. Whatever the reason, I would highly recommend Radical.

In the last chapter, Platt lays out a one year challenge. As he says, there are things we can commit to for a year and there are things we can lay aside for a year. If you’re ready to stop pursuing “the American dream”…If you’re ready, as one of Platt’s congregants put it, to have your life “ruined”…This book is for you.

You will also want to check out the corresponding website: http://www.radicalthebook.com/