Medicine and the Bible by M. Roy Schwarz, M.D.–Book Review

*Can the plagues of Egypt be explained by natural phenomena?

*How was David able to defeat Goliath?

*What was Job’s disease?

*Could a physical ailment have caused Esau to sell his birthright?

*Was Zaccheus a dwarf?

Reading this book will give you the answers (or the author’s suppositions) to these and other questions you may have about diseases and medical conditions in the Bible. You will probably agree with some of his educated guesses and disagree with others (I did). However, you will certainly learn more about the diseases of Bible times, the preventive measures that were used, and how and if the same illnesses persist today. I especially enjoyed the section on public health which highlighted how many of requirements of the Mosaic Law had to do with maintaining health and preventing disease. As the author says:

“We must constantly be on guard for new epidemics using lessons we’ve learned from past challenges. To know the lessons means that we must know the history of the diseases and the people who contended with these disorders. ….There is not a better primer for this task than the Bible and the lessons it attempts to teach.”

VERDICT: 4 STARS. In places many readers will find this book a bit too technical, but it is well worth reading and would make an excellent resource for your church library.

I received a copy of this book from the author. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, leave a comment on this post and I will find out for you.

The Prophet’s Wife by Libbie Grant–Book Review

This historical novel tells the story of the early years of the Mormon church through the eyes of Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma. The author was raised in the Latter-day Saint faith, although she is no longer a practicing member. For the most part, she has tried to give an accurate account of the events that created and shaped the church until Smith’s death, including many disagreements and schisms.

Although most Lutherans would place this faith under the umbrella of “false teaching” or even a cult, if we are to witness to others with different beliefs, we must understand what they think and why. This book will help you do that. It sets Mormonism in the happenings of the time — this was a period when religious revival was common, and there was also a preoccupation with the end times. In addition, the author’s notes mention the masonic influences that crept into later Mormon practices.

Was Joseph Smith really a prophet, who received visions and revelations from God? Was he simply deluded, or was he influenced by the demonic? Did he realize that he would be setting in motion a religious movement that would continue for hundreds of year? These are some of the questions you will ask yourself as you read this novel?

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Well written and informative. You’ll enjoy it and learn some things.

For more about false teaching see these posts:

A Field Guide on False Teaching — Book Review

What is False Teaching?

What is a Cult?

Martin Luther on the First Sin

“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands”
― Martin Luther

I don’t know about anyone else, but this is certainly true of me. One of the books I read during Lent (40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole) suggested that we fast from premature resolution — in other words, wait for God rather than rushing to find the answer yourself when there is a problem or question. I’m trying to do this, but it’s hard. I like to fix things, get things done, take care of any issues. Why? Because if I don’t, I worry about it (there’s that lack of trust issue). So, like any addict, I’m taking it one day at a time.

What about you, reader? What’s the sin you need to conquer every day?

For more about sin see these posts:

Wash Away Your Sins

A Prayer Confessing our Sins

Sin Consciousness– Why We Need It

Behold the Man #2

I posted earlier this month about a phrase that caught my attention —Behold the Man!–this is what Pilate said when he brought Jesus out to face the crowd demanding his crucifixion. God evidently isn’t done with teaching me about this yet, because it came up again, in a different form.

My husband and I watched a miniseries entitled North Water. It tells a dark and disturbing story that I didn’t especially enjoy. However, the first episode was called “Behold the Man!” so that got my attention. Now, this series has nothing to do with Jesus. It focuses on the depravity of man. The main character, a surgeon named Patrick Sumner, suffers betrayal and is exposed to all sorts of difficult experiences. He encounters thievery, perversion, murder, selfishness, addiction and more. He almost dies as the result of the sinful behavior of others. He starts out as a “good” person who wants to do the right things, but by the end of the story he also kills a man and steals his money. Some would say his behavior was justified because he was trying to right the wrong that had been committed against him, but sin is still sin.

So, what is my takeaway from this? The comparison between the human being Christ was (sinless) and the human being I am (sinful). Christ was able to suffer many of the same things Patrick did. He was betrayed, deserted, mocked, beaten and finally killed. Yet, as the Bible tells us:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Patrick cracked under the strain of sin. He couldn’t be righteous. He needed a Savior. So do you and I! Behold the man Christ, and behold yourself. Be thankful He could do what we cannot.

For more posts about the atonement of Christ see:

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Most Certainly True

Interactive Study Blog – Hebrews Chapter 10

I Lay My Sins on Jesus

The church my husband and I visited for Maundy Thursday (in liturgical churches this is the service that commemorates the Passover when Jesus institutes the sharing of Holy Communion) used this hymn during the distribution of the Sacrament. Although it was familiar, I hadn’t heard it for a long time, and it prompted me to look it up. The words were written by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) and it is said to be his first him (he wrote about 600). Published in 1843, Bonar apologized for it saying, “It might be good gospel, but it is not good poetry.” Whether it is good poetry or not, it speaks to me, and maybe it will to you!

For more hymns see:

A Thousand Tongues

The Navy Hymn

Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus

Peace Is a Practice by Morgan Harper Nichols–Book Review

As an adult, author Morgan Nichols was finally diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Now she could understand why, over the years, she had been troubled by so many sensitivities that made it hard for her to feel relaxed and peaceful. In this book, she explores some of the ways she has learned to be peaceful over the years. For her, as for most of us, peace is a practice, not just a fleeting feeling.

Each section of her book has a topic– things like journaling, conversation, trusting, silence, rest. In addition to a short personal essay, there are suggestions for implementing the particular practice into daily life. Morgan is a poet, and snippets of her poetry are included as well.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I used this as a devotional, reading a chapter or two every day and then trying out some of the ideas. The Bible tells us to “pursue peace” and this book would make an excellent starting place for doing just that.

For more book reviews see:

What I Wished I’d Known About Raising a Child with Autism by Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas, PH.D–Book Review

Making Darkness Light by Joe Moshenska–Book Review

Be Thou My Vision by Jonathan Gibson–Book Review

Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis–Book Review

Because our Bible study group has been discussing our union with Christ, I decided to reread this Christian classic. If you don’t know anything about its history, here’s a bit of information to start. Thomas a Kempis was born to a religious family in 1380 in a German village in Rhenish Prussia. He became a monk who led a quiet, uneventful life and died at the age of 91. His book, Of the Imitation of Christ, has been translated into more languages than any book except the Bible, and it speaks to Thomas’s own close walk with the Lord.

The book consists of many short devotional readings, so you can go through it slowly and take your time. Some entries are prayers, others short essays. There are four sections within the book:

*Admonitions Useful for a Spiritual Life

*Admonitions Pertaining to Inward Things

*Internal Consolation

*A Devout Exhortation to the Holy Communion

Thomas was a Catholic (this was before the Protestant Reformation), so you may find some theological differences, particularly in the section about Holy Communion.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. A good choice to use during daily devotions.

For more book reviews see:

Heaven is a World of Love by Jonathan Edwards — Book Review

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad–Book Review

Like Christ by Andrew Murray–Book Review

United with Christ through Holy Communion

This I long for, that I may be wholly united unto Thee, and may withdraw my heart from all created things, and by means of sacred communion, and the frequent partaking thereof, may learn more and more to relish things heavenly and eternal. Ah, Lord God, when shall I be wholly made one with Thee and lost in Thee, and become altogether forgetful of myself? Thou in me, and I in Thee (John 15:4); so also grant that we may continue together in one. Verily, Thou are ‘my beloved …. the chiefest among ten thousand’ (Song of Solomon 5:10), in whom my soul is well pleased to dwell all the days of her life. Verily, Thou art my Peacemaker, in whom is the highest peace and true rest; out of whom is labor and sorrow and infinite misery. ‘Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself’; (Isaiah 45:15) and Thy counsel is not with the wicked, but with the humble and ‘he giveth grace unto the lowly’ (Proverbs 3:34).”

From Of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

For more posts the sacrament of Holy Communion see:

Clarity about Communion

God’s Victory Through the Sacrament of Communion, part 1

God’s Victory Through the Sacrament of Communion, part 2

one at a time by Kyle Idleman–Book Review

I’ve been reading this book during my morning devotional time. It’s an easy read, but so challenging (at least to me). As Christians, we all want to make a difference but how do we do that? Often, we are so distracted by the many tasks we set ourselves, and by the immensity of the work we see before us that we lose heart. According to Kyle Idleman, the key is this — notice and love one person at a time. This is what is known as friendship evangelism.

This idea isn’t new — Jesus modeled it for us. Using many Biblical examples, the author illustrates the way that Jesus, even among crowds, was able to “zoom in” on one person and lovingly address their concerns and needs. He met people where they were — at meals, at parties, at times when they were ill, at times of grief. He did not heal or save everyone, but he focused on the person in front of Him. This is the way God chose to change the world. We can continue His mission in the same way.

Practical and encouraging, one at a time would be an excellent choice for a small group study.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Recommended reading for all Christians!

For more books for your small group see:

Life Together in Christ by Ruth Haley Barton–Book Review

When Words Matter Most by Cheryl Marshall & Caroline Newheiser–Book Review

Difference Makers by Gregg Matte–Book Revi

Praying for Those Who Hurt Us

The Bible tells us to pray for everyone, not just our friends and families, the people for whom we have affection. In fact,

” But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28

I’ve been trying to do this recently. It isn’t easy but it’s helpful. When we pray for someone who has hurt us, or who seems to be set against us, we begin to be more understanding, and we start to see our own shortcomings. This short reading from Of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, touched my heart during my devotional reading this morning.

“I offer unto Thee my prayers and sacrifices of propitiation, for those especially who have in any matter hurt, grieved, or reviled me, or who have done me any damage or displeasure. For all those also, whom at any time I have grieved, troubled, burdened, and scandalized by words or deeds, knowingly or in ignorance; that Thou wouldst grant us all equally pardon for our sins, and for our offenses against each other.

Take away from our hearts, O Lord, all suspicion, indignation, wrath and contention, and whatever may wound and lessen brotherly love.”

For more about praying for others see:

Praying for Enemies?

A Prayer for Unity with Christ

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Praying For One Another