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.

Twelve Extraordinary Women

twelvewomenPosted by Savannah

John MacArthur’s Twelve Extraordinary Women is a sequel to his book Twelve Ordinary Men. In his first book, he studied the lives of Jesus’ twelve disciples, dedicating a chapter to each. In Twelve Extraordinary Women, he chose twelve women who were critical in the story of redemption.  Some of the women he chose you would expect to find in such a book, such as Eve, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Sarah the wife of Abraham.  Others, like Rahab the harlot, Anna the prophetess, or Lydia, the woman who opened her home to Paul, are surprisingly present.  Even though some of these women seem insignificant, many of them risked their lives, or at least their reputations for the sake of the gospel.  I’ve decided to share what I learned about my favorite woman in this book, Anna. She was one  of the more “insignificant” ones, so I found her more interesting, and learned a lot.

Anna is mentioned once in the whole Bible, and then there are only three verses that talk about her. The passage from Luke 2 reads:

Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher.  She was of great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.  And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

The fact that Anna was a prophetess does not mean that she could predict the future.  It doesn’t even mean that she received special revelation from God.   Prophetess simply means that Anna was a woman who faithfully proclaimed the Word of God to everyone; all the time. Any preacher, or any person at all could be called a prophet if they continually spoke the Word of God like Anna did.  The text also mentions that Anna “did not depart from the temple”.  Perhaps the temple officials had given Anna one of the small chambers in the temple, that were used occasionally by priests when they saw her faithfulness and devotion.   Whatever the case might have been,  the text seems to literally mean that Anna lived in the temple grounds. She also had been a widow for many, many years.  Apparently she had been living in the temple for a long time fasting and praying.  What could Anna have been praying about?  She no doubt prayed about many things, but perhaps one of her main subjects of her prayer was for the soon coming of the Messiah. In verse 38 of Luke 2 Anna comes along just as Simeon is pronouncing a blessing on Christ and His parents.  She “gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem”.  Anna’s prayers immediately turned to thanksgiving to God for answering her, and she spoke of Christ to everyone.  Anna’s passion for the Lord and her love for Him is something we all should aspire to.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about the extraordinary women of the Bible.

 

Luther {Movie Review}

luthermovie

“My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot, and I will not, recant.”

Posted by Shelbi

This past weekend some of us re-watched the 2003 movie Luther for the first time in several years.  Since I just finished reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, the Reformation period was fresh on my mind, and it was so neat to see the 16th-century world of Catholicism, popery, the Reformation, and in particular, the life of the movie’s hero, Martin Luther, come alive in this fantastic film.

Beginning with an unconverted Luther’s rash vow to become a monk, the movie follows his life until his Augsburg Confession of Faith is presented to the German Emperor, and ends with the following words:

What happened at Augsburg pushed open the door of religious freedom. Martin Luther lived for another 16 years, preaching and teaching the Word. He and Katharina von Bora enjoyed a happy marriage and six children. Luther’s influence extended into economics, politics, education and music, and his translation of the Bible became a foundation stone of the German language. Today over 540 million people worship in churches inspired by his Reformation.

The history is surprisingly accurate and not many liberties are taken with the facts. Although it is not very family-friendly (we watched it while the 8-and-under crowd were napping), us “big people” really enjoyed it.  ; )

Note: This movie is rated PG-13 for images of violence and would not be appropriate for most young children. Also, there are several instances of profanity.

The Story of Dr. Dolittle

The-Story-of-Dr-Dolittle-306748

Posted by Sarah Grace

Once there was a man named Doctor Dolittle. He loved animals. He got so many animals that he grew very poor from having to buy food for all of them. His sister (who was his housekeeper) got very angry with him for being so poor. She said ”I’m not going to be your housekeeper any more if you do not quit buying animals.” He even had some white mice inside of his piano!

Dr. Dolittle was a people doctor not a veterinarian. Later he decided he wanted to be a veterinarian. He also had a parrot that taught him how to speak animal talk! Everybody brought their animals to Dr. Dolittle. For instance, there was a horse that was having trouble with his eyes. The people who owned the horse had brought him to several different veterinarians but none of them could speak animal talk. The horse told Doctor Dolittle what he really needed.

He said ” I need some sun shades!”

Doctor Dolittle said ” O.K. I will get you some sun shades!”

The horse got sun shades and he got better.

Then you will go with Doctor Dolittle as he goes across the ocean to be with some sick monkeys and becomes famous!

I liked this book because it was exciting. I looked forward to reading it everyday until it was finished. I like exciting books.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story {Film Review}

giftedPosted by Bambi

I am always on the lookout for movies we can watch together as a family.  This one didn’t meet the criteria for the littles to view it with us, but it is an enjoyable and inspiring one for adults and older children.

Gifted Hands is the story of Ben Carson, a renowned brain surgeon who changed the course of medical history forever when, as a pediatric neurosurgeon, he was the first to separate conjoined (at the head) twins in 1987.  I know that doesn’t sound like the makings of a thrilling movie, which is why it sat on our shelf for awhile before we got around to watching it.

But the movie is just as much about Carson’s mother as it is him.  Ben Carson was raised in a broken home amidst poverty and racial prejudice.  He struggled to read but when his mother forced Carson and his brother to turn off the television (amid their protests!) and require them to read two books each week, he began to excel.

There are 2-3 words of profanity in this movie which could have easily been left out to make it even better.

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!