Sunday, February 6th, 2011
The last book on my “To Review” Docket was Becoming a Woman of Influence by Carol Kent. This book is put out by NavPress, which is always a really reliable publishing company. I tend to enjoy the quality of books they put out.
Becoming a Woman of Influence is about encouraging the reader to invest in the lives of younger women. Kent outlined some key points in how to make a lasting impact on others. Much of the book was a review for me, but for someone who has never taken a younger woman under her wing, this would be an excellent book to read. There is no hokey-ness to this book- only real examples from real people about what it looks like to mentor someone. I especially liked her chapter on Storytelling, which emphasized that we often learn best through hearing others’ stories. Sometimes mentoring can focus on information transfer, but often the power of stories is underestimated.
Anyway, an easy, refreshing read that had solid content. If you’ve been mentoring others, you probably don’t need to read this book, but if you would like to encourage another woman to invest her life in others (and you know she hasn’t), this could be a good gift!
After reading this, I’m curious… in your experience, what are some of the characteristics of women who have invested in you?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Friday, January 28th, 2011
Multnomah Publishing recently put out the book Radical by David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. My friend Ashley was reading this book when she came to visit and she was enjoying it, so I decided to pick it up as well.
I must say that I did like this book. I think Platt had important things to say, and he did so in a way that many will enjoy reading. He seems authentic, down-to-earth and passionate about living a life obedient to Scripture. Platt challenges his reader to live in radical abandonment to Christ. He calls American Christians on their consumerism/materialism idolatry issues, and challenges us to live more simply so that we can love God and others (who live in poverty) better.
I have read other books like this, and heard other sermons about this, so most of the things in this book were not new for me. I mean, a lot of what he said is what Scripture says. But, maybe for those who need to be specifically challenged, this is a good book.
BUT, there is one insight that I gleaned that has made me think…and it’s related to the idea of the American Dream. Anyone who knows me knows that although I may desire some sort of the American Dream at times, I am pretty vigilent to guard myself from the temptation to be lured in. Plus, I have a husband who probably is rarely tempted to buy into the American Dream, which helps me out too . But, Platt brought up a really good point about the American Dream that I have definitely folded into my life. He says on page 46, “The dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability.” He goes on to say that we here in America prize what people can do when they just work hard, believe in themselves and trust in themselves. Did your parents ever tell you growing up that you can do whatever you want? I agree with him that we have mistakenly adopted this mentality as maybe even biblical. However, throughout Scripture we are given example after example of people who were unable to do something, but God helped them do something because he loves to display His power. It leads to the question- are we dependent on ourselves or desperate for God? I think most in America (definitely myself included) need some desperation for God. So, for me, this point was a real impactful one, and something that I’ve been talking and praying and thinking about over these past couple weeks.
One beef I have with Platt is his understanding and expectation of overseas missions. I have been overseas doing missions- and in several different contexts- so I obviously agree that God does call people to go and go they must if called. BUT, Platt tells many stories of how he went overseas and taught pastors about the Bible. My question is- should we be teaching Western Christianity to non-Western nations and people? Why should I go and teach a bunch of pastors in China about the Bible. They have Bibles, they know how to read, they know how to think, and they see God working in their context. I don’t think we have to go and teach them. I think we need to have exchanges of ideas and information. Sure, they could benefit from our thoughts, but also could benefit from their thoughts. I felt like he (and not just him, but others do this too) sees our role as a little too vital to their faith development. However, like I said before, we need to help meet physical needs (however we choose to do that) and we need to go. Sometimes we need to go for our exposure and growth, sometimes we need to go for others’ exposure and growth. And we won’t really know until we go. The reality is we can’t just throw money at them and the churches and say “go do ministry”, because we are a church, one body, and we are created to be in relationship with one another. Sometimes we need to go (and to welcome those who come) because we need to build and foster those relationships. One question he was asked was – “Should I really spend $3500 to go to a country in Africa for a couple weeks when I could just give them the money?” Yes, you should. Because the kingdom of God doesn’t come through money. It comes through relationships. I think we sometimes think that money is what makes the world go round. We need money, or the church needs money, or we need more stuff to do cooler ministry. But the reality is, we don’t need that. We need the Spirit. We need to be desperate for the Spirit in our lives and in the lives of the church body. I need to be desperate for the Spirit to work in and through me and my faith community.
[I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.]
Sunday, November 14th, 2010
I’ve been thinking a lot about community- what it is about, what it could be about, what it should be about, how it forms, its longevity, etc. I came across this passage in Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture by Michael Frost, and just wanted to share it, and wondered what ya’ll thought about it. Frost is writing about his experience in aiming to build intentional community with fellow Christ-followers. He’s been reflecting on Acts 2-4 and how his efforts at building community focused a lot on that example…but then he keeps reading and wonders if Acts 6-7 should inform our community building just as much.
I began to fear that we had lost something important in all our work in building community. I began to wonder whether Christians don’t do well to build community as an end in itself. We build community incidentally, when our imaginations and energies are captured by a highers, even nobler cause. Though it took me a while, I came to realize that Christian community resutls from the greater cause of Christian mission…I have come to realize that aiming for community is a bit like aiming for happiness. It’s not a goal in itself. We find happiness as an incidental by-product of pursuing love, justice, hospitality, and generosity. When you aim for happiness, you are bound to miss it. Likewise with community. It’s not our goal. It emerges as a by-product of pursuing something else.
Thursday, July 1st, 2010
In Sunday School, we’ve been talking about the nature of the Kingdom over the past few months and what that means for the way we live within that Kingdom.
Out of this discussion we’ve talked about various organizations in Columbia and around the world, and the value that they add to peoples’ lives. Some people choose to serve in and through the local church only, while others see the great things that secular organizations are doing to lift people out of poverty or help them in some other way. We even talked about how sometimes the secular ones are more “successful”, maybe because of the time, energy, and money that is put in those, versus a bunch of volunteers in the church doing one thing a month to help the local neighborhood.
BUT, what if God wants us to focus more time on working through a local church, EVEN IF we’re replicating what’s being done by a secular organization. I know, I know, last week I would have said that was silly. And maybe it is.
What if God wants to use the body of believers, together, to reach our communities and world IN HIS NAME? Does the work of the Holy Spirit pour special favor out on those who working together with the local church specifically? I guess a deeper question would be what is the ultimate mission of God? Is he most concerned with people being fed and clothed? Or is he most concerned about people coming to know Him? And how does He want to use His Bride, specifically united and as a unique body, in that?
Now, I know that the HS works through us individually in the places we’re serving. I get that. BUT, what if that’s a little too individualistic? What if that line of thinking has grown out of a very individualist culture? What if the community DOES matter? What if the collective is MORE important than the individual effort? What if God is wanting to use us more as an organized body of brother and sisters, reaching out to people … but in the name of Jesus?
What do you think?