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What I've Been Reading

Before we left Niger, I was reading this book by Richard Foster: The Freedom of Simplicity. I hadn't finished it, but didn't want to bring it to the US and then have to carry it back to Niger. Books are too heavy to carry if I don't really need it! I need to see if I can find it in the library here so I can finish it.

Anyway, I would recommend this book. By Simplicity he means getting rid of things in your life that prevent you from concentrating on what is most important. He talks about getting rid of things that cause us to live beyond our means physically. He doesn't say that "things" are wrong or that you have to live austerely. He does say that simplicity looks different for everybody but how we all need to hold things loosely.

Then he talks about how we live beyond our means emotionally by trying to do too much and by being over-involved in too many things. This is what he suggests....and I'm still mulling it over. He suggests recording all our activities and then categorizing them like this:

1. absolutely essential

2. important but not essential

3. helpful, but not necessary

4. trivial

Then he says we should eliminate everything in the last two categories, and eliminate 20% of the things in the first two. That would eliminite so much of the emotional bankruptcy we find ourselves under. So, that's my food for thought this summer.

Foster also says, "Joy, not grit is the hallmark of holy obedience. We need to be lighthearted in what we do in order to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. It is a cheerful revolt against self and pride. Our work is jubilant, carefree, merry. Utter abandonment to God is done freely and with celebration. And so I urge you to enjoy this ministry of self-surrender. Don't push too hard. Hold this work lightly, joyfully.

I love reading novels, but try to read some serious books, too. Here are some others I've read in the past year:

The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perservance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce by John Piper. John Piper gives brief autobiographical sketches of these three men and shows how each of them persevered against extreme hardship. It's a very encouraging book, especially if you are going through a discouraging time in your work or ministry.

You have probably all heard of this book, The End of the Spear, but if you haven't read it yet, you should! It is an autobiography that reads like a novel. It is very moving and challenging.

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala describes how the Brooklyn Tabernacle grew from a handful of discouraged people to a huge, vibrant church. Jim Cymbala says people ask him all the time what the secret is to growing a big church. They want to copy his program and have a church like his. He says there is no secret. It has to be a work of the Spirit and the only advice he can give is to make prayer a priority. This was a timely reminder to me to keep praying and not give up when the church in Tera seems doomed to failure. God is still at work!

Do you think that in heaven we're just going to sit around on clouds strumming harps? Most of us think that sounds pretty boring. Heaven by Randy Alcorn explains what heaven will really be like. This is a long book, but worth it. You cannot read this book and not get excited about going to heaven!

The Red Sea Rules: The Same God Who Led You in Will Lead You Out by Robert J. Morgan was probably my favorite of all these books. God wants us to be quiet, stand still, and listen! Here are some of the "rules" to whet your appetite:

Realize that God means for you to be where you are.

Be more concerned for God's glory than for your relief.

Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.


That's just a few of the "rules"'ll have to read the book to find the rest. If you only choose one book in this list, choose this one!

I also read The Practice of the Presence of God with Spiritual Maxims. This is a Christian classic and was also challenging. In this book Brother Lawrence explains how to be aware of Christ's presence and live for his glory even when doing mundane tasks.

So, if you're looking for some "serious" books to read, these are some I would recommend!