Kenneth W. Osbeck, 2000, Kregel Publications, 304, $15.99, softcover
Many books have been written on the history of Christian hymns. Osbeck has chosen a 366-day devotional format. The hymns are arranged by months with a topic for each day or each few days. For example, the month of June has these topics: gospel, repentance, invitation, salvation, forgiveness, and testimony. Hymns within this section include, "Christ Receiveth Sinful Men," "Amazing Grace," "The Ninety and Nine," "Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart," "Just As I Am," "My Faith Has Found a Resting Place," and "The Haven of Rest."
The hymn for the day has a printed verse for the day, a longer suggested Scripture reading, a brief insight into the history of the hymn, and the words of the hymn. Also included is the first line of the melody in musical notation.
All the hymns are "old." By their repeated use they have won a place in the hearts of those who love the classic hymns of the faith. Who can forget Fanny Crosby's "Rescue the Perishing," Charles Weigle's " No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus," Horatio Spafford's "It Is Well with My Soul," or Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic"?
Families might consider using this for a daily devotional guide.
Glen H. Jones
Light in the Shadow of Jihad
Ravi Zacharias, 2002, Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 121, $12.99, hardcover
September 11, 2001, will live in infamy as the day that Muslim terrorists crashed hijacked airliners into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and into a field in Pennsylvania. What motivated these men to such a degree of hatred that they willingly forfeited their own lives? Ravi Zacharias examines that question.
Westerners have tried to understand why some Muslims have developed such an implacable hatred toward non-Muslims, especially those in the West. A very small minority believes it is their godly responsibility to establish a "pure" Islam. By "pure" they mean that Muslim countries should have a government and a religion that are one and the same. Those who oppose them are to be killed or expelled.
Zacharias challenges moderate Muslims to come to grips with questions similar to these: Is it right for Muslim terrorists to kill innocent women and children? Is it right to force people to hold to Muslim teachings against their will? Is it right to have a government that enforces religious teachings? Is hatred toward non-Muslims taught in the Koran?
The author gives a brief biblical history of the Jewish nation, beginning with Abraham. Ishmael, Abraham's son by the Egyptian servant girl, became the modern-day Arabs. But the son of promise was Isaac, Abraham's son through Sarah. Isaac's son Jacob (later renamed Israel) grew into a great nation with Jerusalem as its capital. Jesus, the Messiah, eventually was born as Savior of the world.
Even though Jews are God's chosen people, salvation has been provided for all, including Muslims. The promise for all peoples of the earth is contained in this promise: "I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb…. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped…" (Rev. 7:9-12).
Glen H. Jones
Bible Explorer's Guide
John Phillips, 2002, Kregel Publications, 286, $13.99, softcover
Thoroughly understanding the Bible requires years of dedicated study. One does not have to have a seminary degree to comprehend the grand truths of Scripture. However, one does have to follow certain logical rules if he or she is to "rightly divide the Word of Truth." John Phillips has given us an excellent handbook that succinctly explains these logical rules.
The paramount rule in understanding Scripture is this: "If the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense." Interpret Scripture literally, unless the context clearly tells us otherwise. Remember to interpret in the cultural and historical context in which the passage was written.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with a small portion written in Chaldee). The New Testament was written in Greek. An expert will have mastered these languages, but one does not have to possess a working knowledge of these languages to understand the basics of Scripture. A concordance and a lexicon will help greatly in understanding the original meaning of words.
Phillips also suggests that one should be aware of figures of speech, allegories, symbols, the dispensations, covenants. and parables. Furthermore, the first time a topic is mentioned and how often it is repeated can be significant.
Christ is the ultimate understanding of Scripture. His footsteps begin in Genesis and can be traced all the way to the Revelation. The grand design of Scripture shows God's love for all of humankind; His plan is to bring the earth and its inhabitants back into fellowship with the living God.
Six helpful features are in the appendix: 1) a survey of the Bible, 2) a harmony of the Gospels, 3) a summary of Bible history, 4) Bible symbols, 5) a summary of Bible names and 6) a list of Bible study help books.
Glen H. Jones
From Heaven's View (God Bringing His Children to Glory)
T.W. Hunt & Melana Hunt Monroe, 2002, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 240, $17.99, hardcover
Fallen mankind has a warped view of what life is all about, but Father God rears His children to see life correctly-that is, from heaven's viewpoint. This is the thesis of these father-and-daughter co-writers of From Heaven's View.
The Hunts have gained hard-won insights through God's school of sorrows-specifically, three serious attacks of cancer in their immediate family, involving Melana herself, her mother, and her grandmother. It was during chemo treatments for Laverne, wife of T. W. and mother of Melana, that husband and wife were led to study "that profound book on suffering," 2 Corinthians. "The turning point," he wrote later, "came when we began to comprehend the enormous significance of chapter 3, verse 18: ‘But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory….'"
Among the most instructive chapters, for this reviewer, were those in the section: "Applying Heaven's View in our Lives"-and in particular, chapter 10: "Heaven's View of Suffering." The Hunts say, "Nowhere are the opposites between heaven's view and the world's view so clearly delineated as in suffering." The authors note several beneficial results from suffering, as seen from heaven's view-all comprehended in the book's descriptive sub-title: "God Bringing His Children to Glory."
For all who are in "God's school of sorrows," this book will help broaden their understanding of what they are going through, and why.