In my last post, I promised to share some of what I have been reading lately. I read widely and eclectically. I read because I’m curious, and I like to know how and what others think. I don’t always agree with everything I read, and so I don’t want our readers to necessarily take this post as a recommendation or endorsement of every book I mention.
First of all, in our weekly Bible study, we’re doing Acts this year. I can certainly recommend this book! Acts is exciting reading. It includes miraculous events, travel, interesting people, sermons and even a ship wreck! Written by Luke (the gospel author), it can be seen as a bridge between the gospels and the epistles and also between the work Jesus did on earth, and the work He continued to do through the Church.
In our Sunday School class, the material we are using comes from Concordia Publishing House (good if you are looking for solid Lutheran teaching, I recommend you look at their website). This quarter we are studying kings and prophets. Our first lesson deals with Solomon, David’s son, and his prayer for wisdom.
I’m also reading two books from our library and both are fairly new. The first is My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir by Macy Halford. I chose it because I’m fond of what I call spiritual autobiographies. I enjoy hearing about the spiritual journeys of others. Ms. Halford was raised as a Southern Baptist; when she was twelve, her grandmother gave her a copy of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. She has read this daily devotional through every year since. Wow! That was the greatest take away for me — I never thought of using the same devotional over and over. I tend to use one for a year and then it remains on my bookshelf forever, seldom touched. This is an idea I may try. I admit I have never used My Utmost for His Highest, but I know our author, Leslie has, so maybe she’ll chime in to tell us more about it. (hint, hint). I learned a lot about Oswald, who was definitely not a Lutheran. According to Ms. Halford:
“Attempts at pinning Oswald down generally failed: ‘He was a sort of proto-Pentecostal mystic, and Wesleyan in his theology,’ wrote an anonymous commenter on Puritanboard.com.’ That was as close to correct as one was likely to get, but it still wasn’t entirely correct.”
He definitely tends toward the Holiness traditions (Methodist and Wesleyan) and my husband and I had a lively discussion about the difference between how the Lutheran view of sanctification differs from the Holiness churches– they believe in the possibility of entire or complete sanctification” — Lutherans, I guess, believe sanctification is always incomplete, on this side of heaven. (Maybe my friend, Nancy, who is Methodist would like to comment on this). At any rate, according to the book, someone can read the My Utmost devotional without even noticing Oswald’s views on this. (If you enjoy theological debates, the book also covered different views on the end times — post and pre millennial, the rapture, etc.). The author says My Utmost has been called “the little black dress of books” perfect for every occasion. I liked that.
The second book I am reading is written by a Jewish woman named Marilyn Paul and it’s called, An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life. I haven’t gotten too far into it — just reading a chapter a day– but it is about the importance of taking a Sabbath day of rest, and she talks about Christian and Muslin traditions, as well as her own. I found it interesting to realize how much our life revolves around a weekly routine –on Monday, we plan the things we want to accomplish, and by Friday we’re assessing how we’ve done and winding down. Rest is an important part of the routine (built into us since creation, when God “rested” on the last day). Without rest, we lose that routine and become more and more burned out and stressed. There are suggestions at the end of the chapter and exercises to help learn how to celebrate a day of rest.
Well, that’s it for me and what I have read, studied and learned about this week. I’d like to hear from other writers and readers: what are you reading? What do you like/not like? What has been edifying? I want to hear your suggestions, too.