Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas for Christian book lovers



Fiction



Polycarp: a destroyer of our gods 
- By Rick Lambert

This book will work even for those who don't normally read novels, as it's not just fiction, it is also instructive and edifying, it's like a book on spiritual growth only in the format of a novel. Most novels are entertaining, carrying you along by the emotions and imagination and, although they are certainly enjoyable to read, it is a bit discouraging that, when one is done with them, one is left with the feeling of having catered to oneself rather than having grown in any way. This book is an edifying novel, wherein you learn along with the main character rather than merely being an observer of him and the different events in his life. You are carried along by a desire to learn, not merely a desire to be entertained. While most novels inspire you to read more novels, this one inspires you to read God’s word. Instead of making you want to live in a different time, a different place, have a romance, an adventure, become an admired hero, this book inspires you to get out into the fray of your own battles and discover the lessons promoting spiritual growth that God has for you in your own life. I highly recommend it as, not just a good read, but an inspiring one. It gives an illustration of the life of a Christian living out the reality of victory over sin and death that Christ has provided for him. Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Amazon.com 






The Holy War 
- By John Bunyan

This is a fascinating allegory. Personally, I think that it is better than A Pilgrim's Progress. One of my uncles introduced me to it when I was a young teenager. I've loved it ever since. The town of Mansoul is taken over (with the peoples' consent) by an evil tyrant named Diabolus and his cohorts. The secondary rulers of the town, native townsmen like Lord WIllbeWill and Mr. Mind are compliant with all of his changes. The rightful King's Son, Prince Emmanuel comes and fights to take the town back, ultimately succeeding, banishing Diabolous and and changing nature of the townspeople within. The rest of the book deals with the townspeople's fickleness and their wars against the flesh (they are supposed to put to death the remaining diabolinians who live in the city walls)and they face foes like the army of "Election Doubters", the army of "Vocation Doubters"and the "Resurrection Doubters". They also have to contend with individual diabolinians within the town (whom at times they fail to kill and are deceived by) like Mr. Carnal Security. But the Prince is faithful, even when they are not, though they do not understand all of His ways.

I recommend the version that is abridged and updated to modern English.

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com 






Stepping Heavenward 
- By Elizabeth Prentiss

This story is written in the format of a diary, written by a woman named Katherine, who records her life struggles, from young womanhood through much of her married life. She gives the events of various days (sometimes skipping days, months or even years, but giving updates along the way), and writes down many of her inmost thoughts, questions and struggles with sin. She has questions about her salvation and whether or not she is being sanctified. God brings along many different people to teach her and to help her recognize that He really is working in her and making her more Christ like. God also brings along many different trials to grow her spiritually. Kate grows in the Faith, becomes more patient toward others, learns to not trust her own judgement, learns to trust God more and more, learns that whatever trials He ordains for her to face are lovingly ordained to make her more Christ like. The book is very well written and really keeps the attention, or at least it kept mine! Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com



Biography


Free Grace and Dying Love: 
The Life of Susannah Surgeon
- By Charles Ray and Susannah Spurgeon

This is a rather short biography over Mrs. Spurgeon, but still very interesting and inspiring. Susannah Spurgeon is another example of living for God in whatever circumstances and with whatever limitations He has given you, making the most of the time He has allotted for you. Also, it includes twenty-four little musings that she wrote about Scriptural truths. 


This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com




More Love to Thee:
The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss
- By George Prentiss

This book is about a woman who lived an ordinary life of faith. Not very exciting sounding, is it? Ordinary...what is good about the ordinary? What purpose can be found in it? The most important purpose. God's. Mrs. Prentiss wrote books; that was exceptional. But for the most part, her life was that of a Christian housewife'. Ironically, a life of faith in ordinary circumstances is just as, if not more, extraordinary as a person who exercised faith in extraordinary circumstances. Her husband, George, put this biography together very well. It is very interesting, with excerpts from her diary and letters forming a major part. Even her thoughts on everyday occurrences are insightful and encouraging, found this biography comforting, interesting and thought provoking. We look at exhibitions of faith in all kinds of circumstances, all of them are witnesses to it being worth it. Even the ones who exhibited biblical faith in common circumstances. Knowing the sovereignty of God, we trust that He places us in exactly the right place to exercise faith.  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com
(The one I am recommending is the one by her husband George - there seems to be another biography about Elizabeth under the same name)





Hudson Taylor 
Vol 1: In Early Years: The Growth of a Soul
Vol 2:The Growth of a Work of God
-By Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

I have read these two volumes some time ago but am now reading them again with two of my sisters. We're very intrigued and fascinated with how God used Taylor and how he grew him and sanctified him. He tried to keep the perspective that God is completely sovereign, and strove to acknowledge it in everything he did. Much of the commentary of the authors (Taylor's son and daughter in-law) is also very nice - they try to keep the perspective of God's working in Taylor's life and all of his circumstances as well.

This book may be purchased at OMF International - You may also be able to find the books on Amazon.com 





Life and Letters of General Thomas J. Jackson: Stonewall Jackson 
- By his wife, Mary Anna Jackson

Very interesting account of this man's life. I loved his example of trust in the sovereignty of God - so much so that he was quite fearless on the battlefield, knowing that his life was in God's hands. 

This book may be purchased at Reformation Heritage Books and at Amazon.com





An Autobiography and Letters of the Author of The Listener, Christ Our Law, Etc..
- By Caroline Fry Wilson
Caroline Fry Wilson, I had never heard of her before, but came across some of her writings while looking for something online.  I became intrigued while skimming through some of her writings and decided to learn more about her.  She was a Christian author writing in the 1800s, who wasn't afraid to delve into theological subjects. The biographical part of this book isn't very large, but is very interesting to see her looking back in retrospect on how God brought her to Himself.  The rest of the book is made up of her letters to various people and is also very, very interesting and edifying. 
This book may be purchased at Amazon.com





Martin Luther
- By Simonetta Carr

Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr is a nice overview of the life of Luther for children. She writes in a way that I think children will easily understand and also manages to simplify explanations of erroneous beliefs of the day as well as important Biblical concepts. I really appreciated that she does not make Luther come across as a hero to be worshiped but rather as a man, saved by God's grace and not his own merit, who was used by God to bring people to a correct knowledge of the Gospel and to point them to the Word of God as the only authority.  Be sure to check out the other biographies in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers Series!  Read My Full Review


This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com


Topical




The Language of Salvation: 
Discovering the Riches of What it Means to Be Saved
 - By Victor Kuligin

A friend gave this book to me, otherwise I don't think I'd have ever come across it.  I really like it.  Kuligin does an excellent job of pulling together a biblical picture of salvation, showing that many people miss what Salvation actually is. Salvation, as described in God's Word, has so many intricate details, one can approach it from several different aspects, which Kuligin dives into in this book. I really need to give this one a full review some time. 

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com




The Messianic Hope
- By Michael Rydelnik
How defensible are Old Testament prophecies of Christ? If someone came up to you and declares that, in the Hebrew manuscripts of the OT, Psalm 22:16 does not read, "they pierced my hands and my feet," rather, when it is accurately translated it reads, "like a lion are my hands and feet." What would your answer be? And what if they say that Isaiah 53 was not speaking of a Messiah, but rather of Israel as a suffering servant? Nowadays, too many Christians believe that many, if not all, of the prophecies of the Messiah are only indirect prophecies, not direct prophecies. And many Christians might say that these prophecies are allegorically fulfilled, or that it is perfectly alright for the Holy Spirit , in His inspiration of the Apostles, to change His own prophecies. Others say that many prophecies have a 'double fulfillment', that these prophecies were fulfilled historically, in the prophets' life-time, and that they were fulfilled spiritually by Christ.

Michael Rydelnik offers the best defense I have read on the topic, arguing for the literal/direct fulfillment of Messianic/end time prophecies. I was fascinated by his information on Rashi and his followers, how they influenced, and to some degree instigated, the change from the literal interpretation of the Messianic prophecies, to interpreting these prophecies as having historical fulfillments in the time they were prophesied. In doing this, they countered the Christians' proof texts that Jesus is the Christ. These Jews' claimed to be using a literal hermeneutic, and that the literal interpretation of these prophecies was to view them as historically fulfilled. Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com





Excellence:  The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtues
By Andreas J. Kostenberger

This book focuses on applying the virtues described in 2 Peter 1:3-11 to Christian scholarship, examining how they ought to be implemented in that vocation.  I found it inspiring and think that it will interest and encourage Christians in a variety of vocations (I found it very interesting and applicable to myself), not just scholars.  This is one of those books I need to write a review of sometime.  Here's a quote from the book,"Spirituality is therefore not an individualistic experience of solitude, defined by the amount of time spent in protracted periods of communion alone with God, but an active obedience to God's commands that practically demonstrates love to others and is integrally involved in Jesus' mission to the world."  


This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com







Jesus' Terrible Financial Advice: Flipping the Tables on Peace, Prosperity, and the Pursuit of Happiness 
-by John Thornton
This book, Jesus' Terrible Financial Advice, was in a list of books available for review in the book reviewing program of which I'm a member.   The description of this book caught my attention.  It was described as not being the book that the author, John Thornton, intended to write.  He wanted to write about how his family had gotten to a debt free state and wanted to back it up with biblical principles.  But then He went to the Bible to study the topic and found that Jesus' teachings on money shocked him, they really seemed like irresponsible teachings, teachings that didn't seem like the type of instructions that God would give wise stewards to follow.  He put off writing the book for a long time.   I was intrigued by this information and so I requested the book.  Thornton directs us to think about why Christ came to the earth in the first place, "to glorify His Father".  And all of Jesus' teachings, including his teachings on money, stem from this purpose. God does not need money to get things done, and we Christians do not need money either because God supplies all our needs, and he does not need money to do that.  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com





The Forgotten Father
- by Thomas Allan Smail
Recently there seems to have been a trend towards a Christocentric hermeneutic, and an overall focus on Christ altogether in Christian circles. It has been frustrating to see, as the focus of the Bible is more Theocentric. Christ Himself points to the Father! When I saw the title of this book, it intrigued me...that's exactly what I and my dad(a pastor) have been talking about: people forgetting about God the Father. It might surprise you, as it surprised me, to learn that Mr. Smail is a charismatic. His leanings show up more towards the end of the book, so be watching out for that. But even this this is not so 'bad', as he is critical of the movement, desiring it to focused on the Father, not on the Spirit, to be biblical rather than emotionally/needs based(focused on miracles, speaking in tongues). Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com





Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches
- by Peter Greer and‎ Chris Horst with ‎Anna Haggard 

Why do so many Christian organizations become secular within a generation or two? How does one build a focused ministry that doesn't change its core purpose? Peter Greer and Christ Horst provide some excellent answers in Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches. They have examined and analyzed various ministries, some that have stayed focused on their Gospel focused mission, and some that drifted away from that focus have become secular in focus, not spiritual. They warn that Mission Drift is inevitable unless it is actively fought against.  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com 






Daily Readings from The Christian in Complete Armour 
- William Gurnall

I have read a good chunk of the unabridged Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall, it is very good but HUGE, you kind of need to plough through it. This book, Daily Readings from The Christian in Complete Armour was an excellent idea!  Breaking it up into small chunks for daily reading makes it a much easier read, and gives you a good taste of Gurnall's great skill of teaching and illustrating various spiritual warfare concepts. The best summary that I can come up with is that this book is like having a spiritual commanding officer giving you a rousing speech each day to be ready to fight the battles to come.  Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com



Greek




Greek for Everyone: Introductory Greek for Bible Study and Application
- by A. Chadwick Thornhill
Greek for Everyone by A. Chadwick Thornhill presents a unique book on New Testament Greek.  His  stated goal is to have those reading this book learn "Greek in order to become better students of the Scripture rather than students of Greek." The aim of the book is not to "gain reading proficiency but rather are working to establish the ability to use various tools to study the text in Greek".  

And I think that Thornhill accomplishes his goals with this book, he takes you through a basic (though it still seems quite thorough) overview of the various parts of Greek so that you may then use lexicons, parsing guides, and other Greek tools in your Bible study without having to become an expert Greek scholar. Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com



Eschatology


The Apostles' School of Prophetic Interpretation: With Its History Down to the Present Time
- by Charles Maitland

The Apostles' School of Prophetic Interpretation: With Its History Down to the Present Time - by Charles Maitland is a very fascinating book on prophecy.  Maitland bases his premise on the fact that the Apostles taught Christians verbally and not merely through letters, and that those letters do not contain everything they taught the early Christians.   He cites 2 Thes. 2:15, "So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours. "(2Th 2:15 ASV)  And also uses another verse closely connected with the above to prove his point, speaking of 2 Thess. Ii 5-6.  "…on this point St. Paul and the Thessalonians understood each other:  'Ye know what withholdeth.' And how had they learnt it?  'When I was yet with you I told you these things.'  They knew something not directly expressed in Scripture:  and this knowledge they were told to hand down together with the epistle." Paul told the Thessalonians to hold fast to, and by implication to pass down, what they had been taught, by letter and by the Apostles' verbal teaching.  So Maitland thinks that one of the best ways to study prophecy is to see what many of the Christians of the early church believed in regard to prophecy as they may have learned from the Apostles, or those taught by the Apostles, about certain prophetic interpretations.  This is what the author does in this book, going down through church history to see what the earliest Christians believed and observing and critiquing the deviations from those interpretations that ended up occurring along the way. Read My Full Review

This book may be purchased at Amazon.com Or you can read it for free online on Google Books or on Archive.org






Amillennialism and the Age to Come

- By Matt Waymeyer


Amillennialism and the Age to Come: A Premillennial Critique of the Two-Age Model by Matt Waymeyer is an excellent critique of Amillennialism and, in the process, an excellent defense of Premillennialism. I learned a lot about Amillennialism and grew even more confident (if that's even possible) in the Premillennial view of Scripture. 



This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com






Israel and the Church: The Origin and Effects of Replacement Theology

- By Ronald E. Diprose


A Fascinating exploration of how replacement theology...or as some nowadays seem to want to call it, "fulfillment theology" came to be and how it affected various aspects of Christian doctrine.  I found the section on "Replacement Theology and Ecclesiology" particularly interesting as it details how the view that Israel is now the church as a whole affected ecclesiastical practices, introducing 'Priests" and the"Eucharist" into the church as they began bringing in Christianized levitical roles.


This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and at Amazon.com







Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Spurgeon Study Bible - CSB Version










The Spurgeon Study Bible is a very neat idea.  As most people somewhat acquainted with Mr. Spurgeon know, he was not a verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible kind of preacher.  He usually would choose a verse (or portion of verses) for one Sunday and would preach on that and then preach on another (non-related, often from a whole different book)verse the next week. And also, some may also notice that his preaching was not always very exegetical.

That being said, this  commentary is a great compilation!  It sort of gives a glimpse of how it would have been if Spurgeon went by a more verse by verse preaching style, and it focuses on snippets from his sermons that are more exegetical.

The version that I have is the brown and tan cloth over board Bible.  It is very nicely bound and seems quite durable.  The spine has some fancy looking ridges on it and the front has Spurgeon's signature printed on the bottom left.

There is a lot of good commentary in this work.  But there are also, of course, places where the commentary is not so great. To give an example, in one place he says,  "I hate that plan of reading the Scriptures in which we are told, when we lay hold of a gracious promise, 'Oh, that is for the Jews.'   Then I also am a Jew, for it is given to me!  Every promise of God's Word belongs to all those who have the faith to grasp it…."  That is a ridiculous, irreverent and, to speak very plainly, quite a selfish statement.  Why does everything have to be about us individually? And it absolutely cannot be applied in a general way.  What if there was a married, childless, ninety year old woman who greatly desires to have children and so she reads Genesis and Matthew,  and grasps hold of the promises given to Sarah and Elizabeth, that they would bear children in their old age,  and applies them to herself in faith?  Is that a reverent interpretation of God's Word?

Anyway, I still think that this is a worthwhile Bible to get.  There is a lot of good commentary in here, and of course, it is filled with pithy statements like, "Let us never think that we have learned a doctrine until we have seen its fruit in our lives." and "Anything is a blessing that makes us pray"

And I was particularly pleased at Spurgeon's conclusions in some places that are more or less controversial today.  For instance, in speaking of the flood's being a universal flood some of the commentary says, "If Moses had meant to describe a partial deluge on only a small part of the earth, he used misleading language.  But if he meant to teach that the deluge was universal, he used the words we might have expected that he would use.  I should think that no person, merely by reading this chapter, would arrive at the conclusion that has been reached by some of our learned men - too learned to hold the simple truth of God. " Wow! That's really stating it plainly.

And then, speaking of 1 Corinthians 9-10 ("What no eye has seen, no ear has heard….") he expresses incredulity at "How frequently verses of Scripture are misquoted!  How frequently do we hear believers describing heaven as a place of which we cannot conceive.  They quote verse 9, and there they stop, not seeing that the marrow of the whole passage lies in verse 10.  The apostle was not talking about heaven at all.  He was only saying that the wisdom of this world is not able to discover the things of God, that the merely carnal mind is not able to know the deep spiritual things of our most holy faith…" Rather, these things "must be revealed by the Spirit of God, as they are to all believers."  I was delighted that he had come to that conclusion as I know that my dad (a pastor) has been frustrated by the same thing.

As one would expect with just about anything written by Spurgeon, there is a lot of quotable stuff in the commentary. Overall, it's exactly what one would expect in a Spurgeon study Bible.

Many thanks to the folks at B&H Publishers for the free review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable)!

My Rating:  5 out of 5 Stars
*****

This Bible may be purchased at websites like Christianbook.com and Amazon.com

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Eve in Exile - Rebekah Merkle

What is God's purpose for Christian women? Do women have a unique roll to fulfill or is it exactly the same as men's'?  In our Christian circles, which seems to be infected by our feminist focused society, this book is quite a refreshing breath of reaffirmed biblical truth (rather than reaffirmed worldly cultural preference).

In her book Eve in Exile: And the Restoration of Femininity,  Rebekah Merkle writes an excellent exhortation to Christian women of our day. There are four sections in the book,  I'll give a description and perhaps some comments on each one.

Section one: Two Distractions.  The chapters within this section deal with two ways that will NOT fix the problem of ascertaining how Christian women can fulfill their purpose in life. I found it fascinating that one of the 'distractions' Merkle critiques is the way some women try to deal with the problem by looking to the past, a particular period of history, the Austen era, for example, a time when gender roles were very distinct.  This is not a biblical method for obtaining true femininity as the Bible doesn't tell us isolate ourselves in  our own little bubble of some other time period.  We have to live in this age, though this age will not define us, nor will the ages of the past, which weren't actually that great anyway. 

The second way, and this seems to be the most popular one, is to make yourself number one.  Merkle demonstrates the selfishness of this view very plainly,"….. Our society has clearly ruled that when it comes down to a choice between your husband and children on the one side and you on the other….the right choice, the noble choice, the wise choice, is always you.  You do what makes you happy.  You do what makes you fulfilled.  You don't let anyone get in the way of your dreams.  You don't settle.  You deserve it.  You go girl!....If that baby is going to get in the way of your dreams or your pursuits, then obviously that baby must be eliminated.  Nothing must stand in the way of your aspirations..   Your personal hopes, desires, or opportunities trump all else, and sacrificing your dreams for someone else is not seen as noble, it's seen as ludicrous.  If you lay down your 'life' for another, you certainly won't get respect or admiration from our society, and you will definitely get disdain.  By many, your choice will just be seen as downright offensive."

Section Two deals with the history of feminism for the past few hundred years or so.  Don't worry, it's not a boring read.  It's fascinating and sad at the same time and Merkle adds plenty of interesting commentary, including an interesting theory on what jumpstarted each wave of feminism:  Feminist movements always seemed to happen when women saw their place in society as being an ornamental rather than doing any sort of really valuable work and they thought that the men were doing the really worthwhile things.  In the 1950s housekeeping became easier and easier with all kinds of conveniences being invented.  Instead of seeing it as a blessing and making the most of their work and being creative with it, women became bored and "fussy" and became very demanding.  "This is fundamentally at odds with biblical teaching on what is an obedient (and effective) response to injustice.  Christ did not tell us that when someone takes our coat we should loudly demand its immediate return….When we are reviled He did not tell us to make sandwich boards and picket.  When we are struck, we are not told to strike back harder.  When Paul was imprisoned, he didn't commence organizing a prison riot or, for that matter, go on a hunger strike.  And yet, aggressively demanding that everyone give women what is owed to us has been the entire campaign strategy of the feminist movement from Day One."

Section Three:  What Are Women Designed For?   Addresses the way women can find true fulfillment.  "If God designed women for a specific purpose, if there are fixed limits on the feminine nature, then surely it would follow that when we are living in accordance with those limits and purpose we will be in our sweet spot.  That's where we'll shine.  Where we'll excel.  And where we will find the most fulfilment."  We were not created to be the center of attention.  We were made to work, to help, to be fruitful, to glorify…etc.

Let me pause here and say my usual disclaimer:  Of course, I didn't necessarily agree with everything in this book.  For instance, and I'm sure that Merkle didn't mean this, but sometimes some of her argument came across as though men merely preach the Good News and the truths of God's Word while the women are the ones who live it out and embody it.  But that's not correct.  Men are supposed to live out the truth also.  I think that Merkle may have been trying too hard to describe our women's work as a unique thing. Our work doesn't have to be outstandingly unique, if it's of God then it's a privilege to be able to do it, unique or not. She also sounded rather mystical in some of her attempts to describe women's work and how great it is, I didn't follow all that she was saying especially in some of the chapters toward the end of the book.

Okay, back to the description:

Section Four:  Living Out Our Design.  Merkle exhorts women to be creative with what God has given them to do.  She emphasizes that,  "This teaching isn't meant to keep the women out of sight; it's describing the way that they can shine the light of the gospel on a lost and sinful culture.  We have to trust God here, because oftentimes we want to be the ones to decide what will be a good witness.  God says, 'Here's how to be a good testimony,' and we think He doesn't understand the nuances of modern society the way we do."   And then she also clarifies that "A household is bigger than the house itself, and as Paul describes the duties of a wife and mother, it is clear that her duties are defined by the people she is surrounded by and not simply her street address."  Keeping one's household doesn't not necessarily involve not having a job outside the building that a wife calls "home" but it means that "home", the people in  it, are her priority, her focus, and if other things become the priority then they are distractions, not worthy goals.

Using those four sections Merle really gets one thinking about our God-given job as women and how we can best fulfill that service to the best of our ability.  When we see that we can best please our Maker by doing what He made us to do then we have something to work toward. We are here to please our Savior, not ourselves, and He Himself tells us, in His Word, how we can be pleasing to Him and fulfill our God-glorifying purpose.  Overall I really liked this book.  And Merkle is an excellent writer, she keeps the attention (especially because of her sense of humor and sarcasm), and continually pulls one's perspective back to God's Word and His purpose rather than our own.  It was a very enjoyable and thought provoking read.


Many thanks to the folks at Canon Press for sending me a free review copy of this book! (My review did not have to be favorable)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
*****

This book may be purchased at Amazon.com and at canonpress.com

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Quote of the Day

How could Hudson Taylor have imagined, for example, that the robbery that left him in such distress upon this journey was to result in the deliverance of the entire mission he was yet to found, during a period of financial danger?  How could he suppose that the upset of all his plans and the severance of a partnership in service more precious than any he had ever known was to prove the crowning blessing of his life on the human side, bringing him into association and at last union with the one of all others most suited both to him and his work? 


But so it is God leads.  His hand is on the helm.  We are being guided even when we feel it least.  The closed door is as much His providence as the open, and equally for our good and the accomplishment of His own great ends.  And one learns at last that it is not what we set ourselves to do that really tells in blessing so much as what He is doing through us when we least expect it.

- Dr. and Mrs Howard Taylor


Quote from their book:



The Growth of a Soul: Hudson Taylor in the Early Years

Monday, November 13, 2017

Quote of the Day

Yes, that is how it ever has been, ever must be with the people of God.  Until we are carried quite out of our depth, beyond all our own wisdom and resources, we are not more than beginners in the school of faith.  Only as everything fails us and we fail ourselves, finding out how poor and weak we really are, how ignorant and helpless, do we begin to draw upon abiding strength.  "Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee," not partly in Thee and partly in himself.  The devil often makes men strong, strong in themselves to do evil…. The Lord on the contrary makes His servant weak, puts him in circumstances that will show him his own nothingness, that he may lean upon the strength that is unfailing.  It is a long lesson for most of us, but it cannot be passed over until deeply learned.  And God Himself thinks no trouble too great, no care too costly to teach us this.   

- Dr and Mrs. Howard Taylor


Quote from their book:


See more quotes on my quote collection blog:  https://snickerdoodlesquotes.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

365 Classic Bedtime Bible Stories

I became interested in reviewing this book when I saw a preview of it online.  365 Classic Bedtime Bible Stories (inspired by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut's Story of the Bible) illustrated by Alessia Girasole is geared towards children ages 3 and up and, from what I saw in the preview text online, it looked like it might be a pretty good resource to have for teaching kids. 

Upon first examining the book I was very pleased to see that they didn't seem to be trying to cut out the more gruesome and sad parts of the Bible.  Some of it struck me as sadly amusing, mainly because of the illustrations.  To give an example, one of the 'stories' gives the account of the 'scoffing' nobleman who didn't believe Elisha when he said that food would be sold at extremely low prices the following day (there was a severe famine in the land).

 The nobleman died the following day from being trampled by people rushing toward the food.  This is illustrated (bloodlessly) in the picture accompanying the story.  It amused me because the pictures in the book are rather 'cutsey' looking cartoons and are geared more for very young children and here is this illustration of a man being trampled by a bunch of people! It also struck me funny because the back of this book describes it as being a way to make "bedtime reading a delightful learning and faith-building experience for both you and your kids." 

One of those 'delightful' stories happens to be one that ends with that ends in this way: "He was knocked to the ground by the crowd and crushed to death."  Sweet dreams kids! Just kidding.  It's good for kids to learn the truth, and it will probably be a good discussion starter about belief in what God says, assuming that you want a discussion started at bedtime.  Or you could just read the next two stories after that.  I say two because if you are reading on, in order to end on a happier note, you won't want to end on the next story either as it ends with a man being smothered!  An illustration is provided for that one as well though it only shows the man ABOUT to be smothered, not in the process of being smothered (if that's any comfort!). 

Sadly, though, there were several exceptions to their accurate accounts of events in the Bible. I'll give three examples:

1. The sections that give the account of Gideon's life end with the statement, "There were, at different times, fifteen judges over Israel.  But of them all, Gideon had the most wisdom, courage, and faith."  Where did they get that from? Do they even remember what happened later in Gideon's life? Gideon requested that people give him gold, "And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel played the harlot after it there; and it became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house. "(Jdg 8:27)  That doesn't give the impression that Gideon was even close to being the best judge of Israel.

2. When speaking of the account of David and Bathsheba, this book says that when David saw her "He loved her and wanted her to be his wife" and so he had her husband Uriah killed.  No… David committed adultery with Bathsheba before having her husband killed and he apparently had no intention of taking Bathsheba for his own wife until he had learned that she was pregnant and couldn't set things up to make it seem as though Uriah was the father. That's when he had Uriah killed.  The people who put this together didn't have to go into great detail of course, but they didn't have to resort to giving inaccurate Biblical history.   

3. The same with the account of Saul in the cave.  This book says that he rested in the gave while David and his men were hiding in there (it even has a picture of Saul wrapped in a blanket sleeping in the cave), and that David cut a corner of Saul's robe while he was sleeping.  But, that of course was not what Saul was doing.  They could have said that he was "using the bathroom" or "relieving himself" and let parents do the explaining.  Or they could have just said that he was in a cave. But say that the Scriptures say something that they did not say!

One more thing, and this is somewhat minor, the words used in the book could have been dumbed down a bit more,  down to the level of a little kid's intellect.  Instead of saying, "He remained there", they could have said, "He stayed there."  Or Instead of "He wept", they could have said "He cried" and so on.  Not only would it make it easier for little kids to understand but it would make it more consistent with other parts of the book where they actually did change it to more modern vernacular.  They  used statements like, "It was stinky", "Come on" and "You're phonies!".  So why do that with only some of the text and yet leave others that are easily changed to something simpler?

The pictures are interesting and kids like looking at them (a couple of my little brothers seem to like them), they generally fit well with the stories. though not all of them are accurate.  I'm pretty sure that Aaron should be illustrated as being older than Moses, not younger (Moses has grey hair and Aaron has brown hair in this book).  I mainly wish that they had chosen not to depict Christ in the illustrations, or at least not to show His face.  That would be more respectful.  Instead they make Him look like a European man with long hair. 

Overall, though, the people who put this book together seem to have done a pretty good job in many of the 'stories' they recount, sticking closely to the text of the Bible in their summaries.  My little brother enjoyed listening to some of it and talking about the pictures.  Just be ready to read it with scrutiny, and with verbal criticism and explanation to make sure that your kids are getting accurate information.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review


My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
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This book may be purchased at Amazon.com and at Christianbook.com