Book Recommendations

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In this post, I share some book recommendations.  Pretty straight forward. .. Smiley face.

My sister-in-law recently asked me for some recommendations so I thought it might be helpful to post it here as well.  This list is not targeted at any group specifically, but I would say that the audience in mind is roughly 18-35.  It is by no means comprehensive, but meant to give anyone a good running start who is looking for some good books to check out.

Each one has a link to Amazon make it easy for you to click and see details.

Enjoy!

Have you read any of these?  Share below your thoughts on any of them or if you have other recommendations.

Your Money or God’s Money?

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Earlier this month I threw out a challenge to my readers to join me in reading the book, “Managing God’s Money” by Randy Alcorn.

[And by the way, if you email me your one page summary of how it effected you to anbaconreadtogether@gmail.com and comment below, I am giving away one of my pallet clocks to a random participant! Contest ends tomorrow, March 31, so hurry.]

I knew I needed to read this book, but I didn’t realize how badly I needed this book. It caused me to realize that my heart has become off when it comes to money.

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“The Bible emphatically demonstrates that how we view our
money and possessions is of utmost importance.
What we do with them will influence eternity.”

/////

I have always known that God was in charge of money and that He in charge of giving me money. I was raised in a home that taught that you should tithe regularly and Brooke and I both do that so I figured we were already in decent shape.

When we were first married in 2006, we had nearly three-year journey and paid off more than 45,000 in debt. Thankfully by God’s grace we were able to do that. Yay God and yay us, right? Well not exactly. Because where did we go from there?

There was a deep dark little thought that I have always kept since we got out of debt that we did the work and that it was our money once God gave it to us. I knew in my head that God was in charge of providing me with money, but in my heart, I started to develop the hidden attitude that it was “our money”. We earned it. It was ours.

But the truth is, it is not my money. It is God’s money. All of it. No matter how it comes to me, it is God’s.

/////


“One day we will stand before God and give an account of
how we have managed what belongs to him.”


“When we see money as a toy to play with instead of a
tool to impact eternity, our vision becomes shortsighted and unfocused.”

/////

I hadn’t realized that I hadn’t taken this truth literally in my life. I know God is Lord over my life, but He is Lord over my money too? This book forced me to deal with this and admit that I have not been living this truth out.

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“If Christ is not Lord over our money and possessions, he is not our Lord.”

/////

I realized that it is time for me to recalibrate my attitude. I am the steward of His money. I am the steward if His things, His people, His children and even His time (yikes).

/////


“God is the owner of all things, and we are simply his stewards.”

“A steward’s primary goal is to be “found faithful” by his master.”

/////

As a man with a family, it is really difficult to face the pressures of “providing for my family” financially. I don’t think I realized how much stress and pressure I had been putting on myself to make sure that we have enough money coming in the door and being put into savings as well. Truth: I have not been trusting God with this aspect of my life at all. I have started “playing God” in my life, acting as if it is all up to me rather than “serving God” with my life.

But God is in control. And if I truly trust him, then I will do what he says with money and not worry about it or attempt to hoard it.

Another thing I discovered in myself is the attitude that I can take care of myself. I was saying things in my head like: “If I make this much or get this much in savings then we will be good.” I was becoming more proud and more stressed all at the same time.

/////


“Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich, and your
riches have made you very proud” (Ezekiel 28:4-5).”

/////

It is so easy to become proud and think that everything is good when you have a lot. It’s one thing to say: “I trust God,” and have everything working out for you, but it’s another thing to actually trust God through unknown situations or tough times. But the reality is that none of us can hang on to what we have. It will all go away.

/////

“—fires consume, floods inundate, governments seize, enemies attack,
investments tank. No earthly treasure is safe.”

/////


I need to stop worrying about money. I need to work hard, but leave it to God to provide. I need to recognize that none of this money we have is ours. It is God’s. How are we using it to build God’s kingdom rather than ours? I also need to trust that God will provide and stop thinking that more money or material things or forms of entertainment will satisfy me. What a trap and a lie that is!

Here are some more questions that came out of reading this book:

Do I trust in myself or God?
Am I here to build a kingdom for myself or to help build God’s kingdom?
Do I give money away willingly to help kingdom building?
How much is enough?
Am I materialistic?
Have I sought materialistic things to satisfy me?
Do I think about eternity and God’s kingdom as my home, or am I so consumed with the world around me now that I miss it?

/////

“God entrusts me with his money not to build my kingdom
on Earth but to build his Kingdom in Heaven.”


“Sacrificial giving makes no human sense. But we
are to think like Christ, not the world.”

“We have one brief opportunity—a lifetime on Earth—
to use our resources to make a difference.”

“John Wesley said, ‘I judge all things only by the
price they shall gain in eternity.’”

“Missionary C. T. Studd said, ‘Only one life, ’twill soon be past;
only what’s done for Christ will last.’”

“When God is happy with our management of his money,
we will be happy.”

/////

So how about you? How do you view money? Is it yours or is it God’s?

If you believe it is God’s then I guarantee you that it will radically impact how you are living.

 

*all quotes in italics from the book, Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn

 

Book Read & Giveaway – ‘Managing God’s Money’

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managing-gods-money-a-biblical-guideI recently saw this idea from Lecrae on having people read a book and share their thoughts with him.  What a great idea!

I want to see if there is any interest out there with joining in with me on what I am currently reading and see if we can create some discussion together.  And as an incentive to join in, you can be entered to win one of my pallet clocks that I make and sell over at Field Treasure Designs.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about money and wanting to view it God’s way.  I have always been very challenged and encouraged by Randy Alcorn’s books. I own his bigger book on the subject “Money, Possessions and Eternity” but I decided to start with his smaller companion book, “Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide”.  I also thought it might be a bit easier for anyone else to read and digest with me.  It is not that long of a read at all.

The book is not expensive either.  It is $4.61 to read on your kindle here. The hardcopy isn’t too much more.

 

Processed with VSCOcamTo enter to win one of my 14″x14″ pallet clocks, you have to do the following:

1) Read the book by March 31. Duh.
2) Comment on any of my blog posts relating to this book this month with one lesson you learned to spur on discussion with others.
3) Write a one page summary and email it to anbaconreadtogether@gmail.com. Don’t copy or cheat.  I’ll know if you did, you stinker.

 

I will draw a winner on April 1.

Looking forward to reading this with you and talking about it!

 

You Won’t Read this Book

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renting-lacy-smith

I was given this book by a friend a year ago when I started to get more involved in learning about the reality of sex trafficking.  I read it in an afternoon in a state of complete disgust.  It is a terribly shocking reality of what is happening to children in our country.  The demand for paid illicit sex with enslaved victims is growing at an alarming rate.  And the supply is growing to meet this demand.  Runaway children are enticed almost within a day of hitting the streets.  Kids in the foster system are being taken.  Normal young adults are being manipulated and then trapped.

This book will OPEN your eyes to this reality and stir your heart.  It will scare you to death.

And that is why you won’t read it.

It is easy to think about great men with a sense of romanticism. Abraham Lincoln.  Martin Luther King.  William Wilberforce.  But these men did their part to help end slavery!  They gave up being worried about peoples thoughts or opinions.  They did not turn away to their own isolation and comforts while ignoring reality.  They spoke out for those who could not speak for themselves.

Maybe you will read this book. Maybe you will let it change your life.  And it will help you understand why I started the dontwatchthebowl.com movement.

It can be downloaded immediately if you have a kindle device or the free kindle reading app on any of your devices.

Buy Renting Lacy here.

Yea. I Think Gladwell is Wrong in David and Goliath

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David-and-Goliath_Malcolm-Gladwell

Malcom Gladwell just released a new and soon to be popular book, David and Goliath. Here is what is being said already:

“In the tradition of Gladwell’s previous bestsellers—The Tipping Point, Blink,
Outliers and What the Dog Saw—David and Goliath draws upon history,
psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way
we think of the world around us.”

Gladwell’s ideas are shaping a lot of people. This book along with its main idea was just given out to around 13,000 ‘Christian’ leaders at the recent Catalyst conference, therefore, I feel it could use a good examination.

First, I think that Gladwell is a great writer. He wouldn’t be writing for the New Yorker if he was a bad writer or a bad researcher. He asks great questions and I enjoy his books and ideas. He is smart. He pushes many to think and that is a great thing.

The big idea behind his latest book and main selling point for it is the story from the Bible about David defeating the warrior Goliath. But this story isn’t being portrayed in the typical fashion that both Christians and non-Christians are used to. For centuries, people have interpreted that David, the lowly shepherd boy with a huge amount of courage, takes down the big giant, Goliath. It is commonly used to describe any relationship or competition involving the big and strong versus the little and weak. However, Gladwell argues that Goliath was actually the weaker person in the match against David. What he is attempting to convey is that David actually had the upper hand. He argues that David had all the skills to defeat a giant that actually was dumb and blind. After listening carefully to Gladwell’s TED talk and then reading the story in the Bible, I have arrived at a different conclusion. Unlike David’s Stone, I think Gladwell’s new idea on David and Goliath severely misses the mark.  But this is not because of who was strong and who was weak.

Gladwell argues that throughout history, everyone has always said that Goliath was the stronger opponent, yet David was skilled in sling throwing and knew that he, in fact, was better than the giant. Gladwell urges anyone who feels that they are weaker, misfit or outcast to rethink their abilities and realize that they might actually be strengths. Likewise, he encourages a closer look at the giants in our lives to find that they have more weaknesses upon closer investigation. Now these points are not necessarily bad. There are many people who have incredible gifts and talents but don’t believe in themselves. It is good to remind them to believe in themselves. However, as we encourage people to be confident and reach their full potential we have to tread carefully.

Here’s why.

There is a very real aspect of the story of David and Goliath that Gladwell does not mention. At all. It is found nowhere in his talks or in his book.

The role of God.

Yet the Bible makes sure to point it out. It is pointed out very clearly.

The story of David and Goliath takes place in 1 Samuel 17. In verse 37, as David is explaining to King Saul why he can go fight Goliath, here is what he says:

The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and
the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul then replies to David.

“Go, and the Lord be with you.”

These aren’t figures of speech. These guys knew that God was with them.

Now, do people have giant problems and need inspiration? Absolutely.
Should people work hard and fight against all odds in anything they do? Yes.
Do people need inspiration and someone to cheer us on? Totally.

However, the argument in Gladwell’s interpretation of this story is that David was stronger and that he did the work. He argues that David defeated Goliath.  On his own.  He argues that he was actually better than Goliath (which depending on your point of view could true but is beside my point).  Therefore, Gladwell argues that any “underdogs” should recognize that they have the strength, skills and smarts within them to defeat the giants in their lives.

This concept is not necessarily a bad thing at all.  Who doesn’t want to be told that they have hidden strengths, or that they can do something great?  This concept, although good, can lead to very dangerous territory for the Christian. This concept can lead to humanism. Humanism may sound harmless, and even good, but it is not. It is woven into many inspirational stories throughout the ages that seem great. This is why Christians must be very careful.

I am convinced that the greatest threat to the Gospel of Jesus is humanism. Humanism says that we can become great on our own and achieve righteousness. It says that deep inside the human spirit is the answer. What makes this threat even more potent is that this concept is permeating Christianity in very real ways. It weaves itself into our greatest endeavors even as we work to make ourselves better and spread God’s love. We are motived to do great things for God. We want to feed the poor, to rescue the captives, to give water to the thirsty. All great things!  But what if all the while we are working for God but really only wanting to make our name, our brand, or our organization great?  Or what if it is to prove ourselves worthy?

Lets say we did it. We fed everyone. No-one was thirsty. What then? Would we then look at ourselves and pat ourselves on the back? Would we look at our own achievements and marvel at our greatness? It seems a bit absurd and easy to dismiss in such basic sentences, but has this not become our attitude? The reason people are so enamored with Gladwell’s new idea is reason enough. We are concerned more about our glory then God’s. We are concerned with making ourselves worthy.  Both attitudes are evil.

Consider another Biblical story in Genesis 11.

Here, the people of the city of Shinar look at each other and want to build themselves a city, to make something awesome.

“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city,
with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that
we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise
we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’”

And look what happened.

“So the Lord scattered them from there over all
the earth, and they stopped building the city.
That is why it was called Babel—because there the
Lord confused the language of the whole world.
From there the Lord scattered them over
the face of the whole earth.”

God scattered them.

Realize that God is not threatened by our ability. He looks down upon humanity and sees that the people are going to make something awesome and are going to start worshipping themselves. God says that is not okay. God is concerned about His glory. Not yours. Not mine. God is the main character of the story of mankind. We are not. God owns all the silver and all the gold. (Haggai 2:8)

Gladwell misses this cornerstone fact in his evaluation of David and Goliath. Yes, David was smart. He was good looking. He was weathered and ruddy and experienced. However, it is clear that David knows that God is the one who gave Him victory. God defeated Goliath. God allowed David to train as he watched the sheep. God allowed David the opportunity to face Goliath. God allowed the stone to bring the giant down.

If we are going to be in fellowship with God, we have to recognize that we bring nothing. Stop right there with your strength tests and your skill sets. We bring nothing. We must remember this, especially when we aspire to be better and do great things. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do great things in our lives or for God. But we cannot neglect this truth. Self help is not bad until it replaces God. God is the main character. God is the most important. He will share His glory with no one else. (Isaiah 42:8)

The other day I heard a great song by Matt Maher that goes along perfectly with what I am trying to say.  Here are a few of the lyrics:

“Lord, I Need You”

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

 

Is the attitude of this song true in our lives or deep down do we think that we have what it takes on our own without God?

Have you become a “christian humanist”?

 

The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and
the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”