Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SD's Bookshelf: Faith

I though it would be fun to share with y'all some of what I've read lately, am reading, and am intending to  read in the near future.  I've always been a fan of reading multiple books at once, so I typically choose one book on faith, one book on parenting or marriage, and one other additional book.  Lately, I have been SO behind on reading (and everything else in life!).  I really want to make it a priority, because not only is it enjoyable, I know it is personally edifying for me and my family, and in the case of faith based books, probably helps me better serve others I come in contact with.

Recent Reads
Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller
I started reading this book awhile back as it was a Bloom Book Club pick.  As the title implies, it's all about slowing down and learning to rest and enjoy the peace of God. It was good, but I never finished it. I kind of want to go back and reread it with Peyton, even though, I admit at times it did get repetitive.  It also caused some controversy on the Bloom site because the author quotes teachers of other religions and shares practices of different religions.  It's really not a book that has huge theological implications, though, so it didn't bother me.  I feel like we can learn from others in the way they practice their spirituality without compromising our faith at all. I give it 2.5 (out of four) stars.

Twelve Extradoniary Women: How God Shaped the Women of the Bible and What He Wants to Do With You by John McArthur
I did this study on Wednesday night as part of a women's group. I was kind of nervous about the study because John McArthur and I have some fundamental differences of opinion on a few issues ;)  I actually ended up loving it, but I never finished the last two chapters because we were finishing up right as I had Graves.  Anyway, it was a really good book because it a true character study of some really neat women in the Bible.  One thing I liked, and the title sort of makes it seem like this is not the case, but the author doesn't really spend too much time focusing on the practical applications.  He kind of leaves that for you to figure out.  I like that because so often I see authors kind of take liberties with the text of the Bible and really spend so much time making applications without spending time fully exploring and explaining it first.  In this book, you see a lot of the history and the background of these women's lives and that's really neat.  I came away learning a lot of things about the Bible that I never knew before! I give it four stars.

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan
We read this a while back at church.  It was great for several reasons.  First of all, it's really challenging.  It forces you to really think about how you use your time and your money and if you are truly "sold out" for Christ.  I'm not at all saying we are perfect as far as our giving, but I was personally more convicted about how I use my time than how we use our money. The book gives several examples of "lukewarm" people (whom the author contends are not in fact legitimately Christians).  I went through and marked the ones I feel like Peyton and I struggle the most with and it was very convicting. One thing it really showed me was how big our God truly is and how sometimes I view Him as so small.   Another great thing about the study was that Peyton and I were part of a group that met on Sunday nights and was a larger cross section of our church than what we are accustomed to fellowship with (i.e. our mostly thirty somethings Sunday School class of young married couples with and without kids). It was so neat because we got really close and were able to be surprisingly vulnerable with a relatively large and pretty diverse group of people.  That was really an awesome experience for me!  I would say it's a three star.

Current Reads
Modern Parables: Living in the Kingdom of God by Thomas Purifoy 
We've been doing this study on Sunday nights at church and I can't lie, it can be a little dry.  The basic premise of the study is that you watch a dramatic rendition of one of the parables Jesus taught set in the modern day United States.  For example, in the parable of the good Samaritan, a man is mugged in a urban setting and a pastor and youth minister ignore him, while an Arabic man steps up to help.  Sometimes the videos seem a little contrived and to be honest, I feel like at times they take a lot of creative license and make assumptions that sway a little too much from the Biblical text for my comfort.  To be fair, the reading that accompanies the video is usually pretty informative and, unlike Crazy Love, it's really more of a true "Bible Study", in that it explores the Scripture and what it means. I give it two stars.

Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God by David Platt
Peyton and I started this book and I really like it.  It's a lot like Crazy Love, but actually maybe a bit more intense.  I feel like David Platt uses Scripture more and like the book has a stronger theological component.  Peyton read Radical and he wanted to tackle this one together.  [Radical is basically about an individual faith walk; Radical Together has more applications for the collective church.]  So far, it's been stirring.  We've both really come to see how much of what goes on around us is a "cultural Christianity", especially living in the South.  We love our church so much, but there is SO much we could do better in.  I'm so thankful that we have found a Sunday School class and been able to see it grow.  There are so many people in our class that are truly on fire and want to make a difference for the Lord.  If it weren't for our class (which, a couple of years ago was us and two other people), I don't know if we'd still be at our church.  This book has me really thinking about how we can be more missional.  In the next few weeks and months, I'm really going to involve myself in serving others more.  I'll share more about that in a separate post later, but a lot of exciting things are hopefully about to happen! I love this book and what it does to me- four stars!

Christian Believer  by J. Ellsworth Kalas
This is the new study Peyton is leading on Wednesday nights at church and I'm really excited (and a little nervous0 about it.  It's a big time commitment and it's a pretty intensive study.  It's not intense in the Crazy Love/Radical sense, but more in that I think it will require a lot out of me mentally.  The study will encompass two and a half hours on Wednesday nights and a commitment to about forty five minutes of reading daily.  In addition, this is not light stuff.  The whole book is about doctrine, basically, and what our fundamental beliefs are.  I can't really rate it because I haven't really dug in yet!

Prospective Reads
What Women Fear: Walking in Faith That Transforms by Angie Smith
I ADORE Angie, her blog, her first book.....everything about her.  In this book, she discusses something that I'm very well acquainted with- a very real anxiety and the emotions that come with it and also the way she has allowed Jesus to redeem this issue. I remember her tweeting and asking her followers what their greatest fear was.  Without hesitation, I replied- "My greatest fear is having to live out the pages of your first book in my own life". The fear of loosing someone close to me is all encompassing at times and I know this will be a powerful resource for me.  I can't wait!

1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
Y'all know this- Ann Voskamp's is another blog I love.  I love her writing style and I can't wait to start this book.  The idea behind it- learning to live joyfully amidst sin and sorrow and suffering- is a simple one, but a profound one.  And one I need to put into practice more in my own life. 

In the next couple of weeks, I'm going to share some of my "family" reads and my "for fun" reads. As a side note, I've got so many children's books I'd like to share, I may have to get serious about resurrecting the old Won't You Read to Me? Wednesday!  But again, so many blog posts, so little time!

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