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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:
Genesis Publishing Group (November 22, 2011)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carl Kerby is president and founder of Reasons for Hope (rforh.com), founded in 2011 as a response to a calling from God to proclaim the authority and authenticity of the Bible. He was previously a founding board member at Answers in Genesis for ten years and served there for over fifteen years. Before that he worked as an air-traffic controller at O’Hare International Airport. Kerby’s love for Jesus fuels a passion to engage the minds and hearts of youth and adults so that they can know the truth of God’s Word. He is a sought-after speaker both in the United States and abroad. Yet his most cherished accomplishment is his 29-year marriage to his wife, Masami, and his roles as father to his children, Alisa and Carl, Jr., and as grandfather to Trey.
Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Life is not always picture-perfect, and sometimes it is difficult to see God’s plan or purpose—especially during difficult times. Reasons for Hope: In the Mosaic of Your Life, by sought-after speaker Carl Kerby, researches the many aspects of faith that will encourage everyone looking for hope in today’s troubling times. With humor and passion, Carl answers questions about suffering, evolution, relativism, faith and more, strengthening his readers and equipping them to offer true hope to a broken world.
“In a mosaic, the artist arranges pieces of cut or broken stones or tiles to create a decorative pattern. We may struggle to grasp the overall design of a mosaic when we’re looking at the individual pieces up close, because what we see looks like a piece of junk, broken and useless. But when we step back far enough to view the entire mosaic, we get a new perspective, and we see the intricate beauty of the finished masterpiece. That enables us to grasp the original intent of the artist,” explains Carl Kerby. Reasons for Hope chronicles Carl’s rocky start as the son of a professional wrestler and takes readers from his difficult teen years and his military career to his stressful responsibility as an air-traffic controller at one of the nation’s busiest airports and ultimately to his ministry calling as a speaker. Carl reveals how God has created a beautiful mosaic from the broken pieces of his life, held together by the saving grace of the cross of Jesus Christ. As readers join in Carl’s journey, they will come to understand how the bigger picture of their own lives reveals a unique and beautiful mosaic.
Using his dynamic and infectious passion, Carl reveals God’s hand throughout his life, from childhood to adulthood, from unbelief to belief. No matter what the circumstances, God gathers up the broken pieces of life and forms them into something beautiful, all according to His purpose and plan. Carl’s story will not only give reasons for hope but will also encourage readers to share their only true hope, Jesus Christ. Readers will walk away knowing that the broken pieces of their lives are used by God to make beautiful and useful vessels for His work
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Genesis Publishing Group (November 22, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Rocks, Stones, Boulders and Mosaics
Craig DeMartino had no clue that his life would change forever when he set out for Colorado’s Rocky Mountains on July 21, 2002. A rock climber, Craig was doing what he loved best as he scaled the heights of the Sundance Buttress in Rocky Mountain National Park. Little did he know that the harrowing climb would be the last time he would plant both feet on a mountain.
After a tragic instant of miscommunication, Craig tum bled off the rocky cliff and plummeted nine stories to an almost certain death. Freefalling at over sixty miles per hour, he crashed onto the mountain floor—feet first. His boots exploded upon impact, and his feet and ankles were shattered. A powerful shockwave moved up his body, breaking his back and fracturing his neck. The fall also punctured a lung and tore a shoulder. After being evacuated to the hospital, Craig remained unconscious as the doctors advised his family that he had less than an hour to live.
But God had a different plan for Craig. Through a series of miraculous events, Craig survived his one-hundred-foot fall.
Although Craig didn’t conquer the mountain by rock climbing, he did conquer the “rock” of difficulties that he faced after the accident, including the amputation of his right leg eighteen months later. Following his miraculous survival, and during his challenging recovery, he discovered a renewed relationship with Jesus Christ, which led to a passion for testifying of God’s wondrous power in his life. He’s even proven the overcoming power of God by the strength and perseverance he exhibited when he became the first amputee to climb the 3,000-foot face of El Capitan in Yosemite on June 5, 2006, just six weeks shy of the four-year anniversary of the accident.
No doubt, Craig’s fall from the cliff was traumatic. But he recognized that his “rendezvous” with the rocks below was not an unforeseen accident in God’s eyes, and that how he responded to his predicament would change the entire course of his life.
“I think that’s how God works in our lives—there are no accidents, only things that work for the good of the kingdom,” Craig writes. “I think that’s the key to my attitude in general, that I know God uses everything that happens to me to further the kingdom. That on even the really bad days, and I have a lot of them, He is using the things I do, and you do, to make an impact somewhere. Even when I don’t think that’s happening, it is, and I usually see it down the road in ways I never could have imagined.”
I believe God knew Craig would suffer that fall, and He is the one who gave him the fortitude to survive the rocky ordeal. Because of that experience, Craig now encourages others to live their lives centered on Christ.
All of us, like Craig, face challenges in our lives. How we deal with those challenges is what this book is all about. Do we use the stones, rocks and boulders of life to build a strong foundation or are we crushed by their weight?
As I look back over the years, I can clearly see the stumbling stones and crushing rocks that were problems and obstacles in my life. But I can also see how God used them for His plan and purpose in my life—to build a foundation that has brought me to the place and person I am today. I grew up with an extremely unusual background as the son of a professional wrestler. Professional wrestling is a world that few know much about, and I’ll be sharing the realities of that lifestyle, giving you a glimpse of that world, in the following chapters. My path has been a rocky one—struggling with a difficult childhood, dropping out of high school, even being homeless at one point. Some of the “boulders” in my life were disadvantages, but most of them were just difficult situations in which I made very poor choices. But you know what? None of those boulders surprised God. In fact, when I remember the negative experiences and failures from my past, I cling to this passage of Scripture:
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. (Psalm 40:2)
And that “rock” is Jesus. This verse reminds me that I’m not the man that I used to be; God has created a new heart and new mind within me. He lifted me out of the mess that I was in and placed me on solid ground. My brothers and sisters in Christ, He’s done the same for you!
THE BEAUTY OF MOSAICS
To me, a mosaic is such a fitting illustration of the way God can take the broken pieces of our lives and create something beautiful from them. My life has been filled with boulders and broken stones. Yet God, in His grace, has put those stones together in a mosaic to make me into a useful vessel for His use. I was privileged to serve for sixteen years with the ministry Answers in Genesis (AiG), teaching people that God’s Word is true from the very first verse. In January 2011, with the help of some great friends, I founded a new ministry named Reasons for Hope, as a part of my desire to equip Christians to offer reasons for their spiritual hope to lost and dying people. That hope comes only from salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. I never would have imagined how my life would turn out, but God, the Grand Designer, has pieced together the good as well as the broken pieces of my life into an amazing mosaic.
The term “mosaic” also has another meaning. The “Mosaic Generation” describes the group of young people born between 1984 and 2002. Sometimes called Millennials, Generation Y, Echo Boom, or Generation Next, they are the newest of the five generations coexisting in society today. The others are the Baby Busters/Generation X (born 1965–1983); the Baby Boomers (1946–1964); the Builders (1927–1945); and the Seniors (1926 and prior; sometimes called Traditionalists or Matures).
Unfortunately, the meaning of “mosaic” used for this emerging generation is far different from mine. Instead of emphasizing how beauty can come from broken pieces, it seems they almost embrace the brokenness as normal.
Maybe more than any other generation today, those in the Mosaic Generation need to hear God’s truth. Let me share with you some of the characteristics that are used to describe these Mosaics (so-called because of their multifaceted, eclectic lifestyles). First, they’re “plugged in” to all types of technology and media. According to author David Kinnaman, Mosaics spend up to eight and a half hours every day using technology and media, often using two or three types simultaneously (such as listening to music while using the computer). In addition, Mosaics desire fresh, stimulating experiences and love to express their individuality. Twenty-five percent of Mosaics have posted personalized content online, including stories, videos, blogs, artwork, or photos of themselves. More importantly, those in the Mosaic Generation are nonlinear thinkers who are comfortable with contradiction and are morally pragmatic (“I’ll do whatever works”).
For Mosaics, this philosophy of moral pragmatism typically is expressed in the following statements:
■ What is right for you may not be right for me.
■ I do what I think is best, not what anyone else thinks is best.
■ You are the only one who can determine what is right and what is wrong.
■ There is no absolute truth.
Hopefully, if you have a biblical background, you can see immediately that these statements are at odds with Scripture. The Bible is clear that all of us have God’s moral law (the Ten Commandments) written on our hearts to tell us what is right and what is wrong and to convict us of sin. The apostle Paul states in Romans 2:15 that men have “the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness...” The Bible also tells us that God’s Word is absolutely true and is our standard for living. The psalmist writes, “For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth” (Psalm 33:4), and “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Surprisingly, only 6 percent of Mosaic teens who consider themselves to be “born again” have a biblical worldview (meaning that they believe in absolute truth, that the Bible is God’s Word, that “Satan is real,” “Jesus never sinned,” and a handful of similar orthodox beliefs). That means the other 94 percent adhere in some way to a philosophy of moral pragmatism. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do as far as sharing the gospel with this generation.
However, the Mosaic Generation has many positive qualities, too. Mosaics have a joyful and positive outlook on life, and they long for personal connection and powerful experiences. They consider religion and spirituality to be a positive dimension of life, and they want to experience God’s truth by building authentic relationships with other people who have faith in God. Most Mosaics agree with the statement that they are “looking for a few good friends.” I would say that’s true for most everyone in our culture today.
As we encounter those in the Mosaic Generation, we can follow Paul’s approach in reaching the lost. He tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Paul never compromised his message or watered down the truth of the gospel, but boldly proclaimed, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes . . .” (Romans 1:16). He was always faithful in proclaiming saving grace, so when Paul spoke of becoming “all things to all men,” he was talking about trying to relate to the lost in the best way he could in order to reach them with the gospel. He tried to understand who they were, and be kind and courteous in his approach to witness to them. For example, to those who are “weak” in the knowledge of the Lord and the gospel, Paul “became as weak,” meaning he met them at their level of knowledge and added to their understanding by proclaiming Christ to them. To those who don’t believe in absolute truth, we can start by addressing their current beliefs and then help them see their need for the One who is Truth.
That’s what I want to help you do in this book: to help you become “all things to all men.” No matter which generations you and I may be in, we need to speak the truth of the gospel in love, be patient and understanding, and show people the need for Jesus Christ and His Word. The gospel must always be the primary focus of our message, but we can support our proclamation of the gospel with our personal testimony as well. We can share with people how God has worked in our lives. By sharing our testimonies we can often connect to others in a deeper way and help them to come to an understanding of the reasons for hope found only in Jesus Christ.
READY TO SHARE
On my travels I often have the opportunity to meet fascinating people who need the gospel. One of the most memorable was a professor I met while speaking in Kentucky. He teaches global warming at a university in England, and his sister (who is a Christian) had invited him to come with her to hear me speak.
After my talk, he and I had a dynamic discussion about the topics I had addressed, including the theory of global warming. He disagreed with me on quite a few points, but I was open to his ideas and questions. We had a good time dialoguing back and forth and challenging each other to provide evidence for our positions.
One influential person I had mentioned in my talk that day was Richard Dawkins, an anti-Christian activist and one of the strongest proponents of the theory of evolution and the “New Atheism” movement. I have never met Dawkins personally, but from what I have seen in interviews, he is an angry man. He hates Christians, and he seems to “have it out” for the Christian community and anyone who believes in God, creation, or intelligent design. To give you an example, consider the titles of some of the books Dawkins has penned:
■ The God Delusion
■ The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design
■ The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
■ Everything You Know About God is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion (contributor)
As I prepared to leave, this British professor told me, “You know, you’re not what I expected!”
I laughed and said, “I could take that a couple of ways. What do you mean?”
He told me, “I expected you to be angry and want to argue with me because I don’t agree with you.”
“I don’t hate you because you don’t think like I do,” I replied. “In fact, I spent many years believing the same things that you do. But God doesn’t tell us to fight or argue. He just tells us to be ready to share with others the reason for our hope. So that’s what I do!”
I continued, “When I see people harboring so much anger and hatred toward others who are supposedly so ‘stupid’ and ‘uninformed,’ I just don’t understand it. Think about Richard Dawkins. Why is he so angry? If he truly believes Christians are so stupid, he should feel sorry for us. For example, if someone walked up to me and told me that he believed the moon was made of green cheese, and he was totally sincere, would I get angry and fight with him or call him names? No way. I’d pat him on the back and say, ‘I love you, brother, but you may want to go get some help!’ The fact that Richard Dawkins is so angry shows me that the Holy Spirit is working on him. I’m praying for him. I still believe there is hope for him!”
I told the professor that I had really enjoyed meeting him and discussing science and Scripture with him. We shook hands and parted ways. I prayed that he would consider the truths I had shared with him.
About three months later, I received an email from this same professor. He said, “Carl, you won’t believe this, but I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior the Sunday after I met you!” but I was thrilled to hear it.
His email continued: “You know what else? What really got me was what you shared about Richard Dawkins. You didn’t know this, but not long before I heard you speak, I had actually posted this on my Facebook page: ‘Richard Dawkins is God.’ ”
I was blown away by this man’s testimony. Only the living God can take someone from believing “Richard Dawkins is God” to proclaiming “Jesus Christ is Lord”! This man’s Christian sister had been witnessing to him and praying for him for years. I’m sure God heard her prayers and prepared his heart to be receptive to the gospel that day.
I’m humbled and awed that God allows you and me to play a small role in helping people like this man realize that God’s Word is true and that it is our standard for living. The apostle Paul wrote that we are to cast “down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God,” and that we are to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). God has the power and the will to tear down any argument or speculation that opposes the truth of His Word. I believe that’s what happened that day. The stumbling stones that had been in place for years in this man’s life were removed when he simply heard the truth spoken in love.
JOSHUA AND THE MEMORIAL STONES
The concept of mosaics really begins to take shape as we consider the purpose of memorial stones in Scripture. The Bible contains powerful examples of stone memorials that people built to help them remember how God had worked in their lives.
Let’s start by focusing on the life of Joshua. This biblical leader was my type of guy; he knew how to get things done! Remember, as the Israelites anticipated entering the Promised
Land, Moses sent twelve men to spy on the land of Canaan and report back with their findings (Numbers 13). Joshua was one of those twelve men. Despite the fact that the cities were well fortified and it seemed impossible for the Israelites to overcome the Canaanites, Joshua and Caleb were ready to go for it. In Numbers 14 we read Joshua and Caleb’s response: “If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.” Of the twelve men, Joshua and Caleb were the only two who maintained a faith that God would lead them into the land He had promised. Based on the report of the other ten, Israel did not enter the Promised Land and instead was consigned to wander forty years in the wilderness until the nonbelieving generation had passed away.
After the forty years of wandering, Joshua assumed the leadership of the Israelites following Moses’ death, and led them into the land. Joshua faced fierce battles, leadership struggles, and (of course) plenty of grumbling and complaining from the Israelite people. But he had earned the great privilege of leading God’s people into the Promised Land and he remained faithful to God through it all.
One of my favorite Bible passages contains the Lord’s powerful words to Joshua:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
During the time of Joshua’s leadership, the Lord commanded His people to use stones to serve as memorials. These memorials commemorated times when God performed miracles and showered grace upon His people even though they didn’t deserve it (which, after all, is the definition of grace!). In Joshua 4, God told the Israelites that these memorials would serve as a sign to them and that when their children would ask, “What do these stones mean to you?” they would recount how God had miraculously provided. In a way, these assembled stones were similar to mosaics, creating a picture to remind each generation of God’s faithfulness and provision.
The Israelites enjoyed gathering together to celebrate special feasts and festivals, just like we do at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But they didn’t celebrate just because it was fun. God commanded them to build memorials so that they would never forget His mercy and grace and to celebrate His goodness and faithfulness to them. He wanted the Israelites to remember all the ways that He had worked in their lives in the past.
I believe the same is true today. We should use the “stones” of hardships in our lives as reminders of what God has done for us, sharing them with the current generation so that they will be able to share with future generations the “stones” from their lives.
Chapter 3 of the book of Joshua records how God miraculously enabled His people to cross the Jordan River on dry land. He wanted to build up the Israelites’ faith and courage to show them that He would give them victory in battle over their enemies. Joshua said to the Israelites:
“Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God. By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” (Joshua 3:9–13)
In the following verses, we discover something surprising about the Jordan River: it is at flood stage all through the harvest. Yet here’s what happened:
. . . as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan. (Joshua 3:15–17)
Does this ring a bell? It reminds me of the time when God worked a miracle and enabled Moses to lead over two million Israelites across the Red Sea on dry ground as they escaped from slavery in Egypt. Now, God was showing His people that He was still in control by performing a similar miracle under the leadership of Joshua. (By the way, aren’t we glad that He’s still in control today?)
I love what happens next; now we’re getting to the “memorial stones” section. As a reminder to the current and future generations of what a great thing God had done for His people, God commanded Joshua to build a memorial. Twelve men (one from each tribe) went to the riverbed, and each removed one stone. They carried these stones to where they camped on the western side of the Jordan and piled them up as a memorial.
In addition, God commanded Joshua to build a second memorial—a pile of stones right in the middle of the Jordan River! Joshua picked up stones and carried them to the place where the ark of the covenant was still stationed and “set up twelve stones” in the midst of the riverbed (Joshua 4:9). (Why would God tell Joshua to set stones in the middle of the river, since they would quickly be covered when the water started to flow again? See the sidebar for the amazing answer.)
The Jordan crossing was an amazing miracle of God, a sign to His people that He was the One who led them into the land. This miracle was to give them faith that He would also lead them into battle against the Canaanites and that He would empower them to possess the land (Joshua 3:9–13). The stone memorial on the riverbank testified to His faithfulness and served as a reminder to them and future generations that only God is their deliverer and their source of strength. The stones “cry out” the message to every generation that God is steadfast in His promises to deliver and bless His people.
Remember that throughout the Old Testament, God provided signs to his people to reveal Himself, His plans, and especially the promise of a coming Messiah. The book of Joshua begins with the people preparing to enter the Promised Land, their God-given inheritance. They are not led by Moses, who represents the Law, but by Joshua, an Old Testament picture and foreshadow of our Savior, who is the only way to our inheritance.
We read in Joshua 3:17 that the ark stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while the people passed through untouched by the waters of the Jordan. Often in the Bible we see where water serves as a symbol of the wrath or judgment of God: the Flood (Genesis 6:17; Hebrews 11:7); the Red Sea drowning of the Egyptians (Exodus 14:28; Hebrews 11:29); Jonah going under the waters (Jonah 1; 2:3). Even the word “Jordan” implies judgment. A. W. Pink breaks the word into two Hebrew roots: jor or yar, which is literally “spread,” and dan, which means “judging” (Genesis 30:6). Others define it as yar-dane, meaning “descender.” Baptism, where the person is immersed in water and risen to new life by the power of Christ, is also a picture of the old man being judged by God, dying to self, and being saved by Christ. Jesus’ followers are commissioned to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17), and the Psalms confirm our being taken out from the waters:
He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. (Psalm 18:16)
Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink; let me be delivered from those who hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the floodwater overflow me, nor let the deep swallow me up; and let not the pit shut its mouth on me. (Psalm 69:14,15)
“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,” let Israel now say—“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul; then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul.” (Psalm 124:1–5)
“I will pour out My wrath on them like water.” (Hosea 5:10)
In Joshua 4, God instructed the twelve men (one from each tribe) to take a stone from the middle of the dry riverbed to build a memorial on the west bank of the Jordan. These stones came from the place that pictures death, the miry bottom of a riverbed. They had been buried beneath the waters, the picture of wrath and judgment. The “ark of the LORD,” which is a picture of Christ (in both construction and in being the place where God dwelled among His people) stood in the midst of the Jordan, allowing these stones to be brought up out of the waters (death) to create a memorial of deliverance (redemption). Remember, this was done “that this may be a sign among you . . .” (Joshua 4:6).
We read in Joshua 4:9 that it was Joshua, not the twelve, who was told to “set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.” This is a picture of the unredeemed, those who die in their sin, who are buried in death by the righteous judgment of God—“and they are there to this day” (Joshua 4:9). What a frightening thought and a reminder to all of us to be bold in sharing the saving grace of the gospel.
The twelve stones taken out from the Jordan depths and placed on dry ground “where they lodged” (Joshua 4:8) symbolize those who were redeemed by Christ (the ark) and came out from under the judgment of God (the waters) to new life in the Promised Land (inheritance of life in Christ). And remember that the people crossed over the Jordan at the time of Passover! This was at the “time of harvest” (Joshua 3:15), “on the tenth day of the first month” (Joshua 4:19). This is a beautiful picture of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
The Joshua 4 memorial also reminds us of a future promise given in Isaiah 43:2, where God says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.” Notice that promise says “when,” not “if.” We all know that in this life trials will come our way, and we must always remember that He promises to be with us, to deliver us, to set our feet on solid ground. Remember the verse: