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As I am preparing to preach about gospel generosity this book was a good read. In fact, the book about money that I posted a while back, Money by Jamie Munson, was pretty much birthed out of this book. It is great for understanding the beauty and joy of giving, however it was weak in addressing the heart issue of why it is hard to give generously.
It’s a short read, took me about 30 mins as I read quickly. Because it is so short I don’t feel great about counting this book toward my pledge to read 25 books in 14 but I haven’t been reading a ton lately so I am going to do it anyway.
Preview and download the podcast Sacred City on iTunes.
In my short preaching career I have had the opportunity to preach some pretty strange passages that a rookie preacher would typically bypass if possible. There were several weeks that I would have opted for that but my hunger for preaching experience pushed me through the long study sessions and frustrating writing sessions.
Thankfully not all of my preaching opportunities have been difficult passages to preach. I recently preached 1 Corinthians 14:35-49 and it has been my favorite passage to preach so far. Through this passage, God spoke to me in a special way as I was facing a lot of uncertainty for my future which was causing some anxiety and self diagnosed depression.
Not only was this passage refreshing to me personally but I felt it was a timely message for the encouragement of our congregation. I got a lot of positive feedback (not just because it was so short) but because it gave them a new perspective on death and a hope for their incredibly bright future that is assured in the resurrection of our Savior.
Back in July, I resolved to invest more time into my blog so that my supporters could keep up on what is going on in my life and ministry. I have probably sat down at least three times each month to produce an update, but almost every time I sit down to write I walk away with two unpublished paragraphs and a feeling that I just wasted an hour of my time. As you can imagine, it has become quite frustrating.
I started thinking about why this aways happens. Why is it that when ever I sit down with a great idea to write about it ends up unpublished? As I thought about it, I realized that I have placed a standard on myself that is impossible for me, an untrained writer, to live up to. I wonder silly things like, “Did I use the right punctation?” or “Is this even a complete sentence?” And more pressing things like, “Is this even true or am I just ranting.”
But underneath all of these questions there is a fear that you, the reader, will think less of me for my poor writing skills or the stance that I take on certain issues. This isn’t a new fear for me. In fact, most of my life has had an undercurrent of fear that I will not be accepted, approved of, or validated based on my performance. This fear has motivated me to do well at what I do, giving me false guarantee that I will be approved of, accepted and validated by others if I display excellence. On the flip side, if I am sub par, unsatisfactory or displeasing then I will not be validated. If I don’t have the approval and validation of others, then I am distraught and in despair.
Yesterday, in my Silence and Solitude Day, I was reminded that I have the approval and validation of the opinion that matters most. This approval & validation comes from God, through Christ. I didn’t earn it. I can’t earn it, even if I gave it my best. I didn’t do half the work and then Jesus did the rest. This approval and validation is all a gift to me.
Remembering that Jesus was perfect on my behalf and earned God’s favor for me, I am free to take some risks. I am free to make a blog post and be okay if readers don’t like it. I am free to try new things and not have to fear being viewed as inadequate or incapable. This is how the gospel is at work in my heart today. It may seem irrelevant but this could very well be a major break through in how I live my life in confidence that Jesus is my validation.
It is a fight to remember that I am validated in Christ, but in Him my validation is secure. Because God is the same today as he was yesterday and he will never change, his opinion of me is secure as long as it rest on Christ’s performance on my behalf. That is how the gospel speaks to my writer’s block.
One of my goals for the new year was to read 25 books in 2014. I am on track to do this and possibly go beyond my goal!
I have a bit of a rotation that I go through to keep my reading diverse. I usually read what I call a “heart book” that speaks to my heart and challenges me personally. Then I move on to a book under the leadership genre. After that, I grab a book that aims to grow my pastoral skills (counseling, preaching, theology). Then I like to read a dead guy (either a biography or a famous work). To top it off I read a light hearted book (usually before bed) which is either fiction or something entertaining.
So far this rotation works petty well. I typically have 3 or 4 books going at a time, I just shift my primary focus between my categories. There are times when a book might take precedence over another book and I have to press pause, but I usually come back to it within a month. Here are the books that I am currently reading:
+ Redemption by Mike Wilkerson
+ Sonship by World Harvest Mission
+ Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
+ Galatians for You by Tim Keller
+ Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Ministry by Eugene Peterson
+ Preaching in a Postmodern World (course syllabus & lectures) by Tim Keller and Ed Clowney
+ Center Church by Tim Keller
+ Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians by CK Barrett
+ Yes to the Mess by Frank Barrett
+ 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
+ A Good Man is Hard to Find and other Short Stories by Flannery O’Conner
+ The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Do you know the meaning of productivity? In his book “What’s Best Next,” Matt Perman does a superb job of explaining how the gospel directly influences our productivity. Not only does he provide a solid biblical theology of productivity but he offers valuable insights and suggestions on how to live in a way that allows you to do more good for others.
Although this book isn’t considered a book about discipleship, I found it very valuable in my own discipleship and in the way that I disciple others. I highly recommend this read and can guarantee that you will learn something new.