How would I describe the perfect novel? It would have to be a page-turner, one that would keep me up past my bedtime. I’d want a creative, twisty plot—nothing predictable, please. The characters should three-dimensional, with complex, imperfect personalities—I don’t have to like them all, but they should be people I can relate to. The book would have to be well-written (the curse of being an editor), the events significant. Finally, there should be enough romance to make me smile.
I guess you could call me a “highly selective” reader.
We’re all familiar with the Ten Commandments—honor your father and mother, don’t worship idols, don’t steal, keep the Sabbath, etc. God gave us the ten commandments, and we would be smart to obey them. But what about the commandments Jesus gave us? We’re familiar with His teachings, but were there things He commanded us to do, or not do?
Usually I like to finish reading a book before I recommend it to someone else. Today I’m making an exception. I’ve read enough of Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere, by Samuel C. Williamson, to know that I didn’t want to wait another moment to recommend it. This is a book I can recommend to every believer—and perhaps even you who doubt God’s existence.
I’ve written about this topic before; see Did You Say Something? from July, 2013 for one such post. I don’t intend to rehash what I wrote then, as I doubt I could express my thoughts much better now. This book, however, surpasses my little post in all ways. Of course, he gets to use an entire book to do so.
I debated a long time about this book review. Should I write it? Should I post it?
The book has issues. The author often repeats herself, making the book much longer than necessary. The pain and anger that permeated her early life can be seen in her forceful and unapologetic approach. Her conclusions are certainly not politically correct. Many who read this book will be upset by her claims, and I hate making people upset. Yet, author Nonie Darwish presents both information I was ignorant of, and a viewpoint that I had not seen before. I think it’s important that others hear these facts and consider them carefully. Actually, I think it’s very important.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Pete and I celebrated our anniversary last month. (Well, technically, we haven’t celebrated yet—he was out of town at the time, and now I’m somewhat incapacitated with an injured back. But we will be celebrating soon. I’m sure we will.)
In addition to the typical romantic dinner out, etc., we have a number of more unusual traditions that we enjoy when our anniversary comes around each year. We had a long distance relationship for our first year dating. This was before such conveniences as email, cell phones with free roaming, and the discovery of electricity. So we wrote letters and put them in envelopes and actually mailed them to one another. We still have those letters, and they’re fun to read and reminisce about how clueless we were back in the day.
Consider someone whose life is filled with incredible hardship. Danger and disease. Sacrifice. Doubt. And yet amazing faith. Grace. Intense joy.
I’m not usually big on biographies. Many of the ones I’ve tried to read have seemed to muddle along, the story filled with inconsequential details the author just couldn’t bear to leave out. But I make an exception for Christian biographies, especially those of cross-cultural missionaries. People who obey God’s call rarely live boring lives!
You’ve heard it before:
- All religions are the same.
- Suffering is proof that God doesn’t exist.
- Christians are so narrow minded!
- Religion does more harm than good.
- A loving God would never send anyone to hell.
- Science has disproved Christianity.
- The Bible isn’t a reliable document.
You’ve run into these ideas in books or articles. They’ve issued from the mouths of friends or family members. You might even agree with some, or all, of them. Skepticism and atheism are oh, so trendy. Entire networks of blogs are devoted to dissing God and religion, usually with plenty of snide comments and a great degree of sarcasm. (I’ve often wondered why people get so snarky when it comes to criticizing other people’s beliefs.)
This is the most significant book I’ve read all year.
Pete and I just spent a fabulous week in a lovely cabin in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our aim was to stop, reflect, relax, and refresh. Some days we played tourist, enjoying the scenic drives, wildlife, and golden aspen and cottonwoods. Other days we hung around the cabin, reading, talking, and praying. After a crazy year that included moving both our home and Pete’s ministry office, it was just what we needed.
I had a stack of books to read, and managed to make it through several of them. They were all excellent, but if I could pick one to recommend most highly, it would have to be Good or God: Why Good without God Isn’t Enough, by John Bevere.
Monday was Labor Day, and I wanted to take it easy. It had been a packed week, it was time for a break, and I desperately wanted to collapse into a recliner for several hours with a good book. The only problem was, I couldn’t find one I wanted to read.
There are lots of non-fiction books out there and I have several that I’m currently wading through, but this was a holiday and I wanted to escape into an exciting, well-written page-turner. Since the library was closed, I turned to their online collection. (I love that you can choose and download a book from home!)
When you consider Muslims, what comes to mind? A terrorist? A suicide bomber? Or perhaps a woman swathed in a black burka? How about the family next door, or your college professor, or perhaps the engineer in the next cubicle?
Because many Americans don’t personally know anyone who is a Muslim, our mental image may not match reality. Sure, some Muslims are terrorists, but many more are our neighbors and business associates—and perhaps our friends.
If you’d like to go beyond the front page news stories and discover how the “average” Muslim thinks, (if there is such a person), I highly recommend that you read The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross: Insights from an Arab Christian, by Dr. Nabeel T. Jabour. If you’d like to know how Muslims view Christianity, then I recommend this book even more highly. And if you want to move past stereotypes and fear and learn to love our Muslim neighbors, then get your hands on this book as soon as possible! Continue reading