Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book #14: Ordinary

Amazon Link
A facebook friend recommended this book to me. I ordered it from the library and stared at it on my nightstand for 2 weeks, but finally made myself pick it up and read it this week. It was . . .  ok. I have a ton of notes from the first few chapters, but he lost me after that.

His basic premise is that Christians today are so busy looking for the "Next Big Thing" that they don't take the time to build a deep, authentic, sustainable faith. I agree, and found comfort in his encouragement that growth takes time and we don't need to rush it with "radical" life changes.
And so this is what I need now: the courage to face an ordinary day - an afternoon with a colicky baby . . . without despair, the bravery it takes to believe that a small life is still a meaningful life, and the grace to know that even when I've done nothing that is powerful or bold or even interesting that the Lord notices me and is fond of me and that is enough. (20 - quoting Tish Harrison Warren)
He talks about how a recent movement in the Christian faith is to be radical and bold and take drastic measures to stand out from the crowd, when not all of us are called to such a dramatic life. Instead, he posits, that we should carry out our faith as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 "(make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands . . ."). And, he points out, God uses us in small ways throughout our entire life. He doesn't always work through big miracles and dramatic conversions.
It's easier to pour myself into a service project for the needy than it is to give a little more to my wife and kids. That's ordinary. I can't see the impact of the dozen or so little conversations, corrections, laughs, and tasks that happen in a day - or even a week, month, perhaps even a year. I can't measure the ordinary stuff. But I can measure (supposedly) how many souls were saved or how many people were fed or how much money came in for a special project. (194)
And tied to that point, he says this, which I appreciated:
What did you do for the kingdom today? How did you impact the world for Christ? Our tendency might be to hesitate at that point, trying desperately to recall something worth reporting. Yet every day, in all sorts of ways we're not even aware of, the kingdom is growing and our neighbors and being served. 
I just scratched the surface of what this book is about, but those were the parts that were meaningful to me. There was also a lot of deep theology that went way over my head, and a little too much "reformed theology" for me. He made some points about infant baptism that I disagree with, and put a heavy emphasis on sacraments and the Sabbath that I don't necessarily agree with either. (Although I'm kind of a doctrine nerd and like to read differing opinions to sharpen why I believe what I do - I'm already planning on looking up every reference to Baptism that I can find in the Bible. Haha.)

Overall, the book was kind of dry and I had to really force myself to get through it, but I'm glad I did.

P.S. If I did it right (which is doubtful), the above Amazon link is an affiliate link. As much as I link to stuff, I figured I better at least try to make a few cents off it. If by chance you purchase this book through my link, I'll make a tiny percentage at no extra cost to you! :-)

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