Book Recommendation: Return to Baragula by Mary Hawkins

Back cover blurb:

Over the years Emily Parker’s actions as a teenager have impacted not only her own life, but the lives of many different people.

Now, six years later, she returns reluctantly to her home town of Baragula only to discover the man at the heart of those actions, Matthew Davidson, is the community’s respected doctor.

While Emily’s faith is now severely weakened by all that has happened, Matthew’s life has completely turned around since he committed his life to Christ. His personal relationship with God is tested when he discovers how his behaviour when a non-believer hurt so many, especially Emily, and feels responsible for her hardness of heart towards the Lord.

Disease attacks the community while danger from another source threatens Emily and her family. Through it all, will Matthew and Emily’s faith be strong enough to forgive each other and put the past behind them?

Narelle: I really enjoyed all three books in Mary’s Baragula series. Return to Baragula by Mary Hawkins (Ark House Press, 2008) is the first book in the series.  Set in the picturesque Hunter Valley, Australia, I highly recommend this book to those looking for an engaging contemporary romance with an underlying spiritual theme of forgiveness.

To learn more about Mary Hawkins and her books, please visit her website http://www.mary-hawkins.com

Who is God talking to in Genesis 1?

by Deborah Horscroft

We have a good friend who become a Christian and she asks the BEST questions. She decided to start reading the Bible from the beginning and called me when she reached Genesis 1:26 (NIV).

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

She asked, “Who is God talking to?”

Now, my immediate response is to want to say, “The rest of the Trinity: Jesus and the Holy Spirit”. John 1:1-18 places Jesus at the moment of creation (In the Beginning) and describes all things being made through him. But that isn’t and can not be the whole answer, because the writer of Genesis had no concept of the Trinity. So a full answer must look at the author’s purpose as well as our understanding in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Traditionally, both Jews and Christians believe that Genesis through to Deuteronomy, otherwise known as the Law or the Pentateuch, was written by Moses. In John 5:37-40 & 45-46 (NIV) Jesus claims that Moses wrote about him.

“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life… But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Moses had a unique education, first as a student in the Egyptian palace and then hearing directly from Yahweh and receiving His laws. The creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 is written not as a mere narrative, but to both stir the hearts of God’s people in reverent awe and to speak strongly against the alternative creation accounts of the surrounding nations-including the very powerful nation of Egypt, from under whose slavery the first intended audience had recently escaped.

In his helpful commentary “Salvation Begins: Reading Genesis Today”, Andrew Reid points out that unlike contemporary ancient accounts, in Genesis there is no story of a deity coming into existence, God simply is. God makes matter rather than being made out of it. While the surrounding nations have the sun, moon and stars as powerful deities in their creation myths, in Genesis these are created entities which display God’s power. Humans are not created as an afterthought or a whim, but are the pinnacle of God’s creation, placed in a world designed for their comfort and rule. (Aquila Press 2000, p6) Moses describes the King and Creator announcing his crowning work of creation. God makes two humans in His own image. He makes them intelligent, relational beings and He makes them rulers over the earth.

In this original context my NIV Study Bible notes tell me God is speaking as “Creator- King” to the members of His heavenly court, and indeed there are other examples in scripture of God speaking to the angels and including them in His actions. In Genesis 3:22 God laments that man has become “like one of us, knowing good and evil”. The prophet Isaiah saw a vision of Heaven and God speaking to the angels, asking “who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8) In the light of New Testament revelation, the doctrine of the Trinity adds a new dimension to this text, showing the involvement of the Son and Holy Spirit from the very beginning.

As for the implications of being made in God’s image for the sanctity of human life and believers being conformed to Christ’s likeness (Romans 8:29), those are questions for another day.

Book Recommendation: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Back cover blurb:

California’s gold country, 1850. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. What she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance, her heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. So Angel runs. Back to the darkness… A powerful retelling of the book of Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love. A page-turner.

Narelle: I love this book, and I’ve read it more than once. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (Monarch Books, 2004) is an award winning historical romance that has featured on Christian fiction bestseller lists for years. Francine’s writing is both beautiful and powerful as her characters retell the little known Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer. If you’ve never read Christian fiction and like reading romance, I highly recommend you start by reading Redeeming Love.

Read first chapter FREE at Amazon.com