Greetings to all my lovely blog readers! 🙂 I’m so glad you’re here to read another one of my posts! My week has been kind of crazy, starting off with a college visit, then a flight half way across the world back home, and now the joys of jetlag and getting reacquainted with that thing called school. Funny how it piles up on you when you aren’t looking. #ohthejoysofbeingaJunior Anyways, I’m back home now, and life is getting back to normal… Well, as normal as life ever is for me. 😀 And this week, as promised, I have finally got my reviews for my top 3 books in January together! It’s only about 3 weeks late, oops… 😀 I hope you enjoy them!
Safely Home – Randy Alcorn
This book. Gah… I almost have no words to describe how good it is. Though since it’s been about 6 weeks since I finished it, I’ve had some time to try and gather my thoughts. But still… just wow.
In simple terms, this book is about persecuted Christians. In complex terms… where do I even begin? I guess I’ll just share a few thoughts I came away with after reading it…
- Christians in the West have no idea how good we’ve got it. Seriously. We can go to church openly, pray openly, teach our children about God openly, own a Bible openly. We can practice our faith openly and without fear that authorities are going to come crashing in and kill us all because it is against the law to believe as we do. This freedom we have is not a reality for the majority of Christians around the world. And boy, do we need to remember that. This book gives such a clear picture of what life is like as a persecuted Christian – a picture that is shocking and oh so saddening. I have thousands, perhaps millions of Christian brothers and sisters around the world that live in fear 24/7 that they are going to be caught for owning a Bible. Hundreds of Christians die every day because they are willing to risk all for the sake of Jesus. And I let my Bible collect dust on the shelf because I’m too easily distracted by YouTube. Ouch. It kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? I came away from this book feeling incredibly blessed with the religious freedom I have, but also very aware that 1. Many Christians do not experience this freedom, and 2. This freedom could be very easily snatched away. I pray that Christians in the West will be wise stewards of the freedom we still have and use it to magnify the name of our wonderful God.
- We have such a small view on what Heaven is going to be like. Guys, how many times have we been told that Heaven is going to be amazing, and we’re just like “Yeah I know Jesus is going to be there and it’s going to be wonderful” and then just go on with our daily routine like it’s no big deal. Guys. Jesus is going to be there. We are going to be with Jesus. WITH Jesus! And that’s no big deal?! That’s seriously the biggest deal we will ever face. Literally. One day we will see him face to face – God become flesh, the greatest sacrifice. And he will hold out his nail-scarred hands and welcome us into his arms with a smile. Our Saviour, our God, our brother, our friend, the one that satisfies all longings – he will welcome you into heaven with a smile and a hug. Let me tell you, Heaven is going to be AMAZING. There will be boundless realms to explore and millions of people to meet. All the beauty and goodness we have in this world will be there, magnified by eternity, with no sin or death to mar it. And we will be with our God, as we were created to be, for the rest of eternity. That my friends, is a reality worth dying for, and a reality that we should be incredibly excited for. And too often I’m ambivalent about it. This book opened my eyes to see just how blind we humans can be when faced with the reality of Heaven (and the reality of hell for that matter, but that is another topic for another day). Heaven is not going to be a boring place for all eternity. It is going to be the more wonderful than our humans hearts can conceive, and we will be worshiping our God for all eternity. Now that is something to get excited about!
In the end, Safely Home opened my eyes to see how blessed I am have religious freedom, and how staggeringly horrific the persecution of Christians around the world is. It also reminded me about just how wonderful the prospect of Heaven really is. This was one of the first books I read this year, and I’m pretty sure it will remain one of the best books I’ve read this year. When I finished the book, my heart’s cry was ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come!’ And when a book does that to you, you know it is a good one! I’m giving Safely Home 10* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 15 up because of intense and sometimes graphic (details about the torture Christians go through) content.
* I know I didn’t really explain properly what this book is about. Sorry, it’s kind of hard… Just go and read it and you’ll understand. I highly, highly recommend it!
The Penderwicks – Jeanne Birdsall
Right, after that incredibly emotional book, let’s turn to something much more light-hearted. 😀 If I could sum up this book in one word, it would be ‘whimsical’. The google definition for whimsical is “playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way”. And that fits this book to a T! It is just such a light-hearted, fun, creative, and just plain whimsical book. 😀
The premise of the story is seemingly simple – four sisters on vacation for the summer, along with their slightly nutty botanist Dad and their very nutty dog, Hound. Rosalind, the eldest, is responsible and kind. Skye, the next sister down has an unpredictable temper, a free spirit, and a love for math. Jane is the one that dreams of writing books one day and is always looking for a story to tell. And Batty is the shy, sweet one, the one that can be found at all times wearing fairy wings and glued Hound’s side. four sisters on vacation. What could go wrong? But throw in a giant estate called Arundel, Mrs Tifton, the incredibly crabby owner of said estate, Jeffery, her intriguing son, plus a dastardly love interest of Mrs Tifton’s and plethora of rather odd happenings and you’ve got a very interesting summer vacation on your hands
I’m probably rather above the age this book is targeting, but yet I still enjoyed it! Actually my whole family did. My Mum read this book out loud to my siblings and I and we all had such fun. The humour that hits you at ever corner, the endearing and whimsical characters, the story line with all it’s twists and turns – all of it is just so… good! In this day it is often rare to find good, clean books that the whole family can enjoy together. The Penderwicks is the exception to that rule! The whole book had us laughing together so often, and I really connected with the characters. Read this book and I can guarantee you will laugh and come away just feeling happy because of how sweet and relatable and altogether enjoyable this book is. I’m giving this book 8* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 10+.
No God but One: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity – Nabeel Qureshi
You may remember a review for one of Qureshi’s books – Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus – that I did back in October. You can read it here. I really, really enjoyed that book because it really helped me get a good grasp on the Islamic faith and the differences between it and Christianity. Plus it gave a really good insight into why Muslims leave their faith to follow Christianity instead. I’d definitely recommend giving it a read if you haven’t already.
But for Christmas I got another one of Qureshi’s books, one that I was really excited to read! You see, somewhere I read that Qureshi called Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus his heart, while No God but One was his head. What he meant by that is SAFJ is the heart of his story, the background to why he chose to follow Jesus instead of Allah. But NGBO is the technicalities, a look at history behind the faiths, the nitty gritty of the differences between the two – a much more theological look at Qureshi’s story. I know that I still need to learn a lot about the differences between Christianity and Islam, and I was excited to read Qureshi’s book because I figured ‘hey, who should know more about the two faiths than a guy who has walked in both pairs of shoes!’. SAFJ was very well written, captivating and informative, and I had high hopes that Qureshi would deliver the same in NGBO. I was not disappointed.
No God but One is I guess a sort of comparison. Qureshi goes through the evidence for Islam and Christianity each – comparing their beliefs and histories and documenting the historical evidence carefully and competently. He then compares and contrasts, identifying where they fall short, and laying out the arguments that each faith would have against the other’s evidence. He goes about it as any top-notch investigator would – he doesn’t lay any bias to one side or the other. He simply lays out the evidence, explains the arguments for and against, and then lets the evidence speak for itself. And *spoiler alert* – the evidence definitely falls very heavily onto one side, leaving the other with major holes.
I would really recommend reading this book. Too often people argue without having any knowledge of evidence to back up their argument. And I’m saying this for people on both sides of the faith – both Christians and Muslims. We are too ignorant about each other’s faiths, choosing instead to base our opinions on inflammatory news articles and what the leaders of our faith say about the other faith. That is not good sense. Surely the wise thing to do is to investigate, to look at each faith under the microscope, and to ask questions, is it not? Because if something as important as a religious faith is so widely contested worldwide, is it not wise to be sure of the belief we hold to? Does it not make sense to seek out the truth, to know for sure that our faith can stand up to intense questioning? Because if it can’t… it’s a matter of life or death.
So read this book to learn. To learn what exactly Muslims and Christians believe. To learn the history behind the faiths that so often gets twisted, minimized or just plain ignored. To learn if the Bible or the Qur’an can actually be trusted as sound historical evidence. To learn if it is actually possible to be totally confident that either Christianity or Islam is true. To learn the truth. And let me tell you, the truth cannot be hidden. And the end of reading this book, I am more convinced than ever that the truth is screaming out from the evidence, if only we will take the time to closely examine the evidence. And No God but One will help you do just that. I’m giving this book a very solid 9* out of 10 and recommending it for anyone that wants to learn the truth.
Righty-ho, there you are! My top 3 books of January…
Let’s chat in the comments! Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading recently?