I finished reading the Bible today! I started last September and finally finished. This month I read many of the books at the end of the Old Testament -- Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Most of those books are short and I do know there are a few not on there (e.g. Daniel, Jonah), but I read those out of order earlier in the year.
I don't think I'll finish a new book before the month ends so I'll go ahead and post the books I read this month.
The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller -- I wrote two posts already about this. I enjoyed reading about the elder brother's role...the TRUE elder brother, that is. Also the part about tasting and seeing that the Lord is good (pg. 108) was interesting.
On our longing for something else, the author writes, "The message of the Bible is that the human race is a band of exiles trying to come home. The parable of the prodigal son is about everyone of us." (pg. 97) See posts from earlier this month for more details on this book.
The Popular Encyclopedia of World Religions by Richard Wolff is "a user-friendly guide to [Islam, Shintoism and Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism, Judaism and Christianity's] beliefs, history and impact on our world today."
At the end of one section the author mentioned how Christians should relate to people of different faiths. He wrote, "Christians should be prepared to answer questions and explain the hope we have and do it with 'gentleness and respect.' Christians are ambassadors and therefore necessarily diplomatic. Christians are witnesses, not prosecuting attorneys. Witnesses relate what they have experienced. According to the words of Christ, it is the Spirit who will bear witness to him and convict the world of sin and guilt. We can only present the facts of our experience and share information, but without the Spirit, who internalizes the facts and convicts, new life will not blossom. We present the external evidence, the Spirit provides the internal evidence." (pg. 60)
The Difference Maker by John C. Maxwell focuses on "making your attitude your greatest asset."
"The happiest people in life don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just try to make the best of everything. . . . A person's attitude has a profound influence on his approach to life." (pg. 35)
The author discussed where our attitudes come from, what our attitudes cannot do for us, what they can do for us, how to make our attitudes our biggest assets and five big attitude obstacles (discouragement, change, problems, fear and failure.)
Unlikely Angel by Ashley Smith is the author's recollection of the early morning hours of March 12, 2005 when she was held hostage in her own apartment by a man who had murdered four people in Atlanta, GA earlier in the day. Ashley recounted the time she spent with Brian Nichols and how God revealed Himself to her, helped her come to some decisions in her own life marked by drug addictions and how He was the hero. This book reminded me that God is always at work, He will never leave or forsake us and His ways and thoughts are much higher than our own. It was encouraging to see how God used this potentially terrifying situation to bring about change in people's lives.
Improving Your Serve by Charles Swindoll is based on the verse in Mark where Jesus tells us He did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom. The author deals with thinking like a servant, the portrait of a servant, the influence, perils, obedience of a servant and the consequences and rewards of serving. I have a few blog posts from this month dealing more with this book.
Muslims, Christians and Jesus by Carl Medearis -- I read this book last year and found it very encouraging and full of great tips and wisdom. Recently -- like Saturday night after being rather harsh *blush* with some people about certain practices -- I felt prompted to reread it and was challenged anew when I realized how I had strayed from many things I had planned to put into practice. Instead I had followed my natural inclinations... but I digress. Here are things that stood out to me the second time around. By the way, here is my review from last year. You can see how much I raved about it then! Love, love, love Carl even though I don't know him!
"Jesus had compassion for people, and he valued the same quality in his disciples, even above personal sacrifice." (pg. 33)
"Jesus looks for a change of heart; men look for a change of culture. It's always a matter of the heart, and hearts changed by God lead to changed cultures." (pg. 98)
In talking to Muslims and desiring to present Jesus, Carl writes, "Drop the arguments and forget the fight. It isn't about who's more right and who's more wrong. It's about pointing toward Isa (Jesus) and allowing his Spirit" to do the work. (pg. 110)
"If you want to reach a person, you have to look at them as an individual. . .. There can be no more generalizations and blanket distinctions." (pg. 131)
Carl stresses relationships and building true friendships where we listen and share in others' lives. (pg. 132)
"We have the greatest commandment: Love God and love people. Love has always been and will always be the strongest force in the universe. No one can stand against it. . . . It is who God is and who he wants us to be." (pg. 144)
Carl says we shouldn't have an agenda except to "do good and serve people... Not to convert them or fix them or save them. Just love them." (pg. 154)
"Just lift up Jesus... present him -- the Good News." (pg. 156)
"See Muslims" [and] "interact at their point of need." (pg. 183)