"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Confessions of a Bibliophile

I remember a few years ago when I first heard of a Kindle -- an electronic book. My response today has not changed from my response then: no thanks. There's just something about holding a book in one's hands, fingering its leaves, whether worn or new, and yes, to my mother's great horror and shame, even turning down corners on a favorite page. I really should be embarrassed at the number of periodicals that line my shelves; but I make no apologies. I love books.

A friend at the gym last week told me of a book that he thought I would enjoy and told me he had a couple of copies and would bring me one. I was really excited until he told me I would have to return it. I said, "Maybe I ought to get my own, because I love to underline and make notes in my books." To which he responded, "Oh, you can do that with this one; it's already marked up as it is." "But you want me to return it?" "Yea, but I'm in no rush to get it back." I swear I thought I was going to hyperventilate. I confess. I have a serious problem. I'm a bibliophile -- not in the sense of being an educated person but in that of being a book lover.

Of course, I do have standards. I don't read just anything and everything that comes along. I can't say I've read a lot of Oprah's Picks nor much on the New York Times Best Seller's List. But I most certainly have my most favorite authors and themes. I also have a Top 10 list, but if truth be known, there are probably more than 10 on my list. And lately, I've added 2 more.

The first was Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. I don't think I've ever read a book (excluding the Bible) that exalts Christ more. In fact, the subtitle says just that: "Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ." Over and over, I found myself engaged in worship as I worked my way through it. And when I turned the last page, I found myself wanting to turn back to chapter 1 and read it again immediately. But more importantly, I was challenged to return to my first Love. Which was the perfect time to pick up my next book: Passion for Jesus.

I read this particular book 9 years ago when a friend gave it to me for my birthday. I loved it then and just had a desire to read again. But since Mike Bickle had given it a face lift, updating and expanding it with new chapters, I purchased a new copy. Herein lies a book that will sweep you off your feet and leave you breathless as you discover your true passion. Jesus. There are 4 chapters devoted to The Song of Songs and another to "gazing upon the throne." Hardly a page is left without a pencil notation or a tear stain.

I can honestly say that both of these books left me loving Jesus even more.

So what's next? Actually, this time it is a New York Times Bestseller, and I've already purchased it. It's Radical by David Platt. Wess Stafford, president and CEO of Compassion International writes: "David Platt challenges Christians to wake up, trade in false values rooted in the American dream, and embrace the notion that each of us is blessed by God for a global purpose .... This is a much read for every believer!" When I told my husband my plans to wait until after Christmas to read Radical, because I was afraid it would ruin the "joy of shopping," he responded: "Or is it because it's too convicting?" Guilty. But Christmas is now over....

There are others that are waiting in the wings -- and some I've already begun. The publishers sent me Dale Cramer's newest release, Paradise Valley, and so I'm well into the pages of this Amish fiction. I've picked up Frederick Buechner's Secrets in the Dark, which is 37 of his sermons. (Wow, does he ever have a way with words.) A personal goal for 2011 is to work through some spiritual disciplines, so The Sacred Way is waiting patiently for me to begin the first one: the journey of solitude and silence. And lastly, Len Sweet's book, Nudge, is ordered and on it's way here.

That ought to keep my book bag filled for awhile -- and my mind moving forward. But really, all this is just fluff and for puff. There's only one Word worth reading. It's the one that became flesh. It's the one that separates bone from marrow. And it's the only one that can truly change a life.

Just an ordinary moment...

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