The War on Christmas, a New Leaf Publishing Group Launch Team Review

 Book Reviews, Celebration, Christ, Church, Faith, Holidays  Comments Off on The War on Christmas, a New Leaf Publishing Group Launch Team Review
Oct 302013
 

I was given a copy of The War on Christmas edited by Bodie Hodges for the purposes of this review. All opinions are mine and mine alone, no other compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review.

 

Christmas.

Growing up I never realized that there could be so much controversy and raw emotion of the mention of celebrating such a thing. We always celebrated with a tree, presents, decorations, and a great meal. We would go to church and participate in the services and it was always great when we got to do the readings in the preceding Sundays for the lighting of the Advent candle on the wreath. It was a time filled with wonder and even some mystery.

I was an adult and married when I learned that more than one group of people chose not to celebrate Christmas at all. After doing some research, I wasn’t sure what to believe. I felt that both sides to the argument over whether or not to celebrate Christmas had some valid points and both sides were taking scriptures out of context to prove their point. I hate proof-texting.  And it really is bothersome when it is hard to draw your own conclusion because both sides are so compelling.

So, it was with great excitement that I got to review The War on Christmas, edited by Bodie Hodges. This book takes a good hard look at Christmas and the controversies surrounding it.

The War on Christmas takes a good long look at the origins of our modern celebration of the holiday, where did these particular decorations come from? What really happened the night Christ was born? What are the Greek translations of the words used in Scripture and do they line up with our modern words? Did the church hijack pagan celebrations in an attempt to “Christianize” them? Are we expressly forbidden from celebrating Christmas, or do we have the freedom to do so? Do we worship at the alter of consumerism or do we keep our focus on Christ, his Birth and ultimately the reason He was born? Do our Christmas celebrations point to the Savior, or do they point to self?

The War on Christmas is very easy to read and follow along with the major points. The text is set up in three columns, which I did find a bit choppy for the speed at which I read, but it works very well for the format of the book. The pages are a muted shade of pale blue and are thicker than most pages in other books. The book is full of gorgeous pictures which really add to the points being made. This would make an excellent gift book due to the design of it alone.  This book would make a superb gift for a pastor, teacher, lay person, and seeker. I would also highly suggest reading this book to understand the theological implications of Christmas and the reasons why you have chosen to celebrate or not.

Personally, we came to the conclusion years ago that Christmas is fine. It is fine to take a dedicated time to focus on the birth of our Savior, to dwell on what He has done for us from Creation to the Cross and beyond. Christmas is a great time of year to reach out and witness to our neighbors and point them to Christ and the reasons He came for us. It opens doors that may otherwise be closed to us. However, I won’t condemn those who have chosen to have no part in commemorating the Savior’s birth. As long as you have researched it for yourself, prayed over what you have found and are ready to give solid reasons for why you believe that. For us, it came down to the heart issue, as it should for everyone. We couldn’t find any place in scripture where it says not to commemorate our Savior’s birth or to do so. The Israelites had holidays commemorating their history (aside from the Biblically commanded feasts, they celebrate Hanukah among others, as a way to remember where they’ve come from, the miracles they were given and to celebrate their heritage), and as Christians I see no reason not to do the same. If it weren’t for Christ being born, none of us would be having this argument anyway.

 

Aug 062013
 

I’ve gone to the effort of preparing the most wonderful pot roast, complete with tomatoes and carrots and potatoes, a side of steamed veggies and a wonderful desert. You pour hours into your meal, it is Have you ever made your family a great meal? I mean a meal that legends are made of? When it is finally done, you are excited, and you call the family in to eat.

The family gathers, and your picky eater decides to sit there and stare at her plate while everyone else is partaking of this wonderful, nutritious meal.

The meal progresses, the youngest still has yet to take a bite. Of anything. You get frustrated because of all the work you put into it, plus you know that your child will be very hungry later if she doesn’t eat now. You know there is nothing wrong with the food, it is very nutritious and it is what your child needs to grow and be healthy. And so you begin to be angry. You try and gush over how wonderful dinner is. That doesn’t work so you start telling your sweetums how much they need to eat to not starve to death before they are permitted to have desert. She has resorted to glaring at you at this point. And now things really start to go downhill. You try every trick you can think of and insist on her taking at least one “no thank you bite” to prove to herself that she really may end up liking it.

And so, war is waged around the dinner table at a time that is supposed to be full of fellowship and peace. Eventually peace talks resume, and everyone feels like they have been wrung through the wringer and are the losers in the situation. Sweetums is now crying hysterically, you are furious and feel like a horrible parent. Sweetums wants nothing more than to escape the table and go live her life the way she pleases, you want to force her to see reason. And yet, all that anyone can agree on is that everyone is angry; stubbornness and pride have gotten in the way.

Later in the evening, after dinner is put away and the family has finally moved on to other pursuits, your youngest comes to you complaining that they are hungry and asks for food. Upon asking her why she wants to eat now, she says she is hungry. You point out that you made food available earlier and she chose not to eat it, so her being hungry is her fault. And yet she still blames you for it. You know you are not at fault, you made a great meal that most of the family partook of earlier (and then they jumped to help you with the cleanup), she chose not to eat when it was available. And yet you still feel like a horrible person because your child is hungry.

Does this sound familiar to you? This scenario is played out countless times in homes and churches across the land on a regular basis.

Wait, did I just say churches?

I did. Now before you think I’ve lost it, let me explain.

I’ve been in several churches in my life. And it never fails that some people start to complain that they aren’t being “spiritually fed” at the church. It is a slow start, some comments here, some comments there, and then it moves to grumbling and complaining. Next thing you hear, people complaining that they aren’t getting “spiritually fed” despite the fact the Bible is preached from the pulpit and is doctrinally sound. People start just not showing up for services as they are trying out new churches where they claim they can be fed spiritually. When asked what it is they need to be “fed spiritually” a lot of these people are hard pressed to answer. So they leave, and the cycle starts again after they have settled into a new church and the novelty of a new approach to services wears off. They feel something lacking and figure they aren’t being spiritually fed in this church either.

The starving congregants have a lot in common with my picky eater. Food is made available for both, yet both refuse to partake of it for one reason or another. And then they blame others for their hunger when it could have been avoided altogether if they would have partaken.

We live in a miraculous time in history. At what other time did we have available not only our local congregations for corporate worship, the Bible in our language, a large choice of Bible studies that have already been written, a myriad of books written for the edification of believers on all sorts of topics that pertain to the Christian life. We have blogs we can read, podcasts to listen to and sermons to watch online for our edification, to learn new truths and to help us study on our own.

Yet if we choose not to use what is available to us, we will starve. Even going to church on Sunday for a few hours will not be enough to sustain us, so we will feel the lack. We (collectively) end up blaming others for our lack, when really, isn’t it our fault?

Who is responsible for your consumption of the Bible? Is it the pastor at your church? Is it your elders? Or ultimately, is it you? Do you read your Bible on your own? Do you take the time to study it? Do you seek out and listen to sermons from all over the world (how great is technology now?), read books to help you in your walk? Are you involved in service? Are you an active participant in the buffet of all that is so easily available to help you in your faith, or are you being spiritually anorexic? Consuming just enough church to not die, but be very ill spiritually? What can you do about it? Changing churches is probably not the answer (disclaimer here, assuming of course your church isn’t teaching false doctrine or spreading lies, then it is time to find a new congregation that embraces truth.), changing yourself and your approach to your faith is.

So, how about it? Are you being spiritually anorexic, or are you partaking of the nutritious offerings so easily available to you?

Everyday Matters Bible for Women Review

 Bible, Christ, CWAReviewCrew, Faith, Womanhood  Comments Off on Everyday Matters Bible for Women Review
Nov 062012
 

I know what you must be thinking…..The Bible is the Bible and reviewing it? I know, I know, I’m not necessarily reviewing the content of the Bible (which is the infallible word of God, it has no need to be reviewed by me), I am more like reviewing the layout, style and design of this bound Bible.

The Everyday Matters Bible for Women is from the New Living Translation. You can look up how this translation came to be on your own if you are so inclined…This is not a review of the translation either.

This Bible is hard bound and very sturdy. The color of the cover is teal with orchids on the front with a slight distressed look around the border. It is very lovely to look at from the outside. It also comes with a nice dust jacket and I was thrilled to see a ribbon bookmark in the spine. The thickness of the pages is a bit thicker than other Bibles I have owned and I’m not terrified to flip the page. They also chose a slightly larger font size for the print for which I am grateful. It makes reading the Word so much easier on the eyes (yet it isn’t a large print Bible, so please don’t think it is).

This Bible has small articles scattered throughout dealing with topics that are applicable to our lives as women. These topics include faith, submission, confession, service, worship and Bible study and meditation. Each has a specific symbol so you can easily identify the article at a glance. The articles are written by such notable people as Liz Curtis Higgs, Priscilla Shirer, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Joni Erickson Tada among others. Normally I absolutely can not stand having anything added into my Bible texts. The pages are typically thicker, glaring in font and color choices and don’t seem to fit in well with the bound book as a whole. I was so pleasantly surprised that this time it is not the case. The articles are inserted where the text was speaking to that topic, on the same page (kind of like an extra text box in some books, but kept with the flow of the entire layout). The articles are placed where they fit in with the Bible text so you can read an applicable article while looking at a specific subject in the Bible. They aren’t disruptive at all. I never thought I would appreciate extra articles in the Bible I am reading, but this time I do.

The articles contain a longer writings on Everyday Matters, Everyday Profiles where a profile of a woman from the Biblical narrative is shared, Everyday Reflections which are a bit shorter to share how to apply Biblical principals into your life and then Everyday Q & As where common questions about faith and life are asked and answered.

I think that this is a good resource for those who wish to have study materials inside of the their Bible of choice instead of juggling several different books at once. This is a good introduction to Bible study for new Christians and for those who may be curious about what it means to be a Christian woman and want to see for themselves.

To see what others had to say about this Bible, go visit the CWAReview Crew’s Site.

This Bible can be purchased where ever you buy your Bibles. Amazon, CBD, or your local Christian bookstore.

I was given a copy of the Everyday Matters Bible for Women as a part of the Christian Woman’s Affiliate Crew. All opinions are mine and mine alone, no other compensation was received.

Oct 012012
 

The occult is unfortunately a very present entity in our lives. At least in the area we happen to live in. It seems to permeate nearly every segment of society and it has gotten to the point where we hardly notice it anymore. As Christians, that is something that needs to change. We need to better understand what the occult is, how it operates, the many facets of occult practice and what we can do about it.

A good resource to help us in this endeavor is Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire and newly published by Charisma House. Kristine is a former witch, medium and ghost hunter who has since repented.

In Escaping the Cauldron Kristine explains the different terms used in the occult, explains what is done, why it is done and yet doesn’t glorify it. She simply explains how one could end up down that road, what truly happens while being on that journey and offers hope that one can come out of that lifestyle. This book did a great job in educating me more about what the occult is, how it is embraced by so many people and even as to how it has infiltrated the church. Yes, there are those who call themselves Christian Witches and think nothing is wrong with it. She uses scripture to back herself up and explains how she has come down on her positions very clearly.

I honestly think that this is a book that every adult must read to have their eyes opened to the world that exists around them. And if you have a high schooler who is mature enough to handle it, I highly suggest that they read it also and have discussion with you about it. This book should be read by every pastor and anyone over a ministry that reaches out to people in the world. It will help you understand their position, how they got there and will aid you in reaching out to them with the Truth.

After I started reading this book, it was really driven home to me about how the spiritual world can work. I received this book and the day after I started reading it, I got tons of emails for horoscope readings, tarot cards and from mediums in thankfully my spam file (which I do check on a regular basis). I had never received that kind of email before, even in my spam box. It was very disconcerting to see the correlation.

I received a a copy of Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire from Glass Road Media Management for the purposes of this review. All opinions are mine and mine alone, and no other compensation was received.

May 172012
 

So, another Friday has come and gone. I really need to write on time…

mile marker 19 on a desert road

School has been kept up with. In fact, the girls keep asking to work ahead. Which is fine by me. If we get done with their science and history six weeks early, so be it. I don’t have to record their days/hours yet as we aren’t old enough so it isn’t a worry if we finish six weeks ahead of schedule for this year. Just means that we can star next year a bit early and have more free time to work into the schedule.

I haven’t broken off the exercise DVD in weeks. I haven’t been too motivated. I should blow the dust off it as I do feel better when I do it. I have been careful in what I eat though so this whole healthier living thing isn’t totally a wash. My sugar consumption has been drastically reduced and I have been serving lots more fresher veggies (what is available around here can’t be classified as fresh unless I make it to the farmer’s market which is rather difficult to do since we have one car and the day they are open my husband typically needs it for work).
We were able t replace our refrigerator. So no more Food-O-Rama Kelvinator that was at least 30 years old for us. We got a nice Samsung side by side with water and ice in the door, which we paid cash for. It was on sale for 10% off when we bought it which made it a great deal (well, an “unadvertised sale.” We go to the store, say we are buying, with cash that day, and they offered the discount with free install and delivery.). They come to install it and didn’t take the doors off when they hauled it in and ended up scratching the door. So they gave us an additional 10% off. Let me tell you, this fridge is so quiet I keep checking to see if it is working! And it has been so nice to have the girls get their own drinks through the day too. Took some training on how not to overflow your cup with ice and/or water, but now they can get their water on their own.

We also paid off the majority of my student loans with our tax return. You have no idea how good it feels to have it most of the way gone. We have less than two thousand dollars to go on it and plan to get it taken care of this summer. I so can’t wait to be debt free except for the mortgage. The day that happens will be glorious and a huge cause for a celebration.

Housekeeping has been kept up. Well, until we started spending more and more time outdoors. I don’t understand how a home can get so messy when the bulk of your time is spent outside? In our time outside, we put in two 4 by 4 raised garden beds last weekend. I have four heirloom tomatoes, a cherry tomato, two sweet peppers and a bunch of hot peppers. I also learned it is possible to sunburn your plants. You see, assuming that they had been basically outside when I bought them (they were in a semi-protected area) that I wouldn’t need to harden them off. Well, I was wrong…So I had to build up sheet tents over the garden to shield the plants from the sun they were getting until they are more used to be out there. I’m praying they survive. We also got basil and oregano which I put in pots and we planted pumpkins in with the sunflower bed and I’ve started cantaloupe and watermelon too. I can’t wait for fresh salsa! Here’s hoping I don’t kill all those plants though. The joke is that I have the black thumb of death when it comes to plants.

So, how have you done this week? Feel free to write a post, leave the link in the comments to your blog, or if you don’t have a blog, leave a comment and share.