Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Review: Examine Your Faith: Finding Truth in a World of Lies


Author Pamela Christian examines the basic tenets of Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, secular thinking and Islam before presenting the case for Christianity. In the first part of her book, she addresses “Defending Truth” in light of today’s culture. She points out postmodern Americans tend to select aspects of different beliefs and practices, which leads to syncretism. Some esteem religious pluralism, claiming that no religion is superior to another. All this leads to a lack of core convictions on which to rely. We also live in a day when many believe truth is relative, so there are no hard and fast reference points for faith and conduct. She writes: “The growing popularity of tolerating contradictory points of view is precisely what is contributing to the cultural moral chaos we’re suffering today.”

Part Two of the book examines the various faiths. Part Three, titled “Deciding Truth,” makes the case for Christianity, ending with chapters that offer prophecies fulfilled concerning Jesus and evidence for the resurrection. Chapters contain footnotes to lead you to original sources.

Pamela Christian is well qualified to write this book. Known as “the Faith Doctor with Your Rx for Life,” she is a radio broadcaster, author, speaker and teacher. She holds a certificate in apologetics from Biola University and heads up Pamela Christian Ministries, dedicated to helping Christian lead the abundant life. Her ministry began in the early 1990s as teaching director for Community Bible Study, an independent, international organization. This led to invitations to speak across the country, and she has written workbooks for retreats and conferences along with books, magazines and e-books.

I liked this book because it gave me an overview of various religions without getting into too much detail. It also offers a review of why we believe what we believe. It would be a great book to give someone pondering the truths of life and faith; it clarifies the distinctiveness of Christianity while offering a good overview of other faiths, their founders and core beliefs. 

Examine Your Faith is the first of a three-book series. The second book, Renew Your Hope: Remedy for Personal Breakthroughs, won The 2015 National Indie Excellence award in its category. The third book, Revive Your Life: Rest for Your Anxious Heart, is due to be released this year.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review: Lessons from the East: Finding the Future of Western Christianity in the Global Church


A thought-provoking read. Author Bob Roberts challenges us to rethink what the church is called to do. He shifts the focus from what happens inside church walls to what God wants us to accomplish outside church walls. “The message of Christ is far more than ‘ask Jesus into your heart, go to church, be a good person, and you’ll go to heaven when you die.’ It’s about being radically transformed so that we profoundly impact our communities.”

Roberts, a church planter, participates in a gathering known as the Global Collaborative Community. What he has learned from pastors around the world has motivated him to change his approach to ministry. According to Roberts, the American church is missing out on the reality of the power to Christ to change lives and communities. “Great worship services don’t change the world; empowered, impassioned disciples do.”

So he calls on Christians to follow the example of Paul as a tentmaker. Roberts sees that occupation not so much as a way to make a living but as a strategic way to impact the Roman military, sailors who needed fabric for sails, etc. So we too should be impacting others through our secular occupations.

In the global church, worshippers gather in small neighborhood cells, which Roberts calls “hot houses for discipleship.” As believers mature, they are urged to start their own cells. The question asked cell members is, “What do you hear the Spirit saying to you or to us?” The emphasis of these gatherings is on discipleship rather than fellowship.

Roberts addresses crossing the divide that separates us from other religions. He writes: “Treat (enemies) like friends, and they just might become your friends.” He recognizes three barriers that fall by the grace of God where the gospel takes root: “Races are learning to love one another, the poor are valued, and women are elevated as equals.”

Each chapter ends with “Consider This,” questions to stimulate our thinking about our own church and community, and through these questions Roberts challenges us to move from self indulgence to self sacrifice. He views each moment as a gift from God to be recognized as an opportunity to reach out. His questions would make great topics for small group discussion.

Roberts challenges readers to seek and heed the Spirit’s direction, and he ends the book with a chapter on effective prayer. End notes document his sources. Buy the book for pastors, church leaders and any Christians seeking to mature in the faith. Lessons from the East will make you think less about going to church and more about what you do when you’re going from church.



Monday, August 1, 2016

Three Steps to Healthy Eating


Dear Friends,

Life on our farm revolved around food. You planted it, picked it and canned it. Or you fed it, pastured it, butchered it and froze it. You gathered eggs and picked strawberries. You shucked sweet corn and cut rhubarb. Food surrounded you, and meals were tasty, made even more so by easy conversation that flowed around our table. We were seven.

Meals always included a meat, a potato (mashed or fried) and a vegetable from our garden—peas, red beets, corn. And dessert. Always dessert—pies, cakes, custards. Each year I sold Jell-O as a fundraiser for my elementary school, and my mother and I loved finding new flavors—peach, pistachio, whatever.

The Problem:

All that—well, not the Jell-O—probably laid the basis for a current medical problem—high cholesterol. I developed “issues” after taking statins for many years, so I’m determined to control my cholesterol with healthy eating instead of medication. At my age, I don’t eat as much, and if I fill up on pies, cakes and custards, there’s no room for apples, peaches and cantaloupes.

The Solution:

I’ve found the solution in the book Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard:

1.       Make a list of ten reasons you want to diet and read them every morning. Besides lowering my cholesterol, my reasons to diet range from “to live longer” to “to practice self control.” Then I took her suggestion a step further.

2.       Each night I jot down an overview of my gastronomical activity that day along with my exercise and how I felt in general.

3.       AND then I write down what I’m learning. So far I’ve learned: I don’t need to eat something just because someone gives it to me. I don’t need to eat something just because Bill eats it. I don’t need to eat something just because I think of it. This way of thinking helps me avoid the bad stuff.

The Process:

I’m three days into this new way of life, and I certainly ate healthfully on two of those days. I made homemade vegetable soup and ate it with toast and a small slice of bologna one night and with a salmon burger the next. The third day I had a walking taco for supper. How bad can a bag of Doritos with a bit of barbecue, lettuce, cheese, salsa and sour cream thrown in be for you? I told the server to add only half the sour cream he normally uses. I also had a fruit smoothie—made with real fruit. So even though that menu had some unhealthy elements, they didn’t add up to too much.

The Goal:

I hope the cholesterol will slip right out of my system as I walk this path to more healthful eating. I made an appointment with a new doctor in three months, and my goal is to lower my cholesterol at least 20 points by the time I meet him. Wish me luck. And if you have any suggestions to help me reach my goal, just click on the link below and leave a comment so we can earn from each other. I’m sure I’m not alone on this gastronomical journey. (Don’t you love that word? It just rolls off the tongue.)

Have a blessed day!

Shirley

Upcoming Events:

August 7, 3 p.m. – Friends of the Heart at Women’s Tea, Salem U. C. C., Elizabethville. “That Face in the Mirror: Who Do You See?” (Call 362-8221 or 362-3148 for reservations)

August 21, 9:30 a.m. – Shirley teaching Sunday school at Port Royal U. M. Church.





Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Review: Living a Beautiful Life


I read this book for fun, and fun it was. The subtitle says it all: Five Hundred Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life. That sums up the content written by Alexandra Stoddard. Beautiful ink drawings by Pat Stewart add to its appeal.

According to Stoddard, we can create beauty and order in ordinary days by establishing little rituals that enhance the humdrum. Some chapters focus on certain rooms—the kitchen, the bedroom, the bath. She helps you look at your house with fresh eyes to evaluate whether it is supporting your quest for living the beautiful life. Does your d├ęcor reflect your tastes and values? Are there changes you might make to better reflect who you are?

Each chapter ends with Grace Notes, suggestions to create a beautiful life, followed by blank space to add your own grace notes. I read this library book with pen in hand to jot down ideas. There were plenty. An index guides you in locating details you may want to recall. Although this book was published by Random House in 1986, if you enjoy creating a homey atmosphere that appeals to your senses and welcomes guests, you will appreciate Stoddard’s ideas.

I’m now reading another of her books, You Are Your Choices: 50 Ways to Live the Good Life, which she wrote 20 years later. This book’s 50 essays relate to choices we make every day that affect the quality of our lives. Enjoying this one as well.

Have you read other books of this type? Share a title by clicking on the link below.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Our Window to the World


Dear Friends,

In the early morning, I watch television for 90 seconds. Yes, that’s right. CBS offers “Your World in 90 Seconds,” and if I’m near a TV set, I tune in because I want to know what’s going on. 

Just as I look out my sun porch window to see the world around me—flowers, trees, birds and squirrels—television allows me to look out a global window. But unlike my backyard world that always tells the truth—if the sun is shining, it’s probably going to be a nice day; if I see clouds, I know it might rain—television truth is subjective, truth seen through the eyes of a reporter. And sometimes, like Pilate, I wonder, “What is truth?”

For instance, reporters seem very surprised by gun violence. A man takes an assault rifle and kills dozens of people. This is most unusual. But is it surprising? If he’s a young gunman, he’s been watching violence on television his entire life.

Young people viewing the world through television may think that it’s perfectly OK to lead promiscuous lives. I heard women on a talk show debate whether it’s OK to have sex on a first date. Morality was not an issue. It was simply a discussion about women’s preferences—now or later. Why then are we surprised when entertainment translates into life for our teenagers?

Then there’s what we do not see much of on television: The importance of faith, the dedication of missionaries, the rewards of morality. In a book, The Age of Missing Information, Bill McKibben shares what he learned by watching a single day’s programming on 93 cable channels with what he learned atop a mountain. I read the book years ago and just may reread it. 

Maybe I’m old fashioned—well, there’s no maybe there—but I think we would be a lot better off if we spent more time gaining a perspective of the world from God’s Word and good literature rather than from television. Yes, television offers a window to the world, but as a Christian I want to view the world from God’s perspective rather than that of a sponsor. How about you?

Have a blessed day.

Shirley

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