Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Manna: Live as Free People

Americans cherish our freedoms.  We can do anything we want.  Really.  There are so many choices right now in America that, given enough income, we can live almost any lifestyle we care to pursue.  As they say, "It's a free country."

Thursday morning's news broadcast included an outrageous story about a man who had published a sort of "self-help guide" aimed at pedophiles.  The book was temporarily available at Amazon for the Kindle platform until enough angry Amazon users insisted that it be removed from the inventory.  The author, when interviewed, was unapologetic.

The scary thing is that a surprising number of people would object to Amazon's actions as censorship.  I even know a few former colleagues who would probably agree.  Freedom of expression and the freedom to read trumps pretty much anything else in their minds.  For them, there is no such thing as evil, unless it is the suppression of freedom. 

Such is the lure of evil.

This is an extreme example, but believers can easily forget that freedom does not mean license.

There are no church authorities checking up on me every week. No lighting will strike me when I sin.  I'm fairly free to make choices regarding my time and my money without much fear of earthly consequences.  

That's why Peter's challenge is particularly apt.  I have freedom, but with that freedom comes responsibility.  I am "God's special possession", a "foreigner and exile",  "called out of darkness."  My actions have consequences. When I do good, it exposes (and silences) the "ignorant talk of foolish people."  Good deeds, done in Christ's name, can cause even the pagans to praise God. (1 Peter 2)

It's a free country. I can do anything I want.  I choose to live as God's servant.

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 
1 Peter 2:16 NIV

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review: On This Day in Christian History by Robert J. Morgan

On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes by Robert J. Morgan

Although subtitled "saints, martyrs, and heroes", Morgan's brief glimpses into the history of Christianity also include rogues, cheats, and scoundrels who used Christ's name for their own gain.  Morgan's daily stories include the full panoply (good and bad) of Christian history.  November's entries include: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (pastor and martyr), Augustus Toplady (author of Rock of Ages), the Council of Constance (which reunited a divided papacy),  John Bunyan (author of The Pilgrim's Progress) and James and Emily Gilmore (missionaries to China).

There's a story or profile for each day of the year, but Morgan does not present history sequentially, or even thematically.  Instead, each story has a link to a particular date:  June 17, the day Dwight Moody arrived in England for a fateful series of crusades;  April 9, the beginning of the Azusa Street Revival;  October 22, a day in 1844 when a large number of New Englanders believed the world would end.  You'll find stories about outrageously bad popes,  selfless missionaries, quarreling reformers, unlikely hymn writers, and ordinary people whose lives and witness influenced our history.

I admire Morgan's book for the breadth of history he attempts to cover.  Sometimes there's only enough of the story to pique the reader's interest, but for history lovers or even the mildly curious On This Day provides food for thought and an accompanying Bible verse for meditation.  Readers will definitely learn something new within these pages.

I recommend this book as a gift for Christian history lovers, pastors (sermon illustrations galore), or even yourself.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”