Tag: religion

Awakenings the Early Days by Ryan Phillips (Book Review)

Where and when have you felt most inspired?

For missionary and pastor Ryan Phillips, living in Hawaii was inspiring. Waking up to the sunrise, spending time in solitude with God, Ryan felt spiritually awakened, and he was inspired to journal his thoughts. Who wouldn’t feel energized, inspired, and refreshed by such a beautiful sight like this?

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You can just imagine the peace, quiet, and refreshment of your soul and mind in a place like this. Away from all the stress and cares that the daily grind would dictate.

Ryan’s early morning times of quiet may have first been self-published. They are now his new print book Awakenings The Early Days, published by Ambassador International. You can tell that Ryan has a desire to keep things Biblically correct, as every section of this book has sound doctrine. If the Bible is your boss, you may like what Ryan has to say. You can also tell that Ryan likes Old Testament stories, as he makes some references to Gideon, David, and Elijah – characters from the Bible that are real men’s men.

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Each page of Awakenings is similar to a devotion or a meditation. Overall, the book would have benefited from stronger editing, as some pages were completely full, while others were half-way empty. Was this out of a desire to just publish the first version of the writings as is, without changes? The result made the book look unfinished. There were also some sections where the meditation went over a page. The result was imbalance.

Ryan has a lot of positive things to say, but Awakenings could have benefited from a theme or a chronological order. Some devotions seemed to be going in more than one direction. The overall effect was that it seemed like a random collection of devotions put together, that still needed changes, before the final cut was ready to be released.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here within this book review are my own.

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Should I Date An Unbeliever?

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Have you ever asked yourself if Christians should date non-believers? Maybe you’re new to the Christian life or you’ve been a Christian for a long time. If you’re a Christian churchgoer, you can ask the question, “Can a Christian date a non-believer?” Your pastor can give you a clear verse from the Bible indicating why the answer is “No, Christians should not date un-believers.”

However, I believe that after finding a Biblical answer to life’s questions, we can sometimes also see a scientific or practical reason to why things are so. God is so gracious to us that He does not tell us to “check your brain at the door”. Instead of God just saying “No, because I said so,” there are practical reasons why Christians should not date non-believers. We can think this through using our God-given logic. There are several reasons why Christians should avoid dating non-believers.

Dating can lead to marriage.

“Obviously”, you might be thinking. Here’s what I mean – one date can lead to another date, which can lead to another date, which can lead to a long term relationship, that can lead to moving in together. Unfortunately, this is not always a good thing. Some folks get locked into relationships where they just aren’t compatible or where one person wants a serious commitment and the other wants something casual. This can lead to resentment and tension from not being on the same page. Putting two people together who are Christians doesn’t guarantee a cakewalk, but it should make some pivotal conversations easier, or take them off the table entirely, because you have a common faith to work from.  “I can’t believe I wound up with this person” you might say, but it all started somewhere. Putting a little more thought into things on the front end might spare you a little heartache later on.

Are you looking for someone to share your values and worldview?

If you go beyond the surface of what a person looks like and the water cooler talk, what is this person really about? When their looks change, and both you and them have been through a major life change or two, what’s left? Do they share your values and your worldview? Will they still be interesting to talk to? If you’re a Christian and they’re a Christian, hopefully your faith will still be common ground for you both. Physical attraction is fun and important for the beginning of a relationship, but a person’s appearance can change over time. When the outside changes, will you still like what’s left on the inside?

It isn’t fair to ask (or expect) someone to change. 

I’m talking big, huge pieces of life here. If you’re a devout Christian dating a non-believer, you may have said that you don’t mind their belief system. And you are free to do as you wish. But deep down, in the secrecy of your own thoughts, are you wishing for a change? Are you hoping for that guy or girl to get saved? (If you love them, or even just like them, you are.) Are you hoping they’ll change from being an atheist to a believer and just accept Jesus? I hope with you for that to happen but I also know that staying stuck there in that situation is an unhappy place. Pray for them, love them from a distance, but don’t do “missionary dating”. Don’t hope for them to convert while you’re dating them. It’s not fair to them or to you.

Dating a non-believer makes chastity more difficult.

Similar to expecting people to change, it’s hard to stay on track with trying to practice chastity if you’re dating someone who doesn’t value that goal. Just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean they’re interested in abstinence, but for the most part, there’s a worldview that dominates the media when it comes to sex: if both parties consent, it’s fine. This opposes the Christian worldview as laid out in the Bible that says it’s not fine until you’re married. Even if you want to. Even if you’re in a committed relationship. Teaming up with an unbeliever is really pointless if you’re serious about chastity and abstinence.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

Book Review: 100 Bible Stories for Children

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What’s your favorite Bible story? Do you remember the first time you heard it or what you thought about it?

If you grew up in church your answer might be very different from someone who came to faith as an adult.

If you come back (or do a first read of) some classic stories in the Bible – stories that most people know about, like Noah building the Ark or Adam and Eve in Creation or Jesus’ birth in a manger – reading these stories as an adult can be like seeing them all over if you read a version written for a child’s eyes. This was my impression when I reviewed 100 Bible Stories for Children, published by Tyndale Kids. I loved how this collection kept the integrity of the Bible by keeping the stories in the order that they appear to us today, in a “grown-up” Bible. I also liked how they also included stories that I hadn’t heard in a long time, like Elisha replacing Elijah, Jacob stealing a blessing, and the story of angry King Saul. And I loved how it took pieces out of stories that could raise an adult’s eyebrows – like how Esther becomes Queen because her future husband gets furious at his wife for humiliating him in public after a week-long drunken feast – and it takes these same stories and doesn’t omit the truth, but explains things in a kid-friendly way. (King X got tired of his wife. Really sounds simple, doesn’t it?)

I highly recommend this book for any parent, Sunday School teacher, or anyone who wants to teach young kids about the Bible. I can easily see young kids being fascinated by these stories and the pictures that go along with them. And I can see a book like this becoming part of a parent-child storytime routine… where Mom or Dad gets to tell a story again or even learn it for the first time.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.

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Master Your Money by Ron Blue Book Review

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Do you feel like your money is in charge of you, instead of you being in charge of your money? Do you ever wish that you knew how you could master your money?

Entrepreneur and accountant Ron Blue has a few ideas in his new book Master Your Money. This is a re-vamped version of a previous edition published in the late 80s. This time, he’s made some updates, adding personal reflections to the end of each chapter. He’s also added a special writing partner, his son Michael Blue, to add commentary at the end of each chapter.

Master Your Money offers a decidedly  Christian perspective with a heavy emphasis on the spiritual aspect of money management. Probably the biggest takeaway from this book is the idea of stewardship: that God “owns it all” and that people don’t truly own their money or possessions, but are simply caretakers of the things they have. The second takeaway is the huge emphasis placed on giving. Blue talks about giving and goes beyond emphasizing tithing as important, but states that is is the first purpose money should be used for in a budget  (even before taxes, and states that tithing should be done from gross instead of net income). He discusses estate planning for charity and making faith pledges beyond what you think you can give (to help your city, the world, orphans, the poor).

There are some changes that could have been made to this book to make it stronger. There are two big issues that people in this country are suffering from financially that aren’t addressed at all in this book, which could have been updated: student loan debt and health care costs. Blue talks about types of debt, but leaves student loan debt completely out of the picture, which is concerning given that student loan debt cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. This is a critical issue given that so many students have defaulted on their student loans and are overextended. Another issue that needs further addressing is rising health care costs. The sample budget given for health care costs seems low given that families are experiencing increased costs in the areas of premiums, drug costs, etc. This is not a political issue but a financial one, and to not address it doesn’t give an accurate picture of what everyday families are up against in their personal finances.

Another strange part about this book is in the sample budget, there’s a line item for “margin” – a 2 percent category for a family to help them increase their cash flow. Yet, there is no line item on the sample budget for saving money for the future. When savings is not automated or made intentional in some way, it doesn’t happen. I don’t know if this “margin” category is the author’s way of saying “savings”, but it seems odd that a financial expert wouldn’t urge people to be intentional about creating an emergency fund of some kind, when so many people probably do not have one. Furthermore, I’m not sure why the author wouldn’t encourage people to save more than two percent of their budget when he is urging them to give 10 percent to others. The Biblical mandate is to provide for your own household or you are worse than an unbeliever… how can a wise person prepare for the hard times that will inevitably come in the future without making plans?

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of Master Your Money from the publisher, Moody Publishers, in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

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