Next to good food one of my favorite things in this life is reading. Books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, the back of the shampoo bottle if that is all that is available.
Recently I've been reading two really great books. These are not novels but I'll get to that when I start reading Green the newest book in the Circle Trilogy.
Many people are talking about the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It is an excellent book and I read it a long time ago so I kind of feel like I have something on all of you. That would be the first time in my life that I feel that I am ahead of the curve of culture. (As a side note, I hope that all of you who are just now getting into Crazy Love are using the internet videos that he made to go along with each chapter. They really make it more interactive with the author!)
Anyway, there is a NEW book out by Francis Chan so I scooped it up as soon as I saw it at the bookstore the other day. I'll admit I first picked it up simply because it was written by someone who I admire and think has life figured out pretty well. But then as I saw the subject matter I was even more intrigued. It is called Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect Of The Holy Spirit. I have to admit that I am one of those people who has neglected the Holy Spirit too much partly out of my fears of becoming "one of those people".
But Francis addresses this very fear himself and is so real and honest. I think that is my all time favorite trait in people as I grow, um, a little older. Let's be real! Please be honest! We all have our fears and insecurities. Can we just acknowledge them and move on, please?
This is a great book and has fueled even more my passion for something that the second book is all about: WORSHIP. Here are a few quotes from the book:
There is much more to God and following in the Way of Jesus than getting a bunch of talented people together to hold a church service. pg.33
Let's be honest: If you combine a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and some hip, creative events, people will attend your church. Yet this does not mean that the Holy Spirit of God is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming. It simply means that you have created a space that is appealing enough to draw people in for an hour or two on Sunday.
It certainly does not mean that people walk out the doors moved to worship and in awe of God. People are more likely to describe the quality of the music or the appeal of the sermon than the One who is the reason people gather for "church" in the first place. pg 31
Church goers all across the nation say the Holy Spirit has entered them. They claim that God has given them a supernatural ability to follow Christ, put their sin to death, and serve the church. Christians talk about being born again and say that they were dead but now have come to life. We have become hardened to those words, but they are powerful words that have significant meaning. Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God. And can we blame them? pg32
And that is just a few quotes! After each chapter he gives an account of a different person that he knows that exemplifies the Spirit in real life. It is a book that I need to read over and over.
The other book I'm still reading is called Make Love Make War NOW Is The Time TO Worship by Brian Doerksen. I referenced Brian a lot recently since he was a speaker/worship leader at the worship conference I attended a few weeks ago. Many of you are familiar with Brian's music but probably just don't know it. We actually already sing a lot of his songs in our church.
Each chapter of his book is titled by one of his song titles. He tells you the story behind the writing of each song but it goes much deeper than that. Brian sees himself as more of a "lament" type song writer. I think he is just a very deeply connected man who seeks Jesus in every area of his life. And yet, he is completely open and honest about his failures and his struggles with everything from fear of being in front of people to being a parent of special needs children.
This book is full of deep, solid theology and also has the side bonus of giving tips to songwriters for those of you who are into that.
Hope you look into reading either of these books if you are looking for some challenging spiritual meat.