Friday, December 11, 2015

Book Review: It's Not What You Think: Why Christianity is about so Much More than Going to Heaven When you Die.


Sometimes scripture becomes so familiar that we gloss over details and miss rich meaning embedded within. With chapter titles such as “Your Story’s Not What You Think: Love Defined You Before Anything Else Did” and “The Temple’s Not What You Think: It’s God Pitching His Tent in Your Backyard,” author Jefferson Bethke opens our eyes so that we avoid missing out on our rich Christian heritage. For instance, you may think Sabbath rules are outdated and no longer apply, but Bethke helps you look behind the rules to principles that guide and bless our lives. He helps you see that the kingdom is not pie in the sky by and by, but it’s where you live—here and now!

I liked this book because Bethke makes Old Testament teachings relevant to today. No, he doesn’t put us back under the law. He simply applies the principles of the law to modern living. In one chapter he explains that the tree from which Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit was not a temptation to sin; it was in invitation to intimacy. Did you ever think of it that way? I didn’t. “We can lean into him for what’s right and wrong, since we don’t truthfully know, or we can ‘eat the fruit’ and have our own standards, ways and paths. One choice leads to life, and the other leads to destruction.”

Bethke also makes observations that clarify Old Testament teaching. For instance, he likens the five chunks of teaching in Matthew to the five books of the Torah. I also like Bethke’s analogies. He likens resentment to drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. Clever. His chapter on brokenness is sure to help you evaluate your own life. And he shares freely from his life experiences, which include much brokenness. This is an enjoyable read that would be helpful to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of scripture that will lead to deeper intimacy with God.

A foreword by author Ann Voskamp and recommendations by authors Lisa TerKeurst and Bob Goff and Russell Moore, president of Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, assure you this is a worthwhile read.



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hands, Gloves, Christmas and YOU!



Dear Friends,

When I think of Christmas I think of snow and snowsuits and scarves and gloves. Gloves! Now there’s an interesting topic.

Like a hand, a glove has four fingers, a palm and a wrist. But a glove is not a hand. It has no life of its own. It can do nothing but lie where it is placed until a hand comes along and slips inside. But a hand transforms a glove. With a hand inside, the glove can do anything the hand can do: wave good-bye, scratch a head, pick up a pencil. And in fact it is only with a hand inside it that a glove can fulfill the purpose for which it was created. Think about that!

Do you see where I’m going? Christmas means that God wants to be the Hand in the glove of our lives. You see, God has always wanted to be with his people. It was Adam and Eve that hid from him; not vice versa. As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God met with them in the “tent of meeting.” And when Jesus came to earth, God put on skin and bones to meet with us earthlings. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) According to Jefferson Bethke, author of It’s Not What You Think, the word “dwelt” can literally mean “to fix a tent.” The apostle John’s statement means Jesus is “pitching his tent” among us, his people. In fact, Jesus is called Immanuel, meaning “God with us.”

And now that Jesus has returned to heaven, his Holy Spirit dwells, “pitches his tent,” within us—just like a hand fills a glove. Jesus could be only in one place at one time. But His Holy Spirit is with all of us all the time. That is the Good News of Christmas. But this Holy Spirit is very courteous. He waits to be invited into our lives. I am so glad I took that step one Christmastime many decades ago! I would not want to have journeyed through the years without his comforting and guiding Presence.

This Christmas, don’t hide the Spirit within you.  Be a blessing. Share the joy that began when the angels sang. After all, it is only with the Hand of the Spirit inside us that we can fulfill the purpose for which we gloves were created. Think of that every time you pull on your gloves. Let the Spirit flow—so God may touch others through you.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Shirley

P. S. Please leave a comment about how God has been the hand in the glove of your life. If you receive this by e-mail, click on the link below to comment.

Upcoming Engagements:
December 7, 6:30 p.m. – Lewisburg After 5 Club

December 8, 11:45 a.m. – State College Christian Women’s Club