"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

January & February Books

I haven't read as many books so far this year, but I have read a few. I am in the process of reading others, but have completed these in January and February. Just wanted to mention them to varying degrees so I'll have record of what I read.

Around the first of the year, I finished Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen. It's a book I ordered off Amazon.com a couple months ago. The story took place in an unnamed Muslim country and told how Muslim background believers (MBBs) were faring there. Several things stood out to me including Brother Andrew's words about what became his life call. From Revelation 3:2, "Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die!" Also he shows where the Spirit is saying to the churches and by this, Brother Andrew believes the Spirit of God is speaking to the Church (body of Christ) today as He did in previous generations. Andrew challenges us: "You must listen. What is the Spirit saying to the church in your country?" (pg. 21)

On page 59 MBB, Yusef, told Andrew the only "hope for the church to have any impact on the Muslim community" was "Love. After long years of war and persecution, Christians seldom see Muslims as people whom God loves and for whom Christ died. Christians need a new filling of the Holy Spirit to love those who disagree with them. And the greatest expression of love is to share with them the most precious thing a Christian has, which is the good news of the salvation of Jesus Christ."

I enjoyed the discussion on page 73 when the Arab men were discussing shame in their culture and what humbling themselves according to Jesus in Philippians 2 would mean to them.

Page 137 discussed how walking with Jesus means talking with Him and learning from Him all the time. You follow Jesus; you do not automatically arrive at your eternal destination. Abide in that relationship with Christ.

"Don't curse the darkness but light a candle. . . . the bigger the darkness, the easier it is to spot your little light. And if each one of you lights another candle, the light will grow and the light of Jesus will shine even brighter." (pg. 143)

I enjoyed when Butros realized the worst that could happen to him would be his wife and children or himself being killed -- which meant they would be with Christ. He got much peace from this and decided to go back to serve His people in spite of the persecution he was facing in his country. (pg. 197)

After the story, the authors included a second part and issued challenges to the church. One provoking question was "When you see pictures of large Muslim crowds protesting cartoons of Muhammad in London or Lahore, do you see them as a threat? Or do you see them as a mission field?" (pg. 229) ------- Wow! Good question!

And a verse that came up several times throughout the book, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24).

"Jesus said we are to love our enemies. To our minds that just doesn't make sense. How can we love someone we hate? But that's the brilliance of this command, for if I decide to love someone, that person cannot remain my enemy. Often I have said that the best way to disarm a terrorist with a gun is to go up and hug him." (pg. 230) -- This reminds me of the quote I read last year about the best way to get rid of an enemy is by making him your friend. What a lofty goal!

Page 236 discusses how we can forgive if no one asks to be forgiven. Of course our best example is Christ on the cross. NO one was asking Him for forgiveness, yet as He hung there, He prayed for God to forgive them for they did not know what they were doing. This page also discusses how "the process of forgiveness requires more than words."

I greatly enjoyed the last challenge from page 249. It was suggested that visitors from the West should come, but "we need to keep the mission heart here ... [and] we need understanding of real partnership. We need people with maturity. This is not a field for beginners or people who want spectacular results. We need people who will come and serve the church. Their agenda must be the kingdom of God. Don't bring Hollywood; bring Christ. Don't bring power. Don't bring just your money. Bring love. Bring the kingdom."

And finally, we are told, "Until we are willing to give up all we consider important in this life--our comfort, our cars, our homes, our families, our careers, our entertainment, our savings, and retirement accounts, whatever Christ requires of us to be His disciples and accomplish His work -- the world will not take the church seriously." (pg. 251)

Things to remember: Jesus told us to GO. He never said we would come back. But what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?

Are souls worth it? One hundred years from now .... will all that earthly stuff be as important as people's souls?

Wow! I wrote the review above about 7 weeks ago and just rereading it now has been challenging. I really should read it every week to keep that message alive in my heart. It's so easy to get distracted and lose sight of the most important things -- the ones that last for eternity.

Fiction book alert: As the jacket says, in Man of the Hour, Peter Blauner "uncovers the real heart of the modern city, where people with wildly different backgrounds live side by side, where what is good for some is evil for others --and one man's hero is another's assassin." Without going into detail or even mentioning the plot, but so I can remember the characters, this book is about teacher David Fitzgerald, a young Palestinian Nasser and his sister Elizabeth and a variety of students, news reporters, family members and police and FBI agents. I read this because it dealt a bit with Arabs and my brother said he read it a few years ago. Plus it was one I could read while using my elliptical.

Whose Promised Land
by Colin Chapman ... The author discusses many things pertaining to the land of Palestine/Israel including chapters on understanding the history, interpreting the Bible and appreciating the issues today. I made note of some pages, but won't type out the notes at this point. Just wanted to note that this is a great read and I wish Christian Zionists would consider the things Mr. Chapman brings to attention in his book.

(For me..noted pgs. 56, 68, 102, 117, 125, 132, 161, 181, 184, 208-210, 263 & 264)

An Arab Christian, Nabeel Jabbour, recommended this book. I respect Nabeel's views after reading two of his books last year and "talking" to him by e-mail in 2008.

More Than a Carpenter
by Josh McDowell ... The author discusses what makes Jesus so different, scientific proof, are the Biblical records reliable, the transformation of Saul/Paul, who would die for a lie and talks of how Jesus changed his life. I read this book in the airport on the way to Damascus.


Rocket Boys by Homer H.Hickman, Jr. inspired the film October Sky, a movie I have actually seen (that's something!) and bought for Andrew years ago. (That's really something!) This book showed me how hard work and determination is so important. I enjoyed reading about the small WV coal-mining town of Coalwood and how the people there thought and worked together and lived. I felt like I was taken back to life there and enjoyed my visit quite well. I loved how the town rallied around the rocket boys and how so many people had parts in the success of the rockets. I enjoyed how Homer and his friends were so determined, worked hard and reached their goal. And, taught themselves higher mathematics ... impressive! In a day when our country seems so divided and often we don't even know the folks who live next door, this book was a great example of how things used to be when folks actually worked together to accomplish goals.

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