Wednesday, July 20, 2011

God's Promises for the American Patriot - By Richard Lee, Jack Countryman

God's Promises for the American Patriot - By Richard Lee, Jack Countryman is an impressive, illustrated pocket sized book of patriotic devotionals.  This book contains short stories, anecdotes and historical information about well known historical figures such as George Washington Carver, as well as Abraham Lincoln.  Contemporary American heros such as Gen Patton and President Reagan are to be found as well.  Devotionals covering historical documents such as the declaration of Independance and the Gettysburg Address are also contained in the pages of this book.  Furthermore, this is not only a quaint book of American quotes and trivia, but an inspriting book on American history and the role of faith in this country.  It can not be denied by athiests or humanists that this nation was founded on the Christian faith as taught in the bible.  Our inventors, and historical figures based their lives on the words of the bible.  In contrast to today's world, where ambition and materialism are the basis of our consumeritic and selfish culture, faith took a large role in the history of our nation, from the greatest of politicians and generals to inventors, and families.  As a blogger for booksneeze I recieved this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Psalm 38

The following is Psalm 38 in two different bible versions: NIV and the Message

Psalm 38 NIV version

A psalm of David. A petition.
1 LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down on me.
3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.
5 My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
6 I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
7 My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.
9 All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps,
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they scheme and lie.
13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 LORD, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”
17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many have become my enemies without cause[b];
those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil
lodge accusations against me,
though I seek only to do what is good.
21 LORD, do not forsake me;
do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
my Lord and my Savior.

Psalm 38 The Message Version

A David Psalm
1-2 Take a deep breath, God; calm down— don't be so hasty with your punishing rod.
Your sharp-pointed arrows of rebuke draw blood;
my backside smarts from your caning.

3-4 I've lost twenty pounds in two months
because of your accusation.
My bones are brittle as dry sticks
because of my sin.
I'm swamped by my bad behavior,
collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt.

5-8 The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots
because I've lived so badly.
And now I'm flat on my face
feeling sorry for myself morning to night.
All my insides are on fire,
my body is a wreck.
I'm on my last legs; I've had it—
my life is a vomit of groans.

9-16 Lord, my longings are sitting in plain sight,
my groans an old story to you.
My heart's about to break;
I'm a burned-out case.
Cataracts blind me to God and good;
old friends avoid me like the plague.
My cousins never visit,
my neighbors stab me in the back.
My competitors blacken my name,
devoutly they pray for my ruin.
But I'm deaf and mute to it all,
ears shut, mouth shut.
I don't hear a word they say,
don't speak a word in response.
What I do, God, is wait for you,
wait for my Lord, my God—you will answer!
I wait and pray so they won't laugh me off,
won't smugly strut off when I stumble.

17-20 I'm on the edge of losing it—
the pain in my gut keeps burning.
I'm ready to tell my story of failure,
I'm no longer smug in my sin.
My enemies are alive and in action,
a lynch mob after my neck.
I give out good and get back evil
from God-haters who can't stand a God-lover.

21-22 Don't dump me, God;
my God, don't stand me up.
Hurry and help me;
I want some wide-open space in my life!

Seeing the Unseen by T.W. Hunt

Seeing the Unseen by T.W. Hunt, illustrates the reality of God; the reality of the Holy Spirit, and in general, the spirit world, which in large part, for most normal or ordinary people, is unseen, but just as real, nevertheless.  Rather than rely on personal stories, experiences and anecdotes, T.W. Hunt draws heavily on scripture to prove the reality of God.  He contrasts the physical workd with the spiritual world, and despite the fact that we can not see the spiritual world, using the bible, he proves it is just as true, just as much a reality, as the physical world.  None of us doubt the physical world, and therefore why should we doubt the spiritual, which in fact is actually more important to us than the temporary, ,limited, imperfect physcial world.  This brief 102 page book is only short because he leaves out the extranous anecdotes which many authors use as filler to write bigger books and to pat them selves on the back.   When reading a spiritual book, I feel its best that the author leaves out the countless personal anecdotes and stories unless it is relevant. For anyone facing true crisis, terminal illness, rejection or death, this book will inspire the reader to show this temporary world is not the only thing out there.  Faith is important as well as trust in the unseem.   As a blogger for Navpress publishers, I recieved this book from the publisher for the purpose of writing this review.

More Than Ordinary by Doug Sherman

Using anecdotes of the author's own family life with his children, In his book, More Than Ordinary, Doug Sherman illustrates the potential Father- child relationship that Christians often cheat themselves out of when they fail to recognise God's presence in their daily lives.  This book brings out an important point, that God desires a relationship with us, not unlike the parent child relationships that we are familiar with. Written with child-like enthusiasm, the author draws examples and stories from his own life to illustrate the relationship of God with his children.   Yet unlike our dysfunctional, and deficient human relationships, God's motives are pure and His love for us is infinate. 

Nevertheless, it gets a bit tiresome when the author  uses his own father- child anecdotes to illustrate God's love for us as a perfect parents throughout the book.  Sure it is nice that he has a good relationship with his kids, to make up for the less than perfect, rocky relationship he had with his own dad when he was young, but it simply seems like that author is giving himself a big pat on the back at times- especially  when he describes his camping trips, coaching sports and the joy he gets from interacting with his kids after a long day at the office.  Its nice that he felt that seeing his "kids win was better than winning myself" page 51, and that the author is a self described example of a "godly parent" which defined in his words means "one of the greatest desires of godly parents is to enjoy the affection, appreciation, and devotion of their children. God feels the same way.  My passion is to love my children well and bring them joy." page 51.  Sure it is true that this is a good analogy for the pleasure God sees in us, his children, but nevertheless I did not want to read a bunch of feel good stories as the author pats himself on the back for being a good and loving parent. 

This book was motivating and empowering in the sense that it used real life illustrations and parelles of ahealthy ideal father child relationship, with that of our relationship with God.  Nevertheless, I am sure there are a number or readers, who may be parents wthemselves, who do not have the time, financial means or emotional energy to be the type of parent that Doug Sherman describes himself to be in his anecdotes.  As a blogger for Navpress I recieved this book, published by Navpress for the purpose of writing this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Freedom From Performing by Becky Harling

Freedom From Performing by Becky Harling, is a honest book written for those readers who are ambitious, perfectionists who feel they must always be the center of attention; who are addicted to power and approval.  We all know people like this, yet certainly none of us likes to admit these characteristics ourselves.  As the author admits, "Sometimes I recieved the kudos and strokes I craved.  Other times I failed miserably, and when the applause didn't come, I felt defeated and very much a loser.  I craved an inordinate amount of affirmation from others." page 15 Yet at times I felt that the author admitting to being a perfectionist, is a bit self serving as if she is patting herself on the back.  After all, it is much easier to admit that you are guilty of perfectionism and over performing, than say for example, to admit that you have a problem with poor hygene, or a weight problem or a problem with theft or gambling or drinking.   Additionally, even in our churches and in "Christian" circles or cliques, this drive for power is all too common the  motivation for many women where as "godliness was defined by how well one followed the rules rather than by gracious life transformations", page 15.  We are all aware of those hypocrites in our churches who wear expensive clothing and jewelry on Sunday, and who volunteer in key positions to be the center of attention.  For example, it is all too common to see women who sing on the  worship team, simply for the purpose of acquiring praises and attention from the audience rather than seeking the glory for God. 

The author is very empathetic, and addresses the reader as a personal friend offering the reader gentle advice- helping her to confront her misdirected need for outside attention from others rather than seeking God.  Nevertheless I found that the author was a bit too dismissive and permissive with the concept of personal sin and guilt.  For example, she mentioned that oftentimes, infertile women will feel an immense amount of  guilt over an abortion they may have had years earlier and even blame their infertility as a consequence of the abortion.  As a result, these same women feel as if they are being punished for their abortion.  The author, becky Harling discounts that possibility- the connection of an abortion to the physical consequence of infertility later in life.  Nevertheless, our sins and actions, oftentimes have real life consequences here in this imperfect and fallen world.  That doesn't mean that the woman who had an abortion is going to hell.  Perhaps her remorse and guilt was instrumental in leading  her to eternal salvation.  But just because we are saved that does not mean that  we are also saved from the  earthly consequences of our sinful actions are always removed.  To imply there is no connection between an abortion and infertility is simply wrong and misleading to the reader that may have experienced the pain and subsequent guilt of abortion and infertility.  That isn't to say that infertility can always be traced to a prior abortion- its just that it is wrong to tell a half truth just to make a woman feel better about herself. 

Aside from that, in general this would be a good book for any performance driven woman.  It frees the reader from believeing that one must be a perfectionist.  Rather, we must use our talenst, or lack of talent,  for the glory of God. This book is like a course in humility.  After each chapter is a bible study to allow the reader to meditate on what she has learned.  As a blogger for NavPress, I recieved this book form Navpress publishers for the purpose of writing this review.