Tuesday, February 28, 2017

As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers (Goodreads Author), Richard Ferrone (narrator)

5 of 5 stars  *****

The Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers seems to be complete with its second book, An Echo in the Darkness. This reader discovers the third book, As Sure as the Dawn to be a delightful adventure starting with a flashback to a time when the protagonist, Hadassah, awaits being thrown to the lions. In the dungeon Hadassah inspires the Christians and barbarians with her gentle demeanor, soft voiced songs, and trust in Jesus, the son of God. One barbarian in particular, Atretes, the legendary gladiator who fought his way to freedom, learns from Hadassah that his only son is alive and resides with the Christian leader, John, who entrusts a widower, who lost her only child, to care for his child. This is the extent of Hadassah's role in this story except for a few significant references to her strength in character and belief.

The protagonists, now, become Atretes and the woman, Rispa, who nurtures his son, Caleb. Atretes is an antagonist as well in his barbarian mode dominated by pride and conceit. It takes the strong will of Rispa to penetrate his harsh exterior which exposes Atretes good, redeeming qualities. Their escapades lead them to an unlikely confidant, Theophilus, a Roman Centurian who plays an essential part in God's plan. The adventure leads these disparate companions north where the Germanic, heathen tribes plot revenge on the Roman Empire.

The Gospel inspires the protagonists to "feed the sheep" according to the instruction of the risen Jesus. More than words, a deep faith, trust, and obedience to God sways those who convert to the new way, Christianity. It is the demonstration of this faith, trust, and obedience that fill the pages of this wonderfully crafted n
ovel. The story is full of thrills and tender moments that enthrall its audience to the end.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Explore the Bible: Joshua; Judges: Ruth (Winter 2016-2017) by Tony Evans (Editor)

5 of 5 stars  *****

Another great study about the lessons and promises God makes to man. Joshua leads the chosen people into the Holy Land where they fail to carry out God's instructions of killing all of the inhabitants who dwell there. This disobedience leaves the Israelites subject to attacks by the remaining heathens who worship false gods. Over time, many Hebrews disobey again by intermarrying outside their religion. This is quite different than the example set by Joshua, their leader after Moses. Even though God's chosen disobey Him, He eventually raises up Judges to fight against His people's persecuting nemeses. Man's decisions reroute God's plan but God does not give up on His people and His promises eventually come true. 

The study of the Book of Ruth entails the commitment of love one makes for family when desolation, destruction, and death test that commitment. God reveals that Ruth, a Moabite, is integral in one of His biggest promises, a messiah. The line of David, which eventually leads to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, descends from a Gentile, Ruth, who marries Boaz according to Hebrew law. God reveals that His only begotten son is savior for all men and women of the world. 

This study is rich with adventure, courage, and love that demonstrates God's plan can be trusted regardless of the plans and actions of mankind. As great or greater than any story told, these lessons show us that God's plan is written in the Bible and unfolds before us. We only have to read and study His word then trust in Him through all of our trials and tribulations.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Israel's Glorious Future: The Prophecies & Promises of God Revealed by Harold Sevener

5 out of 5 stars  *****

This reader has a better understanding of the Book of Revelation from the Holy Bible after reading Israel's Glorious Future: The Prophecies & Promises of God Revealed . The entire sacred text of the Old and New Testaments are the source for Sevener's comprehensive explanations of events past, present, and future. He cites prophets, apostles, and psalmists who are hundreds and hundreds of years apart describing the same promises made to man by God. The messiah, Jesus Christ, fulfills many of the Old Testament prophesies but many are still occurring or as of yet to pass. 

The Jewish people are the target population for this book but it is an excellent educational read for anyone who peruse its pages. The theme is that God always keeps his promises; so it is important that people become familiar with just what those promises are.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will by Kevin DeYoung (Goodreads Author)

5 of 5 stars  *****

Kevin DeYoung clarifies the meaning of finding and doing God's will. He eloquently suggests that those who wait for a sign from God or interpret events as the will of God are applying their own intellect to their perceptions and not necessarily identifying the will of God. Instead, DeYoung advocates that people live their faithful life simply doing something and God's plan may be revealed to them. 

Kevin also describes Bible enthusiasts who rely on scripture to make key decisions in life. He is not implying that people not read scripture and glean wisdom from the reading, but not to rely on verses as the magic manual that must be obeyed at all costs. For instance, a depressed person who desires guidance for a way out of the doldrums may turn to a passage that tells him to hang himself from a tree as Judas did.

The gist of this book is to educate readers of God's sovereignty and mankind's responsibility. Every action, every decision people make should follow the will of God, in a perfect world, but people and this world are far from perfect. The attempt for perfection immobilizes the imperfect for fear of not obeying or failing to do the divine will of God. So, the best one can do is to simply do something with the knowledge and effort to praise God in our undertakings. The goal is not to stray so far from the Creator as to dismiss Him entirely in our life. 

If one is looking for a formula to walk in God's will, DeYoung offers on page 120:           
          Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before 
          yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, 
          do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, 
          wherever you like,...

Truth is meant to be more experience than discovery. As the pastor from New City Church, Tullian Tchividjian, writes, "This book shows that discovering God's will happens not as we 'let go and let God,' but as we trust God and get going." 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

An Echo in the Darkness (Mark of the Lion, #2) by Francine Rivers (Goodreads Author), Richard Ferrone (Narrator)

5 of 5 stars  *****

This reader is taken back in time to Ephesus, Rome, and the Holy Land by Francine Rivers, once again. Rivers depicts these ancient places of Earth during Roman rule and occupation. This fabulous journey is rich in historical accuracy and philosophical enlightenment.

An Echo in the Darkness: Mark of the Lion is the second book of Francine's Christian Historic trilogy. It begins with a surprise and evolves into an enticing story of wealth, greed, and jealousy that turns to loss, sorrow, and forgiveness when the protagonist searches for truth. Poetic justice may be observed by intelligence but wisdom unveils the divine plan of redemption for those who learn and seek contrition. 

Love of a certain humble heroine is the driving force throughout the plot in both books but is most evident in the second. This reviewer appreciates the manner in which the first book ends, shocking as it is, and wonders how the third book continues the emotional saga of rich and poor transcending all obstacles in the name of Jesus Christ. Book two, An Echo in the Darkness: Mark of the Lion, has an almost story-book ending that could be a final chapter.