October 28, 2019

5 books on my future reading list

Before and After by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate

I recently read Lisa Wingate's novel, 'Before We Were Yours' which was based on the real-life scandal where children were being kidnapped and than sold through adoption by Georgia Tann, the director of a Memphis-based adoption organization. 

This book contains true stories from those who suffered by the hands of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home Society.

Goodreads says here:

"From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents--hiding the fact that many weren't orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate's novel Before We Were Yours brought new awareness of Tann's lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, many of the long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with the authors to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children's Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results."

Know How We Got Our Bible by Ryan M. Reeves and Charles Hill

I just started this one and enjoying it quite a bit.  I'm looking forward to reading more about how the Bible came to be.

It is a fairly short read and looks great for those who are wanting to learn about the history of the Bible.

The back cover say here:

"In Know How We Got Our Bible...scholars Ryan Reeves and Charles Hill trace the history of the Bible from its beginnings to the present day, highlighting key developments and demonstrating the reliability of Scripture.

Reeves and Hill begin with the writing and canonization of the Bible's books before moving into the copying, translation, and publication of the Bible, concluding with a look at the ongoing work of Bible translation around the world. 

Including reflection questions and recommended readings for further learning, Know How We Got Our Bible is an excellent introduction for formal students and lay learners alike."

Even Better Than Eden by Nancy Guthrie

Last year I read an advent book that Nancy Guthrie had compiled from Christian writers called, 'Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.' Which was really good, but I've never read anything by Nancy, herself. This one looks interesting!

Goodreads says here:

"Most people--Christians and non-Christians alike--are familiar with the garden of Eden, the perfect paradise that God created for the first man and woman. However, many don't realize the Bible teaches that God is preparing an even better world for his people in the future new creation. 

In this book, experienced Bible teacher Nancy Guthrie traces 9 themes--the tree of life, garden and wilderness, the image of God, clothing, Sabbath rest, marriage, the seed of the Serpent, the temple, and the city of Jerusalem--throughout the Bible, revealing how God's plan for the new heaven and the new earth is far better than anything we can possibly imagine."

The Pioneers by David McCullough

I really enjoy reading David McCullough's books! He makes history come alive with his writing and you don't feel like you are reading a history book. This one sounds so interesting!  I'm looking forward to reading it.

Amazon describes it here:

"Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define our country.

As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. 

A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam. They settled in what is now Marietta on the banks of the Ohio River.

McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler’s son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect, and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, no guarantees of any sort, all the while negotiating a contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the native people. Like so many of McCullough’s subjects, they let no obstacle deter or defeat them.

Drawn in great part from a rare and all-but-unknown collection of diaries and letters by the key figures, The Pioneers is a uniquely American story of people whose ambition and courage led them to remarkable accomplishments. This is a revelatory and quintessentially American story, written with David McCullough’s signature narrative energy."

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr.

Charles Spurgeon is one of my favorite preacher authors to read. He fought the good fight, and through many difficulties he keep his faith in God.

This book is about his wife Susannah. I don't know much about her, so I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

Goodreads says here:
"While many Christians recognize the name of Charles H. Spurgeon, the beloved preacher and writer, few are familiar with the life and legacy of his wife, Susie.  Yet Susannah Spurgeon was an accomplished and devout woman of God who had a tremendous ministry in her own right, as well as in support of her husband. 

Even while dealing with serious health issues, she administered a book fund for poor pastors, edited and published her husband’s sermons and other writings, led a pastor’s aid ministry, wrote five books, made her home a hub of hospitality, and was instrumental in planting a church. And as her own writing attests, she was also a warm, charming, and fascinating woman.

Now, for the first time, Susie brings this vibrant woman’s story to modern readers. Ray Rhodes Jr. examines Susannah’s life, showing that she was not only the wife of London’s most famous preacher, but also a woman who gave all she had in grateful service to the Lord.

Susie is an inspiring and encouraging account of a truly remarkable woman of faith that will delight Spurgeon devotees and fans of Christian biographies alike."

October 20, 2019

A Few Thoughts on the Book of Matthew

My Bible's introduction to the book of Matthew says here:

"Matthew is the gospel written by a Jew to Jews about a Jew. Matthew is the writer, his countrymen are the readers, and Jesus Christ is the subject. Matthew's design is to present Jesus as the King of the Jews, the long-awaited Messiah. Through a carefully selected series of Old Testament quotations, Matthew documents Jesus Christ's claim to be the Messiah. His genealogy, baptism, messages, and miracles all point to the same inescapable conclusion: Christ is King. Even in His death, seeming defeat is turned to victory by the Resurrection, and the message again echoes forth: the King of the Jews lives."
In the gospels, the words of Jesus always pierce my soul. His life, here on earth, moves me every time. When I get to his betrayal, beatings and crucifixion, I am always overwhelmed by His love, even though I've read and heard it hundreds of times before.

As the introduction states, Matthew focuses on Jesus as King. This leads me to a few things that happen to Peter in this book that point us to this.

In chapter 14 verse 25 Jesus is walking on water towards a boat the disciples are in. They are troubled when they see Him, but then Jesus says:  

'Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.'

Peter than questions Jesus and says;  

'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.'

Jesus calls: 'Come' 

Peter than gets out of the boat and starts walking on the water towards Jesus.

But when he takes his eyes off of Jesus, and looks around at the sea and wind, he is afraid and begins to sink. Calling out, 'Lord, save me!'

Jesus stretches out His hand and catches him, but also reprehends him saying, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'

This story shows us our need for the Lord in all things, that we are weak, but He is strong. Peter's faith was weak because it was based on faith in himself as a 'good' follower of Jesus.

But Jesus is teaching Him to put his faith in Him alone. To look at Him and nothing else.

Later during the last supper, Jesus tells the disciples in chapter 26 verse 31-35:  

'All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 

'I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' (Zech. 13:7)'

Peter, in his stubborn faith in his own feelings and thoughts, says:

'Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.' 

Jesus answered him:

'Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'

Again Peter is defiant and says:

'Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!'

Peter isn't listening. Instead, he is arguing with the King of Kings!

We know that, that night Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.

This is what we do when we don't have our faith totally in Him and instead insist on believing our own feelings and thoughts and so putting our faith in ourselves.

This is not being a true follower of Christ.

Jesus asks us to have faith in Him alone.

Jesus loved Peter.

He was patient with him and kind. Jesus knew Peter was open to learning and growing in Him. He knew Peter would come to a place of surrender and a strong faith in Him alone.

Jesus is the same with us. If we humble ourselves before Him he is just in forgiving us our sins, patient in our growth and kind with our mistakes.

But He is adamant that our faith is in Him alone. Why? Because He is King. The King who loves us.

I'll leave you with this beautiful quote from Charles Spurgeon:

"My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, HE is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am or shall be or feel or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me. Hallelujah!"

October 14, 2019

The Psalms - Part Three

I thought I'd share a few more Psalms here today. It's been awhile since I have. I always need these reminders of wisdom and guidance.

You can read my other two posts HERE and HERE

I'm reminded to trust in the Lord:

"In You, O LORD, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness." Psalm 31:1

"Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness." Psalm 37:3

I'm reminded to be humble before Him:

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

"The LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation." Psalm 149:4

I'm reminded that joy and salvation come from the Lord:

"A Psalm of David. The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD;
And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!" Psalm 21:1

I'm reminded to be thankful to Him:

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations." Psalm 100:4-5

I'm reminded to ask the Lord for help in watching what I say:

"Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips." Psalm 141:3

I'm reminded it is good to praise Him:

"Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth." Psalm 115:1

"Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the LORD;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being." Psalm 146:1-2

"Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful." Psalm 147:1

October 7, 2019

All That's Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment

"The goal of discernment is not to simply avoid the evil in this life; it is to learn what is good so that we might embrace and enjoy it." Hannah Anderson
This book started out talking about pies.

And I thought...'I don't know if I'm going to get through this one!' But I'm so glad I stuck with it. It was filled with such wisdom and truth.

This book addresses the commands of Philippians 4:8...

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." 

Here are the chapter headings:

1. Taste and See
2. The Good Earth
3. Worldly Wise
4. Whatever is True
5. Whatever is Honorable
6. Whatever is Just
7. Whatever is Pure
8. Whatever is Lovely
9. Whatever is Commendable
10. Every Good Gift
11. Our Common Good

I thought I'd share a bit from chapter 9: Whatever is Commendable.

The author says here of what is commendable:

"When someone blasphemes, they denigrate or speak inappropriately about things that deserve honor and respect, including things of a religious or sacred nature...

...By extension then, seeking whatever is 'commendable' means giving attention to both what we talk about and how we talk about it.

Becoming discerning people includes developing a taste for things that should be communicated and avoiding things that are best left unsaid or unuttered. It's understanding that what a person chooses to talk about reveals as much about them as what they say about it. 

It's knowing that what we give attention to will shape us and the world in which we live. It's aligning ourselves with people who speak well and becoming those people ourselves."

And here:

"...when the Scripture calls us to whatever is commendable, it is calling us to something greater than niceness - it's calling us to speak what is right and good. It is calling us to speech that is richer and more robust than either platitudes or silence. 

Remember that discernment is not concerned primarily with our social comfort. It is concerned with goodness. And sometimes pursuing goodness will lead us outside the boundaries of polite conversation."

When we think about Philippians 4:8 we often skim over this word. It's easier to think about what is true, what is lovely, what is just, but we often forget about what is commendable.

Commendable means we must speak out.

The author says here:

"When we simply won't speak against evil - whether because we have a vested interest in maintaining status quo or because we're preserving our own sense of comfort - we enable it to continue. 

When we refuse to expose the things done in secret, when we are silent in the face of wrongdoing, we become party to it by the simple fact that we have done nothing to stop it. 

As Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel observes, 'Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentors, never the tormented.' 

Instead of encouraging silence. Paul calls us to use our words to expose evil, to literally call it out."

I can think of many evil things going on in the world right now, things unspeakable, yet the world tells you these evils are good. Speak out. Encourage each other to think on what is commendable.

Embrace what is good and teach it to your children.

I highly recommend this book and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

Buy it HERE on Amazon