Quote of the Weekend

“Regrettably, on some level, we equate God’s favor with material prosperity.  Do material gifts come from God? Yes.  Should we be thankful for material gifts? Yes.  Are material gifts an indicator of God’s favor upon us or pleasure with us? No.  Naomi is aware of that. Her faith isn’t rooted in what God gives her or doesn’t giver her.  It’s rooted in God.” – A Hope Deferred by J. Stephen Yuille

(Something the Health, Wealth and Prosperity movement should consider.)

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Quote of the Weekend

“Contrary to popular opinion, faith isn’t the confidence that anything can happen.  I know that’s how it’s often depicted by those within the so-called word-faith movement, and (for that matter) among countless other people.  They have sorely misrepresented the true nature of biblical faith.  Let me say it again: faith isn’t the confidence that anything can happen.  So, what is it?  It’s the confidence that what God has promised will happen.” – A Hope Deferred by J. Stephen Yuille

(Faith is confidence in God and thus in the promises He makes.)

Three Beautiful Books

I have recently finished reading three beautiful books which are out of my normal spectrum…which I seem to say a lot, so maybe I just need to adjust the spectrum.

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A Hope Deferred

My dad-in-law gave me A Hope Deferred because I’ve expressed an interest in adoption.  I don’t know if that is a desire the Lord will ever fulfill in my life, but I trust Him.  Adoption is one of the most encouraging doctrines to mediate on in the dark chill of the night when all seems raw and naked with no work to dull our sense of sin.  We are not slaves, which is more than we deserve, nor servants, which would be a true blessing, but adopted sons and daughters, children, heirs!  There is hope in the darkness.  This book details out the Yuilles’ struggle to have children and adopt.  Mr. Yuille uses their own experience as a platform to talk about what it means to be adopted by God.  This is an easy and quick read which can provide years worth of meditation.  I’m very thankful my dad-in-law passed it on to me.  You will have noticed by now that I have many Quotes of the Weekend from this book.

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The Language of Sparrows

“It was a box of might-have-beens.  She sat up straight, pulling the box into her lap, refusing the dark thought.  It could be a box of yet-to-bes.”

This is a Christian slice-of-life type story, which is generally the type of story I run away from screaming and yelling.  But, this one came highly recommended…and was free.  (I know that makes me a horrible writer.  Taking someone’s work for free because it’s not what I usually read.  Shame on me.)  Over all, I found this a moving, interesting, and unique read.  It had more depth than I expected going in.  The story is about a broken girl named Sierra who has lost her father.  Through the kindness of several neighbors, a teacher, and her mom never giving up on her, Sierra is healed.  In the process, the two destroyed families come together, love blossoms, and old memories are washed of their misery.  Sierra is a genius when it comes to language and the author uses her gift beautifully.  I’m glad I read this story.

My only caveat is the lack of sin and forgiveness in the book.  God is seen almost entirely as the one we turn to in comfort, and almost never as the One we have sinned against and need forgiveness from.  Only one character asks for forgiveness in the book, but no one asks God to forgive them for their sins and they all sinned.  The question always comes to my mind of what the characters would do with their belief in God if they didn’t have a happy ending to their story?  What if Sierra followed exactly in her father’s footsteps?  Would her mother, April, still trust the Lord?  Why is only one person aware of their sin?

Over all, I really enjoyed this book, but I would have liked a firmer gospel message.

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The Alchemist

This beautiful, moving, unique story with its wonderful images and Arabian Nights feel is complete drivel.  It chronicles the life of a shepherd boy who becomes so much more than a shepherd boy as he travels across the desert in search of his Personal Legend and his treasure.  It took me only a few hours total to read this book.  It was very enjoyable.  It reminded me of some of the classics I read as a child.  They also painted the Arabs as something magical and pure.  They also made me want to travel to the desert and see the Oasis, the camels, and the fast Arabian horses.  They also made me want to see the beautiful women, the pyramids, and the Bedouins.

But, reading this book through Christian colored glasses was mind-boggling.  The author takes truth from here and there and everywhere, mixes it all together into the Language of the Soul and spouts things about reading omens, following your personal legend, and learning to talk to the world.  The philosophy behind this book is utterly syncretistic and unchristian.  It is unbiblical.  God says we can only find truth in His word.  He never sends us out to find the Language of the Soul, nor does He send us to seek our Personal Legends, but to live a quiet life of service to our local church.  Again, there is a complete lack of personal sin and the need of a Savior.

It is still a beautiful read.  I liked the Arab girl waiting for the shepherd boy.  She told him to seek his treasure and that she would be waiting for him because desert woman are strong and used to waiting for their men to return.  She didn’t throw a bunch of feminist lies in his face, but gave him the strength he needed to continue.  I also enjoyed the retelling of the Bible story about the roman soldier who sought out Jesus to heal his servant.

“In ancient Rome, at the time of Emperor Tiberius, there lived a good man who had two sons.  One was in the military, and had been sent to the most distant regions of the empire.  The other son was a poet, and delighted all of Rome with his beautiful verses.

One night, the father had a dream.  An angel appeared to him, and told him that the words of one of his sons would be learned and repeated throughout the world for all generations to come.”

In the story, the father dies believing it is his son the poet who would be so honored, when in fact it is his son in the military: ” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8)

I defiantly recommend all three books for their beauty and grace.  I think A Hope Deferred is the best of the three, but the other two weren’t a waste of time.  They were quiet enjoyable.  We can often learn as much from things we disagree with as from things we do agree with, just as long as we use wisdom when we read them.

Quote of the Weekend

“When in the midst of affliction, we can be certain that God will help us in one of two ways: either he will remove us from trouble or he will support us in trouble.  Now, the following point is crucial: God doesn’t always do the first, but he always does the second.” – A Hope Deferred by J. Stephen Yuille

Quote of the Weekend

“Through our ongoing struggles with impatience and frustration, God was working on us.  Of particular note, he was impressing upon us the fact that true blessedness doesn’t flow from changing circumstances but from an unchanging God. ” – A Hope Deferred by J. Stephen Yuille

(A lesson learned only over a lifetime.)

Quote of the Weekend

“Looking back, we couldn’t recall very many explanations of the trials we had experienced over the years.  But we had learned that we must embrace the fact that God often entrusts his people with the unexplained.  That’s a crucial lesson to grasp, because it necessarily means that – in the midst of difficulties – our faith isn’t rooted in understanding why, but understanding who.” – A Hope Deferred by J. Stephen Yuille

(My father-in-law gave me this wonderful book to read.  I really enjoyed it.  It is the story of a pastor and his wife struggling to have children, struggling to adopt, and the lessons he learned about spiritual adoption through the journey.)