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Friday, July 31, 2015

Non-Fiction Review: God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom

Photo courtesy of: samuiblue, Free Digital Photos

God’s Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian’s Fight for Freedom by Bob Fu and Nancy French is a fascinating look into the plight of Chinese Christians today.

Bob Fu narrates his personal story, from wanting political freedom, to his participation and escape from Tiananmen Square, to finding the Lord Jesus as His personal Savior. He describes his humble hometown, his schooling, and his dreams. “Bob” (actually Xiqiu) opens the curtains on what it’s like to live, study, and love in China. He helps us understand sanctioned churches, the house church movement, and exactly what it takes to be openly Christian.

Bob himself spent several months in a Chinese prison for his faith. Many more have suffered. This book brings them to life.

Bob describes almost incredible escapes—and his role in them.

He founded the ChinaAid organization, which provides training, financial support and legal defense for persecuted Christians in China. Bob shares some of their stories.

This book fascinated me for several reasons: it helped me understand the opposition that Christians face on a daily basis in Communist China. It is not a pretty picture. They are under constant surveillance. They are opposed in their studies and careers, lied about, tortured, and beaten. If one person in a family is a Christian, the authorities go after all the family—even if they are not Christians and don’t know anything. What hit me the most was that this is current. We’re not reading about what took place many decades ago. We’re reading about events that happened after the year 2000. 

There are times when I felt that Mr. Fu was blowing his own horn. He seems to be some kind of a Superman figure who swoops in and rescues people. He comes across as fearless and always on the side of right. You never know his flaws, and rarely does he reveal any misgivings he might have had. I realize this may be due both to first person narration and to wanting to get so many events packed into one book. I can also understand the language translation issues, so I’m not overly bothered by it.

I noted twice in the book where Fu is purposely dishonest. He lies to interrogators and in another instance, he commits a felony. (I’ll let you read about that one!) I believe that, even though he did both to protect others, “it’s never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.”* I believe God will help a person remain silent and that He can open doors for freeing His servants. I also had a couple of issues also with a few of his statements about theology.

God’s Double Agent was an incredibly interesting read. I gained a new appreciation for the endurance of the persecuted church and its dedication to Christ. It gave me a new understanding about fledgling Chinese churches and their need for Bible training in doctrine and practice. It gave me more of a burden for China and other countries where Christianity is discouraged. This book is very well written and chock full of adventure.

I highly recommend God's Double Agent to teens and adults. Five stars.



* Quote from Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Is There Alien Life?


The fascination goes way back. When I was a child, all the talk was about “little green men” on Mars and life on other—still unknown—planets. Star Trek was popular, followed by Star Wars, E. T., and more recently, Avatar and Star Wars: Episode 7.* My personal favorite “life” outside of earth is depicted in Wallace and Gromit’s A Grand Day Out with its temperamental “machine man” on the moon.

The fascination continues. We want to know what’s out there.  

Are there other worlds? Other civilizations? Other people?

Last week, the experts weighed in. They didn’t only weigh in, they’ve put their money where their mouths are. The physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Dr. Yuri Milner have put together one hundred million dollars to search for intelligent life out in the universe. Their plan is to scan one million of the closest stars and see if there are any planets near them capable of sustaining life.

Hawking and Milner are sponsoring a contest to find out what kind of a message “best represents earth” to be sent out to the life that may be out in the universe. The message won’t be sent in “English, or Swahili, or Chinese” authoritatively says Dr. Douglas Vakoch, because “aliens don’t speak them.” He says the message will go out in mathematical sequencing, because civilizations are built with an understanding of math and science. It’s estimated it will take eight years to both send and receive a message, because of the distances involved.

“E. T. phone home.”
____________________________________________________

Are there civilizations out there?

The idea appeals to the romantic in all of us. I mean, if we could form relationships with “people” on other planets . . . . It fuels the imagination.

Are there extra terrestrials?

The Bible holds the answers. (You might be surprised.) Are you ready to examine the biblical evidence from the One Who Knows? By the way, He’s the One who created the whole universe and keeps it together. He is aware what’s out there. And He’s bigger than the universe! King Solomon asked the rhetorical question, But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? (1 Kings 8:27; There’s a similar verse in 2 Chronicles 6:18.)

God made the heavens—space and everything in it—and the earth: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

In a different post (which you can access here) I explain why I believe God’s interest is centered on this earth. The earth was created with a Divine purpose, and that purpose is us. God sent Jesus here, to redeem man from his sin. God so loved the world (earth) says John 3:16. But God isn’t limited to this earth—in no way!

In fact, I really believe there is another world out there.

Here’s why: angels and God are in another plane of existence that coincides with our own. We know that’s true from evidences in the Bible. There are many more, but here are a few of them to whet your appetite:
  • Jacob’s dream showed a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it (Genesis 28:12).
  • When Elisha and his servant were in Dothan, and the Syrian army had surrounded the city, Elisha and his servant looked out and saw the Syrians. Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha (2 Kings 6:17).
  • Stephen, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55).
  • All Christians have guardian angels. Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)

Darlene Deibler Rose and the people in the house with her were helpless to defend themselves. Darlene had scared off a caped, armed bandit one night. “We heard bandits return several nights after that, but they never again entered the house. It wasn’t until after the war that I learned why. I had suspected the Jaffray’s gardener; he was Boegis, and he knew the layout of the house. When I asked him why they had never entered the house again, he answered incredulously, ‘Because of those people you had there—those people in white who stood about the house.’ The Lord had put his angels around us. He had delivered.” ** (1942)

Can God do that today? Of course He can!

God reveals this other world to humans when and how He pleases. He and His angels are definitely “out there.”

Is there another possibly earth-like planet with “intelligent life” on it? What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

__________________________________

* Not endorsements, you understand.
** Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose, page 51. I highly recommend this book.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Father Abraham, Mother Sarah


In the Old Testament, we read the story of Abraham, a remarkable man who obeyed God, led his family to travel eventually to the land of Canaan, and trusted in the Lord. He even had the privilege of meeting pre-incarnate Jesus in the plains of Mamre. He was brave and obedient, and the Arab and Jewish people rightly credit him for being their forefather. (Abraham and Hagar’s son Ishmael became the father of the Arabs, and his “son of the covenant” Isaac, born to Sarah in their old age, is the father of the Jews.)

The Bible says there are additional sons of Abraham. The Apostle Paul writes in the New Testament, Romans 4:16: Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.

The passage goes on to describe God’s covenant with Abraham—to make him the father of many nations—and how Abraham believed God, even though he and Sarah were both beyond the age of having children. (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb (verses 17-19).

God reveals Abraham’s unswerving faith: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness (verses 20-22). So how was Abraham saved? Just like everyone—by faith in God’s Word, by faith in God! (See also Ephesians 2:8-9.)

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman church continues: Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (verses 23-25). Paul reiterates that salvation comes through faith in God, believing in Jesus’ death for our sins and His burial and resurrection.

And so, the promise of God is sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16).

The clear teaching is that Christians—those who have put their faith in the God of Abraham and have accepted God’s Son Jesus as Savior—are children of Abraham through faith. We don’t have to be Arab or Jewish to be in this group. We can be his children through faith.

Galatians 3:7 repeats this: Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

What about Sarah? How can we be her children?

This answer is fascinating, and it’s for women only. Let’s read 1 Peter 3:1-6 to understand. First, notice it’s talking to wives of unbelieving husbands, and later the instruction seems to include all women who want to please God: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Now, we come to the part specifically about Sarah: For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Reading back to find out how to become Sarah’s daughters, we find that she’s an example to women in several ways:
  • Her spirit was meek and quiet.
  • Her heart trusted in God. (Faith)
  • She yielded to her husband.
  • She respected her husband.
  • She wasn’t afraid.

Anyone of true saving faith in Jesus Christ is a child of Abraham.

Any believing wife who has a meek and quiet spirit, yields to and respects her husband, and doesn’t live in fear is a daughter of Sarah, too.

Are you a child of Abraham by faith? Are you also Sarah's daughter? 
  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Essential Oils: Are They Okay?



The origin of using distilled natural oils (essential oils) doesn’t seem to be tied to religion. (The only exception is that some Hindu Vedic practices use oils.1 I didn’t find this problematic, as we use oils in many ways for healthy living. Think of the popularity of coconut and olive oils.)

I became interested in essential oils because it has become a bandwagon fad in the Christian community. It’s a multi-million dollar business. Many good Christian people are distributing essential oils.

I’ve also noticed the possessiveness of people when it comes to essential oils. They often use phrases like “my essential oils” or “my (brand name).”

One gets the impression that it's almost a cult!

Is it?

I decided to take a look. I found these definitions for “essential oils.”

Essential oil: 
  • "An oil derived from a natural substance, usually either for its healing properties or as a perfume. Some pharmaceuticals, and many over-the-counter or 'holistic' remedies, are based on or contain essential oils. For example, products containing camphor or eucalyptus essential oils can help relieve congestive coughs, and many essential oils are used in the practice of aromatherapy.”2
  •  “A concentrated oil containing aromatic compounds from a plant. Essential oils are responsible for the scent of the plant and most often found in the flowers and leaves. The scents are thought to have therapeutic properties. Essential oils are used in aromatherapy, massage therapy and in other alternative therapies. . . . Essential oils evaporate easily into the air, which is why they’re also called volatile oils.”3

So far, so good. We’ve seen that both the medical profession and holistic health people define essential oils similarly.

I explored the uses. According to some, essential oils can cure just about any ailment. Some say they even cure cancer! I’ve seen diagrams for using them on different areas of the feet, and instructions for diluting, storage, and much, much more.

I Googled “Are essential oils safe?” and almost every source listed cautions. They often cited skin reactions because of the strength of the oils. It seems to be very important to dilute the oils enough. Some companies advise against taking any of their oils internally.

I looked into companies: which is the best? Which products are the purest? Which are the safest? I am sooooo glad I didn’t have to do the research myself. Adrienne, from “Whole New Mom,” blogs about her investigation over seven long, thorough posts. She compares several companies, including some I never before heard of, and at the end, she announces the one she likes best and explains why. (Her first post of the series is in my footnote4 below.) Cris, from “The Homestead Garden” did her own investigation and comes up with a list of criteria for evaluating essential oil companies on your own.5 She also shares her “winning” brand but says she’s not averse to mixing brands. Her research seems sound and practical, as does Adrienne’s. (They recommend different brands, by the way.)

I’ve never used essential oils, but that doesn’t mean I never will. From what many people say, they’re helpful with pain relief, treating cold symptoms, and many other issues.

I believe some cautions are appropriate:
  • Make sure you’re not overly self-diagnosing. There are some times you need a doctor.
  • Be very careful when using essential oils with children. Their skin is much more tender, and they are much smaller than adults. Properly diluting the oils is even more important for little people.
  • Think of Christian stewardship. Now, I realize that, if you can put a couple of drops of oil on a bad knee and it relieves the pain, it might save you spending much more money on painkillers. (Plus, you’re not ingesting drugs.) And, if you diffuse an aroma in a room, it might help your family breathe better. I’m not against that! But . . . essential oils are expensive! Very expensive! I found that a 5 ml. bottle is over $37 in one brand. I realize that you only use one or two drops at a time, but only 5 ml. isn’t many drops! A set of 7 bottles was well over $200. I don’t know about you, but I would pray about how best to use $200.
  • Be careful about becoming cultish. Essential oils are natural medicines. They’re not cure-alls. Just because you use them doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. You don’t need to get “evangelistic” about them.
___________________

My personal conclusions:
  • I was glad to discover that essential oils aren’t religious in nature. (Young Oils has a mixture called “Faith” and doTerra has a product that includes “zen” in the title. Marketing?)
  • I was amazed at the variety of companies, from those that only make one oil, to the big franchises everyone’s heard about, with their huge variety of products.
  • I'm shocked at the prices.
  • I will probably, sometime in my lifetime, try one or two essential oils. I would try a free sample for a specific health need and see if it helps.
  • I have no interest in smelling like a Eucalyptus tree!

What are your thoughts about essential oils? Do you use them? If so, how have they helped you? Please share in the comments.

_________________________

4. http://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/natural-remedies/the-great-essential-oils-showdown-in-search-of-the-best-essential-oils/
5. http://www.thehomesteadgarden.com/essential-oil-company-best/

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Meditation and Mindfulness: Are They Okay?


Meditation and mindfulness include elements of the breathing exercises from yoga, but they also fixate on points, follow suggestions, and concentrate on self. (If you haven’t read my post about yoga, you can scroll down after reading this one.)

The leader for mindfulness training sits in front of the class. He leads the class in opening and closing the eyes, breathing, concentration, getting in touch with the real self, etc. He/she suggests emotions and mind-emptying exercises as well as fixating on certain concepts. The leader is in charge of the class’s minds.

I recently saw a TV segment1 about the “benefits” of mindfulness, advocating introducing it into schools in the United Kingdom for the purpose of “helping students deal with stress.” The mindfulness leader was seated in a chair in front of the class on a raised platform. Behind him, I saw no less than three gold Buddha statues and several Buddhist icons, as well. He was talking about breathing in the segment I saw. His audience had their eyes closed.

Later in this TV news program, they were talking about the "benefits" of meditation-relaxation, and one of the presenters said, “Isn’t this the same as closing one’s eyes and saying a prayer?” The other presenter answered, “No, this isn't religious.”

I scratched my head. If this has nothing to do with religion, why was the leader seated in front of three gold Buddhas? Why was he using Buddhist breathing techniques and suggesting to his audience what to do and think?

Whether we realize it or not, mindfulness (meditation) is a traditional Buddhist practice, not just a new fad. It incorporates the yogic breathing with emptying of the mind, fixating on "spiritual" concepts, and getting in touch with one’s self. If these ideas sound benign, it might be because I’m not elaborating enough on what’s really taught. 

I read some statements by a “meditation master” named Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, from his blog “Mindful.”2  He says some things that make me laugh, such as “I am aware that I am breathing in.” Okay, great! Doesn’t everyone know he’s breathing? He lists the five steps of effective meditation: 1. Breathing 2. Concentration 3. Awareness 4. Releasing Tension 5. Walking Meditation. The last one includes his idea that it’s a “miracle to be walking on the earth.” Interesting.

There are also very dangerous concepts in mindfulness, such as “allowing.”

Biblical meditation means to turn something over and over in the mind. It's like a cow's chewing its cud. 

The Bible teaches:
  • Every thought is to be brought under control and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  • We’re to think about positive, pure things—all character traits of our Great God: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).
  • We should pray for God to help us concentrate on what pleases Him. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
  • We should repeatedly think about God Himself. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD (Psalm 104:34).
  • We need to be thinking about God's Word. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thy testimonies are my meditation (Psalm 119:97, 99b).
  • True peace is from God and in obeying Him. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you (Philippians 4:9).
  • The secret of joy and peace is in trusting God and in prayer. Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

I decided not to share with you the suggestions that are usually made by mindfulness leaders, but I can assure you they’re not godly. Some are very evil, many are sensual and sexual in nature, and the whole experience isn’t wholesome. Some exercises are a huge waste of time, such as "concentrating on a raisin." I’m not kidding!3 The leaders tell people to meditate on their own bodies, and it gets pretty crazy.

The Bible teaches Christians, What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  • A Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
  • A Christian belongs to Christ. Jesus bought him with His blood.
  • A Christian should glorify (exalt) God in his body and in his spirit.

I was looking for a photo illustration for my yoga post, and I was surprised to find the words “body, mind, and spirit” superimposed on a “wave” image and on a wave with a Buddha.

The Bible speaks of body, mind, and spirit this way:

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body
be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23)

That’s my prayer for you.

________________________________

Direct references:
1. Sky News International, July 16, 2015, teaching mindfulness in schools.
2. http://www.mindful.org/five-steps-to-mindfulness/

Other reading for this post:


Monday, July 20, 2015

Yoga, Breathing Techniques, Mindfulness, and Essential Oils: Are They Okay?


This post is the first part of my research into these popular health practices. Let’s explore them together.

We’ll begin with origins:
  1. Yoga—Hinduism (3,500-4,000 years ago) and Buddhism (2,500 years ago. Buddhism began with Siddhartha Gautama, "the Buddha." Buddhism's roots are in Hinduism.)
  2. Relaxation Breathing Techniques—Buddhism, possibly begun by Buddha himself
  3. Emptying the Mind, TM, Mindfulness, and Meditation—traditional Buddhist practices
  4. Essential Oils—Ancient Egyptians, Indian Hindu Vedic traditions, Persians, Greeks, and Romans all used distilled oils in healing.

By looking at the origins, we can draw at least one conclusion: of the four, only Essential Oils seems not to have religious overtones, except in India. The other practices actually originated with Hinduism or Buddhism.

Let’s take one at a time. We’ll begin with yoga.

Not too long ago, I watched the testimony of a young woman who had done yoga for several years. She says that it is impossible to do the exercises without the breathing and mental part of yoga. She describes an actual buzz she got from doing yoga. It's a long testimony (over an hour), but if you’d like to watch it, you can access it here.

When people do yoga, they’re usually listening to instructions from a leader. Some of these leaders are actually yogis, which are people who have reached a certain level of “spiritual” awareness. He (or she) guides the participants in breathing exercises that enable the movements and positions.

I looked at a web site that specializes in helping people towards joy and self-realization through yoga. It makes the blasphemous statement, “The goal of our . . . practices . . . comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self . . . which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Adviata Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. . . . Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.”1

The Bible says that God is the only God: 
  • Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else (Deuteronomy 4:39).
  • For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else (Isaiah 45:18).
  • Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:22).

 The Bible teaches that a person should live to Christ and die to self.  
  • I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:1-3).

Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself (Luke 10:27). Christianity has nothing to do with fixating on self. It’s about loving God and others.

A former yogi, L. G. Marshall, shares that the word yoga means “union with self” and comes from the Hindu belief that everything is God. There is no distinction between man and God. Man is equal with God. “Yoga was always meant to be imparted by a teacher that stayed with the student for long periods of time. Constantly monitoring, constantly instructing, constantly observing the student. The Indian gurus that teach yoga are always in a disciple/devotee relationship with their students.”2

The Bible says we’re to be guided by the Word of God. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).

Our minds are to be renewed by Jesus’ words: If so be that ye have heard him (Jesus), and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:21-24).

I watched and read quite a few testimonies from Christians who had done yoga, yoga instructors, and people who have studied yoga. I chose several to share with you. I believe each one will reveal aspects of yoga you may never have known about. I know I learned a lot, and I think you will, too.

For example, did you know that there's a "salute to the sun" series of positions? I didn't. I think you'll be fascinated by listening to what others have to say about their involvement in yoga.

Some interesting testimonies from people who practiced yoga:
https://www.edendecoded.com/blog-2/item/yoga (Thorough, good information about the principles of yoga.)

As people who love the Lord, it is important to have an understanding of the world around us. I find that here in Europe, yoga is very popular. But, is it something Christians should do?

Please listen to or read some of the testimonies in the links above and share your thoughts in the comments.

(My next post will be about mindfulness and meditation.)
_______________________

Quotes from:
  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fiction Review: Riders of the Pale Horse

Photo courtesy of Apolonia, Free Digital Photos

Riders of the Pale Horse by T. Davis Bunn is interesting once the reader figures out what’s going on. Frankly, it took me a little while to get into it. But, once I understood, I enjoyed the story.

The plot begins in Russia and travels all over the world. Alexis is a Russian nuclear scientist. Judith is an intelligence agent for Great Britain, and Cyril Price is her boss. The task: to interrupt uranium shipments from Russia to other parts of the world. They believe the route goes through Belorussia and Ukraine. One of the ending points is Aqaba, Jordan. The CIA is working together with the British to try to get an agent in a strategic place. They believe they have just the person—a lure. It’s a risk, but the task is so important that the risk is worth it.

“Rogue” Robards is a tough mercenary who’s hired to successfully get the uranium from one place to another. Pair him with a medical missionary, and you have an adventure in the making.

As always, the author provides action and intrigue, and there’s a surprise near the end. The writing is excellent. Some sentences are pure poetry.

The Epilogue proved as interesting as the rest of the book. It is a collection of newspaper quotations from 1992 to the present that very much give a background to this book—the smuggling of weapons-grade uranium in Russia and other countries of Europe.

Mr. Bunn’s Riders of the Pale Horse will especially be enjoyable for those who love history in the making, current events, intrigue, and a little bit of Christian romance.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's So Easy to Get on a Hobby Horse!


Sometimes I have to laugh—not that they’re necessarily funny, you understand—at the hobby horses some people ride. Here are a few I’ve noticed recently:
  • The Confederate flag—and "The Dukes of Hazzard"
  • Hillary Clinton
  • President Obama
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Donald Trump
  • Patriotism
  • Sharks
  • Backyard chicken coops
  • Yoga and mindfulness

I could probably list ten more.

It’s so easy to get on these hobby horses and it's sometimes very entertaining to read articles by those who do! You find every angle, every kind of dirt, and all kinds of trivia you’ve never dreamed of.


This last week, I listened to a funny video. A woman about my age was warning people not to swim in “the shark’s house.” She said, “When you go to the beach, you go to the beach. You don’t go in the ocean ‘cause that’s the shark’s house.” It was hilarious. She was hilarious. But, she has a point; those who go swimming in shark-infested waters might get bitten. Those who only sunbathe won’t.

Common sense, I’d say.

I also saw schools of sharks photos that were supposedly photographed from a helicopter off the coast of North Carolina. Or was that South Carolina? Or Florida? Then, I saw a little article that said those pictures were hoaxes.

But . . . the truth is that eleven people have been attacked by sharks off the coasts of North and South Carolina this year.

So, all the hype has a thread of truth to it. If you swim in the “shark’s house,” you risk getting bitten.

Oh yes, I’m rambling on, and this post is really about hobby horses.


What kind of hobby horse do I want to get on? It’s so easy to climb on any of the subjects I listed and rock and rock and rock them. As Christian women, it’s easy to get on top of one topic and rock it to death, too. I think of some of them:
  • Marriage relationships
  • Motherhood and parenting
  • Modesty
  • Doctrinal issues
It’s easy to climb up and rock them. It’s easy to opine on and on and on.

It’s important to stick to a purpose statement. As you know—just look at the tabs at the top of my blog—I write about most of these subjects from time to time. I hope, though, that I’m sticking to the Bible when I do. I hope I portray balance and don't judge un-biblically. I hope I don’t overly ride any one subject. I really and truly don’t want to be rocking a hobby horse.

I want to encourage.

I want to point people to Jesus.

I want to share the gospel.

I want to help women find their God-given role. I want to encourage both singles and marrieds. I want young women to be challenged to serve God all their lives. I want to challenge older Christian women to mentor younger women. I want to give women the tools.

I’d like to think that my sharing something from the Bible might bless a heart.

And so, I turn to you, my faithful readers. If you ever sense that I’m rocking a hobby horse to death, please let me know. If you’re encouraged by a post, please leave a comment and let me know.

Now, I’ll climb off and put my feet back down on the ground . . . and hopefully keep them there. (And you won’t find me swimming in “the shark’s house” any time soon!)

Thank you for reading "In the Way." May the Lord bless you!


 Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.
(Romans 15:2)

The funny "shark's house" video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKuYgIBnqEA (For the record, I don't endorse everything she says. By the way, I had no idea it was "Shark Week" when I wrote this. Fun coincidence!)