For the past few years, I’ve read a ton of books each year. They’ve been (mostly) the helpful, funny, fascinating, growing kind that you’re glad you invested your time in. However, quantity isn’t always quality, so I’m shifting my focus in 2019 to read fewer books; better books; books which grow me; and also intentionally reading much more of my Bible. So this year, I plan to re-read a small pile of books that have been particularly transformative for me. The Books Worth a Look series will be a monthly post sharing highlights from my deep dive into these books that I think are super helpful.
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Eugene Peterson)
In our world of microwave dinner sermons and instant-gratification goals, Peterson’s book is sorely needed. Full of biblical counsel, encouragement, and his usual literary flourish, A Long Obedience discusses the reality that the Christian life is one of daily living and daily dying, not one of instant transformation and success. Here are some of my favourite Peterson thoughts that are well worth pondering.
There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness. Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure.
No literature is more realistic and honest in facing the harsh facts of life than the Bible. At no time is there the faintest suggestion that the life of faith exempts us from difficulties.
The basic conviction of a Christian is that God intends good for us and that he will get his way in us. He does not treat us according to our desires, but according to his plan.
God doesn’t need me to defend him. He doesn’t need me for a press secretary . . .The proper work of a Christian is witness, not apology.
Discipleship is a decision to live by what I know about God, not what I feel about him or myself or my neighbors.
Joy is what God gives, not what we work up. Laughter is the delight that things are working together for good to those who love God, not the giggles that betray the nervousness of a precarious defense system.
When an ancient temptation or trial becomes a feature in the culture, a way of life that is expected and encouraged, Christians have a stumbling block put before them that is hard to recognize for what it is, for it has been made into a monument, gilded with bronze and bathed in decorative lights.
If we define the nature of our lives by the mistake of the moment or the defeat of the hour or the boredom of the day, we will define it wrongly. We need roots in the past to give obedience ballast and breadth; we need a vision of the future to give obedience direction and goal. And they must be connected.
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