This year has been a whirlwind for me and my family with our move back to my hometown. We hit the ground running with the new church and just about the time we get done with one project, growth dictates we start another one. I'm not complaining at all though. It's been an incredible ride and a wonderful reminder that God is faithful and that He is still doing the miraculous and the seemingly improbable, if not impossible. That being said, with twelve remodel /reconstruction projects down and more to go, my reading has been somewhat slackened. But with the holidays upon us and a large part of the major work behind us (for now), we'll see what I can get read in a short time. Being that the books may be coming fast and furious, I may revert back to collective reviews over a cluster of books at once. Here are the last five I've read recently:
"I Will Be Your Friend" by Michael W. Smith
I've had this book for a long time. Truth is, I've got so many books that I can be reading, I honestly don't need to buy more. It's my guilty habit however. Michael W. Smith has always been my favorite musical artist period. I own every album he's ever put out (20+) and every book he's published. I've listened to all of his albums countless times. I'm working on the books!
This book was based off of one of his big hits by the same name, "I Will Be Your Friend." In the book, Smith deals with the power of friendship and what the Bible has to say about it. He talks about his own struggles in life and how God has taught him to be a better friend and to reach out to others. It's a book probably more geared towards teens and young adults, but good nonetheless.
"The Prayer of Jabez" by Bruce Wilkinson
This was also a very old book I had for awhile. I remember when what I referred to as the "Jabez" fad was going through churches. I bought the book, got sick of hearing about Jabez all the time, and put it on the shelf. I remember reading it once before, but I thought I'd pull it off the shelf again. I'm glad I did. The book certainly speaks to the power of prayer and does a great job at pulling out some major components that led to a break in one of the longer genealogies listed in scripture to describe what one man prayed. I may have to delve back into this story again and work on some messages! Jabez prayed specifically that God would bless him, enlarge his territory, keep His hand on him, and keep him from evil. I'd say that's a good prayer and lifestyle for us all to strive to live!
"Knowing Aslan" by Thomas Williams
I'll be honest. This was a short book, but it was still good. I'm a big Narnia fan and I'll admit I pretty much cry every time there is a scene where the big lion shows us and reminds me of Jesus. This book was a companion book made to give out to those who are interested in knowing more about Jesus or being saved. Williams takes the time to flesh out how C.S. Lewis created Aslan the Lion to represent Jesus Christ and His love and role in creation. Williams does a great job of explaining the fall of man, sin, the world in which we live, Christ's sacrifice, His resurrection, and our results. Though the movie is old, (they are making more in the series), this would be a great companion guide for someone watching these movies who does not profess Christ as Savior.
"A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis
This was one of the hardest, yet most brilliant, books I've ever read. Lewis was gifted with words and thoughts. He had a way of uncovering the most honest and scariest thoughts in one's heart and easily expounding and exposing them on paper. Lewis writes of the loss of his wife and carries the reader through the inward struggle of pain and healing. Lewis honestly admits his doubts in God's love and sovereignty. He struggles with the feeling of being a puppet and a pawn. He writes of the awkwardness he feels around others and even in his own home with his wife gone. As the book progresses, Lewis also progresses from being despondent to confused, from confused to angry, from angry to reflective, from reflective to accepting, and from accepting to trusting that God is still sovereign. One of my favorite aspects of the book is towards the end when Lewis deals with all the meaningless questions we ask of God as if we could understand His ways and reasons. Trying to understand death, sickness, and God's response to them is akin to trying to ask God "why yellow is round . . ." Easily a masterpiece of literature to say the least.
"Just the Two of Us" by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott
Having read a book on a couple dying, I wanted to reverse course and read a book on marriage and how to make it great through the years. I'd like to think that Billie and I have a great marriage. We're not perfect, but our love is deep, our bond is strong, and our commitment is real. That said, marriage is what you make of it. You have to work at it. And I'm always up to learn something new. I've had this book for quite a while and while it is more of a couples devotion or talk book, it was still a very good read. The Parrott's do a great job at provoking thoughtful ideas for communication and family time. I'd recommend it for sure to married couples or to individuals who want to learn how to be a better spouse.