Category Archives: Bible

Review of Under the Same Sky by Joseph Kim

 

I read this sad story after reading its review in World Magazine. A young man keeps on walking one day, a celebration day in North Korea, a day when the guards are not paying close attention. He walks so far that to go any further will lead him into China. His remaining family has been torn apart by the famine in North Korea, so he has no motivation to stay. But when he gets to China, the people who live in “rich homes” slam the door in his face. He only finds help after he listens to the advice to go to a building that has a cross on the top.

Joseph Kim is a strong survivor of an almost unbelievable tale. Little things that we take for granted here: namely food and freedom, are in high demand in the repressive regime that he defected from. Don’t read this book if you don’t want to know what the poor people of this world face daily while we live as kings and queens here in America, by comparison.

The subtitle is: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America and on the front cover is a bowl with only few grains of rice outside it. Most of the book involves Joseph’s upbringing in North Korea. He started off with a secure family and ended up a filthy migrant (called Kkotjebi) who stole in order to survive. We all know that it is wrong to steal, but maybe we would do the same thing if we were in his shoes? It is something I don’t really like to think about. The saddest part of the story for me is when he talks about his sister, Bong Sook. I hope he finds her and that she can come to America one day.

When Kim left North Korea, he was in culture shock. By the time he came to America, even more was he astonished at the comparison between our two countries. He suffered a time of depression after leaving everything he knew for a strange land where he lives alone, but has since recovered. Joseph Kim is a bright and hard working young man and a college student in New York City.

This book is not a happy read, but it gives a dose of reality into what it was like to grow up during the time of famine in North Korea. I hope  God uses Joseph Kim’s story to enlighten others as to the plight of those who live in the “Hermit Kingdom,” where lack is suffered daily and to be a Christian is to be a criminal worthy of death.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, copyright 2015

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Review of Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West by Kevin Swanson

I don’t know how I stumbled across this book, but it looked interesting so I checked it out of the library. It really made me think.

When our oldest was a teen, we sent him off on a bus to a Worldview Academy week in Miami, Ohio. I didn’t know too much about the camp, but thought it would help him in getting through the rough adolescent years. After reading this book, I have come to appreciate more what they try to do there and at other ministries for teens to help them shape their worldview, before it is destroyed by what they learn in the halls of academia. A Christiann worldview was something I did not receive as a teenager myself, and after reading this book, I realized I learned the hard way.

For example, one day I sat crying in despair in the Hillman Library at the University of Pittsburgh. My faith was belittled and mocked by a liberal anthropology professor who  taught us we all came from apes. Thankfully it did not  destroy my faith. Another instance was when confronted with the abortion issue in nursing school. I never really considered it murder until I was sent to observe one firsthand in my s0phomore year.

I grew up on a steady stream of progressive propaganda and didn’t even realize it. It was reflected by the movies I watched, the music I listened to and affected my whole outlook on life. Without faith, I would have concluded that life was meaningless and absurd, as expounded by Nietzsche in his  writings.

In this book, author Kevin Swanson sets about educating parents and high school children how our culture has come to be where it is today, by the slow and steady erosion of Judaeo-Christian values which started in earnest in the 1850s. Even before then, the damage started by  thinkers like Thomas Aquinas, who separated the “sacred” from the “secular.” Humanists such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau laid the foundation for the big changes which exploded in the twentieth century.

Also discussed are Marx, Dewey, Darwin, Sartre, Mark Twain, Steinbeck and Hemingway, among others. Their literature formed the basis of my high school English reading. Sadly, most  came from Christian backgrounds but somehow lost their way. Not only they were lost, but they helped many others to follow their example. On page 126, Swanson states that Charles Darwin, upon entering Cambridge University, wrote that he “did not then in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word of the Bible.”  By the end of his life and completing his writings, he declared that the Bible is “no more to be trusted than… the beliefs of a barbarian.” What happened?

Mr. Swanson contends that the trail of destruction the apostates left us has destroyed Western society. He calls for a new generation to rise up and reclaim our heritage. I am not sure that is still possible at this point. For the end times were predicted to be (as they are now)  in the Bible:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power… II Timothy 3:1-5

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how our society’s values have undergone such enormous change in the last couple of generations. For parents, read it to be forewarned against what your children are taught in the public schools. And if homeschooling, don’t make the mistake of thinking your children will be able to discern the difference of humanistic writings from what they are taught in church. Get yourself prepared by reading this book.

Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West was published in 2013 by Generations with Vision. Citations and a selected bibliography are included. The author is a homeschooling father who is also a pastor and the host of a daily radio show called Generations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review of A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

I love when I find a book that really moves me to the core, that stays with me. I love a book that I cannot put down. I love learning more about the times and people that lived in the time of Jesus of Nazareth. Ted Dekker’s book, A.D.30 was all that and more.

On a road trip with my parents this past weekend, I took along this book and found I could not put it down. When it got dark in the car on our way home, I pulled out a flashlight from my purse, in spite of feeling ill with a bout of bronchitis. It was that good. It helped me see another picture of our glorious Savior and His ways and dealings with people just like you and me, only that they lived in a different time and place.

Published in 2014 by Center Street of Hachette Book Group, A.D. 30 is followed with a sequel, A.D. 33, which only came out at the beginning of October. I will definitely be reading it soon!

Maviah, a rejected daughter of a Bedu king, is the main character  and suffers a tremendous loss. Because of this, she is sent on a mission to avenge her loss and restore the honor of her father (who has been defeated and rendered speechless)  by the Thamud with a sword of Varus. She goes on a long and dangerous journey to see Herod, the Jewish king in the time of Jesus. Two slaves of her father Rami are appointed to go with her: Saba and Judah. Together they cross a valley of death, the Nafud desert. Sandstorms and the loss of camels are only the beginning of their problems.

Fear and hatred imprison Maviah and it seems she is destined to never live up to what she really is: a daughter of a Bedu king and royalty. But that changes when she meets the Man everyone is talking about in the land of Judea: a so called mystic named Yeshua. The very minute she lays her eyes upon Him, Maviah is drawn to the Savior of the world.

There are many twists and turns in the plot and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved how the author instilled both deep meaning and a desire to read to the very end. Some of the book’s quotes about how Maviah’s thinking changed completely were amazing.

As the characters discuss the increasing threats to Yeshua, one of them says:

” ‘Yeshua finds no threat in this rumor!’ he proclaimed…’You will see, he holds no grievance. So then, we too must hold none. Rome only does what Rome knows. Herod only does what Herod knows. But we must offer them no judgment. All grievance comes from fear of harm. To release grievance is to believe in God and the one he has sent. Do only this to be saved. This is the way, you will see.’ ” 

page 318, AD 30

I marked that page with a piece of Kleenex. What wisdom! The world cannot do other than what it does. How many years has it taken me to realize that the ways of God are totally foreign to the ways of this world? When we are not afraid, we are living in His perfect love. (I John 4:18)

Mr. Dekker painted with words a beautiful picture of our Savior, and that for us to know Him is to no longer be afraid.  A quotation from Jesus’s teachings in the Bible begins each chapter of this book. In the end, an appendix provides references for the Bible verses that are used.

Mixed in with the fiction, the events matched what was recorded by ancient historians, for example, the divorce of Herod from his first wife, Phasa, the imprisonment of John the Baptist, and the calming of the storm on the sea.

Ted Dekker is known for writing Christian thrillers, but this is the first time I have ever read one of his books. In his prologue, Mr. Dekker, the son of missionaries, told how writing this story opened up for him a whole new way of thinking and living before His Savior. At the end of the prologue, he states:

“So enter the story if you like and see if you can see what Maviah saw. It may change the way you understand your Father, your Master, yourself, and your world.”

page X of Prologue

For me, the story of Maviah did just that. Thank you, Ted Dekker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review of Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow

Talk100_1293  about living in anxious times! Finding this wonderful book by this trusted Christian author was a real treat for me the other day. Many years ago, when I was a new wife and mother to be, a lady at our Bible Baptist church stood up at our young mother’s class and give a book review of another book by Linda Dillow. (That one was called Creative Counterpart,and it was my first taste of the concept of the wife’s role of godly submission to her husband.) Since then, I have been blessed to know other godly ladies who have helped teach me my Biblical role as wife and mother, and I view Mrs. Dillow as one of the pioneers of the movement.

Linda Dillow is a mother, a grandmother, the wife of a theologian (Dr. Jody Dillow- Grace School of Theology) and missionary who spent time behind the Iron Curtain with her husband and family when Communism was still the mode of government in Poland and Romania. She and her family risked their lives to teach people who had so little by American standards. But in many ways they were richer than us, because they knew that all they needed was Jesus.

I am guessing Linda Dillow wrote this book because she knew of our tendency as women to worry. If you know me, one of my biggest challenges in life is overcoming my tendency to worry and become anxious about things. The one thing about worry is that once you give in to one thing it seems to give way to five more things to worry and fret about. It can debilitate your entire life. It has mine at times in the past. That is why I am so glad that Scripture tells us in Philippians 4 that we don’t have to worry about even one thing. But the only way we can do that is if we get to know our God and how trustworthy and reliable He is, and bring every worry and concern to Him constantly.

This book gives practical encouragement from her own life and how God got her through many dangerous and tremendous trials with her children and facing dangers as a missionary, tests with misunderstandings with others, staying underground from the Communist government while ministering in Eastern Europe, etc. As I read the book, I felt like she was a friend chatting with me from her heart to mine. The book includes practical suggestions for dealing with “what if” thoughts and “if only” thoughts. Those are just the kind of thoughts that get me caught in the worry game.

My copy was originally published in 1998 but updated in 2007. There are 12 chapters in the book and at the end is a study guide that could be used for a small group of women. One thing I really liked about each chapter: at the conclusion of each she gave a character sketch of different women she met while ministering through the years. Some of these women’s testimonies were amazing.

For example, Mrs. Dillow described a woman named Eva from Communist Poland. This Christian woman was used to living practically as a gypsy with nothing wandering from place to place for years. She even washed her baby daughter’s diapers by hand. One day, she came to visit the missionary at her apartment and refused to use her modern conveniences when she did so. Eva said that Western women have “so many things that they don’t need God.” (page 84, Calm My Anxious Heart)

I felt deeply convicted after reading that. How easy to forget Him when we have everything. But through the trials we go through, He draws us back to Himself. This book offers wise counsel from an older woman to a younger woman (as in the verses in Titus 2:3-5) on how to grow close to God when situations come that tempt our hearts and minds to become anxious.

I highly recommend this book for women of all ages.

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A Review of The Veritas Conflict by Shaunti Feldhahn

100_0963 Did you ever wonder about the behind the scenes struggle that causes us to think what we think, say what we say, and do what we do? The Apostle Paul said that our battles in this world are not with flesh and blood, that is, other people, but with principalities and powers in Ephesians 6:12. Principalities and powers are high-ranking demons who surround the air on planet earth. That is why our enemy is known as the prince of the power of the air. The air surrounding planet earth is his domain, and he uses it to stir the battle between his fallen angels and Christ and His followers. In Psalm 2:1 we read that the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing. In verse 2 it says that mankind plots against the Lord and His Annointed. Why? Our enemy still thinks he will win although his doom was sealed when Christ rose up from the grave victorious (see John 19:30).

What does that have to with this book The Veritas Conflict? Well, in this fictional work we behold a battle raging for the souls of men and women right on college campuses. In particular, this book is about one of the historic Christian colleges in America: Harvard. In the prologue, we see the Christian foundations of the college assaulted right from its beginning and carry on all the way through the book.

The story is told through the life of key characters: a smart young freshman named Claire Rivers. Her believing parents worry for her well-being on the liberal campus. Also are many other characters, some Christian and some evil that conspire to cause great harm to the Christian cause. There is a secret conspiracy as old as the school itself, and Claire finds herself right in the middle of it all. But also given names are principalities and powers that are influencing Claire and her room-mate, professors and board members. The story portrays the influence that these beings have over the people and the disastrous results of their lies.

I checked this book out from my local library because I wanted to read more about spiritual warfare. The author wrote from experience, having experienced the spiritual climate at Harvard when she earned her master’s there. Though some parts of the plot seemed a bit contrived, I was drawn right into the story. It held my attention through this long work of 457 pages. This book was published by Multnomah Press in 2000. One thing I took away from this story was the power of prayer, our only offensive weapon against the enemy (Ephesians 6:18). God desires us to pray for our children out on their own for the first time. For insight into the battle that rages especially in the minds of our young people on campuses across this country, I highly recommend this book. Also, to see how great the battle is just to have an honest debate between evolution and creation,and for a professor to even mention “Intelligent Design.” the documentary “Expelled” by Ben Stein is also highly recommended.

There is a spiritual battle that is raging all around us, and this book will open your eyes to just that.

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George Mueller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith by A. T. Pierson

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If you want a challenge in your faith walk, I recommend reading the biography of a remarkable man, Mr. George Mueller, the founder of homes that housed thousands of orphans in the 1800s in Bristol, England. This book gives a detailed look at the life of Mr. Mueller from one who was greatly influenced by Mueller in his spiritual life. This pastor from America, Arthur. T. Pierson, was a personal friend of George Mueller.

The story is outstanding not because of George Mueller in and of himself, but that he proved in his life and ministry that God was a prayer hearing and answering God. He sought first of all that God might be glorified in answering his fervent prayers for the many needs of his ministry. In fact, everything Mueller accomplished for his ministry (which grew steadily from humble beginnings) was not from going to people as a source but instead was accomplished through fervent prayer.

Mueller chose never to broadcast a need for his orphanages to anyone, however, but only to God. Even all his helpers were not allowed to broadcast any need, but only to petition heaven for their needs. How different this is than the approach used today with ministries having telethons and begging for money. Many times Mueller, his wife and his helpers were sorely tested and lived in poverty themselves as they gave just about everything they had for the sake of the work. Reading these testimonies, it really put me to shame, to be honest. These workers sold all they had for the sake of the work and did not count their lives dear unto themselves,just like the Apostle Paul said of himself in the book of Acts.

After a youth filled with thievery and rebellion, George Mueller became a believer while studying Divinity at the University of Halle, without any interest in God. A friend invited him to a Bible study and the sight of people praying on their knees that night drew Mueller into seeking his own personal relationship with Christ. He functioned as a pastor for over sixty years. In his retirement years, he took on an evangelistic outreach that took him all over the world. Yet his principles remained the same: the needs were always placed before God and God alone to provide. Mueller kept a Narrative of the Lord’s dealings with him, after being influenced reading the autobiographical narrative of the Lord’s dealings with John Newton, a pastor he admired, who is famous for writing the hymn Amazing Grace. In Mueller’s own narrative, great detail is given to showing how the Lord answered specific prayers in His own timing, and by reading about the details of this Narrative, it imparted great incentive for me to continue in my prayers like the persistent widow in Luke 18. George Mueller prayed for two people’s conversions for over 60 years, and even did not see the answer before his death, but stated: “I have not a doubt that I shall meet them both in heaven; for my Heavenly Father would not lay upon my heart a burden of prayer for them for over threescore years, if He had not concerning them purposes of mercy.” (page 302)

Another important takeaway from this biography is to learn George Mueller’s Bible reading habit and of making himself happy in the Lord as the first order of each day. What a beautiful idea, to start each day making sure that one is happy and content in their relationship with Christ as the most important thing. He read the Bible through two hundred times during his lifetime.

This book is long, 375 pages, but is edifying and worth the read. I should not compare myself to George Mueller, for Scripture says that is unwise, and I fall way short. But, I can glean great encouragement to petition God like George Mueller did, for Mr. Pierson stated:

“While men are asking whether prayer can accomplish similar wonders as of old, here is a man who answers the question by the indisputable logic of facts. Powerlesssnes always means prayerlessness, It is not necessary for us to be sinlessly perfect … but it is necessary that we be men and women of prayer–habitual, believing, importunate prayer.” (pages 371-372)

George Mueller lived like the faith heroes of Hebrews 11, therefore his faith and life of prayer is worth imitating today.

This book was published by Kregel Publications in 1999.

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A Review of Captive to Conqueror by Harold Wildish

Captive to ConquerorSomewhere or other, I found a copy of a rather unknown book by a Plymouth Brethren missionary named Harold Wildish who died in the early 1980’s. His story is remarkable. This is an English book and its contents are from a meeting at Filey of the Christian Holiday Crusade put on by the Movement for World Evangelization. The speaker, Mr. Wildish, had a topic of Romans 5-8 and Romans 12: 1-11 and that is the content of this book. Each chapter began with the exact Scripture reading and then his exhortations from each passage. He reminds us that the battle of sin and death has already been won by Jesus Christ and of the great truths we need to appropriate from Romans 6 and 7 about being dead to sin, alive to God, and married not to the law, but to Christ. These are teachings we need to sink our teeth down into. For we can’t appreciate the victory that Romans 8 describes without knowing what Christ has done, once and for all, with our sin.

One part of the book particularly moved me. Wildish described being away from his wife and preaching in a hot, “sin soaked village” in South America. He said at the time it was one of the hottest spots in the world, and he lived at the time in the back of a building where the mosquitoes buzzed all night and oily food nauseated his stomach. He went down to the muddy Demerara coast that evening, and the slightest breeze refreshed him in his spirit, and gave him the fulness to preach to sweaty, sin filled souls.

Somehow, although he felt like quitting, the Spirit touched the hearts of all those who attended his message that night. After he dismissed the group, everyone stayed in their seat, they all wanted to get right with God that night. Two years later, people were still talking how he ministered to them mightily through the Spirit of God. Lives were changed because he persisted through adversity.

I love finding books like these! I consider them little gems among the many voices of Christianity today. This man ministered in Africa and Jamaica and in the Amazon area. His messages are still available to listen to today at sermonindex.net. http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=1408

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