Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Just Read: Love and Respect, The Art of Manliness, The Purity Principle, Mosaic, and devotional book roundup

En route to surfing in Australia (I hope!)  Originally written in the jungles of Guatemala and during our Oregon Coast surfing trip last month, this entry should have been posted in February.

Instagram Story Pic: My new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader—A welcome break from the eyestrain of book marathons on my phone and tablet screens

With yet another youth all-night party on the books (I was asked to be the speaker!), I’m ready to begin my devotional reading plan for 2017. I’ll be reading through God’s Justice Bible this year, as well various novels and the required reading assignments for my credentialing process. That credentialing book list is a doozy!

For a fun change of pace, I’ll also begin reading the Harry Potter book series this summer. My Twitter friends have finally convinced me to take the plunge.  Better late than never, no?

The book reviews below will also be featured on my Goodreads page soon.

By Randy Alcorn

Note: This is the first ever book I’ve read on my new Kindle Paperwhite! I’m trying to cut down on how many Kindle books I read on my Galaxy Note phone and S2 tablet. The less LED screen time, the better.

This small book was a reread for me, required as part of my Church of God credentialing process. I’m glad I revisited it. I expected to be clubbed over the head with guilt and shame for every stray thought… But The Purity Principle feels less like a book of legalistic rules and more like practical encouragement to foster thought patterns which result in a satisfied life of monogamy. Alcorn fits a lot of practical advice into such few pages, and every single page is worth reading.

Verdict: ***** out of 5 stars

Adulting couldn't be any more clearly explained than in Brett McKay's how-to guide to being a dude. Society often takes for granted that guys have been taught the survival skills and manners of a modern day man: Dressing, grooming, behaving graciously, fighting, saving someone’s life, surviving in the outdoors, dating, parenting, being well read… Including the little things, like how to not screw up a man hug.  Even the most seasoned gentleman would probably glean a few pointers from this book.

McKay has a few old fashioned rituals mixed in with the relevant stuff (Joining a fraternal lodge as a rite of passage to manhood? “Newsies”-style hats?).  Yet much of his advice regarding style and manners that might be written off as dated would be better described as timeless.

Stay classy, San Diego!

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

A woman needs love, and a man needs respect.  That's the premise of Eggerichs’ book and marriage conferences.  Though a bit too complementarian for my world view, there are several valid points and mutual exercises for both parties to help get off the "crazy cycle" which many relationships are trapped in.

Besides the overbearing complementarianism, Eggs also makes generalizations about gender-specific thought patterns which simply won't fit many couples.  For instance, occasional sections described me and my significant other in terms which fit each of us to a tee... But the roles were COMPLETELY REVERSED.  Yet other sections applied to us perfectly, with no flipping required.  To each their own, I say.

Something I really appreciated about Eggerichs’ presentation of his love and respect theory is that both parties of the relationship are instructed to provide their respective love/respect, regardless of whether or not they are receiving the love/respect that they desire.  Initially, I was concerned (offended, actually) to read that a woman ought to unconditionally respect her husband even when he isn't being loving or otherwise "deserving" of respect.  That sounded chauvinistic.  But when I later read that the man should absolutely, in turn, be unconditionally loving even when the woman is not showing him respect, it all made sense:  Whomever is the more mature person should make the first move.  It's a copout to blame your own behavior/attitude on the other person's lack of love or respect.  Be the more mature person.

I highly recommend this book, disagreements and all.  The reader may argue about whether the "love and respect" prescription is a magic bullet to save all relationships that are on the rocks.  I, in particular, am wary of plugging in a simple formula to solve complex issues.  But still, there is no denying that doing your part to be more loving and respectful is likely to have a profound impact on your significant other… And your relationship.  Love wins.

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

Patrick Nachtigall tells of his two year international journey of visiting various Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) communities around the world. This book is much more than a travelogue, though.  He highlights the cultural flavor of each church, its place in the community, its place in the Church of God, and the local challenges that are faced.  Nachtigall’s goal is to create diversity awareness, communication, and cooperation between our worldwide churches.
Although this book was required reading for my Church of God credentialing process, I would recommend it for anyone who has an interest in the diversity (and theological distinctiveness) of the Church of God holiness movement. Nachtigall also mentions bumping into a few of my own friends during his international journey, which made his book an even more enjoyable read for me.

Controversial opinion about racism:   This will upset many of my beloved activist Twitter friends, but Nachtigall (a POC himself) makes a bold statement about racism in our country. Based on his extensive travels, his observation of racism in other countries has led him to rate the United States as a relative 4 out of 10 for severity of racism.

Before you send me hate mail… I’m not making the case that we don’t have significant work remaining in the name of racial equality.   But seeing the U.S. from a global perspective gives me even more appreciation for our country’s strides for equality.

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

The most well-travelled book in my library (not counting my Moleskine journal) has been to several continents already. To save weight in my backpack, I’ve started scanning the daily travel-themed devotions into Evernote so I can read and reflect on them on my tablet when I’m overseas.

Each entry is a travel-themed meditation on Scripture, applying the passages to scenarios which travelers  are likely to encounter on their journeys. Some of the devotionals seem to favor theme over the Scripture’s actual context... But the daily Scriptures are reasonably relevant to each topic at hand, and Kuyper's reflections themselves are really what tie the journal entries to the travel theme anyway.

And herein lies this devotional’s strength: Kuyper's clearly loves the wonder and discovery of travel, and she provides insights to make the most of every day of any adventure.

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

Nearly every summer, we take our Aloha Church of God youth group down to Vicente Guerrero, Mexico for a mission trip with Welcome Home Outreach Ministries (link). In addition to delivering a full-length message or two (plus a home dedication message for when we ceremonially hand over the new home keys to each family), I prepare daily devotions for the end of each work day in Mexico.

Some of the short devotionals in this book have been useful jumping-off points for our evening debriefing sessions in Mexico, as well as any pre and post mission trip gatherings. Note that further preparation by the group leader will obviously enhance the depth of discussion.

All in all, this book is a helpful tool for anyone who leads or co-leads a domestic or overseas short term mission trip.

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

There isn't much substance in these family Advent devotions. Frankly, they require quite a bit of creativity to stretch out into a family discussion of any length. But for $.99, impulse Kindle buys like this one make it easy to keep my disappointment in check.

And what's up with that pudgy white-boy baby Jesus on the cover? Ugh.

Verdict: ** out of 5 stars

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