Book Review: A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days by Jonathan Bernis

I was sent this book by Bethany House Publishers and I have to tell you…it took me a while to get through, Gentle Reader.  The book itself has a lot of great ideas and teaching but there were parts of it that I didn’t so much as struggle through, but they didn’t apply to me.  This was my stumbling block.

Jonathan Bernis’ A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days helps Christians understand that the word of God is still applicable to Jews as it is to Christians.  Mr. Bernis is a Messianic Jew.  I appreciated the explanation of what a Messianic Jew is and how he came to be one.  This is a question that I have had in recent years.

There is history of both the Jewish nation, the Christian religion and how the two, both Jew and Christian have been intertwined through out the ages.  It opens the door to further reflection on how both Jew and Christian have moved away from the what Jesus wanted, what God wanted, and how they can come back together so that He can come back to Earth and rule.

My challenges with this book include how to talk to Jewish friends about Jesus.  I don’t have Jewish friends so this was rather unnecessary for me…but, if I ever happen to be involved with a Jewish person, then I will have a better understanding of how they view Jesus.  I have a better understanding of how to answer questions if they had any of me.

A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days was an eye opener into the Jewish mindset, how Christianity has hurt God’s Chosen people, and how we need to prepare, both Christian and Jew for the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I Thought You Were A Religious Type…

Seriously.  I heard these words recently.  Said.To.My.Face.

And I am not proud to admit, it was because I dropped the F-bomb in conversation while talking about a certain line from a Hank Williams Jr. song where the audience yells back at the singer during the refrain.  I have actively worked at getting myself to stop cussing.  It has been a truly hard habit to break.  I believe I set the example for my girls and my boy, and I don’t want them walking around cursing and cussing and sounding like pint-sized truckers.

I also truly believe that when we actively cuss or curse…we ARE cursing that very thing which we are talking to.  I have cussed at my parents (behind their backs), my friends, my husband, my children…my job.  I used to cuss ALL.THE.TIME.  Is it any wonder why bad things happen???  Especially when our words over those very things are an act of cursing?

Curse: as per Google.com Search results

Noun
A solemn utterance to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something.
Verb
Invoke or use a curse against: “the family had been cursed”.
Synonyms
noun. imprecation – oath – malediction – cuss – anathema
verb. swear – imprecate – execrate – anathematize

So then the person who overheard me say this word looked at me, a kind of sly smile in their eyes…”I thought you were a religious type and didn’t say stuff like that.”

Whoa, whoa, WHOA!  Back THAT truck up.  Whoever said I was a religious type?  Just because I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?  Because I will pray over you…no matter when or where?  Because I love God?  Because I regularly attend church…now that makes me a religious type?  (Gentle reader, how can I pray for you today?)  Because I want my children to grow up knowing that their heavenly father (and earthly one too) loves them beyond measure?

I am not quite sure how I managed to give out the impression that I am “religious” but I thought it was funny…and aggravating.  But really?  I asked myself why I had such an issue with this label.

And I suppose it’s because their version of “religious” and my version of “religious” are two completely separate things.

First off: I don’t even like the term religious because to me it denotes something bad.  It’s a preconceived notion that you are better than everyone, that your poop don’t stink…and that you have the right, the authority to judge everyone and everything.  Religious to me means hypocrite.

Second: It means goody two shoes.  Which I am not and have never claimed to be. (Crap! Now I have that song by Adam Ant stuck in my head…)

Third: It just frustrates me.  I mean, my love of God and Christ personifies me as this untouchable…non human?  Sigh, gentle read, sigh.

An Extremist?

While talking about this with my husband he dropped a little word of knowledge; he recently read an article from blogger Peter Kirsanow from the National Review Online.  Kirsanow writes that a slide from a U.S. Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training states that all religious types are extremists, including Catholics and Evangelicals.  Here’s what Kirsanow posted:

The Archdiocese for the Military Services notes with concern that a U.S. Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief lists Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity as examples of “religious extremism” alongside such violent groups as al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the KKK (no word on whether the Department of Homeland Security concurs).

The Army states that the training was an isolated incident. No explanation as to how this allegedly isolated incident could have occurred in the first place.

 

Wow.  Beyond words.  Just.Wow.

If we are handing out labels…

I think the better term would be “churched”.  I don’t know if that is a term already, and if so, then I am stealing it from someone and giving it another meaning altogether.  (Churched does has a meaning.)

Churched: noun…A person whose faith is grounded in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Who believes that there is only 1 True God who made the universe.  Who studies the Bible and believes it to be the Word of God.  Who attends church, any denomination.  Tithes faithfully.  Gives selflessly.  Prays over you anytime and anywhere.  Ah, gentle reader, the list could go on and on.  I am sure if I gave it even more thought, I could make it into a verb, adjective and adverb.

So, I think the next time someone calls me “religious” I am going to tell them to call me what I really am…at least according to my government… an extremist.  Or maybe I should ask them to define religious.  Or maybe…I should tell them “Yes, yes I am.”  I am sure that will go over like a fart in church.

Blessings be on you gentle, reader.

Love, the extremist!

J.U.M.P! Jesus, Use Me Please!

Be careful what you ask for.

Because what I asked for…is what I got and it was a humbling experience to say the least.  But totally in a good way, gentle reader.  In Such.A.Good.Way!

So, there are some issues that I have needed to pray on.  Continually.  And I finally submitted myself to God’s hands and let Him take control.  That decision is one of the hardest to do when you feel the need to be in control for most of the time.  But it was a decision I made.

Then of course, you start second guessing yourself.  Is it really God’s will or your own?  Is it really Him who is leading or are you once again taking charge because you think that is what needs to be done?

As I was praying the shower, because, don’t you know, that’s the only time (usually) that I have to myself…I was thinking on those things.

I was thanking God and our Lord for turning the situation out so well.  For positioning hearts and minds so they would be receptive.  For allowing me the grace and humility to ask for help…and honestly…my sinners heart was complaining.  Sigh.  Yes, complaining.  Because everything had turned out so well.  And I started listening to that little voice, you know, the jealous one that tells you: “You aren’t good enough”, “They didn’t want you anyway”, “They like her more than you”.  And gentle reader, I am thirty-something and those are not the thoughts of a tween or teen.  Those are my thirty-something thoughts still.  Anyway.  I was still wondering if I had to submitted to God’s will.  Did I do what He wanted?  And then it became all so clear.

And He said: “Don’t you know, I didn’t do it for YOU?  I did it for her.”

OH.MY.WORD.

I have been praying for wisdom and revelation.  And when revelation hits…boy, can it be a doozy.  I knew right then and there that yes, I was humbling myself.  Yes, I was honoring God’s will.  Yes, I did the right thing.  And then and there, I was humbled and convicted that what I had done was right.  And it was the Lord who guided my steps.  And He used me just as I had asked.

So, gentle reader…when you pray J.U.M.P…Jesus, Use Me Please…He just might use you faster than you expected.  And it will probably not be about you at all.

Amen and Amen.

Review: “Prophet” by R.J. Larson

I received my second book Prophet by R.J. Larson from Bethany House Publishers, and I was not sure that I would totally like it.  In fact, I thought at first that this book was not going to grab me.

I WAS TOTALLY WRONG!!!

Prophet is about a young woman named Ela Roeh.  Ela has an incredible image about a village that is being destroyed.  She finds out that the “Infinite” or her area’s God has decided that she is going to be His next prophet.  She is very concerned because her village, Parne, has never had a prophet who lived into old age.

Ela embarks on a journey with her younger sister, Tzana.  They manage to make very few friends but many enemies as Ela follows the Infinite’s guidance.  Ela meets a man in prison named Kien and through a period of time they become friends and eventually they fall in love with one another. 

Ela faces many trials, condemnation and hardship.  She is outcast, beat up, attacked, censored and ignored.  Being a prophet does not pay.  She is tasked with spreading the Word of the Infinite as well as trying to help countries who have given over their way of life to worshipping idols made of sand and stone.  (Sounds somewhat familiar, right?)  If she can convince them to turn back to the Infinite, their Creator, they will be saved.  But the Infinite warns her that her task will be futile, but He will save them to their last breath.  The Infinite speaks to Ela, but not all the time, and He gives her visions to let her know what is going to happen if the people do not repent, turn from their blasphemous ways and acknowledge Him as their one true God.

This book held me in thrall.  I loved how the R. J. Larson took stories from the Old Testament of the Bible and reworked them into a futuristic story set in another world.  The Infinite is a God I can relate to since He is fashioned after mine.  The writing makes it easy to discuss the prophet themes from the Bible as well as look at how false Gods, however they may be brought up, can easily destroy civilizations.  I enjoyed how well rounded the characters are and the pace of the story is very good.

My favorite character has to be the warhorse or “destroyer” named “Pet”.  It’s funny how the horse has become an integral part of the story, but he adds comic relief when the theme and tone get heavy.

I cannot wait for the second book to come out and I look forward to sharing this book with my 12-year-old daughter.  This book was written for young adult, sci-fi readers…but I also think people like me (30 somethings who love a good story) will like it too.  It definitely gives you something to think about and the parallels as to what is going on in our society today, as well as what has happened in the past, cannot be ignored.  It will bring up good discussions in the near future!  Prophet by R.J. Larson is a great read!