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Why I Bought These 3 Books (when I still had 3 to read)

I am not a voracious reader. Reading doesn’t seem productive enough. Fiction isn’t my thing and nonfiction takes effort. There are books that I think I should read or even want to read that I don’t read. When I have “spare” time, I’d rather pick up my crochet hook. Unless you find them at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet or Half Price Books, books are expensive.

Nevertheless, I’ve just purchased three new full-priced books. And for good reasons.

  1. An Author I Love.  When Emerson Eggerichs, PHD, publishes a new book, I add it to my library. Dr. Eggerichs is a pastor and master of communication whose Love & Respect message  has impacted my marriage, my faith, and the lives of others with whom I have shared it. His new book, Before You Hit Send, is not just for social media users, but for each of us to learn “how to prevent misunderstandings and, when verbal or written blunders are made, allow for understanding.” Who couldn’t use a little help in avoiding communication disasters that bring headache and heartache?
  2. A Desire for Greater Understanding.   As I wrote last week, I’ve decided not to bury my head in the sand and go on believing that the problems people have are usually of their own making. There are serious issues that need to be addressed in America. One of those is racism. After I determined to do some listening and reading , as well as  praying and pondering with regard to racial tension, a podcast episode from Phil Vischer, Skye Jethani, and Christian Taylor highlighted historical reasons for today’s sensitivity. During the discussion, Jethani again recommended Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, and this time I headed to our bookstore and bought a copy. Now to take the time to read it and possibly finish a blog post that I keep starting about racism.
  3. A New Favorite Psychologist?  The first words of my first blog post were “In the winter of 1990, a man who I was paying to help me through some depression…” I was in my late twenties and the counselor I was visiting suggested that I might enjoy reading some books about psychology. (I had called him out for trying to trick me into labeling my fears “irrational.”) Twenty-five years later, I found a psychologist on the internet who calls himself Iron Shrink and writes books about relationships and the human mind. I ordered a couple books, but while I agreed with some of his analysis and advice, I didn’t feel confident that he sees God as the creator of our bodies, souls, and spirits.  Then, last month, one of my Facebook friends shared an article about the effect that screens (TV, computer, phone) can have on young children. I clicked on the link and read the article. I noticed that I was now on a website called Mad in America. Interesting. So I poked around a bit on the site and scrolled through the list of writers, thinking that Emerson Eggerichs would be a great contributor. Among the experts’ bios, James Schroeder’s caught my eye. His book entitled Wholiness: The Unified Pursuit of Health, Harmony, Happiness, and Heaven was said to “focus on the ways in which the pursuit of holiness is synonymous with the drive towards wholeness.” Dr. Schroeder practices in Indiana and is possibly my new favorite psychologist. Of the three new books, his is the one I’ve started reading. Wholiness addresses the integration of the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of our being, something that I believe would greatly help the hurting people around us. Schroeder’s advice is to read only one chapter a day, but I’m having trouble complying.Three chapters in, he says, “If anxiety is the biggest deterrent to love, then pride is the biggest deterrent to truth.” That seems worth unpacking!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—

this is your true and proper worship. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,

but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:1-3

 

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2 Books That Clarify The Bible

Have you ever felt intimidated by the Bible – by its length, its language, its antiquity, its message? I sure have! The Bible is not a simple book. It is not quickly read or easily understood.

I was very young when I first heard stories from the Bible. They had happy endings where the good guys win with the help of God (David and Goliath, Gideon and the Midianites, Joshua and the battle of Jericho). I learned songs like “Jesus Loves Me. This I know for the Bible tells me so.” and The B-I-B-L-E. Yes, that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God The B-I-B-L-E.” When I got older and started reading Scripture myself, I found it pretty daunting. I would resolve to start on the first page of Genesis and read it every day. Genesis and Exodus held my attention if I got through the genealogies and the description of the Tabernacle, but I would never make it through Leviticus – too weird and seemingly irrelevant.

Even though I have now loved and studied the Bible for decades, I sometimes pick it up and sigh as I consider how lengthy it is and how little I really know about it. During the past fifteen years, I’ve had the opportunity to not only be in Bible study classes, but to lead other women into the Bible’s many pages and topics.

Two years ago, I found Max Anders’ book, 30 Days to Understanding The Bible.

30 Days to Understanding the Bible - By: Max Anders Anders admits that he used to be frustrated with the Bible, seeing it as “a series of unrelated stories put together in random order.” In his desire to understand it, he divided the sixty-six books of the Bible into kinds and placed them on a timeline. He then divided the history/story-line contained in the Bible into twelve eras. A key figure and relevant location were attached to each era (Creation-Adam-Eden). Once the twelve eras are covered, the book addresses the main doctrines of the Bible. This blogger is particularly impressed that Anders was able to include a 1000 Word Summary of the Bible in the Appendices!

I was so excited about what I learned from 30 Days to Understanding The Bible that I led a group of women through what Anders calls the Arc of Bible History and will repeat the nine-week class this fall. Women who are near East Richland Evangelical Friends Church, St. Clairsville, Ohio are welcome to join me on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. beginning September 6, 2017. We will come away with a clearer picture of what the Bible is about, how it fits together, and how it relates to us. Since learning Anders’ key to the Bible story-line, I can place events from Scripture into the appropriate era, adding context and understanding. Placing geographical locations on a mental map helps me visualize movement of people through the Middle East and know which bodies of water play into the accounts. The history of God’s people comes to life.

I’m aware that many struggle with Old Testament biblical accounts of massacres and slavery, as well as the lists of quirky laws in Leviticus. The second book I’m recommending is an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet find. Author Paul Copan addresses the ethical questions of the Old Testament in Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God. Copan contends that we should not gloss over the difficult portions of Scripture and he is thorough in addressing the criticisms of skeptics. With an understanding of the cultures of the time periods, he explains common Middle Eastern war language of the day and God’s progression from calling Abraham and later giving his law through Moses to completing his plan of salvation through his son Jesus Christ.

Not unlike Anders, Copan has identified the bigger picture of God’s dealings with people over the course of history. 30 Days to Understanding The Bible provides a chronological framework for putting people, places, and events in order. Is God a Moral Monster? recognizes that creator God has met men and women where they are in each time period to show them how to improve morally, how to be reconciled to himself through Jesus, and ultimately to be part of the coming Kingdom where “no social or racial discrimination will exist; swords will be beaten into plowshares; and Peace will reign.”

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

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Wonder Under a Polar Bear & Anniversary Giveaway!

Oxford’s online dictionary defines wonder as “a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.” He observed the intricacy of the ironwork with the wonder of a child.

Have you considered the wonder of a child? In his book, The Call to Wonder, R. C. Sproul Jr challenges grown-ups to cultivate childlike qualities of wonder, trust, joy, and desire to please, particularly as they relate to loving God. I found the book at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, noticing the cover photo of a butterfly resting in a child’s hand. Now, as I sit outside with the book beside me, I am delighted to see a butterfly land in front of me, opening its wings a few times before gliding off the deck. Wonder.

Children, so inexperienced at life, often squeal with amazement at simple, beautiful things. They’re easily surprised and quickly caught up in new sights and sounds. Sadly, as adults wander though life, they’re not so easily impressed. We find ourselves “bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something” – Oxford’s definition of jaded. We’re busy, tired, or distracted, not noticing amazing things that are in front of our eyes or under our feet. Not so with my grown-up friend, Gail. She told me of the funny looks she got when she bent down to watch an unending line of ants, each with a triangular piece of leaf, hurrying along on their mission. Tiny wonders doing what they were created to do.

Wonderful things come in all sizes. Another friend expressed amazement at the Grand Canyon, exclaiming “His creation shouts His praises; thank you for eyes to see you!”

Wonder has presented itself in small packages in my life – seeing kittens play when I was a child, nursing my newborn as a new mom, finding a fawn in my landscaping this summer.  And I have been awestruck by the magnitude of creation – marveling at the night sky as a teen, standing on a high point at a summer festival in West Virginia, and UNDER A POLAR BEAR!

The amazing walk-through polar bear exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo. The woman with the camera is not me, but I looked just like that moments later.

So thankful this guy decided to play in the water while I was in the tunnel!

Overcome with AWE as I looked up at the bear, I couldn’t keep from crying.

Too often, I work to stay in control, not cry, act like an adult – and suppress my wonder. Once in a while, it blessedly breaks through. Many of those times involve light or music. On the first day of creation, God said, “Let there by light,” and he has been using it to communicate his awesome love to me. Two instances come to mind.

I was spending an autumn day at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Perhaps my jadedness was showing as I looked out the window at the  slopes divided by groups of trees in fall color.  I wanted to feel delight, but didn’t, so I did something bold. I asked God to open my eyes to the wonder of his creation. Then I watched and waited. The sky was overcast when the performance began. A break in the swiftly moving clouds allowed sunshine to spotlight the tree lines one – at -a- time, beginning to my right and moving across the mountain! I squealed and clapped. Then, (since I was alone in the room) I said with little girl enthusiasm, “Do it again!” AND HE DID – Wonder!

A photo from a different day when the sunshine was widespread on the mountain.

It is not necessary for me to travel to a resort or even leave my house for God to shine into my day. As I spend time in prayer in my own living room, I have seen sunlight suddenly stream in the window to illuminate the photo of a loved one or to signal His peace replacing my anxiety. Wonder!

I’ll wait for a later post to describe the wonder of music in my life  and move on to the giveaway.

As the 1st Anniversary of Thoughts Collected by Lisa arrives, I invite you to tell me what moves you to amazed wonder. Anyone who does that here in the comments section of my blog site or on Facebook will be entered for a drawing on Friday, August 5. Since I reference so many books from Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, I am giving away an Ollie’s gift card to one of my readers.

It takes a shift in FOCUS for adults to experience the wonder of a child. In her book The Magnolia Story (my sister’s copy – not from Ollie’s), Joanna Gaines tells of her obsession with keeping her house clean and the frustration of looking at the messes created by her children. One day as she was about to”lose it” in anger over black fingerprints on a white sofa slipcover, she heard her kids laughing in another room. At that moment, she made a decision to focus on their JOY rather than the dirt. With a new mind-set, Joanna replaced the exhaustion of perfectionism with the wonder of relationship with her children. More about Chip and Joanna’s story in a later post.

Stop and consider God’s wonder. – Job 37:14

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!” – Psalm 66:2

 

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Impossible love?

When I began writing this blog nearly a year ago, I anticipated struggles. Surely there would be weeks when I would have either no topic or no time to write. It has been a happy surprise to come this close to the first anniversary of Thoughts Collected by Lisa having successfully kept up with weekly writing. Suddenly, however, I’m facing the deadline for post #49 with a list of potential titles, an invitation to write for someone else’s blog on a particular topic, and no time to devote to collecting my thoughts, let alone put them into beautiful prose.

So in the wee hours of the morning when its too dark and too quiet to begin preparing for our weekend guests or continue organizing next week’s garage sale, I offer to you words that were written long ago by the apostle Paul in a letter to his friends about a topic we all find relevant every single day – love.

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

It does not envy,

it does not boast,

it is not proud.

It is not rude,

it is not self-seeking,

it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil,

but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects,

always trusts,

always hopes,

always perseveres.

Love never fails.

From the New Testament of the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

These words are music to my ears as one who receives this kind of love from Jesus and conviction to my heart as one who is called to love others this way. Is it impossible? On my own, yes, “but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

 

 

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