Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review: Named By God

I was so excited when I saw this book as a reward in the Tyndale Summer Reading Club.  I'd read five books to qualify for a free one, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one.  From the back cover, I knew I was going to just love this book.  As soon as it arrived in the mail, I started reading, but unfortunately this book didn't live up to what I had hoped.

As I was reading, I kept thinking, "This book would have been so much stronger if she had told her life story instead of weaving in a Bible study at the same time."  I thought it would be a perfect book to have an accompanying Bible study book for it, and later learned that even though I thought they were combined, there *is* another a book.   I think the book would have flowed a bit better to have separated all the Bible study into the other book.

Additionally, I was disappointed in three other things with this book.

The first is on page 50 where describing what happened in the book of Job.  She refers to God as playing "The role of The BOSS MAN".   I am reminded of the many times that Scripture tells us that God is Holy, and to me this doesn't reverence God in the way I feel He should be honored.   I realize that she is trying to get a point across, but I would have appriciated it done in a way that I felt respected God more than I felt this did.

Secondly, on page 91 she states, "If you cannot remember your most recent attack from Satan, then you might not be doing enough to catch his attention."  This doesn't set well with me.  If we believe the Scripture that tells us it is by grace we have been saved, and not works (Ephesians 2:10), wouldn't the opposite be true and that it is not works that make Satan take notice of us?

Lastly, on page 173 she talks about how she is sometimes approached by people who question if their salvation was genuine or struggling with spiritual complacency.  She proceeds to suggest they make a list of what their life was like before Christ and after Christ.  In the next paragraph she mentions how someone dresses, the venues in which they spend time, and their free-time activities.  She explains if there is little or no difference, then there may be a lack of spiritual maturity.  While I agree this is true in most cases, it is not always.  To me, adding in the "genuineness of their salvation" before discussing this exercise is not only making us look at works instead of God's grace, but also forgetting the Scripture that says our righteousness is as filthy rags.  (Isaiah 64:6)  There are plenty of people in church who can talk the talk, have Christian t-shirts, bumper stickers, boycott things when upset, but do any of these things show the condition of the heart?  I can remember saying to a friend in high school that I saw a girl smoking who said to have made a decision for Christ the night before.  He reminded me that it can take time to see change and I needed to not judge -- and doesn't not judging also include ourselves as long as we daily keep our eyes on Jesus?  I've seen people in very legalistic churches leave and get saved and no longer wear long skirts.  Can we say they have a lack of spiritual maturity because their dress is no longer as modest?  While what she said may be the case for spiritual maturity in many cases, I feel very unsettled about her mentioning salvation at the beginning of these paragraphs as salvation is a gift.  Finally, on this issue, I am reminded of the Scripture that tells us that man (people) look on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).  I saw nothing mentioned about the heart in this exercise! 

Overall I give this book two stars as I completed it.  That's usually the lowest I will rate a book I completed. I was disappointed in the three theological issues above as well as I think this book would have been much stronger taking the Scriptures and Bible study out of this book and having them in a companion book.

FTC disclaimer:  I received this book as part of the Tyndale Summer reading program.  In no way did receiving the book free effect the outcome of this review. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Story of Bingo The Guinea Pig

Four years ago, two kids came to our door one Sunday morning and asked if we wanted two guinea pigs because they didn't have food for them and they were living outside roaming free.  We were informed they were girls, but we felt like we had to take them in even though we had boys.  We determined to find homes for them.  I put an ad on Freecycle, and got some responses.  One person said she had 20 so two more wouldn't be a problem.  I wouldn't let them go to her because unless you are running a rescue, twenty is too many!  Before long, my mother and I fell in love with these two little white balls of fur, and they found a home -- with us!

On June 14, we lost Einstein.  We' done everything we could to save him, but his body was just worn out.   Fuzzy and Einstein were brothers and had never been apart a day in their lives until two weeks ago.  Fuzzy became depressed, extremely lonely, and I knew I had to do something.

I started calling every shelter in the "area" on Petfinder.  I knew I wanted a pig from a shelter.  Not only would I be giving one that might otherwise be unadoptable a good home, but after getting one that was so infested with mites from a petstore AND he had sores all over him from where a rabbit bit him, I wanted to know that a pig was in good overall health.

There are not many animal rescues in my area that take in guinea pigs.  I called and e-mailed a number of shelters within a four hour radius of my home, and many required a home visit, so they wouldn't come this far to check out my Cubes and Coroplast Cage and make sure I would be a good piggy parent.

I received e-mails from different shelters, all with different advice.  I was told since Fuzzy was an older male I needed to get a SPAYED female.  I was told two boys get along better than a boy and a girl.  I didn't know what to do, especially since none wanted to adopt to someone who lived this far away.

I started calling vets in the Pittsburgh area asking if they had any signs up at their offices where people were getting rid of a guinea pig.  One office told me to contact a rescue that I had overlooked because I was scanning for females.  I dropped the lady at the rescue a note, explained the situation with Fuzzy, and she recommended a male.  I looked at her adoptables list, and specifically asked about "Bingo" because the moment I saw him, it was love at first sight!

She replied that he came from a girl who had twenty-two guinea pigs and he was a sweet little guy who really got along with other pigs.  He was in the right age range I was looking for (Fuzzy is four, and I wanted a pig who was a bit older.  Bingo is three!)  My mother and I talked about it, and this weekend we made the four hour trip to the shelter with Fuzzy.

When we got there, Fuzzy and Bingo were placed on the floor in a playpen with some hay in the middle.  They never fought and got along really well.  Because the hotel Mom and I had a free night's stay at doesn't allow pets, she generously offered to keep them overnight so we wouldn't have the expense of a hotel.  On Sunday, July 8th, Bingo became part of the family!

I learned he had been famous from youtube.  His previous owner had made almost 200 videos of her guinea pigs.  The lady at the rescue said when she posted on Facebook he might get adopted she had a number of e-mails asking about him.  I decided to start a Facebook page of Bingo's adventures since he seemed so loved by so many people!

Bingo The Guinea Pig

Promote Your Page Too

We made the four hour trip home, and he and Fuzzy have been settling in nicely.  I'm looking forward to giving him a happy home for the remainder of his days.  He enjoys lap time, blueberries, and exploring all the boxes I keep in their cage.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book Review: Counterfeit Gospels

Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False HopeCounterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope by Trevin Wax

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It isn’t often that I don’t fly through a book.  I like to immerse myself in its pages, and leave a day or two later.  There are only two reasons I don’t do that -- one is because I don’t like the book, or secondly, it is so filled with truth I can’t read it quickly or I’ll miss something.  Counterfeit Gospels was the latter.  Each chapter brought eye-opening revelations about how things have always been done and how the Bible presents truth.

Using the analogy of a three-legged stool, Tevin Wax explains major components to the Gospel:  Story, Announcement, Community.  When I saw the subsections of this book, I wondered how someone like me, raised in the church, educated in Christian schools, and VBS teacher could get much out of this book.   I was pleasantly surprised as the author tackles some of the most prevalent themes in American Christianity.

For instance, in discussing sharing the Gospel, he makes the point that it used to be that every person in the United States was aware of the basics of the Bible.  That is not always the case in this post-modern age in which we live.  He explains it is important that we explain the why of needing a Savior.  To someone like me who knew John 3:16 before I could read, it is hard to imagine people who didn’t grow up looking at flannel graph pictures of Adam and Eve covered in fig leaves talking to a snake, but there are people who don’t realize that God created a sinless world and that because we sin we have fallen short of God’s plan.  The author of Counterfeit Gospels states that unless the problem is known (which started in the Garden of Eden) then how does one realize the solution (Jesus.)

While he tackles six false gospels that permeate our society (therapeutic, judgmentless, moralistic, quietist, activist, churchless).  He explains why each one of these cannot be the true Gospel by bringing story, announcement and community into each one of these ideologies. 

The one I really appreciated was the chapter on the activist gospel.  He told the story, which to me was chilling, of a church that fought against the sale of alcohol in their community.  When the ballot was brought before voters, and the county remained “dry”, a deacon said it was the best victory their church ever had.  Really?   While I won’t get into the debate of alcohol, if your church sees politics and activism as more important than people being saved, baptism, or discipleship, are you a church or a political party?  I’ve seen so much activism in churches in the last few years, I sometimes wonder why those churches don’t remove the cross and replace it with a ballot box behind the altar. 

This is a great book, and I recommend it to everyone, both new Christian, and those who have been in the church most of our lives.  I promise you, though, if you take this book seriously, and you should, you will find yourself challenged as to  if what you are believing is the Gospel God intended, or if it has been slightly distorted by what people have decided the Bible should say.

You can purchase a copy here:  Counterfeit Gospels

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book free from Moody Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.  The free book in no way influenced my opinion.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Where I've been

Wow!  What a week!

I feel like I've totally disappeared, but that hasn't really happened!  My infection is back.  You may recall back in February I made a post about my hospital stay.  But the infection returned, and I'm on medicine that needs to be taken every six hours for a minimum of six months, but could be as long as a year.  So I haven't been feeling well.

Then Friday night, our power went out.  It didn't come back on until last evening, and of course, we lost everything in the fridge.  A friend who lives across town had electric and had some room in her deep freeze, so she took the more expensive items to her freezer.  I still estimate we lost over $100 of food from the freezer and fridge.  It could have been a lot more, though since we had a lot of meat I sent with my friend.

Then our cable (Internet) was out until today. 

I spent the weekend doing snail mail sweepstakes, did some cleaning, gave the guinea pig a bath, and also read quite a bit!

So I have been around, but not online very much lately!  I'm hoping to get back in the swing of blogging this week!