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Writer of fiction that reflects the light of Jesus. Sometimes the grit mixes with beauty to make up a picture of this life. That's where my fiction lives.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review of 1&2 Corinthians: Straight to the Heart

1 and 2 Corinthians are huge chunks of Scripture, packed with enough theology and debate and discussion to keep a Bible college open for years. I've had friends who, after first becoming Christians, read these books of the Bible only to feel overwhelmed and entrenched in history they do not understand. Not to mention the culture! And Paul. Oh, yes, Paul can be hard to swallow at times.

And a commentary? Right. That only makes it more difficult!

Well, until you look at "Straight to the Heart" by Phil Moore. Moore wrote this easily read, easily understood commentary in "60 Bite-Sized Insights". Exactly what it should be. It is understandable, accessible and written in such a way that it is relevant to our culture. That being said, Moore doesn't push aside the important business that Paul addresses in this part of Scripture. He is clearly an excellent and gifted teacher.

This book would be fantastic for the Christian of any Biblical knowledge. It would be a good book for a Bible study or an adult Sunday school class/small group. It would also be great for the individual looking for an in-depth personal study.

I loved my Corinthians class that I took in college. What would have made it better would have been this book. It is excellent.

Review of I Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times. Week Six

I am a singer. I've been in choirs and other musical groups for most of my life. I've even been in a few bands. Yeah. I'm a rocker chick.

One thing that I've learned is that in order for music to work correctly, there must be harmony. Balance. Blending. Give and take. 

And it is so true in other aspects of life. Especially within the Church.

Peter addresses Christians who are starting, brand new, with the whole Body of Christ thing. And we are still in desperate need of that teaching now, 2000 years later!

In this week's study there was a case study. It was about a family getting together for Christmas. There was some tension between the grandmother and her daughters. One daughter took some time away at a bad time. She was inconsiderate...which happens in families and churches, right? Well, that and a few other things made the family late for an event. The next day, the mother/grandmother reminded the daughter that she needed to be on time for that day's events (3 times...that's bordering on nagging). That daughter ended up leaving early.

It's so sad. This family had their Christmas disrupted because of a misunderstanding and "putting oneself first". How often do we see this in the Church? Instead of doing life together, we put our needs first. And then we let ourselves become riled when it doesn't go our way. This is anything but unified. It is anything but a body working together. It is more of a family that is working against each other.

Peter (who was the "rock" on which Jesus would build the Church) encouraged the early Christians to be one. To not fight one another. This is a lesson we would do well to learn now. 

We have plenty of others coming at us. The Church should be where we can come together in one purpose. To further the Kingdom of God.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review of I Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times. Week Five

Beauty. Ah. Yes. You know, I am on Pinterest. Here's what I learn about beauty from the assorted pins I come across:

Beauty is...
~A flat stomach
~A perfect figure in a bikini
~The right hair cut
~Perfectly applied make up
~Big eyes, pouty lips, pert nose.

And on and on and on.

We are an image obsessed culture. And, quite frankly, I'm tired of it. I'm sick of feeling guilty for my weight. Keeping up with the latest clothes is beyond my budget. And I don't have time to be bothered with make up. And I will not wear a bikini. 

But I feel pressure. To be skinny (I do think we need to be healthy and mindful about our food and exercise). To look a certain way (I do want to be pretty for my husband). Pressure, guilt, embarrassment, shame, stress.

But here's the thing: All the muscle tone and make up and expensive clothes in the world does not "beauty" make. Peter (good old Peter...I love that guy) says that true beauty is found in a woman who lives in purity and reverence. 

Yes! Yes! That's it!

A woman who follows Jesus. Who strives to be holy, consecrated to the Lord! Her heart is beautiful ("Golden Hearted" as we teach our daughter to call it). And her light radiates, reflecting the Love of Jesus.

I was complaining to my husband about how men age so much better than women. 

He said, "Well, maybe that's why it's so important for a woman to really shine the love of Jesus. You know, to show how truly beautiful she is."

I think that's exactly what Peter was talking about.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Review of "The Mysterious Epigenome: What Lies Beyond DNA"

Thomas E. Woodward, PhD, and James P. Gills, MD attempt to do a few very interesting things in this book. First, they attempt to make the science of the epigenome accessible and understanding to the "lay-person". This goal is achieved well. They define many terms and theories that otherwise would have my head spinning. With conversational writing and actual dialogue (WHAT? Dialogue in a science book? Yes.) this book was actually pleasant to read. 

"Well done" and pats on the back, gentlemen. (I never got fantastic grades in the sciences...however, this book was easily understandable).  

Doctors Woodward and Gills also attempted to marry Spirituality (and specifically Christianity) with the study of cellular science. This is a controversial bridge to create. Both sides are typically in opposition. I appreciate the attempts of these authors to make sense of logic behind the intricacies of cells and the masterful design of the Creator.

This book not only has great chapters, but it also has discussion questions at the end of each section, making it great for a discussion group or Bible study. It also includes colorful pictures. And at the end it features "Frequently Asked Questions". It is clear that these doctors worked diligently on this book. And yet, with such a HUGE subject, the book is only 160 pages. It is definitely readable at that length.

I recommend this book to anyone who is reaching out to learn more about the science of creation. Also for those who want to analyze the creation claims of Scripture. It's good for the seeker who wants to learn more about why we have faith in the Creator. 

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Review of I Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times. Week Four

This week, while contemplating on this study, I've been thinking about the struggles of our Christian life. Modern Christians in the United States have it relatively easy. The very worst we encounter is that someone on Facebook might call us "weak-minded" or "stupid" and challenge our knowledge or engage us in a debate. 

The believers in the first Century, however, had such struggles, such hardship, such persecution. As compared to them, I have no idea what it means to suffer for my faith.

But there are plenty of others in this world who do face all kinds of pain and struggle because of Jesus. Persecution of Christians is prominent in many cultures. Many are beaten, imprisoned, murdered for their faith. Others suffer through poverty because they refuse to steal or cheat others because of their Christian standards.

So, it's easy to be a Christian in the United States, yes? There are no challenges in a land wherein a church is built on every corner, right? 

Well. No.

I have friends who are missionaries. Actually, several of them. A few of them live in or have experienced the challenges of being a Christian in a physically hostile environment where witchcraft and religious oppression are common. They all say that it is more difficult to be a Christian in the U.S.

What? But we have all our needs covered. If someone hurts us for our faith we have a legal system to protect us. We have rights!

Well, that's kind of the thing. We don't HAVE to rely on God. It's easy to think that we are protected by the government, that we provide our own needs, that we are safe. Thank you very much, we are Americans and we can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

And all the while we forget who it is that sustains us. Ours is a struggle of complacency, being to comfortable, too lazy in our faith. 

While we fight a different kind of oppression, we are still under the persecution of the accuser who would have us renounce our faith and give in to him. 

Please Note: I received a free copy of this Bible study in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review of Married Mom, Solo Parent by Carla Anne Coroy

I have a few friends who are married to men who are gone nearly all the time. They have children together and that's about all that they have in common anymore. It's so sad. It takes a toll on the children. They feel a tension between the "world" and the "church". The world tells them to file for divorce. The church tells them to tough it out, be the gentle guidance that their husband needs. A few of my friends don't feel freedom to discuss this problem. This topic, within many Christian circles, is taboo. 

Carla Anne Coroy tackled the issue in her book "Married Mom, Solo Parent". I am impressed with her openness in this book. She discusses with honesty her emotions, her thoughts, her struggles. For a mother (or even a father) going through this struggle, this would be an invaluable resource of encouragement and edification. 

With chapters that lean to the practical side (ie, keeping the house clean, keeping mealtime a great experience for the kids, attending events and special occasions alone), Carla is lending a hand, teaching her coping skills. She is saying, in these chapters, that it is possible to physically survive this time of life. 

Carla also writes about the emotions, the grief, of being in this Married Mom, Solo Parent position. She writes about honoring the husband who is absent, the need for a break, the price that the kids pay in this situation. I can't imagine that these were easy chapters for her to write. However, they are sure to help another woman to know that she isn't alone in these painful emotions. 

The very last chapter of this book was written by her husband. Now, let's just say, that takes some humility. I found his ideas for talking to an absent husband to be very enlightening. And, in writing that chapter, he truly showed his willingness to be the supportive, present father he needs to be.

This book would be fantastic for a woman who is living in this kind of marriage, for family ministries at a church, for counseling situations, for friends hoping to understand the struggles of a friend. 

I highly recommend this book.

Please note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.