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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:
Charisma House; Reprint edition (October 2, 2012)
***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Linda Rios Brook is the author of the popular books Lucifer’s Flood, The Deliverer, and The King, winner USA Best Books 2010 award. A television executive for over twenty years, Linda is an ordained minister and formerly served as head of evangelism for the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas and as a deacon at North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills, Minnesota. She presently teaches adult Bible education at Covenant Centre International in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Why does evil persist? If Satan is a defeated enemy, why does it appear as though he isn’t? Why doesn’t he give up?
Evil rages at an unacceptable level against individuals and groups of people who are created in the image of God and no one appears able to do very much about it. We are in the midst of an ancient, ongoing, global, celestial struggle for power and authority to govern and control human behavior and subsequently the nations of the earth, even the planet itself.
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Charisma House; Reprint edition (October 2, 2012)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
ISA HARREL, A postal worker in Albany, New York, was delivering mail to a home late one Monday morning in 2008 when she looked up and noticed a baby in a window above the front door.
"The next thing I knew, she had fallen into my arms," Lisa said.
When the baby's mother realized what had happened, she ran outside and grabbed the one-year-old child from Lisa.
The woman thanked her and then ran down the street to her neighbor’s house. Paramedics checked the baby at the scene but found no injuries.
How was a potentially fatal accident averted? Some people familiar with the story declared it a miracle. What else could it have been? The timing was precise. If Lisa had been walking down the sidewalk when she saw the baby about to fall instead of standing directly under the window, she would not have had enough time to rush to catch her. Suppose Lisa had already deposited the mail and taken one step off the porch when she heard a noise and turned around? The little girl would have crashed to the concrete steps. If Lisa had been five seconds earlier or later, a tragedy might have occurred. Surely God had intervened.
On a sunny Monday morning in October 2006, a dairy truck driver walked into an Amish schoolhouse set back in a corn- field on a street of stone houses, barns, and silos in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Heavily armed, Charles C. Roberts entered the one-room school and ordered the fifteen boys to leave, along with several adults, then demanded that the eleven girls line up facing the blackboard. As the gunman lashed the students’ legs together with wire and plastic ties, the teacher dashed from the room and called the police. By the time the police arrived, the gunman had murdered four girls and wounded several others before killing himself. A fifth child died in a Delaware hospital the following day.
The Amish are a people of simple faith, piety, and prayer, yet no miraculous rescue occurred. Why did God not intervene to spare the innocent children? What do people of faith have to say in response to such a horrific crime? Some have said there are no answers because God’s ways are not our ways, but God must have allowed it to happen for a purpose. John Calvin once said, “Anyone who has been taught by Christ’s lips . . . will look farther afield for a cause, and will consider that all events are governed by God’s secret plan.”3 What secret plan of God includes the massacre of Amish school- children? Can anyone theorize even one providential reason God thought it better to allow this tragedy than to prevent it?
Exactly how the convoy from Blackwater Security Consulting was stopped on April 1, 2004, probably will never be clear. Some reports suggested it made the fatal mistake of hitting the brakes when armed men blocked their path instead of flooring the accelerator in hopes of barging through. Others speculated the occupants had already been shot dead before their cars came to a stop.
Given what happened next, their grieving families probably hope it was the latter. In an act of savagery shocking even for blood-soaked Fallujah, Iraq’s most troubled region, the bodies of the three men and one woman inside the vehicles were beaten, burned, and dismembered. But the worst was yet to come. In what turned into a macabre town fete, at least one corpse was tied to a car and pulled triumphantly through the city streets amid a cheering crowd and in full view of a camera crew. Two of the charred and mangled corpses were hung from a green iron bridge across the Euphrates River. “The people of Fallujah hanged some of the bodies on the old bridge like slaughtered sheep,” resident Abdul Aziz Mohammed said gleefully.
Do you suppose the families and friends of the men and women assigned to that dangerous part of the world prayed for protection and mercy? Yet no miraculous intervention occurred. Why not? Senseless violence does not increase our confidence in a loving, omnipotent God who could have protected His children from travesty but chose not to do so. Where does a minister find the words to ease the wrenching pain of the wife or mother who has witnessed her husband or son butchered on live television?
“We must believe unquestioningly that . . . it is pleasing to God to sacrifice ourselves to Him, that it is by His divine Providence that we are abandoned to all kinds of conditions, to suffer all kinds of sufferings, miseries, and temptations,” wrote Brother Lawrence.5 Those who have stood helplessly by and witnessed people being tortured and dismembered are not consoled by religion that insists the butchers could not have inflicted such harm unless God allowed it for a greater purpose. Clichés are no comfort to those caught up in a nightmare.
On January 23, 2002, on his way to what he thought was an interview with Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani at the Village Restaurant in downtown Karachi, Pakistan, Daniel Pearl was kidnapped by a militant group calling itself The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. The group claimed Pearl was not a journalist but rather a CIA operations officer and, using a Hotmail e-mail account, sent the United States a range of demands, including the freeing of all Pakistani terrorist detainees and the release of a US shipment of F-16 fighter jets to the Pakistani government.
The message read: “We give u 1 more day if America will not meet our demands we will kill Daniel. Then this cycle will continue and no American journalist could enter Pakistan.” Attached to the message were photos of Pearl handcuffed with a gun to his head and holding up a newspaper. There was no response to pleas from Pearl’s editor or from his wife, Mariane.
Nine days later Pearl was beheaded. On May 16 his severed head and decomposed body were found cut into ten pieces and buried, along with the jacket of a tracksuit Pearl was wearing when photographed by his kidnappers, in a shallow grave at Gadap, located about thirty miles north of Karachi.
For many days during his captivity Pearl was the focus of countless prayers for his release, yet no divine rescue occurred. I doubt his grieving wife would have been comforted to know that all things, evil and despicable as they may be, work together for the glory of God. What reasonable person would have the audacity to urge Daniel Pearl’s parents to accept the brutal dismemberment of their son as having come from the
hand of a loving Father? The idea that beheading and unimaginable brutality have a “higher purpose” is insulting to those who are victims of horror and to the character of God.
How do we explain that the God who so precisely ordered the footsteps of a civil servant to be in the right spot to catch a baby falling from a second-story window is the same God who seemed unmoved by the slaughter of American contractors on a national building assignment or the beheading of a Jewish journalist on a peace mission? Are we to somehow rationalize that the murders of schoolgirls are unfortunate but acceptable casualties to test the faith and fortitude of Amish parents so God can be glorified? Is that really the best we can do?
The contradictions and calamities apparent in these stories represent the enigmatic tension of the cosmos. Either God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent—able to know all things, be all places, and with all sufficient power to rescue us as our creed declares—or He is something else. If what we insist is true of Him really is, then why does He sometimes intervene and sometimes not?
E. Frank Tupper asks the question this way: “If God really has the power to intervene in nature and history whenever, wherever, and however God chooses, why does God not do so? The monarchical model of a do Anything, Anytime, Any where kind of God cannot account for the failure of God to act to prevent a colossal catastrophe or to deliver a segment of vulnerable humanity from some monstrous evil.”
If it is God’s unwavering intent to rescue, redeem, and restore humanity and all creation as Romans 8 declares, then it must be someone else’s intent to kill, steal, and destroy them. The aim of this book is to assign the blame for
wickedness and all of its manifestations squarely where it belongs—with the archangel named Lucifer, not with God. Yahweh is not the source of horror; Lucifer is. God is not opposed by a force, a philosophy, or bad theology but rather by a powerful evil being that savagely wars against and through flesh and blood, nature, and other supernatural beings to relentlessly oppose God’s objective to reconcile His creation to Himself.
Just as the fullness of God was resident in a person, Jesus
(Col. 1:19), the fullness of evil also resides in a person who rages to annul the covenant of redemption between Jesus and all of creation by ruling through and/or destroying humanity. Why? What does Lucifer stand to gain or lose from what happens to people? Everything, because humanity was the game-changer.
The War of the Angels
In the beginning, before anything that exists ever was, the war in heaven raged between the angels. As this book will reveal, God’s sovereign decision to create a self-willed race in His likeness represented a pivotal point in the war of the cosmos.
If we are to prevail against Lucifer’s plans to consume and devour the human race, we must understand him better than we do. How did the war start? What is it about? More impor- tantly, is it certain that we win? While it may shatter our illu- sions, the answer to the last question on so many levels is, “No, it is not certain we will win.” The redemption of the human soul by the blood of the Lamb is certain; the fate of the earth and its inhabitants is not.
Gregory A. Boyd, PhD, writes in his book Satan and the Problem of Evil: “While Scripture emphasizes God ’s ultimate authority over the world, it also emphasizes that agents, whom God has created, can and do resist His will. Scripture does not teach that God controls all the behavior of free agents, whether humans or angels. Humans and fallen angels are able to grieve God ’s Spirit and to some extent frustrate His purpose (Gen. 6:6; Is. 63:10; Luke 7:30; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 3:8, 15; 4:7). While His general will for world history cannot fail, His particular will for individuals, often does.”
While Boyd may help explain why evil things happen, he does not tell us how, or if, we can avoid being among those for whom God ’s will does not come to pass. Winning this battle requires a paradigm shift in how we understand what in the world is going on. Lucifer is smarter than we think he is. He is willing to change his tactics when necessary. He manifests and masquerades his rage against God in human drama such as rabid intolerance, mental illness, demonic oppression and possession, ethnic wars, violence, brutality, religious fundamentalism, and scores of other ways about which God, at times, seems unwilling or unable to do very much.
Facing the Truth
Does Lucifer know he is defeated? No, he does not. He does not behave as one who knows he is defeated. In any war, when one side recognizes the futility of continuing the battle, that side seeks to minimize its damages. It is willing to make a deal, declare a truce, cut its losses. The insurgent forces against the purposes of God are a kingdom of self- willed, powerful beings organized under Lucifer’s leadership that may acknowledge the efficacy of Jesus in saving the souls of people but little else. The war in the heavens that started before creation continues today. The only change is that there is a new player: humanity.
Lucifer was created by God; his power came from God. God ’s gifts, to humans or angels, are irrevocable whether they are used for good or evil. A talented singer may lead a worship team or a satanic band; it is the same gift. The person with keen spiritual discernment may be a prophet or a psychic; it is the same gift making him or her sensitive to spiritual realities. Lucifer defies Christian clichés that portray him as a “toothless lion devoid of power.” If that were so, the world would not look the way that it does. Apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and slavery would not exist. Two thou- sand years this side of the cross, Lucifer, now called Satan, continues to assault human beings in monstrous ways and wars against God Himself for the same reason he always has.
He thinks he can win.