Tuesday, August 30, 2011

September Book Selection

Our September selection will be something we have never done before.... We are going to read the Book of Ruth from the Bible. And luckily no need for a book order or much introduction unless you need help finding a Bible! :)

With every one's crazy busy schedules (especially mine) and as I had difficulty for September, Jody Beth felt God leading her to lead a mini review/Bible Study on Ruth for our Book Club. We touched on reading about the Book of Ruth back in Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers you can click on the title to refer back to the Blog to refresh your memory.

And one more surprise.... At our last meeting of the year on Saturday September 17 at 8:30 AM we are going to meet at ChickFila in Foley. We will have our discussion, led by Jody Beth and you can have some coffee or breakfast as well if you so desire. :)

NOTE: We are not meeting on the last Saturday of September because this is Cursillo weekend. And since we don't have to wait on getting The Book of Ruth, our readers shouldn't have any problem meeting a week earlier. :)

Thanks so much for your participation!!! Remember I LOVE book suggestions and am here if you have any questions or need some other book ideas to read when you finish the monthly book. You can also check out the blog and see what other books I read and review as I try to find books for the club and for my own enjoyment. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mere Christianity

July has passed and we did not have a meeting with everyone having such a busy summer schedule. I haven't heard much feedback on who did or didn't read the book. I know of a couple who couldn't get into it but then others who remarked that they had read the book previously and it has always been a favorite. I wish that when I had first read the book, I wasn't listening to a library copy and could have gone through and marked it up with a highlighter or pencil. There were so many interesting things that Lewis said and the manor of the way he explained things are so simple and real. From an intellectual standpoint, he really opens the door for those who have problems wrapping their minds around Christianity and makes it easier to grasp and understand.

I did have one favorite quote that I remember that I would like to share with you here:

God made us; invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God Designed the Human Machine to run on himself. He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself because it is not there. There is no such thing. (end quote)

I love this statement and I love the truth of it and the way that Lewis makes it so simple when others try to sometimes make it more complicated. My reading time is becoming increasingly "booked" as I attend classes through Troy University but I do hope to one day go back and read this again now that I have my own copy. I still urge you to read it sometime if you haven't. I also would pray you check out some of Lewis's other writings. Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When Crickets Cry

I finished up the book, When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin. This is a Christian Fiction book and is 352 pages. Here is a description of the book from online:

A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts. It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car, his mind on a boat he's restoring at a nearby lake. But the little girl's pretty yellow dress can't quite hide the ugly scar on her chest. The stranger understands more about it than he wants to admit. And the beat-up bread truck careening around the corner with its radio blaring is about to change the trajectory of both their lives. Before it's over, they'll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry...and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners. (end quote)

This book was a slow read but a good one. I know that doesn't sound quite right but I really did enjoy the story and the characters. The author went to great care to be extremely descriptive and make sure the reader knew everything necessary about Heart Transplants which is a huge part of the book. I think one of my favorite things was the outlook of the little girl Annie. She is amazingly brave in the face of having to receive a new heart by transplant and her faith is unshakable. She tells one of the other main characters not to worry because, "Whether or not I wake up...I'll have a new heart." Annie knew what was at stake and trusted God to bring her through it all on this side of heaven or not. I love the eternal optimist.

There are also some other themes to help in forgiveness, healing from the loss of a loved one and how much family matters. While this book will not be a book club selection I do hope that if you choose to read it you enjoy the book and keep going. Just because it's a little slow doesn't mean it's not worth your while. I look forward to maybe reading some other books by this author at some point. Happy reading!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Under the Overpass Recap

Better late than never. I want to write a bit about this book from where I have marked sections that I found interesting. There are three particular ones that I want to bring attention to that God really spoke to me about and helped widen my thinking about the lost and homeless and how we treat them. So many wonderful learning experiences but these are just a few that jumped out at me to write to you about.

1) In Denver, pages 36-39. "If we are the body of Christ-and Christ came not for the healthy but the sick-we need to be fully present in the places where people are most broken." I think that is one of the biggest reminders that many Christian's and non-Christians constantly need to hear. You don't have to wait until your "better" to be good enough to come to Christ. He came to save the sick and the sinners. A page over Mike describes the speakers who come to preach to the homeless. And in a lengthy description he wonders, "Why the speakers so often focused on the "hell, fire and damnation" theme and so little on hope, joy, love, peace, or really anything positive." Mike ponders over why the speakers think that this type of sermon is what is going to help these people who are so down and broken. He uses this example: "Telling someone who is suffering deeply that he's going to suffer more is probably a waste of breath. It's like warning someone who is already starving that they're about to get really hungry. But tell him of the restaurant that serves heaping meals to all who come no matter where they're from or what they look like, and he's more than likely to listen." I have always wondered about those who do preach this theme and if it ever actually works and "scares" people into coming to Christ. I felt like Mike really showed me how wrong that thinking can be and that we could be more effective by loving people to Christ. I know which option I would choose if I didn't already know the Lord...I would be much more willing to listen to the hope than the hell.

2) Now in Portland, pages 96-97. "Sitting there with Sugar man, I felt my carefully established definitions of a Christian crack and expand. Here was an admitted addict and user openly proclaiming Christ in his community and asking how he could serve us." This is the part where Mike is trying to determine what do you do with your definition of a Christian when you encounter someone like this, you end up having to expand your comfort level. He says, "Why do we reject the loving, self-sacrificing, giving, encouraging, Jesus-pursuing drug addict but recruit the clean, self-interested, gossiping, loveless churchgoer? Which one do you suppose Jesus would rather share a burrito with under a bridge?" I don't know about you but that really made me think about the way I judge and treat others.

3)Lastly in San Francisco, pages 134-136. Sam and Mike have just received some left over pizza from a man and are extremely grateful for the leftovers. They discuss how the prayer of thanking God for our food has a whole knew meaning when you are out on the streets. Mike brings up the idea about how we pray for provision but then don't make the effort to get it when God provides it. He made the observation, "What do you think would have happened if the Israelites hadn't gone out and picked up the manna God sent?" "We'd be a lot more hungry if we hadn't asked for that pizza. God answered our prayers for provision, but we still had to ask these guys for it. We still had to 'pick up the manna.'" Then as the conversation continues he said, "It's like asking God to Bless your day, then when He puts a needy, smelly person in front of you that you could really help, you wonder what you did to deserve such rotten luck." It was an interesting conversation about how we ask for things and sometimes God provides just not in the way we anticipated and we still have to receive it... we can't just sit around and do nothing.

At our meeting we talked about so many other wonderful things we learned and the interesting experiences of these men as they lived on the street. If you haven't already, I encourage you to read the book and I pray you are blessed by it and find something unexpected and good! Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

They Thought for Themselves by Sid Roth

A wonderful member of our book club allowed me to borrow this book, They Thought for Themselves by Sid Roth, Ten Amazing Jews. This is 240 pages of true stories by 10 different people who share testimonies of how they came to Christ. Here is a description of the book from online:

What is the connection among these people? How did they end up in the same book? Atheist, Holocaust survivor, multi-millionaire, Media Executive, PhD. They all defied the status quo and thought for themselves. They dared to explore and confront the forbidden. The result? Everything in their lives changes for the better! Author Sid Roth was instructed in a dream to find and interview people who had broken through the mold of their previous experiences to achieve their destiny. These are the people he interviewed. These are their stories and this is your time for your breakthrough! Everyone has a supernatural destiny, but few reach it. Too many want the safe and comfortable life of following the same old roads or fitting in with the same old crowd. How boring! Have you ever wondered if there is something more to life? Have you dared to reach beyond your comfort zone? Only when you dare to think for yourself, will you reach your supernatural destiny. Start today! (end quote)

I love reading personal testimonies like this and seeing the extraordinary changes that God can make in people's lives. And this book is even more interesting since the people giving the testimonies are Jews. According to their religion, they aren't "supposed" to believe in Jesus Christ. The perspective in the book definitely opened my eyes to the culture that I haven't been very exposed to in my life. I loved the personal stories but a few times when the reading gets technical about the Torah and the Jewish traditions, I would get a little lost and it was hard for me to keep interest. But I'm sure to someone who already understands this information and is curious about how these Jews came to believe in Christ on a theological perspective, it can be helpful. At this time, I do not feel that this will be a book club selection but I do encourage others to read it for the incredible testimonies. To God be the Glory! Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Reagan Diaries

My grandmother was the one that referred me to this book when it first came out. My grandfather had worked at the White House during Reagan's presidency. I have signed pictures and other miscellaneous Reagan memorabilia at home. After my grandmother told me about this book, I was intrigued. The Reagan Diaries were written by Ronald Reagan and edited by a historian. President Reagan kept a diary during his time in office and we now are able to get a personal glimpse into his day to day thoughts and personal activities that we may not have given to much thought to before. The book is about 784 pages but I happened to listen to it on CD and would recommend that as well. Here is a description of the book from online:

The diaries our 40th president kept while in office—edited and abridged by historian Brinkley (The Great Deluge)—are largely a straightforward political chronicle. Reagan describes meetings with heads of state and antiabortion leaders, reflects on legislative strategy and worries about leaks to the press. He often used his diary to vigorously defend his polices: for example, after a 1984 visit with South African archbishop Desmond Tutu (whom Reagan calls "na├»ve"), the president explained why his approach to apartheid—"quiet diplomacy"—was preferable to sanctions. Reagan sometimes seems uncomfortable with dissent, as when he is irked by a high school student who presents a petition advocating a nuclear freeze. And he often sees the media as a "lynch mob," trying to drum up scandal where there is none. Reagan's geniality shines through in his more quotidian comments: he muses regularly about how much he appreciates Nancy, and his complaints about hating Monday mornings make him seem quite like everyone else. Brinkley doesn't weigh down the text with extensive annotation; this makes for smooth reading, but those who don't remember the major political events of the 1980s will want to refer to the glossary of names. Reagan's diaries are revealing, and Brinkley has done historians and the broad public a great service by editing them for publication. (May 22) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (end quote)

I do believe in some parts, if I wasn't particularly in the mood to read it, it was hard to get through. I think it gives me a greater appreciation for the man and the life he lead. It's funny how things he talks about back then are still true today. I love how he calls the media the "lynch mob," so true. And I loved so many of his policies that seem like they would work now if anyone would think about history and doing what has worked in the past to help our current economic situation. I also enjoyed the way he would talk about his wife, Nancy. It was very sweet and beautiful in a simplistic way. Well if you like history I think you will enjoy this one, especially if you are a Reagan fan. This will not be a book club selection but I wanted to share it with you anyway. Happy reading!