Halfway Done

Every year I choose to do the Tim Challies book challenge and if you want to know what I have been reading here is the list so far. I will put the challenge, the title and a quick note of what I thought about it.

A book published in 2020 or 2021 – Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
This book was weird. I somewhat enjoyed it, but probably will not read another book by this author. If you like fantasy with minimal characters and slow builders, then you may like this book.

A memoir or autobiography – Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
This book was full of quips and ways to live. It has a lot of wisdom in it, but it is worldly wisdom. There was some religious aspects to it, but like all self-help books, they fall short to the wisdom given in the Bible. It’s a good book for older teens.

A classic novel – The Curious Life of Benjamin Button by F. Scott FItzgerald
This was another weird novel. It was somewhat Kafkaish and I didn’t really like it. I liked the Great Gatsby, so I thought this would be a good novel, but I was left feeling confused and wondering why I even started it.

A book by a pastor – Something Needs to Change by David Platt
I recommend this book to all Christians! Phenomenal book about taking our faith seriously and shaking off the clutches of complacent Christianity.

A book about a book of the Bible – Colossians He is Enough by Asheritah Ciuciu
Great devotional book! I recommend reading her!

A book published by Zondervan – Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
The book was informative but I had forgotten that Ravi Zacharias was one of the men Lee interviewed, so the book didn’t sit well with. It also seemed a bit too permissive when it came to sin and grace. Case for Christ was better.

A book the word “gospel” in the title – Another Gospel by Alisa Childers
What a great book on the dangers of what is now called deconstruction. Every Christian needs to read this book. Alisa, also has a youTube channel that I enjoy watching. She is a great theologian.

A book with an image of a person on the cover – Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
This is the second book to the Wolf Hall series. I love the way this woman writes and I love Tudor historical fiction! If you love this era and historical fiction, you will love this book, bur read Wolf Hall first.

A book about a current social issue – (A)typcial Woman by Abigail Dodds
This was a good book, the author did a good job in describing Biblical womanhood. She used Scripture well and I encourage you to read it if you are a Christian woman.

A book for children or teens – Wingfeather by Andrew Peterson
Loved this book. Adventrure, Pirates. Villans. My kids really enjoyed this book It is a series that we may continue. I read this book aloud to my kids.

A book about theology – Royal Deception: Exposing the KJV Only Conspiracies by Fred Butler
This book was lacking in what I really wanted to know. There is so much about KJV onlyist that I wanted to know about and this book did not provide it. I think James White does a better job.

A book about Christian living – Full by Asheritah Ciuciu
I loved this book! I got in on audio, but bought the actual book after I listened to the audio. I plan on re-reading it this year! If you struggle with food addiction, this is a wonderful book full of the Gospel and freedom!

A book of your choice – The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
I love the way this woman writes. This was a good thriller, mystery book.

A book written by a puritan – Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards
Puritans love their descriptions of hell. I am so glad I am saved and this motivates me to keep giving the Gospel to my loved ones.

A book recommended by a friend – Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This book is set in occupied France. Great book about the love between sisters and the courage of the people who suffered under the Nazis. This book is long, but it does submerge you into this time.

A book about social justice – Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice by Scott David Allen
Totally recommend if you are Christian wondering what to think about the culture in the US right now.

A novel that won a Pulitzer prize – The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
This book was actually a runner up to the Pulitzer, but still it was beautifully written. It is about the Spanish conquest of the Americas and their exploits. It is harsh and sad. This book was about a slave of one of the Spaniards, one of only 4 survivors.

A book with 2 or more authors – Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie H. Perry and Nancy DeMoss
The book was good, but not my kind of taste. JHP is very artistic and was a bit too long winded about colors, fashion partying and her relationships. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. When it comes to this particular genre, I prefer Rosaria Butterfield.

A book with at least 400 pages – Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Tudor Historical Fiction again. This book was harder to read than Bring up the Bodies because HM uses the pronoun “he” quiet a bit and sometimes I forget what “he” she is talking about. She does better in her second book. I can’t wait to read the third and final book about Mr. Thomas Cromwell.

A book cy CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien – The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Must read for all Christians. What a wonderful and smart man is Mr. Lewis. This book is about a “younger” demon learning the ropes from his uncle Screwtape on how to ruin the lives of Christians and people.

A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title – Sovereign Joy by John Piper
This book was about the lives of Augustine, Luther and Calvin. I loved reading about them and because of this book I have added Augustine’s “Confessions” to my reading list.

A book on the New York Times Bestseller list – Dream Big by Bob Goff
Like always, this man inspires. This is a good book to get you motivated to dream big and pursue your dreams.

A book about prayer – Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeschel
This was a good book. I was pleasantly surprised though that I already pray dangerous prayers. If you want to grow in how you pray, this is a good book. I just need to pray more often!

A book about theology – Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers by Dane C. Ortlund
This is by far the best book I have read so far this year. What a breath of restful air this was. This book made me cry and reminded me of what a gentle and loving Father I have in God. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

A book of your choice – Outsider by Stephen King
The book started off really good, but what a cop-out for an ending. I wasn’t too happy with the sci-fi cop out. SK does write well though, but the ending was so disappointing.

A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with – Recovering from Biblical Womanhood by Aimee Byrd
She has a chip on her shoulder and her illustrations and allegories were awful. I also listened to this book on audio and the author reads it and she sounded a bit to “karen” for my taste. Maybe if I read it instead of listening to it, it may be better.

A book by someone whose ethnicity is different than yours – Fault Lines by Voddie Baucham Jr.
Great book. So needed for our times right now. It is a book about the dangers of critical race theory and social justice.

A book that won an award – Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman
This book won the Edgar Award. It is about a young detective solving a case in a small town. It was a great crime/suspense novel.

A book by Charles Dickens or one of his contemporaries – The Woman in the Black Veil by Charles Dickens
This is one of his first books ever written and what a plot twist. Good short book. It was only like 35 pages long.

A book about leadership – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
There was a lot of insight and great advice in this book. Highly recommend for all people who want to get their life together and do more.

A book based on a true story – Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White
Good mystery book and great twist at the end.

A book with an illustration on the cover – A Court of Thorns by Sarah J. Maas
This book was a bit too romantic for me. So not my genre at all. If you the Twilight series you will like this. SJM writes extremely well and there were some scenes in the book that were outright scary and frightening, but just not into the romancy parts.

A book with one word in the title – Heaven by Randy Alcorn
Great book about the subject of Heaven. It makes me want to go there already. Death is hard for us to understand, but in the light of the Bible, physical death is what God uses to bring us to Him. Long book, but I definitely recommend.

A book whose title comes from a Bible verse – Filling up the afflictions of Christ by John Piper
Great book on suffering and why we suffer and how God uses our afflictions to make us more like Him. This book is short but very impactful. If you are struggling through a painful time in your life right now, this is a good read. Full of Scripture and grace.

A book by an author 30 years or younger – Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
This book was great! Its about an FBI agent who happens to also be an ex-magician. The book was fun to read, but also mysterious. Great book for a summer read. Andrew Mayne is also a professional magician.

A book about theology – Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer
A good book about why we should not just feel our faith, but know why we believe. It also has a lot to say about the character of God and who He is. Why we should know about the God we worship.

A novel set in a country that is not your own – The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler and Ann Long
This book is set in Sweden and was annoying. The main characters were not very deep and the way they behaved was erratic and odd. I don’t recommend this book, and will not read any more of their novels.

37 books so far!! It is my hope to read 54 books this year and I think I will be able to make it. From now on, I hope to do book reviews on each of the books I read. Let me know what you think and tell me about some of the books you enjoy reading.


The god of nostalgia

I finally caught up to my Bible reading plan. I started reading the five day reading plan with a group of friends back in January. I started off with lots of enthusiasm, but the past several weeks I have been playing catch up by reading massive chunks when I am “not busy”. That’s not how the plan is set up and I am not learning a new habit when I do that. But as I was pummeling through Ecclesiastes to catch up yet again on the reading plan, a certain verse stood out to me, and this is the verse:

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
    For it is not wise to ask such questions.

I live in the South. We say this all the time. My mom says this, heck even I remember the 90s as better than today. But Solomon in all his wisdom says we shouldn’t say this. But why? Why should we not focus on the “good ol days”? Let’s brake it down. What emotions does comparing the past with your present produce? What fruit of the spirit does it bring forth? A good way of feeling out a command in the Bible is to walk it through in your mind and see what some of the possible outcomes would be if you didn’t obey. In this case, if I live in the past complaining about the present. I get stuck there. I become less thankful. I become less grateful. I can easily conjure up a sense of hopelessness, and what is even more sad is that those around me will never measure up to my warped nostalgia of how things used to be.

As a wife, me remembering of how romantic my new groom was my first year of marriage compared to now, does me and my husband no good. None. It makes us bitter. Comparing him to how I THINK he was in the past, is not fair to him and will make me miserable. My attitude will not be sweet towards him when I think/say how “the good ol days of being a newly wed were so much better”. No, he doesn’t write me poetry anymore, but he sure as heck works his tail off so I never have to worry about paying the bills. And let’s be very honest, I’m no longer the blushing bride I was either. Thinking right now about how we were when we dated makes me giggle. I am so glad I no longer talk to him on the phone for 4 hours a day. Or pass on doing my homework so I can instant message him (yes, I am dating myself). Or not eat because the butterflies in my stomach are in a fluttering frenzy! Eeek! (I should eat less though!) He still surprises me and I surprise him, but he is not the Nathan I married and neither am I the Anna he married, and that’s a good thing. We are more sanctified. Wiser even. Closer to meeting our Maker and learning to die on bigger hills.

Paul encourages us when he writes: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (Phil. 3:13). The word “forgetting” here means “to no longer care for” or “to not focus on.” Sometimes focusing on those good ol days keeps us from focusing on the best day that is ahead. Instead of wishing for the return of our Lord, we are wishing for the return of a lost loved one, or a lost moment, or a lost emotion. We begin to play with the idea of what could have been or what should have been. We begin to complain about our current circumstance forgetting the cost of our salvation, forgetting our position before the Throne, forgetting how much closer we are to Heaven, forgetting how much God has done for us.

Nostalgia can be a good thing, but only in the light of our future hope as Believers.

If you struggle with not letting go of the past you will struggle with sadness and even depression. You will unknowingly nurture an ungrateful spirit. My dear brother or sister, God encourages us when he says: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19) The good thing is springing forth, but sometimes we are blinded by the lingering thoughts of nostalgia or of our past life. See how God says, “do you not perceive it”. There is a blindness to good things that happens when we stay stuck remembering the good old days. God then calls our past a wilderness and a wilderness can be admired and breathtaking, but staying there too long can lead to death. God also calls our past a wasteland, and sometimes that is what it is. It does us no good to live there. God has new things for us, even a new you! He is constantly renewing our mind and our thoughts. Focus on Him.

God sent His only begotten Son to die for you not so you would live in the past, but for you to live life now according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28) remembering what He has in store for those who love Him. (I Cor. 2:9) Let your thoughts (Phil. 4:) float towards the realization that you, my fellow Believer, have been selected to be His co-heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:16-17). And what you do for His Kingdom matters tremendously (Matt. 6:33)because He uses us to call and disciple His elect. (Romans 10:14, Acts 8:31).

What should we not forget:
*God – Remember Him, focus on Him, learn about Him, think about Him, thank Him, love Him (Jer. 29:13)
* The Gospel – Remember what Christ has done for you. (Eph. 2:11-12)
* The Saints – Remember what others do or have done for Christ to help you cultivate a spirit of boldness (Heb. 12:1, Romans 16)
* The Church – Remember the Christians God has placed around you. Love them radically. (I John 2:10)
* The Word – Remember Scripture all the time and let it nourish your soul. (Psalm 119)
* The World – Remember those around you. Show them the love of Christ. (Heb. 13:2, Matt. 25:40)

Isaiah 26:3 says: You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. Trust Him, even with your past.