Category Archives: What to read

Except the Dying

1521690Goodreads asked how many books I planned to read in 2019.  I said I would read 10.  Here is the first one : Except the Dying.  It’s the first book in a series of murder mysteries by Maureen Jennings set in the 1890’s in Toronto.  I became interested in the author because of the wildly popular “Murdoch Mysteries” television series, which I can’t seem to get enough of.  Except the Dying was the title of the first TV episode.

Except the Dying is Jennings debut novel and it’s a good one.  She takes her time revealing subtle clues linking the reader to the detective as the story unfolds. Having watched five seasons of “Murdoch Mysteries,”  I was already familiar with the lead characters Detective Murdoch, Constable Crabtree and Inspector Brackenreid of Toronto’s 4th Constabulary police.  For me, part of the appeal of the book and the show is getting a feel for the turn of the century way of life and the language used.

The story begins with the discover of a murdered young women in her late teens who turns out to be with child.  Who was she?  Once the women is identified, the list of suspects begins to pile up.  The murderer is not revealed until the end with surprise ending.  A very good read indeed.

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Of Creatures and Trees

tree-779827_960_720Here’s another excerpt from my yet to be released book:

“In my early teenage years I loved to walk alone in the wooded areas near my home. In my meanderings, I was struck by the timeless nature of the forest. Time didn’t seem to matter to the trees. They could be found, day or night, year after year, right where I first spotted them. These tall and stately giants adorned themselves with colorful leaves in autumn, as if readying themselves for a grand ball. I sat for hours watching as the arbors gracefully danced in October breezes. When I returned to the woods in November with my rifle in hand, I looked on as cold windy gusts stripped the trees naked.

It impressed me that the grand order of things did not lessen the generosity of the trees. They labored through the seasons to produce a bounty of fruits, nuts and seeds, not for their own consumption, but as gifts for the passerby.

From my perch in a rotting tree fort, I watched creatures, large and small, carrying out their agendas. In stark contrast to the trees, time for them was of the essence. They spent the precious little time they did have attending to personal needs. These included hoarding and gorging themselves on whatever was available. Animals, it seemed, lived a life of extremes, one of excess and depravity.”

 

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The Old Man and the Sea

IMG_0070I came across a copy of The Old Man and the Sea while cleaning a bookshelf.  A required read in high school, I recalled very little of it.  I was anxious to give it another look.

It’s a short story about a Cuban fisherman down on his luck.  He’s an impoverished old man who maintains a relationship with a boy.

The boy was once taught to fish by the old man.  He repays the elder by finding ways to  attend to his sustenance.  The two used to fish together before the old man’s string of bad luck caused the boy’s parents to insist their son fish with someone else.

A quote from the book:

“Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her? I would take some though in any form and pay what they asked.”

Hemingway successfully walks a tightrope, offering vivid descriptions while maintaining the flow of the story.  He also captures the double-edged sword of angst, which faces the serious fisherman; the plague of drought (not being able to catch any fish) verses hooking the catch of a lifetime (and being able to successfully land it).  Finally, there’s the struggle pitting man against beast.  The old man possesses seasoned and hardened skill while the fish possesses great strength and power.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Knowledge of the Holy: part 2

IMG_0057In the second chapter of his book, Tozer poses the question, “What is God like?”

“When the Scripture states that man was made in the image of God, we dare not add to that statement an idea from our own head and make it mean in the exact image.  To do so is to make man a replica of God, and that is to lose the unicity of God and end with no God at all.”

Tozer goes on to say:

“Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms.  We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need him.  We want a God we can in some measure control.  We need a feeling of security that comes from knowing what God is like…”

Tozer adds that the answer to the question, what God is like, can be answered in the person of His son, Jesus Christ.

“In Christ and by Christ, God effects complete self-disclosure, although He shows Himself not to reason but to faith and love.  Faith is an organ of knowledge, and love an organ of experience.  God came to us in the incarnation; in atonement He reconciled us to Himself, and by faith and love we enter and lay hold on Him.”

We can only begin to understand what God is like if we study what Tozer regards as God’s attributes, which he addresses in the rest of the book.  A divine attribute he says, “is something true about God.”

“A man is the sum of his parts and his character the sum of the traits that compose it.  These traits very from man to man…The doctrine of the divine unity means not only that there is but one God, it means also that God is simple, uncomplex, one with Himself.  The harmony of His being is the result not of a perfect balance of parts but the absence of parts.  Between His attributes no contradiction can exist.”

When we look at God’s attribute of love, using the above above quotation, it is not something He has, love is who he is.  Tozer goes on to discuss many other attributes such as the Trinity, His self existence, eternity, infinitude, omniscience, sovereignty and many more.

It is a great book, which I highly recommend reading.  For those of us with a casual view of God it will shake up our perception of Him.  As you progress through the book, you will be acquainted with the depths of God’s love and the height of His holiness.

Check out this song by Addison Road, “What do I know of holy”.  It certainly captures a desire to know what is God like.

 

The Knowledge of the Holy: part 1

IMG_0057I look forward to summer for a variety of reasons.  A favorite reason, I get a chance to catch up on my reading.  This summer a neighbor lent me the book, “The Knowledge of the Holy,” by A. W. Tozer.  Its an older book whose content is timeless.

One of the first things I noticed about the writing of A. W. Tozer is how large his  vocabulary is.  That being said he says he writes for the common man.  The material is very rich in both ideas and content.  I found myself rereading each chapter to absorb the full meaning of what is being said.  That shouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this book.

The main idea Tozer is trying to convey is Christians have lost their perspective on the holiness of God.

In the opening chapter he defines idolatry:

“Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any is more hateful to God than idolatry…Idolatry substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness.”

Just in case we rush to rationalize away idolatry as described in the Bible, believing it doesn’t apply to twentieth century Christians, he writes:

“Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it.”

Tozer summarizes idolatry this way.  The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of him.  Idols, then, can be fashioned not only with our hands but in our hearts as well.

The first step down the slippery slope of idolatry occurs when we surrender our high opinion of God.  When we believe God can tolerant sin, that the holy scriptures lack relevance in today’s culture, we rob God of his holiness.

To be continued…

I Love You

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I cannot resist using another one of Jonathan Cahn’s mysteries to commemorate this special day. The Book of Mysteries, features an ongoing dialogue between a teacher and his student. Each day a new mystery is presented. This one is called “The Triunity of Love.”

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What is the number of love?” asked the teacher.

“I don’t understand.” 

“How many do you need in order to have love?”

“More than one,” I said.

“Love must have a source,” he said, “the one from whom it comes, the one who loves. So there has to be at least one.”

“But one isn’t enough,” I said. “You can’t have love if there’s nothing or no one to love. If you love nothing, then you don’t love.”

“That’s correct,” he said. “So what else is needed for love to exist?”

“An object. Loves needs an object. The one loved, the object of love.”

“So you have two, the source of love and the object of love. But then you have the love itself, the love between the two, and the love that joins the two together. So if we were to translate love into a sentence, what would we need?”

“A subject,” I said.

“The subject is the ‘I,’” he replied. “And what else?”

“An object,” I said.

“The object is the ‘You,’” he answered. “And what else?”

“A verb.”

“Love,” he said. “Put it together and what does it become?”

“It becomes, ‘I love you.’”

“The simplest expression of love . . . and in how many words?”

“Three.”

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“And yet at the same time, love is one. Love is one and love is three . . . one and three at the same time. Love is triune. In the Scriptures it is written that ‘God is love.’ If God is love, then God is triune as well, one and three at the same time. Who is the source of love, the ‘I’? The Father, the source of all love. Who is the object of His love, the ‘You’? The Son, the Messiah, who is called in Scripture, ‘the Beloved.’ And the love that emanates from the Father to the Son? The Spirit.”

“The Lover, the Beloved, and the Love . . . the triunity of love . . . the triunity of God.”

“Yes,” said the teacher, “as incomprehensible and yet as simple as ‘I love you.’” 

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:16-17 NIV

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