As I write today there are only two months left to this year! The month of October was full and eventful and brought more evidence of the exciting things that God is doing in our lives and the plans and purpose He has for us.
The door for effective ministry continues to open. One of my coworkers has been very open with me about his search for God. He has come to our Life Group and we have been able to eat dinner together away from work to talk about his spiritual search. Also, my former manager has recently transferred to my present store. We have had some interesting conversations in the past and now we have the opportunity to work together again. Charlotte and I continue to view our jobs as an opportunity to minister--not overtly, but through our words and actions, allowing God to be seen in us. It's a challenge, but God is faithful!
One of the highlights of October for me was attending a book signing on Staten Island. Brian McLaren was there to discuss his new book "Everything Must Change." I will mention more about his book in my October Reading section. However, as I was one of the first ones there, I had about 15 minutes to chat with Brian. Over the past five years his writings have had a tremendous impact in my life and have given me a strong passion to see God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It was great to meet up there with a group from the Origins community. I was able to blaze the trail on subways, ferry and bus to a "remote outpost" of NYC ahead of the group.
Charlotte and I, along with about 75-80 people from Origins, took part in the Strength Finder's Seminar on October 6, led by Eric Bryant from Mosaic Church in Los Angeles. We found the seminar very helpful as it focused on our strengths (resource developed by Gallop Organization) and how them relate to ministry. My number one strength is "communication," maybe that is one of the reasons I have to do this blog!
Over five years ago when we moved into Washington Heights we really wanted to be able to impact our community for the Kingdom. While our original plans have been modified greatly, God's original intent has not. Charlotte and I are leading a Life Group through Origins that is taking a serious look at Jesus' call and our response. We are working our way through the Sermon on the Mount. There is a growing consensus and passion for our community "Up in the Heights" where most of us live. We represent at least 10 different buildings in this community and are seeking ways to share God's love in creative ways with our neighbors. I look forward to updating our "baby steps."
We've had some fun this month with a apple picking trip to New Paltz, NY. We rented a ZipCar and made a quick trip 90 minutes out of the city, had lunch in New Paltz, connected with others from Origins who had gone for the day, and brought home half a bushel of apples--all in time for me to be at work by 4:30. Another special occasion was this week celebrating Charlotte's birthday. It was fun taking her flowers at work and enjoying a wonderful meal at our favorite Peruvian restaurant Pio Pio Salon. Thanks Chris and Julia for joining us!
Allow me to share where my reading has taken me this past month. It was been varied, but for the most part very interesting.
Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope by Brian McLaren. This was no doubt one of the most significant books I have read. The author considers it a companion piece to his earlier The Secret Message of Jesus. The bottom line is that the message of Jesus has everything to say about the global crises we face today. There were times that the message of the book was so heavy I had to put it down. But as I read the last four chapters I found myself weeping with joy at the prospect that there is hope to make a difference through the Kingdom principles of Jesus!
The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs provided some comic relief from the deep themes of the previous book. Jacobs is an Esquire editor, of Jewish descent who previously had read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica (30,000 pages), and took as his next project to read the entire Bible and try to live one year observing every commandment, rule, or precept. Since he is Jewish he spent the first eight months in the Old Testament and the last four months in the New Testament. There were times I laughed out loud reading Jacobs' experiences with Scripture, but there was also some depth and food for thought in his writing.
Peppermint-Filled Pinatas: Breaking through Tolerance and Embracing Love by Eric Michael Bryant. The author oversees the leadership team at Mosaic in Los Angeles and led the Strength Finders Seminar we attended. Lighter reading than McLaren but still packs a punch as he challenges us to love our neighbors and fulfill the vision Jesus had for us from the beginning.
Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy by John Bowe was a new subject for me, but motivated by my growing interest in fair trade products. Knowledge is dangerous, so that now that I know that workers (most immigrants, many illegal) are exploited to pick oranges, apples, other fruits/vegetables, even make clothes "Made in the USA," I cannot go back to my previous innocence. Wow! A challenging field for followers of Jesus to step into.
Not all of my reading was so heavy...
Tales from the Reds Dugout by Tom Browning...junk reading for Reds fans! Sorry all you others!
White Noise by Don DeLillo...winner of the 1985 National Book Award for Fiction. College professor deals with his own mortality and insecurities.
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson...very popular mystery by Scottish author...sells well in our store...but not my cup of tea!
Love to hear your impressions if you have read any of the books I mention...or other impressions as well.
To steal a phrase from Brian McLaren...
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