October 26, 2015

Plain Faith: A True Story of Tragedy, Loss, and Leaving the Amish


I LOVED this book!

It's a memoir of an Amish couple who were saved by grace. It was filled with joy in the mist of sorrow, and it reminded me of the great love and grace God has for us all.

Ora Jay says here of reading the Bible:

"Our Amish traditions were deeply ingrained, including the belief that it was by our works that we are saved. But as we read, we saw a little spark of grace. The Word of God came alive, almost as if God was tapping us on the shoulder and saying, 'Take a look at this.'"

Irene and Ora Jay Eash tell their story in this beautiful book. They take turns writing chapters and share about the Amish lifestyle, their tragic loss of 2 daughters and their journey to salvation through Christ.

Reading the Bible for themselves had a huge impact on them. They were learning things they never heard of before and the light of God's truth began to penetrate their hearts, leaving them with all sorts of questions about the Amish faith.

Ora Jay says:

"Since I was starting to read the Bible for myself, I began to question where the Amish laws came from. God's Word showed us that we had more freedom in Christ than what we'd been taught. In the Amish church we'd been raised to believe we only needed to listen and to follow our leaders in order to be good and to appease God. But we were starting to see that instead of just listening to our leaders, it was our responsibility to read and learn God's Word to learn right and wrong."

There were times of doubt, what if they were wrong? What if the Amish faith was right and they were in disobedience to God?

Ora Jay says of these questions:

"In the end we found ourselves going back to God's Word. We weighted the things we'd grown up learning and discovered that many of them were manmade rules that hindered, not helped, a relationship with God. In an effort to live in humility and piety, those we loved most in the world were walking in bondage, and they didn't realize it. 

Of course, the Christian church outside of the Amish community sometimes does the same thing, depending on rules to help us make better choices. Why do we work so hard setting up idols and then try to appease them? Irene and I had to unlearn a lot of things so that we could learn them again God's way."

This is so true. Haven't we all done this? I thought this was a great reminder to seek God first and rest in His love and grace, and in what He has done for us, not in our own works.

This next conversation Irene has with a friend, I felt, was very relevant. How often do we focus on what is right and wrong, instead of how we can love someone?

Irene asks a friend about how confusing everything was:

"I'm not sure about who's supposed to be doing what. Who are we suppose to shun?

Her friend answered:

"You don't have to worry about shunning anyone, Irene. Just show love. Love is what you've supposed to do.

Irene thought:

"That was a big challenge for me. It was hard to love people and not think, this is right or that is wrong."

Irene later says:

"What I can't give up is the hope I've found in Jesus Christ. The hope Ora Jay and I have both found. Knowing that it's not what I do that puts me on God's good side, but the blood of Christ. I can never change His love for me. I don't want to forego my relationship based on love for one based on works."

Ora Jay closes with this:

"It doesn't matter if you've been Amish or Mormon or Baptist or whatever - Jesus Christ is the answer. The more that you can keep your eyes on the simple fact that He is your Savior and He lives in you, the better. What ever we face today, we face with Jesus Christ, who walks with us daily."

This book was a joy to read and very uplifting. I highly recommend it! 


If you'd like to read more about the grace of God, the book of Romans is a great start. It's one of my favorites. : )


"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

 
He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."    Romans 3:23-26


Freely by His grace...



Buy it HERE on Amazon


October 19, 2015

5 books on my future reading list

Happy, Happy, Happy

I'm not a huge fan of the Duck Dynasty show, it can be a bit silly at times, but I love this family.

We recently watched the episode of John Luke and Mary Kate's wedding and it was so beautiful, honoring God and family. We laughed and loved the families memories and thoughts on marriage leading up to the wedding.

Phil Robertson is the patriarch of this family and though he is not a perfect man, his love for God and family is evident, and I am looking forward to reading his story.

Amazon says here of the book:

"This no-holds-barred autobiography chronicles the remarkable life of Phil Robertson, the original Duck Commander and Duck Dynasty star, from early childhood through the founding of a family business.
Life was always getting in the way of Phil Robertson's passion for duck hunting.

An NFL-bound quarterback, Phil made his mark on Louisiana Tech University in the 1960s by playing football and completing his college career with a master's degree in English. But Phil's eyes were not always on the books or the ball; they were usually looking to the sky.

Phil grew up with the dream of living the simple life off the land like his forebears, but he soon found himself on a path to self-destruction, leasing a bar, drinking too much, fighting, and wasting his talents. He almost lost it all until he gave his life to God. And then everything changed. 

Phil's incredible story tells how he followed a calling from God and soon after invented a duck call that would begin an incredible journey to the life he had always dreamed of for himself and his family."




Kristin Lavransdatter

This was Elisabeth Elliot's favorite novel.

Ever since I found this out I've been wanting to read it. : )

Goodreads say of it here:

"In her great historical epic Kristin Lavransdatter, set in fourteenth-century Norway, Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset tells the life story of one passionate and headstrong woman. 

Painting a richly detailed backdrop, Undset immerses readers in the day-to-day life, social conventions, and political and religious undercurrents of the period. 

As a young girl, Kristin is deeply devoted to her father, a kind and courageous man. But when as a student in a convent school she meets the charming and impetuous Erlend Nikulauss√łn, she defies her parents in pursuit of her own desires. 

Her saga continues through her marriage to Erlend, their tumultuous life together raising seven sons as Erlend seeks to strengthen his political influence, and finally their estrangement as the world around them tumbles into uncertainty."




Where Has Oprah Taken Us?  

I used to love watching Oprah. She was the girlfriend next door, she was generous and encouraged others to be generous too.

Then one day I just felt the Holy Spirit convicting me and steering me away.

I've since begun to understood that Oprah preaches a gospel of self, promotes secular spirituality, and using the name of Jesus to confuse her audience. (She had me confused about her faith too)

When I saw this biography on sale from Kindle I picked it up.

It sounds very interesting and may give a deeper sense of what Oprah believes and promotes and where her beliefs are taking many undiscerning people.


Amazon says of it here:

"New York Times best-selling author, Stephen Mansfield, traces the fascinating and influential life of Oprah Winfrey, profiling her quest for spiritual enlightenment. A well-publicized journey featuring a caravan of experts, mystics, and gurus, all claiming to have a prescription for inner peace and personal well-being. 

Mansfield shows how Oprah's story fits into our larger cultural experience and reveals why her spiritual discoveries have resonated so loudly in today's popular culture. In so doing, he sheds needed light on the dangers of a spiritual journey fueled solely by a desire for self-actualization."

*I have since started this book and didn't realize, until now, the extent of Oprah's involvement in the occult (ancestral  worship, meditation, channeling). I am overwhelmed and heart-broken at the damaging influence she has had on so many Christian woman. Please pray for her and those who listen to her.



Prayer

I often read books recommended by Tim Challies, who I trust to give me an honest and though review. He highly recommended this one and so I'm excited to start reading it.

Tim Challies says of the book here:

"Early in his book Keller critiques most books on prayer as being 'primarily theological or devotional or practical, but seldom do they combine the theological, experiential, and methodological all under one cover.' 

This is what he has attempted to do, and it is exactly what he has done, as displayed in the book’s five parts: Desiring Prayer, Understanding Prayer, Learning Prayer, Deepening Prayer, Doing Prayer. 

He has written a winsome, well-rounded book that leads through theory and into practice. It is one of the strongest books on prayer I have ever read and it receives my highest recommendation."

You can read Tim Challies full review HERE




Isaac Newton

I am really interested in reading about the life of Isaac Newton.

Science is such a huge part of the modern world today and though many have rejected God, The God Isaac Newton loved and worshiped, they can not depute Newton's genius in the history of Science.

Amazon says here:

"As an inventor, astronomer, physicist, and philosopher, Isaac Newton forever changed the way we see and understand the world. At one point, he was the world’s leading authority in mathematics, optics, and alchemy. 

And surprisingly he wrote more about faith and religion than on all of these subjects combined. But his single-minded focus on knowledge and discovery was a great detriment to his health. Newton suffered from fits of mania, insomnia, depression, a nervous breakdown, and even mercury poisoning. 

Yet from all of his suffering came great gain. Newton saw the scientific world not as a way to refute theology, but as a way to explain it. He believed that all of creation was mandated and set in motion by God and that it was simply waiting to be “discovered” by man. Because of his diligence in both scientific and biblical study, Newton had a tremendous impact on religious thought that is still evident today."


October 14, 2015

The Lotus and The Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha


This book is part of a series of short stories Ravi Zacharias has put out, called 'Great Conversations.'

The back cover of this one says:

"Step into a long-tail boat... and become immersed in an imaginary conversation between Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha."

This is important to understand before you read this little treasure... that this book is an imaginary conversation to introduce us to the teachings of both Buddha and Jesus.

In the introduction Ravi says here of writing the book:

"Writing this book has been an incredible experience. I spent scores of hours in temples with monks and with instructors of students of Buddhist thought. The discussions I had were always cordial and delightful. Over many a cup of tea, we lingered and talked about life's deepest questions and contrasting answers."

It is a cleverly written and engaging read. There were many times I had to pause and think about what was being said. Many religions of the world have very close beliefs to Christianity, but with one major difference, their rejection of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

Buddhism is very concerned and sincere when it comes to being compassionate. This is what attracts so many to it. But this book shares why this is not enough.

Ravi Zacharias later says this in the introduction:

"Jesus and Buddha cannot both be right. 

The lotus is the symbol of Buddhism; the cross, the symbol of the Christian faith. Behind the two symbols stand two diametrically opposed beliefs. I ask you, the reader, to examine the message of each, using both your heart and your mind. It is worth the exercise because it will determine your destiny."

Here are a few quotes that stayed with me:

"When you mix falsehood with truth, you create a more destructive lie." 

 "There is no way to talk of what one ought to do without showing the value of the person."

"The purpose of life... is communion, not union. There can be no meaning when the goal is to meditate oneself into oblivion. But meaning is found in a relationship with the living God. That's what it's all about - a relationship."

This last quote moved me the most. What's the purpose of life?... "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Matt. 22 37... it's communion with the living God.

It's the love shared between us and Him in communion. His unconditional love, and our conditional love made perfect in Him. Silent meditation will never accomplish this, only communion with the living God will.

Communion means:

-association; fellowship. 


-interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication


-the act of sharing, or holding in common; participation.
 
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen." 2 Cor. 13:14 

I highly recommend this book for those who are curious about Buddhism, as well as the differences from Christianity. You will discover how much Buddhism has influenced the west, and how much we all need Jesus.


*Note - Ravi Zacharias's 'Great Conversations' series also includes conversations with Oscar Wilde, Hitler and Krishna.


Buy it HERE on Amazon



October 5, 2015

Wolves Among Us


This novel gave me a lot to think about. The history of the witch hunts is not so long ago and it still goes on in many countries today, just with a different face and name.

In this novel a double murder takes place in a small German village in 1538. The priest decides to call in an Inquisitor, and pardon my language, but then all hell breaks loose. A witch hunt pursues and many innocents are accused.

All women.

As it was taught, women, through Eve, were the source of all evil and temptation.

And someone must pay for the sins committed by men, who are believed to be bewitched by women.

So the witch hunt begins.

In the authors afterwards under the subtitle 'Gender Roles and the Church' she writes:

"According to medieval religious belief, evil existed outside of men and inside of women. This theory was the backbone of witch hunts. When the Age of Enlightenment swept through Europe, these theories about witchcraft and women's nature were discredited - and the church lost its credibility too. This is why teaching about gender differences and gender roles must be undertaken with extreme care and extreme attention to the Scriptures. We must be careful never to put words into God's mouth.

The reality is that no one understands the complete truth about men and women, our chemistry together, and how each gender is a unique reflection of the divine nature of God. But we do know this - when we finally see God's face in heaven, we will fully understand ourselves, each other, and God."

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Cor. 13:12

In God's eyes men and women are equal. Equally sinful, equally offered the gift of grace.

All those who come to Him are set free in Him. We do not have to pay for our own sins, nor someone pay for anothers sins. Christ paid the price for us all. This is a truth that many medieval people did not understand or know because the Word of God was keep hidden from them. And that's when historically, superstition has abounded.

Unfortunately, we still see this today in many countries around the world and this is why it is so important we get Bibles to them.

To share the Truth. The truth that they are beloved by God...equally.

I'm sharing two organizations which not only distribute Bibles to people who don't have a way to get one, but also support and help women who have been persecuted... for just being women.

You can help and make a difference.

Firstly, is Open Doors an organization that was started by Brother Andrew of Holland. you can read my thoughts on his book 'God's Smuggler' HERE. Open Doors is an amazing organization that has brought many Bibles to those who may never have had a chance to read one otherwise.


Open Doors International 


Secondly, is The Voice of the Martyrs an organization that helps the persecuted church throughout the world. This organization was started by Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor who was persecuted for speaking out against Communism in the 1960's. The Voice of the Martyrs also hands out Bibles as well as stands up for women.


The Voice of the Martyrs 


These kinds of books are not meant to be read and forgotten. They are meant to urge us on to do something. So check out these sites and see what they are doing to help. You may find yourself called to help too. : )


Buy it HERE on Amazon


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