Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Review : Colostrum

I have read many of these types of books but usually they are aimed at young teenagers. However Colostrum : spiritual antibodies for new Christians by Rev David Greentree is addressing those who are physically older. At least one enough to make their own decisions regarding faith, such as where they will go to church, how they will practice their new faith, who they will befriend etc.

While Greentree covers the normal basics that new Christians need to know – the importance of reading the Bible, prayer, fellowship etc. I felt this book was unique in the way it addresses areas where a new believer could easily be lead away from their new faith. Greentree has done an excellent job of pointing out potential hazards for the new Christian. This is not usually a topic that is covered by such books and yet it is important that believers be aware of these issues. Some may feel this will alarm new Christians. Yet when we read the New Testament letters Paul wrote to young believers he did not hesitate to warn them of threats to their faith.

I was pleased to find that Greentree wasn't legalistic in his advice but encouraged the new believer to seek God on matters such as which Bible translation to read, which church denomination to become involved in and other non-essential issues.

My only small complaint would be that Greentree likes to quote from some Anglican texts. I would not have minded if he had not chosen such old versions. He did explain his reasons for doing this but I stumbled over the archaic language and felt it distract from the point he was making.

Overall though, a very useful and helpful book for young Christians and others who would benefit from being reminded of the basics of our faith.

Thanks to Elizabeth Greentree for providing a free book for review.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Towards Belief

Continuing with a more in depth review of the DVD series – Towards Belief. This is the last one in he series and looks at how people come to faith.

• This episode includes testimonies of how people came to faith – sometimes unwillingly
• Some see belief as a crux to get through life, in order to cope with reality
• Some see it as a weak resolution to a intellectually fragile belief
• But Christian faith is based on historic evidence, and is not merely blind faith
• "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:30-31). Belief based on evidence.
• Faith is not about being good enough but asks the question: are you willing to be forgiven?
• People come to faith by searching for truth, reading the Bible, interacting with others, supernatural intervention, existential angst. Then it becomes personal
• Not just an intellectual shift but something happens in a person's heart
• Not something you are born into but something that make a practical difference in people's life

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Devotional Thought : Zechariah 4:10

“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” Zechariah 4:10

It is easy to become discouraged when we look at our efforts and nothing much seems to have been achieved. We may put in a get deal effort to run an outreach event, or spend a great deal of time praying or writing devotional thoughts and wonder if we are having any impact on the kingdom! Yet God tells us not to despise the day of small things. God notices every little thing we do for his sake.

The “capstone” is a small stone compared to the whole building but it is hugely important as it is foundational to the rest of the work. In time people may not even notice the capstone of a building but without it nothing would be achieved. Children learn to walk by taking small, halting steps. Likewise we need to maintain a wide perspective and appreciate that growth and progress takes a lot longer than we would like.

The “seven eyes of the Lord” speaks of fullness and abundance. God is fully aware of all that goes on in the world. He sees the small things people do because they are his. We should not despise these small things because they are important. God's promise is if we are faithful in the small he notices and ultimately will bless us with much.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:23).

Let's continue to be faithful in the small things, remembering that God notices.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blog Tour : Firelight of Heaven

This month's fiction blog tour is for the book: Firelight of Heaven by Lizabeth Klein. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance


20 - 24 January 2014


is introducing


Wombat Books Oct 2013

by

Lizabeth Klein


About the Book:
While he searches for the last king to gain total control, two orphaned brothers and an Elf girl begin a quest to locate the seven lost crystals of the Morning Star. This jewel alone holds the key to Morgran's overthrow. Their journey leads them through the perilous land of Gardenia, where their friendship is tested. But one dark secret threatens to tear them apart altogether ... Firelight of Heaven is the first volume in the Bethloria fantasy series. Greenheart of the Forest, Book 2 is due for release 2014.


About the Author:
Hi, I’m Elizabeth (Lizbeth) Klein and I live in the Sutherland Shire with my husband, Malcolm. I have over 19 years experience in the classroom and 6 years as Tutor of English for both Primary and High School students. Four of my students have completed actual novels (unpublished).

I have published several stories for the Yellow Box, a reading kit for early readers in Primary School. I have also had many on-line Educational articles and lessons published as well as poetry and stories in two anthologies. Currently I am writing a fantasy series and have almost completed the fourth book. There are three to go in the Bethloria series.

My website is: Bethloria.com.au

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Towards Belief : The Church

Continuing with a more in depth review of the DVD series – Towards Belief. This week looking at the Church.

• "At least five times, therefore, with the Arian and the Albigensian, with the Humanist sceptic, after Voltaire and after Darwin, the Faith has to all appearance gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases it was the dog that died" (G.K. Chesterton)
• The church currently maybe failing and obsolete but the church has always found renewal, revival and reformation
• Keys to effective churches is to build teams and to move away from the over glorification of the role of the senior pastor
• Friends bring friends to church as the gospel outworks in people's lives
• Church growth is happening around the world in China, in Nigeria, in parts of India
• There is a spiritual hunger especially amongst young people
• The biggest crime would be to take the most important message and make it boring and irrelevant to people
• Churches are providing a spiritual home for people – where they are on mission together
• People refuse to change when they are self-absorbed
• Be a help to your community
• Growing churches have a true passion for the lost, a true dependence on the Holy Spirit, and humility characterizes the leadership
• Jesus said, I will build my church

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Monday, January 20, 2014

My Life in Books

This morning I wrote a post for Christian Writers Downunder about how reading Christian books has changed my life.

I am grateful to the many Christian authors I read as I grew in my spiritual life yet none of them know they changed my life. It motivates me to tell my story through the things I write when I realize how much other people's stories have impacted me.

Check it out here.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Devotional Thought : Zechariah 3:9

“See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.” Zechariah 3:9

The people to whom Zechariah wrote would have been familiar with the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). On this day once a year the high priest entered the Holy of Hollies and made the necessary blood sacrifices for his own sins and the sins of the people. However the blood of animals was never enough to take away sins or remove guilt and in fact became a reminder of sin (Hebrews 10:3).

The Day of Atonement foreshadowed Christ’s sacrificial death and the taking of his own blood into the presence of God as a priest on behalf of the people. Christ’s sacrifice was so complete and sufficient that it only needed to be made once – hence Zechariah's prophecy. It would cover all the sin that had ever been committed and all the sin that ever would be committed. He so thoroughly dealt with sin that the whole sacrificial system became redundant. Five times the writer of Hebrews reinforces that Christ died ‘once for all’ (Hebrews 7:27, 9:12, 9:26, 10:2 & 10:10). Furthermore in 70 AD God allowed the temple to be destroyed so that it was no longer possible for sacrifices to be made.

Today people can boldly enter God's presence, knowing their sin has been thoroughly dealt with and there is no longer any ritual or religious work to perform to obtain forgiveness.

Zechariah's prophecy: “I will remove the sin of this land in a single day” was fulfilled by Jesus at Calvary. God did indeed deal with our sin in a single day.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book Review : You'll get through this

You'll get through this by Max Lucado is one of the most encouraging books I've read. Every chapter takes a slightly different perspective on suffering and provides insights from Joseph's life in Genesis. Lucado also relates personal stories and those of others to illustrate his points.

The story of Joseph is an excellence source of material on suffering. Joseph suffered no end of injustices but was restored and rewarded by God. His example of resilience, perseverance and forgiveness gives Lucado much to draw upon in his book. Lucado doesn't attempt to explain why suffering occurs but focuses on the 'big picture' of the long term gain that suffering brings, even if the long term means beyond this life.

This is not a particularly long book but does include a study guide by Christine Anderson which would be good for group studies.

Even if you are not currently going through a difficult it is worth reading just to be reminded of God's Sovereignty and his love. It is a book that gives so much hope whatever your situation.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Towards Belief : Homosexuality

Continuing with a more in depth review of the DVD series – Towards Belief. This week looking at Homosexuality.

• People want maximum freedom to do as they please – otherwise they feel they are being denied personal fulfilment
• There is no 'gay' gene, however there are some who are predisposed towards homosexuality
• We all have a choice as to how we are going to behave
• Bible talks about homosexual activity not orientation
• Modern society implies if you do not do what your desires dictate you are sub-human
• Jesus teaches about marriage and singleness in Matthew 19
• Singleness is a valid life style choice which involves denying all sexual activity
• It is wrong to think that denying yourself meaning being doomed to unhappiness
• People should not be defined by their sexual orientation
• We are a sexual people but we are more than our sex drive
• The church says come as you are but don't stay as you are
• None of us get to do what we want

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Devotional Thought : Malachi 2:13

You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. Malachi 2:13

They weep and wail but do not repent. There is no change of heart.

So often we confuse remorse with repentance. Someone can be deeply upset with a relationship but refuse to change their attitude towards those involved. We think their tears means they are sorry for their actions but instead we find their tears are merely childish. They are sorry because they didn't get their own way. They are sorry that they have been found out. They are sorry because they are in pain, not because they have caused pain.

Through Malachi, God tells his people that they have not changed their attitude towards him. They are simply upset because they have lost his blessings. They want to continue to bring substandard offerings to God (1:8) and expect him to be pleased.

It would be like a young girl seeing a beautiful necklace in a jewellery shop and hinting to her boyfriend that she would like it as a birthday present. He however prefers one that is less expensive and less attractive in her opinion. When her birthday arrives she finds he has bought her the necklace of his choice and not hers. Furthermore he expects his girlfriend to be pleased.

Pleasing God is about honouring his choices not ours. If we desire to please him we need to change our minds, not with a show of tears but with genuine repentance. A repentance that both acknowledges our past poor behaviour and expresses a desire to act better in the future.

In our relationships with each other and in our relationship with God remember, remorse is not repentance.

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Thursday, January 09, 2014

Book Review : Rough Road to Freedom

I sense Neil Anderson wrote his memoir Rough Road to Freedom with some reluctance because the early part of the book is quite stilted, which is unlike his other books. However as the book progresses and, once he begins to write about his passion – our identity in Christ, the book gains Anderson's familiar flow. I actually wonder if writing his memoir gave Anderson an excuse to write again about the importance of knowing who we are in Christ.

I have read many of Anderson's personal experiences in his previous books but it was good to read them in chronological order and in the context of the rest of his life's journey. There were also some incidents that I have not read elsewhere – how he met his wife, for example, and the criticism he received when he began preaching and writing about resolving spiritual conflicts. It seems many theological conservatives were very against Anderson preaching about the demonic, even though the Bible is specific about demonic activity. However the opposition only served to encourage Anderson to spread his message overseas to the blessing of many.

I enjoyed reading this book because it filled in the gaps in my mind of how God lead Anderson to the place where he had a world wide ministry. I also liked reading about Anderson's attitude, understanding that this ministry may only be for a season.

While I enjoyed reading Anderson's memoir, I found it helpful to have read Anderson's previous books before embarking on this one.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Towards Belief : Science & God

Continuing with a more in depth review of the DVD series – Towards Belief. This week looking at Science & God.

• There is a difference between mechanics and agency
• Science is neutral about faith
• Science explains how but not why. How? is science. Why? is theology.
• Science does not answer the question – what does this mean about the world?
• The prestige of science gets used to add weight to the scientist argument
• The ‘new atheists’ claim to be interested in evidence but they are not
• The ‘new atheists’ often speak outside their field
• If scientist believe in evolution they need to answer the question, where does morality come from?

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Saturday, January 04, 2014

Devotional Thought : Obadiah 1:3

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Obadiah 1:3

Pride deceives us. It makes us think we are self-sufficient; that we are capable of determining our own destiny; that we are safe in our little clefts – our comfort zones; protected by our own supposed cleverness and also because we trust our friends to help protect us from danger (v.7), even the simple danger of loneliness. Yet God can destroy our defences in seconds.

God is determined to break our pride and make us realize how dependant on him we really are. Pride is obnoxious to God because it presents a distorted view of life. It puffs up our view of ourselves and dethrones God from his rightful place in our lives. Pride gives us a false sense of security which overlooks real threats to our well being. Furthermore it makes us insensitive to the needs of others. If we can successfully manage our own lives, why can't they? Alternatively when we realize our own short comings we have more empathy.

God deals with our pride for our benefit. God knows we will never be truly happy until we are holy – set apart for God and living the way he intends. He longs to see us functioning the way he created us; in a close relationship with himself where we trust him to supply the grace we need to make wise decisions, to live an upright life and to be people of integrity. A scant look at the newspaper shows we rarely produce these qualities on our own.

Let's lay down our pride and seek God's help to live godly lives.

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Thursday, January 02, 2014

Book Review : Beyond the Bounty

As part of my reading over the Christmas break I read, Beyond the Bounty by Tony Parsons. It is part of a series called, Quick Reads. The idea being that well known authors can write a short book which gives new readers a sample of their writing style. This series is ideal for me as I am fussy about the type of fiction I read and don't like to commit to reading several hundred pages from an author I'm unsure of.

Beyond the Bounty is historical fiction based on the events which occurred after the mutiny on board the ship, The Bounty. The author, Tony Parsons, has researched the history of this incident and written a believable tale which includes the known facts. The book is a very sad insight into humanity.

After spending five months in Tahiti the sailors were loathe to give up the comforts they found there – most particularly the comfort of being in a women's arms. The story strongly suggests this was this reason for the mutiny and not primarily Bligh's cruelty. Following the revolt these mutineers had the rare opportunity to start a fresh community in an idyllic environment but were unable to let go of their greed and past prejudices. This lead to an inability to work together which caused conflicts, unrest and ultimately murder.

This is a well told story which provides a poignant look at human nature.

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