Archive for April, 2009

The Noticer, by Andy Andrews

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , on April 27, 2009 by seguewm

noticerSome times, seemingly just at the right time, we meet a person who, in a few short words, changes our whole perspective on a life circumstance.  In Andy Andrews newest book, The Noticer, there is one such character that looks for, notices, people who just need to see things from a different point of view.  He finds a way to cleverly insert himself into their lives, caringly confronts them with questions, and helps them ‘see’ the better way.

Andy begins his story by sharing his own providential encounters with this stranger who self-describes his particular gift as noticing things.  He had watched Andy, cared about Andy, discovered a way to help Andy, and then made it a point to meet Andy.  Some strangers are heaven sent, or so it may seem. 

The story continues by introducing us to others who have met this peculiar, yet much loved man. Each person sees him, though, somewhat differently, but everyone grows to like him and is thankful for his unexpected and even uninvited entrance into their lives.  No one really knows where he has come from, where he lives, what his real name is, or exactly how old he is.  It doesn’t really matter.  He has taken the time to engage them in conversations that turned out to be welcomed incredible blessings in their lives.

Though the reader is immediately captured by the stories of everyday people struggling almost helplessly with everyday kinds of issues, Andrews uses these real-to-life events as a skilled therapist, counseling each of us, the readers, as well.  ‘Wow, that’s pretty good advice’, I kept saying to myself chapter after chapter, story after story.  I need to ‘notice’ things around me in a manner that broadens my own perspectives in life.  In fact, I just need to be more intentional about keeping a larger perspective in mind.  In the end, the Noticer visited me through the pages of this fabulous book, and I’m forever thankful for his words of counsel that have changed my life.

The Principle of the Path, by Andy Stanley

Posted in Book Review with tags , , on April 13, 2009 by seguewm

principleThomas Nelson 2008

In brief, this is a common sense, no brainer book. In one sense, unfortunately, it rehashes that which many other authors have said – which makes me wonder why Andy wrote this book. True, we all need to have these ideas re-iterated from time to time with freshly minted illustrations. Also, each writer has his/her own dedicated followers who will hear from their favorite author that which they won’t bother to attend to from a less favored author. Now, having said the above, let me just say that what Andy has written is great stuff!

The perversity of human nature leads even the most successful, intelligent, and gifted people astray – undermining the good they have already accomplished and often destroying their potential for more. Why? Andy makes it quite clear. When we put ourselves in the seat that should only be inhabited by the eternal One, we’ve gotten both feet firmly placed – yet on a banana peel. Human society functions best when we operate under laws, understand the reality and nature of principles, and depend upon the guidance of God – from whom true wisdom comes.

If we get ourselves headed in the right direction (other wise known as being right headed), i.e. finding in Christ the strongest emotional attention-getting presence in the universe, we are far less likely to fall prey to the plethora of life-destroying enticements designed to capture our soul. Good intentions are insufficient. We all need something greater than ourselves to ground us and maintain us in a healthy direction. In addition to a deep commitment to God, we need each other. We need to hear from diverse voices that are equally committed to God – voices that hold us accountable, encourage us, strengthen us, and love us.

Not all dreams come true, writes Andy, because some things truly are out of our hands. Yet, why shoot ourselves in the foot, why sabotage ourselves, when we could have accomplished so much? Grab this book and read it from cover to cover. If it seems familiar, don’t stop reading. Andy gives fresh new illustrations that are designed to keep this message clear. Follow the tried and true principles articulated in this book. The results will speak for themselves.

Sabbath, by dan b. allender

Posted in Book Review on April 6, 2009 by seguewm

sabbath-allenderI’ve not read anything by Dan Allender that hasn’t blessed me.  This recent publication, Sabbath, was no exception.  It is part of a group of books published by Thomas Nelson called The Ancient Practices Series. 

Maybe your first thought when you read the title was that this was going to be another legalistic treatise on how to keep the Sabbath the ‘right’ way.  It is far from that.  This is a refreshingly insightful look at Sabbath that will truly enrich the lives of anyone willing to give Dan’s words even a thoughtful moment.  As written in Mark 2:27, the Sabbath was created for man  and thus was designed to be a delight (Is 58:13).  The Sabbath is a time to hang out with God in a manner that is re-creative – thus the reference to the Creation in the 4th commandment. 

If Sabbath is merely time off from work, it is, as Eugene Peterson called it, a ‘bastard Sabbath’, a secular sabbath – far from what God wants his creation to enjoy.  We’ve misunderstood the ‘rest’ aspect of the Sabbath.  God didn’t need ‘rest’, so what is it that God ‘rested’ from?  Dan suggests that God’s rest – and thus ours – was a change from making creation to a delightful and joyous celebration of his creation. Imagine that first Sabbath with Adam.  Did God sit him down on the very first pew, in the first ever constructed ‘church’ building, standing on a platform to deliver a sermon from behind a pulpit to his congregation of one?  Or, rather, was it an exciting walk through the garden together delighting in the diversity of God’s imagination in plant, animal, and geography? 

The bible presents the Sabbath as a day to celebrate cessation from soul destructive activities.  It is also a reminder of the inclusiveness of grace – all creation ‘rests’. We are separated from the imagination of the world to enter into another realm – the imagination of God and His kingdom.  It is a time to ‘dance with God’.  Sabbath is referred to by the Jewish people as the ‘queen’.  To be sanctified is to be ‘bethrothed’ – set aside for holy use.  Thus we welcome this ‘queen’ into our existence with anticipation, entering the mystery and beauty and playfulness of the Trinity. 

Sabbath is a time to celebrate life – choosing to look at all God has made from the vantage point of eternity.  The Sabbath day restores us to a God perspective that enables us to engage the new week as the salt and light we have been called to be.