It's a good day for a blog entry such as this considering the fact that I'm sitting on the couch in my pajamas, gazing at the winter wonderland outside, and transitioning between sleep and getting up for more hot tea. The best way I can describe my pitiful state (yes, I'm pretty pitiful today) is that my body has been trying to get sick for over a week now, but hasn't quite gone off into an official sinus infection or whatever else I'm prone to during this time of year. Instead, I have one day when I'll feel just fine, only to wake up the next day with a sore throat and my head feeling like a big balloon. Hopefully I'll be back to feeling better tomorrow so I can get back to work and also be ready for my 6-hour counseling class tomorrow afternoon.
Gret tagged me to write three sentences from page 123 of the nearest book to me. I looked on page 123 of the nearest book and decided that it would make more sense to quote three sentences on page 122:
"So in this chapter, I want to keep us focused on what we might call ordinary anger that we sort of accept as part of our lives but that is actually sinful in the sight of God. In facing up to our anger, we need to realize that no one else causes us to be angry. Someone else's words or actions might become the occasion of our anger, but the cause lies deep within us--usually our pride, or selfishness, or desire to control." Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, Jerry Bridges
I haven't actually read this book yet--it's one of the many on my list of books to read that seems to increase tenfold during the peak of the school semester. While I'm pouring over reading material for classes, I find myself occasionally glancing over at the ongoing list of those I still long to read. I will say, though, that I have little doubt that this book will be rich, particularly when the very title of the book can be used as a means of conviction: respectable sins. It makes me stop and immediately examine myself with questions regarding those sins I so often brush under the rug, chalking them up to mere personality quirks. How often do we justify ourselves rather than "confronting the sins we tolerate"? I am going to go out on a limb here, beyond the conviction of my own indwelling sin, and say that the Church on a whole does not do this enough. We could probably look at the more common trends across Evangelical churches and see evidence that we aren't dealing with ourselves enough, and we do examine ourselves, it probably isn't a very honest assessment. If you have never read anything from Jerry Bridges, I strongly recommend beginning with Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. Particularly if you are in a season of question or doubt, if you are on the brink of a significant change which is about to occur in your life, any issue which may be causing you to struggle with or wonder about the Lord's sovereignty--this is, without a doubt, one of the most encouraging books I have read. I would be more than glad to send you a copy of Bridges' book if you are interested in reading it for yourself.
I'm not yet sure what the purpose of this post is, if there is any this far into typing. I guess that is what you should expect when I start typing with a fuzzy head. Gret also posted a challenge on her blog for the month of March. She challenged her readers to pick out a book for the month of March that we have not read before, and that it be a book we have always wanted to read. I told her I was definitely up for the challenge, and then realized that I may be partially insane to add one more book to those I am reading for my classes. However, it poses a different kind of challenge for me in that I desire to read a couple of books that have truly been on my heart for quite some time. I left her a comment with the two books I have narrowed down: either Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse Fitzpatrick or When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper.
My thinking in choosing between these two is that it will be the month of March, a time when school is in high gear. School for me includes a tendency to focus more on academic achievement rather than the gift and wonderful opportunity the Lord has given for me to grow through studies. If I'm not consumed with that struggle, the other one involves contentment with work. Where I work now has absolutely nothing to do with where I want to be in just a couple of years, and the day-to-day can quickly become discouraging as I question how in the world such a job could be preparing me for counseling ministry. Such times can be significant in regard to personal sanctification. The Lord is sweet in both the seemingly good and bad to refine us as we grow deeper in our knowledge and dependence on Him. I know that I struggle with doing and doing and doing until I have ceased allowing for time to rest. Such a tendency robs me of sweet time spent in Scripture and in prayer. How can I begin to counsel or encourage someone else when I'm drawing from an empty well? My prayer this semester is that I will see each assignment and each "never-ending" day at work as one of many ways in which the Lord is providing above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined for myself. May I be thankful for my husband. May I be thankful for the job He has provided that meets our financial needs and allows me to serve my husband in a unique way while he is a seminary student. May I be thankful that I am able to study under pastors who have a deep desire to counsel, and train students in counseling, individuals with the solid foundation that Scripture alone can provide. Praise the Lord for His goodness, and even moreso when my limited perspective can't visibly see what He is doing!!
My apologies if this post turned out to be a nothing but a random assortment of book recommendations...