A Fruitful Book

Book cover of How People Change, showing a tree in stages of growth

How People Change by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Trip, New Growth Press, 2006, available in multiple formats.

Another one of those books that’s been sitting on our shelves for years. At some point Jim was in a group that studied it, and he felt that the discussions were very worthwhile.  So when I was casting around for a good Christian book to read in my early-morning study time I settled on this one.  We had had some excellent teaching at our church lately about how God brings about fruit in our lives, and one of the big takeaways for me was that fruit, growth, and change all happen slowly and organically.  Our senior pastor has said before, “You don’t make an apple tree productive by stapling fruit to the branches.”  That’s such a funny illustration that it sticks in the mind.  Can’t you just see the guy with the stapler and the bag of apples, reaching up to grab a twig and use his trusty Swingline?

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“I Have a Problem!  No, . . . 

2 Leglo Starwars Storm Troopers trying to move an eggphoto credit pixabay.com

you have an opportunity.”  Gil Johnson, quoted at his funeral on June 25, 2016.

Don’t know how the little storm troopers are going to solve their egg problem, but their brains (if they had brains, that is) must be going a hundred miles an hour trying to sort things out. And that’s the thing:  profound problems lead to profound thinking and profound solutions.  I’m not going to get all Hallmark-y and chirpy here and say, “Be glad for your problems!”  That’s a bit much to bear, isn’t it, especially when you’re in the thick of things? What is helpful, though, is to look for solutions. What can be done? What should be done?  Let’s go on from there.

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You Cannot Read this Book and Be Unchanged.

Cover of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, showing man silhouetted in an archway

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus:  A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi, Zondervan, originally published in 2014, available in a number of formats.  I heartily recommend the audio version, as it is read by the author.  See also Qureshi’s many videos (link is to the Google page) and his website. (Sad update: Qureshi has since died of stomach cancer.)

My Filofax organizer has a section for notes that I take on sermons and on the lectures at Bible Study Fellowship,  The top of the page often has additional ideas that come to me during the course of the talk or are mentioned as an aside by the speaker, often ideas for blog posts or suggested books to read.  I don’t want those ideas to be lost in the body of the notes, so I insert them where they’re obvious.  (At some point, like about now, those pages need to be transcribed in some way, as the section in the organizer is full.)  So, at the top of the notes for the March 30 BSF lecture is the note “Seeking Allah Finding Jesus.” There was some mention of this book elsewhere recently, which reminded me of this note.  As always, I first looked in the library.  Yes, it was indeed available on Hoopla, one of the free audiobook providers mentioned last week.

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And Free Audiobooks Make Me Even Happier!

Smartphone showing screen full of app iconsI said yesterday that I’d write a post about how to get free audiobooks from the library.  As a writer myself I’m kind of torn:  I want people to buy my books, but I don’t want to buy books myself, for the most part.  I certainly hope that a few will purchase the audiobook version of Intentional Happiness that I’m currently working so hard to finish.  But since it won’t be available at the library any time soon, if ever, my conscience is clear about my telling you to use the library whenever possible. That’s what it’s there for.  (I do try to be careful that I’m not stealing someone’s intellectual property; it was tempting for me to just copy the patterns I wanted in some knitting books I checked out recently, but that didn’t seem right.  So I did get the books on Amazon, all three used, I believe, and can now use the patterns with a clear conscience.  That is, I can use them if I ever finish the current cross-stitching project.  But more on that later.)

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A Helpful, but not Magical, Idea

Glowing star“Whatever you focus on increases.”

There are a million versions of this idea out there; the above is sort of mine but mostly Laura Doyle’s.  The link is to the post I received today, but she’s said this many times, in many contexts.

There’s some real truth (as opposed to unreal truth?) in this saying, but I want to focus first on how it can be false, since we humans always take thing too far.  It’s false if taken in the sense of magical thinking, the idea that your thoughts can actually change external reality–“If I think this hard enough it will come true.”


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A Great Book—And a New Way (for me) to Enjoy It

Cold-Case Christianity book cover

Cold Case Christianity:  A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace, published by David C. Cook, 2013.  Available on Amazon in a number of formats, including an audiobook from audible.com, also from Christianbook.com.  Visit the author’s website at Cold Case Christianity.

I’m always getting great ideas from my pastor! On Easter Sunday he mentioned a book that sounded so intriguing: written by a former police detective, applying the rules of evidence to the Resurrection of Christ.

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How did my personal Sabbath go?

two people sitting on rocks looking out over the waterI wrote last week about my desire to keep a Christian Sabbath, with the spirit and not the letter of the law.  Specifically I wanted to keep the Old Testament injunction “six days shalt thou labor” instead of my usual “six days shalt thou procrastinate,”  and avoid the deadly “I’ll get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday and get it all done” mentality, which has been the cause of my being late to church many times, stressed, tired, under the gun, and totally without the ability to enjoy a day of rest and spiritual refreshment.  (Just to be clear–this is only about myself and

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My Personal Sabbath-Keeping

Relaxed and smiling womanJesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). In other words, the concept of a day of rest wasn’t just an arbitrary rule imposed onto the Israelites but something for their good, something that served them, not something for them to serve. But, as I discuss in the “Time and Work” chapter of my Intentional Happiness book (see the sidebar), the concept of a day of rest is tricky, because you have to plan ahead to make it happen. I so often find myself under the gun on Sundays, the day set aside by Christians for worship, a new practice instituted because the resurrection of Jesus was on “the first day of the week.”

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“All men seek happiness . . .


. . . This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”
Blaise Pascal

What do you think?  We’ve all said, “I’ll regret this tomorrow,” or “I’ll be sorry I did this.”  (I’ve said it recently about my giving in to the temptation of watching just one more episode of “The Great British Bake-Off”–of which more later.)  So, if we do something that we know we’ll wish we hadn’t, does that action refute Pascal’s statement above?

“The Lord Doesn’t Change My Feelings

. . . uPicturentil I obey Him” (Rosaria Butterfield’s book, discussed on the previous post).  I discuss this idea of the connection between our feelings and our actions in chapter two, “How Our Emotions Work” of my book.  It’s very true that the main source of our feelings is our thoughts:  “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 22:7 KJV).  But where do the thoughts come from?  They seem to arise spontaneously most of the time, don’t they?

Those who say that we are just products of chance and our entire mental processes are therefore  chemical reactions would then have to go on and say that our thoughts are simply random.

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