Are you too busy? Make time to read this!

women who do too much I read a good book last week: Women Who Do Too Much: How to Stop Doing It All and Start Enjoying Your Life, by Patricia Sprinkle. I chose this book because I met the author at our yearly ministry retreat. She was both interesting and engaging, and I expected the same from her writing. I wasn’t disappointed.

As you might expect, this book focuses on ways to declutter your life. Unlike many of the time management solutions available, Sprinkle’s advice is based on Scripture—she starts and ends with prayer and the word of God. This is advice you can trust.

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Do You Have Financial Faith?

daring to live on the edgeHave you made your New Year’s resolutions? Are you vowing that this year you’re going to diet, exercise, and be more responsible with your finances? I can’t help with the diet and exercise part, but I can recommend a must-read book on finances. It’s Daring to Live on the Edge: The Adventure of Faith and Finances, by Loren Cunningham.

There are a lot of books out there on managing your money. They all contain pretty much the same advice—follow a budget, spend less than you earn, don’t go into debt. If the author is a Christian, then there’s an additional focus on tithing, generosity, and putting God first.

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With All Your Mind

lennox gunning for godWhen asked (in Matthew 22:36-38) which is the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus replied “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, but with a twist—Jesus added the word “mind.”

There’s a reason for this. When Deuteronomy was written, the concept of mind was included in heart and soul. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, those meanings had diverged. Wanting to be sure that we understood our need to love God with our intellect, Jesus inserted the extra word. (And while Matthew omitted “with all your strength,” Mark and Luke made sure to include it.)

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Read This: Futureville, by Skye Jethani

futurevilleWhat does the future hold? Many people believe that the human race will eventually create “heaven on earth”—that our wisdom and scientific discovers will solve the problems of poverty, war, disease, and the like. On the other hand, many Christians believe that “it’s all gonna burn”—that the world will be consumed in fire, completely destroyed to make room for a brand new heaven and earth.

Both these views have concerns. Humanism presents a glowing future, but ignores greed, envy, and other sin issues. And the belief that the world will be destroyed and replaced eliminates our motivation to steward our resources, and to make things better here and now.

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Now Appearing: Jesus

There’s nothing like snuggling up with a cup of tea and a good book, especially with a huge thunderstorm pounding on the roof. It’s even better when you haven’t had a chance to sit down in days, if not weeks.

With my dad all moved into his new quarters, and a huge pile of leftover furnishings and other debris filling our garage, jammed into the family room, and clogging hallways, I finally chose to take a day off. I needed it.

So Monday I sat down with a steaming mug of Irish Breakfast Tea (my favorite) and started reading Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?, by Tom Doyle. When noon arrived I took a short break to make a sandwich, propped the book up on the table, and read several more chapters. Pete arrived home. We reheated leftovers and I headed to bed, dinner in one hand, book in the other. I finally turned out the light around eleven—late for someone who normally gets up around five. And yes, I finished the book.

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Is America Headed for Judgment?

The Harbinger coverHave you read The Harbinger yet? I just finished this book, and I’m reeling.

Since its publication in January, 2012, friend after friend has been urging me to read The Harbinger, and it’s still setting records on numerous best-seller lists. I finally got my hands on a copy (there was a substantial waiting list at the library)—and read it in one sitting. Yes, it’s one of those books you cannot put down.

Although related as a fictional story, that’s really just window dressing. Author Jonathan Cahn takes a passage from Isaiah—focusing on Isaiah 9:10—and interprets it in light of the events of the past ten years. He relates Isaiah’s warning to Israel to America: the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, statements made by prominent politicians (including President Obama), and the subsequent economic meltdown. The details are astonishing.

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Read This: Torches of Joy

Torches of Joy coverThe church has always sent missionaries—believers who God tapped on the shoulder and sent to other cultures to share the gospel. When we hear of their great deeds, the amazing way God used them to bring the gospel to hard places, we realize that God can use us, too.

For example, I’ve read fascinating biographies of both Hudson Taylor (1832 – 1905) and Gladys Aylward (1902 – 1970), each a missionary to China. There are at least two books—Shadow of the Almighty and Through Gates of Splendor—about Jim Elliot (1927 – 1956), who gave died at the hands of the Auca Indians of South America. And there are several engrossing biographies about Amy Charmichael (1867- 1951), who started an orphanage and mission station in India, and whose life inspired Jim Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth.

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More Good Books

I love to read, and I seem to always have at several books in progress at the same time. (Seeing that my mom was a librarian, this isn’t too surprising.) At this moment, I’m more than halfway through The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a nonfiction book about a woman who lived in the early 20th century and the myriad medical discoveries made with the use of her cultured cells. I’m just beginning a 1,000 page fantasy tome (labeled Volume 1!) And I’m almost done with Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, an autobiography by Anne Rice. That’s a pretty eclectic assortment, wouldn’t you say?

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed some excellent reads. These books may be old, and many are no longer in print, which is a shame. They’re much too good to be forgotten. I’ll be writing about my favorites throughout 2013. Check them out; maybe they’re become your favorites too.

In spite of the two biographies listed above, they aren’t my usual fare. However, there are some biographies of noted Christians that made a significant impression on me. These are true stories about people who can say with Paul, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

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Sick Thoughts

I’ve been unwell the past few days—a bad reaction to a new prescription preceded by either a worse reaction to another new prescription or a 24-hour virus. My mind has been off wandering aimlessly around some abandoned part of town while I got to spend 48 hours in bed, waiting to feel better.

Normally, I’d be giddy with the thought of spending some time lounging around, reading books I’ve wanted to read, with no responsibilities and no interruptions. But when every part of your body is on strike—my skin even protested the gentle spray from the shower, and more so the towel afterward—and the thermometer says 102.3, lying around loses its luster.

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Review: Jesus Calling

Feeling frazzled? Need a quick break? Having a hard time getting your mind off your “to-do” list and onto God? Or, could you just use a big hug right about now?

A while ago, I mentioned that some wonderful friends had gotten together and bought me a copy of Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young (published by Thomas Nelson). As the subtitle explains, it’s a year-long devotional centered on “Enjoying peace in His presence.” Ten minutes with this book (and maybe a cup of tea) will help you calm down, refocus, and remember that God is with you always.

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