Christy
4 Absurd Decisions God Wants You to Make Today by Caleb Breakey

4 Absurd Decisions God Wants You to Make Today by Caleb Breakey

This title grabbed me and made me want to read. What kind of absurd decisions could God want me to make? Excellent title! And the content didn’t disappoint, either. I enjoy a book I can read in one sitting and yet Caleb Breakey packed a lot in a small book.

I don’t want to give away too much of the content or the four specific points, but the second decision, “Choose Me over _____,” really hit close to home for me. I rely on a relationship with someone more than I rely on God. Just the day before, God had nudged me on this very thing and here it was in the book—a timely reminder from God that He was serious about me putting Him first over this other relationship. God used this book to help me work through an important issue.

Let me leave you with these quotes from the book:

“You cannot please God without doing faith (James 2:14-26). In fact, your faith is as useful as road kill if you don’t do.”

“Smallness makes you lean on God. And when you lean on Him—like a child leaning on his father—you are at your strongest. Fear is gone.”

“When you embrace this crazy big promise of God—then you’re ready for every last situation you step into.”

–Caleb Breakey, 4 Absurd Decisions God Wants You to Make Today

 


4 Absurd Decisions God Wants You to Make Today: Supercharge Humility, Respond to the Holy Spirit, and Maximize Your Faith in God

Caleb Breakey

2014

88 pages

 


 

Christy
Go Small: Because God Doesn't Care about Your Status, Size, or Success by Craig Gross

Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care about Your Status, Size, or Success by Craig Gross

Go Small

Because God Doesn’t Care about Your Status, Size, or Success

Craig Gross

2014

222 pages

 

When I saw this book, Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care about Your Status, Size, or Success by Craig Gross, I knew I needed to read it because I’ve wrestled with these very issues as a Christian author. There is so much pressure to “build your platform” to the largest number possible. It’s always struck me as contrary to the teachings of the Bible, which emphasize humility rather than self-promotion.

The author did not disappoint. I hung on every page and when I finished I felt like I should start over to try to absorb the truth into my spirit better. He takes a candid look at his own desire to do big things for God (after all, he leads a ministry to porn stars and porn addicts) and compares it with the ordinary moments in life where life really happens.

God is pleased with us in the ordinary moments. We don’t have to go big to impress God. In fact, as the author writes, “God doesn’t need your ministry idea.” Gross encourages us to “Get out of His way and let Him do His thing.” But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for us to do. It’s just that God invites us to get ordinary, touching lives one person at a time, doing the small things.

The author is an amazing storyteller, weaving three stories together to create a tapestry of ideas conveying the textures of ordinary. Because, after all, the tapestry of ordinary moments in our lives is truly beautiful to God.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

It’s a particularly insidious lie to think that your work or your life must be based on getting “tangible results.” If you’re doing what you feel Jesus is calling you to do, then regardless of any laughably measurable outcomes, you’re operating as part of His kingdom. You’re making a difference, whether you know it or not.

–Craig Gross, Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care about Your Status, Size, or Success

Go Small is also available in print or ePub from Christianbook:

205325: Go Small: Because God Doesn"t Care About Your Status, Size or Success Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care About Your Status, Size or Success
By Craig Gross / Thomas Nelson

Going big all the time is not only a recipe for burnout-it’s not the way God works in your life. It’s time to break free from “go big or go home.” It’s time to invest in stamina, to cultivate endurance, to recognize the miraculous world of the ordinary, little things. Show the door to “go big or go home” thinking. Your ordinary life is miraculous. It’s time to go small-and keep on going.

51660EB: Go Small: Because God Doesn"t Care About Your Status, Size, or Success - eBook Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care About Your Status, Size, or Success – eBook
By Craig Gross / Thomas Nelson

 

Christy
Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous

Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous

Embracing Obscurity

Becoming Nothing in Light of God’s Everything

Anonymous

2013

195 pages

 

When we accept that our value is not dependent on what we do or accomplish, we are--ironically--liberated to do much for Christ.Embracing Obscurity, by an anonymous author, tackles the dilemmas and dangers of our self-obsession. According to the author, “Embracing obscurity is not about wiping ourselves from existence but rather, voluntarily, becoming nothing in light of everything God is and has promised us. . . . It’s about making Him, not ourselves, look good.”

The author is genuine and transparent in his struggle with this topic. When it first occurred to him, he thought, “Wait . . . embrace obscurity? Who in their right mind would want to do that? And what would that do to my life?”

He details his own struggle with social media and the desire to have lots of friends and followers as a measure of worth and the desire to be affirmed for the witty things he posted.

Service and obscurity go hand in hand, explains the author:

Those who desire greatness must become experts at the art of serving the servants. Service and embracing obscurity are so permanently and irrevocably intertwined, we have no choice but to master the former before we’ll be able to enjoy the latter.

–Anonymous, Embracing Obscurity

 

We all have dreams for who we want to become and what we want to accomplish, but will we cling to our dreams or cling to Christ? The author writes, “Embracing obscurity allows us to relinquish our dreams for and to Him—to His timing and His ways. We prefer Him to the dream. We don’t push our dream into being.” The author goes on to put things in a larger perspective for us:

We all want to be somebody. We all want to make our mark on something—anything. Over the course of human history, how many billions of lives have been spent yearning for earthly significance and historical indelibility? One of the greatest ironies of all time is that when we give up the hope of earthly fame and fortune, and instead embrace the obscurity of a life given in service to Christ, we are immediately touched with immortality and are assured eternal glory. Eternal glory. Did you catch that? If you embrace obscurity, you will be known. You will have honor and respect. You will rule. And the more you give up those things in this life, the more you will have them in the next.

–Anonymous, Embracing Obscurity

 

Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous—that sounds like a joke, doesn’t it?—is an important read for Christians today. It forces us to reevaluate our motives on social media and the nature of our ambitions. I plan on reading this book at least once a year.

 

Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous

 

Also available in ePub from Christianbook:

33396EB: Embracing Obscurity - eBook Embracing Obscurity – eBook
By B&H Books
Christy
The Beauty of Christ through Brokenness by KP Yohannan

The Beauty of Christ through Brokenness by KP Yohannan

The Beauty of Christ through Brokenness

K.P. Yohannan

2014

72 pages

 

The Beauty of Christ through Brokenness by K.P. Yohannan gave me a huge “aha” revelation about the meaning of brokenness. I had always understood brokenness in terms of imperfection, like a cracked pot that was no longer useful until God’s grace filled the gaps to make us useful to Him.

Yohannan writes, “By nature we all are the opposite of the one whom He esteems. We are all unbroken. We are as solid as the hardest substance you can find—unbending, self-centered, self-ambitious and never wanting to give in.” This is the starting point from which the author leads the reader downward to a place of submission. I found the following description beautifully moving.

In Matthew 11:29-30, we read one of the most beautiful Scripture portions ever recorded. It is the invitation of Christ—“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

When Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you . . .” we must realize that only a broken animal will bend its neck and take the yoke.

For example, I grew up in a place where my people are rice farmers, and we didn’t have machinery then or now to plow the fields. you know how we do it? We use two buffaloes.

I remember as a small boy, looking at the fields where they would be used to plow. Year after year, hundreds of times, I saw the same scene—the buffaloes standing there, not making a single noise. They would never run away. They just stood there. And right there in the field beside them would be a skinny, little man with hardly any clothes on and a tiny stick in his hand. The buffalo would bend its neck as the yoke was brought—there was not fight, no resistance, no squabble, nothing. The buffalo simply yielded its rights.

But then, if you were to look closely, you would see two or three deep scars on the rear of the buffalo. Those scars were made at the time the animal was broken, when it was trained. These buffaloes are strong-willed creatures. With their massive and strong horns, they are capable of killing a man with a single toss of the head. But now they are different. They are broken.

Every servant of God must go through a similar process.

–K.P. Yohannan, The Beauty of Christ through Brokenness

 

Although it may sound cruel, God has to break us before He can use us for His glory. His ways are not cruel, though. He will continue to apply pressure to our lives until we break. The pressure (and breaking point) looks different for everyone. It may be one huge event or a bunch of small ones over time or it may be ongoing nagging pressure. God will use whatever means necessary to break us, but He is mindful of our frame—He knows we are mere dust. He’s just trying to get us to realize we are mere dust.

How do we receive God’s grace in our lives? We humble ourselves. It doesn’t come naturally to us, but it’s the only way. We don’t earn God’s favor, we humble ourselves before Him.

The only way to receive His grace and favor is to be broken and humble before Him. And this is something Scripture says we are responsible for. The Bible never says God will humble us. . . . We must humble ourselves (see James 4:10). We must choose to walk the road of brokenness.

–K.P. Yohannan, The Beauty of Christ through Brokenness

 

This was a profound, ground-shifting work for me to read. I will need to read it several more times to help me absorb the truth contained in this little gem. Please, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy today.

Christy
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy by Timothy Keller

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness

The Path to True Christian Joy

Timothy Keller

2013

48 pages

 

I was curious about the title, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness, and wanted to know more. It turned out to be just what I needed after having a bipolar-fueled anxiety about my inability to work and the lack of worth that comes with that.

It is not about self-esteem. Paul simply refuses to play that game. He says 'I don't care about your opinion but I don't care that much about my opinion' - and that is the secret. -Timothy Keller, The Freedom of Self-ForgetfulnessAuthor Timothy Keller dismantles everything we believe about our ego. Essentially, he suggests that if we are asking ourselves whether we have low self-esteem or high self-esteem, we are asking the wrong question.

The trap of self-worth is that every day we face the judgement of determining whether we are valued. It’s a never ending struggle. Keller suggests we look, instead, to the Righteous Judge who settled the matter of our worth once and for all. When we accept His judgment of ourselves we can stop asking the question about self-worth because no one’s opinion of my worth, even my own, doesn’t matter any longer.

We can stop connecting every experience with ourselves and live in the freedom that comes from this place of gospel-humility or self-forgetfulness. As Keller writes: “[Paul] has reached the place where he is not thinking about himself anymore. When he does something wrong or something good, he does not connect it to himself any more.”

 

True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. - Timothy Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness

 

I encourage you to read The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness because this small eBook contains some big ideas.

 

Christy
I Am Not but I Know I AM

I Am Not but I Know I AM by Louie Giglio (@louiegiglio)

I Am Not but I Know I AM: Welcome to the Story of God

Louie Giglio

2005

172 pages

Available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Available from ChristianBook.com in paperback and ePub. I read the hardback edition (out of print).

 

This book changed me. I needed to hear the core message of the book, which is that God is I AM and I am not God. It’s about making ourselves small and making God big. We can either be the star of our small story or be a small part of God’s big story. This simple change in perspective helps us to die to ourselves—our desire for self-promotion, self-determination, self, self, self. When we die to ourselves on a daily basis, we enter into what God’s doing and become players in God’s story. In light of eternity, our lives are a mere blip. But we have the privilege, if we are willing to set aside our self-interests, of being a part of God’s eternal story. That’s more gratifying than being our own stage manager for our tiny story.

 

Just because we agree that God is bigger than our ability to comprehend doesn’t mean that we will automatically love and trust Him. And many, even among Christ’s followers, don’t. Not really. They don’t trust His intentions, His reliability, His sensitivity to their needs, His timing. As you’d expect, then, they’re reluctant to let go of their own story—no matter how small, self-focused, or unrewarding—to be a part of His.

–Louie Giglio, I Am Not But I Know I Am, page 139.

 

While the overall message of the book is needed and refreshing, I took exception Louie Giglio’s recurring attempt to twist the words of the Bible in awkward and unnatural ways. In his “One-Word Bible Study Method” he takes a verse one word at a time and searches for meaning in the word. While word study is a valuable part of Bible study, he took English words like “behold” and interpreted it to mean “Be (as in “I AM” or God)—hold (meaning “hug”). So to him, the word “behold” meant “to be held by God.” Similarly, “became” meant “God  came.” It is not only a mishandling of Scripture, but it is a mishandling of the English language. No one would ever define “behold” or “become” to be a reference to God’s nearness or presence.

It’s unfortunate that some major mishandling of Scripture blemished an otherwise wonderful and helpful book that most Christians really need to read. The positive message outweighs the flaws and I can tell the author’s heart is in the right place so I encourage you to read the book as long as you remain aware of the faulty Bible study methods.

I’ve made a big deal of this because accurately handling Scripture is important (see 2 Timothy 2:15), but I don’t want to leave you with a negative impression of the book because the message is important and it really touched my heart. Here is a sample of some of the valuable teaching:

 

When you get right down to it, trading in the little story of me is not really all that big of a sacrifice after all. Who wouldn’t want to abandon a script you could fit on the pointed end of a pin for a chance to get in on the glorious epic that is so enduring that its screening will require all of eternity. Glimpsing His glory makes me want to say, “Your name and renown are the desire of [my soul].” Seeing His true fame makes me want to live for a bigger purpose, doing everything I do in such a way as to shine the spotlight on Him.

But how do I do that on a daily basis? How do I live for His name in the daily grind?

Well, the answer is not easy, but it is simple—you do whatever it is you do in such a way as to reflect His character to the world around you. . . . Everyone expects pastors and ministry-types to live for a bigger story, but how cool is it when people in every walk of life do what they do with a greater purpose in mind?

–Louie Giglio, I Am Not But I Know I Am, page 132.

 

How cool is it when people in every walk of life do what they do with a greater purpose in mind? It’s very cool. That’s what it means to be a positive Christian.

 

You can find Louie Giglio on Twitter (@LouieGiglio) and at his website: http://louiegiglio.com/.

 

I give I Am Not but I Know I AM by Louie Giglio three cups of love.

(Minus two for the mishandling of Scripture.)

Cups of LoveCups of LoveCups of Love

 


 

Order from the link below and you'll help me earn a few cents. I like the jingle of coins in my cup.

 

424282: I Am Not, But I Know I Am: Welcome to the Story of God I Am Not, But I Know I Am: Welcome to the Story of God

By Louie Giglio / Multnomah Books

In this super-sized era where bigger is better and fast is too slow, it’s time to become small and let God be great! Redefining success, Giglio shows you how to obtain the astonishing freedom and incredible rest that come from believing, like John the Baptist and Moses, that you must decrease while Jesus increases. 176 pages, softcover from Multnomah.

11404EB: I Am Not But I Know I Am: Welcome to the Story of God - eBook I Am Not But I Know I Am: Welcome to the Story of God – eBook

By Louie Giglio / Multnomah Books