7 books finished in 2016: The Way of the Heart

7 books finished in 2016

I did not care for this book.

Which is frustrating because 1) it was given as a gift, meant for encouragement, to the small group leaders in our church, 2) I tend to appreciate Henri Nouwen, or think I will, and 3) when I search for reviews of this book, they are predominantly positive.

I think I’m outside the intended audience of contemplative, scholarly, ministry-oriented (introverted?) folks who perhaps need a reminder, or permission, to step away and be alone in thought and prayer from time to time. At another stage of my life, I might crave solitude and silence, but right now, I feel like I have plenty of both.

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32 books finished in 2014: Passion and Purity

32 books finished in 2014

I first read this book when I was in high school, and it was so interesting to compare the things that stuck with me from way back then (mainly how to be as holy/perfect/christian as possible, because I was a high-achiever) to what I got from it this time (mainly that life is tough, that trusting God is necessary, and that we’re all going to need a lot of grace and patience).

So maybe next time I have disdain for a book I haven’t read in 10+ years, I should reconsider.

Though, let’s not kid ourselves – Elisabeth Elliot is one tough cookie! She holds herself, and the rest of us, to a VERY high standard. This book tells the story of a relationship and answers questions about relationship, but it’s really a book about discipleship to Christ in the context of romantic relationships.

One idea I’ve referenced most often from the book, which can be applied in many other areas: When we want to seek God, He makes it easy. When we want to trust Him, He gives us the ability to do so. 

good words

Title: One Cause of Collapse

Author: Elisabeth Elliot

One excuse that is a catch-all for any failure to do our jobs is “burn-out.” It’s an occupational hazard in just about every occupation modern man has ever heard of. Strangely enough, we never heard about burn-out until the past couple of decades, but now everybody suffers from it. Exhaustion–physical, mental, emotional–is endemic. Why?

One reason is lack of humility. In our anxiety to compete, to prove ourselves, to be a success as the world defines it, we are wearied and overburdened. If we sought instead only the greatness of the kingdom, we would become childlike. The truly important things are hidden from the clever and intelligent and are shown to those who are willing to come and be shown, to put on the yoke Christ bears, which is the will of the Father.

We need to learn to walk side by side with Him, bearing humbly and gently the yoke He places on us, not the unbearable burdens of competition and recognition and something called fulfillment. If we do this, any burden He allows–of loss or pain or insult or responsibility or heartbreak–will be both bearable and light, for the weight is shared with Him. No yoke laid on us in this way will cause us to burn out or collapse. This yoke itself will in fact be the very means of our finding rest. There is no form of recreation or relaxation or therapy to compare with the rest, the gentle ease, of Christ’s yoke. “Come,” He says to us, “and learn of Me.”

There’s no RSS feed for these daily devotionals, but if you set it as your homepage odds are good you’ll sit and read it every morning. And then you’ll email them to yourself, and your friends, because LADY SPEAKS TRUTH! (Or maybe that’s just me.)

two things on a Monday

ghosts of my parents

One: Aren’t my parents cute? Is it strange that I’m ridiculously excited to spend TWO WEEKS in the wilds of Washington State with them? We leave in one week!

Two: Isn’t this picture disorienting? This is similar to the way I see things. No, this isn’t a metaphor. I don’t talk about it often, because I try to think about it as little as possible (stubborn + optimistic) but I’ve had double vision since last October.

Yes, all the time. No, it doesn’t go away when I close one eye or when I take off my glasses or…ever. Yes, it IS really weird. No, I have no idea how I have been functioning – I’m just incredibly thankful that I HAVE been.

Every single person I’ve spoken with who has any opinion at all has told me to see one specific doctor. This guy is apparently a genius, and we’re lucky to have him in our city. But, because he’s such a big deal, I have been waiting SIX MONTHS to see him.

So I have my appointment with The Guy tomorrow morning, which is exciting on one hand because everyone thinks he’ll be the one to figure out what is going on with my eyes and in my brain. But it’s also a little terrifying, because if he doesn’t know what’s wrong…where do I go next?

Friends, if you’re the praying type, please pray for me. Pray that I can be calm and patient, and that I will sleep tonight instead of coming up with terrifying worst-case scenarios. Pray that I can gather all the proper paperwork and answer all of their questions with some level of accuracy. Please pray for this man, that his experience and intelligence will be as useful and helpful as everyone has come to expect. Even more than that, pray that he will understand why I have double vision and how to get rid of it. Because, as beautiful as the world is, I’m really sick of seeing it in multiples!

disillusionment

The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight; begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock o disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. This hour of disillusionment, difficult as it is, is in the end incomparably profitable, because it so throughtly teaches us that we can never live together by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together