Monthly Archives: March 2012
How important are books in your spiritual formation? Do you enjoy reading books that challenge you?
We were watching an episode of the TV reality show “Hoarders” recently that featured a married couple with an unusual “hoard”. They were book hoarders. Only a few years into their marriage the building of a personal “library” took off. Just 7 years into married life, when they made their first move from an apartment into a house, they had accumulated about 5,000 books. At the time of the recording of the Hoarder program, the couple had more than 200,000 books in their home – there was no room to move about, sit at a table, entertain guests, even to sleep together.
I am not bibliophilic, as this couple obviously was, but I do like to read. In fact, I usually have 2 to 4 books going simultaneously. I really can’t see the purpose in owning books if I don’t read them, use them for research, or resell them for profit. I read novels for relaxation, especially detective stories; health-related books that reinforce God’s plan for health; biographies; and books that encourage my spiritual growth. These are my favorite kinds of books.
There are two books which I have recently read for spiritual and personal growth that I would like to recommend to you:
1. Whatever Happened to Worship? by A. W. Tozer
What an awesome book! This book is a compilation of messages preached by Tozer in a series to his church in Toronto in 1962 . Tozer’s desire was to write a book on worship before he died. Although he did not live to accomplish this, his sermons on worship were edited and put into book form. The book covers such topics as the necessity of the new birth for true worship, what is not true worship, being awed by the presence of God in worship, how feelings fit into worship, entering into worship through observing God’s creation, and the effects of Sunday worship on your life on Monday.
I’d like to share an excerpt from Tozer’s book, page 56:
In Europe many generations ago, the dear old saint of God, Brother Lawrence, was on his deathbed. Rapidly losing his physical strength, he witnessed to those gathered around him: “I am not dying. I am just doing what I have been doing for the past 40 years, and doing what I expect to be doing for all eternity!”
“What is that?” he was asked. He replied quickly, “I am worshipping the God I love!”
Worshipping God – that was primary for Brother Lawrence. He was also dying, but that was secondary. He knew why he had been born into this world – and he knew why he had been born again.
Tozer’s book has been a spirit-stimulator for me for the past couple of weeks.
2. I Dare You to Change! Discover the Difference Between Dreaming of a Better Life and Living It, written by Bil (yes, the spelling is correct ) Cornelius, pastor of Bay Area Fellowship, Corpus Christi, Texas.
Cornelius’ book gives readers ten steps for achieving success in life through goal-setting. It deals with such things as breaking the cycle of failure, adopting a new attitude, being willing to change directions and plans, learning to face challenges, setting goals, etc.
Using insights from Gideon’s life-story in the Bible, this book is interesting reading. It offers practical application at the end of each chapter through an Action Plan page. On this page, readers are guided through a series of 3 questions relating to the chapter, to help them move ahead on each of the 10-steps. This book would be good to use as the basis for a support group, which could also offer a platform for outreach to un-churched people of almost any age.
Cornelius’ book challenged me as I read it while walking bi-weekly on my treadmill over the past month or so. My daily life is full of details that relate to our church (I’m a pastor’s wife – and as such my husband’s ancillary memory bank, a life-group leader, a worship team member, women’s prayer group facilitator, etc.), to my outside speaking commitments, to my home and marriage responsibilities, and to my writing vocation.
I am attempting to enter into Cornelius’ 10-step plan by completing little jobs that I have procrastinated on finishing for far too long, but which must be done to clear the way for concentrated focus on more important things – like completing at least one of the three books I’ve been writing.
I hope you will find these two recommended books to be helpful to your spiritual walk and encouraging to your personal development. There is also a piece I’ve written on putting-things-off (my personal challenge) which might help you to get moving while you still have time. See my post entitled: That’s the Thing
What are some books that you have read which have challenged and/or changed your life?
©2012, Marcy Alves
I am unashamedly a “recycler”. Not on the order of a hoarder who holds onto things for possible re-use that get buried under a pile of stuff, destined not to see the light of day again until after the funeral, when family members, kind friends, or hired hands begin to clean out the years of collected debris. No, I recycle weekly, monthly and for the “good stuff”, yearly at a summer yard sale.
We’ve been in “people ministries” for years, and much of what gathers dust at my house has been given to us by friends or grateful ministry recipients. Years ago I used an illustration in my spiritual re-birth testimony about having been a frog that was kissed by the Prince of Peace, which changed me into a princess in God’s kingdom. People began to send me frogs – ceramic frogs, cloth frogs, metal frogs, etc. But I’m digressing here.
Being an adamant recycler, I’m always amazed how frequently both technological and simple practical inventions, geared to make life “simpler” turn out to produce clutter – both in our lives and in our environment.
- Styrofoam cups, bowls and plates are not recyclable;
- old computers (which really don’t have to be “old” by antique standards and are up-graded or outdated within two or more years) have a recycling charge at the dump, and are not biodegradable;
- K-cups for one-cup coffee makers (which at the current rate of use will fill up most local land-fills in about a half-generation) are not recyclable unless you first dump out the used coffee grounds and pull out the fabric liner.
- Cell phones, CDs, DVDs – what do we do with them? We bury them in our garbage bags, which are now mandatory in NH and color coded – no more familiar green garbage bags or lose trash in big trashcans. These bags are purchased from the state of NH to cover the cost of getting rid of our trash.
- Auto oil containers (both plastic bottles and metal cans), old car batteries – the list could go on and on – are hard to get rid of for free.
Do you ever wonder why the manufacturers of such products as I listed above, don’t seem to have a plan for recycling? Why aren’t the producers of high tech and low tech products held responsible for getting rid of the “stuff” after it’s broken or outdated? Do you wonder how many more generations can inhabit planet earth and continue discarding un-recyclables, before there is no more space for the “stuff”?
I hope others will catch the vision to take care of what God made for us to enjoy – the beauties of natural wonder – a green earth and a blue sky; clean water to drink, wash with, and swim in.
I suppose a totally cluttered earth won’t happen in my lifetime, but I will remain a recycler until the end of me or the earth, whichever comes first.
There are some things that I have made a conscious decision not to recycle, such as bad attitudes, unkind behavior, bitterness, anger, revenge, hopelessness, meanness, despair, and discouragement. And I want to be responsible to clean up any of this stuff that I inadvertently spew into the atmosphere around me. Because, just as I care about my physical environment, I care about the spiritual environment around me.
Even though I’m into recycling, I’m so glad that God didn’t “recycle” me, causing me to come back in one form after another and go around for time after time. He “re-created” me through a spiritual re-birth: He gave me a new way of thinking, a new desire to make things around me better, a new zeal for life without all the clutter and clamor, and a clean heart and conscience – without guilt over old mistakes and sins.
2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
One day, when His work in me is complete, I’ll look like Jesus. As it says in Romans 8:28-29:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son . . .”
I only wish the creators of all the gadgets we are convinced we need to buy had a way to gather the discards and re-create them into something more useful than landfill. They should take a lesson from the Master inventor.
So what’s your story – are you recycled or re-ceated?
©2012, Marcy Alves