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.

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Sunday Thoughts: Happiness and the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Movement

Yes, cause you are the center of the universe and get to decide who is worthy and unworthy.

Yes, cause you are the center of the universe and get to decide who is worthy and unworthy.

I know I promised to start the series on things I learned from managing our boutiques that have helped me as a housewife, but two things have been irritating me so I’m going to write about them first.

Sometimes a rage builds inside me, wanting out.  Maybe it’s my Irish roots turning me into a flaming redhead with anger management issues, but whatever the reasons, it happens.  In my line of sight today are two things: one, our modern-day concepts of personal happiness, and two the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity movement.

So, first things first.  You’ve all seen the quotes on Pinterest, on cards, plaques and on your Facebook feed proclaiming your happiness to be of chief importance, right?  They say that true love accepts you for who you are, no one should ever try to change you, and that if the world doesn’t accept you as you are, you have the right to reject and ignore them.

How narcissistic and self-focused could we possibly be?  If I followed any of this advice, I would be divorced, fat, lazy, lonely, alone, and angry at the world. (I’m not saying being fat is a sin, I’m saying I would be a glutton cause I like food.)  I would push most, if not all, of you out of my life starting with my husband and going on from there.  When did we decide being happy was the chief end of man?  And why don’t we see the inherit dangers that belief brings.  With that line of thinking, we would see the murdering of innocents because they get in the way, a high divorce rate, and suicide….oh wait.  We see all that.  This belief system would also incapacitate a society from convicting murderers of all stripes from bullies, to serial killers and terrorist….oh wait, we see that too.

When I think my goal in life is to be happy and that all stress should be eliminated, then I am my own god, my own authority, and you have no right to say otherwise.  Could we embrace a more unchristian attitude?  Now, it is true that I can’t change my husband….in the grand scheme of things, and he can’t change me.  But, we should be helping each other in the process of sanctification.  If my happiness and lack of stress are the most important thing, then I need him out of my life.  I mean the guy wants me to decide what’s for dinner.  He works all day and expects me to keep the house clean, our finances done, and food on the table.  I don’t like doing finances, cleaning the house, or deciding what to cook.  I’d rather sit on the couch and write fantasy stories.  Who does he think he is?  Well, I think he thinks he’s responsible for leading our home, and the man earning the paycheck while I work from home, which is exactly what I’ve been telling him for years that I wanted to do.  If he wanted to do what made him happy, he would sit at home playing video games all day and eating junk food.  If we both did what made us happy, we would both be slobs living on welfare doing nothing.

See the problem is that our society has lost a critical component of truth – total depravity.  Human beings are not naturally good, kind, hard-working, honestly, loyal things.  Occasionally, God shows us some common grace and we are all those things.  But, left to ourselves, left to pursue our own happiness, we would all stop working, engaging, and growing.  We would, instead, sit around selfishly ignoring others, while the world crumbled around us.

Because Stress is the worst Sin you can have in your life.

Because Stress is the worst Sin you can have in your life.

The idea that you should love me for who I am is another lie.  Have you looked in the mirror recently?  I’m so glad my husband loves me despite who I am.  I’m glad God loves me because of Christ.  I’m not a nice person, nor a pretty one.  I can only be those things by the grace of God.  I’m thankful He puts people in my life to help me who aren’t worried about me being happy, but instead being holy.  Pursuing holiness is hard work and stressful.  It requires you to put yourself in a state of iron sharpening iron.  You have to hang out with people who just don’t think highly enough about you.  You have to hang out with people who aren’t as cool as you.  The horror.  (You should read this with your sarcasm voice.)

We, as Christians, need to stop pinning, reposting, and decorating with lies.  We need to see them for what they are – the Devil’s whispers.  We need to remember that nowhere in the Bible does God say our happiness is our chief end, that you need to get rid of stress, and you should be accepted for all you are.  What the Bible does say is that we should be poor in spirit, mourn over our sin, be meek of heart, and put on the fruit of the Spirit.  We are to go to war against sin.  War.  If you’ve forgotten how bloody war is, go watch Lone Survivor.

And, the Health, Wealth and Prosperity movement only adds to this.  Could there possibly be more of a First World Problem than not being healthy, wealthy, and prosperous enough?  Only in a wealthy country like America could such a religion spring out of the Bible.
“God is not afraid of pain.  He does not try to keep us from it.  He does not avoid it for Himself.”  – The Language of Sparrows

So...who is defining blessings and what gave you the right to just hand them out without any qualification?

So…who is defining blessings and what gave you the right to just hand them out without any qualification?

If you can read the Bible and deduce that you are supposed to be wealthy here on earth, you have skipped some critical passages.  If that was true, why did Christ die?  But not just die, why wasn’t he wealthy, healthy, and prosperous while he was here?  Did he not have enough faith?  What part of laying your treasure in heaven do you not understand?  What part of the world hating you do you not get?  The Bible is not speaking of physical riches but Spiritual ones.  We aren’t called to live healthy wealthy lives, but quiet ones in the pursuit of holiness.  God is not in the business of making you happy.  He is in the business of making you holy.

“Life is pain, Highness.  And anyone who says otherwise is selling something.”  – The Princess Bride

Do you think Pastor Saeed Abedini is clinging to promises of happiness here on earth while he suffers, and is tortured in an Iranian Prison?  No.  Those concepts won’t sustain you when you are suffering, being tortured, hurting, angry, or enduring trials.  You must cling to the hope that just as Christ suffered, you will suffer, and just as He is glorified, you will be glorified too.  You must know and understand that the sufferings of this life are nothing compared to heaven, to seeing Christ.  You must know that God is in control and is not the cosmic Santa Claus, but the one who is redeeming, cleansing, and making holy a people unto Himself.

Don’t let yourself get sucked into the idea that all suffering is to be avoided.  Keep your eyes on your treasures in heaven, on Christ.  Don’t look for a better church, better friends, and a better life.  Look for the fruit of the Spirit, a way to serve, and battle your own sin.  This is the life of a believer.  Not happiness.  Not peace.  Not distressing.  Fighting.  Failing.  Looking to grace and the hope of eternal life motivated by the unfathomable richness of the love of God seen in Christ….and Christ died.  Don’t lose that.  Christ died.  Do you want to be like Christ?  Remember he died in a point of submission.  How much does that fly in the face of our culture?

You are never out of the fight.  Don’t let the world around you define who you are!  Look to the Scripture.  Look to Christ.  Submit your heart and mind to the teachings of the Scripture and get busy serving your local church.

Okay….I’m getting off my soapbox and getting busy managing my home.