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The Radical Disciple

by John Stott, 2010

This was John Stott’s last book. He is writing about what our lives should look like as Christians. Sanctification (being made holy) is purely the work of the Holy Spirit, but in this book he covers 8 aspects of our lives that we have neglected. Wayne’s comment on Dependence (#7 below): “Dependence can be an issue of humility vs. pride; the prideful one wants to be depended upon, and being dependent is a humble station. But mostly, dependence is about acknowledging one’s continual and utter dependence upon God in all things.”

Basic Introduction to the New Testament

by John Stott, 1951, revised by Stephen Motyer, 2017

He covers the books of the New Testament (except Jude), giving the history of the authors, the culture and context in which written, and the message. The message, over and over, is that salvation comes through Jesus, not through works. I started out loving this book but it irritated me when he felt it necessary to state when “scholars” doubted the authorship, especially of John and his letters, and 1 and 2 Peter, and Revelation. Still, it was a good book and I tagged many, many pages. Here are some of the highlights:

Basic Christianity

by John R. W. Stott, 1958, 2008

Tim Keller recommended this book in one of his books. It was very good. I flagged just about every single page. It all comes down to the Gospel, again and again. Without Jesus, we are doomed. Each and every day of our lives, we can live joyfully and triumphantly because of Jesus. Rick Warren says everyone should read this book. It’s divided into 5 parts: The Right Approach, Who Christ is, What we need, What Christ has done, and How to respond.

In The Right Approach, he talks about the first four words of the Bible, “In the beginning, God…” which demonstrates that God takes the initiative in ALL things. God created us and came after us. He is not sitting aloof on a distant throne. He got down off His throne, left His glory, and came to us. “Christianity is a religion of Salvation, and the fact is that there is nothing in any of the non-Christian religions to compare with this message of a God who loved, and came after, and died for, a world of lost sinners.” The rest of the book is about our response to that God who loves us. Our first response is to seek Him seriously, humbly, honestly, obediently.

Facing Your Giants

by Max Lucado, 2006, 2020

He delves into David’s life from beginning to end as told in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and 1 Chronicles (various passages in each), showing that when David trusted in God, walked with God, prayed to and consulted God, good things happened, even miraculous things. But, when David forgot God, bad things happened. The Study Guide looks like a really good one – good questions for small groups to discuss.

Hidden Christmas

by Timothy Keller, 2016

A short, beautiful book examining the familiar Bible passages and carols of Christmas and revealing how mind-blowing the Christmas story actually is. We have become jaded and clouded over but this book helps you see anew the reality that God came to earth to be with us: Immanuel. Our God loves us so much!

Mom read it first, her first Tim Keller book, and she LOVED it! Said it was intellectually and spiritually fulfilling. She wants a copy.

Cider with Rosie

by Laurie Lee, 1959

First of all, Laurie Lee is a male! This is his story of growing up in a Cotswold village in the 1920s. He transports you there. You can feel the summer heat, the icy winter, the mud, the grass, the trees, the cottage he grew up in with his 6 siblings and precious Mom, their delight in the simple pleasures of life: food, community, fun, song, old people, stories of the past, school, outings, and first loves. The “Cider with Rosie” doesn’t occur until almost the end of the book, when a young vixen lures him under her hay wagon with a jug of apple cider.

You really feel what it was like to grow up in an English country village in the 1920s. Life was hard but you were surrounded by the beautiful, satisfying pleasures only God can give. At one point near the end, he and his friends were going to rape a poor girl. But they didn’t, thank God. The temptation was there, though, and he shows how evil is right there with us, but it didn’t win.

Really good book.

This was one of the recommendations on the Book-A-Day calendar for 2021 that Christie gave me. Here is how they described it:

A Cotswold Childhood

In Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee recounts his coming-of-age in vivid prose. Home life with a brood of siblings, school life with an assortment of fellow students, imaginative life in its wonder, perplexity, and desperate innocence–all pass before us, not just recalled but quickened with a youthful eye and enthusiasm. Lee embellishes his tune of family and village life with lyrical evocations of the fitful energies of adolescence, portraying with care the seasoned existence that would soon vanish from his Cotswold valley as the 20th century took hold of it: “I belonged to that generation which saw, by chance, the end of a thousand years’ life.” In its language and its yearnings, this is among the most beautiful books you’ll ever read.

Counterfeit Gods

The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters

by Timothy Keller, 2009

Another EXCELLENT book by Tim Keller! All of us replace loving God first and most with idols like money, sex, and power, but also approval, acceptance, love, success, security, comfort, and control. Worshiping idols rather than God leads to disappointment, addiction, meaninglessness, hopelessness. He wrote this book after the 2008 subprime mortgage debacle when so many lives were ruined by the lust and greed of a powerful few.

He elaborates stories from the Bible: Jacob and his idol, Rachel; Naaman and his idol, power; Abraham NOT making an idol of Isaac; Zacchaeus’s transformation through the grace of Jesus given to him; Nebuchadnezzar’s final acknowledgement and worship of the One, True God; Jonah and how difficult it is to rid ourselves of our idols; Leah trying to win Jacob’s love with son after son; and lastly, Jacob again, wrestling with God and God blessing him.

Here is Wayne’s book report on Counterfeit Gods:

“~ if I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world…. CSLewis
~ Communion with God does not come in response to a changed life;
a changed life comes as a result of communion with God — and this, by grace alone. This is the Gospel. …. Tim Keller
~ My story: My life was built on two false premises… That the approval of others was the most important thing in my life, and that I could control people’s opinion/approval of me through my performance. My life had become a never-ending cycle of goals and anxieties, dominated by a constant need to prove myself lest I be exposed as not good enough — a cruel and impossible imperative. At the bottom of a pit of my own making, I began to understand that Jesus fully and permanently met the demands of the impossible imperative — that God happily accepts me as “good enough” because of the gift of Jesus Christ. And so, I am no longer driven by the threat of being found wanting – by God, or men. Instead, I’ve found myself free to entrust the entirety of my life to a God who has proven himself utterly good, present, and loving…. Peace, wide and deep like a river, has become the dominant force in my¬†everyday life.”

Searching for Sunday

by Rachel Held Evans, 2015

I heard about this author on NPR, Fresh Air (I think), when another author was being interviewed and he mentioned how influential Rachel Held Evans was in his life. She died at the age of 37 on May 4, 2019 from an allergic reaction to medication for an infection that caused her brain to swell. This is eerily similar to how her aunt died, which she describes in this book.

This book is about her disenchantment with the Evangelical church, her decision to leave it, and her return to church eventually–an Episcopalian church. She’s from Tennessee and was raised in a southern Evangelical church. She was on fire for God throughout her youth. She grew angry and began having doubts about her faith first when it said innocent Muslims who died at the hand of suicide bombers were going to hell, and then when her church became political and posted political signs to vote against gay marriage. She and her husband spent a while not going to church, then visiting different churches once a month or so, then starting their own church which failed a year or so later, then finally settling on an Episcopalian church.

The book starts out really well and I thought, I must own this book, but she lost me about halfway through. It’s her story, and it’s good, but the way she organized it, via the sacraments of Baptism, Confession, Holy Orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Marriage, confused me. She did not mention seeking the Lord in prayer throughout her faith crisis. Her focus was on the Church: where faith is practiced, with all its trappings, and how she lost faith in that, but then found it again.

Two main takeaways for me:

  1. Christians cannot do their faith alone.
  2. Accept that the church will never be perfect; forgive it.

Born a Crime

by Trevor Noah, 2016

Fantastic book! Remarkable man! Amazing Mom! This was one of our book selections for the Old Town Library Book Club, 2021-2022 season. Trevor Noah, a famous comedian now, was born under Apartheid in South Africa, to a Xhosa mother and a Swiss father. She never asked to marry his Swiss father (it was illegal, anyway), she just wanted his child. She raised him on her own. She was deeply religious. She took him to 3 churches every Sunday: White church, Mixed church, and Black church.

I learned so much about South Africa and Apartheid through his stories of growing up there and the history he includes in the book.

Sabrina & Corina

by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, 2019

A group of short stories, each centered around a female Latina or Indigenous or mixed-race and mostly set in Denver or the fictional town of Saguarita in Southwestern Colorado. Beautifully written; powerful sense of place and characters, but oh so sad. All poor, all making decisions that ultimately hurt them. The endings of each story are vague as to the exact outcomes. For example, the title story, Sabrina and Corina, about cousins; beautiful Sabrina becomes a drug addict (I think) and dies of an overdose (I think). The other (Corina), is a makeup artist at a department store and stays clear of addiction, but dearly loves her cousin and watches her deteriorate. She ends up having to make up Sabrina in her coffin, to hide something on her neck.

Each story was moving and as you read, you are there with them. This was the Fort Collins “One Book-One City” selection for 2021. Powerful and sad. She is an excellent writer.

Willie Nelson’s Letters to America

by Willie Nelson with Turk Pipkin, 2021

Heartwarming letters from Willie Nelson to all sorts of folks, and even a scathing letter to the COVID-19 virus. He wrote this while at home under lock-down in Texas, and you can tell, he doesn’t like having to stay home, not being able to tour. He’s 88 years old (same age as Dad, born in 1933) and he “Can’t wait to be on the road again!”

He’s funny and loves jokes and loves to tell jokes. He refuses to get political at any shows because he doesn’t want anything negative at his shows, although in the book he mentions a leader who didn’t take the virus seriously. He loves his 8 children – from four wives (I think). He found his last wife, the one he was looking for all along, Annie, when he was making a movie and she was his make-up artist.

He loves Texas; he was born and raised in Abbott, Texas, by his beloved grandparents, whom he called Mama and Daddy. He wrote the song “Family Bible” for them, “the first truly good and lasting song” he’d ever written.. His grandfather bought him his first guitar. He owns a ranch in the Hill Country and built a town he called Luck. He owns a home in Maui. He loves golf. Whiskey and cigarettes were going to be the death of him. He gave them up with the help of marijuana – he LOVES pot. He has his own marijuana company (Willie’s Reserve) and CBD products (Willie’s Remedy CBD), or he inspired them, not sure.

Oryx and Crake

by Margaret Atwood, 2003

This was the first book selection of the Old Town Library Book Club for 2021-2022. I never would have read this book otherwise, and I almost stopped reading it when she describes the childhood of Oryx, a young girl sold into child pornography (“HottTotts”). Mandy selected this book and she did a fantastic job of leading the discussion. Most of the members felt as I did – it was terrifying and difficult to read, but a good warning for us – how much has come true since 2003! Genetically-modified foods, pandemic, dark web, etc.

Oryx is the young girl with whom both Jimmy/Snowman and Crake fall in love. Crake is Jimmy’s best/only friend who is an evil genius who becomes an evil genius scientist that creates the BlyssPluss pill that causes the pandemic that destroys the human race, except for Jimmy, who is immune to it. Jimmy is left alone with the Crakers at the end of the world. The Crakers are the innocent, beautiful race of people that Crake created.

Jimmy becomes Snowman and reluctantly takes care of the Crakers. He moves them to the seaside. He lives in a tree and they live nearby. They have natural defenses for all the problems in the world created by all the genetic modifications man has made (Pigoons, etc.).

God & Churchill

by Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley, 2015

Jonathan Sandys is the great-grandson of Winston Churchill. Along with Wallace Henley, a Christian who has served in the White House and is a columnist for the Christian Post, he writes about Winston Churchill’s conversation with a fellow Harrow student named Murland de Grasse Evans, at age 16 (in 1891) that:

This country will be subjected somehow, to a tremendous invasion, by what means I do not know, but I tell you I shall be in command of the defences of London, and I shall save London and England from disaster.

Winston Churchill, Age 16

The book details Winston’s life, showing how our sovereign God saved him, groomed him, brought him up to save the world from Hitler. He was never paid attention to or loved by his parents, but he loved them deeply. He wrote them letters to which they never responded. But he remained an optimistic and happy boy. In his early childhood, he had a nanny named Elizabeth Everest, who taught him all about God.

He became a soldier, and in 1896, there was an accident when Winston was getting off a tender boat in India that dislocated his shoulder. He never had it looked at and it healed badly. He fought in North Africa in the battle of Omdurman (September 2, 1898). Because of his bum shoulder, he fought on horseback with a gun instead of a sword, and having a gun allowed him to kill two enemy soldiers that would have surely killed him if he’d only had a sword.

He went through adversity and had humbling experiences that helped to make him the great leader he was when he finally became Prime Minister (for the 2nd time) in 1940. He saved the world from Hitler.

The book was recommended on the library’s monthly biography email.

The Bogey Man: A Month on the PGA Tour

by George Plimpton, 1968

A wonderfully funny book recommended by the Book-A-Day calendar from Christie. George Plimpton spends a month on the PGA tour at three courses in California, and writes about it. It is just delightful! He is a very good writer, especially when it comes to conversations. He gets you into the game of golf – he writes about golfers, their equipment, their caddies, their superstitions, the golf courses and cities therein; you feel like you are a golfer. I want to watch golf now (not play it – never play it – so frustrating). But I want to watch it and see the beautiful golf courses and the interactions between golfers and their caddies, and see if the golfers in the lead get the yips.

Hotel Pastis: A Novel of Provence

by Peter Mayle, 1993

Delightful book! Recommended on my Christie book-a-day calendar. Takes you from dreary England and back-biting advertising world to sunny France. The main character, Simon Shaw, is a wealthy advertising executive who is hassled by an ex-wife who just wants more and more of his money. He takes a much-needed vacation to Provence and finds beautiful Nicole. He and his butler, Ernest, end up in a tiny town in Provence. With Nicole, they restore an ancient prison (I think) into a charming boutique hotel with a gourmet restaurant. There are also 8 Frenchmen, former criminals, who decide to do one last job that will make them rich. There get-away vehicles are bicycles because that’s what everyone does in Provence. There plan works, except for one glitch, an extra rider named Boone decides to join them, and here the two stories meet. What a delightful book! I just loved it.

Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century

by Josh Rogin, 2021

Nate told me about this book. It’s about what went on with China during Trump’s presidency. It’s written by Josh Rogin, a columnist for the Washington Post and an analyst for CNN. He knows of what he speaks (writes). He’s meticulously detailed. He is not partisan. I’m glad I read this because I learned a lot. But it was a very difficult read – so many names and events. I didn’t know China was as bad as it is – ‘It is evil and it must be destroyed.” That about says it all. China is into the USA politically, technically, corporately, educationally, financially; they want to be the ruler of the world. They are committing atrocities and denying freedoms of speech, religion, even thoughts. They give people and other entities a social credit score. They are watching them 24/7– “Orwellian.”

The way Trump handled China was impulsive, immature, chaotic. His advisors changed all the time and they were from different camps – wanting to play nice (because of the money they made off of China) vs. wanting to be tough and bring the hammer down on China. China is perpetrating human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and their own people; They are stealing our technology and intellectual property, infiltrating Wall Street, our educational institutions, our media and social media. Something had to be done. Obama was the same as preceding presidents – soft on China in hopes they would come around. Trump desperately wanted to make a deal with Xi and called him a great friend, then he would get mad at him and slap tariffs on China and make threats.

Josh Rogin credits Trump with waking us up to the threat that China is, but Trump and his administration were so dysfunctional, nothing of consequence could be done. There’s no going back, however, to the way it used to be with China – looking for cooperation and ignoring its bad actions – and Rogin believes the tariffs need to remain as some sort of leverage over China.

Trump could care less about the human rights abuses of Xi and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He even told Xi that he thought the camps Xi was building for the Uyghurs were a good idea.

One other interesting thing I learned is that the coronavirus did not originate in a seafood market in Wuhan. There was a huge cover-up, of course. Much evidence was destroyed. There are theories but no one really knows where it came from.

Good, informative book. Glad I read it.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

by Kim Michele Richardson, 2019

Wonderful book recommended by neighbor, Pat. Historical fiction, 1930s, a “Blue” horse pack librarian (Cussy Mary), who faces hardship, tragedy, racism, but finds true love in the Kentucky mountains. There were really blue-skinned people, who had congenital methemoglobinemia, but were considered “coloreds” and discriminated against. This is a fictional account of one who was a beloved pack horse librarian, bringing books to the rural poor throughout her Kentucky mountains.

The Next Everest

by Jim Davidson, 2021

Excellent memoir by a mountain climber who lives in Fort Collins. The Library recommended this book on their monthly “Biographies” e-mail. It was about his two trips to Nepal to climb Mount Everest; the first in 2015 when the deadly 7.8 Gorkha earthquake struck Nepal and caused an avalanche on Mount Everest that killed 19 climbers, becoming the deadliest day on Mount Everest. He was in Camp 1 and the avalanche swept past them without causing any injuries, just horrific wind and noise. Most/All the injuries and deaths occurred in base camp which took a direct hit by the avalanche. Thousands upon thousands of Nepalese were killed and injured by the earthquake. He was airlifted off of the mountain by helicopter, a terrifying experience in and of itself. He decided to go back in 2017 and finally summitted Mount Everest, his life-long dream. This book takes you step-by-step on both of his journeys. It is an excellent book, hard to put down. I have no desire to ever climb a mountain, much less Mount Everest, but it is fascinating to be able to get into the head of an avid mountain-climber and take the journey with him. Well-written, suspenseful, thorough. It was almost like being there, really.

Crossing the Line

by Kareem Rosser, 2021

Excellent book! Learned about it from the Library’s monthly Biographies email. As I was reading their description of the book, about a young black man who learned to play polo in inner-city Philadelphia, and came to CSU for college, I realized I had read his scholarship application! I made sure he got a scholarship. I was so excited to read his book!

Kareem Rosser grew up on Viola Street in the Bottom, a terrible slum in west Philadelphia. His mother and grandmother were ‘users.’ His mother had her first child at age 14. Kareem is one of six. One day his older brothers (David, age 12; and Bee, age 10) were riding bikes, exploring Fairmount Park, and they discovered the barn and the horses of the Work to Ride stables. Lezlie Hiner introduced them to horses and polo, and they brought Kareem along. Soon Kareem was learning to ride and care for the horses. It saved his life, literally. They had to maintain a C average in order to work and ride every day after school and all day on weekends. His older brothers were not able to escape the pull of the Bottom and abandoned the program, became dealers and wound up in prison. But with Lezlie’s care, Kareem grew up and got out. He ended up winning the National Polo Championship in High School, and then came to Colorado State University and won the National Collegiate Polo Championship.

The book details all of his hopes and fears (lots of fears) and tragedies and how he overcame them. He dedicates the book to victims of gun violence, including his older brother David, and his best friend, Mecca Harris. He graduated from CSU with a degree in Economics. He is now living in Philadelphia and working as a financial analyst and helping the fundraising arm of Work to Ride. Wonderful book! This needs to be a movie!

Ender’s Game

by Orson Scott Card, 1977, 1985, 1991

Fast, easy read, recommended on Book-A-Day calendar. Science fiction tale about a little boy, Ender Wiggin, who is sent to battle school at the age of 6 and trained to be the Commander who will save the world from the buggers. He does after 5 years of brutal training. Reading about it is tedious at times – battle after battle in simulators. But, he is an appealing character because he is so young. He has a brother, Peter, who is pure evil. His sister, Valentine, is pure sweetness. Peter ends up ruling earth after Ender saves it. Valentine and Ender end up colonizing a bugger planet. Ender finds a pupa at the very end, and it’s a new queen who relays all her thoughts to him – that they were so sorry they attacked the first time, that they were never going to do that again, and would he take her someplace where they can recolonize? He gently carries the pupa with him for the rest of his life.