Year End Book Review

It's been a good year of good readings. I'm not one to create lists but here it goes. The following books are in no particular order; just those that I have read over this past year and wanted to pass along to you.

1. Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan - This is a book I'll read again. Chan gives account to scripture after scripture reminding us of the powerful Holy Spirit while revealing the complacency of many Christians today who are too weak and too fearful to unashamedly follow the Holy Spirit. It's a convicting, challenging and an inspiring read.



2. Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World by Gary A. Huagen -  Haugen speaks with authority over injustice through the three parts of his book: Part I: Taking up the Challenge, Part 2: Hope Amid Despair: God's Four Affirmations About Justice and Part 3: Real-World Tools for Rescuing the Oppressed. Haugen not only presents the problem of evil in today's world but he also offers practical suggestions on how the every day Christian can participate in God's mission of justice.

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All I Want for Christmas

I spent my first Christmas under the tree…literally. Born on the eve of Christmas Eve, I came home from the hospital on the night before Christmas. My parents wrapped me up like a burrito and placed me under the tree that warm Christmas Eve night.  

On this much colder southern California Christmas season, I’m anticipating Christmas more than I think I ever have. I’m a horrible gift receiver. Case and point: recently I won a raffle at my company Christmas party for two free round trip airline tickets. After returning back to work on the Monday morning after the party, it took me the entire day to ask human resources for the tickets. I know; I’m a freak right?! There is just something about receiving a gift that makes me a bit anxious and nervous.  

Thinking to myself about why it was so difficult to receive that gift led me to consider receiving the gift of my eternal salvation in Christ. I don’t believe I’ve shared my story of coming to faith in Christ here on ConversantLife so I’ll give you a snapshot of that time in my life. 

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Have you Heard the new Freedom CD?

“To be honest, I don’t understand how anyone could not be excited about the work that IJM is doing. We feel that we are called to rescue,justice and mercy, and it moves our heart to see how effectively and passionately IJM exhibits all three. Since God broke our chains, we want to be involved in breaking the chains of others.”
— Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North, who contributed the new song “All I Have” to the compilation.

Tenth Avenue North is just one of the 40 artist you'll hear on Freedom, a new CD benefiting the work of International Justice Mission (IJM).  Every purchase of “Freedom” helps support IJM’s work tobring rescue, justice and long-term aftercare to victims of violence.The collection, which retails for only $5, also equips supporters to become advocates for the 27 million children, women and men held as slaves today. Each album includes a bonus DVD featuring IJM’sdocumentary At the End of Slavery,designed as a tool to introduce others to the reality of modern-dayslavery and the hope for a final end to this crime, and an introduction to Family Christian Stores’ James Fund in support of orphans and widows.

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Ugh! My Electronics are Hurting People

Two passions of mine collided this week in my email; Congo and ending slavery today. I received an urgent email message from Free The Slaves, an anti-human trafficking organization that I follow to stay updated on the movement here in the US and abroad. The subject of the email is Urgent Action - Help us stop Conflict Minerals from the DRC. According to Wikipedia, conflict minerals refers to minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, notably in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by the Congolese National Army and various armed rebel groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. My email said minerals that come from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo turn up in electronics, in light bulbs, batteries and other everyday items. It would be hard to escape our connection to slavery and conflict in Congo. 

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Intentional Celebration

Three years after its release, I recently finished reading Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Sure, I'm behind in my reading, but I could not have chosen a better time to flip through its pages.

Over the past couple years I've gotten involved with the anti-slavery movement. If you've followed my posts you know that in this last year I have chosen to write on the topic a lot. 

Something I didn't expect happened along the way as I learned more and more about the problem of slavery in our world today. I became tired. I started to feel burdened with what I had learned and the burden was weighing me down. Does that ever happen to you? I was not doing a good job at balancing my day-to-day routine with work and family and also staying inspired and motivated to do my part to end slavery. It's like it just became too much and I didn't want to think about it anymore. 

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What does it mean to Suffer?

I don’t like missing out on anything. While I don’t necessarily need to be the center of attention, I most definitely like being around to watch when someone else is.

Last week I shared a bit about how I feel like I’m missing out on the action a little bit. I’m doing okay with it – what choice do I really have anyway – but there is still a part of me that is grieving the loss of excitement, adventure and the unpredictable.

This past week, my bible study group discussed suffering. Our bible study is sermon based so this past Sunday we heard a sermon on suffering.

The Pastor said the question is not why we suffer. No, as Christians we know we will suffer. Christ suffered and following him inevitably leads to suffering. Take a pass through the book of Acts and you’ll see what I mean. The first century Christians rejoiced in suffering for Christ. It was an honor to suffer for the Name above all names. The question rather, is how long will we suffer?

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Could a Little Whistle End the World's Deadliest War?

In June of this year I highlighted NY Times jounalist Nicholas D. Kristof’s article Death by Gadget in this post.  Kristof did a great job of speaking the truth about the war in Eastern Congo and the driving force behind it. Yes that force is the demand for Congo’s minerals which are used to manufacture most electronics, Apple products included.

Since that post I’ve also posted a bit about an organization I am hearing more and more from called Falling Whistles.

Falling Whistles began because an American young man visiting Eastern Congo, ran into a few boys who had just ran away from the army they had been forced to join and who were now in hiding. This young American man listened to their stories of their kidnapping and the brutality they were forced to endure themselves and inflict on others. And then he heard something he could hardly believe was true.

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You can call me Martha. You can call me Mary. For short, you can call me Marthy.

I’m out of place.

 

What I once knew I no longer do.

 

I’m 30 and clearly having an identity crisis. In the words of Kirk Franklin's 1990's classic, Stomp, "Can I get a witness?"

 

I’m in transition and it’s clear to me I’m in the beginning of a new season in my life. As the ever-so-delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte has made its way back into our local Starbucks indicating that fall is just around the bend (despite triple digit temps at the beach in Southern California), so it is that a new season is upon me.

 

When I first joined the ConversantLife family, I was fresh off the seminary boat and my degree in missions and evangelism was on my brain constantly. I was full of ideas on how to actively engage the world with the gospel message and I was traveling abroad for cross-cultural service projects as often as I could. I was also working in ministry, something I had done since my college days and felt comfortable doing.

 
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Meet Yves

While I sleep at night, a war rages on in Congo. When I rise from my desk at work to grab a drink of water, men, women and children are thirsty in Congo. While I sit in traffic on my daily commute, Congolese children sit and wait in hiding, hoping the merciless rebels pass them by. 

Congo is special to me. I was in the country in 2003. I met the locals. I ate the food. I poorly attemped to speak the language. I met beautiful children. Congo is in great need. The Congolese have suffered for generations. It's time for the country called "the heart of darkness" to experience the light of Christ. 

An organization called Fallen Whistles is working hard to help those of not in Congo not forget the world's most deadliest and violent war going on right now in Eastern Congo. Stories are a powerful tool in bridging the gap between the not so personal and the personal. Congo and the Congolese people are worth becoming personal. Their lives are too valuable for the world to continue to turn away to such devastation. 

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The Freedom Campaign

Imagine for a moment you find yourselves at a crossroads. You have a decision to make. One that will change everything you’ve ever known and one that will ultimately determine the course of your future. You can stay where you are and continue your life as a slave, or you could risk everything; including your life and set out on an unknown journey in hopes of a better life; a free life.

What would you do?

It was the year 1849 and Harriet Tubman “Moses” fled from a life of slavery on a Maryland plantation and after a long and rigorous trek, reached freedom in Canada. Tubman did something remarkable. She returned to her plantation and led others out and into freedom as well.

The Underground Railroad was a remarkable and complicated system. It took the collaboration of brave abolitionists and the determination of those who knew they deserved a better life to carry out this organization of freeing Americas slaves of the mid-1800’s. And they succeeded. Slavery in the slave states eventually ceased.

Over 150 years after Harriet Tubman tasted freedom and helped countless other do the same, history books refer to her as an American hero. She stands tall with other hero’s of that movement such as Fredrick Douglas, William Stil and Susan B. Anthony.

Fast forward to today and you’ll find 15 cyclists who just finished riding along the Underground Railroad, stretching 1800 miles (see videos of the cyclists). The same miles former United States slaves walked. The cyclists are part of The International Justice Mission Five Weeks of Freedom Campaign. The campaign, which wrapped up end of July, focused its efforts on awareness and advocacy in support of IJM’s work to give a voice to the slaves of our world today and those facing unbelievable injustices.

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About
I drink coffee, read books, and travel. I’ve been able to drink coffee and discuss books with friends all over the world, simply because someone built a bridge and I made it east of the Mississippi and beyond. For this reason, I love bridges.


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