Book Review — The Book of Esther by Deborah Bateman

 

Scroll of Esther (Megillah)

Scroll of Esther (Megillah) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always loved the book of Esther since about seventh grade when our Sunday School quarterly had her picture on the cover. It was an exquisite, very oriental image, showing the moment she touched the scepter of the king. I later learned what a courageous moment that was, and it stayed with me. Deborah Bateman brings this amazing moment to life in her day by day Bible study of the book of Esther, as part of a thorough look at the whole book. Each day’s study is short enough to be completed at the beginning of a busy day, including her excellent comments, the text for study – very handy, because you don’t even need to have a Bible with you – and three or four thought questions. You have time for this Bible study.

I appreciated the fact that Deborah spread her study over the entire book. Some people would have thought it necessary to avoid the gruesome executions or the terrible battles at the end. I have read studies that simply ignore those truths. Deborah clearly accepts a basic truth: God preserved the whole Bible for us to study and grow. The hard parts are just as important as the easy parts. It is exciting to read about the parties and the fine dress and decorations, but bloody, vicious executions are challenging for twentieth century students. She handles the challenge with grace, and every student will be blessed by the way she covers the entire story.

Deborah demonstrates that you don’t need hours every day in order to study and grow in faith. You simply need to promise yourself to complete one study each day and then keep your promise. You can do this Bible study in less than a half hour each day, although you may find it so interesting that you will want to spend more time in prayer and thought. If you have not yet found a way to make time for Bible study every day, I recommend Deborah’s book.

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Book Review — Breaking Pride by Heather Bixler

Breaking Pride is a compact, uncomplicated book. It is highly readable, written in a conversational style. To read it is like visiting with a trusted mentor in the faith. It won’t take long to read it all the way through, and you should do that as a start. After that, you should read through each chapter devotionally. You could read and pray through one chapter each weekday for two weeks. It would be a good way to internalize the principles and start using the guidance for dealing with pride.

Each of the ten short chapters addresses an individual facet of our battle with pride. We think we know all about pride when we quote the proverb, “Pride goes before a fall.” Sadly that is only a glimpse of the destructive power of pride. It is easy to forget that Satan uses pride to draw us away from a life of service to others in order to focus on self. Pride builds walls between us and other people and between us and God. There are natural reasons for us to lean on pride as protection and defense. As you read this book, you will learn both the issues underlying the problem and biblical principles that will help you mature in humility and service. The verses at the head of each chapter sum up each principle in the process of breaking your pride without breaking you.

Breaking Pride is a valuable book for anyone who is serious about living faithfully Christ’s call to love others as we love ourselves.