September 28, 2020

Epic: An Around-The -World Journey through Christian History

This was such an interesting idea for a book! Tim Challies took a trip around the world, visiting places of Christian significance and writing about Christian history through objects he observed. The book also contains many photos, which added to the meaning of each story he was telling.

I thought I'd share a few that I found extremely interesting.

The Book of Kells

Tim visited Scotland to learn of the history of this unique book, which is now displayed in Ireland where he traveled next. 

He says here of the book:

"There is nothing quite like it anywhere in the world. It's a manuscript containing the four gospels in Latin, and it dates all the way back to around AD 800. What first stands out to those who view it is its sheer beauty. The pages are made of fine vellum, and nearly every page is adorned with beautiful, intricately designed illustrations. The Book of Kells is an ancient Bible, but it is also a stunning work of art."

Out of all the objects he talks about in his book this is the one I would love to see the most. I think the care and love that went into it, not only shows us the beauty and majesty of its words, but how highly the makers of it appreciated its truth and wanted it carried on to the next generation.

Jan Hus's Cell Door

Years ago I read the letters that Jan Hus wrote while in prison. They were inspiring and uplifting, written by a man who put his trust in God and His Word.

Jan Hus was one of the first to protest against the errors of the Catholic church at the time. He was from Bohemia (the modern Czech Republic), born around 1370. As a preacher He encountered the writing of John Wycliffe of England and the rest is history.

Tim Challies says here:

"Eventually Jan Hus encountered these teachings, and they changed his life... He began to read the Bible with fresh eyes, and he adopted much of Wycliffe's theology, including the belief that the church is made up of all of God's elect for all of time and that the church's rightful head is Christ rather than the Pope."

This later got him imprisoned and later tied to a stake and burned to death. Some of his last words were:

"In the truth of the gospel I have written, taught, and preached; today I will gladly die."


Charles Wesley's Organ 

Charles Wesley wrote over 6000 hymns, some still sung today. One of his best known is 'Hark! the herald angels sing' This organ is where he wrote so many beautiful songs to the Lord. Songs sung by millions of believers, all over the world, ever since.

Tim Challies quotes one particular verse from a song called 'And Can it Be?'

"And can it be that I should gain
An int'rest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love?! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"


The Slave Bible

This chapter took me aback. I had never heard of the Slave Bible. I found this appalling, that men, who claimed to be Christians, could take the Word of God and twist it for evil gains.

Tim Challies says here:

"Not all of the objects I saw on my travels had a positive story to tell. The Slave Bible is one of those. It's a story that warns us of the dangers of compromising the message of the gospel to accommodate our sin. And it's a timely reminder that sinful human beings can use good things - even the precious Word of God - to commit great evil."

The Slave Bible omitted Scripture that pertained to freedom for all in Christ. How horrifying is that?

Scriptures like:

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28 
 And as Tim describes here:

"The great future promise of Christ's gospel is a day when God's people will gather before him as 'a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.' Revelation 7:9

This reminded me of how important it is to honor God's Word as a whole.

George Muller's Collection Box

I love George Muller's story. I read his book 'Answers to Prayer' and was amazed at how he trusted God. In a world of greedy TV preachers, it's hard to imagine a man like George Muller. A man who never asked for a penny, but bowed before God and petitioned to Him for all his needs. And God provided so much, and for so many, because of his obedience.

George Muller instead put out collection boxes for whoever God moved to give. Never asking or pleading for money. God worked through his obedience and many orphans were given a home from the streets of England in the 1800's.

Tim Challies says here of the boxes:

"The front says simply, 'For the orphans.' Muller would not ask people to give money but instead would pray for the Lord to provide. One of these boxes was placed within each of the orphan houses so that people could give as the Lord directed, each one perhaps inadvertently providing an answer to those earnest prayers. Those simple boxes aptly tell about the simple but expansive faith of a great man."


*note - I couldn't find a picture of the collection box so I've inserted a picture of George Muller

September 21, 2020

5 books on my future reading list

What Jesus Demands from the World

I'm really excited to start this one. It has very short chapters, which is always helpful when trying to get through a large challenging book. : )

Goodreads says here:

"The four Gospels are filled with demands straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ. These demands are Jesus' way of showing us who He is and what He expects of us. 

They are not the harsh demands of a taskmaster. 

For example, the demand that we come to Jesus is like the demand of a father to his child in a burning window, "Jump to me!" Or like the demand of a rich, strong, tender, handsome husband to an unfaithful wife, "Come home!" What Jesus demands from the world can be summed up as: "Trust and treasure me above all." This is good news!

In What Jesus Demands from the World, John Piper has gathered many of Jesus' demands from the four Gospels. He begins with an introduction that puts the demands in a redemptive-historical context, then concisely examines each demand. The result is an accessible introduction for thoughtful inquirers and new believers, as well as meditative meat for veteran believers who want to know Jesus better."

The Faithful Preacher

I'm also really excited to read this book! I've had it on my shelves for years and didn't realize what a gem I had, not until I read about one of these men in a recent read.

This book consists of short biographies of 3 African American preachers, Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833), Daniel A. Payne (1811-1893), and Francis Grimke (1850-1937), as well as several of their sermons.

John Piper says of these faithful preachers:

"Related to their faithfulness is their longevity. Their careers span most major periods in American history, including the American Revolution, slavery at the height of its power, the Civil War, Emancipation and Reconstruction, and World War I. 

Through these periods, they faced extreme hardships. None of them were born into privilege. All of them either witnessed or tasted the lash of slavery and the racial prejudices that followed that institution. 

Around them American society changed radically. However, their commitment to the ministry and their understanding of it remained constant. They continued in the same glorious work of proclaiming the gospel 'instant in season, out of season' (2Timothy 4:2)"

You're not enough (and that's okay)

As Christians we undoubtedly know we are in need of a Savior. 

And I think this book is going to be a reminder of that.

Amazon says here:

"We're told that the key to happiness is self-love. Instagram influencers, mommy bloggers, self-help gurus, and even Christian teachers promise that if we learn to love ourselves, we'll be successful, secure, and complete. But the promise doesn't deliver. Instead of feeling fulfilled, our pursuit of self-love traps us in an exhausting cycle: as we strive for self-acceptance, we become addicted to self-improvement.

The truth is we can't find satisfaction inside ourselves because we are the problem. We struggle with feelings of inadequacy because we are inadequate. Alone, we are not good enough, smart enough, or beautiful enough. We're not enough--period. 

And that's okay, because God is.

The answer to our insufficiency and insecurity isn't self-love, but God's love. In Jesus, we're offered a way out of our toxic culture of self-love and into a joyful life of relying on him for wisdom, satisfaction, and purpose. We don't have to wonder what it's all about anymore. This is it."

The Book of Lost Names

I just started this one and loving it already. I really enjoy novels based on true stories and this one sounds like its going to be fascinating and heart-felt.

The inside flap says here:

"An unforgettable historical novel about a young woman with a talent for forgery who helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis.

Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II."

Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus

This one sounds really interesting.

The back cover says here:

"The story of Jesus in the Gospels includes all kinds of interesting people—some who claimed to be saints but proved to be scoundrels, as well as scoundrels who were transformed into saints. 

In Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus, Nancy Guthrie provides a fresh look into what shaped and motivated people such as John the Baptist, Peter, the Pharisees, Zacchaeus, Judas, Caiaphas, Barabbas, Stephen, and Paul. 

Join her as she reintroduces us to these biblical characters, helping us to see more clearly the ways in which they reveal the generous grace of Jesus toward sinners."