Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Quote of the Day

"…we have repurposed the Christian faith in a way that is generically individualistic.  We claim that we don't need the church to worship, that we can worship anywhere.  We claim that no one can judge us.  We claim that our relationship with God is our business alone.  We have even taken the process of spiritual development, and narrowed it down to an individualistic activity.  The height of Christian maturity, in many American churches, is a consistent quiet time…….

Among conservative evangelicals, there are many who are guilty of this radical individualism in ways that are not readily apparent.  Consider, how we regularly judge the success of a worship service.  We leave and say things like, 'That was great! I really got fed today!'  That sounds mature, and faithful.  It sounds like we are prioritizing good biblical teaching, but it is actually in opposition to biblical worship.  When we judge the effectiveness of a worship service by what it does for us, we have made ourselves the object of the worship experience.  Faithful worship is not measured by how much we are filled up, but rather how much we are emptied and worship is about sacrificing ourselves in our worship of the only God Who is worthy.""

From the book: Leveling the Church: multiplying your Ministry by Giving it Away - By Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield
See more quotes on my quote collection blog: https://snickerdoodlesquotes.blogspot.com/

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Quote of the Day

"A fellow lecturer told his Bible class that it did not matter whether the biblical character Job was real or fictional.  For him, the point off Job's book is to teach us about suffering, and the historicity of Job is immaterial to that lesson.  I cannot disagree more strongly, and hopefully this illustration will help clarify why. 

Suppose you are going through a difficult time in your life.  Perhaps it is from the death of a close relative or you struggle with debilitating illness. Just like the psalmist who felt abandoned by God in his deepest time of need, you feel lost and adrift in your suffering, with no sense of God's care.  In this state, you ask me to bring you wise counsel and comfort.

I tell you a story about a man who built a spaceship to travel to Venus.  Due to a technological breakthrough, he was able to equip his vessel with heat-resistant panels, making it safe to venture close to the sun.  Unfortunately, along the way the panels failed and his eyes were burned out of their sockets.  With all hope seemingly lost, in his despair he called out for help and God rescued him.

What would your reaction be to my story?  Would you thank me for the incredible comfort I gave you?  Or would you look at me with a glare, wondering how I expect this silly story to assist you?....Fiction can provide little comfort for the realities of life.  It is akin to telling someone struggling through financial difficulty, "Don't worry, you'll win the lottery."  Or to a man who lost his legs in a car accident, "Let me read you a story about a man who drank some sugar water and his legs grew back overnight."

The real God of creation acts in the real events of human history.  Our Christian faith is not rooted in esoteric platitudes or ethereal propositional truths to which we grant our mental assent.  Our faith is rooted in concrete experiences, with God breaking into history in amazing ways…"

- Victor Kuligin - From his book: Snubbing God: The High Cost of Rejecting God's Created Order

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

Friday, January 10, 2020

Promises of God Storybook Bible by Jennifer Lyell

The Promises of God Storybook Bible is a high level overview of many of the accounts in the Bible aimed at children. I liked several aspects of it, for one, it doesn't shy away from teaching what many would consider 'deep' truths, that even adults struggle with.  It seems to go by the premise that kids will take God's word in faith (as we all must do). Here are some excerpts to illustrate this, "…He is only one God, but He has three persons that are all completely that one God" and, "He has always known every single thing that was going to happen, and nothing ever happens without His permission.  That means when we hear about something that happened in the Bible, where someone disobeyed God or it seems like God's plans were messed up, God's plans were never messed up. "  It doesn't shy away from concepts of God's sovereignty, for instance in dealing with Rahab the harlot it says, "God had made it so that Rahab would hear all these things, and then He changed her heart to want to follow Him."

At first I was afraid that this book would promote, or at least leave room for, Creation taking place for millions of years.  At first it seemed that it was at least leaving room for that concept as it didn't initially describe six "days", but then it actually did seem to get more specific: "God filled the water with fish and animals that swim!  Big fish and little fish.  They were all created in one second because He said they should exist." Okay, the term "One second" certainly doesn't leave room for evolution! I do wish that it would have clarified creation as taking place in six days though.

This book needs some clarification/corrective commentary if read to/by kids.  I'll give a few examples:  For one thing, the book seems to assume that there were sacrifices for sin before the Mosaic law.  It teaches that God told Abraham to kill Isaac as a sacrifice for sin. I don't remember God specifying that it would be a sacrifice for sin, just that he was to offer Isaac up as a burnt offering (were all 'burnt offerings' sacrifices for sin?).  Also, later on, in dealing with Moses, after he flees Egypt, "The Bible doesn't tell us for sure, but it seems that during this time Moses asked God's forgiveness for killing the Egyptian and made the sacrifice he had to make for that sin."  Again, perhaps I'm wrong, but I thought that sin sacrifices, in particular, were not instituted by God until the Mosaic law.   

It also reads things into some of the accounts.  For instance, it talks about Abraham being worried that God really as going to make him kill his own son.  "His heart must have been beating so hard, and he was probably had tears in his eyes as he worried that maybe God really was going to make him kill his own son." The Bible doesn't say that Abraham was worried that he MIGHT have to actually kill his son, he actually didn't seem to have any question as to whether or not he would have to kill his son, rather he seemed to have instantly made up his mind that he would kill his son because God had told him to do it.  He was all in, also evidenced by his contemplating that God can even bring people back from the dead. 

In the illustrations, Aaron looks significantly younger than Moses - that seems weird as Aaron was older than Moses.  Also, and I expected this, but there are illustrations of Christ.  I always feel a bit uncomfortable with depictions of Christ, and still do - especially with cartoon illustrations.  These aren't as strange and irreverent seeming as some (Beginner's Bible), but still make me uneasy. 

Anyway, this book is sort of an overview/ paraphrase with some interpretative commentary thrown in.

Many thanks to the folks at B&H publishers for sending me a free review copy of this book. My review did not have to be favorable.

My Rating: Three Stars ***

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