A Few Short Books

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January is my month off from school so I picked up some highly recommended books to fill my evenings and travel hours…

A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington.  Witherington is a world-class professor of the New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary and has written many academic books and commentaries.  This is a work of historical fiction for a general audience, an easy read (2-3 hours), and explores many facets of daily life in a town where the gospel took root under Paul’s teaching.  Highly recommended.

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible With Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin.  Wilkin is a young, popular, female voice in support of inductive Bible study.  Her teaching is well-grounded, and the book on how we should approach studying the Bible is well-written.  There’s even a chapter for teachers on common pitfalls to avoid.

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness.  This book stands as a classic, reflective piece on the finding ones purpose in life.  Full of historical figures and wisdom, it could be read as a devotional book by anyone pondering the call of God in their lives.  It is required reading for all Asbury seminary students.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue.  Great novel by a young African author!  It traces the life stories of Cameroonian immigrants and a wealthy Lehmann Brothers executive in New York City as the market crashes in 2009.  Themes of immigration, poverty, wealth, happiness, relationships, and ethics are prominent.

Enjoy!

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

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Last night my book club sat down to discuss Nabeel Qureshi’s SeekingAllahbook “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”.  Two hours was no where near enough time to discuss all that we learned and were curious about… as my one friend said, “We need a book club slumber party to finish talking about this book!”  You can read the reviews on Amazon but we talked about Muslim family dynamics, the vast and varied cultural differences between Islam and the West, the basics of Islam, teenagers in a belief crisis, friendship, evangelism, dreams and visions, the cost of following Christ, the great commission, the Trinity and organic chemistry, 9/11 and it’s aftermath, apologetics, wearing hijab, and so much more.  It’s worth reading.

http://www.amazon.com/Seeking-Allah-Finding-Jesus-Christianity/dp/0310515025

Leadership Lessons From The Boys in The Boat

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My book club just finished reading “The Boys in the Boat” about the BoysInBoatunlikely rowing team that won a gold medal in the 1936 Olympics.  As I prepared to lead the discussion, I came across this fantastic article that draws eight Christian leadership lessons from the book.  I highly recommend the article, even if you haven’t read the book!

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2014/september-online-only/boys-in-boat.html?paging=off

Lineage Of Grace

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Book club read this month – so awesome! I’ve gotten through the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and halfway through Bathsheba… It’s like the Old Testament has gone from black and white to color!  Suddenly the cultural context has come to life and it reads like a modern day reality tv show… some crazy stuff happened in the Old Testament! Francine Rivers is extremely diligent about staying faithful to what is known in scripture, so I can recommend this without hesitation.

http://www.amazon.com/Lineage-Grace-Stories-Unlikely-Eternity/dp/0842356320/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

Mindy’s Good Reads 2014

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Two years ago a pastor friend posted a list of books he’d read that year.  It was inspiring.  I thought I should post my list too –  except, ummm… I had only read two books that year (2012).  I was appalled.  Utterly appalled.  I swore I would do better.  I started a book club – Thank you for keeping me reading Thirsty Girls!  I kept my book in the car for when I had an extra hour at soccer practice.  I limited the time I spent on Facebook.  I started reading at night instead of scrolling on my gadget.

I am so happy to share with you the books I have read in 2014 (and a few from the end of 2013).  If I don’t like them, I don’t finish them, so if they made the list then I generally liked them!

GOOD READS 2014 (alphabetical)

Nonfiction:

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff (true story, street kid changes her life)

Big God: What Happens When We Trust Him? by Britt Merrick (Hebrews)

Called Out of the Darkness by Anne Rice (autobiography)

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung (life management)

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (how vulnerability transforms us)

Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity and The Things We Made Up by Francis Chan. (doctrine)

Gifted Hands by Ben Carson (autobiography)

Gods At War by Kyle Idleman (idolatry)

Live Faithfully: A Study of James by Heitzig and Rose (James study)

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (thankfulness)

Radical by David Platt (Christian living)

The Beauty of Broken by Elisa Morgan (autobiography)

The Magnificent Obsession by Anne Graham Lotz (Abraham)

Unglued by Lisa Terkeurst (emotional control)

Wired That Way: The Comprehensive Personality Plan by Marita Littauer.

Fiction & Young Adult:

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Running Dream by Wendelin VanDraanen (YA)

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (YA)

Comment and tell me your favorite books from this year!  I’d love to hear from you.

Identifying Potential Idols in Your Life

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IdolsI’m guessing that you don’t have a little wooden figurine in your house to whom you pray and pour out daily drink offerings.  Yet, idolatry is one of the main issues in the Bible… so clearly we cannot just say “that doesn’t apply to me” and skip over all those passages.  Idolatry is alive and well today, it just looks different in our culture.

“What if I told you that every sin you are struggling with, every discouragement you are dealing with, even the lack of purpose you’re living with are because of idolatry?” writes Kyle Idleman in Gods at War.

“Idolatry isn’t just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from.  So if you start scratching at whatever struggle you’re dealing with, eventually you’ll find that underneath it is a false god. … There are a hundred million different symptoms, but the issue is always idolatry.”

It is difficult to see ourselves as idol worshippers.  The battle for supremacy is being fought in our hearts, and there are many things that war inside of us to take the place of God, the place of supremacy that only HE can occupy.  Potential idols are often good things that are morally neutral, until we elevate them, until we value them above their proper place in our lives.

How do you identify your idols or your potential idols?  Idleman proposes asking yourself these seven questions:

1. What disappoints you? When we feel overwhelmed by disappointment, it’s a good sign that something has become far more important to us than it should be.  Disproportionate disappointment reveals that we have placed intense hope and longing in something other than God.  Have you ever thought that our disappointments are God’s way of reminding us that there are idols in our life that must be dealt with?

2. What do you complain about the most?  Ask someone close to you what you complain about the most.  What we complain about reveals what really matters to us.  Are you whining about your finances, your sex life, how people don’t appreciate you, how your sports team is performing, etc.? Complaining shows what has power over us.  Whining is in many ways the opposite of worshipping God.

3. Where do you make financial sacrifices?  Take a look at your bank statement and your bills, and pretend you are examining a stranger’s finances to find out what is important to him.  Where your money goes shows what god is winning your heart.

4. What worries you?  Do you fear a particular loss of your spouse, your kids, or your job?  Do you fear ridicule, or being alone?  What are your bad dreams about?  Whatever it is that wakes you – or keeps you awake – has the potential to be an idol.

5. Where is your sanctuary?  To what or to whom do you run when it has been an awful day?  What place or person is your rescue and refuge?  Is it food, alcohol, exercise, television, novels, movies, porn, video games?  Where we run to when we are hurting says a lot about who we are.

6. What infuriates you?  Everyone has a hot button or two – something that we say makes us crazy.  Do you hate losing a game? Sitting in traffic?  Being disrespected?  Why does some stranger have so much power over your emotions? What’s the real issue here?  Maybe your quick temper reveals the oldest idol of them all – the god of me.

7. What are your dreams?  If nightmares are revealing, so are daydreams – the place where we choose for our imagination to go.  What dream has a grip on you?  Aspirations are fine, but the question is why you aspire to those things.

For me, these questions revealed quite a few potential idols that I might not have been willing to admit previously.  They are areas of my life – of my HEART – that I need to watch closely.

It turns out that I am prone to idol worship after all.  Thanks, Kyle Idleman, for helping me see that.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

Recommended Reading – What YOU said!

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Thank you to those of you who have shared the good books you have read recently!  I have been using some of my summer spare timeBadge-of-Awesome (ha ha) to read… maybe I’ll have more spare time when the kids go back to school!  (not that I am counting the days or anything!)  The list follows in alphabetical order:

1,000 Gifts by Ann Voscamp (joy, thankfulness, faith)

A Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung (Surrender/Lordship and why we should hunger for holiness)

A Leader’s Heart by John Maxwell (devotional)

Big God by Britt Merrick  (heroes of the faith, Hebrews 11)

Crazy Love by Francis Chan (overwhelming love of God, call to relationship)

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller (redeeming the workplace)

Faith Enough to Finish by Jill Briscoe (Jeremiah, perseverance)

Gods at War by Kyle Idleman (idols of the heart, false gods)

Jesus Calling: Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young (devotional)

Lord, Heal My Hurts by Kay Arthur (study, enduring hard times)

Magnificent Obsession by Anne Graham Lotz (pursuing a God-filled life)

Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman (becoming a completely committed follower of Christ)

Ruth (Loss, Love and Legacy – Living Room Series) by Kelly Minter

Seeking Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (study, joy of personal revival)

Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay (a completely different approach to evangelism)

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen (new look at an old parable)

The Uncommon Woman by Susie Larson (living a life of conviction, counter-cultural courage)

Think Like Jesus by George Barna (Importance of the Word in shaping worldview)