This 2014 publication by my second favorite inspirational author (second to Max Lucado), borrowed from our church library, was one of four books the author, Phillip Yancey, wrote about the “endangered state” of Grace. In this book he asks Christians some vital questions: Why do so many people dislike Christians? Why does the church stir up such negative feelings? Why has the church lost its respect, influence, and reputation in today’s world? In doing so, he infers that the answers lie in actions and attitudes we as Christians hold which cause these questions even to be asked. Max Lucado states that this book is “worth reading,” and BONO, a leading activist recommends it as well.
It deals with how artists, activists, and pilgrims are “expressing their faith in ways that disarm even the most cynical critics.” Section one, “A World Athirst” specifies how to reclaim the Good News. Section three poses the question, “Is It Really Good News?”, dealing with “The God Question,” “The Human Question,” and “The Social Question.” These two sections alone make the book a worthwhile read. Yancey deals as well with the ticklish issue of Christians and politics.
In Vanishing Grace, Yancey reminds all Christians that Hebrews 12:15 admonishes us to, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God…” This book will help the thoughtful, caring Christian to do just that in an acceptable manner.
I was 12 years old, old enough to know better. My cousin Betty Lou and I were allowed to sit together during church as long as we remained in line of sight of our parents, and didn’t whisper, giggle, or pass notes. This particular Sunday was communion, what we Baptists called the “Lord’s Supper”, and was served from a table with the words, “This do in remembrance of Me” carved on it. We never knew what communion was going to look like from one First Sunday to the next. The Welches’ grape juice in the little cups was a standard, but the bread was never the same shape twice. Once, the bread was white paper-thin wafers with a cross and other symbols embossed on it. Shades of Episcopalia! I thought I was supposed to lick the back of it and stick it on my dress like a visitor’s button. This particular Sunday we had little squares of white bread cut into crouton size.
Another difference in our communion was that one did not go up front to get it. Instead, the juice and bread was passed from row to row by the deacons, much like the offering plate. We silently congratulated ourselves on our superiority as we waited for the prayer to end before we put our empty cups in the receptacles on the pew ahead of us. All around us, we could hear the click of ignorant adults returning their cups before the minister had finished the prayer.
I was slightly distracted when the deacon approached our row with the bread. Betty Lou had bent down to get her bulletin out of her Bible which was under the pew in front of us. Taking two “croutons,” one for each of us, I silently passed the tray to the lady next to her across Bet’s back. All of a sudden she straightened up whacking the tray. Little crumbs of bread went flying everywhere! Time stood still. Then a veritable snowfall of the bread descended upon us.
It was then that the giggling started. Tiny explosions of laughter spurted from our tightly closed lips likes bursts of steam from a locomotive. Squeezing my eyes shut to stop the tears, I felt a tug on my sleeve. My cousin, overcome with laughter herself, could only point at the lady next to her. The lady had bread in her hair!
We could feel our parents approaching, worse, much worse than the wrath of God. They snatched us up and made us sit with them for over a month until they could trust us again. I still think of that communion Sunday whenever I take the Lord’s Supper, and I am sure God doesn’t mind if a smile slips out when I remember my cousin, Betty Lou and our communion misadventures.
Published in 1986 Takes place sometime after the Wrinkle in Time Trilogy
Sandy and Dennys Murry, twin brothers of Meg and Calvin Wallace Murry (from A Wrinkle in Time) are the “dull,” “ordinary” ones in the family until they interrupt their physicist dad’s computer experiment. Then, they are in trouble, not just with their dad, but in cosmos-changing trouble. Many waters were coming soon to the dessert oasis where they “landed”, and stories their mother told them as small children from the Bible, as well as many mythologies and folktales of a world-wide flood come rushing to their minds.
Unknown to them, their dad was experimenting with time travel, and the Genesis (from the Bible) people’s reaction to them, as well as their reaction to the people of “this other place” is the premise for the story. Unicorns, mammoths (miniature size ones), seraphims, and nephils all appear in this book. Both boys, young teens, fall for the same girl, Yalith, and for the first time, the twins do not tell each other “everything.” Will they get themselves home in time to avoid the “many waters?”/The Great Flood? Will they get home, period? L’Engle’s philosophy shines through as the boys engage in conflicts both on a personal level and on a universal level.
The writing, plot, and characterization are brilliant. This is one of my favorite authors whether she is writing YA novels, memoirs and philosophy, or anything. I highly recommend this book.
Open the book you are currently reading and copy two or so sentences along with the title and author . The idea is to tease the reader into adding your book to her/his TBR list.
Mine today is from Amy Sorrell’s How Sweet the Sound, which starts (literally) with a bang and goes on to include this on page 113 where the main character is having her hair French braided by her grandmother’s servant:
“‘Oui, child I can braid anything long enough to hold between my fingers.’All the girls in my class coveted Ernestine’s plaits–even those who never talked to me otherwise. But Ernestine, she saved the braiding for me, smiling and humming “Jacob’s Ladder” as she pulled the strands tight. Said that’s her favorite song because of the reaching and climbing she’s done to come up out of her miry life.”
This promises to be more than your usual coming of age story.
This book is one checked out from my church library, primarily because it was recommended on the cover by Max Lucado, my favorite inspirational author. The question it poses concerning Jesus is, are you a fan or a follower? The author says soundly, “I am not a fan of Jesus Christ.” He is trying instead to be a follower.
By definition, a fan is “an enthusiastic admirer” whom Idleman says, “wants to be close enough to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice.” According to the author, Jesus is looking for followers, not fans, and the writer poses the question, What does it mean to call yourself a Christian?
The book is very convicting, but it does not stop there. It gives an honest look at following Christ in three parts. Part One deals with an honest diagnosis, explaining the DNR talk (Defining the Relationship) one must have with himself/herself, much like one does when dating begins to “get serious.” Part Two gives and honest invitation to follow, not to just sit on the sidelines and cheer (fan), but to “get into the game” and “play your heart out”(follower). Part Three explains what it means to follow Jesus “whenever, wherever, whatever,” in other words, following sacrificially and giving everything one has.
This is a good book to read in January to begin the new year, especially if one’s resolution is to “do better.”
This may be an unpopular post because the subtitle of this book is,”Sharing an Exclusive Jesus in an Inclusive World,” and our world today, more than ever in history is just that, “inclusive.”
The author makes a strong case that Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life, and then deals masterfully with the questions and “what abouts” that result from that statement.
For the Christian who is a thinking Christian and deals daily with some of the questions dealt with, this book is a Godsend. Starting with the shocking statistic that 60 % of American evangelical churches believe that many religions can lead to eternal life, the author negates such a belief. There is ample scriptural evidence from the Old Testament, the New Testament, words straight from the mouth of Christ, and from New Testament writers, specifically Paul, the well educated, thinking, reasoning apostle.
The author deals with the knotty questions that we all have been asked when we offer Christ as the exclusive way to heaven, and warns about shoving our belief, unlovingly, down the throats of others who disagree with us. He uses reason and intelligent research to point out his message, wanting us to love others like Jesus did, but to remain steadfast in believing in Christ as the one and only way to heaven. After all, we call ourselves “Christ-ians”, don’t we?