Friday, May 27, 2011

Soul Surfer

In light of the abundance of comments about the new movie Soul Surfer, I decided to read the autobiography on which it is based. Obviously there are going to be some objections averted because we are talking about a non-visual medium here. The frequent swim attire mentioned by some, and the loud music that would be far too frequent do not come into play in written form. Thank goodness for that.

However, I found Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton quite a delightful read. Written as an early teen (with a co-author), she demonstrates a spiritual insight that I found quite refreshing. I have met adults with much less spiritual sense than Bethany. During the height of her surfing "career", her world is rattle to the core by suffering a shark attack which takes nearly all her left arm. Rather than blame God, whom she clearly acknowledges as her Lord and Savior, she searches to see how He would use this event in her life to minister to others. Not that she doesn't struggle with the "why me?" question. She does, but refuses to allow this to limit her in her dreams or dampen her love for God.

I understand the hesitation that Bethany's story (and film) inspires. Yes, modesty is a big issue. Although I don't believe the apparel is flaunted as much as it could have been, I would not recommend this film for boys or men, or even girls struggling with a modesty issue themselves. The music issue is far more of a problem for me, being a musician with conservative standards. Perhaps at home DVD viewing is a better medium because of this problem.

To avoid these things all together, I recommend reading the autobiography by Bethany. She does refer to her CCM tastes in music, but please consider that she has never been taught about such things.

Please keep in mind that in all reading material, even Christian, that we must go in Biblically grounded so that we can filter those things that are not up to par. That said, I did enjoy her book. I think you will be surprised at it's candor and uplifting character.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Starting a Christian Home Library

If you are starting a Christian library in your own home, there are some good foundational books you will want to have. I have found every one of these books in good condition at a used bookstore. (I once found a King James Open Bible Study Bible for six dollars. Yippee!)

Books to help you study the Bible:

A Good Study Bible

This is a Bible that includes more than just the Scripture text. For study you will want a KJV, NKJV, or NASB. There may be notes, cross references, topical articles, maps, timelines, book introductions, a concordance, etc. (Examples: Scofield, Thompson-Chain, King James Study Bible, and many others. Not every study Bible is good, of course. You want one that interprets the Word literally.)

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
Holman Pictorial Bible Dictionary
Halley's Bible Handbook  (not the new edition which deletes some church history)
Matthew Henry Commentary Set or The Bible Knowledge Commentary (though NIV based)

Some Classic Books to help you live the Bible:

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Morning and Evening (Devotional) by Charles Spurgeon
Renewed Day by Day (Devotional) by AW Tozer
In His Steps by Charles Sheldon
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith

You may not use these everyday or even frequently, but you when you need them you'll be glad they're in your library. If you have been helped by these or other books, please let us know. I'm sure I have forgotten something. I appreciate your comments. Don't forget a good children's Bible storybook or Study Bible for them. Get them started early in the habit or digging deep into God's Word. They will be grateful for the rest of their lives.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Safely Home

Sometimes a book just speaks to my heart in a powerful way. These quickly become my favorites, and I passionately pass them on to others so that they can "experience" the awe and wonder.

Rancy Alcorn has written a powerful book in Safely Home that brings to light the persecution of Christians in China. It is a common practice for communist countries to present themselves to the world in a calculated and positive way to get what it wants and not bring suspicion upon themselves. This book will shatter that image.

It is easy to forget those who are willingly risking their lives for the Lord every day. Lord willing, this book will stay in your memories for a life time. I don't even have my own copy yet, but plan to pick up as many as I can find .

Briefly, Ben Fielding finds himself on a business trip to China where he will stay with an old college friend, a native from Pushan, Li Quan. Ben, a nominal church-goer and ladder-climbing businessman, is completely unaware of the persecution that his friend Quan has endured since their friendship years ago. Ben finds himself in shock at Quan's life and secret activities that are considered "illegal" in China.

There is an interesting inclusion of the departed in heaven watching the story unfold. A special emphasis is given to the martyrs and Jesus Christ's future vengeance toward the oppressors of His children.

I love a good book, and have in the past found it difficult to set my reading aside for those daily task that beckon me. Nowadays, I usually set aside my evenings for reading so that I feel I have some time that is not otherwise spoken for.

HOWEVER, I simply could not put this book down!! Don't get me wrong. This reading was not always enjoyable, but boy, was I challenged. What "light and fluffy" Christianity do we have in America today? We couldn't hold a candle to our Chinese brothers and sisters.

I don't know about you, but I am not satisfied with a "normal" life. I recently visited with a young family who is planning to "work" in a hostile country. We need to take full advange of the freedoms we have her in the US. May the Lord continue to bless us with freedom in this country. Only He knows what tomorrow will bring.

If you enjoy reading Safely Home by Randy Alcorn, you will like Daughter of China by C. Hope Flinchbaugh.


PS. Please know that I do not completely agree with all the doctrine in Randy Alcorn's book. The Rapture is not mentioned in the book, and there are a few other obvious errors. As my new friend says, "Eat the meat and spit out the bones." Still a very worthy read!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Favorite Quotations about Books

                                                   A few sayings that always make me smile...

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."  

"It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own." 
Sherlock Holmes

"The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books." 
Katherine Mansfield

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." 
Mark Twain

"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."
CS Lewis

I really love this one...

"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes."
Desiderius Erasmus


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stepping Heavenward on Mother's Day

My favorite book is an excellent selection for Mother's Day.  My blog title even pays homage to it. It is Stepping Heavenward by Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss. I will not go into great detail (I hope) about this particular selection except to say that at first glance you may think this book is simply for those in their teen years. That couldn't further from the truth.

This volume, although fictional, hints of being autobiographical. Maybe not! It traces Katy's life from 16 years old until she is an old woman with every stage of life addressed. Much of it speaks of her struggles with her ability to mother her own children with patience and consistency. Her own mother plays a big part in the story.

I want to do a thorough review at a later time. Suffice it to say. If you've never read this, you absolutely must. It is a treasure. Written over a hundred years ago, it still speaks to us today.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Golden Books

Remember the Golden Books that your parents read to you as a kid? You can't beat them for your own children. Try searching a used books store (like I did yesterday), and you will surely find a treasure. We have quite an extensive children's library here at home. New beautiful books are coming out all the time, but can you top The Poky Little Puppy or The Saggy Baggy Elephant. My daughter likes The Tawny Scrawny Lion.

Golden Books also has quite a collection of Bible stories and religious themed books. There are Children's Hymns, The 23rd Psalm, Noah's Ark and many more. Be sure to check these for accuracy. One of their most well-known God has some hints of evolution in the first few pages, so this isn't a blatant endorsement of all Golden Books.

Some of their newer releases are movie tie-ins for things like Bolt. I like to look for the older ones first (pre-1970's or so) because they usually contain moral lessons. In Arizona we have a used bookstore chain called Bookman's. While this chain can be quite quirky, they do have very organized sections (some of which you'll want to avoid), and a fabulous children's section. Whatever store is in your own community will probably have a plethora of children's literature. People discard those books from their homes as soon as children seem "older".  How about saving their favorites for their grandchildren someday? However, this leaves a treasure trove for those who are trying to build a quality library. I picked up 4 Golden Books yesterday each for about 75 cents a piece. You can't beat that at Walmart!

Keep reading those good books to your kids, and stock on some for nieces, nephew and grandkids.

Happy hunting!

Monday, May 2, 2011

So Many Choices

Tonight I am trying to start a new book. I say "trying" because there are too many, and I have to make a decision. What will it be...lighthearted inspirational fiction, home education motivator, heartfelt child-rearing, or tearjerker biography?  Does anyone else have this problem?

I thought I had the solution to this problem some years ago. I would read them all at the same time. It gets complicated. Although I often do have two books going at once, one always wins out and really catches my attention. Each book has positive benefits. One will be relaxing, another motivational, one educational, and yet another practical. Luckily, we can read them all...eventually.

I believe I will start with the Book of Acts, and see what happens after that. We must have our priorities, after all. How fortunate we are to be in a position to even have this dilemna. How many would love to have a plethora of books at their fingertips in their own home...including a Bible of their very own, in their own language.  We are truly blessed. God bless and keep those pages turning. 

Pass on a good book. It can make an impact in someone else's life.