Misreading Scriptures with Western Eyes - A Book Review

When I first heard about the book, Misreading Scriptures with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O'Brien, I was immediately intrigued.  Having spent time on the mission field in Russia and Croatia, I knew that Christians in other cultures saw some Scriptures differently than we did in the West.  My interpretations and focus in regards to certain passages did not always line up with those I was sharing the Word with.  It became obvious to me that Christians in other countries interpret some Scriptures through a different cultural lens.

This book by Richards and O'Brien addresses these cultural biases head on in this book.  The book appears a bit academic and "heady" at first but the authors use of both personal and professional stories marks the right balance for this book.

The authors address three layers of cultural assumptions in their book:
  1. Those Above the Surface - obvious assumptions such as social mores, race, ethnicity and language barriers.
  2. Those Just Below the Surface - less obvious cultural assumptions like individualism vs. collectivism, honor/shame vs. right/wrong and our concept and perception of time.
  3. Those Deep Below the Surface - assumptions buried so deep in our culture that we can't really imagine anyone thinking differently: rules and relationships, virtue and vice, and finding the center of God's will.
The authors provide questions to ponder at the end of each chapter which helps stimulate thought in each of these areas and I found myself challenged in many ways.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to open up their reading and understanding of the Word of God.  It is never good to rest on our laurels and this book will challenge you to look at your preconceptions like never before.  A must read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher. 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.”


Merry Christmas

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:8-14)

Merry Christmas to all!


Hope For Today

I found myself thinking about hope quite a bit lately. 

Hit with some rough times, I found the message of hope to be one I needed to be reminded of. 

Discouragement unchecked can turn to depression and anger can turn to bitterness.  I have struggled with both discouragement and anger recently and realized I needed to remind myself of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

I went looking through the Scriptures and found numerous verses that spoke about the hope that the Old Testament men and women of God had.  Their hope was in the prophesied birth of the Messiah.  We, as His children, now have the hope of Christ's return as predicted in the New Testament.

However, as great as those words are, they did not give me hope for today.  For right now.  I dug a little more until I came across a few verses that I believe offers hope for the here and now.  The beauty of this passage is that it gives us hope for the past, present and the future!

Here it is:

Romans 8:35-39, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


There is my hope. 

No matter how bad I have blown it in the past, no matter what I am going through today and no matter what I will face tomorrow...I am still loved.

Cared For.




It's About Giving

I love to give gifts.  I am the guy who buys Christmas presents and wants to give them weeks before Christmas.  I would be happy to give the presents as soon as I purchase them.  My wife says I am like a little kid when it comes to giving gifts.  I guess I am.

Though I love to give gifts, I also have come to recognize that we live in a very wasteful society.  Go into any thrift store and you will see the abundance of leftover stuff we have given and received on a regular basis. 

There are really two kinds of gifts you can give.  Gifts that are temporary and gifts that can change a life.

The temporary gifts are the ones that end up getting tossed aside when Christmas is over, or get replaced when a newer or better one comes along.  It's the "must have" item on our list that we lose interest in a few weeks later.

Then there are the gifts that change a life.

For example, one year my brother and sister-in-law gave us a Kiva gift certificate.  It allowed us to give a micro-loan ($25) to individuals around the world who are trying to grow their own businesses to provide for their families in nations where poverty abounds.  They pay the loan back over time and when it comes back, you loan it to someone else.  We've made 5 loans off of this one gift!  That's a life changing gift.

Another life changing gift are the ones you can give via Compassion.  Readers of this blog know that my wife and I are passionate about Compassion and have sponsored a child for years.  This Five Star charity has now released their annual Christmas catalog: 

Compassion Christmas Catalog

Did you know that you can protect a child from Malaria for only $18?  You can teach a mother to read for only $22!

You can also equip a family with livestock for only $280.

Their catalog is filled with life changing gifts starting for as little as $4.

I invite you to check out the Compassion catalog and change a life today!