Friday, June 21, 2019

Reasons to Dance in the Rain

Dear Friends,

As I watch a gentle rain dimple our deck, I am reminded of my childhood. Rain on a tin porch roof outside my bedroom window lulled me to sleep. A cedar tree dropped orange blossoms onto that roof when it rained. And there was something special about sitting on the porch of our farmhouse, watching raindrops splash on a large flat stone that served as a porch step.

Rain. Precious drinking water. So necessary for flowers and vegetables. Badly needed for fields of wheat, corn and soybeans. Rain is essential to life on earth.

Yet we dislike rainy days. We want sunshine and brightness, cloudless days filled with love and laughter. But just as rainy days are essential to the good earth, so rainy days in our lives are essential to the growth of our character and our faith.

It’s easy to trust God when the sun is shining, when our kids are making good grades and minding their curfews. It’s harder to trust God on the rainy days, when our kids fail English and find friends of questionable morals.

It’s easy to trust God when we feel good. It’s harder to trust God when we’re wrecked with pain or disease, when we’re saddled with a job we dislike, when difficult people make life difficult.

But maybe God has allowed circumstances in our lives for a season and for a reason. Maybe He wants us to trust Him to make us better people through our experiences as we learn to turn the other cheek. If we’ve prayed for patience, maybe this is His way of stretching us.

Maybe He’s even using a difficult person to lead us to a greener pasture. After all, haven’t you ever found peace and contentment after you’ve moved away from a toxic relationship?

Rainy days draw us to God to ask what He’s trying to tell us, to teach us through whatever experience he brings our way. We search His Word. We talk to His people. We pray. We ponder. All that is good. After all, we don’t want to draw rash conclusions. We learn to trust that after the rain comes the rainbow.

God told the people of Israel, “I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit” (Leviticus 26:7). I’ve read the Israelites thanked God for the rain because they knew their cattle could graze in green pastures. We would also do well to appreciate the rain in our lives, the challenges, the inconveniences, the uncomfortable circumstances because of the promise they hold.

I recently came across a quote by John Ortburg that I find true: “God isn’t at work producing the circumstances I want. God is at work in bad circumstances to produce the me he wants.” 

So enjoy or at least be patient on rainy days. Take time to watch the raindrops patter on the patio, to muse, to think, to pray. And then confidently get on with life, renewed by God’s Spirit, encouraged by His Presence and sustained by His love for you, for those you love . . . and even for those difficult people. After all, he loves them too.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Book Review: The Book of Signs

If you have trouble understanding prophecy, The Book of Signs: 31 Undeniable Prophecies of the Apocalypse is the book to read. Dr. David Jeremiah has the gift of making complex issues crystal clear. In his book, he discusses how biblical references pointing to the Apocalypse are playing out in the world today.

The book opens with a look at current events as they are unfolding in Israel, Europe, Russia, Babylon and America. I particularly like the way Jeremiah introduces each chapter throughout the book with a relevant example. For instance, he describes how Vladimir Putlin seized possession of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine as an introduction to events in Russia.

Jeremiah then goes on to write about cultural signs we see around us with chapters such as materialism, immorality, radical Islam and apathy. He offers eye-opening statistics. Did you know 255 Christian are killed each month in our modern world?

Throughout the book, he tucks appropriate and interesting quotes. For instance in a chapter on heaven’s rewards, he includes a quote by M. R. Kopmeyer that includes a quote by Elbert Hubbard: “Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” I like that definition. Here's another by John Ortburg: "God isn't at work producing the circumstances I want. God is at work in bad circumstances to produce the me he wants."

Besides international and cultural signs, Jeremiah writes about heavenly signs, tribulation signs and end signs, which include Christ’s return, the Millenium, the great white throne judgment, the new heaven and new earth and the holy city. He clarifies how these events will occur at the end of the age, leaving the reader with a clear picture of what will happen when.

Chapters are short and easy to read. Notes and an index complete this book, which should be a must-read for every Christian. Jeremiah’s ministry, Turning Point, also offers study guides, a DVD series of his sermons on these signs, a set of audio recordings and other resources on this topic.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Book Review: Nurturing the Nations

Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women in Building Healthy Cultures

The role of women has been debated through the ages. In this book Darrow Miller with Stan Guthrie offers insight and suggestions for reclaiming the dignity of women in societies around the world.
Part 1 addresses the abuse of women along with alarming statistics. Did you know domestic violence is the number one health risk for American women between the ages of 15 and 45? Did you know in Bangladesh, acid attacks deliberately disfigure women to make them unattractive? Then there’s the degradation spawned by pornography, sex trafficking, forced sterilization and other travesties.
            In Part 2, the authors discuss the problem as rooted in sexism, which views women as inferior to men, and radical feminism, which views men and women as identical. Instead, Miller and Guthrie suggest men and women be viewed as equal in being and different in function.
            They discuss the differences among waves of feminism. First wave feminists worked to gain basic rights, such as the right to vote, while today’s radical feminists deny masculine and feminine distinctions and strive to establish interchangeable gender roles of choice.
            Part 3 of the book looks at biblical foundations for a worldview with the Trinity as a model of diversity within unity. Part 4 offers a look at what’s ahead with the marriage of Christ and the church.
            A wrap-up chapter stresses the role of women as nurturers first in the family, then in society and the nations.
            This book opened my eyes as to how changes in definition of gender, etc., have developed and become acceptable in our society. The authors do a thorough job of researching attitudes and actions in the family, the church and society at large to make their case of developing a healthy view of men and women that would allow people of all cultures to exist with dignity.
            The book includes a valuable glossary along with subject and biblical references indexes.
            No matter your view of the roles of men and women, no matter your age or stage, this book will open your eyes to look at all sides of the gender issue. It’s a sobering, thought-provoking read. Of ten reviews on Amazon, all give the book a 5-star rating.