Confessions of a Bookaholic

Knowing that I have limited book shelf space, I still went absolutely book-crazy at the used book sale last weekend. Fill a brown paper bag with books for $5, a bargain that would easily promote over-indulging. I was determined that I was only going to fill one bag and select only books that I considered treasure that would guide me in living life with God (alongside my Bible)  and inspire me with wisdom our counsel on how to live this life as a follower of Christ. 

I also planned to select books written by authors from previous generations in previous ages who asked and answered different kinds of questions than we are asking today.  Rather than reading for information, extracting data and knowledge as I was trained to do, I wanted to find heart-oriented books that would bring to light my blind spots and transform me.
And it would be just fine if I didn’t actually fill the bag.

My husband helped me pack the bag efficiently. Then he helped me with the next one, too. And the next one too.  100 books for $15. 

Here are a few of the treasures that I thought might meet the qualifications:

·        The Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen
·        Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis
·        Embracing the Love of God, by James Bryan Smith
·        The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whitall Smith
·        Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
·        Freedom of Simplicity, by Richard Foster
·        Finding God in Unexpected Places, by Philip Yancey
·        Thirsty for God, by Bradley Holt

I’ll stop there because now I have to go pick up some books I have on reserve at the public library and check my mailbox for new goodies for book reviews…so many books, so little time!!


This is the best book on grace that I’ve ever read - before I even reached page 10, my eyes welled with tears at Max Lucado’s beautiful portrayal of God’s grace in his page-turning book Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine.  Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.
Grace is a common religious term, but have we settled for a wimpy grace? Max Lucado urges us to remember that grace is more verb than noun, more present than past, not just something that happened but something that happens. He says, “Grace is simply another word for God’s tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection. It comes at us not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave.”  (p.99)
Grace is comprised of 12 chapters painting a multi-faceted picture of grace through artfully portrayed Bible stories, life stories, examples and sprinkles of Scripture from a variety of modern translations.  A Reader’s Guide in the back of the book consists of searching Bible passages, Bible study questions, discussion questions, and prayer.
In the first chapter, Lucado shows how grace shapes us, changes us, transforms us, but it doesn’t happen overnight.  It comes in fits and spurts with periodic breakthroughs. “Grace comes after you. It rewires you. From insecure to God secure. From regret-riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid-to-die to ready-to-fly. Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.” (p. 8)
In the following chapters, Lucado wants us to understand grace from different angles. God stoops lovingly to give us a grace that frees us and changes us.  He exchanged our punishment for the righteousness of Jesus, giving us the credit for His perfection.
Grace isn’t granted based on doing more or being more.  God works wonders with our messes. Grace conquers fear. Grace helps us forgive. Grace chooses and adopts us and gives us assurance of heaven.
Grace doesn’t stop with us.  The grace-given give grace. “Grace is not blind. It sees the hurt full well. But grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more.” (p. 61)
This book is for the one who is wounded, or never feels good enough, or messed up too much, or fluctuates between devoted strength and floundering weakness, or for someone who just wants a better understanding of how rich and immense God’s grace is.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Leaving a Rich Legacy

Transformed lives leave a rich legacy, an inheritance.  But this inheritance isn’t necessarily financial.  What we pass on to others is multi-dimensional.  In a sense, we all leave a legacy whether we are choosing to or not.  Will the legacy we leave be about God, or about me?  Will it be intentional or accidental? Will it help or hurt others?
So what exactly is a legacy? A legacy consists of transferred spiritual, relational, practical, and physical blessings from our lives to others.  “Others” include extended family, friends, co-workers – not just our children or grandchildren.  They are the people who spend time with us, and they know who or what is most important to us. 
Whether physical, spiritual, or relational, blessings are not meant to end with us, but rather, are meant to be invested in the lives of others.  Blessings that have flowed into us are not supposed to stop with us; instead, they should flow through us.  What is flowing from my life onto others? Do people see that Jesus is my priority and my passion?
This legacy or blessings that we as Christ-followers are transferring can fall into 3 categories:
1)      The Gospel of God – The Gospel keeps us humble and dependent.  It changes how we great people, how we value them.  Never get away from the Gospel! The more I centralize it and see life through it, the more beautiful and powerful it is.
2)      The goodness of God – God surrounds us with His goodness. The more goodness I see and receive into my life, the more joy I feel and the more patience I have with others. Goodness increases my love, compassion and caring.
3)      The gifts of God – Gifts include who I am, what I’ve done in living God’s purpose for me.  It can be the physical gifts, but even more, the spiritual gifts.
How do we transfer our legacy?  It takes time – intentional, dedicated time with people.  Our American culture glorifies being busy and hurried, but hurry destroys legacy by cutting someone off.  It involves our words – words that should be grounded in truth and love.  It requires shared experiences through which we process life with each other.  If Jesus is our priority and our passion, these blessing might overflow naturally while looking different in each of our lives.   
But let’s not just hear the words, but apply them to our lives.  What action can we commit to take?
1)      I will trust in the Gospel and center on the cross of Christ, and I will take the Gospel to people in my life and in my generation. (Specifically - I will look for open doors to share the Gospel with seekers at work).
2)      I will share the goodness of God, especially with those in the next generation. (Specifically - I will show my nephews and nieces the amazing works God has done in their lives over the last year at the family reunion next weekend).
3)      I will transfer the gifts of God to advance the kingdom of God in future generations. (Specifically - I will increase my giving to ministries that share the Gospel and find new ways to use my gifts of mercy and knowledge – teaching? writing?)
Center your life on Christ and the cross, and He will guide the legacy you leave behind.
Sermon Text: Psalm 78:1-8
This is a summary of my notes and thoughts from the sermon of Joe Hishmeh at Fellowship Bible Church on September 1, 2012.  The sermon is available for listening here.

Linking up with: A Pause on the Path