Thursday, October 28, 2010

Photos of Philly

It's interesting to me to see how different people like my different blogs postings.  Some like the book reviews, others like postings drawn from my personal life and still others simply enjoy looking at photos.  Because I have decided not to limit the purpose of this blog I have  finally decided on a method to my madness.  I am going to rotate book reviews with personal stories and photo sequences. 
Last week was a book review and the week before a guest blogger, so this week will be a "photo story".  These photos were taken while I was visiting Philiadelphia this past summer.  As you may have noticed from my last posting, I'm a huge fan of American history.  It was wonderful to go where so much of our history as a nacent nation happened. 

                               The above photo was taken while riding a transit train into the city.

This lovely mural was underground in the subway station.

Also at the train station.

An old quaker house.

Actors portraying colonialists at the Independence Visitor's Center

Independence Hall

Needless to say, the Liberty Bell

At the tomb of the unknown soldier.  I don't know who the children were but I thought it made a great picture.

Benjamin Franklin's grave  By the way, his autobiography is worth reading.  A fascinating account of his business ventures, travels and philosophies of life.

Many famous Americans and founding fathers were buried in the same cemetary as Ben Franklin in Christ's Church burial ground.

We rode a trolley car back to the subway. We were so tired we could barely walk, but it was worth it.
I didn't show me eating a pretzel with mustard but I did, for the first time in my life.  Pretty good.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Books about Christian Martyrs and Missionaries

                                                       I had a rather acrimonious dialogue on a review post with another poster. In a nutshell he declared that all Christians were evil. They did more to persecute Jews than Muslims, The crusades, Hitler and Stalin were Christian et cetera, et cetera et cetera... Needless to say I countered every argument he made. We went back and forth for quite a while until I finally asked him why he was so angry at Christians. Was he Jewish? I have the greatest respect and love for Jews. Was he Muslim? I feel the same way towards Muslims. I finally asked him, “Where in the world are Christians persecuting Jews today?” That seems to have effectively ended our conversation because so far he hasn't answered back. (For the actual postings look for's review of the book “The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam”. I comment on the initial review and then P. Bojsen and I start getting into it under “replies to post”. I post under the name Sharsharbear.)

                                                  Fox's Book of Martyrs: A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Deaths of the Early Christian and Protestant Martyrs. (mobi)


Today there are an increasing number of people in this country as well as other western countries who insist that Christians are persecuting non Christians everywhere and especially in America. I listened to a Canadian talk show host on you tube who was attacking, uh, I mean, “interviewing” Ayaan Hirsi Ali about her book “Infidel”. He was claiming that Christians had wormed their way up into the American government in order to persecute anyone who didn't believe as they did.

These kind of accusations have inspired me to review some books that tell a different story. The first:


Foxe Voices of the Martyrs 33 AD to Today.      

This is an updated version of the 16th century book by John Foxe. In the forward of this book the editor writes:

John Foxe wanted the church to know the stories of those who had gone before- those who stood firmly for their Savior even to the painful point of death. Foxe wanted the church to be encouraged by their testimonies, that even in the lowest moments of torture and tribulation, they had found Christ worthy of their devotion and love. He wanted Christians to be blessed and encouraged by the testimonies of those who had gone before, who now formed part of the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1,2) in the stadium of history.

The book starts with the stoning of St. Stephen, which is recorded in the Bible. It then recounts the fates of all the disciples, according to church tradition, and then works its way up to the Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, the martyrdom of Protestants at the hands of Catholic rulers, as well as the martyrdom of Catholics at the hands of despots. It gives an eye-opening and informative account of how both Catholics and Protestants bravely traveled to unknown lands to witness to cultures and peoples steeped in paganism. Though many died for this cause we see the fruits today as Christians in Asia and Africa put us western Christians to shame with their zeal, devotion and willingness to be martyred in their turn. The book ends with accounts of what is happening to Christians in different countries around the world today. It gives a record of what the official policy is of individual countries, mainly in third world nations, and how Christians (natives and missionaries) are treated there. It also gives horrifying but inspiring accounts of those willing to become a part of “that great cloud of witnesses.” To coin a phrase, this book is a must read for every Christian on the planet.

This leads me to another conversation I had with a friend years ago. She professed to embrace all religions and then immediately proceeded to explain to me why it was immoral of Christians to send missionaries to the Indian tribes in South America because embracing the Christian faith corrupted their “original” and therefore “pure and natural” culture.

I recommend the book, End of the Spear and documentary, Beyond the Gates of Splendor to her and others who agree with her. These are a thought-provoking account of Jim Elliot and other missionaries who tried to “proselytize” (some people think that's a bad word, but it's what Jesus told his followers to do) the Auca Indians. They were killed by the Indians for it. The most powerful event in this account for me was when the murderers of the missionaries later became Christians and then baptized the children of the missionaries in the same river that they had killed the fathers. As for a pure and natural religion, one of the Aucas puts it best himself when he says that if it were not for the interference of the missionaries bringing them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ they probably wouldn't even exist anymore because they would have killed themselves off with all their inter tribal fighting.


                                                    Bruchko And Motilone Miracle
Another lesser known but just as powerful book is Bruchko. This is the story of a nineteen year old boy who, completely on his own and with the curses of his own family, flew to south America, wandered through the rain forests of Venezuela until he found the dreaded Motilone Indians who were so fierce and murderous that the other Indian tribes lived in fear of them. This remarkable story recounts how, in spite of no money, no foreign language skills, developing malaria, almost starving if the wounds from spears didn't get him first, plus being held captive for ten months by terrorist revolutionary groups, Bruce Olson (named Bruchko by the Motilones) lead a group of dangerous, primitive tribes to come to know about the love of Jesus Christ and salvation. Not only that, but after the Motilones became Christians, they became sophisticated. In present day Venezuela they have legal representatives who were educated at Universities founded by the Motilones, educating Motilones, including training Motilones to be lawyers. To me this is living evidence how faith in Christ is responsible for the sophistication of societies and the turn to atheism and paganism causes a society to devolve downward to primitivism. For more information go to Bruce Olsen's web site:

Monday, October 4, 2010

An evil spirit called, "Self focus"

Once again I am handing my “blogging reins” over to someone who has guest blogged for me before, the mysterious “T”. I was suffering from some stress and anxiety, something that happens in spells. My doctor has suggested medication but so far I have chosen to pray myself through these dark periods. It's not easy but by praying, reading the Psalms through and, as it turns out, telling others I have victory over thoughts of defeat and depression. My friend wrote me the following e mail after a long conversation on the phone. I hope you all benefit from her Godly wisdom as I have.

Hi Sharon,

I was glad to see you last night, and glad you worked things out in your heart and mind so that you could be there to be used as God sees fit.  That is a blessing.  This morning, I woke up with a thought for both of us, as I also struggle with being hard on myself and mincing over every little wrong thing I perceive I may have done….

First, the scripture says…draw near to God and he will draw near to you….this is the way to resist the devil so that he will flee from you.  The next time you begin to hear the accusing voice in your head, stop and tell God you want to draw near to him right in that moment.  Maybe you could find a verse of comfort to memorize that assures you of drawing near to God in just such a moment.  Tell God you are feeling negative and being accused.  Draw near to God the best you can…he will draw near to you.

Next, the cure for worry and self-focus is to be grateful for what God has provided.  I learned to appreciate doing the dishes at my house by keeping in mind that many in the universe have no dishes, and I learned to thank God for my dishes, even when they are dirty and need cleaning (seems a constant chore at my house for some reason).  The next time you go home from Leader’s meeting with accusing thoughts about yourself or others…make a list of things to be thankful for.  Think about everything God did that morning to provide, protect, defend, prepare, and give to you, and ignore the voice that says you did something wrong.  Gratefulness is the cure for grumbling, even when we grumble at ourselves.  Break it down to even the simplest things, like thanking God we sit on chairs instead of on the ground, that we have lights and heat, that we can read and know his Word for ourselves, that God chose you to be there, and on and on and on.  Do it for as long as it takes to make the voices of doubt go away.  All day if need be…we have many things to be grateful for, and this is something I know you can do as I have seen you be grateful on this level many times already.  It is the key to changing your focus.

I am learning this same habit, and it really helps.  I was so glad for the principles of last week’s lesson…because exalting God is the way to navigate these kinds of nasty waters, and it is important to learn to do that as a daily, moment by moment habit.

I hope this helps you, and I will be thrilled to hear how you are doing with it over this year.  We can catch each other up on our progress in this area when we go to Joe Muggs for coffee!

Any thoughts you can add?  I’d love to know how you feel about this idea.