There has been a beautiful revival of thirst for God's Word in the past decade, and a slew of books recently published on this topic even in 2014 alone. In the cheeky promo video for Can I Really Trust the Bible?, author Barry Cooper jokes that you should read his book because, weighing in at under 100 pages, it's shorter than all the others. Though he said that jokingly, that point is very compelling to me, a mom of two very young children with little concentrated time to read.
I was captivated by this book on every page. Mr. Cooper wrote with tremendous skill and his deep-down knowledge of the subject matter allowed him to write clearly and concisely. I would quickly give this book to a non-Christian because he asked all main the questions non-Christians ask then gave very convincing answers from scripture and common sense. I'm grateful that all the defenses are laid out right there so I don't have to keep watching Voddie Baucham's "Why I Choose to Believe the Bible" sermon on YouTube repeatedly. My affections for the Word were stirred as I became more obviously convinced of the Bible (and the God of the Bible!) that I already believed.
I love the reverent heart behind the book. In chapter 1 we are charged to read or listen to the Word in anticipation because "The fierce power that summoned and sustains the universe is about to be unleashed again in our hearing." I also loved his answer for when people ask if the Bible is "out of date": "If we feel discomfort at some of the Bible's teaching, is it really because the Bible is a product of its time, or because we are?" Later he added, "Wouldn't it be suspicious if [God] always said what we wanted him to say, or if he always confirmed the views of our particular culture, in our particular moment of history?" This just struck me with the timeless beauty of the Bible.
I love the Bible, I'm staking absolutely everything on whether the Bible is true, and this book confirmed that by so doing I'm putting all my hope into an absolutely steadfast Truth. I recommend you buy and gift this book.
Disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Yesterday I listened to Emma Watson’s much-adored speech to the U.N. and as a woman, I was utterly insulted.
I felt very similar last month on my Washington, D.C. trip when I went to the 3rd-most visited museum in the world. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History dehumanized me at every turn, reducing mankind to mere members of the animal kingdom. All the brilliance and beauty that I have seen men and women from all time produce---including the tear-inducing Leonardo DaVinci painting I saw at the nearby National Gallery of Art---is degraded to the evolutionary need for survival. Nothing else. No beauty for the sake of beauty.
Emma Watson’s speech struck a similar cord as she pushed for “equality” between genders. In her call to perceive gender as a “spectrum”, she wishes to make gray what can be such a powerfully vibrant contrast. Just because genders are distinct doesn't mean they have to be combative. They just function well together, like a right hand and a left.
I’m offended by her speech because I embrace the fact that there are many things that I as a woman can do a whole lot better than men can. Women, we are belittling ourselves when we try to equalize the roles instead of strengthen them.
When my husband plays with our kids---wrestling, tossing, tickling---they respond in a delightful way that I cannot easily duplicate when I try those things. But when I comfort my children---holding them, loving them, having compassion on them---my husband watches in amazement, knowing that no one---not even he---can comfort these babies like I can (especially when it comes to breastfeeding!)
Even in our not-so-sweet days, we can welcome our differences and both shine in our respective roles. Of course I play with our kids too and Peter comforts them as well, and I’m not trying to make an argument for women being homemakers (I wrote more about this theme in How Feminism Sells Itself Short), but I wish we would all take a step back and think...what makes men and women strong? What makes them beautiful?
In today's culture, selfishness is seen as strength. Having a high self-esteem is almost the same as being considered a good person. Ms. Watson received great applause when talking about her rights over her own body (referring to abortion.) Haven't we always thought of taking an innocent person's life to be the epitome of selfishness? But now it is seen as brave, noble, and strong. The only reason such positions have continued to hold up is the collective, willful ignorance of the masses. I hope we all start realizing this and wake up from our narcissistic coma!
I would argue that the strongest thing any man or woman could ever do is sacrifice. This is what a beautiful strength looks like. Selflessness. You know, love. Does anyone even know what that means anymore? Our culture seems to suggest that “love” is merely an undeniable feeling. Again, that definition is insulting to me. After being married for three years (or even just one month!) almost anyone can quickly admit that if that’s all love is, it’s very easy to deny at times! But of course we can’t just give up. We must continue to sacrifice for the other person, dying to our immediate desires, and eventually the feelings will follow, now flowing from a richer and deeper relationship.
I agree with Ms. Watson that men are led to believe that they cannot be sensitive. They often overcorrect that stigma by putting on a macho, misogynistic persona, which is devastating to them and anyone else in their wake. Those domineering, make-me-a-sandwich men are missing the picture as well. I don't think our culture has any idea what to make of gender and offers either false dichotomies or an opposition to any definitive gender at all.
Ms. Watson and our culture speak of "submission" as if it is a bad word and there's no right way to do it. On the contrary, a person who is to humble enough to submit to another's leadership possesses great strength. A submissive person is willing to lay down his/her own desire for control for the best interest of others. Could she take charge? Probably. But she is secure enough in herself that she doesn’t need to.
When I see a woman like Emma Watson, I see a bright and talented young lady who is a gifted actress and a compelling speaker. Surely she does charity work and gives a portion of her money to worthy causes.
But then I think about some women I actually know, one friend in particular. When I look at her, I see a strong woman. She has four children---two of whom she and her husband adopted from very hard places---and she is involved in helping people in countless other ways that I’m sure I don’t even know about.
She cares for the prostitutes in our city---something her husband cannot do in the same way; he drives and offers protection.
She reaches out to her neighbors, to wounded women who would not develop the same rich and trusting friendship with a man.
And she takes in foster children when there is a need.
That, to me, is what a strong woman looks like. She is someone who actually gets into the lives of others and sacrifices her wants for their needs. She is someone who goes beyond hashtag activism and actually gives up her free time to let someone cry on her shoulder. I want women like her to be teaching me what being a woman is all about.
So as we hear "ground-breaking" feminist messages like Emma Watson's, may we begin to think for ourselves about whether the feminist view of strength for women (or anybody) is really very strong at all. May we instead consider what true strength is, for men or for women: sacrifice.
I remember so many moments as a child, saying "Are You sure it worked, God? Did I say everything right? Here, let me try praying the prayer again just in case. Dear God, I admit that I'm a sinner..." I wanted so desperately to have assurance that I really belonged to God---or that there even was a God, or that He was the only way---but doubts kept coming back and I didn't know what to do with them. Thankfully, as I've grown in my relationship with God, now I can usually silence my doubts pretty quickly with scripture and with reason. But I really could've used a little book like this one in the Questions Christians Ask series by The Good Book Company.
John Stevens addresses a lot of questions regarding this topic of doubt, and he did a great job laying out scripture to provide clarity. Doubt isn't a bad thing, but Stevens emphasized on multiple points that we must deal with it so it does not develop into unbelief. As Stevens pointed out, even Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by satan to doubt---His identity, His protection, His mission---and He sympathizes with us in our weakness (Heb 4:15.) I had never before noticed that Jude 22 says to "be merciful to those who doubt." When we or someone we know asks hard questions, there's no need to accuse or belittle. But it does need to be dealt with. This book really helps with why and what that looks like.
The most impactful part for me was when he talked about how to know if we are really a Christian. I've struggled a little because I have no idea when I became a believer; I know that I know Jesus now, but shouldn't going from death to life have had more of a noticeable change in me at a specific point in my history? Stevens made the point that "God does not promise equality of spiritual experiences to His people." What happened for one Christian doesn't mean it's been promised to happen to me as well. We can be assured that we have the Holy Spirit through such unremarkable instances as: "Every time we are disgusted by sin, every time we are grateful to Jesus for what He has done for us, every time we hunger to be more holy, every time we choose to follow His ways rather than our own---these are experiences of the work of the Spirit in our lives, and signs that we truly belong to Him."
It's a good book, but I felt it was a little dry at times and I think the author would've done well to share more stories or illustrations as this book didn't keep my attention as Jeramie Rinne's book in this series did (my review here.) For a more thorough book on assurance, I recommend Paul Washer's book Gospel Assurance and Warnings (my review here.)
Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
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Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today