Friday, April 11, 2014

I Like Giving - Book Review

Thinking about doing a review for this book brings one word to mind: disappointment.

When I browsed the books available for bloggers on the WaterBrook Multnomah website, I was instantly drawn to Brad Formsma's I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life. It resounded with where I am now in finding joy in finally being financially able to be a blessing to others for a change. I looked forward to some ideas for growing in the grace of giving.

However, for a book which I would expect to be from a Christian perspective, Mr. Formsma was, in my opinion, entirely too scant with his nods toward God and His Word. Yes, he mentions God once in awhile, but it's quotes like this which unnerved me:

I heard it said that a person with a good heart cares for widows and orphans.[1]
This would have been a perfect opportunity for a reference to Christ or Paul and their teachings in the Scriptures on this subject. And, "a person with a good heart?" What does that mean? It's all so vague and general without sharing the good news of the transforming power of Christ who alone makes hearts good and giving.

If you are not particularly religious, this book would definitely appeal to your moral senses and might even spur you to give more generously if for no other reason than for how good it makes you feel to do so.

Nevertheless, once I got past my disappointment in this regard, I eventually gained important insights into how I might expand my giving beyond monetary means and to whom. For instance, I have often balked at giving to people who hold signs on street corners. Brad offers a balanced view of this situation leaving those who refuse to give in this manner out of conscience and those who must give in this manner out of conscience both with their consciences firmly intact.

Also, the real-life personal stories Brad shares in I Like Giving, many which originated from his website, are an inspiration in themselves, both those which turned out well and those which did not. And, I definitely appreciate his encouragement in how to be a good receiver.

Consequently, I cannot say that this book has no redeeming value. Just don't read it, as I did, expecting it to come from an overtly biblical perspective. There is much encouragement and inspiration here.

[1] Brad Formsma, I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life (Grand Rapids: WaterBrook Multnomah, 2014), 165.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Announcing the Engagement of Our Daughter

Jake Schwartz & Lydia Wilwerding
 ♥ To Be Wed 
It is my pleasure to announce the engagement of our daughter, Lydia, to Jake Schwartz of Dallas, Texas. Lydia and Jake first met online at about a year ago and were engaged when he came up for a visit for New Year's.

Her father and I are so blessed to see how God provided for our dear daughter in answer to prayer. They will be wed in May of this year.

Be sure to stop by their website and read their courtship story.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Futureville - Book Review

I LOVE books which make me think, and author, Skye Jenthani has accomplished just that in his book Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow.

Mr. Jenthani explains that he believes one reason the younger generation is turning their backs on the churches of their parents is because they see that neither social work which is weak in eternal value nor evangelism which relieves no temporary suffering are profitable for the long term health of our world. In Futureville, he proposes a third alternative which answers their longing for leaving a lasting impact on their world as well as reaping eternal benefits and how it can be done most effectively through the Body of Christ.

The author does an excellent job of developing the idea that the pre-World War I optimism which spawned many social causes to the exclusion of evangelism and the post-War pessimism which created a separation from and evangelization of the world to the exclusion of social work are both off the mark. He explains how, consequently, neither the social evolution theories of liberal churches nor the fundamentalist view of evacuation from modern society are accurate visions of the world God intends. In contrast, the author advocates a more balanced biblical view of meeting social needs in conjunction with the winning of souls by the day-to-day utilization of the gifts and talents of lay people in their God-given vocations.

Mr. Jenthani leads the reader into this alternate worldview, that of resurrection, which sees the world not merely being improved or removed but of being renewed by the power of the Spirit of God through His people. Yet, it isn't merely a theory Mr. Jenthani cooked up to solve the church's dwindling membership problem; he gives many biblical proofs drawn from both the Old and New Testaments. It is refreshing to see a more balanced view which reflects the biblical teachings of combined social work and evangelism.

I especially appreciate how the author brings the reader to his conclusion in an incremental, systematic fashion using layman's terms. I never felt as though he was over my head. I never got lost in this thought processes. The concepts simply unfolded like the petals of an opening flower. It isn't a very big book, only 183 pages of text with a few pages of discussion questions. But, Jenthani's goal is not to give you all the answers, but rather to get you thinking. As he says in the "Recommended Resources,"

This book was written to help you reframe the way you think about the future, the world, and your purpose within it. Discerning your specific purpose, however, is an ongoing work I hope you will continue to investigate in communion with God and your church. 
Futureville has helped me to see where I have come from, why I chose some of the life choices I made, where I am now, and where I hope to go as I reconsider my worldview in light of the future as laid out in Scripture.

Please note that Thomas Nelson publishers provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion of it.