Thursday, March 18, 2010

So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore - Wayne Jacobson & Dave Coleman

An allegory of sorts that seems to have some autobiographical content from the authors.

The title alone drew me to this book about fictional character Jake Colson. Jake meets a mysterious man, John, who challenges his views of himself, God's love and acceptance, and his concept of the church body. This book chronicles many encounters as Jake walks through months and even years of coming to terms with his "need" to "earn" God's love, his craving for acceptance, and his disillusionment with the church "machine." He comes out the other side with his priority fully centered on connecting with Jesus and following Him every day and experiencing true fellowship with other believers outside the church walls and organization.

While I disagree with the premise of that can be assumed from the book - all churches are evil, we don't need them, don't go - I think that assumption is also wrong. I believe that John made it clear that true fellowship and focus on living with and following Christ and growing in that relationship *can* be found in a traditional church body. However, it often isn't because we all get so caught up in our programs and activities that we lose sight of Him...and each other. I know tht I have experienced that personally and even know struggle with the lack of authentic connection to other believers in my life...even though I regularly attend and am involved in the ministries at a church.

From the appendix in the back, one of the authors says that no where in the Bible does it say that you have to attend church. Which I guess is valid in and of itself if you view church as a certain way. But Hebrews 10:25 does state: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In our culture that most likely means traditional church. But I understand that it doesn't have to. It is just the most likely way to meet people who are hungry and pushing after Jesus to join along with the journey.

A lot of the points in the book DID hit home with me, though, and echo some of my thoughts and feelings. So it has given me a lot of fodder to think and pray on. I will continue to attend church but with God's help my focus will shift more from the tasks and programs and to do lists and the superficial relationships to really delving into what Jesus has for me to do there and for the connections that He can make through the leading of the Spirit so that I can experience authentic fellowship and relationships that help me (and I can help others) along the path. Because, really, isn't that where it's suppose to be at anyway: focus fully on Jesus and doing what He is calling you to. And the church is purely a mechanism to help that process and to help others come to know Him and be on that journey as well.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson

Okay, so I will admit up front that I read the “Young Reader’s Edition.” I actually started out reading the regular old adult edition for my book club this month. But I kept getting bogged down in details and rabbit trails and having to look back because I confused the similar names of various mountains and various people – sometimes even across categories. I really wasn’t enjoying it…as much as I had hoped I would because I’m all about education.

I also knew there was no way I’d be able to finish the book before tomorrow night. So last yesterday I picked up the YA one and finished it tonight. Conveniently, the chapters are all named the same in both books. So it was easy to pick up where I had left off in the other version. And I enjoyed it a lot more this way.

Greg Mortenson is definitely a man cut from a different cloth. Adventurous, yes. A little lost and bouncing in his younger days, for sure. But all of those things ultimately led him to discover and pursue his passion. And I have to admire that. He was not afraid of hardship. He was not afraid of hard work or inconvenience. He lived like no other (in his car, in a stinky sublet apartment, etc.) so he could do what he could to make this world a better place. I like that.

While I don’t know that I can jump onto his education is the only way to solve terrorism bandwagon, I can acknowledge that it is a huge step in the right direction.

Definitely a worthwhile read…if you read the juvenile version.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alibis in Arkansas

Three Romance Mysteries:
Death on a Deadline - Christine Lynxwiler
Drop Dead Diva - Jan Reynolds
Down Home and Deadly - Sandy Gaskin

I have typically found that these types of books are a bit hokey, shall we say. But I truly enjoyed each of these three stories.

Written by sisters themselves, they chronicle three separate murders that sisters Jenna Stafford and Carly Reece stumble upon. Actually, Jenna typically does the stumbling; Carly seems to be more along for the ride.

They are not heavy in the romance department even though the cover says “Three Romance Mysteries.” And I was great with that. There was just enough to be interesting but not drawn out or intense.

The mysteries themselves were also good. Either I haven’t read a mystery/suspense in a long time or I’m losing my edge. Because I was unable to figure out “who dunnit” in each one.

Quick, fun reads.

The Language of Love & Respect - Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

In this sequel to Love and Respect, Dr. Eggerichs breaks down how love and respect are reflected and seen through our communication with one or another.

My aunt gave us the original book as a wedding present. We both read it. And as long as I keep it visually in front of me, I remember that respect is a deep need for Jeff (and all men) and am better at meeting that. Out of sight…usually out of mind within a few weeks. Yet I was still excited to dig into this second book that has more practical application for how I communicate…and receive communication.

Also, before you single folks check out, I think that it’s a good book to read even if you’re single. Yes, the target audience is married people. However, all men – married or not – have an innate need to feel respected and all women – married or not – have an innate need to feel loved. So in all communication, if you speak towards those needs, you’re going to be more successful.

Although, I do have to say I’m either incredibly delusional or I’m an exception to this love/respect rule. I would much rather know that I’m respected than feel like I am loved.

However, the communication keys in the book are still applicable, and I’m going to keep working on it until I get it right.