Monday, March 29, 2010

REVIEW: "The Eden Diet" by Rita Hancock, MD



“Listen for hunger pangs, and when you feel them,
eat small quantities of the foods you enjoy.”
(from page 182)

That, right there, basically sums up this book’s premise.

THE EDEN DIET is a good guide for learning how to eat according to your “internal weight control system”. Dr. Rita’s approach is very freedom-focused, and she gives people ‘permission’ to eat what they truly enjoy, no matter their starting weight. There’s no guilt or condemnation here! She, herself, knows what it’s like to struggle with being overweight, as she lost 75 lbs with this way of eating, and has kept it off (if imperfectly) for over 25 years.

Even though the program is a Christian one, and God is a primary focus, this book is not at all “preachy”. I think, even if you don’t have a Christian worldview, you could still read this book for its weight loss advice/plan without feeling like you’ve been beat over the head with the Christian message.

The challenges presented inside — from the 7-Day Challenge, to the 30-Day Blocks, to the Apple Test — are all very helpful, but they’re not so complicated or intimidating as to scare you off. They have just enough to them to motivate you.

Many topics are covered inside, including (but not limited to): whether or not to eat breakfast, how to handle buffet meals and other special occasions, food- and people-triggers, and how to still eat when your family does.

I really liked how, at the end of each chapter (and even at the end of some sub-sections), Dr. Rita would give you a summary of what you’ve just read in order to help cement the ideas presented.

Overall, this is a fantastic book, and a terribly sensible plan. I definitely give this book my highest recommendation (and will be back in a few months to let you know how it’s working for me!).

5*****
(Rated: A+)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reviews Index

Here you'll find all of my reviews in one place:

CHRISTIAN FICTION:
Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith (Wives of King David, #2)
A Bride Most Begrudging by Deanne Gist
All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin
An Eye for An Eye by Irene Hannon
A Well-Behaved Woman's Life by Susan McGeown
A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin
Blue Enchantress, The by M.L. Tyndall
Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy
City of the Dead by T. L. Higley
Everything's Coming Up Josey by Susan May Warren
Fearless by Robin Parrish (Dominion, #2)
Finding Anna by Christine Schaub
Forsaken by James David Jordan
Gathering Place, The by Becca Anderson
Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy
Hadassah Covenant, The by Tommy Tenney
Havah by Tosca Lee
Heir, The by Paul Robertson
Hero's Tribute by Graham Garrison
Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen
Leave It To Chance by Sheri Sand
Merciless by Robin Parrish (Dominion, #3)
Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay & Rene Gutteridge
Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren (P.J. Sugar, #1)
Offworld by Robin Parrish*
One Little Secret by Allison Bottke
Piece de Resistance by Sandra Byrd
Preacher's Daughter, The by Beverly Lewis
Rachel's Prayer by Leisha Kelly
Relentless by Robin Parrish (Dominion, #1)
Rekindled by Tamera Alexander (FC Chronicles, #1)
Revealed by Tamera Alexander (FC Chronicles, #2)
Sacred Cipher, The by Terry Brennan
Savannah From Savannah by Denise Hildreth
Shack, The by William P. Young
Silent Governess, The by Julie Klassen
Stolen Lives by Brian Reaves
Stones, The by Eleanor Gustafson
Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate
Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove
Thirsty by Tracey Bateman*
This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury
TSI: The Gabon Virus by Paul McCusker
Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney


CHRISTIAN NON-FICTION:
7 Faith Tribes, The by George Barna
10 Things I Hate About Christianity, The by Jason T. Berggren
A Glimpse of Jesus by Brennan Manning
A Hope and a Future by Don Wilton
Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church... by Ken Ham & Britt Beemer
A Novel Idea by Chi Libris
A Perfect Mess by Lisa Harper
Apologetics for a New Generation by Sean McDowell
A Scandalous Freedom by Steve Brown
Backward Life, The by Jarrod Jones
Barbarian Way, The by Erwin Raphael McManus
Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World by Kathi Macias
Blah, Blah, Blah: Making Sense of the World's Spiritual Chatter by Bayard Taylor
Breaking the Barriers by Jason Frenn
Christian-ish by Mark Steele
Christianity in Crisis: The 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff
Crave: Wanting So Much More of God by Chris Tomlinson
Dying to Live by Clive Calver
Eats With Sinners by Arron Chambers*
Feeding Your Appetites by Stephen Arterburn*
Finding Organic Church by Frank Viola*
Fixing Abraham by Chris Tiegreen
For Couples Only by Jeff & Shaunti Feldhahn
Forgotten God, The by Francis Chan*
From Clutter to Clarity by Nancy Twigg*
Get Out of That Pit! by Beth Moore
Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson with Cecil Murphey
God Has Never Failed Me... & The Buzzards are Circling... by Stan Toler (2 reviews)
Godly Love by Stephen G. Post
Heart of Christianity, The by Marcus J. Borg
He Came to Set the Captives Free by Rebecca Brown
He Loves Me: Learning to Live in the Father's Affection by Wayne Jacobsen
Hidden in Plain Sight by Mark Buchanan
Hope Unleashed by Andy Hawthorne
How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph by Linda Massey Weddle
King's Legacy, The by Jim Stovall
Looking For God in Harry Potter by John Granger
Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy by Leslie Vernick
Losing Control & Liking It by Tim Sanford
Lost Christianities by Bart D. Ehrman
Messages to Myself by Helen McIntosh
Naked Fruit by Elisa Morgan
Never Give Up by Joyce Meyer
No Idea by Greg Garrett
No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin & J.Degler*
One Million Arrows by Julie Ferwerda*
Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen*
Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola & George Barna*
Ragamuffin Gospel, The by Brennan Manning
Recover Your Good Heart by Jim Robbins
Sacred Obsession by Becky Tirabassi*
Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul's Path to God by Gary Thomas
Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall with Denver Moore
Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience by Ronald J. Sider
Scandalous Grace by Julie Ann Barnhill
Scars & Stilettos by Harmony Dust
Secondhand Jesus by Glenn Packiam
So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore
Totally God's by Megan Clinton & Tim Clinton*
Truth & Fiction in The Da Vinci Code by Bart D. Ehrman
Twilight Gospel, The by Dave Roberts
Us: A User's Guide by Daniel Tocchini
Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell
What Bothers Me Most About Christianity by Ed Gungor
Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God by Mark Batterson


SECULAR FICTION:
A Song In Stone by Walter H. Hunt
Best Mariachi in the World, The / El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo by J.D. Smith (children's/bilingual)
Blankets by Craig Thompson*
Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton*
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampire, #1)*
Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
Diplomat's Wife, The by Pam Jenoff
End of the Beginning, The by Avi*
Evermore by Alyson Noel (Immortals, #1)*
Eyre Affair, The by Jasper Fforde
Flirting With Boys by Hailey Abbott*
Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon*
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips*
Her Only Desire by Gaelen Foley
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder*
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely, #2)*
Just Like That by Marsha Qualey*
Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian (Midnight Breed, #1)*
Kommandant's Girl, The by Pam Jenoff*
Life of Reilly, The by Sue Civil-Brown*
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampire, #2)*
Losing the Moon by Patti Callahan Henry
Mosquito by Roma Tearne
Old Man's Secret, The by Sandra Kay Austin (YA Fiction)
Other Boy, The by Hailey Abbott*
Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott*
Persuasion by Jane Austen*
Red Sea by E. A. Benedek
Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer
Slightly Settled by Wendy Markham
Sunnyside Blues by Mary Carter*
Thirst [vol.1] by Christopher Pike*
Thirteenth Tale, The by Diane Setterfield
Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch*
Vagabond Clown, The by Edward Marston
Vince & Joy by Lisa Jewel*
Wearing the Spider by Susan Schaab
When the World Was Steady by Claire Messud
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely, #1)*


SECULAR NON-FICTION:
100 Simple Secrets of Successful People by David Niven*
Blue Jean Buddha by Sumi Loundon*
Creative Habit, The by Twyla Tharp*
Dream Homes: A Memoir by Joyce Zonana
Daring Female's Guide to Ecstatic Living, The by Natasha Kogan
Enough Already! by Peter Walsh*
First 30 Days, The by Ariane de Bonvoisin*
It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh*
Last Lecture, The by Dr. Randy Pausch*
One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer*
Start Talking by Mary-Jo Rapini & Janine Sherman*
Switch by Chip & Dan Heath*
This Year I Will... by M. J. Ryan
Unlikely Disciple, The by Kevin Roose*
Year of Living Biblically, The by A.J. Jacobs*
Zig-Zagging: A Memoir by Tom Wilson, Jr.*

HEALTH & FITNESS TITLES:
100 Days of Weight Loss by Linda Spangle
Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl, The by Shauna Reid
Back On Track by Carole Lewis*
Best Life Diet, The by Bob Greene*
Body for Life by Bill Phillips
Chocolatherapy by Karen Scalf Linamen*
Courage to Start, The by John Bingham
Denise's Daily Dozen by Denise Austin
Diet Fads by Barbara A. Zahensky (for teens)*
Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh
Dr. Colbert's 'I Can Do This!' Diet by Dr. Don Colbert
Eat Smart, Walk Strong by Leslie Sansone
Eden Diet, The by Rita Hancock, M.D.
End of Overeating, The by David A. Kessler, Ph.D.
Fat Girl: One Woman's Way Out by Irene O'Garden*
Fattitudes by Jeffrey & Norean Wilbert
F-Factor Diet, The by Tanya Zuckerbrot*
Finally Thin by Kim Bensen
First Place 4 Health by Carole Lewis
Fit For Life by Harvey & Marilyn Diamond*
Fit For My King by Sheri Rose Shepherd
Fit From Within by Victoria Moran
Flexitarian Diet, The by Dawn Jackson Blatner*
Getting Thin & Loving Food by Kathleen Daelemans*
Get With the Program by Bob Greene
G.I. (Glycemic Index) Diet, The by Rick Gallop*
Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir by Jennette Fulda*
How to Survive Your Diet by Linda Moran
Hungry by Allen Zadoff*
I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
Live a Little! by Susan Love & Alice Domar
Look Great, Feel Great by Joyce Meyer
Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays, M.D.
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.
Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel
Never Say Diet & The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer by Chantel Hobbs
No S Diet, The by Reinhard Engels
One Day Way, The by Chantel Hobbs
Overcoming Overeating by J.Hirschmann & C.Munter*
Portion Teller, The by Lisa R. Young*
Safe Dieting for Teens by Linda Ojeda*
Secrets of a Former Fat Girl by Lisa Delaney
Secrets of Skinny Chicks, The by Karen Bridson*
Secrets of Successful Weight Loss by Diana Burell*
Skinny, The by Robin Aronson & Melissa Clark*
Sugar Solution, The by Sari Harrar
SuperFoods Rx Diet, The by Wendy Bazilian and Steven Pratt
Thin Again by Arthur & Judy Halliday*
Thin Commandments Diet, The by Stephen Gullo, Ph.D.
Thin People Don't Clean Their Plates by Jill Fleming*
Thin Within by Judy Wardell (secular version)
Thin Within: A Grace-Oriented Approach... by Judy & Arthur Halliday
Walk Away the Pounds by Leslie Sansone
Weigh Down Diet, The by Gwen Shamblin*
Weight Watchers' Tools for Living Companion by Weight Watchers Int'l
Why Weight? by Geneen Roth*
Winning After Losing by Stacey Halprin
Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size, The by Julia Cameron
You: On a Diet by Dr. Oz & Dr. Roizen*

((Note: Those Health & Fitness reviews, above, that are marked with a purple asterisk (*) link to their respective pages my other blog, MizB's Health & Fitness Book Reviews, and those other reviews with a green asterisk (*) link to my Should Be Reading blog.))

Saturday, March 27, 2010

REVIEW: "On Guard" by William Lane Craig

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:


On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology. With earned doctorates in philosophy and theology, he has established a reputation as one of the most prominent Christian philosophers of our day. His publications, debates, and internet presence have made him a highly visible champion of Christian faith. His seminary textbook, Reasonable Faith, is widely considered to be the best book on Christian apologetics today.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764885
ISBN-13: 978-1434764881

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


WHAT IS APOLOGETICS?


Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15 RSV)


I teach a Sunday school class called “Defenders” to about one hundred people, from high schoolers to senior adults, at our home church in Atlanta. We talk about what the Bible teaches (Christian doctrine) and about how to defend it (Christian apologetics). Sometimes people who aren’t in our class don’t understand what we do. One fine Southern lady, upon hearing that I teach Christian apologetics, remarked indignantly, “I’ll never apologize for my faith!”


Apologetics Means a Defense


The reason for her misunderstanding is obvious: “Apologetics” sounds like “apologize.” But apologetics is not the art of telling somebody you’re sorry that you’re a Christian! Rather apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which means a defense, as in a court of law. Christian apologetics involves making a case for the truth of the Christian faith.


The Bible actually commands us to have such a case ready to give to any unbeliever who wants to know why we believe what we do. Just as the contestants in a fencing match have learned both to parry each attack as well as to go on the offensive themselves, so we must always be “on guard.” First Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (author’s translation).


Notice the attitude we’re supposed to have when giving our defense: We should be gentle and respectful. Apologetics is also not the art of making somebody else sorry that you’re a Christian! We can present a defense of the Christian faith without becoming defensive. We can present arguments for Christianity without becoming argumentative.


When I talk in this book about arguments for the Christian faith, it’s vital to understand that I don’t mean quarreling. We should never quarrel with a nonbeliever about our faith. That only makes people mad and drives them away. As I’ll explain later in this chapter, an argument in the philosophical sense is not a fight or a heated exchange; it’s just a series of statements leading to a conclusion. That’s all.


Ironically, if you have good arguments in support of your faith, you’re less apt to become quarrelsome or upset. I find that the better my arguments, the less argumentative I am. The better my defense, the less defensive I am. If you have good reasons for what you believe and know the answers to the unbeliever’s questions or objections, there’s just no reason to get hot under the collar. Instead, you’ll find yourself calm and confident when you’re under attack, because you know you have the answers.


I frequently debate on university campuses on topics like “Does God Exist?” or “Christianity vs.

Atheism.” Sometimes students in the audience get up during the Q&A period and attack me personally

or go into an abusive rant. I find that my reaction to these students is not anger, but rather simply feeling

sorry for them because they’re so mixed up. If you have good reasons for what you believe, then instead

of anger you’ll feel a genuine compassion for the unbeliever, who is often so misled. Good apologetics involves “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).


Is Apologetics Biblical?

Some people think that apologetics is unbiblical. They say that you should just preach the gospel and let the Holy Spirit do His work! But I think that the example of Jesus and the apostles affirms the value of apologetics. Jesus appealed to miracles and to fulfilled prophecy to prove that His claims were true (Luke 24:25–27; John 14:11). What about the apostles? In dealing with other Jews, they used fulfilled prophecy, Jesus’ miracles, and especially Jesus’ resurrection to prove that He was the Messiah. Take, for example, Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost recorded in the second chapter of Acts. In verse 22, he appeals to Jesus’ miracles. In verses 25–31 he appeals to fulfilled prophecy. In verse 32 he appeals to Christ’s resurrection. By means of these arguments the apostles sought to show their fellow Jews that Christianity is true.


In dealing with non-Jews, the apostles sought to show the existence of God through His handiwork

in nature (Acts 14:17). In Romans 1, Paul says that from nature alone all men can know that God

exists (Rom. 1:20). Paul also appealed to eyewitness testimony of Jesus’ resurrection to show further that

Christianity is true (1 Cor. 15:3–8).


So it’s clear that both Jesus and the apostles were not afraid to give evidence for the truth of what

they proclaimed. This doesn’t mean they didn’t trust the Holy Spirit to bring people to God. Rather they trusted the Holy Spirit to use their arguments and evidence to bring people to God.


Why Is Apologetics Important?


It’s vitally important that Christians today be trained in apologetics. Why? Let me give three reasons.


1. Shaping culture. We’ve all heard of the so-called culture war going on in American society. Some people may not like this militaristic metaphor, but the truth is that a tremendous struggle for the soul of America is raging right now. This struggle is not just political. It has a religious or spiritual dimension as well. Secularists are bent on eliminating religion from the public square. The so-called New Atheists, represented by people like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens, are even more aggressive. They want to exterminate religious belief entirely.


American society has already become post-Christian. Belief in a sort of generic God is still the norm, but belief in Jesus Christ is now politically incorrect. How many films coming out of Hollywood portray Christians in a positive way? How many times do we instead find Christians portrayed as shallow, bigoted, villainous hypocrites? What is the public perception of Bible-believing Christians in our culture today?


The above cartoon poignantly depicts the perception of Christians by the cultural elite in American society today: goofy curiosities to be gawked at by normal people. But notice, they’re also dangerous. They mustn’t be allowed positions of influence in society. Maybe that’s why they even need to be penned up.


Why are these considerations of culture important? Why can’t we Christians just be faithful followers of Christ and ignore what is going on in the culture at large? Why not just preach the gospel to a dark and dying world?


The answer is, because the gospel is never heard in isolation. It is always heard against the backdrop of the culture in which you’ve been born and raised. A person who has been raised in a culture that is sympathetic to the Christian faith will be open to the gospel in a way that a person brought up in a secular culture will not. For a person who is thoroughly secularized, you may as well tell him to believe in fairies or leprechauns as in Jesus Christ! That’s how absurd the message of Christ will seem to him.



To see the influence of culture on your own thinking, imagine what you would think if a Hindu devotee of the Hare Krishna movement, with his shaved head and saffron robe, approached you at the airport or shopping mall, offering you a flower and inviting you to become a follower of Krishna. Such an invitation would likely strike you as bizarre, freakish, maybe even a bit funny. But think how differently someone in Delhi, India, would react if he were approached by such a person! Having been raised in a Hindu culture, he might take such an invitation very seriously.


If America’s slide into secularism continues, then what awaits us tomorrow is already evident today in Europe. Western Europe has become so secularized that it’s hard for the gospel even to get a fair hearing. As a result, missionaries must labor for years to win even a handful of converts. Having lived for thirteen years in Europe in four different countries, I can testify personally to how hard it is for people to respond to the message of Christ. Speaking on university campuses around Europe, I found that the students’ reaction was often bewilderment. Christianity is supposed to be for old women and children, they would think. So what’s this man with two earned doctorates from European universities doing here defending the truth of the Christian faith with arguments we can’t answer?


Once, when I was speaking at a university in Sweden, a student asked me during the Q&A following my talk, “What are you doing here?” Puzzled, I said, “Well, I’ve been invited by the Religious Studies Department to give this lecture.” “That’s not what I mean,” he insisted. “Don’t you understand how unusual this is? I want to know what motivates you personally to come and do this.” I suspect he had never seen a Christian philosopher before—in fact, a prominent Swedish philosopher told me that there are no Christian philosophers at any university in Sweden. The student’s question gave me the chance to share the story of how I came to Christ.


The skepticism on European university campuses runs so deep that when I spoke on the existence of God at the University of Porto in Portugal, the students (as I learned later) actually telephoned the Higher Institute of Philosophy at the University of Louvain in Belgium, where I was affiliated, to see if I was an imposter! They thought I was a fake! I just didn’t fit into their stereotype of a Christian.


If the gospel is to be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women today,

then it’s vital that we as Christians try to shape American culture in such a way that Christian belief cannot be dismissed as mere superstition. This is where Christian apologetics comes in. If Christians

could be trained to provide solid evidence for what they believe and good answers to unbelievers’

questions and objections, then the perception of Christians would slowly change. Christians would be seen as thoughtful people to be taken seriously rather than as emotional fanatics or buffoons. The gospel would be a real alternative for people to embrace.


I’m not saying that people will become Christians because of the arguments and evidence. Rather I’m saying that the arguments and evidence will help to create a culture in which Christian belief is a reasonable thing. They create an environment in which people will be open to the gospel. So becoming trained in apologetics is one way, a vital way, of being salt and light in American culture today.


2. Strengthening believers. The benefits of apologetics in your personal Christian life are huge. Let me mention three.


First of all, knowing why you believe as well as what you believe will make you more confident in sharing your faith with others. I see this happen all the time on university campuses when I have a public debate with a non-Christian professor. My experience is that while these professors may be very knowledgeable in their area of specialization, they are almost clueless when it comes to the evidence for Christianity. The Christian position in these debates usually comes out so far ahead of the non-Christian position that unbelieving students often complain that the whole event was a setup, staged to make the non-Christian position look bad! The truth is that we try to get the best opponents, who are often picked by the atheist club on campus.


Christian students, by contrast, come away from these debates with their heads held high, proud to be Christians. One Canadian student remarked to me following a debate, “I can’t wait to share my faith in Christ!” People who lack training in apologetics are often afraid to share their faith or speak out for

Christ out of fear that someone might ask them a question. But if you know the answers, then you’re not afraid to go into the lion’s den—in fact, you’ll enjoy it! Training in apologetics will help to make you a bold and fearless witness for Christ.


Second, apologetics can also help you to keep the faith in times of doubt and struggle. Emotions

will carry you only so far, and then you’re going to need something more substantial. When I speak in

churches around the country, I often meet parents who say something like, “If only you’d been here two

or three years ago! Our son (or daughter) had questions about the faith which no one could answer, and now he’s far from the Lord.”


In fact, there seem to be more and more reports of Christians abandoning their faith. A Christian minister at Stanford University recently told me that 40 percent of Christian high school students in church youth groups will quit church involvement altogether after graduation. Forty percent! It’s not just that they lose their faith in a hostile university environment. Rather, many have already abandoned faith while still in the youth group but continue to go through the motions until they’re out from under their parents’ authority.


I think the church is really failing these kids. Rather than provide them training in the defense of Christianity’s truth, we focus on emotional worship experiences, felt needs, and entertainment. It’s no wonder they become sitting ducks for that teacher or professor who rationally takes aim at their faith. In high school and college, students are intellectually assaulted with every manner of non-Christian philosophy conjoined with an overwhelming relativism and skepticism. We’ve got to train our kids for war. How dare we send them unarmed into an intellectual war zone? Parents must do more than take their children to church and read them Bible stories. Moms and dads need to be trained in apologetics themselves and so be able to explain to their children simply from an early age and then with increasing depth why we believe as we do. Honestly, I find it hard to understand how Christian couples in our day and age can risk bringing children into the world without being trained in apologetics as part of the art of parenting.


Of course, apologetics won’t guarantee that you or your children will keep the faith. There are all kinds of moral and spiritual factors that come into play, too. Some of the most effective atheist Web sites feature ex-believers who were trained in apologetics and still abandoned the faith. But when you look

closely at the arguments they give for abandoning Christianity, they are often confused or weak. I recently saw one Web site where the person provided a list of the books that had persuaded him that Christianity is bunk—followed by the remark that he hopes to read them someday! Ironically, some of these folks come to embrace positions that are more extreme and require more gullibility—such as that Jesus never existed—than the conservative views they once held.


But while apologetics is no guarantee, it can help. As I travel, I also meet many people who have been brought back from the brink of abandoning their faith by reading an apologetics book or watching a debate. Recently I had the privilege of speaking at Princeton University on arguments for the existence of God, and after my lecture a young man approached me who wanted to talk. Obviously trying to hold back the tears, he told me how a couple of years earlier he had been struggling with doubts and was almost to the point of abandoning his faith. Someone then gave him a video of one of my debates. He said, “It saved me from losing my faith. I cannot thank you enough.”


I said, “It was the Lord who saved you from falling.”


“Yes,” he replied, “but He used you. I can’t thank you too much.” I told him how thrilled I was for him and asked him about his future plans. “I’m graduating this year,” he told me, “and I plan to go to seminary. I’m going into the pastorate.” Praise God for the victory in this young man’s life! When you’re going through hard times and God seems distant, apologetics can help you to remember that our faith is not based on emotions, but on the truth, and therefore you must hold on to it.


Finally, the study of apologetics is going to make you a deeper and more interesting person. American culture is so appallingly superficial, fixated on celebrities, entertainment, sports, and self-indulgence. Studying apologetics is going to take you beyond all that to life’s deepest questions, questions about the existence and nature of God, the origin of the universe, the source of moral values, the problem of suffering and evil, and so on. As you wrestle with these deep questions, you yourself will be changed.


You will become more thoughtful and well-rounded. You’ll learn how to think logically and to analyze what other people are saying. Instead of saying sheepishly, “This is how I feel about it—it’s just my opinion, that’s all,” you’ll be able to say, “This is what I think about it, and here are my reasons.…” As a Christian, you’ll begin to have a deeper appreciation of Christian truths about God and the world and see how they all fit together to make up a Christian worldview.


3. Winning unbelievers. Many people will agree with what I’ve said about the role of apologetics in strengthening believers, but they deny that it’s of any use in winning unbelievers to Christ. “No one comes to Christ through arguments!” they’ll tell you.


To a certain extent, I think that such people are just victims of false expectations. When you realize that only a minority of people who hear the gospel respond positively to it and place their faith in Christ, we shouldn’t be surprised that most people will refuse to be persuaded by our arguments and evidence. By the very nature of the case, we should expect that most unbelievers will remain unconvinced by our apologetic arguments, just as most remain unmoved by the preaching of the cross.


And remember, no one knows for sure about the cumulative effect of such arguments, as the seed is planted and then watered again and again in ways we can’t even imagine. We shouldn’t expect that the unbeliever, when he first hears our apologetic case, will just roll over and play dead! Of course he’ll

fight back! Think of what’s at stake for him! But we patiently plant and water in hopes that over time the seed will grow and bear fruit.


But why bother, you might ask, with that minority of a minority with whom apologetics is effective? First, because every person is precious to God, a person for whom Christ died. Like a missionary called to reach an obscure people group, the Christian apologist is burdened to reach that minority of

persons who will respond to rational argument and evidence.


But second, this people group, though relatively small in numbers, is huge in influence. One of these persons, for example, was C. S. Lewis. Think of the impact that one man’s conversion continues to have! I find that the people who resonate most with my apologetic arguments tend to be engineers, people in medicine, and lawyers. Such persons are among the most influential in shaping our culture today. So reaching this minority of persons will yield a great harvest for the kingdom of God.



In any case the general conclusion that apologetics is ineffective in evangelism is just not true. Lee Strobel recently remarked to me that he has lost count of the number of people who have come to Christ through his books The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith. Nor has it been my experience that apologetics is ineffective in evangelism. We continually are thrilled to see people committing their lives to Christ through presentations of the gospel coupled with apologetics.


After giving a talk on arguments for the existence of God or evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, I’ll sometimes conclude with a prayer of commitment to give one’s life to Christ, and the comment cards indicate those who have registered such a commitment. Just recently I did a speaking tour of universities in central Illinois, and we were thrilled to find that almost every time I gave such a presentation, students indicated decisions for Christ. I’ve even seen students come to Christ just through hearing a defense of the

cosmological argument (which I’ll explain in this book)!


It has been thrilling, too, to hear stories of how people have been drawn to Christ through reading something I’ve written on apologetics. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, I’ve had the privilege of being involved in debates with Islamic apologists on various university campuses in Canada and the States. Recently, early one Saturday morning, we received a telephone call. The foreign voice on the other end announced, “Hello! This is Sayd al-Islam calling from Oman!” He went on to explain that he had secretly lost his Muslim faith and had become an atheist. But now by reading various Christian apologetic works, which he was ordering on Amazon.com, he had come to believe in God and was on the verge of making a commitment to Christ.


He was impressed with the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and had called me because he had several questions he still needed to settle. We talked for an hour, and I sensed that in his heart he already believed; but he wanted to be cautious and be sure he had the evidence in place before he consciously made that step. He explained to me, “You understand that I cannot tell you my real name. In my country I must lead a sort of double life because otherwise I would be killed.” I prayed with him that God would continue to guide him into truth, and then we said good-bye. You can imagine how full of thanks my heart was to God for using these books—and the Internet!—in the life of this man! Stories like this could be multiplied, and, of course, we never hear of most of them.


When apologetics is persuasively presented and sensitively combined with a gospel presentation and a personal testimony, the Spirit of God is pleased to use it to bring people to Himself.


How to Get the Most out of This Book


This book is intended to be a sort of training manual to equip you to fulfill the command of 1 Peter 3:15. So this is a book to be studied, not just read. You’ll find several arguments that I’ve put into easily memorizable steps. In discussing each argument, I’ll present a reason (or several reasons) to think

that each step in the argument is true. Then I’ll discuss the usual objections to each step and show you how to answer them. In that way you’ll be prepared in advance for possible questions you might meet in sharing your faith.


For example, suppose we have the following argument:

1. All men are mortal.

2. Socrates is a man.

3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

This is what we call a logically valid argument. That is to say, if steps 1 and 2 are true, then the conclusion, 3, is also true.


Logic is an expression of the mind of God (John 1:1). It describes how a supremely rational being reasons. There are only about nine basic rules of logic. So long as you obey the rules of logic, they guarantee that if the steps of your argument are true, then the conclusion is true as well. We then say that

the truth of the conclusion follows logically from the argument’s steps.


So the question then becomes: Are steps 1 and 2 in the above argument true? In support of step 1, we might present scientific and medical evidence for the fact that all men are mortal. In support of step 2 we might turn to historical evidence to prove that Socrates was a man. Along the way, we’d want to consider any objections to 1 or 2 and seek to answer them. For example, someone might deny step 2 because he believes that Socrates is just a mythical figure and not a real man. We’d have to show why the evidence

suggests that this belief is mistaken.


Steps 1 and 2 in this argument are called premises. If you obey the rules of logic and your premises are true, then your conclusion must be true as well.


Now the determined skeptic can deny any conclusion simply by denying one of the premises. You can’t force someone to accept the conclusion if he’s willing to pay the price of rejecting one of the premises. But what you can do is raise the price of rejecting the conclusion by giving good evidence for the truth of the premises.


For example, the person who denies premise 2 of the above argument is embracing a historical skepticism that the vast majority of professional historians would find unjustified. So he can reject premise 2 if he wants to, but he pays the price of making himself look like a kook. Such a person can hardly condemn as irrational someone who does accept the truth of premise 2.


So in presenting apologetic arguments for some conclusion, we want to raise the price of denying the conclusion as high as we can. We want to help the unbeliever see what it will cost him intellectually to resist the conclusion. Even if he is willing to pay that price, he may at least come to see why we

are not obliged to pay it, and so he may quit ridiculing Christians for being irrational or having no reasons for what we believe. And if he’s not willing to pay the price, then he may change his mind and come to accept the conclusion we’re arguing for.


In presenting the arguments and evidence in this book, I’ve tried to be simple without being simplistic. I’ll consider the strongest objections to my arguments and offer answers to them. Sometimes the material may be new and difficult for you. I’d encourage you to consider it in small bites, which are easier to digest. You might find it helpful to be part of a small group, where you can discuss the arguments. Don’t feel bad if you disagree with me on some points. I want you to think for yourself.


At the end of most chapters you’ll find an argument map or outline of the case presented in that chapter. Let me explain how to use the argument map. The map has a “swim lane” format that exhibits my argument in the left-hand lane labeled “Pro.” The right-hand lane labeled “Con” exhibits the objections

that might be raised by an opponent of the argument. The arrows moving back and forth across the lanes trace the various Pro and Con responses that might be given. These maps will help you to see the big picture.


Consider, for example, the argument map on the facing page:


In the left-hand lane we see the first premise of the argument: “All men are mortal.” Following the arrow, we find the evidence given in support of that premise. In this case no response to this premise is offered, and so the “Con” lane remains blank. Next in the “Pro” lane comes the second premise: “Socrates is a man.” Here the skeptic does have a response, and so in the “Con” lane we see the objection that “Socrates was just a mythological figure.” Following the arrow, we find the answer to this objection, which states succinctly the historical evidence for Socrates’ being a real man. Notice that only a very terse summary is provided; reading the argument maps will be no substitute for studying the arguments themselves as they are presented in the text. The argument maps just help you to see the big picture.


Wouldn’t you like to be able to defend your faith intelligently? Wouldn’t you like to have some arguments at your fingertips to share with someone who says Christians have no good reasons for what they believe? Aren’t you tired of being afraid and intimidated by unbelievers?


If so, then read on! I’m glad you’ve chosen this book, and I commend you for being On Guard, ready to give a reason for the hope within.


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. On Guard by William Lane Craig. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.



MY REVIEW: ~ This book has a ton of scientific and mathematic information, and most of it went right over my head. My brain actually hurt throughout the majority of the first half of this book!. LOL. The second part -- the part that dealt more with Jesus, instead of the Universe & whatnot -- was easier to read, and went a bit quicker for me.

Overall, I think this book had some good arguments, and is a good reference. It was just a bit too scholarly for me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TOUR: "Dr. Colbert's 'I Can Do This' Diet" by Dr. Don Colbert

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:


Dr. Colbert's "I Can Do This" Diet

Siloam Press (January 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to LeAnn Hamby | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Don Colbert, MD, is board-certified in family practice and anti-aging medicine. He has also received extensive training in nutritional and preventative medicine, and he has helped millions of people to discover the joy of living in divine health. In addition to speaking at conferences, he is the author of the New York Times best-selling book The Seven Pillars of Health, along with best sellers Toxic Relief, the Bible Cure series, Living in Divine Health, Deadly Emotions, and What Would Jesus Eat?

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Siloam Press (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599793504
ISBN-13: 978-1599793504

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The Obesity Epidemic:
What We’re Up Against

A few years ago a thirty-two-year-old man named Morgan Spurlock became Ronald McDonald’s worst nightmare. Intent on correlating the rise of obesity in our nation with the fast-food giant, the independent filmmaker conducted a personal experiment—using himself as the guinea pig. For thirty days he ate nothing but McDonald’s food. He downed three meals a day, sampling every item on the Golden Arches’ menu. And whenever he was asked if he wanted his meal supersized, he accepted.

With cameras rolling the entire time, Spurlock transformed his body into a flab factory while consuming an average of 5,000 calories a day and gaining almost 25 pounds in a single month. He also turned his Academy Award–nominated documentary, Super Size Me, into a statement heard around the world.1

The jury is still out on whether Americans were actually paying attention. Though recent statistics indicate that the obesity rates in the United States may be stabilizing, they’re still at unprecedented, staggering levels.2 Since the 1960s, the proportion of obese Americans—now an astounding 34 percent—has more than doubled.3 Obesity currently kills an estimated four hundred thousand Americans each year and is the second-leading cause of preventable deaths in this country.4 The number one avoidable killer? Cigarette smoking.5 That means maintaining a healthy weight is up there with quitting smoking as the most crucial lifestyle change you could ever make. Because we’re seeing a trend of people deciding to quit smoking, I predict that obesity will soon pass smoking as the number one avoidable killer of Americans.

Unfortunately, many doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians seem to completely miss or ignore this fact. They love to offer topical “Band-Aids” that alleviate patients’ symptoms yet fail to tackle the root issues or consider the long-term ramifications of neglecting their patients’ weight. One recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about a third of obese adults have never been told by a doctor or health-care provider that they were obese.6 Unbelievable! The results speak for themselves. In fact, they’re screaming while most practitioners turn the other way.

As our nation faces the biggest health-care crisis in its history, it’s time for us to realize that the answer isn’t going to come from doctors, clinics, or the U.S. government. It’s going to come from each person taking responsibility for their own health. And because obesity and overweight are at the root of so many health conditions, it only makes sense to start by getting yourself to a healthy weight.

Defining the Problem

Before we delve into what has so many people visiting the plus-size department, let’s clarify the terms overweight and obese. Many people have a general sense as to how these words are different, yet in recent years the delineation has become clearer. Various health organizations, including the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), now officially define these terms using the body mass index (BMI), which factors in a person’s weight relative to height. Most of these organizations define an overweight adult as having a BMI between 25 and 29.9, while an obese adult is anyone who has a BMI of 30 or higher.7



It’s worth mentioning that a very small portion of individuals are overweight or obese according to their BMI (over 30) yet have a normal or low body fat percentage. Professional athletes, for instance, often have a high-muscle, low body fat makeup that causes them to weigh more than the average person, yet they are not truly obese (some football linemen and sumo wrestlers excluded, of course).

However, I have found that most of the people who come to me seeking help are not just overweight but technically obese, with a body fat percentage greater than 25 percent for males and greater than 33 percent for females.8 Throughout this book when I discuss having a high BMI (over 30), I will be referring to obese people and not those few muscular types with high BMI but a normal or low body fat percentage.

The Fat Cost of Obesity

When all is considered, obesity comes with a fat price tag (pun intended) of nearly $122.9 billion each year.10 Recently William L. Weis, a management professor at Seattle University, calculated the total annual revenue from the “obesity industry”—which includes fast-food restaurants, obesity-related medical treatments, and diet books—as more than $315 billion. That amounts to nearly 3 percent of the United States’ overall economy!11 As shocking as that sounds, no dollar amount can do justice to the real damage being done.

If you are overweight or obese, you increase your risk of developing thirty-five major diseases, including (take a deep breath) heart disease, stroke, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, erectile dysfunction, gallstones, gallbladder disease, adult-onset asthma, and depression. In fact, we now know that being overweight or obese increases your odds of developing more than a dozen forms of cancer. After reviewing more than seven thousand medical studies over the course of five years, a team of highly respected scientists from around the world concluded in 2007 that diet and weight have a direct effect on the chances of developing cancer. With help from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer, they listed the top ten recommendations for cancer prevention; body fat came in at number one. Their report also strongly recommended maintaining a normal range of body weight, which they identified as a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9, to assist in cancer prevention.12

If you are an obese woman, you have a significantly higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer—one and a half times more than a woman with an average healthy weight, to be exact. You also increase your chances of developing uterine cancer because of your weight. For pregnant mothers, the risk of delivering a baby with a serious birth defect is doubled if you are overweight and quadrupled if you are obese.13 Men, your chances of developing prostate cancer are almost double if you are overweight, and even greater if you are obese.14 (Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among men behind skin cancer.) A separate new study indicates that the greater a man’s weight, the greater his chances of dying from a stroke.15 Finally, for both men and women the odds of getting colon and kidney cancer increase with weight. And being obese triples your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

This is just a sampling of the physical implications of obesity. There are social and psychological ones too. Obese individuals generally contend with more rejection and prejudice than the average person. Often they are overlooked for promotions or not even hired because of their physical appearance. Most obese people struggle daily with self-worth and self-image issues. They feel unattractive and unappreciated and are at an increased risk of depression. Many of us have experienced the humiliating experience of an obese person trying to fit in an airplane, stadium, or automobile seat that is too small. Maybe you have been that person. If you have, you are well acquainted with how obesity can affect the way others treat you, as well as how you treat yourself.

Globesity and a Culprit

Tragically, millions of others outside the United States struggle with the same issues. The World Health Organization calls obesity a worldwide epidemic. Obesity, along with its expanding list of health consequences, is now overtaking infection and malnutrition as the main cause of death and disability in many third-world countries. Globesity, as it has been termed, has officially arrived. And it seems Morgan Spurlock was on the right track in discovering a major reason why.

In Fast Food Nation, author Eric Schlosser reports that in 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, we spent more than $110 billion. Because corporate America is a global trendsetter, other countries have followed suit. Between 1984 and 1993, the number of fast-food restaurants in Great Britain doubled, as did the obesity rate among adults. Fast-forward fifteen years, and you will find the British currently eat more fast food than any other nation in Western Europe.





Meanwhile, the proportion of overweight teens in China has roughly tripled in the past decade. In Japan, the obesity rate among children doubled during the 1980s, which correlated with a 200 percent increase in fast-food sales. This generation of Japanese has gone on to become the first in the nation’s history known for its bulging waistlines. Approximately one-third of all Japanese men in their thirties are now overweight.16 Yes, the entire world is beginning to look more like Americans by adopting our fast-food eating habits.

A Child Shall Lead Them

How has an entire generation of hefty eaters changed the face of the world? By starting young. And once again, this unflattering trend originated in America. In the United States, one-fifth of our children are now reported to be overweight, and one out of ten (24 million adults) have diabetes. The CDC predicts that one out of three children born in the United States in 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes at some point in their life.18

As a result of childhood obesity, we are seeing a dramatic rise in children with type 2 diabetes throughout the country. And because of the connection obesity has with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), and heart disease, experts are predicting a dramatic rise in heart disease as our children become adults. The CDC reports that overweight teens stand a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults, and that is increased to 80 percent if at least one parent is overweight or obese. Because of that, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are expected to begin at a much earlier age in those who fail to beat the odds.19 Overall, this is the first generation of children that is not expected to live as long as their parents, and they will be more likely to suffer from disease and illness at an earlier age.

If you do not lose weight for yourself, at least do it for your children. Children follow by example, by mirroring the behavior of their parents. Don’t tell them to lose weight without doing it yourself. I’m sure most of you love your children and are good parents. But ask yourself: Do you love your children enough to lose weight? Do you love them enough to educate them on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid? Do you love them enough to keep junk food out of your house and instead make healthy food more available? Do you love them enough to exercise regularly and lead by example?

If you answered yes to those questions, it is important that you not only take action for your children’s sake but also that you make changes for them that last. I am ecstatic that you have picked up this book. I believe you now hold the key to truly changing your life. But let me be honest; this is not an easy fight when it involves your children’s lives. The culture in which they are growing up is saturated with junk food that is void of nutrition but high in toxic fats, sugars, highly processed carbohydrates, and food additives. Consuming these foods has become part of childhood. For example, in 1978, the typical teenage boy in the United States drank seven ounces of soda a day; today he drinks approximately three times that much. Meanwhile, he gets about a quarter of his daily servings of vegetables from french fries and potato chips.24



If you’re planning on taking a stand against this garbage-in, garbage-out culture, expect some opposition from every front. During the course of a year, the typical American child will watch more than thirty thousand television commercials, with many of these advertisements pitching fast food or junk food as delicious “must-eats.” For years, fast-food franchises have enticed children into their restaurants with kids’ meal toys, promotional giveaways, and elaborate playgrounds. It has obviously worked for McDonald’s: about 90 percent of American children between the ages of three and nine set foot in one each month.25 And when they can’t visit the Golden Arches, it comes to them. Fast-food products—most of which are brought in by franchises—are sold in about 30 percent of public high school cafeterias and many elementary cafeterias.26

These fast-food establishments spend billions of dollars on research and marketing. They know exactly what they are doing and how to push your child’s hot button. They understand the powerful impact certain foods can have on you at a young age. Have you ever thought of when you first started liking certain foods? For the majority of people, those preferences were formed during the first few years of life. That is why comfort foods often do more than just fill the stomach; they bring about memories of the fair, playgrounds, toys, backyard birthday bashes, Fourth of July parties, childhood friends . . . the list goes on. The aroma of foods such as onion rings, doughnuts, or fried hamburgers can instantly trigger these memories, and as adults, we are often unconsciously drawn to these smells. Advertisers have keyed into this and learned to use the sight of food to stimulate the same fond childhood memories.

In the Genes or in the Water?

For every obese person, there is a story behind the excessive weight gain. Growing up, I would often hear it said of an obese person that “she was just born fat,” or “he takes after his daddy.” There’s some truth in both of those. Genetics count when it comes to obesity.

In 1988, the New England Journal of Medicine published a Danish study that observed five hundred forty people who had been adopted during infancy. The research found that adopted individuals had a much greater tendency to end up in the weight class of their biological parents rather than their adoptive parents.28 Separate studies have proven that twins raised apart also reveal that genes have a strong influence on gaining weight or becoming overweight.29 There is a significant genetic predisposition to gaining weight.

Still, that does not fully explain the epidemic of obesity seen in the United States over the past thirty years. Although an individual may have a genetic predisposition to become obese, environment plays a major role as well. I like the way author, speaker, and noted women’s physician Pamela Peeke said it: “Genetics may load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.”30 Many patients I see come into my office thinking they have inherited their “fat genes,” and therefore there is nothing they can do about it. After investigating a little, I usually find that they simply inherited their parents’ propensity for bad choices of foods, large portion sizes, and poor eating habits.

If you have been overweight since childhood, you probably have an increased number of fat cells, which means you will have a tendency to gain weight if you choose the wrong types of foods, large portion sizes, and are inactive. But you should also realize that most people can override their genetic makeup for obesity by making the correct dietary and lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, many of us forget that to make these healthy choices, it helps to surround ourselves with a healthy environment.

That is becoming more difficult than ever as families give way to their hectic routines by grabbing breakfasts-on-the-go, ordering fast-food lunches, dining out for dinner, and skipping meals. After years of this, it is catching up to us. The average American adult gains between 1 to 3 pounds a year, beginning at age twenty-five. That means a twenty-five-year-old, 120-pound female can expect to weigh anywhere from 150 to 210 pounds by the time she is fifty-five years of age. Is there any wonder why we have an epidemic of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, cancer, and other degenerative diseases? We have to put the brakes on this obesity epidemic—and a lifestyle approach to eating is the answer!

Adding Culture to the Mix

Just as environment often shapes your health habits, so does culture. The two walk hand in hand when it comes to causing obesity. As children, we develop our food preferences and habits based on our family environment. Yet every family is influenced by its surrounding culture, and culture often shapes the types of foods, recipes, and ingredients we choose on a regular basis.

I was raised in Mississippi. Ever since I was a child I remember how my mother’s coffee cup always sat on the stove in the kitchen. But instead of coffee, it was filled with bacon grease. Whenever she cooked vegetables—any kind—she would add a few tablespoons of that bacon grease to add flavor. She fried almost everything: fried chicken, fried hamburgers, fried salmon, fried fish sticks, chicken fried steaks, fried chicken livers, fried ham, fried pork chops, fried bacon . . . you name it. Why did she do this? Because her mother had taught her to fry virtually any meat.

Mom also usually made gravies, all of which were grease-based. Most meals were served with corn bread or biscuits, either of which contained a hefty amount of Crisco shortening. We rarely ate grilled food, and when we did, it was a fatty cut of meat. I still remember my father making me eat all the fat on my steak. Since I was a skinny kid, he would say, “Son, that fat is good for you—it will help to fatten you up.” I recall almost puking as I tried to get the fat down.

We were a typical Southern family. My brother, sister, and I were all raised to eat fried foods, greasy foods, biscuits, and corn bread—and top it all off with a large piece of cake or pie for dessert. Today, I see a similar thing happening in the southwestern part of the United States. This Southwest culture, which is in part defined by its Tex-Mex and Mexican eating habits, is helping to fuel the obesity epidemic. Most of these people are being raised on highly processed white breads or corn tortillas, white rice and fried white rice, corn chips, refried beans, fried tacos, enchiladas, nachos . . . the list goes on. Their diet typically contains a lot of fats, a lot of grease, a ton of highly processed carbohydrates, and a lot of sugar.

It is no coincidence that almost every year some Texas city has the unflattering distinction of having the largest number of obese individuals in the country. After Houston was named the “fattest city” multiple times in past years, 2008 saw Arlington, San Antonio, Fort Worth, El Paso, and Dallas all place among the top ten fattest cities of Men’s Fitness magazine’s “Annual Fattest and Fittest Cities in America Report.” The year before, four of those cities made the dubious honor.31 Not only do these overweight hot spots feature some of the country’s best Tex-Mex and Mexican style foods, but they also offer extra large Texas portions with a blend of some of the most calorie-dense cultural foods around. Is there any wonder why Texans have a major obesity problem?

Eating With the Head and Not the Heart



We have discussed how genetics can sometimes, though rarely, prompt an individual’s obese state. We have also talked about how the overwhelming majority of obesity cases are a direct result of environment and culture. These can be discouraging factors in light of the gloomy statistics and the ongoing epidemic. However, I want to end this chapter on a positive note by reminding you of a simple truth. In fact, it is what this book is all about.

Regardless of how difficult it sounds, your cultural tastes and foods can be changed over time with education, practice, and discipline. You can learn how to choose similar foods that have not been excessively processed as well as lower-fat alternatives. It’s possible to discover—or rediscover—portion control and healthy cooking methods. Sure, you may still love your fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and chocolate cake. But soon you will be able to enjoy the same foods with just a fraction of the fat, sugars, and calories.

When I wrote the book What Would Jesus Eat? about the Mediterranean diet, I learned that most Middle Easterners ate differently than the typical American. That sounds obvious, but what distinguishes the two isn’t. I found that those who are used to a Mediterranean diet typically would not leave the dinner table stuffed as most Americans do. Generally, they ate anything they wanted—but in moderation. They enjoyed their food and socialized while eating. They had the uncanny ability to enjoy just a few bites of their favorite foods such as wine, dark chocolate, or even chocolate ice cream. Unlike most Americans, who scarf down a dessert as if they were inhaling it, those eating a Mediterranean diet actually savored just a few bites.

The real pleasure in most foods is in the first few bites. We will discuss this later, but for now, know that you can break out of your old cultural eating patterns. You do not have to follow a parent’s poor food choices, and you can overcome your family’s eating cultural patterns. (I certainly did!) And in the process, you will discover the true joy of eating.






MY REVIEW: While this book often encouraged “mindful eating” — of which I’m a huge fan! — it also highly promoted herbal weight-loss supplements, and recommended giving up all “whites” (flour, sugar, etc). I don’t agree with having to give up anything, unless you have an allergy/sensitivity, or were told by your own physician to do so.

I hated that the author kept promoting his own books and website over and over again. And, I really disliked the push for eating foods “in the right combinations”.

But, the parts about mindful eating — waiting for true, physiological hunger, and watching for your satiety signals, and that sort of thing — were great!

There is a little bit of everything in this book, so it’s not terrible, and I’m sure that it can be really useful to some! I know people who need to stay away from the “whites” as recommended by their doctor, so this might be a book that they can use!

In general, though, this book wasn’t for me.

Rated: C

[This book was received through FIRST Wild Card Tours]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

TOUR: "Chosen" by Ginger Garrett

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:


Chosen

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Focusing on ancient women’s history, critically acclaimed author Ginger Garrett creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. In addition to her writing, Garrett is a frequent radio and television guest. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.


Visit the author's website.


Chosen, by Ginger Garrett from David C. Cook on Vimeo.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434768015
ISBN-13: 978-1434768018

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

Fourth Day of the Month of Av

Year 3414 after Creation

If you have opened this, you are the chosen one.

For this book has been sealed in the tomb of the ancients of Persia, never to be opened, I pray, until G-d1 has put His finger on a new woman of destiny, a woman who will rise up and change her nation. But we will not talk of your circumstances, and the many reasons this book may have fallen into your hands. There are no mistakes with prayer. You have indeed been called. If this sounds too strange, if you must look around your room and question whether G-d’s finger has perhaps slipped, if you are not a woman with the means to change a nation, then join me on a journey. You must return with me now to a place without hope, a nation that had lost sight of G-d, a girl with nothing to offer, and no one to give it to.

I must introduce myself first as I truly am: an exiled Jew, and an orphan. My given name was Hadassah, but the oppression of exile has stripped that too from me: I am now called Esther,2 so that I may blend in with my captors. My people, the Hebrew nation, had been sent out of our homeland after a bitter defeat in battle. We were allowed to settle in the kingdom of Persia, but we were not allowed to truly prosper there. We blended in, our lives preserved, but our heritage and customs were forced underground. Our hearts, once set only on returning to Jerusalem, were set out to wither in the heat

of the Arabian sun. My cousin Mordecai rescued me when I was orphaned and we lived in the capital city of Susa, under the reign of King Xerxes.3 Mordecai had a small flock of sheep that I helped tend, and we sold their fleece in the market. If times were good, we would sell a lamb for someone’s celebration. It was always for others to celebrate. We merely survived. But Mordecai was kind and good, and I was not forced into dishonor like the other orphans I had once known. This is how my story begins, and I give you these details not for sympathy, but so you will know that I am a girl well acquainted with bitter reality. I am not given to the freedom in flights of fantasy. But how can I explain to you the setting of my story? It is most certainly far removed from your experience. For I suspect that in the future, women will know freedom. And freedom is not an easy thing to forget, even if only to entertain an orphan’s story.

But you must forget now. I was born into a world, and into this story, where even the bravest women were faceless specters. Once married, they could venture out of their homes only with veils and escorts. No one yet had freed our souls. Passion and pleasure, like freedom, were the domain of men, and even young girls knew the wishes of their hearts would always be subject to a man’s desire for wealth. A man named Pericles summed up my time so well in his famed oration: “The greatest glory of a woman is to be least talked about by men, whether they are praising you or criticizing you.” Our role was clear: We were to be objects of passion, to receive a man’s attention mutely, and to respond only with children for the estate. Even the most powerful woman of our time, the beautiful Queen Vashti, was powerless. That was my future as a girl and I dared not lift my eyes above its horizon. That is how I enter this story. But give me your hand and let us walk back now, past the crumbling walls of history, to this world forgotten but a time yet remembered. Let me tell you the story of a girl unspared, plunged into heartache and chaos, who would save a nation. My name is Esther, and I will be queen.

1 Out of respect for God, Jews write the name of God without the vowels, believing that the name of God is too holy to be written out completely by a human. God is referred to as either “G-d” or “YHVH.”

2 The name Esther is related to the Persian name of Ishtar, a pagan goddess of the stars.

3 Esther refers to the king by his Persian name. In the Hebrew texts of antiquity, he is also referred to as Ahasuerus.


1

Eleventh Day of Shevat

Third Year of the Reign of Xerxes

Year 3394 after Creation


Was it today that I became fully awake, or have I only now begun to dream? Today Cyrus saw me in the marketplace haggling gently with my favorite shopkeeper, Shethana, over the price of a fleece. Shethana makes the loveliest rugs—I think they are even more lovely than the ones imported from the East—and her husband is known for his skill in crafting metals of all kinds. When I turned fifteen last year, he fashioned for me a necklace with several links in the center, painted various shades of blue. He says it is an art practiced in Egypt, this inlaying of colors into metal shapes. I feel so exotic with it on and wear it almost daily. I know it is as close to adventure as Mordecai will ever allow.

But as Shethana and I haggled over the fleece, both of us smiling because she knew I would as soon give it to her, Cyrus walked by eating a flatbread he had purchased from another vendor. He grimaced when he took a bite—I think he might have gotten a very strong taste of shallot—and I laughed. He laughed back, wiping his eyes with his jacket and fanning his mouth, and then, oh then, his gaze held my eyes for a moment. Everything in my body seemed to come alive suddenly and I felt afraid, for my legs couldn’t stand as straight and steady and I couldn’t get my mouth to work. Shethana noticed right away and didn’t conceal her grin as she glanced between Cyrus and me. I should have doubled the price of her fleece right then!

Cyrus turned to walk away, and I tried to focus again on my transaction. I could not meet Shethana’s eyes now—I didn’t want to be questioned about men and marriage, for everyone knows I have no dowry. To dream of winning Cyrus would be as foolish as to run my own heart straight through. I cannot dream, for it will surely crush me. And yet I can’t stop this warm flood that sweeps over me when he is near.

I haven’t told you the best part—when Shethana bought her fleece and left, I allowed myself to close my eyes for a moment in the heat of the day, and when I opened them again, there was a little stack of flatbread in my booth. I looked in every direction but could see no one. Taking a bite, I had to spit it out and started laughing. Cyrus was right—the vendor used many bitter shallots. The flatbread was a disaster.

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Chosen by Ginger Garrett. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.



***PLEASE NOTE*** ~ I am waiting until I receive a replacement copy of this book before I read it. The first copy I received had pages missing, and I don't want to get into the story, only to have to stop & wait. So, my review will be posted later, after I've received my other book, and have had a chance to read it. I apologize for the delay.

[This book was received through FIRST Wild Card Tours]