The Law Of Rewards

bookss

Posted by Seth

In The Law Of Rewards, Randy Alcorn shows that actions we perform here on earth will play a major role in how we will live in the next life. He poses the question, ”Why would people keep money for themselves on earth to get the things that they desire, when they can help others and their church financially to invest in that prized possession that will be even better in heaven?”

After giving an example of a couple who came to his office wanting to know if they should give their money to the church and missions, or use it to build their dream house, Dr. Alcorn asks the question, ”Who would want to divert kingdom funds to build a dream house if they understood that either it will leave them or they will leave it? Instead, why not use your resources to send building materials to the Carpenter, our Bridegroom, who this very moment is building our dream house in heaven?”

He also answers the following questions:

Since God is our Father, not our employer, can we really earn eternal rewards? Wouldn’t that be putting God in our debt?

What are we missing if we do not give, especially to the needy?

How can pastors teach their congregations the art of joyful giving?

Is it always wrong to let others know how much we give financially to the Lord’s work? If we say anything at all about what God is teaching us about our giving, does that mean we will lose our rewards?

Once I’ve decided to give, how do I decide where to contribute money? How can I be sure that the money I am giving will be used with integrity?

Are we rewarded in heaven for leaving money to Christian ministries when we die?

This book centers around the fact that we cannot take our treasures with us to heaven, but we can send them on ahead to be there waiting for us when we arrive. The Law of Rewards is an easy read, and a great way to spend your time. I would recommend it for every Christian.

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Amusing Ourselves to Death

amusingourselvestodeath

Posted by Shelbi

“Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us. We take arms against such a sea of troubles, buttressed by the spirit of Milton, Voltaire, Jefferson…But what if there are no cries of anguish to be heard? Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious culture dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture’s being drained by laughter?”

Amusing Ourselves to Death was written in 1985, but reading it is like reading something published yesterday. Before the internet or cell phones, Neil Postman (who died in 2003) wrote this powerful book as a warning against…television.

“The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter, but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.” -Chap. 6

When George Orwell wrote the book 1984 in the 1940’s, he prophesied oppressive government that would conceal truth and hide information. When Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931, he predicted the opposite: “There would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.” Instead of being deceived about the real state of things, which Orwell feared, people would be given so much trivial information so quickly that important things would drown in a sea of irrelevance. Instead of being held captive kicking and screaming, they would love their oppression and adore what undoes their ability to think.

As the author states in the preface to Amusing Ourselves to Death, “This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

Exploring and analyzing not only television but also the “Age of Show Business” in general, this book shows how completely our culture has been taken in by the lies “entertainment is the highest good” and “we exist solely to be amused”.

I especially liked chapter 9, called “Reach Out and Elect Someone”, which is about how politicians put themselves forward as sources of amusement to better their chances of being elected; and also chapter 7, which is titled “Now…This”.

There is no murder so brutal, no earthquake so devastating, no political blunder so costly–for that matter, no ball score so tantalizing or weather report so threatening–that it cannot be erased from our minds by a newscaster saying, “Now…this.” The newscaster means that you have thought long enough on the previous matter (approximately 45 seconds), that you must not be morbidly preoccupied with it (let us say, for 90 seconds), and that you must now give your attention to another fragment of news or a commercial. -Chap. 7

Amusing Ourselves to Death alerts us to the real danger of this state of affairs, and offers helpful suggestions as to how not only resist the current “media onslaught”, but also recognize the ways we’re unconsciously letting media shape our lives.

Trim Healthy Mama

THM

Posted by Bambi

I didn’t want to read this book. Although I kept more padding after my last pregnancy than I’ve ever kept in my life, I still didn’t want to read it. Why?

  •  It overwhelms me to think of colossal diet changes.
  •  I have no interest in diet fads that eliminate certain food groups, like fruit and bread. I’ve been there, done that and bought the ebook.
  •  I like chocolate. I like muffins. And don’t even talk to me about coffee.
  • I don’t jump on bandwagons easily.  If it’s on the top ten list anywhere, I’m suspicious.
  • And even if I could get past all that, I knew huge diet changes simply had to transfer into a higher grocery bill. I’m feeding an army and I have to be careful.

Nope, no interest. Leave me alone, healthy mamas. I’m doing just fine, K? I’ll just keep enjoying my coffee and learn to love my new love handles.
I changed my mind.
I changed it because I heard testimony after testimony from women I respect who said just implementing a few of the changes the authors recommend would leave me with more energy.  I was officially intrigued.  By the end of the day I usually feel like a boneless chicken. More energy sounded fabulous. I put in an interlibrary loan request for the book because I thought it was too expensive.
Our library was slow.
I contacted the authors and they gave me a free book to review.  Yes, there are advantages to blogging. And so here is my take on Trim, Healthy Mama.
The book opens describing four different types of eaters.
They are:
1. A raw food purist
2. A meat-n-taters gal
3. A woman who is called drive-thru Sue
4. A whole-grains fanatic
Incidentally, I have been all of these eaters at one time or another. You will probably find yourself in one of these women too.

Explanations
There is an explanation of what exactly is causing most of us ladies to be fat and unhealthy (insulin) and why we’re not doing ourselves any favors by eating banana smoothies (yes, even if they are green) or pounds of apples. I admit it, I was suspicious.  But the authors make a compelling case for working with our changing metabolism as women.  Sure, give the kids the apples and oranges. But moms should eat fruits that keep our insulin levels balanced and not on a roller coaster all the time. Didn’t know your insulin levels were on a roller coaster?  Me neither.  But I learned a lot.

A Little History: Atkins Vs. South Beach Diet
In the 80’s and 90’s everyone told us fat was bad.  Everything on the shelf sported  “fat free!”  Trouble was, the sugar content was higher to compensate for the loss of taste.   Enter the Atkins’ Diet.  Dr. Atkins said eat all the protein and fat you want but no carbohydrates.  We all stocked up on bacon and eggs and consumed loads of those nasty pork skins that smell like you-know-what when you open the bag.
A few years later came the South Beach diet, which I know nothing about because I was still doing pork skins.  But I hear that it was similar to Atkins, they just advised less fat.
The authors of Trim, Healthy Mama conclude that there are some truths to both of these diets in that they help control blood sugar and insulin surges. But eating this way is hard to maintain because who wants to be deprived of bread and sweets forever? The authors show us how to indulge in some sweets and healthy breads (with real butter, of course) without spiking our blood sugar. High blood sugar = insulin spikes.  And it’s all about the insulin, gals.
Most importantly, they never scolded me for drinking coffee, but actually encouraged it.
So there went two of my hang-ups with why I didn’t want to read the book.

What about the cost of the food?
I have been eating with some of the Trim, Healthy suggestions for three weeks now.  I have not noticed any change in my grocery bill.  While the authors do make recommendations for some special, you-can-only-get-this-online ingredients, they are not needed for most of the recipes.
The purpose of learning to eat this way is not to lose weight, but to be healthy and have energy. However, I have lost that excess baby weight plus a few pounds.  I have read countless testimonies of people who have significant weight to lose, and are doing so by implementing these changes. Even better, I have more energy due to exercising the way the authors suggested.

I Just Said the “E Word”
I almost skipped the exercise chapter because I despise exercising.  But again I learned a lot.  Statistics were given to prove that our current trends of exercising are not doing us much good to burn fat.  That means that elliptical machine I torture myself with on rare occasions probably isn’t helping a lot.  Well.  Except for the sermons I listen to on my iPod as I sweat.  But all that energy doing cardio exercise could have been better used with short bursts of energy (like ten minutes’ worth.  Who can’t handle ten minutes?) and strength training.
In other words, a ten minute run with intermittent sprints, will do us more good than a one hour steady cardio session.

Sweets and Chocolate
The authors recommend using Stevia, Truvia or NuNaturals as your new sweeteners because of their low glycemic index (meaning they don’t cause a significant increase in blood sugar.)  However, I tried using Truvia and it made me sick.  Stevia tasted terrible.  Although I didn’t try NuNaturals (I’m not going to buy “special food” remember?), I searched out the Trim, Healthy Mama Facebook page and discovered others were using Coconut Sugar with success as well.
I strolled over to my hand-dandy Wal-Mart and there it was on the shelf just sitting there smiling at me. I have made the book’s sweet recipes using Coconut Sugar and have continued to maintain the weight loss.  Coconut sugar (which isn’t actually sugar from a coconut) has a higher glycemic index than Stevia, but nowhere close to table sugar.
But truth be told, eating the THM way (that it to say—becoming aware of insulin spiking foods and/or combinations of them and avoiding them) has made me crave sweets less.

The Cost
I held off buying this book because of the price, but: it is worth the price. If you can’t stomach the $35 then you could try the digital version which is only $20. You can buy it here.  It is like buying three books (619 pages!!) because the first part of the book explains the why for the diet changes, the next portion explains the how and the third portion is full of recipes.  There are also chapters on hormone imbalances and how to cure them naturally, an exercise chapter (which remember, I almost skipped, but was so pleasantly surprised with the recommendations…that work!) and also a chapter on marital intimacy.

Who the Book is For
This book is for married women.  Trust me.  The end.

Who the Diet is For
The diet is for everyone: husband, children and even grandma included.  This isn’t a fad diet, but changes that can be made to your liking and pace, that are overall a healthier way of eating. Even if you don’t have weight to lose, you will learn a lot about how to eat by reading this book.
I do believe the book to be balanced, although as with every book we should read it with radars at attention (discernment).  The two sisters writing are very different, one is more of a purist and really educated me at times,  while the other uses the microwave and helps us identify short-cuts if we want to use them. ( I like her.) The ladies write in a conversational style and I especially like that they were humble enough to share their past mistakes and extremist tendencies that they now regret.

Seven Men

7 men

Posted by Shelbi

I think it’s a little strange that this is the second book I’ve reviewed on this blog that contains the words “Seven Men” in the title (read about Seven Men who Rule the World from the Grave here), but I was so excited to hear that Eric Metaxas had written another book that I couldn’t resist the chance to receive a free copy from Booksneeze, in exchange for a review on our blog.

Eric Metaxas is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and Amazing Grace. I don’t think that Seven Men really lived up to the other two books, but it was still an enjoyable read.

The seven men written about in this book are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles W. Colson. The introduction on manhood, while being a little watered down, was also good. Since the book is copyright 2013, it’s recent enough that the author was able to use the July 2012 Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting and the behavior of some of the men involved as an example.

Here are a few excerpts from the book:

George Washington (my favorite chapter):

“More than 200 years after Washington’s death, his willingness to relinquish power–twice–is the most remarkable thing that we remember about him. These refusals to seize power for himself were the greatest acts of one of history’s greatest men…There was a consensus at the time, since confirmed for all time, that no one else could have performed these elemental tasks as well, and perhaps that no one could have performed them at all.” (pg. 28)

Eric Liddell:

“Why does the world still remember and love Eric Liddell today, when other athletes from his era have been long forgotten? Lord Sands, an Edinburgh civil leader, put his finger on the answer during a dinner honoring Eric after the 1924 Olympic Games. It was not because Eric was the fastest runner in the world that the guests were gathered there that evening, he said. Instead, “it is because this young man put his whole career as a runner in the balance, and deemed it as small dust, compared to remaining true to his principles.” (pg. 86)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Bonhoeffer shared the fate of innumerable Jews who had recently been killed as he had been…But it seems clear that for Bonhoeffer, giving his life for the Jews was an honor. The God of the Jews had called him to give his life for the Jews. Bonhoeffer really believed that obeying God–even unto death–was the only way to live…In his famous book The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” ” (pg. 112)

Although each of the men in the book are presented as committed Christians (I’m still not sure about the chapter on the pope), vague phrases like “remaining true to his principles” and “surrendering himself to a Higher Purpose” are used more often than not. The chapter on Pope John Paul II extolls mostly his attempts at moral reform, rather than any preaching of the gospel he might have done. Disappointingly, he praises Charles Colson highly for his Evangelicals and Catholics Together program (ECT), the purpose of which was the “reconciliation of theological differences between the two groups”.

However, even though Seven Men was not as good as (and more politically correct than) Bonhoeffer or Amazing Grace (both of which were very theologically sound), I would still recommend it for anyone who is interested in any or all of these godly men of the past.

World War I & World War II {The Rest of the Story}

WWIbook

Posted by Shelbi

I first picked up a Richard Maybury book four months ago, when I finally got around to reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?, which has been on our shelf for years. (Read my review of that one here.) I have now read 6 of his books, and think I can officially say that he is one of my all-time favorite authors.

After reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy, I went on to read the two sequels, The Money Mystery and The Clipper Ship Strategy. All three of these principally deal with economics. (The Clipper Ship Strategy, which deals with practical ways for anyone (but especially businesses) to survive and thrive in a government-controlled economy, was my favorite of the economics trilogy. Though I’m not a businessman (obviously), it was one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read.) The fourth book I read was Whatever Happened to Justice?, a look at different governments and legal systems.

Last week I finished World War I: The Rest of the Story and How It Affects You Today. This week I finished World War II: The Rest of the Story and How It Affects You Today.

My perspective on the Spanish-American War (1898), the U.S. conquest of the Philippines, the Great White Fleet, Theodore Roosevelt, WWI, WWII, America, Britain, Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, the Truman Doctrine, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, September 11, 2001, and the present-day War on Terror–in short, my entire perspective on American history and American government (and alot of other things)– has been completely changed.

“The U.S. Government and Hollywood tend to see things in terms of good guys versus bad guys.

The Hollywood view of the World Wars…is not truth. It is not even a half-truth. It is a deception.

Neither World War was a straightforward battle between good and evil. Both were much more complicated, and good vs. evil had little to do with either of them.”             – World War I: The Rest of the Story

Written from a non-statist viewpoint, these books challenge the common ideas that the two World Wars were battles between good and evil, that America had to intervene in both to “save the world” from depraved dictators who wanted to conquer the earth, and that World War II is the ultimate justification for American intervention in every corner of the globe today. The author shows how every war America has been involved in since the beginning of the 20th century can be traced back to the Spanish-American war of 1898, when the U.S. Government first meddled in a quarrel not their own.

The Axis’ side of the story is honestly and fairly portrayed in both books, and really gets you thinking. For example, the official version of World War II history says that the Japanese woke up one morning in December 1941 and decided to attack the United States, just for the sheer fun of it, and because they were more inherently evil than most other nations. (Incidentally, this is also the official explanation for the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.) Japan in 1941 was a primitive nation of fishermen, very unlike the highly developed Japan of today. In 1941 no one stopped to ask why this extremely underdeveloped country would attempt to take on the world’s biggest superpower, just like in Sept. 2001 no one thought to ask, “Why do these people hate us?” This book provides answers to both questions.

WWIIbook

Though primarily focused on the World Wars, these books go alot deeper and alot farther than most. The reasons, the economics, and the global politics of both wars are examined in-depth, as are the decades that both preceded and followed them. I recommend these highly to anyone who doesn’t wish to swallow the government’s explanation of its own actions without first taking a look at what the facts suggest. Remember, history is written by the victors.

The Lie: Evolution

the lie

Posted by Shelbi

“If Genesis cannot be taken literally, there is no foundation for Christian doctrine–therefore, Christian doctrine no longer has meaning.”- The Lie: Evolution, pg. 157

I’ve read several books by Christian creation scientists, all dedicated to refuting evolution (and showing how truly laughable it really is), while providing impressive amounts of scientific evidence for the fact that God created the universe about 6,000 years ago. I expected that Ken Ham’s “The Lie: Evolution” would be the same type of book, but it turned out to be something much better.

Subtitled “Genesis–The Key to Defending Your Faith”, Mr. Ham’s book does not go into the controversy over whether scientific evidence supports creation or evolution, but instead focuses solely on why this issue is so important, and what is happening to all the cultures of the world that have accepted evolution.

“The creation/evolution issue (is God Creator?) is the crux of the problems in our society today. It is the fundamental issue with which Christians must come to grips. This…is where the battle really rages.” -pg. 29

After making his compelling case that evolution is a religion, not science, the author moves on to the crumbling foundations of Christianity, showing how disbelieving Genesis 1:1 destroys the credibility of the rest of the Bible. In the chapter called “The Evils of Evolution”, he gives example after example of how morals cannot be preserved in a world that has rejected the truths of Genesis. The chapter “Evangelism in a Pagan World” contains a lot of practical advice on how to share the gospel with an unbeliever, specifically showing how the average person has no interest in the things of God until his confidence in evolution is shaken. My favorite chapter, “Twenty Reasons Why Evolution and Genesis Don’t Mix”, is a wonderful tool to use when talking with someone who claims to be a theistic evolutionist. Of course, an atheistic evolutionist doesn’t care how much evolution contradicts the Bible, but a theistic evolutionist (someone who believes God used evolution to create the world) will be forced to come to terms with the fact that there is no way to reconcile the two– you have to choose between them. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from this chapter:

#1: No Death Before Adam’s Fall

“Evolution says death plus struggle brought man into existence; the Bible says man’s actions led to sin, which led to death. These two are totally contradictory.” -pg. 150

#5: Creation is Finished

“Modern evolutionary theory accepts that evolution is still going on (therefore, man must still be evolving!), so if a Christian accepts evolution he has to accept that God is still using evolution today. Thus, He is still creating. But God tells us He finished His work of creating. This is a real dilemma for the theistic evolutionist.”- pg. 154

#14: Evolution and Genesis Have a Different Sequence

“The basic tenets of evolution totally conflict with the order in Genesis. For instance, Genesis teaches that God created fruit trees before fish–plants on day three, fish on day five. Evolution teaches that fish came before fruit trees…. The Bible teaches that the earth was first created covered with water: evolutionary teaching is that the earth first began as a hot molten blob. There is no way that the order of events according to evolution and Genesis can be reconciled.” -pg. 160

#17: Adam Was Not Primitive

Those who believe in evolution speculate that as man evolved he first had to learn to grunt, then he had to learn to write. He had to use stone tools and learn about farming before he could develop what is called “advanced technology”. However, the Bible tells us Adam was not primitive, but a highly developed individual…Adam could obviously speak…he had a complex language (Gen. 2:20).”

Again, I’d like to point out that this is not a “scientific” book— there is little to no discussion over whether science points to evolution or to creation. This book is written to Christians, with a strong emphasis on the need for the church to defend Genesis intelligently and articulately, realizing the extreme damage evolution is doing to our society.

However, I would like to recommend several books written by Christian creation scientists that deal with the evidence for creation vs. evolution. My favorite is The Evolution of a Creationist by Dr. Jobe Martin, which chronicles the author’s journey from a committed teacher of evolution to a committed teacher of creation, and all the overwhelming evidence that caused him to (unwillingly at first) change his mind. Another good one is Refuting Evolution by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, as is Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe. Darwin’s Black Box is especially interesting because the author does not claim to be a Christian and admits that he does not know how the world was created or who created it (he seems to favor aliens as the most likely candidates!) but after studying the design of the universe, he confesses that he finds evolution absurd in the highest degree and shares all the reasons that brought him to this conclusion.

The Lie: Evolution has become my favorite book on the subject, though, and I hope you will find it just as intriguing!

Seven Men Who Rule The World From The Grave

7menbook

Posted by Shelbi

Seven Men Who Rule The World From The Grave (by Dave Breese, 1990) examines in detail the lives of seven men who permanently altered their own societies and who continue to exert untold influence on the world today.

  • Charles Darwin, born in England in 1809, gave us the theory of evolution.

“What Darwin formulated came to be seen as a plausible new understanding of man and nature important enough to be thought the work of a genius and the beginning of a new epoch in world history… This intellectual revlution has caused man to reinterpret his past, rethink his present, and revise his anticipations for the future. Darwin is seen as giving the world a comprehension of itself so unlike the view held in the past that, in a sense, he restarted history. Darwin’s influence continues to be pervasive today, and he holds a leading rank among those men who rule the world from the grave.” (pg. 25)

  • Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, was born in Germany in 1818, and he produced “the greatest degree of social, physical, and moral ruin the world has ever known”— Communism.

“Yes, it could be argued that the world-changing effect of the life and philosophy of Karl Marx is a measurable thing, and by that measure he has been one of the greatest influences of history. That simple measure testifies that the philosophy of Karl Marx and the political structure that grew from his work has conquered and presently controls one-third of the population of the world. For most of the era following WWII, Communism has been the form of political ideology and consequent government in iron control over the lives and fortunes of one-and-a-half billion people.” (pg. 58)

  • Julius Wellhausen, born in Germany in 1844, developed what is now called “higher criticism” of the Bible.

“Wellhausen’s scholarship became an important contribution to liberalism as it sought to demythologize the Bible by taking God and spiritual things out of it. Through this means, Wellhausen opened the door for subsequent scholars to expand the base of liberalism and add to it their own interpretations of biblical truth. Wellhausen, having stolen from Christianity its reason for being, continues to rule from his grave.” (pg. 95, 103)

  • Sigmund Freud, born in Austria in 1856, not only predicted but called for the sexual revolution that came to fruition in the 1960’s.

” More than a great reductionist, Freud can certainly be called one of the great deceivers, confusing millions as to the nature of man and the nature of God… What debillitation, what fatigue, what depression, what premature death has [the sexual revolution] produced in our society? No one will ever be able to estimate. What careers have been blasted, what potential melted into nothing, what great accomplishments never achieved because of our generation’s incredibly nonsensical preoccupation with that never-to-be-achieved will-o’-the-wisp, that ever-unfulfilled pseudo-promise of sexual fulfillment?” (pg. 143, 144)

  • John Dewey, born in Vermont in 1859, did more than any other person to make government education in America what it is today.

“In the sense of history, the facts of this man’s life are relatively unexciting. He did not appear as a Promethean personality, he did not fight in a great war, and he held no high political office. But alas, he was a notable contender in the battle that matters–the battle of ideas. He was one of the prime movers in the struggle for the minds of men…. he refashioned the educational system in America, and in the process, he redefined almost everything.” (pg.155)

  • John Maynard Keynes, born in England in 1883, changed the face of the world by giving us Keynesian economics.

“Keynesian economics preaches the doctrine that the government is the final resource. It can answer every problem; it can create something out of nothing, namely, prosperity. What can this mean except that the government is God? The government is God! That is Keynesian economics.” (pg. 196)

  • Soren Kierkegaard, born in Denmark in 1813, famously remarked “I conceive it as my task to create difficulties everywhere.”

“The liberal establishment, not willing to return to the Bible as the Word of God, went looking for a new message, a new theology…What to do? was the question. In what shall we now believe? Into this vacuum stepped Soren Kierkegaard. He gave the world what philosophers call existentialism. He gave the church what theologians call neoorthodoxy. It is as though this man and his views emerged from an unseen direction and gained a foothold in the minds of men so quickly they had no opportunity to resist.”(pg. 210)

This book is a wonderful study not only in history but in worldview. The beliefs of each of these men and how they have been accepted into the world and the church are gone over in detail. The author does a wonderful job of describing how, after initially being rejected, each of these philosophies came to be ingrained into nearly every culture in the world. This was a very enlightening book for me and really helped me get a better understanding of the battle that’s raging for the minds and ultimately the souls of men.