July 17, 2017

To Kill a Mockingbird

When you think of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, you may think of racism in the southern United States during the 1930's, but I found this book to be so much more.

I first read this book in high school many years ago and I've always had fond memories of it. So I finally decided to pick it up again this year, and I'm so glad I did. I just love this book so much!

This book is about family, and about treating others fairly and equally. It's about teaching your children these things and how important the home and family are for children.

It's about a single father (Atticus) in his later years (50 years old) raising two small children after his wife passes away.  Atticus is a lawyer and wonderful father, I loved so much about him. The way he talked to his children as fellow human beings, the way he treated others fairly and with grace, and the way he lived a simple, but meaningful life.

This book deals with the serious issue of racism, but like I said earlier,  it's so much more than that. Attitudes start in the home and a parents expressed thoughts often become deeply rooted in their children.

I thought I'd share one conversation Atticus has with his young daughter Scout, about racism and name calling.

"'Atticus', I said one evening, 'what exactly is a n_____-lover?'

Atticus's face was grave. 'Has somebody been calling you that?'

'No sir, Mrs. Dubose calls you that. She warms up every afternoon calling you that. Francis called me that last Christmas, that's where I first heard it.'

'Is that the reason you jumped on him?' asked Atticus.

'Yes sir...'
'Then why are you asking me what it means?'

I tried to explain to Atticus that it wasn't so much what Francis said that had infuriated me as the way he had said it. 'It was like he'd said snot-nose or somethin.'

'Scout,' said Atticus, ' n_____-lover is just one of those terms that don't mean anything - like snot-nose. It's hard to explain - ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody's favouring Negros over and above themselves. It's slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.'

'You aren't really a n_____-lover, then , are you?'

'I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody...I'm hard put, sometimes - baby, it's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you. So don't let Mrs. Dubose get you down. She had enough troubles of her own.'"

This conversation has so much meaning, for so many reasons.

1. Atticus is talking to his daughter as he would talk to any human being. With respect and helpfulness.
2. He doesn't direct his anger towards those who said this, but generalizes the type of person who uses this language.
3.He is clear on what is right and wrong.
4. He explains ignorance.
5. He has no problem being called this because he thinks of all people as equal and are meant to be loved.
6. He thinks of others and their troubles, so advises not to let these words get his daughter down.

This conversation lets his daughter know clearly, that this language is wrong and ignorant, but also teaches her to love all people and remember everyone is going through something.

There were many wonderful conversations between Atticus and his children. It's one of the things I love most about this book.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when the children's housekeeper Calpurnia, because Atticus is away on business, takes the children to her African American church. At the end of the service the minister asks the congregation to donate to the family of Tom Robinson because he has been falsely accused and is sitting in jail awaiting trial.

"Reverend Sykes closed his sermon. He stood beside a table in front of the pulpit and requested the morning offering, a proceeding that was strange to Jem and me. One by one, the congregation came forward and dropped nickels and dimes into a black enamelled coffee can. Jem and I followed suit, and received a soft, 'Thank you, thank you,' as our dimes clinked.

To our amazement, Reverend Sykes emptied the can on to the table and raked the coins into his hand. He straightened up and said, 'This is not enough, we must have ten dollars.'

The congregation stirred. 'You all know what it's for - Helen can't leave those children to work while Tom's in jail. If everyone gives one more dime, we'll have it -' Reverend Sykes waved his hand and called to someone in the back of the church. 'Alec, shut the doors. Nobody leaves here till we have ten dollars.'

Calpurnia scratched in her handbag and brought forth a battered leather coin purse. 'Naw, Cal,' Jem whispered, when she handed him a shiny quarter, 'we can put ours in. Gimme your dime, Scout.'

The church was becoming stuffy, and it occurred to me that Reverend Sykes intended to sweat the amount due out of his flock. Fans crackled, feet shuffled, tobacco-chewers were in agony.

Reverend Sykes startled me by saying sternly, 'Carlow Richardson, I haven't seen you up this aisle yet.'

A thin man in khaki pants came up the aisle and deposited a coin. The congregation murmured approval.

Reverend Sykes then said, 'I want all of you with no children to make a sacrifice and give one more dime apiece. Then we'll have it.'

Slowly, painfully, the ten dollars were collected. The door was opened, and the gust of warm air revived us. Zeebo lined On Jordan's Stormy Banks, and church was over."

A pastor who encourages his congregation to help a family in need and won't take no for an answer! I so enjoyed reading this and the straightforwardness of this pastor! : )

If you haven't read 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' I highly recommend you do. It had a huge impact on me as a teen and now I've been reminded why. It's a moving and beautiful story everyone should read.

*Warning: There are a few mild curse words and the use of the 'N' word throughout.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

July 10, 2017

Taking God at His Word

I think this is an extremely important book for the times we live in. Times where even those who profess Christ are rejecting the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.

Kevin DeYoung says of his book here:

"This is a book unpacking what the Bible says about the Bible. My aim is to be simple, uncluttered, straightforward, and manifestly biblical."

I believe this was accomplished with this book. It was easy to read and understand, as well as encouraging. It's fairly short, but included a lot of great insights.

One of the main points of the book, I found to be, was the importance of realizing God speaks to us through the Scriptures.

The God of the universe speaks to us through the Scriptures.

How privileged are we to hear His voice whenever we pick up His Word.

I've heard and read of many Christians, in this world, who would do anything for a Bible, to hear God speak, and yet many have one and rarely pick it up.

I loved what the author says here:

"There is no calamity like the silence of God. We cannot know the truth or know ourselves or know God's ways or savingly know God himself unless God speaks to us. Every true Christian should feel deep in his bones an utter dependence on God's self-revelation in the Scriptures. 'Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.' (Deut. 8:3;Matt. 4:4)."

Chapter seven stood out to me the most. Titled 'Christ's Unbreakable Bible' it delves into what Jesus believed about the Scriptures.

The author says here:

"...we must conclude that whatever the perfect Son of God believed about the sacred writings, we should believe the same. There should be nothing controversial at all in affirming that Christ's doctrine of Scripture should be our doctrine of Scripture."

I am someone who agrees with what this author teaches about Scripture. So for me reading this book was a bit of a refresher. But I found this particular chapter really encouraged me, as I'd never thought of believing the Bible because Jesus believed it. It gave me a lot to think about.

Quotes like this were eye-opening...

"Our Messiah sees Himself as an expositor of Scripture, but never a corrector of Scripture. He fulfills it, but never falsifies it. He turns away wrong interpretations of Scripture, but insists there is nothing wrong with Scripture, down to the crossing of t's and dotting of i's. "

And here:

"Jesus believed Scripture was the Word of God, and as such, it would be gross impiety to think that any word spoken by God, or committed to writing by God, might be an errant word, a wrong word, or a broken word."

And here:

"In the Gospels we see Jesus reference Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaac and Jacob, manna in the wilderness, the serpent in the wilderness, Moses as the lawgiver, David and Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, Elijah and Elisha, the widow of Zarephath, Naaman, Zechariah, and even Jonah, never questioning a single event, a single miracle, or a single historical claim. Jesus clearly believed in the historicity of biblical history."

And  here:

"Jesus has no problem referencing human authors of Scripture like Moses, Isaiah, David, and Daniel. But they stand in the background. They are the sub-authors working beneath the principle author of Scripture, namely, God Himself.

So Jesus can quote from Psalm 110, saying, 'David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared' (Mark 12:36), just as Paul in Romans 9:17 and Galatians 3:8 can use 'Scripture' as the subject where God is the Old Testament speaker. Holy Spirit, God, Scripture - they are not three different speakers with three different ranks. They refer to the same divine author with the same divine authority. 

Which is why Jesus can talk down the Devil by saying 'it is written,' and why he can claim, without any hint of controversy or hyperbole, that the Creator of the universe wrote Genesis. For Jesus, Scripture is powerful, decisive, and authoritative because it is nothing less than the voice of God."

And finally here:

The Lord Jesus, God's son and our Savior, believed His Bible was the word of God down to the sentences, to the phrases, to the words, to the smallest letter, to the tiniest specks - and that nothing in all those specks and in all those books in His Holy Bible could ever be broken."

Kevin Deyoung elaborates on all these points and shares Scripture to support them.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and if these points have interested you, I highly recommend reading it.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

July 1, 2017

6 Books I Still Think About - Part Two

A few years back I did a post on '6 books I still think about' and I thought it would be fun to do another one. There are so many books I've read in the past that have had an impact on me.

So here are 6 more books I still think about...

Night - This book is a memoir of a young Jewish boy who was taken from his small village to a concentration camp during WW2. I often think about this book and the extent of evil, human beings are capable of.

When I read books like this I'm reminded to pray...

"Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies." Psalm 141:4

We are all capable of evil. If we let it grow in our hearts. Many people have done horrific things throughout history, WW2 being no exception.

There were things in this book that I've never been able to shake off. Things I don't even want to talk about. One incident was so horrifying I just weep as I read it.

How could someone do the things some did?

It's the evil intent of the heart, when given into.

God help us. We need to look to You and call Your Name for help.

"Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;
O LORD, make haste to help me!" Psalm 40:13

A Place of Healing - "The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace." Joni Eareckson Tada

This was such a beautiful book. Joni is open and honest with her struggles and questions about her paralysis and chronic pain, but also encouraging in her strong faith, her devotion to the truth of Scripture and her dependence on God.

Some may say she hasn't been healed because she doesn't have enough faith.

I believe that is just plain ignorant.

God has not healed her physically, as of now, because He is shaping her and growing her and making her stronger in Him. He is teaching her to depend on Him completely and she is blessed to know Him in a deeper way then most of us.

She is such an encourager in Christ and I will always think on this book and the profound and Godly counsel she shared.

Here's one of many wonderful quotes from Joni, where she turns the focus from herself to the Lord:

"I can't be glum or sour or peevish, even if I am a little tired of paralysis, and even if I am weary of chronic pain. God's got me alive - I'm still here! - and that means there's a purpose for my life, a race to run, and a plan for my life. God has ordained this day for me to bring Him glory as best I can and to serve Him with joy."

Peace Like a River - How do I describe this book? It is a literal story of a father and his children, but also an allegory of the love of God for His. At first I thought this book was a bit strange, but when I finished, I realized what the author was doing and the message was beautiful and impactful.

I don't want to give to much away, but when I finished this book, I took a deep breath and I thanked Christ for what He did for me. I will think about this book for a long time to come.

When Christ Returns - This book moved me and I think about it often. When I picked it up I thought it was about the 'end times'. But what I found, was a book about the importance of being holy in knowing Christ, over just knowing about Him. Knowing the One who is returning, over knowing about His return.

We are called to be holy, without a desire to be holy, no amount of knowledge of Bible prophecy, end times theology or discernment will bring us closer to Him.

Spurgeon says here:

"It is far better to meditate on the Atonement than to be guessing at the meaning of 'a little horn' (Daniel 8:9). It is far better to know the Lord Jesus in His power to save than to devise an ingenious theory about 'the number of the beast' (Revelation 13:18). "

Is your heart ready for Christ's return? Is He your everything, your confidence?

Spurgeon says here:

"I cannot tell you to 'stand fast in the Lord' unless you are in Him. Hence, my first inquiry is, Are you in Christ? Is He your only confidence? In His life, His death, and His resurrection do you find the grounds of your hope? Is He Himself all your salvation and all your desire? If so, 'stand fast in the Lord."

That's what this book is about.

Is your heart ready for the return of Christ?

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

Anne of Green Gables - This book was joyful. I loved it so much! L.M. Montgomery's writing was so beautiful and descriptive. I felt like I was on Prince Edward Island watching the cherry blooms fall from the trees or listening to the river flow.

I also loved Anne's character. I really loved the scene where she prays for the first time. So sweet!

I listened to this book on audio and it was an experience! One I'd enjoy listening to again.

If you've forgotten the beauty of nature and the gift it is from our Creator, and you need a reminder, read this book!

Then go outside, lay on the grass, look at the stars, run your fingers through a stream or smell a fragrant flower.

It reminded me that God is good and that the evidence is all around us.

And if you need a reminder of the beauty of relationships and how kindness changes so much in a persons life. Read this book!

Then go out and be kind to all you meet.

If: What do I know of Calvary Love - This is a very profound little book. I've talked about it often on my blog, as well as shared many parts of it.

It's a little book of poetic verses.

Each verse starts with 'if...' and ends with '...then I know nothing of Calvary love'.

Though each verse shines light on the sinfulness of the human heart, it also reveals the power of God's love.

He is Calvary love.

Here are a few examples:

If...I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another;
if I can in any way slight another in conversation,
or even in thought,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If...I have not compassion on my
even as my Lord had pity on me,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If...I want to be known as the doer of
something that has proved the
right thing,
or as the one who suggested that it
should be done,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If...I covet any place on earth but the
dust at the foot of the cross,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

We don't come to God when we are ready to love Him, but He comes to us first in our pain, our messiness and our sin and shame.

And we love Him because of it.

"We love Him because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

I love this quote near the end of the book...

"There is no need to plead that the love of God shall fill our hearts as though He were unwilling to fill us: He is willing as light is willing to flood a room that is opened to its brightness; willing as water is willing to flow into an emptied channel. Love is pressing around us on all sides like air. Cease to resist, and instantly love takes possession."

God is love and He calls us to repentance so we can know Him.

"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16

*Note: If you'd like to check out my other post on '6 books I still think about' ...click HERE