By Nico Bougas, Special to ASSIST News Service (ANS Book review)
CINCINNATI, OH (ICRS/UNITE’17 – ANS, July 6, 2017) — Here’s a sobering snapshot of American life: nearly 90,000 books on Amazon deal with self-esteem, and recent statistics report that anti-depressants are one of the top prescribed drugs in the USA, as more than 40 million Americans annually experience a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety. Given these facts, it is not surprising that others might be looking for ways to find out why there is this apparent epidemic of sadness and disappointment.
First-time author, William Combs isn’t surprised by these statistics because he believes that deep down every person feels inadequate — what he calls naked.
“Even if you clothe yourself with everything the world can offer in an attempt to be complete and fulfilled, you will always find circumstances that undercut your confidence, leaving you feeling vulnerable and naked,” Combs said.
By taking readers all the way back to the life of Adam and Eve in the garden, Combs explores this feeling of being incomplete and vulnerable and finds fresh ways of looking at who we are in his just released book, Who Told You That You Were Naked.
The sense of inadequacy goes back, he says, to the defining moment for humans when Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of good and evil.
Combs combines a unique storytelling approach with tightly-written prose and sees innocence and good intentions gone wrong in that tumultuous afternoon in the garden.
With the coming of that knowledge and the effects of sin in our lives and the world, he gently points to the effects of knowing we are, outside of Christ, indeed naked.
“The knowledge of good and evil is a ruthless taskmaster, and it is at the heart of your expression of self,” Combs writes. “Who told you that you need to be thinner, prettier, more athletic, or have a bigger car or an impressive job with a bigger paycheck?” he writes.
He connects this knowledge of good and evil with New Testament teaching about man’s awareness of his sinfulness, discussing the varied perceptions both Christians and non-Christians have about sin. And he challenges us to accept the love and grace God offers us through faith in Jesus Christ — a salvation that extends far beyond a view of sin as a list of offenses to be catalogues and resisted.
“We can ‘clothe’ ourselves with the trappings of wealth, education, a notable position, or even religious piety in an attempt to persuade ourselves we no longer feel vulnerable,” he writes.
“Or, we can grapple with the gravity of our situation and acknowledge with Paul the “other law” in our members waging war against us and making us captive to the law of sin. This admission is not just a one-time event but a continuous, lifelong recognition of our total inability to free ourselves from our feelings of nakedness.”
“As long as we try, we will be functioning under the law of sin and death. But if we quit trying — if we die to sin — and believe there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, then we can live according to the law of the Spirit of Life and walk in the light as he is in the light.”
The book arises out of the whole of Comb’s life thus far, as his character was forged and his faith deepened in the crucible of tough challenges.
Combs grew up in a family that homesteaded on the Alaskan frontier after World War II, driving up the Alcan Highway and using WWII surplus equipment to being their new life as farmers. He shares some of his stories from those days when the only conveniences the family had was an indoor pitcher pump and Coleman lanterns — no plumbing or electricity – in the brutal cold and wilderness. His dad had become partially disabled in the war and much fell on his young shoulders as the oldest son, molding his character in those challenging years before he began years of study culminating in an advanced seminary degree.
Years as a pastor as well as years as a computing systems architect also inform his approach to distilling ideas, and years of sacrificial love as caregiver for his college sweetheart and wife of 48 years during the final years of her life drew him into even closer communion with the Lord.
I asked him why he wrote the book? His reply was, “If you listen to the news, you know our world is in serious trouble. Many want law enforcement, social services, and other government agencies to stem the tide of evil eating away at our society. But Jesus said, ‘You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?’ Why is the Gospel seen by so many as irrelevant today? It has not lost its taste for lack of dedicated Christians sharing the gospel through virtually every medium. This book is my attempt to answer the question, and to propose a solution.
Who Told You That You Were Naked? By William E. Combs (Carpenter’s Son Publishing)
Note: This interview was conducted at the CBA International Christian Retail Show, a four-day event held from June 27-30, 2017, at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. This event showcased product from the Franchising & Retailing industry as well as Christian and inspirational media and products, leading authors and artists, plus business training and plenary sessions.
Photo captions: 1) Author Bill Combs. 2) Book cover. 3) Nico Bougas with his wife, Bee, to whom he had been married for 44 years. They have four wonderful children — George, Benjie, Jonty and Tami.
About the writer: Nico Bougas is the International Development Director for Hellenic Ministries. He has a master’s degree in communication from Wheaton Graduate School and M. Div and D. Min degrees from Trinity Theological Seminary. He is the author of five books. He previously worked for Youth for Christ in South Africa and was Editor of In Magazine and Christian Living TODAY and currently serves as Consulting Editor for JOY Magazine and a Trustee for Radio CCFM and was one of the founders of Sports Outreach Africa. He previously served on the national executive of the SA Association of Evangelists and as a Trustee for the Bible Institute of South Africa and on the advisory board for the South African Theological Seminary and on the executive of The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund (SA). For further information, please contact: email@example.com
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