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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

2 more books -- Being Arab & Bible Commentary

Being Arab was written by the late Samir Kassir, a Lebanese journalist who was killed by a car bomb in 2005. This short book (92 pages) was translated from French and it deals with "the current political and intellectual stagnation of the Arab world." As the cover sums it up: "Being Arab is a clarion call, urging Arabs to embrace their own history, to reject Western double standards and Islamism alike, and to take the future of the region into their own hands." It was interesting reading the thoughts of a leftist, secular Arab as he spoke of his world. I found this in my local public library.

The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume I
is a commentary by Dr. Warren Wiersbe on Matthew through Galatians. I started this 728-paged volume on November 20, 2007 and finally finished July 26, 2008 (TODAY!!!). I did not read diligently during all those months or I would have finished much quicker. There were so many wonderful explanations and reminders of truths. I made note of some of my favorites on a sheet of paper I kept nearby. Just today I finished reading of the power of the cross. In the time of Jesus' death, the cross was not a beautiful piece of jewelry that people wore around their necks or on lapel pins. Rather it represented the most shameful death and was not talked about in polite company. The Judaizers tried to keep things legalistic according to Moses' law (salvation by works) in order to avoid the shame of the cross. However, it is through the work Christ did on the cross that we have liberty from the law and our sins and self! No wonder today Christians call it a wonderful cross! By Christ's work there, we are saved and have peace with God! Another great teaching from today was instead of asking "who is my neighbor?" ask "to whom can I be a neighbor?" For Christians ... "As we abound in love for one another, we overflow in love for all men (I Thes. 3:12). This is how it was meant to be" (page 734).

I Corinthians 1:18-31

18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."[a]

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."[b]

a book review on The Shack

The Shack by William P. Young -- This book really made me consider my idea of God and what is important to Him. It challenged my perspectives on politics, hierarchy, relationships and -- one especially flaunted by most Americans -- independence. Who would have thought independence was such a bad thing? However I see that viewing it from God's perspective, independence -- that is, wanting to live in our own ways -- is what keeps us separated from the precious fellowship that He desired from mankind when He created Adam and Eve in the garden.

The author included quotes at the beginning of each chapter, and this particular one by A.W. Tozer struck a chord with me because I have thought of this same idea in years past. It is: "An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others." How wonderful that God doesn't have to divide Himself and each of us is given only a-millionth of a part of Him during our lives. I have thought in the past how it is that there are billions of people in the world each with various trials and sufferings in their lives. Most are suffering MUCH worse than I have ever suffered, however, I feel the sweet presence of God in MY life even when my "little" problems are weighing me down. Even when I feel heartbroken over something, I know He cares and He makes me feel as if I am of the greatest concern to Him. It reminds me how a mother will dote over her child when he fears the pain of just a tiny splinter in his finger. How even though that splinter is no grave concern in the grand scheme of things, she cares for that little child and comforts him as if he'd cut off a finger. I am touched that He cares for me that way.

A lesson I was reminded from this book is "the Truth will set you free" not to our human notions of "independence" but to true freedom. Truth sets us free and Truth has a name. The Bible says when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. (see p. 95)

Another wonderful reminder was that often when we think of the future, we worry about what will happen and our thoughts are motivated by our fear and worry. Seldom when we imagine those worrisome scenarios do we picture Jesus there with us. Instead we picture ourselves scared, suffering, anxious, crying as if we had been abandoned by the One who promised to never leave or forsake us. (see p. 142)

Pages I noted that really spoke to me include these: 95, 100, 101 (love and relationship are possible on earth only because it exists already in God through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit's relationship and love for one another), 123 (choosing independence over relationship makes people manipulate and manage one another for their own happiness), 136, 137, 142 (we have fear in our lives because we don't fully trust God and we don't realize His love for us), 162, 163 (found worthy of love even if it costs everything), 178, 179 (institutions vs. relationships), 181 (freedom to love without an agenda), 192 (love doesn't force relationships, but it opens the way for them), 206-7 (God doesn't want part of our time; He wants to be involved in all of our days & He wants all of us).

Very thought-provoking book.

a book review on The News Answers Book

The New Answers Book is a compilation of over 25 questions on creation, evolution and the Bible. The general editor is Ken Ham from the apologetics ministry, Answers in Genesis. While a few of the chapters and explanations were too scientific for my brain, others were fascinating and enlightening. The book dealt with issues such as Genesis, the days of creation (six literal days), dinosaurs, carbon dating UFOs, the global flood, fossils, the Ice Age, death and suffering and more. One topic I enjoyed a lot dealt with the "races" of mankind. I didn't realize this understanding of races was rooted in evolution which believes the Caucasoid "race" was the most superior (sounds kind of like Hitler and proponents of enslaving black people, eh?). Ken Ham said we should get rid of that evolutionized term because all people are equal in God's eyes. The only race is the human race. God did not make us all look exactly alike.

I also appreciated the chapter on defense-attack structures on animals and plants. Was this part of the original creation which God declared "very good" or was this a result of the Fall? Indeed Romans 8:22 reminds us that "the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now" as a result of sin and death entering the world. Not only was the serpent, men and women cursed, but all of creation. Before the Fall, animals did not attack and eat one another, but suffering and death are a result of sin entering the world. This is one reason the evolutionary theory of dinosaurs living millions of years prior to man is wrong. For dinosaurs to have killed one another and die from natural causes would have meant there was suffering and death in the world prior to sin, and simply the Bible teaches this to not be the case.

A favorite thought from the book concerning chemical evolution is that "the evolutionist is asking us to believe that a tornado can pass through a junk yard and assemble a jumbo jet." :-) Yes, evolution is that ludicrous! And they say we are foolish for having faith in a Creator who brought about all this order, creativity and goodness!

Another favorite chapter dealt with archaeology and how it supports the Bible.
Psalm 85:11 says, "Truth springs from the earth." Over the years people have ridiculed the Bible for mentioning something that was later found to be true. In fact even many secular archaeologists use the Bible because it has proven to be so accurate in its mentioning of customs of the day, languages used, prophecy, specific incidents and people, nations and so forth. That was an incredibly encouraging chapter because it is further assurance that the God Who gave us His Word can certainly preserve it in order that men and women today can know His plan of salvation.