Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus is far more than the story of one man’s conversion. This book takes you inside the mindset of a Muslim and illustrates how the teachings of Islam are an integral part of a Muslim’s life. Qureshi has mastered the technique of showing rather than telling. By offering snapshots of his family life, he helps you feel the deep love and affection he shared with his parents and sister. By taking you through the teachings and rituals of Islam, he helps you see how deeply faith is an integral part of his culture.

I liked the way Qureshi included blocked definitions of unfamiliar words. I also liked his short chapters, which move the story along, yet focus on particular incidents and topics. Published by Zondervan in 2014, this was the only book ever to win Christian Book awards for both Best New Author and Best Nonfiction.

As Qureshi began his journey to find truth, he considered the differences in thinking in Eastern and Western cultures. Since the latter think more systematically and linearly, he said this: “Perhaps if I employed Western methodology with Eastern passion, I would be able to craft the most compelling and defensible case of all.” He actually was hoping to prove Islam was the way to God, rather than Christianity.

Since he had grown up believing Muhammad was a man of peace, September 11, 2001, opened Qureshi’s mind to the fact that some people of his faith drew upon verses from the Quran that espoused violence. He soon found himself in a maelstrom, not sure what or who to believe.

A young man, Qureshi could not imagine risking losing his close family ties and bringing dishonor to his family by converting to Christianity, and he worried that he was committing an unforgivable sin if Islam was the way. Through it all, Qureshi shares his heart with his good friend David, a strong Christian with whom he deeply connected in college. David listens, patiently explains his faith and supports Qureshi in his quest to know the truth.

I recommend this book not only as an interesting biographical story, but as a thorough review and explanation of major Christian doctrines and Muslim beliefs and traditions. This would be an excellent small group study, and eight-session study guides are available. According to Qureshi’s website (nabeelqureshi.com), he has just undergone the removal of his stomach because of cancer. He needs our prayers.







Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review: Windows of the Soul - Hearing God in the Everyday Moments of Your Life


Windows of the Soul is one of my favorite books. I just reread it, and it was just as meaningful the second time through. Ken Gire writes of seeing God through the windows of life, including vocation, literature, art, wilderness experiences, poetry, movies and more. His stories resonate; his writing sings.

Although Gire graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary, he went through “wilderness years” before finding his niche as an author. His struggles tested his faith, but he came out richer for it—richer in faith and I believe richer in his craft. In this book he shares much of how God has touched him through everyday life.

For instance, Gire was at first unmoved by Van Gogh’s paintings. But he then learned the artist was once a preacher who could not relate well to people. Van Gogh struggled with depression that finally claimed his life. And as Gire discovered this dimension of the artist’s life, he came to appreciate and understand his art.

One of my favorite chapters, “Windows of Humanity,” shares Gire’s feelings as he watched a homeless woman drag a cart by a playground of happy schoolchildren. He saw a woman who had once been one of those happy little girls, and he captured the scene in a poem that takes you there. While Gire admits he did nothing to help this woman, he also tells the story of intervening when a man was beating his wife and how he encountered God through that experience.

On these pages you meet Gire’s wife and family. His writing is rich with imagery, yet practical in application--inspirational and insightful reading at its finest. You’ll get more out of the movies you see, the books you read, the walks you take, because Gire has opened your eyes to God in the world around us—if we only open our eyes to see Him.

After I read Windows of the Soul the first time, I was hooked on Gire’s writing and have since read several of his other books; all of them draw you into a more intimate relationship with Christ.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Six Ways to Add Life to Your Years




You’ve heard the latest: The more coffee you drink, the longer you’ll live. But we need not so much to add years to our lives as we need to add life to our years. What good is it to live to 100 if we’re not enjoying the journey? Here are my thoughts on how to add life to your years:

1.      Live in the moment. As they say, yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery but today is a gift; that’s why they call it "present." Too often we can’t wait for a concert or a family visit or a birthday party. But if we’re always looking ahead, we miss the beauty around us. Savor the glimpse of a flower, the song of a bird, the satisfaction of work. Take a deep breath and look around--now. Enjoy your setting, wherever it may be.

2.      Let the past be past. Sure, we’ve all had our share of hurts and sorrows, and healing takes time. But forget the grudges. Forget the unfairness. Forgive the offenders. Restored relationships trump past injustices, so reach out to someone with whom you’ve differed. Life is too short to short-circuit relationships among family and friends. Chances are you too have hurt someone along life’s way. I know I have.

3.       Listen to your body. Are you stressed? Are you tired? How might you better cope with daily routines? Could family members do more? Could you schedule time for yourself? You are no good to others if you don’t care for yourself. If you need more sleep, plan for it. If you need help, ask for it.

4.      Learn something. We are never so old we can’t learn something new. I just signed up to learn through a group called WordGirls. I bought my husband golf lessons for Father’s Day. What would you like to learn? Cooking? Knitting? Finishing furniture? Whatever it is, you can find a YouTube video (or better yet, a friend) to show you how.

5.      Laugh. I read the comics every day (LOVE “Pickles”), and I love the humor in Readers Digest. Some people always make me laugh; I enjoy being around them. Laughing is good for us, so don’t take yourself so seriously. God has a sense of humor. Look at the penguin!

6.      Look forward to life eternal. The fact is, we will not live forever—no matter how many cups of coffee we drink. Be prepared to meet God. Be sure you understand that Jesus died so that you may live. Be sure to begin your life with Him today so that when you die you step right into that eternal tomorrow.

“To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19

Hope I’ve given you some ideas about adding life to your years. Bill recently came across an old phonograph in our basement. He set it up in our dining room, dug a pile of records off the attic and now, instead of flicking the remote, we spend an hour or two an evening listening to the oldies but goodies while we play Rummikub or Sequence. Works for us. What might help you enjoy the journey with your loved ones? Click on the link and leave a comment to share an idea about something you do or plan to do.

Have a blessed August!

Shirley

Upcoming Engagements:

August 20, 10:30 a.m. – Friends of the Heart at The Glen with Lykens United Methodist Church, “At Any Age, At Any Stage: Celebrating the Christian Life.”