Category Archives: books/movies/plays/music

We Cannot Be Silent

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For the last three years, my husband Philip Dhinakar has been commuting to work by train. This has enabled him to read, something he has always loved doing.  Here is his review of a book that he especially thinks people should pick up and read.

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One of the books I enjoyed reading this year is “We Cannot Be Silent” by Dr. R. Al Mohler. This book is about the sexual revolution that is happening today in America. Dr. Mohler clearly explains how they got there and how Christians should respond to the current situation.
Nearly six chapters are dedicated to tracing the history of the ongoing sexual revolution. Dr. Mohler does not mince words. He shows that that opposition to the Christian understanding of sex and marriage did not start with the arrival of same-sex marriage, but rather the seeds for this were sown by heterosexuals who did a very good job of weakening the structure of marriage in the last century and by Christians who accepted that without protest.
He shows how quickly this revolution has taken place. He compares the U.S. presidential election in 2004 and 2012. In the 2004 U.S. presidential election, no fewer than eleven states held a referendum to ban gay marriage and not even one failed. In 2012 it was the reverse—not even one effort to define marriage as the exclusive union of a man and a woman succeeded.
He also shows that this moral revolution was the result of an organized strategy by a very small group of devoted activists. It was an eye opener to me. The very thought of how those people did that sends a shiver down my spine.
In the last chapter, he deals with 30 hard questions. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book. You may not agree with all his answers but the way he carefully answers the questions shows his pastoral heart.
Readers like me—living in a different corner of the world that is New Zealand—may not be familiar with the judicial system and the constitution of the United States. However that should not stop one from reading this book. The revolution which swept the United States has slowly spread across all Western nations and it is going to hit Christians in these nations as hard as it has hit Christians in the U.S. and we should know how to respond.

Deadline

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41rawi3qfkl-_sx326_bo1204203200_After what must be years, I have finished reading a storybook, Deadline by Randy Alcorn. I’ve enjoyed the book. Unputdownable and of 426 pages.
Two of the characters die, one goes to heaven and the other to hell; the storyline goes in and out of the earthly realm seamlessly. To do this, the author develops his idea of heaven. I would not touch a book like this, if I were not confident about the author’s theology and world view. And even then, I’d normally have been worried about such an attempt, but I think the subject was safe in this author’s hands.

One day, we hope to find out how well his imagination compares with the real thing. About this, in his note at the end of the book, Randy Alcorn writes: “I have therefore taken biblically revealed truths and developed (hopefully not distorted) them in a speculative (hopefully not reckless) fashion. I have carefully studied the biblical accounts of the afterlife and sought only to include concepts and portrayals which conform to or at least do not violate any biblical teaching. While much herein is extra biblical, I have sought never to be unbiblical . . .”

Most of the time, I was comfortable with the author’s imagination; I felt that he had perhaps over developed the guardian-angel theme, and under played the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the daily life of a believer.
However, I found the afterlife descriptions refreshing and exciting, filling me with greater resolve to make what remains of my time on earth count for Jesus.

I think the author has been a trifle too ambitious in wanting to incorporate the many contemporary issues and topics that have been included in the story. Thankfully his skill nearly matches his ambition, and the interest of the reader is sustained through the book, at least mine was.

I wish I had kept tabs of the many times during the reading of the book that I was tempted to post a quote from the book on Facebook. Below are some of the bits that pop out when I thumb through the pages.

Finney marveled not only at what Zyor was telling him, but that the angel had never ceased to wonder at an event millions on earth affirmed in their doctrinal statements with such little wonder at all . . .

And just when we thought Elyon could not surpass this greatest miracle with another, there came the greater one.” Zyor stood, and his voice trembled, not only with awe, but now with unmistakable anger.
“That little hill, where little men were permitted to do unspeakable things to Elyon’s Son . . .

“. . . When you were first closed out of the Garden of God, I thought He was done with you. You have seen so many things here that cause you to wonder, and you have barely begun to see. But for me, the greatest wonder is that you are here at all.

“We writhed in agony, ” Zyor continued. “We had never thought such pain possible here in the perfect realm. And yet we grew to know—though not completely understand —that all this was necessary to meet the demands of Elyon’s justice and His love. He did not need us to rescue Him. With a single word, with merely a thought he could have unmade all men . . .

And now at last, he’d been united with Jenny. He was no longer on the underside of the tapestry, where all he could see were the snarls and knots and frays. He was now on the top side, where he saw the beautiful work of art woven by the Master Artist.

Dealing with the uniqueness of human beings the angel explains

I am spirit capable of taking on a body. You, however, are spirit and body integrated into one. That which you take for granted—for instance, inhaling with your body the fragrance of a flower and having it move your spirit—is something I have never experienced, and cannot.

And perhaps the section I enjoyed the most comes earlier on in the book (pages 76-79). On the subject that we will not know everything as soon as we get to heaven.

Finney said, “I understand things so much more clearly than when I was in the other world. But there’s still so much I don’t yet know, so much I fail to understand.”
Zyor looked puzzled. “That surprises you?”
“Well, yes it does.I always though when we got to heaven we’d understand everything.” . . .
“Do you mean,” Zyor measured his next words, “that you thought you would be God.”
Well, no. Of course not.
“Who but Elyon understands everything? To expect to understand everything is to expect to be God.”

Of continued learning in heaven

The great wise warrior seemed genuinely perplexed. “I do not understand why. And I certainly cannot imagine why anyone would want such a thing. Learning requires curiosity, exploration, evaluation, and dialogue. To be granted the product of knowledge without this process would violate what it means to be a creature. It would circumvent the process of growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord . . .

Of boredom in heaven

“Boredom? Here? It is unthinkable. Heaven is the very opposite of boredom. It puts one in the presence of the Beloved himself, and of multitudes of beloved ones. Lovers are never bored, for their delight is in each other . . .

I would gladly recommend this book.

பூர்வ பாதைகள் Publications

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Is this the start of many more books?

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Vinotha, my sister-in-law (and first cousin once removed) is a gifted translator, who began translating books from English for her own pleasure. She is a voracious reader in Tamil. As far as I can recollect the only books she loved reading in English as a young girl were Asterix comics and all the books of James Hardley Chase, the thriller writer. Otherwise, she did not like reading books in English for pleasure; the magical satisfaction she felt after reading a good book in Tamil did not happen with English books.

She had to start reading books in English again when she developed a love for theology, but only because of a dire dearth for good theological books in Tamil.

Vinotha decided to translate the English books that she found useful into Tamil, in order to enjoy them properly. In God’s providence, before this, for over a decade she had translated 1000s of pages for GB, our pastor and my father, and had honed her translation skills as well as become familiar with typing in Tamil.

I started uploading her work on our family website (dhyanamalar.org), which now houses her translations and GB’s hymns.  Pastor Albert N. Martin, who retired after 46 years of ministry, kindly gave us the permission to publish Vinotha’s translation of the last series of sermons that he delivered as his closing words of counsel to the congregation in Trinity Baptist Church in Montville, N.J.

She has had the privilege of doing some translating work for திருமறைத்தீபம் (Bible Lamp), an excellent magazine in Tamil with sound theological content, edited by Pastor R.Bala.  She also translates for the DesiringGod website, having translated a series of 16 sermons of John Piper on the New Birth.

This latest step of actually having a book in print is exciting. I am excited. Watching her though, I think the only thing she wants is for good material to reach people who, like her, love reading – but in Tamil.

The publication name is பூர்வ பாதைகள் (Poorva Pathaigal), which means “Ancient Paths”.

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We pray that many more useful books are translated through this ministry to the glory of God and the upbuilding of the elect.

In the stars His handiwork I see

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If you have a church background and are older than 45, chances are that you will remember this old 1960s favourite penned by Ralph Carmichael. I heard this song for the first time in 1974 as a small girl in Emmanuel Baptist Church in Bangalore. This was in the old building on Pottery Road near the railway track. It was sung as a trio by three beautiful college-aged girls, whose names I do not know.

Last week, we sang this song at a Christmas celebration in Auckland. I thought we could do a better recording in the kitchen at home. But I did like the deepness our voices take on when we sing into a mic, and so vanity took over, and I decided to mix the recordings. Added to my troubles in this endevour was the fact that I recorded the song three times at home, and by the time we were nearly done, my son could not feel his fingers anymore and was hurrying us along. You can see all this in the video.

Lyrics
In the stars His handiwork I see,
On the wind He speaks with majesty,
Though He ruleth over land and sea,
What is that to me?
I will celebrate Nativity,
For it has a place in history,
Sure, He came to set His people free,
What is that to me?

Till by faith I met Him face to face,
and I felt the wonder of His grace,
Then I knew that He was more  than just a
God who didn’t care,
That lived a way out there and

Now He walks beside me day by day,
Ever watching o’er me lest I stray,
Helping me to find the narrow way,
He’s Everything to me.

Seeing design in the universe, believing in the existence of God, believing in the historicity of Jesus, being raised in a Christian home, leading a “good” and honest life, etc. are all positive things, but they do not constitute saving faith.

Saving faith, that believes that Jesus is the Son of God who died for one’s sins, is a gift. But having said it is a gift, it is also true that the Lord says: “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” So, do not rest; call on the Lord Jesus and be saved.

You can read my book on line

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I do not recommend that anyone pay the nearly 20 dollars to buy a copy of my book. Moreover, Lulu’s binding being what it is, the book would likely come apart in your hands. Some day, maybe it will get printed in India and be priced right for Indian readers, my originally intended audience.

For now, you can click the image on the right and get to the online version.  If you like, you can leave your comments here.

Sketches from Church History by S M Houghton Chapter 13

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sketches
Some of us are going through Sketches from Church History by S M Houghton one small chapter at a time. (By the way, the book has pictures.) Aiding us in this study is the work book by Rebecca Frawley. Both are Banner of Truth books.
Now we are at
Chapter 13  The Papacy at its height

The struggle between Henry II, King of England and Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury
Becket felt that it was enough for corrupt church officials to be ‘defrocked’. The king was of the opinion that in addition, they must be tried in the civil court. In a fit of temper the king ordered Becket dead. Becket was regarded as a martyr and the church of the day became stronger for it.

General Council of Churches convened by Pope Innocent III in 1215
In 1215, the same year that the English barons required King John to sign the Magna Carta, Pope Innocent III called a General Council at Rome.
The Pope announced that the Lord had given Peter (read ‘the Popes’) headship of the church and dominion over the whole world.
The Pope also introduced the doctrine of transubstantiation and, in so doing, legislated idolatry in the church.

Bernard of Clairvaux
If any of us were disappointed by this man’s connection with the Second Crusade, which we looked at in the previous lesson, here is something to warm the heart. Bernard of Clairvaux was a man who loved God from a true heart. He declined the honours that came to him in the church. His followers held high positions and one of them even became a pope. To him, Bernard said: Remember that you are a successor of him who said, “Silver and gold have I none.” Gold and silk and pearls and soldiers you have not received of Christ, but they came to you from Constantine. Never strive after these things. Would to God that before I die, I might see the Church as it was in olden times when the apostles cast their nets, not to catch gold and silver but the souls of men!

Pitiful condition of the church of the middle ages
The masses of people had blind faith in the church and tradition. They did not know what the Bible taught about sin and redemption from it. Sometimes external abuses were corrected but corrupt doctrine was left untouched. There was no appeal to the word of God. Houghton ends the chapter like this:

Dark was the night, and more than human power was needed to drive away the thick clouds. But, as we shall see, in God’s time, dawn came.

To read more about Sketches from Church History

Sketches from Church History by S M Houghton Chapter 12

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sketches
Some of us are going through Sketches from Church History by S M Houghton one small chapter at a time. (By the way, the book has pictures.) Aiding us in this study is the work book by Rebecca Frawley. Both are Banner of Truth books.
Now we are at
Chapter 12  The Crusades

Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena had built costly churches in Palestine, and so Palestine was regarded as the Holy Land and Jerusalem as the Holy City by Christians.

In 636 Jerusalem was captured by the Mohammedans under Caliph Omar. Except for some restrictions, by and large, Christian pilgrims were able to visit the “Holy Land.”
In the 11th century, Jerusalem was captured by fierce Seljuk Turks. After this, Christian pilgrims were subjected to harsh treatment. This led to the crusades.

The Crusade movement comprised a series of religiously-sanctioned military campaigns, which lasted two centuries and cost the lives of nearly five million Europeans, in addition to the lives of muslims and others lost. The Crusades are an unfortunate part of church history. The wars had no scriptural basis and were uncalled for. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, and the warfare of Christians for religious purposes should only be spiritual. Having said this, we must remember that many of the crusaders were brave and imagined that they were fighting for a good cause, wanting to recapture what they believed was their Holy Land so that Christians may be able to worship there in peace.

Something about some of the crusades:
First Crusade: Preached by Peter the Hermit and Pope Urban II. The Pope promised forgiveness of sins to all crusaders. This is ofcourse totally unbiblical. Untrained people, even women and children, went and were defeated by the Turks in Nicea. A later group of men trained in warfare had success. They captured Jerusalem, carried out a terrible massacre of the inhabitants including women and children, and then held the city for 50 years.
Second Crusade: In 1147 Bernard of Clairvaux (who wrote hymns like ‘O Sacred Head once wounded’) undertook a crusade, which ended in failure. This encouraged Saladin to capture Jerusalem in 1187.
Third Crusade: This was undertaken by three European kings. Frederick Barbarossa, Emperor of Germany, Philip Augustus, King of France, and Richard Coeur-de-Lion, King of England. This ended in failure.
Children’s Crusade: This crusade came about because Stephen, a French boy, claimed to have seen a vision, and Nicolas, a German boy, spread the news in his country. Thousands of children joined this movement. Many died on the way in the snowy alps. The sea did not divide as they expected and many returned. Seven ships took 5000 children on board, to take them to Palestine. Two ships struck rocks and sank. The other five were slave ships and took the children to Palestine where they were sold as slaves, never to be heard of again.
Sixth Crusade: Promoted by St Louis, the French King ended in failure.
Seventh Crusade: By St Louis, joined by Price Edward I of England, also ended in failure.

I’d like to add a personal note here. The Crusades are a part of history that most of the world may have forgotten. But they are indoctrinated in the minds of Muslims world over in a highly imbalanced and subjective fashion. I was rather taken aback by the vehemence of a good Muslim friend over this subject. With Middle Easterners, history, although seldom objective, matters.
To read more about Sketches from Church History