Another month is almost gone and cooler, wet days have given way to hot and dry conditions where I live! I hope your May was full of good times and pleasant memories. I happened to get a new nephew!
Here are the few books I finished this month.
Joseph's Bones by Jerome M.Segal -- see previous posts
The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi -- a book by an Indian discussing the Bible's impact on western civilization; see previous posts
When a Nation Forgets God by Erwin Lutzer -- this is a short book my brother had and thought I might like. The author gave a few lessons we can learn from Nazi Germany. I liked this quote from Os Guinness,
"There is no problem in the wider culture that you cannot see in spades in the Christian Church.The rot is in us, and not simply out there. And Christians are making a great mistake by turning everything into culture wars. It's a much deeper crisis." (pg. 140)
"We must realize that our public effectiveness is largely based on our private relationship with God." (pg. 139)
I like that he reminded us that we must keep our credibility and joy. Also we must realize suffering for Christ's sake is a calling. Not something to be avoided at all costs. God uses us to respond with "humility, love, and gracious courage." (pg. 33)
The Road From Damascus by Scott C. Davis -- A man from Washington (the state) decides to take a break from life to visit Syria. This book tells his story: places he went, sights he saw, experiences he had, lessons he learned. His initial trip was in late 1987, but he went back in 2001 and incorporates some changes he saw in Syria since that first trip into the book.
When the book ends Bashar al-Assad had been in power only a few months and some progress and reforms were in the works. The fear of the secret police seemed to have lessened, some things like banks had been privatized and people were hoping for more change. In light of recent happenings in Syria, I found this last paragraph of interest.
"Ten months of change versus thirty-eight years of state control. These years will not be shed overnight. The new story is one of advancement and struggle, hope and disappointment. More chapters will be written before the story is complete." (pg. 370)
I found myself wondering what new chapters the author would write based on the last ten years. And the last two months.
(Speaking of this topic, this article on Syria Comment was interesting. I read and discussed it with Samer the other day.)
I could relate to this:
"The first 29 days of my journey had changed me. I turned instead to the people I met, the places I visited, the sounds and smells of this land. Of necessity, I made them mine. After requesting admission to the lives of Syrians, after asking them to talk with me, to remember me, to care about me, would it ever be possible for me to dismiss them or to dismiss people from other distant lands as 'foreign?' Didn't we all belong to an emerging world culture? By now I thought of myself as Syrian even though I knew I was also American." (pg. 211)
and this chapter title: "Coming Home to Damascus" (pg. 341)
I liked the incident when Scott is talking to his friend Saad about Syria's lack of violence. Saad said it was because they had strong families. They also "solve other problems too. Like old people. I got some other professional men together and we donated money to create an old age home in Damascus like I had seen in the United States. Our problem? We couldn't find old people to move in. Only after months of searching did we find one old woman." (pg. 77)
Soul Print by Mark Batterson - yet another challenging book by a man who has inspired me to draw closer to Christ and find my identity in him; see previous posts
"Superficiality is the curse of our culture. And the primary reason we live as strangers to ourselves is because we're afraid of what we'll find if we start digging. We don't really want to see ourselves for who we are. But if we can dig deeper than our fallen natures, we'll find the truth that lies buried beneath our sin: the image of God. We'll find our true identities. And our true destinies as well." (pg. 5)
"Most of our emotional problems are symptoms of one deep-rooted spiritual problem: lack of trust in the sovereign God. It's our lack of trust in Him that results in high levels of past-tense guilt, present-tense stress, and future-tense anxiety." (pg. 37)
"Nothing is more spiritually, emotionally, or relationally exhausting than pretending you hold the planets in orbit. And the flipside is true as well. The greatest freedom in the world is relinquishing control and submitting your life to the Sovereign One." (pg. 38)
"In a sense, our faith is really a by-product of God's faithfulness. God proves Himself faithful, and it builds our faith as we connect the dots." (pg. 39)
"Like sunflowers that face east to soak in the morning sunlight, we crave the praise of people. We want every ounce of credit we think we deserve. But you don't get honor by seeking honor. You get honor by giving honor. Jesus said it this way: 'Don't sit in the seat of honor.' But his challenge to His original disciples to sit in the lower seat didn't keep them from asking the comparison question: 'Who is greatest among us?' We want to know where we rank, but Jesus never pulled rank. And He challenges us to follow in His footsteps and wash feet. And that's what seeking the shadows is all about. You aren't looking for opportunities to get credit or get noticed. You're actually looking for opportunities to do things where you won't get credit or won't get noticed." (pg. 71-2)
"Nothing fills you with holy confidence like knowing that God Himself is your advocate. You don't have to take matters into your own hands, because they are in the hands of God Almighty. You can bless those who curse you. You can pray for those who persecute you. You can love your enemies." (pg. 81)
"The greatest freedom is realizing that you don't have to prove anything to anyone except God Himself." (pg. 89)
"When you get excited about God, don't expect everybody to get excited about your excitement. Why? Your intensity confronts their passivity. When you completely yield yourself to God, it convicts the unconsecrated by disrupting their spiritual status quo. Some people will be inspired by what God is doing in your life, but others will mask their conviction with criticism. After all, it's much easier to criticize others than it is to change ourselves." (pg. 97)
That's all for May because of this and the fact I've been spending most of the last week on Journey Into America which I've already blogged about at least three times!
Darwin and Jesus' influence on American identity and practice
Extreme Darwinian thought
I have more to share on it tomorrow concerning African American Muslims and the author's comparison of them and immigrant Muslims from mostly Arab lands and Southeast Asia. This book is incredibly interesting to me and packed with information!
Hope you are doing well!