Sunday, January 20, 2008

How to Read the Bible So It Changes Your Life by Aletha Hinthorn

My Pastor's wife (Thanks Mary!) always has a new book in her hands and one day last fall, she had this one - How to Read the Bible So It Changes Your Life by Aletha Hinthorne. I checked our public library to find out if they had it in their collection, but they didn't so I requested that they purchase it and they did!

Its an easy to read, yet challenging book.

The back cover says:

Is God's Word Changing your life? or...

* Are you having trouble developing the discipline to get into His Word regularly?

* Are demands on your time squeezing out the time you spend with Him?

* Have you been ignoring God's still, small voice calling your to fellowship with Him?

In How to Read the Bible So It Changes Your Life, Aletha Hinthorn teaches you to read the Bible so that your daily life is impacted. Her insights bring God's Word to life in the mundane, everyday world you live in.

Whether you're on the mountaintop or in the valley, you can learn to turn to God along every step of life's journey.

How to Read the Bible So It Changes Your Life gives you the solid foundation you need to discern what God has to say to you today!

At the end of the book there is a two year Daily Lectionary that is arranged according to the church year so you are reading about the birth of Christ at Christmas and the crucifixion at Easter, etc. I recommend to this book to anyone who wants to get more out of their Bible reading time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live by Will and Lisa Samson

Wow! Justice in the Burbs already feels like a keeper and I'm only on the second chapter. Will and Lisa Samson have united their talents and taken a creative approach at sharing a story and a challenge. Each of the twelve chapters are divided into three sections. The first section is a story written by Lisa about fictional characters, Matt and Christine Marshall, a suburban couple who are taking an emotional and life-changing journey by asking themselves the hard questions. Will tackles the second section which is a discussion of issues related to Lisa's narrative. Finally each chapter ends with a meditation in response to the story.

This book reminds me some of one of Lisa's other novels, which I enjoyed tremendously, Quaker Summer. If you get a chance, I'd recommend that you read it also.

The back cover of Justice in the Burbs says:

In the suburban world of nice homes, neat lawns, and new cars, it can be easy to forget about social justice. Life keeps us busy, and the poor and disenfranchised of our world are invisible as we go from our garage to our workplace and back again. But suburbanites can be a force for social justice in the world.

In this unique book, you will take a journey with a young couple from the burbs as they learn to notice and act on the issues of justice that abound everywhere. This engaging narrative will help you kiss apathy and ignorance good-bye in favor of a life of concern and action.

For more info and reader reviews check out the Justice in the Burbs Blog. For some thought provoking quotes go to Think on This.

Are you up for a challenge? Are you ready to let go of the status quo? If so check your local library or bookstore or here for this enlightening book, Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live.

Justice in the Burbs Video Promo

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

They Saw Only Feet by Dean Nelson

I finished reading one of the missionary books put out by my church today, They Saw Only Feet by Dean Nelson. The call of a missionary often means sacrifice and surrender. Nobody knows that better than their children. Yet as the missionary kids in this book will tell you, God is faithful to care for His own. Between these pages you’ll meet men and women whose life experiences on the field changed them forever. Listen to their hearts, and let your own faith be strengthened as you do.

It is a book that details experiences and lessons learned of five missionary kids (MKs) stationed all over the world. What they shared was humorous, interesting and profound. One story in particular really encouraged me. Anita Birchard Reglin shared that her grandparents preached and played the organ in an empty building (church) for a full year. How discouraging that could have been, but they saw feet outside the building and continued following God's call on their lives. So often I tend to judge the results NOW, but in God's economy we are not the judge of effectiveness. We are just called to obedience.

Ted Esselstyn shared about the death of his brother Jimmy while on the mission field in Africa. Ted described that tragedy as a miracle. "God was at work. We forget sometimes that God performs more than miracles of healing; He performs miracles of transformation. And the greatest of all those mireacles is when He let His own Son die for us. Jesus died, enabling our own transformation." Pray for transformation in the lives of all Christians as we strive to become more like Jesus.

At the end of the book a Call to Action is given:

After reading this book, please consider doing one or more of the following:

1. Pray for missionaries serving around the world, that God will protect, guide, and sustain them.

2. Talk with your pastor or missionary president about how your congregation can provide better support for missionaries who might have special ties to your church.

3. Pray specifically for the children of missionaries, that the Lord will protect them and use their unique experiences to draw them closer to himself.

4. Find ways to "adopt" a missionary kid (MK) in college. Support him or her with prayer and small gifts throughout the year.

5. Pray for those who shared their stories in this book that God will continue to bless them and honor their faithfulness.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Teaching Your Child about Sex by Grace Ketterman

I just happened to come across a blog - Bold and Free this evening that I am going to put in my favorites so I can check in often.

Jan is running a contest and will give a free copy of Teaching Your Child About Sex by Grace Ketterman, MD to the winner. It is a book that helps parents teach their children about sex. See her blog entries regarding the contest here and the book here.

I don't know much about the book, but its definitely a topic that all parents will have to discuss with their children at some point. I found this description at Christian Book Distributors:

Unsure about how or when to discuss "the birds and the bees" with your children? In her updated classic, renowned expert Dr. Ketterman equips you with the perfect words to explain the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of sex in age-specific increments - from infancy through adolescence. Now includes chapters on current issues such as sexually transmitted diseases and homosexuality.

Friday, January 11, 2008

River Rising by Athol Dickson

River Rising is an excellent book that I highly recommend. Many books can be figured out in the first few chapters, but River Rising is not among them. You can look at this novel on multiple levels. Simply put you can consider it historical fiction from an isolated Louisiana town on the Mississippi River in 1927 or you can take it to a deeper level and view it as an allegory that at minimum encourages the reader to acknowledge some thought provoking questions that need to be answered. If you are looking for a simple story with a crisis and resolution or crime and justice this isn’t the story for you – in many ways it’s disturbing, yet it leaves the reader with hope for a better tomorrow. We might find ourselves identifying with one (or more) of the characters which can help us address issues in our lives.

For a great review of River Rising check out Kay's blog or go to Athol Dickson's blog for more background info and study questions. SPOILER ALERT - don't go to the study questions until after you have read the book.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Shack - Part 2

I sent an email with a question and comments to William Paul Young and he replied...

My question was: I'm wondering from reading the book, do you think that all people will be in heaven? Do you believe that all people will come to relationship with God at some point and make it to heaven?

He said it would be okay to post his reply on my blog...

Hey Robin,

Thank you soooo much for taking the time to drop me a note and for the warm and encouraging words...much appreciated. I am grateful that the book has touched your life in a way that breathes grace into your heart. Just like Sarayu to do that. Thanks too for the blog review and whatever you choose to do in the future...much appreciated.

As to your specific question, let me answer it as best I can, with the caveat that I don't want this particular issue to become the 'reason' I wrote the is not. I wrote the book to express to my children what I believe about the One who I love so much that there really are no words adequate to describe.

Having said that, this is such a great question and is currently being highly debated in Christian circles. Let me tell you what I do believe, understanding that like all of us, we are all in a process of understanding the heart of the One who knows us best and loves us most. I do believe in Hell, that it must be spiritual in nature (since it was created for the devil and his angels). I also believe that everything that Papa does or creates, including Hell, has a purpose and that its purpose is motivated by love. I also believe that when all is said and done, Papa will win, completely...without violating anyone and in fact by burning away from each life that which inhibits the freedom to run to his embrace. How that all looks as it is all worked out...don't know. I love the Timothy passage that says, "This is a statement true and worthy of full acceptance, that Jesus Christ is the savior of all mankind, especially of believers." I firmly believe that it is what Papa did in Jesus that saves us, and that not even our limited ability to choose independence will ultimately be a rival to his purposes. I think that we must choose what exactly saves us, and the choice is between Jesus and our ability to choose. I firmly believe that only Jesus saves us.

Blessings on your day and all the surprises of grace that await you,

Paul ('willie')