Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Guarding the Treasure

"I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food" (Job 23:12b).

Guarding the Treasure is a good introduction to "How God's People Preserve God's Word." This book is filled with lots of interesting facts and includes a glossary, maps, illustrations, and an extensive bibliography. The author, Linda Finlayson, does an excellent job engaging her reader by alternating between informative and narrative text. My eight-year-old (an avid reader) promptly disappeared to read this book.

In Guarding the Treasure, Ms. Finlayson tells of the authors, translators, authorities, smugglers, linguists, teachers, missionaries, and others who God has used to bring His Word to people. Through history, Ms. Finlayson also gently acquaints her reader with ideological issues and raises questions that are still relevant today. For example, in 1564-1611, Richard Bancroft and Laurence Chaderton debated varying worship styles. Here's a peak at the discussion:

"Laurence shook his head and sat down in the only chair in the room. 'The Church of England is full of the same ceremonies and rituals that I grew up with in the Catholic Church. According to Calvin, we should worship God simply in spirit and truth, with praise, prayer, Scripture reading, preaching and the sacraments.'
'No, no!' Richard replied, punching the pillow for emphasis. 'God is holy, majestic and beyond our understanding. Would you come into his presence as if you were speaking to the butcher? We don't just stroll into the palace as if the Queen is of no importance. How much more should we approach God with all reverence and awe!'
"…Laurence gave a small smile and reached over to put a cloth marker in the book he had been reading. This debate between them was not new. Richard strongly believed that the Anglican Church was following the right way to worship God and especially because it had been ordained by their good queen, Elizabeth. But Laurence was more convinced that the simple Puritan approach was right. The church didn't need all the other ceremonies. Neither would give ground to the other as they enthusiastically debated the issue" (pg. 160-161).

Ms. Finlayson is sensitive to varying doctrinal positions and doesn't add personal commentary as she presents these types of secondary issues. As a result, you will be able to think through them with your children and discuss what the Bible says.

Although Guarding the Treasure brings to light sacrifices made by those who have gone before us, there is a more important reason to study history: to see God's faithfulness to all generations. He loves us so much that He has given us His Words and has preserved them for all of us. Even when the challenges seemed insurmountable by human standards (like getting 50 guys to put aside their differences to work on translating God's Word), God showed that nothing is impossible for Him. We can trust Him because He has always been faithful, and He never changes. We can speak the truth without fear, and we can make sacrifices, not because of who we are but because of who He is and what He has done for us in Christ!

In conclusion, Ms. Finlayson notes that the work of preserving God's Word is not done; we are part of the story. So far, God has used Wycliffe Bible Translators to translate the Bible into over 700 languages. "They estimate there are still over 2,000 languages without the Bible and Wycliffe Bible Translators plan, with God's help, to translate the Bible into every one of them" (pg. 213).

"But what is most important is that we, like Christians throughout history, value our Bibles just as they did long ago. We must read God's Word and obey it. The Bible has come to us through the mighty work of the Holy Spirit and the obedience of God's servants through the ages. We have been given a treasure, a precious and valuable book from the Creator of the universe and the One who loves us. It is the most important book in the world" (pg. 214).

Guarding the Treasure will teach your children to value and respect their Bibles. Although it was written for children aged 8-12, people of all ages will find it interesting and will be encouraged to read the Word daily and learn how God wants them to live their lives. I highly recommend this book!

*Many thanks to Christian Focus Publications for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review: Out of a Far Country

"You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder!"

Out of a Far Country is about a son who tries to go his own way, following hard after the things that he thinks will bring him joy and satisfaction, only to discover that they do not bring lasting joy. He writes:

"The interesting thing was, even when I was selling drugs, I believed in God. But it was my own idea of God. In prison, after reading the Bible, I came across James 1:19 (NASB), which said, "Demons also believe, and shudder." I realized that simply believing was not enough..." (pg. 183).

Christopher's journey takes us to the fork in the road that we all face every day; either we can choose to live for ourselves and the things that we think that we can't live without (which the Bible calls idolatry) or we can choose to live for God, obeying Him and trusting that He is all that we need. Through Christopher's journey, Out of a Far Country touches on hard issues that affect us all and it does so in a way that is Biblically faithful.

Out of a Far Country is also about a mom who is being transformed away from self-righteousness to putting on Christ's righteousness.  As God opened her eyes to her own brokenness and need for forgiveness, she realized that her son's rebellion was really no different than her own sins (pg. 72).

The truth is that we all fail to put God first every day. We all find ourselves in Christopher and/or Angela's shoes regularly. We're all tempted to rebel and go our own way or to trust in the good that we do to save us. However, both of those options fail to recognize that putting our trust in Jesus, who lived the perfect life we should have lived and died the death that we should have died, is the only way to be saved. Trusting in Jesus is also the only way to experience power to walk in newness of life.

I found Out of a Far Country easy to read and liked the way that mother and son alternated sharing parts of their story. I appreciated the tactful way that various mature subjects were handled, without going into too much detail. The Yuan's story is a testimony of God's faithfulness to redeem  people for Himself. It's a story for prodigals and those who love them. It's a story of compassion, love, acceptance, learning to listen, and persisting in prayer.

Click here if you would like to read a sample chapter or watch the promotional video for this book.
*“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.”