Saturday, September 13, 2014

Palace of Darkness, by Tracy L. Higley

This book is a work of historical fiction. It is set in ancient Rome, AD 106. Located in the ancient Roman Palace during the times of the brutal persecution, the central character is a young slave and single mom. She faces heart-wrenching separation from her small son and encounters people known as Christians. Why do they show such faith in the face of danger and such selfless love for her? From them she learns about the freedom, reality and power that is found in following the One they call Jesus.

I found myself challenged by this book, as it is set in a time of brutal persecution. The Christ-followers in this novel found their faith purified by their fear of this persecution; we know that persecution thins out the ranks and purifies the genuine. I found myself confused by the characters and story-line of the first part of the book, especially as it is set in a culture far removed from modern America as can be. This book was part suspense, part romance, and was rather frightening in places. The author helps us get into the minds of the main characters and emphasize with them. The story was entertaining but clearly it is more than that. It encourages and challenges Christian faith. I saw that persecution clearly purifies Christians and attracts genuine new believers, and is not a thing to be avoided at all costs.

I recommend this book for everyone who likes to read. I recommend it for Christians for not only entertainment but to be challenged in faith and to apply its lessons to modern hardships. I recommend this book for non-Christians because it is a good read and fast-paced. Non-Christians will find encouragement in finding new life in following Jesus and knowing Him. Happy reading!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review at Booklook but I was not required to give a positive review of this book.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Islamophopia, ISIS & Terrorists

Just this day, a Facebook post of an article streamed into my Newsfeed. According to the headlines of the shared article, "911 Families" are being praised for their "anti-hate" in speaking out against a sin that is known as Islamophobia.

I get it. I get the concern.

The persons who express concern about a fear of Muslims that stirs up hate and prejudice of all Muslims as a people group, mean very well. They value tolerance. They want all people groups to be respected and accepted. They may not realize that, when it comes to tolerance of people regardless of religion, that in each major world religion (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) there exist radical elements of co-adherents who are "totally sold out" to that religion. Or if they realize that fact, they may see their atrocities and violent acts as isolated incidents, and speaking out against them as tarring these world religions with the same broad brush. Why do they fear that, even if this means forgetting about their unfortunate victims?

The persons who are concerned about Islamophobia may be quick to point one fact out. They may not pay attention to the current ISIS inhumanity against mostly Christians, because they may blame Christians for many of the world's problems. These persons no doubt are aware of the shameful times in Church history, when professing Christians engaged in acts of violence. These persons may be fully aware of professing Christians who may engage in shameful acts against the LGBT community, holding up hate-filled signs. These persons may point out all the acts of violence against abortion clinics and even those inside them. I get that.

There is absolutely no excuse for any of these shameful acts. None.

But there is one thing about Christianity that sets it apart from other religions. Its Founder, Jesus, teaches that His followers are to be peaceful and nonviolent even to our enemies. Does any other world religion teach love and nonviolence even toward one's enemies? Does any other religion teach that, in instances of persecution, even death, that its followers are to refuse to deny their Founder? Does any other religion have so many millions of adherents, even today, who choose death than denying their Founder?

Guess who persecutes religious minorities? The religious! The religious majority, that is.

What about all those extremists who have killed in the Name of Jesus? It's safe to say that these so-called Christians either had totally misinterpreted the teachings of Jesus, or may not be Christ followers in reality. While we in the West may not suffer severe persecution for adhering to any religion, including Christianity, many religious minorities are suffering all over the world! Studies tell us that over 70 percent of these persecuted are Christians. This is because Biblical Christianity calls on its followers to stand for their Jesus even when this means "imposing one's religion or morality on others," coming off as "narrow and intolerant" and breaking with cultural trends. Does any other religion, including Islam, ask for such extreme yet peaceful, nonviolent, devotion of its followers? Last time I checked, I have not seen it.

This concern for Islamophobia seems to have crept into many local churches, if much silence of the global persecution of Christians and other religious minorities is any indication.

What about the victims of ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas and other terrorists? Do you think that they appreciate our concern about being Islamophobes and remain silent about their plight because of it or any other reason? Do you think those on the ground serving these victims and witnessing their beheadings, crucifixions, hangings, rapes, and other atrocities, appreciate silence in the name of tolerance or anything else? Really?

Is there any religion other than Christianity, whose Founder built His Kingdom by dying for His subjects, and returned to life again?

If you simply need to educate yourself about this, let me direct you to an authority about Middle East issues. Find him at

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Ex-Muslim, by Naeem Fazal

This book, mostly memoir and part motivational, is written by a Pastor of a current multiethnic congregation. Born and raised in Kuwait and raised as a Muslim, Fazal and his family lived through the Gulf war. He and his family were still living in Kuwait before they emigrated to the United States, to make their home in South Carolina. Though conversion to Christ was seen as treason by his Muslim parents, Fazal turned his life to Jesus. Fazal found a real purpose and zest in life that led to a full life of marriage and ministry.

I found this book personal, encouraging, and challenging. That was pretty much what I expected out of this book. I found this book hard to follow at times, and I was unclear as to where his Pakistani origins fit in. Fazal is very honest about himself before and after he came to know Christ. When he and his family were still in Kuwait, one of Fazal's brother's shared his faith with Fazal, challenging him, "Ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you. He will, in His time." But it wasn't until they came to the US to live in South Carolina, that Fazal turned to Jesus, encountering both Jesus and the devil in his quest for the supernatural. I'm aware and Fazal is aware, that many people, even believers, will dismiss him as mentally unstable. Yet God is not limited by conventional means in revealing Himself to us and reports tell us that He often reveals Himself to Muslims through dreams and visions. In closed or restricted societies, like North Korea, He is reported to work in this way. This book shows the deep divide between what this author calls the Western style of "doing church" and actually "pursuing the Savior," and I wonder how much our Western model of organized Christendom can actually drive us from, rather than to, Jesus Himself. The author's baggage, while real, was basically uninfluenced by our Western mind-set.

I recommend every person to read this personal but challenging book. I recommend every Christian read it and not only to learn about how best to reach Muslims. We need to read it because Fazal helps us see the deep divide between Americal Christianity and biblical discipleship and between "churchianity" and following Jesus. We will gain insight into how to reach Muslims and question the quality of our relationships with God. I recommend that every non-believers, especially Muslims, read this book because it lets them that Jesus can be to them what they look for in Allah, and far more.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booklook in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review of this book.

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