FOR EVERYTHING A SEASON by Phillip Gulley: A Review

This book, subtitled “Simple Musings on Living Well” was published in 1999, a year after my father died.

This book was presented to our church library in memory of my dad, six months after he died by the Sunday school class I was teaching at the time. It was the age group, “Seventy to Heaven”. I was not old enough to be in the class, but took it on and with the help of My Better Half, continued teaching it for a total of 30 years. It was a very good “season” of my life. And, this is how I would describe this book of simple, but profound essays, a journey through the various seasons of our life. The author has been dubbed “a master storyteller,” and that he is. His stories are about his friends, family, and the inhabitants of his hometown, Danville, Indiana, population 4,800. Indeed his musings/stories are small town homilies.

Overall, it is a pleasant, enjoyable reading experience. Read this book if you think you would enjoy good Cristian insights from a Quaker pastor.

THE CHRISTIAN ATHEST by Craig Groeschel: A Revew

Yes, the title sounds like an oxymoron, but it is really more of an exercise in finishing sentences. The subtitle is, “Believing in God But Living as if He Doesn’t Exist.” This “life- changing read” includes chapter  titles like:

When You Believe in God, but…

…don’t think He’s fair.

…still worry all the time.

…pursue happiness at any cost.

…trust more in money.

…don’t share your faith.

…not in His church.

This is a convicting read from a self-proclaimed recovering Christian atheist. The book attempts to help the reader move “toward an authentic God-honoring life.” Its relevance to current times and society makes it a very useful read to those hoping to grow their Christian walk.

HIDDEN HEROES: EVIDENCE THAT GOD IS AT WORK: A Review

This is an old (1995) title that came into my hands from a friend who was donating it to my Little Free Library; however, it is full of “new” ideas and very inspiring. Don Moore and Lorna Dueck have collected short examples that prove, in Billy Graham’s words from his forward, “…God is still at work using ordinary people to do extraordinary things” and “…amid the apparent chaos and conflicts of our world, God is still at work through the lives of…men and women committed to Christ and seeking to serve Him.”

The examples chosen are mostly from Canada, but could be applied anywhere in anyone’s lives. There are a great deal of inspiring examples that might help the reader choose his own ministry/service as she/he sees needs arise in his/her location and life-situation. Heroes from sports figures to educators, to housewives and moms, to professional, trained leaders are given with each turn of the page. The stories often occur after the “hero” has taken a beating–losing a job or having to downsize, and turns it into an opportunity to serve in a way that is helpful to the Lord’s work and totally fulfilling.

This is an inspiring book for someone who wants to “do something.” Sometimes it is something that makes a difference in one life; sometimes it is something that “takes off” and makes a big difference in a big way. Regardless, the book is full of examples of people who took action, not just paid lip-service.

BEFORE AMEN by Max Lucado: A Review

This is a review of a re-read.  Every so many months, I check it out from my church library and give it a re-read as a check up on my prayer life.  Yes, I have bought the book, more than one copy as a matter of fact, but I always end up giving my copy away to someone who needs it just as much as I do.

This week I re-read the simply structured book, saying “Um hum, ok” and “Hmm, not so good”… as I read. The model prayer, the pocket prayer, as the author calls it because it can fit in your pocket, is simple:

Father,

you are good.

I need help.

They need help.

Thank you.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

That’s it. All you need to effectively pray are in those lines. Each succeeding chapter is a meditation or musing upon each line in the Pocket Prayer.  It begins with “Father” and thinks about what it means to have accessibility to God because He is our Loving Father.  It is a first chapter rich with nuances and thought-provoking concepts.

My favorite chapter, perhaps because I am so big on, “Give me applications, so I can USE this…”is the one that presents the line, “They need help.”  Lucado points out that when we see a Mom struggling with a screaming toddler, yanking her by the arm, we need to pray that line, “She needs help,” not be judgmental or condemning. Every morning when I go out to pick up my morning paper and maybe put mail in the box for the postman to pick up, I stand at the end of the sidewalk, paper in hand and look at each house on the cut de sac, praying that particular line, “They need help.” I look at and linger over each house, those families I know well and have known for a long time, and those I just wave at when I see them drive by. I pray specifically for needs I know about: illnesses in the extended families, broken or shaky relationships, small and demanding children and/or adolescents, whatever needs I know about.  I give a generally “Bless them in whatever way they need at this time” request for houses whose occupants I don’t know by name or know anything about them, but see them often–going to work, taking the kids to school or getting their mail or papers in.

Every line has ways you can put that line to work in your prayer life, applications you can make and start doing that makes you feel a part of the Lord’s work.

Max Ludcado is my favorite inspirational author, and this practical, convicting, applicable book is one of his best.