Love Amid The Ashes Reviewed

Monday, March 21, 2011



An epic story of love and forgiveness, suffering and restoration

When her beloved grandfather Isaac dies, Dinah must follow his final command: travel to Job's household to marry his son. After Job's world comes crashing down, Dinah finds herself drawn to this great man brought low. What will she risk to fight for his survival?

Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of Job and Dinah. Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.





My Take: Dinah is Isaac's granddaughter and she has strict instructions after his death to go to Job's household and marry Ennon to advance the line of Esau since Jacob took the birthright from him. Dinah has been "soiled" she was raped by Shechem the son of Hamor, the prince of the land. Jacob's sons destroy the city, in Dinah's honor. Yet that doesn't take away the disgrace of Dinah. Dinah travels to Uz to marry Ennon, no sooner does she arrive than Job's household is destroyed. The man Dinah was to marry was dead, along with all of Job's cattle, and houses. Job's wife Sitis decides she is going to marry Dinah off to her best friend Sayyid who does not follow the ways of El Shaddai, and has wanted to marry her since they were children.

The book started out really strong with lots of action and strong dialog, once you got to Job's household, and he lost everything the dialog got slow and the book just drug. I was really disappointed! I didn't like the character Sitis, Job's wife, she was just pure evil and while it was not stated right out it seemed to be implied that because Dinah was there, and because his wife was not following the ways of God that is why all of these things happened to Job which was so not the case. I love Biblical fiction, and I think this one was just a miss for me. If you are a fan of Biblical fiction and enjoy a peek into a patriarchs life that you don't know much about than grab yourself a copy.

Sharing Your Faith With Muslims

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Sharing Your Faith with Muslims

Hannibal Books (January 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson, PR Specialist, Hannibal Books, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Wade Akins for more than 40 years has served as a missionary. He has served with the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He became a global evangelist and church-planting trainer. He and his wife, Barbara, have served in a special training ministry called Pioneer Evangelism and taught and trained nationals in more than 60 nations of the world. They serve with Pioneer Missions based in Jackson, TN.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

This book is an eye-opener about Islam and evangelizing Muslims. Learn what you as a Christian need to know to relate to Muslims in a LOVING WAY.

Learn:

Who was Mohammad?
Is he the perfect model for the human race?
How did he start the Muslim religion?
What is the Koran?
What are the keys to reading and understanding the Koran?
What does the Koran contain that is causing all the violence?

LEARN WHAT ISLAM TEACHES ABOUT:

• God
• The Bible
• Jesus Christ
• Sin
• Salvation
• After Life
• Terrorism
• Women’s rights
• And Much More . . .

LEARN IN A PRACTICAL WAY HOW TO SHARE YOUR FAITH WITH MUSLIMS:

• How God is using prayer, dreams, and visions to reach Muslims
• Islamic customs and things to avoid
• How to start a conversation with Muslims
• The Jesus Approach
• Evangelistic Bible studies for Muslims

Learn this and much, much more when you read and study this most exciting and
practical book.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934749974
ISBN-13: 978-1934749975

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The Founder, Muhammad


The founder of Islam was a man named Muhammad. He was born about 570 years after the birth of Christ. He was born in the city of Mecca in what now is Saudi Arabia.


What was Arabia like before Muhammad? Jews, Christians, and pagans lived in Arabia. Mecca had a local shrine called the Kaaba, which housed numerous pagan idols.


His Birth and Early Life in Mecca

According to tradition Muhammad was born April 20, 570 A.D. (or April 26, according to the Shiites) as Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (the son of Abdullah Muddalib). He was of the Quraysh tribe. His mother’s name was Amina.i His father died before his birth. His mother, Amina, died when Muhammad was 6. He was reared by his uncle, Abu Talib.


Wives

His uncle recommended for him to work for a wealthy widow named Khadija. She was 15-years older than he and hired him as a traveling salesperson to go to Syria and trade her goods. Khadija was so impressed with the fact that in his job Muhammad had doubled her wealth, she proposed marriage to him.ii


When he was 25, he married Khadija, who was 40. They had two sons, who both died in infancy, and four daughters. He worked as a supervisor of her trade with Syria. This marriage raised his social status among the wealthy elite of Mecca.iii


When Muhammad was 50, Khadija died. For 25 years he had known only one woman, who was his greatest supporter. After her death, however, he would marry other women so that ultimately he had at least 13 wives, one of whom was only 6-years old. The name of this youngest wife was Aisha; this marriage was consummated when she was 9 years of age. Muslim men are allowed up to four wives, but Muhammad said Allah made a special exception for him. Throughout his lifetime Muhammad got numerous special exceptions from the rules and laws he set up for all other Muslims.


His First Revelation

Because of their wealth he was allowed more time to visit a popular cave at Mt. Hira, which was three miles from Mecca. He would spend one month per year there. At the cave he would wrap himself up in a garment and keep vigils at night. He would repeat the name of Allah.iv


In 610, at age 40, while he was at the cave on Mt. Hira, Muhammad received his first revelation during the month of Ramadan. He claimed the revelation was from the angel Gabriel, who spoke to him in Arabic.


Muhammad believed that Gabriel was to be the medium of communication between himself and Allah. These revelations later would become the Muslims’ sacred scriptures, the Koran.

One night during the month of Ramadan he was in prayer when he had a vision. He claimed that Gabriel spoke the word Iqra, which means “read” or “proclaim” or “recite”. Muhammad responded that he could not read. Nevertheless, he recited the words of the angel. This famous revelation is recorded in Koran 96:1-5.v


This began a series of revelations that would continue off and on for the next 22 years until his death in 632 A.D. He claimed to have received 113 more of these revelations. His followers committed them to memory and wrote them on whatever was available. After his death these revelations were collected into what now is the Koran.


His Doubts

According to Aisha, later his favorite wife, Muhammad expressed great distress to Khadija because he doubted the source of these revelations.vi He repeated to her his initial fears, “Woe is me poet or possessed”.vii By poet he meant one who received ecstatic, and possibly demonic, visions.viii


Muhammad was so overcome both by fear and despair, he contemplated suicide. Khadija had a cousin named Waraqa who was a Christian priest. When Khadija told Waraqa what Muhammad had experienced in the cave of Hira, he confirmed to her that Muhammad truly was a prophet and that he was not possessed by demons.ix


Without the care of Khadija and the aid of Waraqa, the world never would have known of Muhammad or Islam.x


After Waraqa died, Muhammad was so sad that he went to the tops of mountains with the intent to throw himself down. Gabriel appeared before him and said, “O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah’s Messenger in truth.” His heart would become quiet; he would calm down and return home. xi


At one point Muhammad said that Gabriel brought him Sura 93:1-3. After this, the revelations occurred frequently; Muhammad no longer doubted the source of his revelations.


Dr. Emir Caner finds Muhammad’s doubts to be very troubling. He points out the fact that for a major prophet to doubt the source of his prophetic revelation is troubling.xii


His Preaching in Mecca

Muhammad began preaching in Mecca. His message was calling the people to worship the one true God, Allah. He called them to forsake their idols and to acknowledge him as a prophet.


He became a “warner”. In the beginning his preaching was simple. He preached monotheism (only one God exists). Because of the peoples’ rejection of his message he threatened the pagan Meccans with annihilation (Sura 21:11-15). (Observe: Chapters in the Koran are called Suras; throughout this book we will use this term.)


His detractors asked him why he did not perform miracles. He told them that his miracle was the Koran.


His Persecution in Mecca

In the 10th year of his mission, his wife, Khadija, died. She was 65-years old; at the time he was 50. Just a few weeks later his uncle, Abu Talib, also passed away. These were his two key supporters.


Verbal persecution began. People accused him of being a liar, lunatic, and demon-possessed. His principal persecutor was his uncle, Abu Lahab. When Abu rejected his message, Muhammad used violent language to curse him and his wife. In Sura 111:1-5 he referred to his uncle as the “Father of the Flame”. The uncle and his wife were condemned to hell fire.


His Flight—The Hijra—

On July 16, 622, Muhammad Flees Mecca to Medina

This is the most famous date in Islam—the year of the Flight to Medina, 270 miles north. It is the beginning of the Islamic calendar, 1. AH.


This new sect infuriated the leaders of Mecca. To end the new faith they planned to assassinate Muhammad. Muhammad and Abu Bakr, one of Muhammad’s first converts, along with the remaining Muslims escaped from Mecca. For three nights along the way they hid in caves until they arrived in Medina.xiii


At age 53 on September 24, 622, he arrived safely in Medina. He was well-received in the area, which also had a strong tradition of Jewish monotheism. Medina was different from Mecca. More people, including numerous Jews who lived there, believed in just one God.xiv


However, three Jewish tribes caused him trouble. Thus, all Jews were considered to be idolaters and later were attacked by Muhammad’s warriors. They were subdued and required to pay taxes for not converting to Islam.xv


The Jews also were looking for a sign to prove that he truly was a prophet, but Muhammad could not offer any proof. He could not do a single miracle to provide evidence that he was a prophet.


Thus he tried using the Old Testament as a way of impressing the Jews. However, his knowledge of the Old Testament stories was not accurate. He did not have a personal knowledge of Hebrew Scripture.


For example, the Koran would feature his stories of Moses’ confrontation with Pharaoh. In the first 89 chapters he mentions this event 27 times. In other words every 3.3 chapters in the Koran he repeated this story. Yet not one time did he include the most important component of the story—the Passover.


Therefore, how could the Jews accept as their prophet a man who did not know about the Passover nor understood its importance?


The following are other examples:


The Koran states that Adam and Eve did not sin in an earthly garden but sinned in paradise. Muhammad had Adam and Eve cast down to earth after they sinned (Sura 7:19-25).


Muhammad taught that Haman, a Persian in the Book of Esther, was an associate of the Pharaoh in Egypt 900 years earlier in the days of Moses (Sura 28:8).


Muhammad confused King Saul, mentioned in 1 Samuel, with Gideon, who in Judges 7:1-7 chose 300 warriors out of 10,000 men by observing how they drank water (Sura 2:249-250).


How could Muhammad expect the Jews to accept his “revelations” when he taught outright errors about the Old Testament in a city in which numerous Jews knew these stories? He responded to the rejection of the Jews by choosing to purge them.xvi


His Constitution of Medina

Soon after Muhammad arrived in Medina in September 622, his first task was to consolidate the various Arab clans and the Jewish tribes into one unified front. By drawing up a new constitution he was remarkably successful in unifying the various factions.xvii


This document is known as the Constitution of Medina. This document declared the existence of the community of people (umma) who looked to Allah as God and to Muhammad as the prophet of Allah. However, he did not win the support of the Jews.


Muhammad Becomes a Warrior

His followers had little food and clothes. For him to obtain money for his new theocracy was essential. To raid each other was common among Arab tribes of that day. In Sura 9:73, which says, “O prophet! Strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is hell—an evil refuge indeed”, Allah gave him permission to rob caravans on their route to Mecca.


He began to send out his raiding parties. These raids kept the new religion functioning and began to shape Islamic theology. No less than 25 of these raids were recorded. Muhammad himself participated in many of them.xviii


Ibn Warraq says that “it was during this period Muhammad was no more than the head of a robber community, unwilling to earn an honest living”.xix


One of the raids was at Nakhla, a settlement not far from Mecca. Muhammad himself was not present, but his raiders attacked the caravan during the sacred month of Rajab. However, fighting was forbidden during this month.


In Sura 2:217 Muhammad received a new revelation from Allah. Muhammad justified the raid occurring in the sacred month. It stated that opposing the raid was a more serious transgression than was violating the sacred month of Rajab. Several times throughout the Koran, Allah makes special exceptions from previous laws for

Muhammad.


Robert Spencer writes, “This revelation led to an Islamic principle: Good became identified with anything that benefited Muslims regardless of whether it violated moral or other laws. Moral laws and the Ten Commandments were swept aside in favor of the principle of expediency”.xx


His Break with the Jews

The Jews both rejected and ridiculed Muhammad, so he changed the Koran to say that they no longer were to pray toward Jerusalem but to the Kaaba at Mecca (Sura 2:142 and Sura 2:125). Some of the Jewish fasts and feasts also were eliminated. He began to accuse the Jews of tampering with their own Scriptures.xxi


His Battle of Badr: a Key Battle in Islam

The Koran records a major battle called the Battle of Badr occurring in March 624. This is a battle in which Muhammad participated. At this time Mohammad realized that the Jews posed a real threat to his slowly increasing power; this battle marked a true turning point.xxii


This was the first major battle between Jews and Muslims. Muhammad heard that a large Quraysh tribe caravan had lots of money and that it was proceeding in their direction from Syria. He told his followers to go and attack it.xxiii


Muhammad had 300 men; the Quraysh tribe had nearly 1,000. The two groups met at a place called Badr. The Muslims were outnumbered by more than three to one.xxiv In the Koran Muhammad had taught his men that their loyalty to Islam overrode all other human bonds (Sura 9:23-24, 59:22-23).


Forty-five men from the Quraysh tribe were killed; this included some of the leading men of Mecca. Seventy-five were taken prisoner. The Muslims lost only 14 people.


The victory at Badr was the turning point for Muslims. Muhammad even claimed that the armies of angels joined with the Muslims to smite the Quraysh tribe and that they could expect similar help in the future (Sura 3:123-125).


Another revelation to Muhammad from Allah emphasized that the commitment to Allah and not military might brought victory at Badr (Sura 3:13).


Sura 8:17 asserts that at Badr the Muslims were only passive instruments.


Chapter 8 of the Koran is entirely devoted to the reflections of the battle of Badr. It is titled, “The Spoils of War” or “Booty”. At Badr so many spoils of war existed that this created jealousy. This was so divisive that once again Muhammad received a revelation from Allah.


Allah warned the Muslims not to consider the spoils won at Badr to belong to anyone but Muhammad, “the Messenger” (Sura 8:1). Some later have found this assertion by Allah extremely convenient for Muhammad.


Muhammad kept one-fifth for himself and distributed the rest of the spoils among the Muslims equally (Sura 8:41). Allah said this was Muhammad’s reward for being obedient (Sura 8:69).


By this battle in 624 Muslims now were a force with whom the pagans of Arabia had to deal. Muslims began to strike terror in the hearts of the people whom they considered their enemies. Muhammad claimed to be the last of the prophets; his victory at Badr was his confirmation.


This battle was followed by many other battles in which Muhammad tried to eliminate the Jews. Sura 47:4 says that anyone who opposes Muhammad and his new religion deserves a humiliating death by beheading if possible. “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; at length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them” (Sura 47:4).


After he eradicated the Jews at Medina, Muhammad quickly progressed to his final goal: the conquering of Mecca.xxv


Muhammad went from being purely a “warner” who called the Quraysh tribe to turn away from idols to the worship of the one true God to becoming a warrior to fight for Allah.


The foundation was being laid not only for the final conquest of Mecca and Arabia but ultimately for the conquest of the whole world, until all were brought into subjection to Allah. This is the goal of Islam.


His Capture of Mecca

In 628 Muhammad and Meccan leaders signed a 10-year peace treaty. This famous treaty is known as “The Treaty of Hudaybiah”. The treaty granted Muhammad and his followers permission to make pilgrimages to Mecca. The treaty also stipulated that for the next 10 years both sides would not fight each other.


In 630 the Quraysh tribe in Mecca broke the truce and killed several allies of Muhammad. He was so outraged that he prepared an army of 10,000 men to march on the city of Mecca and to slaughter anyone who resisted.


Muhammad entered the city and was met with little resistance. He went straight to the Kaaba and circled it seven times as he rode on his camel. He then demanded that the door be opened. He entered the sanctuary of the stone, took out a wooden dove idol, and scattered its decaying material on the ground.


He said, “the truth has come and falsehood has passed away”. He erased pictures from the walls; these included those depicting Christ and the Virgin Mary; hereby the Kaaba was cleansed of pagan gods.


He stood at the door of the Kaaba and addressed the Meccans who pleaded for mercy. He said, “There is no God but Allah . . . ”.xxvi


The center of Islam now was firmly established. Muhammad demanded that all Muslims make a pilgrimage to the Kaaba; to this day the Kaaba stone is the focal point of the Islamic faith. Every year millions go to pray around it.xxvii


His Final Years and Death

After this event things began to change. Women began wearing veils as the wives of Muhammad did.


He gained the respect of the Meccans. Other tribes joined the umma—the community of Islam. He led an army of 30,000 against the tribe of Tabuk. He brought all of Arabia under his control.xxviii


Muhammad owned Arabia. Christians and Jews were allowed to practice their own faith, but they had to pay a tax (Sura 9:29). It was one of his greatest accomplishments, because by doing this he was able to unify a powerful nation under Islam; to this day it remains so.xxix


In February 632 Muhammad made his last pilgrimage to Mecca from Medina. He went back to his home in Medina and spent his last days with his wife, Aisha. On June 8, 632, at age 63 he died an unexpected and sudden, natural death. He left no sons, he had no heirs, and he had not appointed any successor. He was buried at his home.


Conclusion

Who was Muhammad? Is Muhammad to be followed as the perfect example of obedience to God? That is the big question of religious history? Muslims say “yes”—he was a true prophet of God and the perfect example of moral behavior for mankind.


After Muhammad’s death Islam spread rapidly by means of fighting and conquest. Northern Africa, much of which was Christian, was taken by the sword in the name of Islam. These Islamic warriors later moved armies into other parts of the world such as Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The militant stronghold of Islam over its people was and to this day is very powerful. This important foundational element of Islam creates intense pressure for a person living in an area dominated by an Islamic majority not to convert to any other religion. It makes Islam a religion of fear. All Muslims must ask themselves what the ramifications not only for themselves or their families would be if they ever were to consider a different faith. Yet the Holy Spirit of God is more powerful than are the armies of people. First John 4:18 says, But perfect love drives out fear.


Despite the fear of persecution and death Muslims today are trusting Christ. They are being freed from a wall of darkness set up by one man, Muhammad.



This was a very powerful and interesting book. I learned a lot I didn't know about the Muslim faith and how to share my faith with them. I highly recommend it!

No Safe Haven - Reviewed



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
No Safe Haven
B&H Books (March 15, 2011)
by
Kimberly and Kayla Woodhouse




ABOUT THE AUTHORS:



A devoted wife and mother, Kimberley Woodhouse is a third generation Liszt student, she has passed down her love of the arts to hundreds of students over the years.



About fifteen years ago, Kimberley began writing seriously. Songs, plays, short stories, novels, picture books, articles, newsletters - you name it - she's written it. It wasn't until a dear friend challenged her to "do something with it", that she pursued publication.



Kimberley and her family's story have been on the front page of newspapers, in magazines, articles, medical journals, and most recently her family was chosen for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. They were also asked to share their story on The Montel Williams Show and Discovery Health Channel's Mystery ER. She has recorded three albums, and has appeared at over 700 venues. Kimberley lives, writes, and homeschools in Colorado with her husband and their two children in a truly "Extreme" home.



Thirteen-year-old Kayla Woodhouse’s zest for writing comes not only from her natural ability, but also from her love of the written word as witnessed by her voracious reading appetite. One of only a few dozen cases in the world, Kayla was born with HSAN, Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy, an extremely rare nerve disorder. Unable to sweat, or feel pain, she’s also been through brain surgery. But even through a life of extreme hardships, her ever-present smile encourages others to pursue their dreams, no matter the obstacles. In addition to being homeschooled and writing with her mom, she’s an amazing swimmer, and spends up to thirty hours a week in training. No Safe Haven, her first release from B&H Publishers in 2011, written with mother, Kimberley, makes her the youngest author to have a full-length novel published by a royalty paying publisher.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Jenna and Andi Tikaani-Gray are hoping for a fresh start. Though twelve year-old Andi has long struggled with a rare medical disorder, she and her mother have finally received good news from out-of-town specialists. It's news they desperately needed, especially after the recent death of Jenna's husband (Andi's dad) in a car accident.



But as they are flying home to Alaska, ready to begin again, the unthinkable happens. The pilot sabotages their small plane and crashes into Sultana, one of the most remote and dangerous mountains in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Even worse, a winter storm is headed their way along with someone who doesn't want to save them, but to kill them.



Only one man can keep them alive: Cole Maddox, the mysterious last-minute passenger who joined them on their flight. But trust doesn't come easy to Jenna or Andi√Ďand they both sense Cole is hiding something.



A relentless tale of survival and suspense unfolds, involving military technology designed by Jenna's late husband that some would do anything to possess.



Watch the Book Video:







If you would like to read the first chapter of No Safe Haven, go HERE.


My Take: This was quite the amazing story, so my fiance` told me. A mother and daughter get stranded in the wilderness, and this man is going to help them get out. He does have some "romantic" intentions - however Andie has no desire. The fact that Andie was spunky and had one liners for Cole and I have the same kind of personality was pretty funny. I could hear him laughing as he was reading. He really enjoyed this book, and recommends it!
 
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