Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

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So many great quotes – I should have opened a twitter account so I could share them with Uninvitedyou all!  Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely is the most recent of Lysa TerKeurst’s books.  (Others we have loved are The Best Yes and Unglued.)  Lysa is very funny, self-deprecating, honest, and relatable.  She’s like the girlfriend who leans in and tells you her heart struggles, but makes you spit out your coffee from laughing so hard.

Uninvited invites you to consider the power of rejection and its roots, to evaluate where rejection is damaging your relationships today, and to grasp what it means to live fully loved by God.  The book is excellent reading.  In addition, the study guide and dvd series (6 sessions of 15 min) offer you the opportunity to really evaluate yourself, to study relevant scripture passages, and to be held accountable by your small group over a period of time.

Members of our group walked away from the study with many different learning points.  For some it was digesting what the unlimited love and forgiveness of Jesus really means.  For others it was making the shift from walking into a social setting in need of affirmation (a dangerous and unfulfilling game), to being the one who walks into a social setting full of love and able to overflow into the lives of those more needy.  For some it was embracing the pain of the past, but realizing that it does not define their future.  And many of us grasped the lessons of the olive tree – that the hard, crushing times are a key part of God producing valuable fruit in our lives.

Buy two copies, one for you and one to give to a friend who will read it with you!

Uninvited

Prodigal God by Tim Keller

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My husband kept telling me I would love Prodigal God (2008) and I finally picked it up as a study for my small group.  It’s a short book, and extremely powerful.

You are probably familiar with the story in Luke 15 often known as “the parable of the prodigal son”.  Keller argues that we’ve missed 80 percent of the meaning behind this story because we focus on the Younger Brother.  It is rather a story of two sons – both lost, both seeking fulfillment and happiness in ways that are empty and sinful.  Keller says the parable redefines sin and lostness, and helps us understand how the Older Brother is just as lost as the Younger Brother.  Keller explores Jesus Christ as the true Elder Brother, how we long for home and find it so difficult to return, and how our Heavenly Father welcomes us into a feast that is salvation.

Keller writes, “I have seen more people encouraged, enlightened, and helped by this passage, when I explained the true meaning of it, than by any other Biblical text.”  Read it.  Prodigal God book

And don’t miss the 30 minute teaching video Keller did to accompany the book:

Unashamed by Lecrae

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unashamedRapper Lecrae’s new book “Unashamed” is an excellent read – a powerful story of God’s transformation, a journey to faith and freedom. Lecrae’s story offers firsthand insight into the realities faced by young, black men in America in the twenty-first century… but his struggle in searching for acceptance, worth, and identity is relevant for all of us.  Read it, and encourage your teenagers to read it also!

Unashamed.

Mindy’s Good Reads 2016

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One of my life-long goals is to read an average of one book a month… Unfortunately, I read less this year than I had hoped.  Here are the best books I read in 2016:

My Favorite NonFiction Book of the Year – Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told by John Macarthur, 2015. (kingdom of God and the parables)

Favorite Fiction Book of the Year – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, 2014. (WW2 historical novel)

Others Worth Reading (alphabetical):

 Chasing Elephants: Wrestling with the Gray Areas of Life by Brent Crowe, 2010. (decision-making principles for areas where the Bible isn’t specific)

Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck, 2016. (discipleship and intentional leadership development)

Fervant: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer, 2015. (intentional prayer)

Jesus Was an Airborne Ranger: Finding Your Purpose Following the Warrior Christ by John McDougall and Stu Weber, 2015.  (Ranger chaplain on Jesus’ mission and kingdom)

Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul by Bill Hybels, 2015. (life management)

Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges, 2008. (sovereignty and trust, class text)

Type Talk: The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work by Otto Kroeger, 1989. (Myers Briggs type analysis in-depth)

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church by David Kinnaman, 2011. (why twentysomethings leave and how to bring them back)

Invisible Girls: A Memoir by Sarah Thebarge, 2014. (Ethiopian refugees in the USA)

Did you have a favorite this year?  Please comment and share – I love recommendations!

Great Book on the Parables

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I’m reading John Macarthur’s new book Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed ParablesThrough the Stories Jesus Told and it’s fantastic!  He does a great job of explaining how to approach a parable so that our interpretation is correct, and then dives into various parables, all within the context of understanding the kingdom of God.  I’ve already learned many l things I did not know, and Macarthur’s mastery of the culture and the timeline of Jesus’ life is outstanding… So I’d like to recommend it to you!  Good summer reading!

Wrestling with Gray Areas

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This week my book group discussed “Chasing Elephants: Wrestling with the Gray Areas of Life” by ChasingElephantsBrent Crowe.  It’s a relatively short, good read, that helps you develop a framework for thinking about the so-called gray areas of life, where scripture does not clearly set out boundaries.  I liked Crowe’s framework and it’s something I’ll keep on hand for discussions and decision making.  I also really liked the first four chapters of the book where he wrestles with the idea of Christian freedom versus the responsibility of a Christian to recognize that s/he is an Ambassador for Christ, now on a mission as a reconciler, and serving a laborer in the Kingdom of God.

Part 1 – Liberty and responsibility, excellent four chapters on how we should think about Christian freedom and calling, interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 10, and Galatians 5.

Part 2 – Asking the right questions, a framework for evaluating the “gray areas” of life where scripture is not entirely clear:

  1. Is the decision within the moral will of God? (What does the Word say? Study it.)
  2. Is the decision being made in the attitude of Christ? Rom 15:1-13 (selfless love)
  3. Is the decision being made under the control of the flesh or the Holy Spirit? Gal 5:13-26
  4. Will the decision have a positive impact on self? 1 Cor 6:12, 10:23-24
  5. Will the decision addict or enslave? 1 Cor 6:12
  6. Is the decision consistent with the rule for Christian living? (service & concern for others)
  7. Will the decision hurt a fellow believer spiritually or set a spiritual deathtrap? Rom 14:13
  8. Will the decision have a positive spiritual impact on fellow believers? Rom 14:19, 1 Cor 10:23-24, Gal 6:1-10
  9. Does the decision go against conscience? Rom 14:14
  10. Will the decision disrupt fellowship and damage relationships within the community? Rom 14:15
  11. Will the decision damage reputation? Rom 14:16
  12. Will the decision remove focus from the big picture of God’s Kingdom? Rom 14:17-19
  13. Is the decision being made out of a selfish heart? Will the decision offend? Rom 14:20-21, 1 Cor 10:32
  14. Can the decision be imitated by others who understand their freedom? 1 Cor 10:33-11:1
  15. Is the decision being made in light of the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ? 1 Cor 9:19-24, 10:33

Part 3 – examples of applying the framework questions to these issues: homosexuality, social networking, social drinking, entertainment choices, and humanitarian efforts.

Mindy’s Good Reads 2015

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One of my life-long goals is to read an average of one book a month… And I have my book club to thank for keeping me on track!  Here’s what I read in 2015:

These three were absolutely extraordinary:

Epic of Eden by Sandra Richter (Old Testament theology)

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (Muslim intellectual encounters Jesus)

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller (marriage)

The rest of the list (alphabetical):

Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown (Olympic rowing team)

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Iceland, murder mystery)

Counting by 7’s by Holly Sloan (Young adult, brilliant child in foster care)

Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers (women in the genealogy of Christ)

Lord, Is It Warfare? Teach Me to Stand by Kay Arthur (Ephesians, spiritual warfare)

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (autobiography that inspired the prison series)

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (American orphans 1800s)

Return of the Prodigal by Henri Nouwen (analysis of the prodigal son parable)

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst (life management)

The Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe (my fall teaching topic)

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (England, plague in the middle ages)

Did you have a favorite book in 2015?  I’d love to hear about it!