We’ve been in the DR almost 9 years. In the beginning, our days were so very full. We were learning a new culture and a new language. We were teaching in the villages. We were fixing up a house and welcoming a teenager into our home. And we were trying to keep our own 2-year-old and 5-month-old alive. I’m genuinely thankful for that busy stage, but one of the things I felt like I had to sacrifice was reading.
As we enter another busy season with new roles here at Freedom, I’ve found that the reading time I crave just isn’t as available. I’m fighting for it, for sure. But I’m also trying to remember that my personal wants and desires aren’t king. I’m a bit behind in meeting my 24 book goal, but here are my finished reads so far in 2021.
One year ago, I purchased The Splendid and the Vile on my Kindle but didn’t open it til last fall. As I finished it up just this March, I couldn’t help but think of the countless hours Erik Larson put into researching journals, intelligence documents, and other sources in order to produce this fantastic historical work. I so enjoyed this look at Churchill, his family, and his work during his first year as Prime Minister. I wonder if we’ll have world leaders like him again someday: tenacious, hopeful, convincing, and focused on the goal: preserving freedom at all costs.
I was recommended Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. This quick read really focuses in on studying the Bible with intentionality and purpose. I appreciated Wilkin’s point about our culture’s desire for instant gratification. We easily run to study Bibles and commentaries instead of first wrestling with the text. In my own life, I’ve found that working through my questions and concerns before I look to other sources has always aided me in the learning process. I’m much more apt to recall and apply a concept if I spend the time to slowly uncover the treasure that’s hidden there in God’s Word.
I loved these thoughts from my some of my reading over the last few months:
He [Hitler] believed that even Churchill, at some point, would have to acknowledge the folly of continuing to oppose him.... “Britain’s position is hopeless,” he told his head of Army High Command, General Franz Halder. “The war is won by us...” So confident was Hitler that England would negotiate, he demobilized forty Wehrmacht divisions—25 percent of his army.1 This new surge in morale had nothing to do with Churchill’s speech and everything to do with his gift for understanding how simple gestures could generate huge effects.1 “When I look back on the perils which have been overcome, upon the great mountain waves in which the gallant ship has driven, when I remember all that has gone wrong, and remember also all that has gone right, I feel sure we have no need to fear the tempest. Let it roar, and let it rage. We shall come through.”1 One of his key men wanted to quit and join the army. “Everyone wants to go to the front,” Goebbels wrote, “but who is going to do the work here?”1 Do you know that the word disciple means “learner”? As a disciple of Christ, you and I are called to learn, and learning requires effort.2 ... the heart cannot love what the mind does not know. This is the message of Romans 12:2-3 - not that the mind alone affects transformation, but that the path to transformation runs from the mind to the heart, and not the other way around.2 There are really only two possibilities in this life: be conformed to the image of God or be conformed to the pattern of this world. No doubt, you want the former. But be warned: The Word is living and active. It will conform you by dividing you. And in the dividing, miracle of miracles, it will render you whole. We become what we behold.2 Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart.3 But when something is important to us, we make room for it. Prayer is simply not important to many Christians because Jesus is already an add-on.3 Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd.3 When Jesus prays at Gethsemane “take this cup from me,” he is being real; Christians rush to “not my will, but yours be done” without first expressing their hearts (Luke 22:42, NIV). They submit so quickly that they disappear.3 Jesus, knowing that there was both doubt and belief in the room, was about to commission this group of fearful believers to carry the gospel of resurrection life to the world.... I likely would’ve thought, They’re not ready, it’s just too soon. They need to know so much more.... They need time to mature. But in the middle of the most amazing, confusing, and gloriously mind-bending moment in history, Jesus did not hesitate; he simply said, “Go.”4 Human beings are achievers, meant to build and rebuild, to grow and expand, to uproot and to plant, to tear down and to build, to dream and to achieve dreams. But every ambition and every achievement must bow to the lordship and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.4 In ministry, success and failure are not a matter of results but are defined by faithfulness. Faithfulness is what God asks of us; the rest is entirely up to his sovereignty and the power of his grace.4
1 The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, Erik Larson
2 Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin
3 A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World, Paul Miller
4 Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church, Paul David Tripp