Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review : The Dressmaker

I have enjoyed other Rosalie Ham books but The Dressmaker not so much. In the first few chapters we are introduced to the people who live in Dungatar but they are such an unlikable group of people, it was hard to distinguish one from another. They behaved in unlikely ways with no explanation. I didn't find them well drawn and consequently found it difficult to keep track of who was who.

The story had an interesting premise. Tilly a young woman, returns home after having being sent away as a child. She returns, one assumes, to look after her elderly mother who now suffers from some form of mental impairment. Tilly's ability as a dressmaker begins to win over the townspeople when another totally unnecessary tragedy strikes and the story becomes a tale of misery and gloom. Yet it seems to be written in the light hearted style of a comedy. However I found it difficult to be amused when there was so much adversity and misfortune.

The mystery surrounding around why Tilly was forced to leave all those years ago was the one thing that kept me reading and this, at least, was resolved satisfactorily.

Overall though, I found it a disappointing read.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Praying for boldness

In Acts 4:29 we see the believers praying after Peter and John have been released from a night in jail. "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness" and the answer in verse 31 "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." While this is the only recorded prayer for boldness there are about six other occasions in Acts when we read that someone, mostly Paul, spoke the word of God boldly, which suggests maybe this was something they prayed on a regular basis.

Yet it seems we don't pray for boldness very often. It is quite a scary thing to pray, especially when we see how promptly God answers. Furthermore this prayer for boldness was in the face of threats which is perhaps our problem. Mostly we aren't threaten because of our faith so we don't see our need for boldness.

However in our daily lives we do need boldness to be the people God wants us to be. If we are often anxious or fearful, we create a wrong impression and don't let people see what God can do in our lives.

So let's pray for boldness so we can speak with confidence.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 22:8-9

People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great city?' And the answer will be: 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God and have worshiped and served other gods.' Jeremiah 22:8-9

People from other nations were surprised at the destruction of Jerusalem. It was a 'great' city and the terrain made it easier to defend than other places. The only way they could understand such events was to explain it in terms of a broken covenant.

Constable in his Commentary on Jeremiah writes, "Ancient near Easteners understood the consequences of covenant unfaithfulness, and they would associate them with Jerusalem's fate." These people believed gods to be territorial so in their thinking the God of Jerusalem must be displeased because it was so obvious to them that the people of Jerusalem hadn't keep the agreement they had made with him.

This wasn't binding on them since they worshipped the gods who were supposedly in charge of their geographical area. Nevertheless even though their beliefs in many gods was erroneous, they weren't too far from the truth. Israel had indeed made a covenant and weren't being faithful.

Israel was supposed to be a light to the other nations to show them how good it was to be in covenant with their God – the one true God – and attract others to join them in worshipping him. Instead they had become a bad example showing what utter destruction occurs as a result of unfaithfulness.

Our witness as Christians has a big impact of those around us who are wanting to know if being a Christian makes a difference. Let's be light in our world so others will want to worship the one true God.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review : When I see Grandma

When I see Grandma by Debra Tidball is the story of a young girl who visits her grandma in a nursing home. It's clear from the illustrations that she is no longer able to communicate and spends much of her time asleep. However her granddaughter remembers when her grandma was more able and she endeavours to brighten up her day by doing the things she use to enjoy singing, dancing, brushing her hair, cuddling, reading and playing music. The granddaughter is able to connect to her grandmother and think about her good memories. It is quite a moving portrayal of their relationship.

The illustrations in the book provide positive images of the nursing home where the grandma is always smiling. While this is idealistic, it works well in a children's book. The illustrations enhances the written text and the background characters adds depth to the story.

Overall a helpful book for children with aging grandparents.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Gladys Aylward's quote

Sometimes I wonder if God had someone else in mind to be the author of the book I'm writing.

I read this Gladys Aylward's quote:
"I wasn't God's first choice for what I've done in China…I don't know who it was...it must have been a man…a well-educated man…"
Is this true? Or does it just come from a sense of inadequacy?

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 18:11-12

Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, 'This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.' But they will reply, 'It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.' Jeremiah 18:11-12

What a tragic reply! These Judahites could see no value in changing their ways because they didn't believe disaster was coming. They had been warned many times by various prophets but they didn't realize that God was being patient. They thought he was lenient. These people didn't expect their circumstances to change and couldn't imagine God allowing them to be attacked, captured and sent into exile. They were so wrong.

It's a problem when we take God for granted. In the West we regularly experience so much grace and protection from God that we think it's normal. We continue with our plans, our agendas and our timetables without giving God much consideration. What can we do?

We can keep up to date with current affairs. As we read accounts of Christians who are persecuted in other places, of Christians who are trapped in civil unrest and even those caught up in extreme weather events, we realize faith does not guarantee a life of ease. We can be more prudent as we make our plans knowing that our lives are like mist (James 4:14) and we can guard against stubbornness by keeping our hearts soft towards God. Remembering that God doesn't allow disasters to happen capriciously but because he can see ultimate good coming from it.

Let's not take God or his blessings for granted.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review : The Rosie Project

I really enjoyed, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. The main character, Don Tillman, probably has Asperger Syndrome so he is socially inept, misses subtleties in conversations and tends to take all remarks literally which created a lot of humour. Don is a professor in genetics and highly intelligent with an excellent memory. However he has given up on ever finding a life partner and rarely gets past a first date. He befriends a neighbour who convinces him that there is someone for everyone. He wonders how to find this person and stumbles on the idea of a questionnaire to find the perfect wife. Soon into the project he meets Rosie through a mutual friend. Don quickly realises she is completely unsuitable as a life partner but he decides to help her find her real father through his knowledge of genetics. In the long and complicated process he falls in love with Rosie. But the relationship is fraught with difficulties, which is not surprising since they are quite incompatible as the questionnaire proves.

It is a very cleverly written book because so many things that happen in the middle and latter stages of the book tie in with things that happened earlier. In actually makes me want to read the book again to take note of how the author crafted such an effective plot. It created a sense of satisfaction with all the loose ends tied up.

The only thing that spoiled the book for me was Rosie excessive bad language. I suspect the author did this to show how different she was to Don but he had already made his point so I found it unnecessary.

Overall though it was an entertaining story of love and hope.

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