The Chosen by Chaim Potok

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In the beginning, it was difficult to see where the author was going with the story.  I read four chapters before I understood the plot.

The setting of the story is Brooklyn, New York, during the early 1940’s.  The main characters are teenage boys named Danny and Reuven.  Both boys come from Jewish families; however, Danny is an ultra-orthodox Jew and his father would normally not allow Danny to hang out with Reuven.

The boys got to know each other after a baseball game.  Reuven was pitching and Danny hit the ball straight into Reuven’s face.  Since Reuven was wearing glasses, he needed surgery to remove glass from one of his eyes.

Danny felt horrible about the accident and would visit Reuven at the hospital.  At first Reuven had no desire to befriend Danny, but Reuven’s father thought it was important for the boys to become friends.  He told Reuven, “The Talmud says a person should do two things for themselves.”  The first was to find a teacher and the second was to find a friend.

Eventually, a friendship developed between the boys.  It required a lot of work and things didn’t always go smoothly.

The story teaches us a lot about the benefits of friendship and the importance of maintaining a friendship even when it is difficult.

Even though the book had a slow start, I did enjoy reading it and gained some perspective on the value of friendships.

 

Faith in the Love of Jesus

The other day, I was reading Matthew 15:21-28.

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyreand Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (ESV)

I started thinking about the Jewish society of that time.  It was extremely prejudicial, and a person’s worth or cleanliness was largely based on race and ethnic origin.  As a Canaanite and a woman, she would have been viewed with disdain.  Also, the statement made by Jesus echoes that sentiment.

However, the woman trusted Jesus.  She believed him to be fair and loving.  She trusted him to not judge her based on superficial things.  Her trust in the love of Jesus was not misplaced.  Jesus healed her daughter and commented on her great faith.

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The Unforgivable Sin

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (Matthew 12:30-31 (ESV))

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What is the unforgivable sin?  What does “blasphemy against the Spirit” really mean?

The first word in Matthew 12:31 is “Therefore.”  That word is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “for that reason” or “because of that.”  It’s an extremely important word in this verse of Scripture.  It tells us the unforgivable sin is because of what is being described in the previous verse.

In the previous verse, Jesus is talking about people that are against him. He is talking about people that are not followers.

Therefore, the unforgivable sin is to reject Jesus and refuse to follow him.

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

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I recommend the book, “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis for anyone suffering with grief or depression.  This is not a typical book, it’s actually a collection of journal entries made by C.S. Lewis after his wife died.

He describes grief as feeling like you are afraid and feeling like you are slightly intoxicated.  C.S. Lewis also had this to say about his grief:

“There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me.”

“I loathe the slightest effort.”

His writings are an honest portrayal of his agony and his feelings toward God.  I appreciated his willings to be honest about his anger at God.

I found the book beneficial, because I often feel the same way and I could relate to it.