Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer Reads

The summer is going to be coming to end just as quickly as it came. In 3 days the big guy and I will celebrate our first year of marriage. In 2 months we will be holding our first.

Time goes quickly.

My summer has been busily calm and reflective. I have enjoyed the minutes in each day, allowing time to have its way, at whatever pace it demands.

Between spending time in the word, reading books by others who explain the word, and being surrounded by conversations led by the word, God has revealed His character in new light. I laugh at the thought of ever thinking I could understood His way fully. His convictions are never ending; both small and large. I have witnessed His hand take hold of situations and morph them into His doing. He continually reveals His power over mine, and I am left in awe of His greatness and glory.

Because I have been such a book worm this summer, I thought I would take a minute and introduce you to the Good God Reads I have devoured!

I finished A Lineage of Grace today; my 3rd of Francine Rivers. And all I can say is WOW! And if you don't want to take my word for it, click over and read the reviews.

Earlier this summer I read another book of hers, The Last Sin Eater. Again, WOW!

Lastly of her books that I have read is Redeeming Love. Again-Again, WOW! Read it.

The Prisoner in the Third Cell by Gene Edwards-A short, intimate story through the eyes of John the Baptist.

This next one, Has Christianity Failed You? by Ravi Zacharias, I have not read...YET! but will soon (I have heard some amazing things about it).

Ravi Zacharias sat down with Danielle DuRant to discuss his forthcoming book Has Christianity Failed You? (Zondervan: June 2010). This interview appears in the back of this book. Taken from Has Christianity Failed You? by RAVI ZACHARIAS. Copyright © 2010 by Ravi Zacharias. Used by permission of Zondervan.

DD: Given the amazing promises of Scripture and the way the church often proclaims the message that God answers prayer and the desires of our heart if we just have enough faith, it’s difficult to not feel disappointed when our prayers aren’t answered as we had hoped or in our expected time frame. What advice would you give to the person who once held firm, perhaps even rigid, expectations of God, and now struggles with halfhearted prayers and even resignation?
RZ: If we were to draw out the really hard questions of this book, this area would be where probably more people have faltered or have found what they feel is a legitimate gripe against God. It would be easy to dismiss this in the simplistic answers— you know, “God wants you to be patient,” and “Between the promise and the performance is the parenthesis.” The thing is, the parenthesis sometimes seems terribly protracted, so much so that you never see the performance of the promise.
I find it amazing how Jesus dealt with prayer and how in the critical moments of his own calling, he stepped aside to pray. I find it absolutely fascinating that the biblical writers tell us how he prayed and what he prayed. If they had been manufacturing a persona of Jesus, they would never have told us the things he prayed for because clearly his prayers were often unanswered. His high priestly prayer, if anything, is one of the huge gaps between prayer and performance. The parenthesis seems to be very long. Nearly two thousand years have gone by since he prayed that we would be one, and you can’t even find us being one in one church, let alone in all of Christendom. So it says to me, as Jesus reminded us in the Lord’s Prayer, that I need to pray much more about my relationship with God and my understanding of his kingdom than with a wish list in front of me. The thing we may be missing most in our approach to prayer is a clear understanding of what communion with God really means. Such an understanding is able to cover a multitude of unanswered prayers and will give us the confidence of knowing that God is with us and that we can depend on him to sustain us with peace and fulfillment and meaning, even at the end of a dark day or in the midst of a dark night of the soul.
Through prayer, God is preparing the wineskin to receive the new wine of grace. This is the work of God. If we think his desire is only to give us what we ask for, we misunderstand the process of preparing the wineskin.

DD: You’ve expressed that in any intimate relationship there will be times of distance or even a sense of dryness. So perhaps we ought not to be surprised when we feel this in our relationship with God. What do you do during times of spiritual dryness? Are there particular authors, books, sermons, or disciplines that you turn to when you feel the passion that you long for just isn’t there?
RZ: If there is anybody who has not experienced what you have described, I really want to touch them. It’s not only a common thing; it can be a frequent thing. It’s like C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape telling the junior devil, “Encourage their horror of the Same Old Thing.” I think that’s actually what’s happened to the West right now. We’ve heard the gospel so much that we’re experiencing the horror of the same old thing. So we buy into nonsensical notions that are actually bizarre while sounding sophisticated. They don’t make any sense, but they come with mystical, new terminology, and we are wowed by them. This is why, by the way, I think people church-hop. There are no more unexpected moments at the church they’ve been going to, and all of a sudden, it’s the same old thing—and so they move on to something new.
The human ability to remain firm in our convictions and commitments is very, very limited. That’s why I think good reading, good viewing, and good friendships are good places in which to find renewal.
There are so many considerations to the dryness we may experience at any given time. You may not feel well, or you may be tired— all of this takes its toll on you. Sometimes a lack of discipline or a lack of perseverance may well be because of lack of sleep. It could be your mind, your body, is tired, and you need a vacation.
You may have become stagnant because your reading material is not helping your growth process. Reading a variety of authors is a good way to light a new spark within you. I love reading biographies. I love reading authors whose language is outstanding because they quicken the imagination by just the right turn of phrase. Sometimes all it takes is one phrase to turn your life around.
You have to have variety in your devotional life, in your relational life, in your church life. And it is important to remain balanced—to keep physically healthy, to keep your viewing life enchanted so that you’re looking at the right things. That’s one advantage I have in my life: I’m in new places so often that I experience an enormous array of God’s diversity.


Lastly, I am currently reading The Names of God. This is proving to be a sort of application read, bringing me back and forth from its contents, to the bible, and back. My interest in this book came from a discussion that was brought up in my womens group. We were reading a passage that had Lord spelled out in two different ways; Lord and LORD. Both refer to God in a different way, which was then explained by others that knew this. While I and many others were left speechless of this new finding, I immediately came home and purchased this book which had been recommend. It is riveting! And I assure you that you will be blown away at all your new findings!

There you have it! Not a lot, but a good hand full that will keep you entertained, all the while keeping the focus where it should be; on Him. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Faith said...

I am deeply encouraged by believers who are actively applying the Word to their lives. I so often fail to read Scripture, to challenge my understanding, to upset my current, spiritual comfort (or laziness). Thank you for articulately and caringly explaining what the Lord has been teaching you. It is not in vain!