Friday, January 2, 2015

Three Book Reviews: Living Life to the Fullest

Living Life to the Fullest
As we begin a New Year you may want to read one or more of the following three books. Each book will give you new perspectives about what living and dying is all about. Put this wisdom into practice and you will grow in love and grace in the coming year.

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
John Piper’s book inspired and informed my mind and heart about the danger of Christians wasting our life rather than being intentional about how we spend it. Unless we lose our life – we waste our life. Risks are worth it and necessary. This is Piper’s thesis throughout the book. His detailed application of what it means to be “crucified” with Christ yet live for him gave me new understanding – both intellectually and emotionally of the profound and difficult meaning of this Scripture.

Piper cites Luke 21:16-18 in which Jesus says, “Some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake, but not a hair on your head will perish.” The ambiguity of this statement is explored at length and Piper concludes – you may suffer, you may die, but “you will have everything you need to do his will and be eternally and supremely happy in him.”

Piper questions the daily life of Christians who live comfortably and securely. He paraphrases scripture: “Even sinners work hard, avoid gross sin, watch TV at night, and do fun stuff on the weekend. What more are you doing than others?”

He also says:
  • “Missions is not only crucial for the life of the world. It is crucial for the life of the church. We will perish with our wealth if we do not pour ourselves out in ministries of mercy at home and mission among the unreached peoples.”
  • “We exist to spread a passion for God’s supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”
This book is dangerous. It will challenge you to change, to take risks to live completely for Christ.

A Season of Mystery: Ten Spiritual Practices for Embracing A Happier Second Half of Life by Paula Husted

I purchased this book after reading a prior very profound book by the same author titled Forgiveness. This one is also excellent though quite different. In this book Huston reveals more of her own background prior to returning to her Catholic faith and then becoming an oblate. She struggles now with the issues of aging and tells how we can avoid becoming a crotchety old person. The disciplines she describes include practices helpful to all: listening, delighting, lightening, settling, confronting, accepting, befriending, generating and blessing. A final chapter on Departing is touching and insightful. Husted illustrates each chapter with vignettes of her experiences with friends and family. She encourages us to view aging in a positive way, to appreciate the benefits of aging and the benefits of knowing and enjoying elderly friends.

Death by Living: Life is Meant to be Spent By N. D. Wilson

Death by Living is a poetic, nonlinear description of life as we live it. Life is story. We are in the middle of our story. This is the theme of Wilson’s book. He writes about the life of his grandparents – now dead. These stories are scattered throughout the book along with tales of raising five children and philosophizing about God and the meaning of life. I read this book twice so I could understand it and remember it. I still don’t quite understand it!  I enjoyed the stories about his grandparents and God’s providence is evident in these. 

Wilson’s thoughts on God, time and life are profound. Here are several examples:
·       “Time strips us. Time keeps us from hunkering down on our piles of stuff. Time motivates us. Sure, time counts up, but it is also a game clock, counting down….Time is kindness. We need it. We need loss to appreciate gift.” 110-111
·       “Taste everyone of time’s moments. Swallow. Taste the next. Drink the water. Drink the wine. It is no use left in the glass. Sweat and struggle. Run. Fight. Receive. Give. Be grateful even for death, for the ticking clock counting down on you.” 114
·       “Be as empty as you can be when the clock runs down. Spend your life. And if time is a river you leave a wake.” 117
·       “The God who looked on you with joy when you were small and racing across His gift of green grass on His gift of feet beneath His gift of sky watched by His gift of a mother with His gift of love in His gift of her eyes, is the same God who will look on you as that race finally ends. He is the same but we have changed, between our opening lines and our final page.” 163

Life is meant to be spent. I do understand this. And God is bigger than we imagine.

New Year Blessings,

1 comment:

  1. The best book about life and death is the Bible and it reveals Jesus is the Christ, that God is personal, that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works. Have you read the Bible?