Don’t Give Up (& Other April Reads)

April Reads

I finished reading five books in the month of April, including Don’t Give Up by Kyle Idleman and four others. Read on for my impressions of each of them.

Five Books I read in April

Don’t Give Up by Kyle Idleman

Don't Give UpKyle Idleman has packed Don’t Give Up with Bible-based encouragement drawn from one of my favorite passages of scripture, Hebrews 12:1-3.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

And that is Idleman’s objective in writing: To hearten weary readers and remind us why we are in this race in the first place. The subtitle says it all: Faith that Gives You the Confidence to Keep Believing and the Courage to Keep Going.

A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman

A Million Little WaysI have mixed feelings about Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways.

On the positive side: She encourages readers to use their art to reflect God’s glory. And she uses a very broad definition of art: birthing children, learning languages, writing books, baking cookies, and so forth. She argues that everything we do should be done in intentional and creative ways so as to better reveal God’s character to the people around us — a premise with which I agree 100%.

Freeman writes: “One thing I know for sure is the job that I do with my hands will change over time. I don’t believe there was one great thing I was made to do in this world, I believe there was one great God I was made to glorify. And there will be many ways — even a million little ways — I will declare his glory with my life.”

Amen! I love that. Don’t you?

But on the negative side, Freeman references a couple of quotes that smack of bad theology (eg. God wants us to do whatever pleases us and makes us happy). She does a decent job of bringing balance to that thought (if you have the mind of Christ, what makes you happy will be pleasing Him), but inattentive readers may take the quote at face value and run in a completely different (and dangerous) direction.

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of OzOur family listened to The Wizard of Oz on a recent road trip, but I’ll be the first to admit, the 1939 classic film quite spoiled the book for me.

In my opinion, this is one of those rare instances where the movie version is better than the written word. The filmmakers obviously took lots of liberties with Baum’s original story, but every change made it stronger, better, and more cohesive.

Still, it was fun listening for the differences, and the movie would never have come into being without the book. Plus, Anne Hathaway did a marvelous job bringing all Baum’s characters to life. If you listen, be sure to get the version narrated by her.

In the Name of Jesus by Henri J.M. Nouwen

In the Name of JesusThis short book (107 pages) addresses how Christian leadership should look in the 21st century. Answer: Much like it should’ve looked in the preceding centuries.

Unfortunately, the church has often fallen short of the selfless, downwardly-mobile, servant-hearted brand of leadership Jesus modeled for us. Throughout In the Name of Jesus, Nouwen reviews the ways Satan tempted Jesus during his 40 day fast in the wilderness and notes how Christian leaders often face the same kind of temptations. Satan tries to convince us, as he attempted to convince Christ, that the prerequisites of effective ministry are relevance, power, and popularity.

But Christ chose an entirely different road, and He likewise bids us to die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. “He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us” and willingly follow, even when it means going where we do not wish to go.

Sweet Child of Mine by Jennifer Flanders

Coming Soon! Sweet Child of Mine: A Devotional Journal for Mothers I go through Sweet Child of Mine, my little devotional journal for moms, every year in April or May.

I read the text of the book, look up the referenced verses, peruse my previous entries in the journal, and complete a few new pages in the weeks between Easter and Mother’s Day.

This year was no exception. I finished a handful of pages before the press of chores associated with putting our house on the market set in. Then I had to shelf it and get busy packing, painting, and putting things away!

That’s it for last month’s reading. Do you love to read as much as we do? I’ve gathered all my best resources for bibliophiles into this post, or you can read more of my book reviews by following this link

Do you have trouble finding time to read? Don’t give up! Check out this post for tips on fitting reading into an already tight schedule: 10 Ways to Find More Time for Reading

Sweet Child of Mine: A Devotional Journal for Mothers

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