Monday, February 20, 2012

The Qur'an Dilemma: Former Muslims Analyze Islam's Holiest Book

Have you ever read The Qur'an?

If you are Muslim, possibly so.

If you are not Muslim, probably not.

I never have...until now.

I have always wondered what people of other faiths really believe, including Muslims. It is hard to really know what they believe and why if you are never exposed to the holy text from which they read. How do we know that what we are told they believe is true?

Besides that, I would often love to have faith-related conversations with my Muslim friends as I sometimes do my friends of other faiths, but I just don't know where to start. I don't really know their way of life nor religion and to be honest, I---like many other non-Muslims---am a bit fearful of "going there."

All that said, I was extremely excited to have the chance to review this book, The Qur'an Dilemma: Former Muslims Analyze Islam's Holiest Book. (Remember, in all of my book reviews, you can click on the title of the book within the post itself and will be taken to a website that gives more detail about the book.) What a privilege to be led through this text by scholars of it while (as stated by the Glass Road PR group):
Unlike Christianity, Islam doesn't encourage its believers to own a copy of the Qur'an and read it for themselves. They are dependent on the imam (something like the local preacher, in Christianity) to read from the Qur'an and interpret it.
The authors of this book describe themselves this way:
We are a group of former Muslims and professional Islamic scholars who have a passion for Muslims and a desire to assist both Muslims and non-Muslims who seek to learn more about Islam’s holiest book, to research it, to critically analyze it, and to better comprehend its teachings without the traditional religious and cultural barriers designed to indoctrinate and encapsulate the minds of many truth seekers.
And their purpose for writing the book:
A book of terror or a book of peace? An inspired text or a political agenda? How is one to know the truth about the Qur'an? Where does one even begin? How can an English speaker ever hope to wade through the history, the translations, the sects, and the commentaries to begin making sense of the issues?
During the last decade, interest in Islam and the teachings of the Qur'an has grown globally. In order to allow Westerners to investigate the truth about Islam, this research text was translated from Arabic to give English speaking readers the opportunity to see the Qur’an with clear lenses that are not fogged by propaganda or missionary zeal. This book provides the background of the Qur'an in an objective manner . It also presents the text of the Qur’an with parallel commentary, addressing important issues that Muslim scholars have wrestled with throughout the centuries, shedding light on their attempts to solve them and giving a rounded view of the various schools of thought.

The critical approach in this book is inspired by the courageous tradition of those who have dared to analyze the Qur'an throughout history, while also incorporating the contemporary intellectual productions available in Arabic and foreign sources. The discoveries made through these scholarly critical methods are directed to non-Muslims and Muslims equally:
To non-Muslims who want to unravel the mysteries of Islam, this book presents information that Islamic resources rarely disclose--to allow those who seek the truth to comprehend the full picture with all its outlines, colors, and dimensions.
To Muslims who seek genuine choices far from the culture of “indoctrination,” this book opens a world of understanding to them, so that they can decide for themselves their intellectual and spiritual paths.
The Qur'an Dilemma (Volume One) – available now both in English and in Arabic - covers the first nine suras (chapters) of the Quran. The remaining suras will be covered in Volume Two.
In this day of increased interest in Islam, I do encourage you to consider getting a copy of this masterful book for yourself.

As a side note, one thing I noticed while reading The Qur'an Dilemma is that it gave me a desire to read more about the history of the most holy book which I hold so dear---the Bible---the Word of God. I want to know and understand more and more about the Truth than ever before.

Other religions are okay to investigate, 
but the Truth is what matters.  

“I am the way &
 the truth &
 the life. 
No one comes to the Father 
except through me." 
~ Jesus (John 14:6)

"Then you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free." 
~ Jesus (John 8:32) ~

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Glass Road PR. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Managing God's Money by Randy Alcorn

So, I have to took me a while to read this book.

No, it's not a long book compared to many I have read. Nor is the writing style at all difficult to follow. As a matter of fact, it is very well written, down-to-earth, and practical.

My problem?


Yours too?

Yep, quite possibly so. And, I realized that since money (or lack of) is a major struggle I live with on a daily basis, maybe subconsciously I didn't want to be instructed on what I really need to be doing with the money I (don't) have. Nor did I want to be reminded of what I wish I could be doing with the money I (don't) have.

You see, my heart is one of giving. Yes, I can be just as selfish as the next person---no doubt.  But, part of the reason I am in the debt that I am in is that in my early income-gaining years I loved to buy nice gifts for everyone I loved throughout the year as well as at that big gift-giving time of year---Christmas. True, though, purchasing gifts is not the only way I went overboard with unwise money decisions. Regardless of past choices, however, I still have a responsibility today to allot our household income wisely---in paying off debt, paying costs of daily living, and in giving.

Yes, I said it---GIVING!

How can I possibly reason that it is wise to give away any money when we have so much debt and daily living costs to pay and pay back?!

In this book Managing God's Money, Randy Alcorn does a brilliant job of explaining why and even to some degree how.  He teaches, encourages, and even challenges existing excuses and thoughts I had prior to reading this.

I was consistently convicted throughout reading this book that I cannot wait until we get past this financial struggle period of life to start giving back to God and trusting Him to continue to provide as He always remarkably has. I cannot wait to bless others in the ways God has chosen to use others to bless me.

I either do it now, or possibly never.

After all, we are not promised that we will have tomorrow to make things right and walk in faith and obedience. And besides, it really is amazing to sit back and watch God prove Himself time and time again. He did say in His word that this is the one area He invites us to test Him. (Malachi 3:10)

Will you test Him today? Have faith that He will provide for you as you obediently and faithfully trust Him. He will prove Himself to you as He has to me.

In the meantime, maybe you need that little nudge (or forceful push) that I needed and received from this book. If any of this strikes a chord with you, I recommend you get a copy of Managing God's Money and see what He wants to reveal to you through it.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Day the World Went Wacky by Janine Suter {plus the Puzzle Globe}

Oh, yeah!  

It's PARTY TIME again!

A Twitter Party, that is...

After my review, I will give details about this WACKY Twitter Party coming your way.

So, what's all this craziness about?!

I'm so glad you asked.

Well, recently my son and I were blessed with the privilege of reading Janine Suter's description of why there is pain and suffering and evil in this world if our God is so good.

In her book The Day the World Went Wacky, Suter crafts a creative retelling of the entrance of sin into the world via Adam and Eve and the effect sin has had on this world since then.  Biblical truths set to rhyme in a way that children can begin to grasp these deep, foundational facts are accompanied by clever illustrations by Richard Gunther.

As we read this book together, my son laughed and then at one point he got serious.  After we finished it, I asked him what he thought of it.  He said he liked it.  

I asked him to show me some of his favorite parts 
and tell me why.  

He said his favorite picture was this one:
His reason? "Because Adam looks cool and Eve looks pretty."

I asked him if there were any parts he did not like.  

He said this part made him sad:
His reason? "Because all of those people are stuck in sin.  That makes me sad."

But then he said this part made him happy again: 
His reason? "Because all of the people that were stuck in sin and sad are happy now since Jesus gave them new life."

So, I think this review courtesy of 
my six year old son speaks for itself.  
What do you think? 

Now, another special treat!!! 
The Puzzle Globe
Here's a pictorial tour of me constructing this. 
Each piece is numbered and has an arrow to indicate where the next one goes.

Thank goodness for the instruction page to start me off.

Once constructed, it says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Hmmm...missing piece!
Do you notice what the missing piece is here?
While constructing this globe, I prayed for God to reveal to me a way in which I could use it to have a conversation about Him with others. When I got to this point in my assembly of the globe, something stood out to me like a sore thumb.
In the beginning...GOD...

He is the missing piece that connects us forever to His family.
Not a coincidence that He (God) is the missing piece in the lives of many people in this world.  Thankfully they don't have to remain separated from Him forever. Belief in His Son, Jesus Christ, and the work done by Him on the cross on our behalf is enough to put all the pieces together in our world and join us eternally with our Heavenly Father.

Squeezing in the last couple of pieces...
I am so thankful that creating and sustaining the earth was not and is not my responsibility!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

(Click HERE to read Michelle's post that gives 
a great description of how to participate in a Twitter Party.)
Date: Tuesday, February 21st
Time: 8pm CST
Hashtags: #TeachtheTruth (entire party), 
(to check-in & say Hi when you first join the party)
Who to follow on Twitter: @MasterBooks4u & @mamahall
Prizes!!! The Day the World Went Wacky by Janine Suter
Noahs Ark Floating Animal Park by Janine Suter
The Not So Super Skyscraper by Janine Suter
The Puzzle Globe

Spread the word and come join us!!!

Disclaimer: I received this book and puzzle globe for free from New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.