Month: January 2012

January Book List

January has been a great month of reading. I had forgotten how great the Kindle app was for reading while on the subway, or on a bus and I took full advantage of it this month. I have read some great ministry books as well as some great personal reads that had been sitting on my “To Read” pile for awhile. This post is just a quick synapsis of the books that I have read and I will be posting a larger review on some of the reads from this month in the next couple of weeks.

Peter and Max : A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham

I am a huge Fables fan, so naturally picking up this novel was only a matter of time. Also, add in that Once Upon A Time is one of my favorite shows right now, this seemed like a good place to start. The book is set in the Fables universe, but is a stand alone read that requires no knowledge of previous comic issues. The book explains character relationships well, so there is no information lost to new readers. It was a quick and easy read that I would not necessarily read again. I found that flipping between present and past events in the novel sometimes hard to follow from chapter to chapter. I would lose myself in the read and then have to think about whether this was Peter and Max in the present, or a flashback to the origins of the problem. A great book of sibling rivalry and the power of corruption and jealousy.

Poke The Box by Seth Godin

I think this was the third time that I have read this book. I am still failing at starting many things as this book continues to remind me. However, I love that every time I read this book my creativity and initiative skills come to the forefront and challenge my life. I would recommend this book to anyone that needs a creative boost and a push to think outside the box. This is a great book to read with a team in order to move away from stagnate thinking and results.

 

 

 

 

A Bright Red Scream : Self-Mutilation And The Language Of Pain by Marilee Strong

This book pushed my limits of comfort when it comes to ministry and the reality of self-injury in the lives of adolescents. I had a hard time putting this book down once I started reading it. I personally liked the look into the historical roots of the issue. However, this books greatest asset is the ability to include stats, real-life stories and research analysis into an easy to read youth ministry textbook on an issue that needs to be talked about. I would hope any youth worker has read this book.

 

 

 

The Day Metallica Came To Church : Searching for the Everywhere God in Everything
by John Van Sloten

”If God speaks through both the Bible and human culture at the same time, how would that work?”

 That is the central question to this book. Personally, the chapter on Van Gough and his painting The Church in Auvers was brilliant. John Van Sloten looks beyond the face value of many cultural fads into the way God is at work through them. This was by far my favorite book this month and again I would recommend it to anyone. As a note he is Canadian and does cover the Calgary Flames run to the Stanley Cup and how he saw God at work in that moment. Again, read it for the chapter on VAn Gogh, I do not think you will be disappointed. I will cover this book at greater length soon.

Nehemiah : An Inside Look At Waiting

It was the month of Kislev in the twentieth year. At the time I was in the palace complex at Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, had just arrived from Judah with some fellow Jews. I asked them about the conditions among the Jews there who had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem.

    

    They told me, “The exile survivors who are left there in the province are in bad shape. Conditions are appalling. The wall of Jerusalem is still rubble; the city gates are still cinders.”

    When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven. (Nehemiah 1:1-4 MSG)

Right off the start we find Nehemiah getting the news regarding his community in the city of Jerusalem and the effect it has on him. He mourns for the state of his community and he begins praying and fasting for what is on his heart. Now fast forward to Chapter 2 verse one.

It was the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king. At the hour for serving wine I brought it in and gave it to the king. I had never been hangdog in his presence before, so he asked me, “Why the long face? You’re not sick are you? Or are you depressed?” (Nehemiah 2:1-2 MSG)

The point of interest for me this morning was the timeframe that passed between starting to pray and fast and the opportunity and answer from God for NEhemiah to share his heart with the king. There is a three, or four month passage of time here depending on which Biblical scholar, or commentary you are reading. Now, most people would read that and think he might have prayed for a couple of weeks at the most as one month passed into another, but Nehemiah took his grief to God for an extended period of time waiting for God to answer and provide an opportunity for Nehemiah to support his community. Chapter 1:11 also shows that He was not the only one praying for his community.

O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” (Nehemiah 1:10-11 ESV)

Even in the presence of the king months after e began praying and fasting Nehemiah could not hide his broken heart with a happy expression on his face. His face was long and full of sadness when he went before his king, which goes against the customs of the time. The king and Nehemiah go back and forth a bit based on facial expressions on Nehemiah’s face and in Chapter 2 verse 4 the king asks Nehemiah the following,

Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?”…

However, it is what Nehemiah does next that shows how patient and how much he relies on God during this whole process.

So I prayed to the God of heaven.

 

Even in the midst of God’s answer and opportunity for Nehemiah to share his heart for his community Nehemiah waits and insures the words that he speaks to the king are not his, but words from God. His patience in waiting for God’s permission to move forward in restoring his community is inspiring and challenging all at the same time.

 

How long do we pray to God about one situation in our lives?

How often do we rush out and speak with passion without allowing God to be present in our words?

Do we have that much passion for anything in our lives to practice this type of patience?

Does our passion get in the way of our patience?

Nehemiah: An Inside Look

This book became on of my favourites while in university because of the passion and desire Nehemiah shows towards his community. Listen to the prayer Nehemiah cries out in Chapter one.

 

I said, “God, God-of-Heaven, the great and awesome God, loyal to his covenant and faithful to those who love him and obey his commands: Look at me, listen to me. Pay attention to this prayer of your servant that I’m praying day and night in intercession for your servants, the People of Israel, confessing the sins of the People of Israel. And I’m including myself, I and my ancestors, among those who have sinned against you.

 

“We’ve treated you like dirt: We haven’t done what you told us, haven’t followed your commands, and haven’t respected the decisions you gave to Moses your servant. All the same, remember the warning you posted to your servant Moses: ‘If you betray me, I’ll scatter you to the four winds, but if you come back to me and do what I tell you, I’ll gather up all these scattered peoples from wherever they ended up and put them back in the place I chose to mark with my Name.’ (Nehemiah 1:5-9)

 

I have called this mini-blog series ‘An Inside Look’ because Nehemiah wanted to make a difference inside of the walls that surrounded his community.  Nehemiah had a desire and God provided him an opportunity to make an impact on those around him.  However, there were some difficulties for him to overcome. Nehemiah was afraid to speak up to the King. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. He overlooked his fear and shared with the King the heaviness of his heart. He took his opportunity to speak out for his community and change was put into motion.

 

What do you see in your community that breaks your heart?

 

Have you spoken to God about your heavy heart?

 

What fears are holding you back from taking the first step towards changing, or impacting your community?

 

Are you keeping your eyes open to the opportunities God is placing before you?

 

A friend posted this on his Twitter feed in regards to the current Sunday series going on at The Peoples Church. I think this relates perfectly into what Nehemiah was going through and how many of us feel about the communities we live in.

 

Does the spiritual state of my city move me? Do I weep over it? Does the state of other people break my heart?

 

I am currently using this book as a devotion every morning and will be blogging my thoughts as I work through this. We are also covering Nehemiah on Sunday mornings at The Peoples Church for the next couple of weeks at both the 9:15 and 11:30 A.M. services.