Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Books and intentional reading

I just added the little book shelf widget on the left. The biggest one available had 5 shelves and it wasn't enough. I am in the middle of too many books. The main reason I added it is for accountability to actually finish reading each of them. I am really bad at that. I have read the first halves of so many good books, just to get distracted by another book or lose interest all together. They are not in any particular order but the one I would like to finish first (because I started it so long ago) is "When I Don't Desire God" so it's at the top as a fresh reminder to myself.

Reading is not something I naturally gravitate toward. I can find plenty of things to do around here that require much less thought and bring about much less conviction...and therefore change. But my desire in reading each of these books is to be purposeful and available for the Lord to bring about the fruit He desires in my life.

A few things I hope to get out of them:

When I Don't Desire God -- it's pretty simple. I want to desire God more than I do right now. I want to aggressively kill sin. I want to love the Word. I want to love prayer. I want to cherish Christ more than anything this world could ever offer me. Here's just one of many quotes on killing sin and war-time living I just read to give you a taste too:

"Yes, there is a mean, violent streak in the true Christian life!...It's a violence against all the impulses in us that would make peace with our own sin and settle in with a peacetime mentality. It's a violence against all lust in ourselves and all enslaving desires for food or caffeine or sugar or chocolate or alcohol or pornography or money or the praise of men and the approval of others or power or fame. It's a violence against the impulses in our own soul toward racism and sluggish indifference to injustice and poverty and abortion.
Christianity is not a settle-in-and-live-at-peace-with-this-world-the-way-it-is kind of religion...Christianity is war."

Stepping Heavenward -- I've just heard a lot about this lady and wanted to learn a little more about her. It's in a journal form which makes it even more interesting and she's extremely honest and raw in her journey with the Lord. I respect that so much. I also haven't read much about another person's life in a long time, and reading of someone's example has had a tremendous effect on me in the past.

Ministries of Mercy -- I really like Tim Keller and admire his urban ministry in NYC a ton. In fact, I have 2 friends who now work for him. Anyway, he has a huge heart for the poor, hurting and needy, social justice, and strategically planting yourself where you are most effect in reaching the world. I was changed by him in college, but haven't had much exposure to him since. I also have lost some of my zeal for going to the hurting. It's been 3 years since I've been out of the country and the effects of that on my heart are obvious. I want the Lord to stir that up in me again and give me fresh vision for what I can do here and now...as well as vision for the future. Josh and I are reading this together and will be meeting with close friends to discuss it...it should be good!

Total Money Makeover -- We want to get out of debt! This is closely related to the other books, believe it or not. When Josh and I made the decision for him to go back to school and become a math teacher, one of the main, driving reasons was to free us up in the summer to go overseas on mission trips....and investigate for the possibility to go permanently one day. It's hard to do that with debt and little to no savings. We need a plan to be able to pay it off, give and save. I've heard over and over how effective this plan is...so here goes.

The Shack -- My parents just recently read this book and are now reading it for a second time. Not only that but they bought one for all of us kids and our families to read too. My dad has been through some intense struggles and suffering in his life and strongly identified with the main character...and that character's healing and restoration to the Lord. In fact, I think this book has been part of the healing process. So, of course I'm going to read it! So far, it's been an emotional roller coaster, but really, really good. I've questioned some of the theology and been blow away by how dead on it is...usually on the same page. I'm about half way through.

Shepherding a Child's Heart -- I don't really need to explain this one. All the things I've talked about wanting for myself I want for my son and future son/daughter. And I realize we are the most influential people in their lives right now. The task is heavy and I feel ill-equipped to lead....a good place to start.

So....I've been thinking of a few different ways to attack this. Probably, I'll start by making one day of the week a "reading day." Meaning, I will set a chunk of free time that day (Isaiah's nap time) aside to focus on reading, but I would really like to hear what you do. I know quite a few of you are big readers so how do you work it in and how do you manage reading multiple books at the same time???