November 27, 2017

5 books on my future reading list

Reflection on the Psalms

I haven't read a C.S. Lewis book in ages and thought it was time to pick another one up.

Lewis is one of my favorite authors and this particular book seems like an interesting look into the Psalms.

 Amazon says here:

"In this careful reading from one of our most trusted fellow travelers, C.S. Lewis helps us begin to reveal their meaning in our daily lives and in the world. 

Reflecting again and anew on these beloved passages, we can find both joy and difficulty, but also, always, real enlightenment and moments of transcendent grace."

Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ

I picked this book up on kindle because it was only $2.99 and just began reading it.

In chapter one it says:

"...the Greek word for slave has been covered up by being mistranslated in almost every English version - going back to both the King James Version and the Geneva Bible that predated it. 

Though the word slave (doulos in Greek) appears 124 times in the original text, it is correctly translated only once in the King James...

...Instead of translating doulos as 'slave' these translations consistently substitute the word servant in its place. Ironically, the Greek language has at least half a dozen words that can mean servant. The word doulos is not one of them. 

Whenever it is used, both in New Testament and in secular Greek literature, it always and only means slave."

This has definitely piqued my interest! I'm looking forward to getting more into it.

All Creatures Great and Small

I've heard so many great things about this book series, which consists of memoirs by a country vet from Yorkshire in the 1930's. It was turned into a TV series a while back, but I haven't watched it, so I'm going into these books blindly.

I've recently started it and really enjoying it so far.

Goodreads says here:

"In All Creatures Great and Small, we meet the young Herriot as he takes up his calling and discovers that the realities of veterinary practice in rural Yorkshire are very different from the sterile setting of veterinary school. 

Some visits are heart-wrenchingly difficult...some are lighthearted and fun...and yet others are inspirational and enlightening. 

From seeing to his patients in the depths of winter on the remotest homesteads to dealing with uncooperative owners and critically ill animals, Herriot discovers the wondrous variety and never-ending challenges of veterinary practice as his humor, compassion, and love of the animal world shine forth."

Long Before Luther

The subtitle for this book is... 'Tracing the heart of the gospel from Christ to the Reformation.'

That got my attention!

I find reformation history, not only interesting, but inspiring, and I've often wondered what went on during the time period before. This book explores this and I'm excited to start reading it.

Goodreads explains it here:

"Where was the gospel before the Reformation?

Contemporary evangelicals often struggle to answer that question. As a result, many Roman Catholics are quick to allege that the Reformation understanding of the gospel simply did not exist before the 1500s. They assert that key Reformation doctrines, like sola fide, were nonexistent in the first fifteen centuries of church history. Rather, they were invented by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others.

That is a serious charge, and one that evangelicals must be ready to answer. If an evangelical understanding of the gospel is only 500 years old, we are in major trouble. However, if it can be demonstrated that Reformers were not inventing something new, but instead were recovering something old, then key tenets of the Protestant faith are greatly affirmed. Hence, the need for this book."

Mrs. Oswald Chambers

'My Utmost for His Highest' is one of my favorite books ever. It's a devotional written by Oswald Chambers, and compiled by his wife Biddy.

This new book is her story.
"Bestselling novelist Michelle Ule brings Biddy's story to life as she traces her upbringing in Victorian England to her experiences in a WWI YMCA camp in Egypt. 

Readers will marvel at this young woman's strength as she returns to post-war Britain a destitute widow with a toddler in tow. 

Refusing personal payment, Biddy proceeds to publish not just My Utmost for His Highest, but also 29 other books with her husband's name on the covers. All the while she raises a child alone, provides hospitality to a never-ending stream of visitors and missionaries, and nearly loses everything in the London Blitz during WWII.

The inspiring story of a devoted woman ahead of her times will quickly become a favorite of those who love true stories of overcoming incredible odds, making a life out of nothing, and serving God's kingdom."

November 20, 2017

A Few Thoughts on the Book of Galatians

It's amazing how you can read Scripture over and over and each time, find something new to you, and beautiful within. That's how I felt after reading the book of Galatians again. The grace of God just shone through more than it ever has. I thought I'd share a bit here today.

My NKJV introduction says here of the book:

"The Galatians, having launched their Christian experience by faith, seem content to leave their voyage of faith and chart a new course based on works - a course Paul finds disturbing.

His letter to the Galatians is a vigorous attack against the gospel of works and a defense of the gospel of faith."'

I felt both of these deeply: a vigorous attack on works and a defense of grace through faith.

“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:19-21

That last sentence says it all.

If Jesus didn't die to fulfill the law and make us right with Him through His death and resurrection, than He died in vain. But if He did fulfill the law through His death and resurrection, than when we humbly come to Him in repentance we are set free from the law and become His righteousness.

His grace is sufficient.

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree' " Gal. 3:13

That's what He did on that cross. He became the curse for us so we could be free of the law and given the gift of grace.

But we must believe.

"But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." Gal. 3:22

Paul gives a harsh warning to the Galatians here:

"You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." Gal. 5:4

In this verse Paul is letting the Galatians know their own attempt of justification through their own works is estranging (severed) them from Christ and has made them fall from grace.

This tells us of the utmost importance of putting our faith and hope solely in Christ and not in our own works for our justification.

This is a great book to sit down one evening and read through all at once. It's only six chapters and I think it may be easier to grasp if you do so.

I believe the key to understanding Scripture is to be in communion with the Lord. Talk to Him, ask Him anything, ask Him to help you understand. If it's your hearts desire He will be faithful to answer in His time. And when He does you will see how amazing His grace really is.

LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear." Psalm 10:17

November 13, 2017

Reading People

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It deals with the different personalities of human beings and how knowing more about ourselves and others can help us with our lives and relationships. (Though one chapter left me uneasy and I will address that at the end of this post).

The book contains 10 chapters dealing with popular personality analysis of the day, such as:

Highly Sensitive People
The Five Love Languages
Keirsey's Temperaments
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The MBTI Cognitive Functions
The Clifton StrengthsFinder 
The Enneagram

I found Anne Bogel was clear and concise in her execution of explaining each of these. It was easy to understand, even though I hadn't heard of most of them.

In the introduction she makes it clear that our personality traits are not our character traits. I appreciated this differential.

She says here:

"While personality is a key part of who you are, it's just one of many things that make you you. Many important traits don't fall under the personality umbrella. Kindness, generosity, honesty, patience - those are all examples of character traits that interact with but are distinct from personality. It's easy to conflate character with personality; it's a common mistake...

...Compared to our personality traits, character traits are more malleable. Our personalities can only be managed (or tamed, some might say). Our character can be shaped, although this isn't easy and happens slowly, with effort."

Throughout the book she often reminds us that there is no right or wrong personality. We are all created the way God intended and the importance of learning about our personality is to be more understanding, not only of ourselves but of others who are different then us.

She says here:

"The promise is that when you understand yourself better - your strengths and weaknesses, emotional needs, and driving motivations - it is much easier to understand others as well, especially when they aren't like you."

For me, I would add that learning more about my personality is not only for my benefit, but for God's glory. I can use this knowledge to praise Him for the beauty of diversity He has created.

I enjoyed chapter two on introverts/extroverts and though I've read a bit about this in the past, I did learn something new, that there are not only different kinds of introverts and extroverts, but all of us have introverted and extroverted tendencies.

She says here:

"We all spend time introverting and extroverting; it's part of being human."

And here:

"While we all need to spend time introverting and extroverting (yes, these are appropriate verbs), our innate preference is reflected in our brain chemistries. If you're an introvert and you've ever had a baffling conversation with your extroverted roommate and thought, My brain just doesn't work like that, you're absolutely right. Your brain doesn't work like that.

Introverts and extroverts are literally wired differently."

We really are so uniquely made!

The chapter I got the most out of was on highly sensitive people. This only affects a small percentage of the population. 'HSP' does not mean overly emotional, but that some are physically wired in a highly sensitive way.

Anne says here:

"...a highly sensitive person (HSP) - that is, you have a highly sensitive nervous system. High sensitivity is a hardwired physiological trait that affects 15-20 percent of the population, across species, not just humans. These people aren't touchy or overly emotional; high sensitivity describes people whose nervous systems are more receptive to stimuli than those of the general population. 

This means they are more attuned to subtleties in their surroundings and are more easily overwhelmed by highly stimulating environments. their internal 'radar' for detecting external stimuli is quite good, but it takes energy to keep that radar operational, which can be exhausting." 

Anne gives an example of a highly sensitive child complaining about the feel of the inseam of their socks. That brought back memories and that's when I knew, I am a highly sensitive person. And after reading this chapter I finally see I'm normal! : )

The only thing in the book that didn't sit right with me was in chapter nine, 'Confront your Junk: The Enneagram.' I felt it was out of place with the rest of the book, because it really didn't deal with personality, but rather behavioral issues (sin).

As a Christian, to me, this method seemed to be suggesting ways to cover sinful behavior on your own.

She says here of the Enneagram:

"The goal of the Enneagram is to get the 'yuck' out of the way so we can be more ourselves, getting us closer to our true identities and purposes. The Enneagram helps us confront who we really are, what's going on beneath the surface, and what's motivating our behaviors instead of just polishing a shiny, happy facade."

I felt this particular test could give some people false hope in themselves. Digging to find goodness within themselves. As Christians, we know the truth, we can not set ourselves free from our 'yuck' with any test or practiced method, only God can truly set us free.

We can lay our cares down before Him, because He cares for us. It's that simple.

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

Also, near the end of the chapter I felt she misused Ephesians 5:13 which says:

"Everything exposed by the light becomes visible - everything that is illuminated becomes a light."

She says of it here:

"Thus, while there can be no simple explanations for people as individuals, it is still possible to say something true about them...

...It's uncomfortable to dive deep into the darkest parts of ourselves, but it's how we bring those parts into the light."

This makes me think she believes this verse is about us dealing with our 'yuck' (bad behavior) as she describes it, when in fact it is about our sinfulness and how the light exposes it to bring us to Christ, who is the light of the world.

Matthew Henry says of this verse:

"The meaning of this passage may be this: "All those unfruitful works of darkness which you are called upon to reprove are laid open, and made to appear in their proper colours to the sinners themselves, by the light of doctrine or of God’s word in your mouths, as faithful reprovers, or by that instructive light which is diffused by the holiness of your lives and by your exemplary walk.’’

Observe, The light of God’s word, and the exemplification of it in a Christian conversation, are proper means to convince sinners of their sin and wickedness. It follows, For whatsoever doth make manifest is light; that is, it is the light that discovers what was concealed before in darkness; and accordingly it becomes those who are children of light, who are light in the Lord, to discover to others their sins, and to endeavour to convince them of the evil and danger of them, thus shining as lights in the world." 

Overall this book was enjoyable and shed some light onto who I am (my personality). It's good to know I'm not alone, I'm normal, at least for my personality! : )

I do recommend this book, but I believe it should be read with discernment and wisdom.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

November 4, 2017

'Over The Hills And Far Away' ...The Life of Beatrix Potter

"They came to the river, they came to the bridge - they crossed it hand in hand - then over the hills and far away she danced with Pigling Bland!"  The Tale of Pigling Bland 1913

Throughout this book I discovered more about the life and work of Beatrix Potter, and even though it was dense in some parts, I found it an enjoyable read.

I didn't realize how intelligent she was and how her love of science and nature comes through her art and writings.

It says here on this subject:

"As a child, she painted everything from caterpillars to a hippopotamus, omnivorous in her appetite. Over time she specialized: after entomology, paleontology and mycology. 

Her obsession with fungi, starting in a small way in 1887, resulted in her finding and painting a number of little-known species and, ultimately, a theory - since challenged - about reproduction through spore germination in members of the Agaricineae family. 

Along the way she completed more than 300 studies of British fungi, several among the finest of her paintings. After her death a selection were chosen to illustrate Walter Finlay's Wayside & Woodland Fungi."

Beatrix Potter had some difficulty when first trying to get her books published, but she was determined to do so. She finally decided to self-publish.

The book says here of self-publishing:

"The undertaking proved costly and tells us much of her confidence in the enterprise and her single-mindedness."

Her confidence and determination paid off. A famous author read her little self-published book, 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit', and therefore Beatrix was able to report his 'good opinion of the story & words'...the rest is history. That famous author, was Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes series.

I've always enjoyed Beatrix Potter's, 'little books' as she called them, and read them to my children when they were small, but most of all I love her paintings. There is a gentleness and beauty about them. You can almost feel her love of nature when you admire them, and even though Beatrix was a Unitarian and a Darwinist, I can still look at her art and stand in awe of what God has created.

In 1Timothy we are called to trust in the Lord who...

"...richly provides us with everything to enjoy." 1 Timothy 6:17

I have thoroughly enjoyed Beatrix Potter's art and stories for many years and will hopefully be sharing her 'little books' with grandchildren some day. : )

I recommend this book on the life of Beatrix Potter to those who love and appreciate her work.

Buy it HERE on Amazon