April 11, 2018

Jane Austen at Home: A Biography


I really enjoyed listening to this book on audio, which was beautifully read by Ruth Redman. I loved the way the author, Lucy Worsley, entwined Jane's real life with the characters in her novels. It really displayed how art imitates life. The book also used quotes from an array of Jane Austen's contemporaries, which added a nice touch to the reading (listening) experience.

Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. I love the historical accept of her books, knowing she lived it. Austen's novels are so much more than stories about women looking for husbands, but rather about life in the Georgian era, the state of the church, the classes that divided so many, and the relationships between loved ones and foes alike. It's also wonderful that her writing style is so beautiful, once you get used to it!

Jane Austen drawn by her sister Cassandra

I enjoyed reading about Jane's family in this book, as well as her interactions with them. Some happy, as her relationship with her sister Cassandra was, and some discouraging, as men in those days looked down on women, and women had no rights. Even through writing, many women had to use male names in order to publish. Jane's books may never have been published without her brother stepping in and helping her. Makes you think and appreciate how far women have come and the freedoms we have now. I'm thankful for that.

Steventon Rectory: Where Jane Austen was raised.

One thing you can't ignore in biographies is the death of the subject. Jane's death is quite a mystery and there have been many theories of what she died from. It was interesting to read about these and how some of these illnesses could have been avoided if she had lived 200 years later. One thing I found extremely interesting is that Jane was born at the end of her mother's 10th month of pregnancy, which they believe may have caused some complications for Jane in her later life.

This book lightly addressed Jane's faith which I wish we knew more about. A few years ago I read Jane's 'book of prayers' and I'm led to believe she was a Christian who loved and trusted the Lord. You can read about that book here... The Prayers of Jane Austen

Jane's last words were: "God grant me patience. Pray for me, oh pray for me."

I discovered some new things about Jane through this biography and look forward to reading other books about her, particularly a book mentioned in this one, called Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin.

The only thing that didn't sit well with me, were a few speculations the author made about feelings or events that I didn't think needed to be added. It felt like it took away from the authenticity of the book as a whole. The facts of the book were interesting enough without these added speculative thoughts of the author.

Other than that small pet peeve, this book was very good and I recommend it to anyone who loves Jane Austen!



Buy it HERE on Amazon


April 2, 2018

Instructions From the Book of Romans


I believe all of Scripture is equal in authority and inerrancy, but because God spoke to me first through the book of Romans it has a special place in my heart. I'm reading through it again and thought I'd share the beauty of chapter twelve, verses nine through twenty-one.

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;

distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.

  
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."    
                                                                                                          Romans 12:9-21
 
It's not natural for us to think this way.

Our fallen human nature wants to put self first and defend self all the time. Our nature wants to point to others who we think may need these verses for instruction, but what I've learnt through the years is that God gave His Word for the reader. Whoever is reading it, He wrote it for. God's Word is meant to be taken to heart by the reader.

I love these verses because they are filled with hope. Hope that we can follow after the ways of Christ.

Ponder them. Absorb them. Meditate on them. For they are the words of the living God.


"For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Romans 15:4

 

March 19, 2018

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die


We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 
                                                                                                                        1 Corinthians 1:23-25


When you ask most people why Jesus came to die, they usually will answer: 'so that we could be forgiven of our sins.' But what He did on the cross that day is so much more than just that.

John Piper, in his book, gives 50 reasons why Jesus came to die. Since it is only about 120 pages I thought I'd be able to read it within a day or two, but I was wrong! I found it so enriching and beautiful that I had to savor each reason slowly.

Here are a few chapter headings:

To Absorb the Wrath of God
To Show the Wealth of God's Love and Grace for Sinners
To Complete the Obedience That Becomes Our Righteousness
For the Forgiveness of Our Sins
To Bring Us to Faith and Keep Us Faithful
To Make Us Holy, Blameless, and Perfect
To Give Eternal Life to All Who Believe on Him
To Reconcile Us to God
To Become for Us the Place Where We Meet God
To Enable Us to Live by Faith in Him
To Free Us from Bondage to the Fear of Death
To Unleash the Power of God in the Gospel
To Gain His Joy and Ours
So That He Would Be Crowned with Glory and Honor
To Show That the Worst Evil Is Meant by God for Good

This is only fifteen of the fifty, but gives you a general idea of what you will find in this book.

John Piper says in the introduction:

"The central issue of Jesus' death is not the cause, but the purpose - the meaning. Human beings may have their reasons for wanting Jesus out of the way. But only God can design it for the good of the world. In fact, God's purposes for the world in the death of Jesus are unfathomable. I will try to describe fifty of them, but there will always be more to say. My aim is to let the Bible speak. This is where we hear the word of God. I hope that these pointers will set you on a quest to know more and more of God's great design in the death of His Son."

And later in the introduction:

"When all is said and done, the most crucial question is: Why? Why did Jesus come to die? Not why in the sense of cause, but why in the sense of purpose. What did Christ achieve by His death? Why did He have to suffer so much? What great thing was happening on Calvary for the world.

That's what the rest of this book is about. I have gathered from the New Testament fifty reasons why Jesus came to die. Not fifty causes, but fifty purposes. Infinitely more important than who killed Jesus is the question: What did God achieve for sinners like us in sending His Son to die?"

I thought I'd share a bit from chapter five, 'To Show the Wealth of God's Love and Grace for Sinners', which really moved me and reminded me that my worth is wholly in Christ and not of myself:

"The measure of His love for us increases still more when we consider our unworthiness. 'Perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:7-8). We deserved divine punishment, not divine sacrifice...

...There is only one explanation for God's sacrifice for us. It is not us. It is 'the riches of His grace' (Ephesians 1:7).

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him."     
                                                                                  Ephesians 1:7-10    

It is all free.

It is not a response to our worth. It is the overflow of His infinite worth. In fact, that is what divine love is in the end: a passion to enthrall undeserving sinners, at great cost, with what will make us supremely happy forever, namely, His infinite beauty."

It is all free... The folly of thinking we are worthy of salvation can be put away, and we can completely trust and rest in Him. What peace His grace brings!


I thought this photo was so beautiful. It reminds me that the Savior is no longer on the cross. All He came to accomplish is done, and we are blessed to receive all He has given us through Himself.


Jesus came with a purpose and that was to die for us. He was always in control and knew exactly what He was doing.

Jesus says here:

“I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” 
                                                                                                                                      John 10:17-18

This Easter remember to not just reflect on the love of God and why He came, but also on who He is, The risen Lamb of God. The One who willingly laid down His life for you.

I found this book rich in the theology of the Bible, and I highly recommend it. Not only for Easter reading, but for anytime, to reflect on the Savior, Jesus Christ.



Buy it HERE on Amazon



March 1, 2018

Longing for Spring


Spring has always been my favorite time of year. Everything becomes lush and green, new life starts to come up from the ground and the air feels fresh and clean.

Spring reminds me that Christ brings new life and that one day all things will be made new. Though spring doesn't begin for a few more weeks I am looking forward to it and thought I'd share a few quotes on it, as well as, some inspirational Scripture.
"And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.' And it was so." Gen. 1:14


Spring

  
"To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment." Jane Austen


Cherry Blossoms in England

"For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land."  Song of Solomon 2:11-12

At the Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in Spring


"Everything is new in the spring...Springs themselves are always so new, too. No spring is ever just like any other spring. It always has something of its own to be its own peculiar sweetness."                                                                                                                                                           L. M. Montgomery    
                                                                                               
Prince Edward Island in Late Spring
                                                                                                                                
"Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.

Yes, the LORD will give what is good;
And our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness will go before Him,
And shall make His footsteps our pathway." Psalm 85:11-13

A Spring Path in the Woods


"Through May and June my world became softer and warmer. The cold wind dropped and the air, fresh as the sea, carried a faint breath of the thousands of wildflowers which speckled the pastures. At times it seemed unfair that I should be paid for my work; for diving out in the early morning with the fields glittering under the first pale sunshine and the wisps of mist still hanging on the high tops."
                                                                                                                                             James Herriot

 
A Yorkshire Field of Wildflowers

"Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

Tulips in the Rain


February 20, 2018

Defining Deception


The subject of this book is very personal for me. I was raised in a charismatic Pentecostal church that was open to many of these deceptions and it's very hard for me to talk about in this public setting, as I still have friends and family that are influenced by this movement. I will try to share some of my testimony at the end of this post.

 The authors say here of their book:

"In order to defend biblical truth from error, without muddying orthodox waters, this book is intended as a refutation of modern Third Wave style charismata, specifically the version practiced by Bill Johnson (of Bethel Redding) and apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). 

We will not delve into differences between evangelicals, post-conservatives, or even academic liberals. In fact, we are asking all Christians - no matter their creed or conduct - to analyze the significant concerns related to the mystical-miracle movement and Johnson's version of faith and to unite against it. 

For those who ask, 'What concern is it of yours?' we submit that when any teaching infiltrates the borders of our local churches, a pastor must be both soldier and shepherd. Furthermore, Christ Himself warns us against blaspheming the Holy Spirit so we, as ministers of truth, must confront any derogation of the Spirit's Person and work."

This book is divided up into seven chapters and five appendixes:

1. Gold Dust and Glory Clouds
2. Hall of Generals
3. Rupture in the Third Wave
4. The Shady World of Stage Sharing
5. Master Manipulation
6. Doctrinal Deception
7. True Healing

Appendix 1 - Rescued From Deception
Appendix 2 - Frequently Asked Questions
Appendix 3 - Understanding Biblical Tongues
Appendix 4 - The Myth of Being Slain in the Spirit
Appendix 5 - Can You Be Healed by a False Teacher?

One of the scariest things about this movement is that it is deceiving so many people all over the world.

It causes me great sadness to think of people who want so much to know God, are feed these delusions and false experiences. So many people who just need the love of God, to be pointed to Him and His Word.

Chapter two discusses what many charismatic people call generals of the faith.

These consist of:

Charles F. Parham
William Seymour
Smith Wigglesworth
Aimee Semple McPherson
Kathryn Kuhlman
William Branham
Oral Roberts
Kenneth Hagin

I found this chapter extremely interesting. Some of the history of this movement, I had read in John MacArthur's book 'Strange Fire' but for the most part it was new to me and I found disturbing.

In chapter four Costi Hinn talks a little about his experiences traveling with his Uncle Benny Hinn, as well as, shares some of his false teachings. He also makes it clear that:  

"Bill Johnson is no different than Benny Hinn. It's the same old erroneous theology with a new face."

In this chapter he also shares about false prophets, Todd Bentley and Todd White.

*Side Note: These authors, Costi and Anthony, were very gracious and kind in the writing of this book. They lovingly call out the false teachings of these men, which we are called to do in Scripture. Their hearts are broken for the lost who are deceived, and they care deeply about sharing the true Gospel of Christ. I really appreciated that about this book.

Chapters five and six go a little deeper into Bill Johnson's teachings and really upset me. I know so many people who love him and Bethel church and their music, and I've tried to say something but have been called out as having a 'religious spirit' for speaking out. This hurts me because I know this terminology comes from a false teacher they are under the influence of. This kind of terminology is used to keep people in line with their teachings and not question anything.

These two chapters were eye-opening. Here are the points they go over of five errors Bill Johnson teaches:


1. You and I Are the Same as Jesus - "From the perspective of Christian orthodoxy, the most pernicious error in Johnson's theology is the confusion surrounding the person of Jesus." 

Johnson says here in his book 'When Heaven Evades Earth' - "He (Jesus) performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in relationship to God...not as God."  This is heretical and goes against the teaching of Scripture. Jesus is fully man and fully God.

"There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."1 Tim. 2:5


2. Sick People Just Need More Faith - "Relying on his heretical theology of Jesus as his foundational hermeneutic, Johnson builds his second doctrine on a misapplication of Matthew 16... In Johnson's view, the power of God is limited by our faith and thwarted by the devil. He promises a God who is weak without your cooperation, while the portrait painted by the Bible is of God who is still in charge of His creation."

The truth is: "Sometimes God heals based on prayer and His good will. At other times, His plan includes illness and death, allowing true saints to shine amidst earth's darkest circumstances."


3. The Kingdom of Heaven is Now - "A third corrupt doctrine from Johnson is that Bethel church will lead the earth in a one billion-person miracle revival, ushering in a kingdom state of perfection, paving the way for Christ's return." 

This false teaching is not new. It's based on 'The Kingdom Now' theology of early Pentecostalism, one that is rejected by many Pentecostals today. The authors say here of two fundamental biblical flaws in the 'Kingdom Now' positions:

1. the observed corruption of the world implies that somehow God has lost control; and

2. God needs man to help him regain what he has lost.

"The Bible teaches neither idea."

I think this teaching is closer to the 'new age' teachings than to any Bible teaching. It also belittles God who is Sovereign Lord over all.


*Side Note - It is important to note that the authors acknowledge there are many godly and bible believing Pentecostals in the church today. When referencing to Pentecostalism it is the extremes of the charismatic movement of the false teachers noted in the book.


4. The Dichotomy of Scripture & Spirit - "The fourth error from Bill Johnson is diminishing of the power of God's Scripture in favor of a personal encounter -assumed to be with the Holy Spirit. "

Bill Johnson says here in his book 'When Heaven Invades Earth': "We've gone as far as we can with our present understanding of Scripture. It's time to let signs have their place."

This is so disheartening and I admit I cried often reading this book (defining deception). This statement from Johnson is an out right lie from the enemy, who does not want you to read Scripture and does not want you to follow Christ and His Word, but rather have you follow after signs that false teachers create out of their own minds. This breaks my heart.


5. My Experience Proves My Truth -  "...all of his (Johnson) errors culminate in one overarching theme that pervades all mystical-miracle heroes of the past and Bethel ministries and music today - my experience defines my truth. In essence, if 'it' happened to me then, 'it' must be from God."

Doesn't this sound familiar? Like the world's way of thinking? It's what Bethel church and music are teaching our kids. This is another point that is so disheartening for me. I see so many kids, (and when I say kids I mean teens and twenty-somethings) that are heavily influenced by Bethels music and ministries.


I loved this quote near the end of the book:

"Experience never defines biblical truth. The truth found in Scripture must always define our experience."

Chapter seven was a balm to the hurt and lies of this movement. It's about healing from it.

J.I. Packer once said:

"The Spirit's message is never 'look at me' but always 'look at Christ"

That's the heart of healing...looking to Christ.

 

 A little about my walk away for the charismatic movement:

When I was a little girl I remember hearing Kathryn Kuhlman on the car radio. She liked to scream. She terrified me. I believe even back then I knew something wasn't right. People like Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, and Jim and Tammy Baker were charismatic royalty. I remember watching them on TV as a little girl and feeling something wasn't quite right. In church I witnessed slayings in the spirit, tongues with and without interpretation, and self-proclaimed prophets who harmed peoples lives. When this last thing happened, that is when my husband and I finally left.

God's prophets do not harm God's people, they lift up the name of Christ and point us to Him. A true prophet is one who shares the message of the Gospel.

At that time, my husband and I started attending a Missionary and Alliance church and God started to open my eyes about the deceptions within the charismatic movement. I was confused, and sometimes the pastor would say things that made me think, something I didn't do when I was under the influence of the charismatic movement. I remember one sermon on tithing that opened my eyes.

In the charismatic movement tithing is emphasized constantly. It's drilled into you. Not tithing is considered a sin and I've even heard some false teachers say that you will go to hell if you don't tithe 10%.

It's a great manipulation.

After this sermon I went home and started researching. I found an article by John MacArthur on tithing and cried the whole way through. MacArthur, who supports new testament giving explained how 10% is an old testament practice and how we are free now to give whatever God puts on our hearts and most importantly what we can afford. God started to open my eyes that day.

I have linked the short version of the article here...

Does God require me to give a tithe of all I earn? 

And the long versions here...

God's plan for giving - part 1
God's plan for giving - part 2 

Here is a short video as well...

What is Biblical 'Tithing' 

When I was growing up, it was taught that Pentecostal was the only denomination that was alive in Christ, all other denominations, that didn't speak in tongues, were dead. Literally we were told every person who didn't speak in tongues was dead in the spirit. I believed this until I started reading books by authors like C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer and John MacArthur, not one spoke in tongues. That's when God woke me up to this deception. If these men of God were not filled with the Holy Spirit then no one was. But the truth is they were, and are, all filled with the Holy Spirit, the evidence was and is in their lives.

You may have heard of what some call, 'name it and claim it.' Though I was never taught this directly, it was part of the influence in the church. If you wanted something you had the power to move God to get it. You asked God with boldness and authority for what you needed or wanted. It took me a long time to be free of this way of thinking. To get to a point of real prayer, prayer of humility and reverence to the God who is in control and wants the best for me in His way, not mine. I still struggle with this, but God is gracious in convicting me and turning me back to depending solely on Him.

Another thing I struggled with within the charismatic movement was addiction to emotional music. This may sound silly to some, but for me it was real and was not of God. I couldn't read my bible or pray without some emotionally charged Christian music in the background. Today Bethel music is leading thousands of kids into this addiction. One day I was reading my bible and I knew in my heart I needed to turn off the music, it was distracting me from hearing from God through His Word. I did that day, and stopped listening to music all together for a period of time, now I not only can read my Bible with understanding, and pray with God alone, I can enjoy music for what it is,  just music.

In charismatic circles you feel like you aren't good enough if you aren't 'on fire' emotionally for God, when the truth is, we sometimes don't feel Him at all, and that's ok. I remember the first time I brought my husband to church, who was my boyfriend at the time, when the worship started an usher came up to him and told him to raise his hands! I was mortified. Let's just say my husband wasn't a fan of the Pentecostal church after that, though He stayed with me there for years.

One of the most important things that has happened in my life, is discovering the grace of God.

One day I was preparing my Sunday School lesson to teach, when I started listening to a sermon by Paul Washer on grace. It moved me and I went straight to my bible and read the whole book of Romans in one sitting. God spoke to me then and it confirmed to me that He primarily speaks through His Word and He has a lot to say to us. Some is encouraging and uplifting but much of it is convicting. And that's because God is a loving God who knows what we need. I will never put my trust in a man who claims to speak directly for God, they are false prophets who do. God's Word is enough, and every true prophet will point you to it.

It's important to note that I had to willingly repent of all these deceptions I had put my trust in.

The deception that God cares more about my money than me
The deception that tongues is the evidence of a saved soul
The deception that I have power within myself to move God to my will
The deception that music was the key to spiritual fulfillment
The deception that my expressed emotions were more important than living a holy life
The deception that I could hear a 'new word from God' outside of the Bible

It's easy to blame other people for false teachings, but in the end I must repent of the things I put my trust in. The things that were not of God. To be freed you must repent. Some of these things may seem little to some, but they took me away from God and made me think wrongly about Him.

*Side Note: I highly recommend a bible study by Paul Washer called 'The One True God', it helped me immensely in getting to know the God of the Bible. It takes you through His attributes throughout the Scriptures. It's basically you writing out Scripture about Him. I absolutely loved it. It was so helpful. : )

I still, to this day feel so grateful that God had forgiven me for believing these lies about Him. He has truly set me free and I love Him dearly for it. I still have struggles once in awhile and because I'm not perfect, God is gracious to show me my errors. I'm learning that I can come to Him about anything and He will be there. His love is everlasting, He will never leave me or forsake me, in the end He is my all.

Don't be afraid to come to God and ask forgiveness. For anything. He always forgives a humble heart.

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


I'm also thankful for men like these authors who are brave enough to speak out. I pray God continues to give them courage, and assurance that they are loved by Him.

I highly, highly recommend this book!


I'll leave you with this quote from A.W. Tozer:

"Where are these watchmen? Where are these prophets warning God's people of the false prophets invading God's territory? It has come to the point that if any preacher criticizes any movement, he is quickly ostracized and made fun of. However it is our responsibility - our job - to point out these false prophets, whether other people listen to us or not."

And here God speaks soberly to Ezekiel on being a true watchman:

“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.

When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.

Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul." Ezekiel 33:7-9


*My hope is that if you are involved in this cult-like movement or even if you are on the outskirts, to come to repentance and find freedom in Christ. I also hope that if God has opened your eyes to these deceptions, that you will speak out, share your story and by doing so bring glory to Christ.


"Christians must not stand idly by while God's word is maligned. No matter our attachments and no matter how much we love someone, the most loving thing we can do is tell the truth and stand with Christ." Costi Hinn and Anthony G. Wood

 

Buy it HERE on Amazon



February 11, 2018

5 books on my future reading list


Defining Deception

Costi Hinn is the nephew of Benny Hinn and he has written a book, along with his colleague, Anthony G. Wood, about the deception within his uncles religious movement, as well as other false prophets and healers.

This looks like not only a fascinating read, but also a biblical look at false teachings within the church.

Amazon describes it here:

"The global movement of mystical-miracle enthusiasts have put a modern face on historical heresies. Men and women posing as prophets and apostles make millions, preying on the sick, poor, and emotionally fragile. 

Behind a veil of glamour, many self-proclaimed pastors mask their spiritual abuse with claims of special power from the Holy Spirit. Defining Deception pulls back the curtain to reveal the truth behind this lucrative industry. Written with a unique blend of theology, history, and personal experience, Costi Hinn and Anthony Wood have lovingly, yet sternly, exposed the mystical-miracle fraud in the hope that Christians will unite against those who have turned Jesus into a commodity. 

It is also a call to all Christians of good faith to help those trapped by these corrupt leaders rediscover the biblical Gospel of Christ. Every Christian is called to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3) even when it’s controversial—Defining Deception will equip Christians to do just that."



 Echoes of Eden

I'm really excited to read this book! I saw it on a blog review and thought it looked interesting.

Goodreads says here:

"In Echoes of Eden, Jerram Barrs helps us identify the significance of artistic expression as it reflects the extraordinary creativity and unmatched beauty of the Creator God. Additionally, Barrs provides the key elements for evaluating and defining great art: 

(1) The glory of the original creation; 
(2) The tragedy of the curse of sin; 
(3) The hope of final redemption and renewal. 

These three qualifiers are then put to the test as Barrs investigates five of the world's most influential authors who serve as ideal case studies in the exploration of the foundations and significance of great art."

And Amazon says here:

"Art is all around us, but few people truly understand it. Barrs helps readers evaluate and define great art through an investigation of the work of Lewis, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and Austen."



 Black Beauty

I've been slowly reading through some children's classic literature and recently picked up this one. I'm not familiar with the story other than I think it's from the point of view of a horse named Black Beauty.

Amazon says here:

"Perhaps the most celebrated animal story of the nineteenth century, Black Beauty is the suspenseful and deeply moving account of a horse's experiences at the hands of many owners — some, sensitive riders who treated him gently; others, cruel drivers who thoughtlessly inflicted lasting damage.
 

Written as the animal's autobiography, and as an appeal for the humane treatment of horses, Anna Sewell's beloved classic reveals as much about human conduct and the social ills of the time as it does about the treatment of animals. 

Scenes from the lives of both the landed gentry and the impoverished working class offer a subtle but well-rounded perspective of social conditions in England during the late nineteenth century." 



 50 Children

I've been wanting to read this for awhile now and finally ordered it. It sounds like an extraordinary story.

The back cover says here:

Two Ordinary Americans.
Fifty Innocent Lives.
One Unforgettable Journey.

"In early 1939, few Americans were thinking about the darkening storm clouds over Europe. Nor did they have much sympathy for the growing number of Jewish families who were increasingly threatened and brutalized by Adolf Hitler's policies in Germany and Austria.

But one ordinary American couple decided that something had to be done. 

Despite overwhelming obstacles - both in Europe and in the United States - Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus made a bold and unprecedented decision to travel into Nazi Germany in an effort to save a group of Jewish children. This is their story."



Green Dolphin Country

I'm excited to read my first Elizabeth Goudge novel! This one sounds like a good one to start with. Based on her great uncles life experiences, it was her most popular book.

Google books says here:

"This story, based on fact, is about a man who emigrated to the New World, and, after a lapse of years writes home for a bride, but getting it wrong, he confuses her name with that of her sister and so ends up with the wrong woman. 

However he doesn't disclose his mistake, but instead makes the best of the marriage."

And Goodreads says here:

"First published in 1944, this magnificent epic of love, courage, and selfless devotion set in the Channel Islands and New Zealand in the 19th century is written with Elizabeth Goudge's inimitable feeling for the intricacies of human emotions. 

Though the book is fiction, and the characters not portraits, it is based on fact. A stunning tale of loss and self-sacrifice, it is truly one of the most memorable love stories of the last century."

January 29, 2018

Earth Psalms: Reflections on How God Speaks Through Nature



 
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." 
                                                                                                                                      Romans 1:20

This was such a beautifully written book. It consists of 52 devotionals to reflect on each week of the year. I got my copy from the library and so, I read them all within a few weeks. To be honest I couldn't stop myself from going onto the next devotional, they were so inspiring and encouraging.

This book shares the greatness of God and how He speaks through His creation.

Each devotional contains photos of creation such as, lilacs, deserts, walking paths, forests, squirrels, apple trees, glaciers, horses, sunsets and so on. They also include Scripture, which is the focus, as well as inspirational quotes and song lyrics. At the end of each devotional is a reflection, an application and a prayer. She even has a few facts about the natural element of the devotional added throughout!

I thought I'd share one of the many devotionals that I loved and found encouraging...


PURSUING PEACE

Jesus said:  

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." John 14:27

"Mourning doves come to our bird feeder. They sit together in the branches of our oak, watchful of the hawk that once snatched a quail at the feeder. All we saw was a streak and then a pouf of feathers floating down. It is a bird feeder, after all. We don't discriminate. The doves aren't picky about the feed, but they're careful for their own safety. They're looking for food, not for a fight.

The first time the Bible mentions a dove is after the flood. Noah and his family were safe on the ark, watching as the rain stopped and the earth began to dry out. When Noah thought it might be safe to leave the boat, he sent out a raven, and it just kept flying. If it found a place to land, it didn't return to let Noah know where it was. Next, Noah sent out a dove. At first it was unable to find a place to land, but then it returned holding a sprig from an olive tree - an image that later became a widespread symbol for peace. After a time of judgment and destruction, now God was promising a time of peace and redemption. 

Jesus told His disciples not to be afraid, because He was leaving them with 'peace of mind and heart' (John 14:27). Anyone who has read the book of Acts knows that even after they received this gift, the disciples' lives did not go smoothly or end well, at least from a human perspective. All of them suffered for sharing the gospel, and many were even martyred. Jesus clearly didn't promise them peaceful circumstances. But He did promise them - and us - peace of mind and heart. We don't have to be troubled or afraid because of the simple fact that God is with us, and He is in control. In John 16:33 Jesus told His disciples why they could have peace. 'Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.'

Tides of trouble may come and go, floodwaters may rise, but no matter what the circumstances, the peace of God is always available. He has overcome!"

PAGE 195

"If God be our God...He will give us peace in trouble: when a storm without, he will make music within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble." Thomas Watson


'Like a River Glorious'

♪ Like a river glorious
   Is God's perfect peace,
   Over all victorious
   In its bright increase;
   Perfect, yet it floweth
   Fuller ev'ry day,
   Perfect, yet it groweth
   Deeper all the way.

♪ Stayed upon Jehovah,
   Hearts are fully blest -
   Finding as He promised
   Perfect peace and rest.


REFLECT: What comes to mind when you think of peace? How might our culture's definition be different from the biblical definition?

APPLY: When do you most struggle to rest in God's peace? This week, if you're anxious about your circumstances, take a minute to read Jesus' words in John 14:27 and 16:33 and remember the true source of peace.

CONNECT WITH GOD: Dear Lord, when I seek peace through things or circumstances, help me to remember that You are the true source. You can give peace because You have overcome all the troubles I will face in this world. Help me to trust in You and find that genuine peace of mind and heart.

"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe." Psalm 4:8

I really loved this book and highly recommend it! It immersed me into the Scriptures, with its Biblically sound devotionals, as well as turned my focus onto the Lord.

God's Word will always bring peace and joy to those who love Him. And I found this book encouraged this.







Buy it HERE on Amazon

January 19, 2018

Long Before Luther


I really enjoyed this interesting and informative book. The best way to describe it would be: a reformed thinker (the author), defending and sharing the doctrine, that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. And that this doctrine has been taught throughout the generations. Also that this teaching is biblical and found throughout the entire bible.

And that this is the heart of the Gospel.

The author says here of the sixteenth-century reformers:

"The sole authoritative basis for their teachings was the Word of God (the idea captured by the phrase 'Scripture alone')."  *(see note at end of post)

And the author quotes R.C. Sproul here:

"The sixteenth-century Reformers were not interested in creating a new religion. They were interested, not in innovation, but in renovation. They were reformers, not revolutionaries."

These are the chapter headings:

Part 1: The Reformers and Justification
 1. An Invention or a Recovery?
 2. Regaining Biblical Clarity
 3. Clothed in Christ's Righteousness

Part 2: The Church before Augustine
 4. Saved by Grace
 5. Justification: A Divine Declaration
 6. The Great Exchange

Part 3: Augustine and Justification
 7. A Forerunner to the Reformers?
 8. The Doctor of Grace

Part 4: The Church after Augustine
 9. Pardoned from Sin
10. Reckoned as Righteous
11. Coming Full Circle

Throughout the book the author states his case for this belief throughout history, from Christ to the Reformers. He quotes and shares from many Church fathers to prove this, men such as:

Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 130-202)
Origen (ca. 182-254) 
Ambrose (337-397)
Augustine (354-430)
Fulgentius of Ruspe (462-533)
Ildefonsus of Toledo (ca. 607-657)
Julian of Toledo (642-690)
Bede (673-735)
Symeon the new theologian (949-1022)
Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

At the end of the book there is an appendix called ' Voices from History' which includes many quotes from Christian men during these 1500 years, between Christ and the Reformation.

The author says here of it:

"What follows are 100 selected quotes from church history highlighting salvation by grace alone and the truth that believers are justified solely through faith in Christ, apart from works."

 I thought I'd share a few quotes by a few of these Church fathers:

Polycarp (ca. 69-160):

"Though you have not seen him, you believe in him with an inexpressible and glorious joy (which many desire to experience), knowing that by grace you have been saved, not because of works, but the will of God through Jesus Christ." 

Basil of Caesarea (ca. 329-379):

"This is perfect and pure boasting in God, when one is not proud on account of his own righteousness but knows that he is indeed unworthy of the true righteousness and is justified solely by faith in Christ. And Paul boasts that he despises his own righteousness, seeking that righteousness that is on account of Christ, which is the righteousness of God by faith." 

Ildefonsus of Toledo (ca. 607-667):

"Behold, he (Paul) preached the beginning of faith which, when it is in Christ, is justification for the believer." God, who makes the unclean clean and removes sins, justifies the sinner apart from works." 

Bede (673-735):

"The apostle Paul preached that we are justified by faith without works."

Bernard of Clairvaux (2090-1153):

"Nobody will be justified in His sight by works of the law"..."Grace freely justifies me and sets me free from slavery to sin."

This is why the reformers protested. The doctrine of grace was at stack and their love for God and for others was what drove them to stand up. They saw first hand how wrong teachings can distort the Word of God, and so they risked their own lives to proclaim:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Eph. 2:8-9

I've always believed we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, not by our works. What an amazing gift! What joy it brings! For me, this book was not only reaffirming, but encouraged me in my faith. I highly recommend it!




*Side Note: The Bible is not the only authoritative basis for the Catholic Church, traditions of the church, as well as the openness to new revelations through the Pope are authoritative to Catholics, equal to Scripture.

This is also why the reformers protested. They believed that the Bible was the only authoritative Word of God. This is what most protestants believe as well today.



Buy it HERE on Amazon


January 12, 2018

2018 Reading Challenge and Goals


Happy New Year everyone! Hope it's going well for you all so far. I've been sick with a nasty cold most of this new year, but I'm looking forward to feeling better and getting some reading done!

This year, as in past years, I'm setting my reading goal to 50 books.

I'm also looking forward to taking part in Tim Challies 2018 reading challenge. There are 4 sections to the challenge, but I am only focusing on one, and that is to read 13 books from the props he has given. I'm picking my props from throughout the whole challenge instead of just the 'light reading' section. You can check  it out... HERE

Here are my props and picks for 2018:

1. A book by a female author -  'None Like Him' by Jen Wilkin

2. A biography - 'Jane Austen: A Life' by Claire Tomalin

3. A book by your favorite author - 'Miracles' by C.S. Lewis

4. A book more than 100 years old - 'Crime and Punishment' by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

5. A classic novel - 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson

6. A book about history - 'Mysteries of the Middle Ages' by Thomas Cahill 

7. A book you have read before - 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen

8. A book about Christian living - 'This is Our Time' by Trevin Wax

9. A novel longer than 300 pages - 'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey

10. A memoir or autobiography - 'The Emancipation of Robert Sadler' by Marie Chapian and Robert Sadler

11. A book about theology - 'The God Who is There' by Francis A. Schaeffer

12.  A book of 100 pages or less - 'Mary' by Leonardo De Chirico

13. A book of your choice - 'Elizabeth and her German Garden' by Elizabeth von Arnim

 

I'd also like to get to some more classics. I really enjoyed reading the ones I got to last year.

Here is that list of classics read in 2017:

1. 'Treasure Island' by Robert Louis Stevenson - this was a little slow going and a bit boyish for my taste, but enjoyable over all.

2. 'The Vicar of Wakefield' by Oliver Goldsmith - I listened to this one while painting my daughters room and enjoyed the narrators exuberant voice.

3. 'Holiness' by J.C. Ryle - this was one of my favorites this year, you can read about it... HERE

4. 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett - this was my least favorite classic. I loved the first half of the book, but the second half had some elements that I found disturbing. ex. (children dancing around the fire in what seemed like nature worship). : (

5. 'Answers to Prayer' by George Muller - another wonderful Christian classic. Loved it.

6. 'Anne of Green Gables' by Lucy Maud Montgomery - these books are so wonderful and I can't wait to read the rest of the series this year.

7. 'Anne of Avonlea' by Lucy Maud Montgomery

8. 'Anne of the Island' by Lucy Maud Montgomery

9. 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald - this one was so so. I did like the message that material things can't make you happy.

10. 'Villette' by Charlotte Bronte - 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte is one of my all time favorite novels so I found this one a bit lacking in comparison, but enjoyed it non-the-less.

11. 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell - this was an interesting read set in the industrial age. I liked it, but wish I hadn't watched the mini-series before-hand, which of course gave away the story!

12. 'David Copperfield' by Charles Dickens - Loved this one!

13. 'The Rector' by Margaret Oliphant - A short read, but enjoyable.


I've started Oswald Chambers 'My Utmost for His Highest' and hope to continue throughout the year. This is probably my favorite devotional, one that is thought-provoking, as well as convicting.

Here's a quote from the Jan. 1st devotional, 'Let Us Keep to the Point'...

"Shut out every other thought and keep yourself before God in this one thing only - my utmost for His highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone."

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  1 Cor. 10:31

That's what I desire for 2018. Doing all to the glory of God. My utmost for His highest.

I want to step up my bible reading as well, as more and more I see how privileged we are to have God's Word at hand. A privilege that could be taken away at any time. Keep it close to your heart, drink it in, as Jeremiah said...

"Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O LORD God of hosts." Jer. 15:16



May His word bring you joy and His peace be with you this coming year!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...