Typically we review books that deal with apologetics. However, sometimes a book comes to our attention that we believe meets a need even though it does not primarily involve evidence for God and the Bible. We want to share one such book with you here— So You Have Cancer: Now What? By Glen Goree.
I have read many books on cancer and books that deal with grieving when you lose a loved one to cancer. This book was written by a man who has terminal cancer of the liver and a short time to live. I did a lectureship with a congregation in Texas many years ago, where Glenn was the preacher for ten years. He has also been a missionary in Africa and has had a long career as a counselor. Glenn has had a large share of illnesses, including two heart attacks, hepatitis C, diabetes, including having five toes removed, and neuropathy.
The purpose of this book is to help Christians who know their life is about to end. Glenn is candid, outspoken, honest, and fair in what he says. He talks about being angry with God and being outraged. He deals with fear and depression. He discusses God’s grace, forgiveness (including forgiving God), and mercy. He does this by describing his own feelings and then going to the Bible to get help when knowing you are about to die.
Every reader will profit by reading this book since every one of us is terminal. Goree’s approach to grace and God’s mercy alone makes it worth reading.
Does Jesus hate women? That may sound ridiculous to most of our readers. However, there is continual rhetoric in the media and from skeptics suggesting that Christianity is opposed to women’s rights and tries to oppress women. A careful study of Jesus and women and the early Church’s history shows that isn’t the case.
The world at the time of Christ was in turmoil. People ignored God’s teachings and moral laws, women were considered property, and they were totally dependent on men. A young woman was supported by her father and then her husband. Her primary role was to bear a male child. This treatment of women led to polygamy, prostitution, and easy divorce. Jesus comes on the scene and overturns all of this. In John 4, Jesus talks to a Samaritan woman without denigrating her. He amazed His disciples by breaking all social taboos by teaching her. In Luke 10:38, Jesus enters the house of Martha and treats her and her sister Mary with respect. Mary Magdalene played a vital role in the ministry of Jesus, and she was the first person He appeared to after His resurrection. In Luke 8:1-3, she and Joanna, a Roman steward’s wife, are portrayed as financial backers of Jesus’ travels. Jesus defended the woman taken in adultery in John 8:3-11. Does Jesus hate women? No, He treated women with dignity and respect. The Church in the first century did not oppress women. In Titus chapter 2, Paul gives instructions to old and young men and women and slaves regarding how to live. The reason for his instructions is “to make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” to unbelievers. Acts 16:14-15 describes a woman named Lydia, who ran a high-end business, owned her own home, and had a household. We are reminded of Proverbs 31 as we read this. Martha, mentioned earlier, also owned a home where her brother and sister lived.
First Corinthians 14:26-40 addresses a chaotic worship assembly. Paul tells various people to be silent or to speak one at a time. He instructed married women to remain silent and address their questions to their husbands at home. Paul was concerned about the chaotic assembly causing outsiders to think the worshippers were crazy (verse 23).
In 1 Timothy 2:9-15, Paul encourages women to dress modestly and not usurp authority. The Greek word here is “authenteo” and means “to exercise the power of one’s self,” according to the lexicon. An overly aggressive woman could intimidate and discourage a young Christian preacher like Timothy. Paul’s instruction for women to protect the role of men and allow them to lead was important to the Church’s growth then, as it is today.
Does Jesus hate women? No. Did the early Church oppress women? No. Neither should it do so today. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, MALE NOR FEMALE, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We need to love each other enough to allow everyone to have a role in the work of the Church. Caring enough to serve is not oppressing or denigrating anyone.
We have been working with incarcerated men and women since 1960. Building a prison ministry is a challenge, but it is much needed. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a prisoner say to me, “My life is over; nothing matters anymore.” This is especially true of black men and women in prison.
As we said yesterday, one of the heroes of prison ministries is a man named Buck Griffith. He has been responsible for the conversion of literally thousands of prisoners. Not only has Buck done one-on-one work in the prisons, but he also started a program to help people with drug problems. The program called NewLife Behavior Ministries features Christians Against Substance Abuse (CASA) and provides psychological help and support for prisoners.
There is a desperate need for Christians to get involved in helping families and individuals whose lives have been upended. To help individuals and churches in building a prison ministry, Buck has released a book titled Loosed and Forgiven. This 158-page book has 12 chapters. The titles of the chapters tell you about its content: Chapter 1 – Getting Started Chapter 2 – A Planned Approach Chapter 3 – A Few Things About Crime Chapter 4 – Materials and Tools Chapter 5 – Wardens and Chaplains Chapter 6 – Ministering to Females (1) Chapter 7 – Ministering to females (2) Chapter 8 – Addiction Recovery Chapter 12 – Funding the Ministry Chapter 9 – Follow Up on Those Released Chapter 10 – Sex Offenders Chapter 11 – Writing to Prisoners
Prison ministry can be frustrating, and you should not underestimate Satan’s influence. When Satan has had his way with a man or woman, helping that person change life-course is an incredibly rewarding ministry. Buck Griffith has opened the door to building a prison ministry with this book. Congregations or individuals who want to help meet a great need can use it as a guide to get involved.
The New Life Behavior Ministry website is: nlbm.org
For over 50 years, this ministry has been working in prisons throughout the United States. Prison ministries fill a vital need. Our prison ministry began in the 1960s when I first became a Christian. I went back to share my new-found faith with atheists and skeptics that I had known in my atheist days. I found that a disproportionate number of my old atheist cronies were in prison for one thing or another. As we corresponded, they told me that a large number of their fellow inmates had faith questions.
We wrote our first correspondence course with the goal of helping prisoners regain their faith and start on a road to newness. Humans can justify almost any behavior if they don’t have a functional moral standard to guide their decisions. If they have no faith in the teachings of the Bible, then “survival of the fittest” becomes their standard. Prison ministries fill a vital need.
A control struggle goes on in prisons everywhere, with gangs in almost every prison. Continued dependence on drugs is what has overfilled our penal system. We design our courses to show any open-minded reader that there is a God and that the Bible is His Word. We want to show them that they can depend on Jesus Christ to help them overcome drugs, gangs, and life in the prison system.
We have a very small effort with just over 4,000 students taking our courses, but we are blessed to have a relationship with the Kings Crossing Prison Ministry in Corpus Christi, Texas. Buck Giffith oversees the massive program of Kings Crossing, which has programs to help prisoners overcome drugs. They have basic courses to help prisoners renew their faith, and they visit prisoners in many states.
Prisoners frequently request to be baptized to wash away their past with the sins that got them into prison so they can begin a new life. There are now 410 permanent or portable baptistries in prisons in 37 states and 39 foreign nations. This has resulted in over 15,000 baptisms annually. As prisoners begin their new life, they are put into study programs and receive remedial help as it is needed.
It is one thing to bemoan the fact that the United States leads the world in the number of people incarcerated. It is another thing to do something about it through prison ministries. You can find more about the Kings Crossing program and how to contact them on their website: kingscrossingprisonministries.org
We don’t often publish a response from a reader, but the following comments on human suffering were so good I had to share them:
“The classic argument against the existence of God fails because of a false dichotomy. Quite simply, no one is in a position to know that it is God’s agenda to remove all suffering and evil from the world. *God created neither good nor evil. Good is an extension of His essence. Evil is merely the absence of good. *Although God is ultimately in control, He does not control every event. The One who created the world – electrons, protons, energy, physical parameters – does not micromanage. *Those who blame God on account of suffering – or deny there is a God, given the degree of the world’s suffering – are open to the charge of hypocrisy unless they are actively involved in doing something about the problem.”
Each of these three comments on human suffering raises many questions for discussion. The last point is especially interesting. It is easy to sit in the philosopher’s chair and complain about why God doesn’t or can’t do something about human suffering. It is more important to get involved in correcting those things that cause much of the suffering.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many hardships for people of all economic levels, but children have been hit especially hard with child hunger becoming a national problem. Last year in Michigan, over 67,000 children faced hunger. In 2020, that number has increased to almost 118,000. Right now, one in six families in Michigan is struggling to have enough food. The challenge of feeding the hungry is being met, and there is a lesson in who is meeting it.
Feeding America is an organization that gathers and distributes food to relieve hunger in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. They do this by donations of money and food from various companies and relying on volunteer labor.
The Does God Exist? ministry is dedicated to showing evidence that there is a God and that the Bible is His Word. Although the evidence for God’s existence is vast, perhaps more convincing is Christianity’s effect on people’s lives. Recently, the Feeding America truck came to our small congregation, where we unloaded food and distributed it to 103 families that don’t have enough to eat in our area. Our small operation reflected what is happening all over America. In 2019, Feeding America distributed almost 28-million pounds of food.
Our point here is who is meeting the challenge of feeding the hungry? Are atheist and skeptic groups involved? In 2019, volunteers turned three-and-a-half-million pounds of food into almost three-million meals for people in Western Michigan. Who were the volunteers making this possible? Four of the five groups were churches, and the other one was a Kiwanis Club. Feeding America lists agency partners for Michigan, and of the 20 partners listed, 13 were churches.
When churches feud or a minister is involved in a scandal, it frequently becomes front-page news. Atheist magazines like The Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic publish stories in nearly every issue about a church or religious leader involved in some scam or mismanagement of money. Not making the headlines are the people of faith who meet the challenge of feeding the hungry. They are the ones who manage the food pantries and are the primary workers in programs like Feeding America.
No matter what political party you support, you have to admit that it is a difficult time in America and the world. The issues today are complicated and dangerous. Dealing with racial differences has been a weak spot in American history. COVID-19 has taxed our medical establishment. Abuse of the Earth has to be a concern to all of us as our air, water, and oceans become polluted.
Is there any hope for our country and our world? We need to look at the belief system on which America is based. There were differences among political leaders in the past, but they had a common foundation from which they operated. What is happening now is that “survival of the fittest” and looking out for their own interests are our politicians’ primary goals. We think that those are not the beliefs and operational methods that most Americans believe in.
You can take” In God we Trust” off our currency, but you cannot take it out of our hearts. Extremists can bad-mouth the Bible and abuse the teachings of Jesus Christ, but periodically Christian actions surface in the common people. The food banks, homeless shelters, and medical establishments built and maintained by common people show us that Christ’s teachings are still alive and well in America.
When Jesus taught how to recognize His followers, He never referred to political figures or governments. He talked about those who served others. Passages like Matthew 25:31-46 and the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5-7 make it clear. Rather than marching or doing physical or financial harm to anyone, we need to express our allegiance to Christ by our service and devotion to others. In doing that, we will ultimately save America and the world.
Here are some facts you should know about medicine in Bible times:
*The Old Testament does not contain a single reference to a doctor or medicine used to heal the sick.
*There are references in the Talmud and Mishnah. The Talmud and Mishnah are two sets of writings about Jewish civil and ceremonial law. The Mishnah was oral tradition and makes up the first part of the Talmud. These writings are not part of the Bible, and they were written by Jewish scholars as late as the 5th century AD. The Talmud and Mishnah references are not complementary to doctors calling physicians “the trades of robbers.” This reminds us of Mark 5:25-26, which describes a woman with a blood disorder who had “suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all she had, and was nothing bettered but grew worse.” Another statement in the Talmud says that physicians are destined for Gehenna, a place of torment, or hell.
*Rabbis counted 248 “limbs” in the human body and 365 “sinews.” This corresponds to the 248 positive commandments in the Old Testament and the 365 negative ones.
*Egypt had an extensive medical system with dentists, doctors of the eyes, doctors of the abdomen, and doctors of the anus. They had no brain doctors and referred to the brain as “stuffing for the head.”
*In the New Testament, Paul refers to Luke as “the beloved physician” in Colossians 4:14. Luke was not Jewish, and he did not use medical vocabulary in his gospel or the book of Acts.
*In New Testament times, people used frankincense and myrrh as medicines. *Laodicea was famous for eye ointments and prominent eye doctors. In Revelation 3:18, Jesus counsels the Laodicean church to get “salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” referring to their spiritual blindness.
By the end of 2020, the annual total of Bibles printed will be 95-million. That is nearly double the number printed 20 years earlier. Most of us living in North America take Bible availability for granted. Almost every day, I get a catalog offering a variety of Bibles in all kinds and sizes, and with a growing variety of translations.
In 1900, five-million Bibles were printed, and you could find them in motel rooms everywhere. As an atheist, I stole my first Bible from a hotel room. In high school in 1955, Bibles were distributed to every student at the start of the school year. In 60 years, we have moved to the point where schools are sued for allowing Bible distribution, and schools take disciplinary actions against a child or teacher for bringing a Bible to school.
More to the point is the fact that in many countries, Bibles are hard to find. In 1900 there were 2300 people for every one Bible printed. Now that figure is 82 people per Bible. What that tells us is that even today, God’s Word is not available to a vast number of people. There are ministries attempting to change that. It is easy to understand why morals are very different in various parts of the world when people don’t have access to God’s instructions for conduct.
As secularism, atheism, and paganism continue to attack the Bible, we can expect to see more conflict and power struggles. Conflict is rising in America and continues in much of Africa and Asia. The situation highlights the mission of this ministry. The total of Bibles printed means little if people don’t bother to read them because they don’t believe in God. A presentation of the evidence for God, the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus, along with the living example of real Christians, can change the world.
Two of the most massive Antarctic glaciers have broken loose from their land connections and are floating in the ocean. This is a concern because if both glaciers melt, there would be enough water to raise the world’s oceans by ten feet. It is not only another evidence of global warming but also a warning to the world that we must pay attention to the coming rise in sea level.
Understand that when ice is exposed to the air on land, it absorbs a minimum of heat, so melting on a landmass is very slow. In water, however, heat exchange is very rapid. We all know that hypothermia takes place when a human gets into icy water. The melting of ice is much faster once it is in water, and the Thwaites glacier, the larger of the two Antarctic glaciers involved, is one of the fastest-changing glaciers on Earth.
Job 38:22-23 refers to the “treasures of the snow” and says that this frozen water is “reserved against the time of trouble.” In Earth’s design, the snow and ice preserve water and provide a vital heat sink to the whole planet. We see evidence that the oceans have been much higher in Earth’s geological history than they are today. There have also been times when they were much lower. The polar ice caps have been the primary water storage areas. Glaciers are also part of the design of Earth to make it hospitable for Life.
If the sea level rises ten feet, imagine what would happen to the world’s major cities located on the edge of the oceans. Since the mass of these two glaciers is enormous, this is not an immediate threat. ( A recent NASA study says that at the present rate, the melting ice sheets would add 15 inches to the sea level by 2100.) But it is a potential catastrophe we can avoid if we recognize that the possible flooding is a consequence of human actions, not a vindictive act of God. We can avoid what has already begun to happen by taking care of the planet as God instructed us to do.