Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Apple of Your Eye-Bible Reading Update

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The last Bible reading update was on July 14, 2014.
Since July 14, I've read:
From the Crossway, ESV, The Psalms, chapters 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23.

From The Transformation Study Bible, New Living Translation, published by David C. Cook:
2 Kings chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. 
1 Chronicles chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29. 
2 Chronicles chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16.
Hebrews chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. 

"But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved." Hebrews 10:39

All Scripture links from Bible Gateway. 
Resource page from Bible Gateway.
Links of interest:
"What My Anxiety Taught Me About God", from Relevant Magazine, by Rachel Dymski. 
"Anna in the Bible", from Bible History Daily, by Dr. Robin Gallaher Branch
"How to share the Gospel with someone who thinks all Christians are hypocrites", from Blogging Theologically, by Kevin Halloran
Free Intouch devotional magazine by Charles Stanley
Are you reading your Bible? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life by Nancy Koester

Publisher: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. January 13, 2014
Genre: Christian Non-fiction, biography, Civil War, Uncle Tom's Cabin
Format: Paperback
Pages: 382
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars for Very Good. 
Source: Free copy from Eerdmans in exchange for a review. All reviews are written from my own opinion and feelings. 

Barnes and Nobles
Christian Book 

Nancy Koester website

Review was first posted at The Christian Manifesto

"Uncle Tom's Cabin came from the heart rather than the head. It was an outburst of deep feeling, a cry in the darkness. The writer no more thought of style or literary excellence, than the mother who rushes into the street and cries for help to save her children from a burning house thinks of the teachings of the rhetorician or the elocutionist.” Quote by Charles Stowe.

The name Harriet Beecher Stowe, is synonymous with her story Uncle Tom's Cabin. The book was published in serialized form, 1851 and 1852. She is quoted as saying she wrote it to “awaken sympathy and feeling for the African race.” Most of the white characters in the story are portrayed as desensitized to slavery, but a few characters rise above the acceptance of slavery, they are brave and defiant against its inhumane treatment. Both blacks and whites ridiculed the book. On one side they felt Stowe had not done enough; on the other side of opinion, she was an evil woman.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, was born in 1811, to a large New England family. Her father was a Congregationalist pastor. He was an intelligent and outspoken man. His children, both sons and daughters, were strong communicators and readers. Harriet's elder sister, had an independent nature that did not make room for a husband and family. The Beecher family took part in theological discussions, they conversed freely their doubts and insecurities. They were encouraged to be thinkers and to ask questions; in addition, to be involved in social justice. Harriet's penchant for being bold in how she felt did not happen when she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, but was a natural result of her personality and upbringing. Harriet married Calvin Stowe and they had seven children. She wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin at age forty. She died in 1896, after living a remarkable life.
Although the zenith of A Spiritual Life, is Stowe's notable book, Uncle Tom's Cabin. I was given a broad range view of her life that I'd not read about in other books.
Author, Nancy Koester, explores both the shaping of Harriet Beecher Stowe's spiritual life and personality, and how it contributed to the writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin; in addition, how her own journey in life was transformed by the steady process of Christian growth.
When Stowe met William Lloyd Garrison, the editor of the Liberator, and a key leader of a anti-slavery group, she asked him if he was a Christian. The following pages in this chapter expound on the “sanctity” of the Bible, and in its “power to transform.” These pages of the book were some of my favorite. Stowe stood eye to eye in sharing her beliefs with Garrison and did not cower.
I was glad Koester explored the criticism of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The shock of the book becoming a best seller, and in its discussion among people of all races and slavery views, propelled the books strength. The book did not rise and burst, but steadily lived on without diminishing its intended aim.
I would have liked a whole chapter dedicated to the legacy of Uncle Tom's Cabin. How people through the generations have viewed the story, how modern readers are unaware of the book or make light of it, or how it is completely shoved aside as not being of importance in helping end slavery in America.
People in the Christian community had used the Bible to both reject or accept slavery.
Stowe explained: “Those who defend slavery read the Bible through the eyes of self-interest. They convert the Bible to their own use, instead of letting the Bible convert them. Who uses Scripture rightly? Those who follow Christ, like Tom and Eva. Instead of using the Scripture to lay burdens upon the backs of others, they carry the cross for others.” page 134.

Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life by Shelly Beach and Wanda Sanchez

Publisher: Kregel Publications May 4, 2014
Genre: Christian non-fiction, Christian Living, Devotional, Mental Health Disorder, PTSD.
Format: Paperback
Pages: 296
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent, near perfect.
Source: Free copy from Kregel for the purpose of review. The review expressed is from my own opinion and feelings.

Links to purchase book:
Barnes and Nobles

Link for free book, discount book: Kregel Publications.
Facebook event July 21st through July 25th, Facebook link. 

Shelly Beach
Wanda Sanchez

The introduction provides sobering and frightening statistics on women who have been violated and abused, or have suffered from other "life-changing trauma." Examples of trauma are: "sexual abuse, domestic violence, rape, arson, family suicide, even the attempted murder of a family member and murder of a child. Other women had lost loved ones in tragic accidents, experienced medical trauma, or had been touched by other life-altering tragedies." (Page 15.)
Abuse, and the trauma associated with it, cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"Trauma creates lasting and profound symptoms defined as post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, people often wrongly think that PTSD affects only combat veterans or those who have experienced mass disasters like 9/11." (Page 17.)
Love Letters from the Edge, is divided in to twelve week sections, with six chapters exploring areas of abuse and trauma in each divided section. A Bible verse begins each chapter, then a heartfelt letter from the person to God, followed by a love letter from God to that person, concluding with "Hope on the Edge" which are questions to ponder, and "Heart Cry" a meditative prayer.
The book ends with a strong reference section. "PTSD 101" gives a brief over-view, its definition, symptoms, and therapy. Links are given for "PTSD Assessment Tests." A "resource" section, and how to help our physicians, family, and friends, understand PTSD. "Scriptural Affirmation" or Bible verses, and ending with a "Forgiveness and Restoration" chapter. "Forgiveness" being an important step, yet a profoundly difficult step.
Shelly Beach and Wanda Sanchez, have described Love Letters from the Edge, as a meditative book. Another word describing the book would be devotional.
The authors want the reader to understand they are not professional counselors, and encourage women with PTSD to find further help through a therapist.

My Thoughts:
I'm thankful for women like Shelly Beach, and Wanda Sanchez, who despite their history of pain and trauma, have opened up in sharing their stories, in order to help other people.
In previous generations people did not talk about the "uncomfortable" topics. Even my own parents taught us to be private and to not tell people about "our business." I'm not sure what we're afraid of, unless in speaking about what has happened, makes it more real and thus it cannot be swept away. But, this is a fable, pain and suffering cannot be swept away with the dust of each day, it does not go away until the hard work of processing what happened, and coming to terms with it, which includes the hardest part, forgiveness.
I am amazed at the extensive examples the authors gave in the book, from sexual abuse to addictions, from self-harm such as cutting, to hiding secrets.
The letter to God and the letter written back to the woman working through the pain, is transparent, tender, and full of mercy and grace.
The questions under the section of "Hope on the Edge," help to pry the tight lid off of not wanting to think or talk about the issue. The questions also help the person to move forward a bit, even if it is a tiny step.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dispatches From The Front: Stories of Gospel Advance In The World's Difficult Places by Tim Keesee

Publisher: Crossway May 31, 2014
Genre: Non-fiction, Missionary, Travel Journal, Gospel of the Kingdom
Format: PDF
Pages: 240
Rating: 5 Stars for Excellent
Source: Free copy from Crossway in exchange for a review. All opinions and feelings expressed are my own.

Frontline Missions

About the Series, Dispatches From The Front

An interview of Tim Keesee, from The Gospel Coalition by Trevin Wax

When I began reading Dispatches From The Front, I did not know I would be deeply affected and changed by its stories.
I was drawn to the story, because it paints vividly the truth of Christ Jesus in a militant world opposed to Him, and all those who are His followers. I was drawn to the story, because it pushed me out of my safe American church worship style, and propelled me in to a seemingly foreign exotic style of unvarnished worship of Jesus. But, I did not realize until after I began reading the book, my heart would be wounded for those precious brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, who worship Him no matter the cost. I've been convicted by my western Christian churches argumentative stance on worship style, our petty view of what “we” think church should look and sound like.
Tim Keesee, “is the founder and executive director of Frontline Missions International, which for the past twenty years had served some of the world's most difficult places.” He is the author of a DVD documentary series of the same title, Dispatches From The Front.
An equally powerful foreword by Justin Taylor, and prologue by Tim Keesee, had me hooked from the start. They both spoke of the kingdom's advancement in a world that is hostile to the good news of Jesus Christ, it is both startling in the terror inflicted upon Christians, and yet marvelous because the power of God's Spirit is at work. I was reminded of a verse from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians: “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. ESV.
The book is presented by countries Tim Keesee traveled to: Russia, Siberia, Uzbekistan, Balkan region, China, Cambodia, Philippines, India, Pakistan, Liberia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq.
Many of the areas where Christians meet are remote, secretive, and a few had never met an American man.
Stories are shared of Christians who walk long distances (sometimes barefoot), to meet with other Christians for worship, or to spread the gospel message.
Keesee reflects on missionaries from the past who left their safe homes for a foreign world never to return to family and friends, they “poured out” their lives to the calling of God, to teach and preach the gospel to the world.
I was given an insight and perspective of the living conditions in these areas, including how Keesee ate and slept, and endured the environment.
In his travel in and out of Afghanistan, I don't think I took a breath.
In the news we hear often of radical Islam, but not of the Christians living in Muslim countries.
I was moved by a quote from a Christian living in a Muslim dominated area, “The world is more willing to receive the gospel than Christians are willing to give the gospel.”
Most of the countries Keesee visited have been scarred by war. Horrific mass killings and torture of any people opposed to radical fractions have gone on for generations. However, when Christians are together they do not focus on their abuse; instead, they “praise God for allowing them to suffer for Him.”
Dispatches From The Front, is a culmination of Keesee's travels in to the “difficult” places, but I could not help but ask: what is God trying to teach me in this book? This is not a book to be read and then placed on a book shelf. It is a book that challenges the reader, not necessarily to physically travel to faraway destinations, but to have the mindset and faith that God will place me in a position and among people who must hear the gospel message. We fear how our family and friends and neighbors would react to our sharing with them the good news of Jesus Christ. Yet, Christians living in areas of the world where it is illegal and dangerous to be a Christian, share the gospel even if the cost is their life. May we be dramatically challenged and changed by the Holy Spirit's work in our own lives, which compel us and direct us to share Jesus Christ with a lost world.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Apple of Your Eye-Bible Reading Update

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The last update was posted June 29, 2014. 

I began reading Psalms on July 1. I recently purchased the new Crossway, ESV, The Psalms. The type-size is 11 point, easy on my eyes. Only Psalms is in this edition.
So far I've read Psalms chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

From The Transformation Study Bible, New Living Translation I read:
Joel chapters 1, 2, 3;
Obadiah 1 chapter;
Habakkuk chapters 1, 2, 3;
Zephaniah chapters 1, 2, 3;
Haggai chapters 1, 2;
Zechariah chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14;
Malachi chapters 1, 2, 3, 4;
1 Kings chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10;
Philemon 1 chapter;
James chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5;
1 Peter chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5;
2 Peter chapters 1, 2, 3;
1 John chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5;
2 John 1 chapter
3 John 1 chapter
Jude 1 chapter

For the 7th time in 2014 I'm reading 1 Corinthians, this time in the Amplified Bible.
So far I've read chapter 1.

20 Where is the wise man (the philosopher)? Where is the scribe (the scholar)? Where is the investigator (the logician, the debater) of this present time and age? Has not God shown up the nonsense and the folly of this world’s wisdom?

All above Scripture links from Bible Gateway: 

Links of interest:
How Can I Be Filled With The Holy Spirit by Ray Pritchard
Do Not Quench The Spirit by Ray Pritchard
Do Not Grieve The Spirit by Ray Pritchard
Jesus and the Lost by Kevin DeYoung