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book 12

my boss at work suggested i read this book. at the time, i was working on a lot of policy development for the church and trying to get the unspoken “rules” on paper. even though that was not at all a major aspect of my job, i saw the need and was given permission to research, develop, write, and implement a number of policies.

anyways, the policy that i was developing at the time was one where we were trying to establish some guidelines for when/how we would financially support a congregation member to receive professional counseling. it is a beautiful ministry to be able to help in this way, but the lack of boundaries and established guidelines meant a lot of confusion, poor record keeping, and inconsistencies.

i read “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert to help me get a sense of what approach we might take. through reading this book, and discussing with my supervisor we decided that our previous approach was ineffective. we had been supporting people financially 100% for up to almost 3 months of counseling, but what i learned through this book was the importance of empowering people and coming alongside them, but also how integral it is for the person to take an active role and contribution to their healing.

this book has been recommended for short-term and long-term mission trip participants, to those volunteering in multicultural ministry, and a number of other areas. even though i didn’t fit into those categories, the principles were easily put into place in regards to my end goal of policy development. i appreciate that the concepts were easy to understand, applicable across a variety of situations, and talked a lot about dignity and empowerment of those you are trying to help.

my rating for this book is 4 stars out of 5 and i would definitely recommend it if you are in a helping profession.

book 11

book 11 begins the start of my “phase” of reading about relatively well known people somehow involved in the food scene.

we started watching Anthony Bourdain’s show, Parts Unknown sometime this year and most of the time, we love it. seriously, we learn so much about the city/country/region that he visits each week. there is something so raw and unfiltered about Bourdain that we love-he adds his own opinions and sarcasm to the dialogue yet attempts to give a true picture of the reality of the location he visit. it is a documentary-style show where you hear multiple perspectives of “this is what its really like”. while we may not agree with him all the time, he is a very captivating storyteller and person.

so, i took on the reading of one of his first books, his start in the culinary world in “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly”. what an interesting book, filled with a crazy assortment of characters, behaviors, and general ridiculousness. if you’re interested in a memoir/reflection and you like Anthony Bourdain, i would recommend this book. it is “how he got his start”, his years of youth and absurdity, and a behind the scenes look at the world of restaurant hierarchy. i think it also gives some good clues into who he is as a person and how his gifting as a storyteller has transitioned him into the voice of Parts Unknown.

my rating for this book is 3 out of 5 stars, pretty good job Bourdain!

book 10

when you see “free book” on the newsfeed of you former pastor, you’re prompted to check it out. in a couple of circles of friends, facebook had lit up with this book being free only today and it was a book about marriage, so i thought it might be worth checking out. after all, i could always delete it from my kindle and it came from a reputable source, so i felt pretty good about it.

this was another book that i chose to “study”, because really, no matter where you’re at in your marriage, you can always stand to improve. book 10 is “Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change through Ordinary Moments” by Winston Smith. i really enjoyed this book because it was so practical. of the few marriage books i’ve read, they are inspiring mostly, but not much on the “how to actually make this work in your life”.

this book acknowledges that life and marriage are ordinary, you’re not in honeymoon phase forever, and sometimes you really do just make it through the day. but in the midst of that, it gives practical steps to know what extraordinary love looks like in details of the ordinary moments. the book starts with Jesus as the source and center of our lives, encouraging the reader to follow and look to Him first for your identity and satisfaction. the book then moves into some key concepts (honesty, healthy conflict, knowing your spouse’s needs, forgiveness) to consider and remind yourself of and finally to practical application of the concepts mentioned.

generally speaking i find marriage books really touchy-feely, and hard to use, this one i really enjoyed and felt like i learned quite a bit. i rated this one 3 out of 5.

book 9

this book really shows how much I enjoy variety (i think!).

Khaled Hosseini writes so beautifully. his books are ones that i get so wrapped up in that i finish them in the middle of the night or that i get mad because my reading is interrupted to cook dinner. he is one writer whose stories i devour—the good thing is he has only written three books, so these kinds of antics are not frequent.

book 9 was “And the Mountains Echoed”, and it came out last year—despite that, i had to wait several weeks to get it at the library. it felt silly at the end to wait for so many weeks and read it in two days, but i did my part to get that book to the next person who had a hold placed!

this book is a beautiful story centered around family, more specifically the upbringing of a brother-sister pair who are separated when the children’s father sells the sister to a childless family. each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective. it is so eloquently tied together as the reader is given a family tree piece by piece and given each individual perspective not only on the original storyline of the daughter being sold, but to their personal struggles.

if you’re ok getting “sucked in” to a book, forgetting chores for a couple days, and probably ignoring your family, then read this! otherwise, carve some time out for yourself and enjoy the story. my rating is 4 out of 5.

book 8

you may or may not know (because i can’t remember and i’m not going to look it up), that matt is in seminary. he started in january and is also taking summer school right now.

prior to enrolling in his classes though, our pastor recommended he read a book about the dangers of vocational ministry. since that is the hope for matt after graduation, we both were excited and somewhat nervous to see what the book had to say.

that book—is “Dangerous Calling” by Paul David Tripp. after we heard about the book i decided that it would be one of the gifts i get for matt for christmas, and i’m so glad we own it now! matt read the book just a couple weeks before seminary classes began, and i read it his first few weeks in school. we confess that we both “studied” it, which was more intense, but we enjoyed talking about it and the food for thought that we gleaned.

in this book, Tripp writes about culture in pastoral ministry and ministry in general. he writes about the dangers and temptations of pastors and ministry leaders to fall into traps of pride, engaging in “celebrity” status, and failure to maintain their own spiritual health. this book was a good eye opener for us both, and we were able to easily identify what traps we might fall into and where we have seen others fall as well.

while this book provided great diagnosis tools, it was also prescriptive; it painted a picture of pastoral/ministry culture, but also said “this is how to work to fix it”. we both loved that it gave biblical and practical tools to fight against these kind of cultural norms. after reading it and talking it over, it seems like one of those books that you pick up again every couple years so that you can remind yourself to be aware, and to guard against those temptations.

my rating is 4 out of 5 and i would highly recommend it to anyone in ministry or who has a pastor that they pray for.

book 7

last year i really enjoyed reading Steve Martin’s autobiography “Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life”. it was an unexpected charm, and a book i didn’t think i would pick up!

book 7 is another one of Steve Martin’s works, called “The Pleasure of My Company”. this book was a quirky story of a neurotic and interesting young man as he searches for love. the main character has several self-imposed “rules” that he follows, including only crossing the street at two opposing driveway and maintaining the exact wattage of lightbulbs in his apartment. you can only imagine the side stories the main character comes up with along this narrative.

my only negative feedback about the book was it was “wrapped up with a bow” at the end; as you’re led along the story, it really seemed like the final pages came together a little too quickly and perfectly. i’m one of those people who doesn’t always like a happy ending, and without writing too much more, the ending truly surprised me.

this book was an easy read, so fun, lighthearted, and quirky. if you’re looking for something different and quick, i recommend it. my rating is 3 out of 5.

What does it mean to “achieve everything your election as a child of God provides?” How do I direct that power? God help me to depend on your Spirit that by your power I can rise to every occasion. I want to exhibit the salvation I didn’t earn. I need God’s help to work out or live out my salvation that Christ may be evidenced. I don’t want to be some grouchy, miserable person who is and acts like an idiot when doesn’t get his way. God doesn’t shield us from trials but allows them so that we can jump over that wall or rise to the occasion. We will rise because that is what is demanded. No matter the hurt, pain, length or even the odds (thinking of Jericho or Gideon), it is an opportunity for God to manifest Christ and be glorified. God help us not complain but be willing to face whatever adversity comes our way. “The only proper goal of life is that we manifest the Son of God;” our demands don’t matter. Jesus didn’t demand, so neither should we demand. May we submit that God may work through us what He wants. Then in our submission, He can use us to feed others.

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