Into the Book

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Posts by Jasmine Ruigrok

  1. Desire. How do we define it? Or more importantly, what do we do with it? Many people believe that in order for us to be sanctified, desire should be denied: killed and buried. Others believe if you work hard enough, conjure enough faith and read Psalm 37:4 till it frays at the edges that your desires will come to pass. John Eldredge deviates from both of these popular standpoints to pull apart the true questions of desire – what it is, where it’s from, and how we deal with it in this life as God wills for us.

    We all have heart desires, and they are often a very private and protected part of our souls. So to read a book on this topic where the author made his own heart very vulnerable was quite a personal experience. It opened up old wounds and reawakened the pain of lost hopes and unfulfilled dreams. However, it was a cleansing and healing type of pain. Though it was – in some ways – a heartrending read due to the topic’s intimate nature, it carried a sense of hope. And this is the crux of the entire book. The only way to live with desire, is to carry it with hope for eternity.

    Our only hope for rest from the incessant craving of our desire is in God, and us united to Him.

    The best thing about this book is how well Eldredge takes the ethereal out of eternity. We don’t have an empty hope in heaven, but the assurance that though our yearnings may not be met on this fallen earth, they are guaranteed to be met to the full when we enter that Divine presence of God.

    You see, Scripture tells us that God has ‘set eternity’ in our hearts. Where in our hearts? In our desires.

    We are still left to live out our days in a world where desires are not always met. So what do we do till then? The author goes on to explain just how we are to “live hungry” without killing our dreams, and yet also live free from the burden of trying to arrange our lives. Jesus after all, appealed to everyone’s basic innate desires whilst He was on earth – he promised living water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, an open door to those who knock, and discovery to those who seek. No matter our desire, the answer is always the same: Jesus.

    I highly recommend this book for many reasons: a better understanding of the reality we live in, and the heaven we’re headed towards, knowing how to hold our dreams and desires in open hands, and a better focus on the One who loves us and truly cares about our hearts desires. Desire is a well formulated and thoughtful read.

    Jasmine

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  2. In Clair’s world, the primary mode of travel is teleportation. AI’s copy a person’s pattern and deliver it perfectly to their destination in less than a minute. The whole world can be travelled in mere hours, and people who live on opposite sides of the globe can attend the same schools. But what would happen if someone altered a person’s pattern before it arrived? What if you could change a person’s appearance? What if you could make someone perfectly beautiful? When a meme claiming this very thing to be possible goes viral, Clair is sceptical, but on closer examination she discovers something a lot more sinister behind the pretty promise. (more…)

  3. Nothing is more essential than knowing how to worship the God who created us. So how is it that this incredibly important and all-encompassing part of Christian life has often been watered down to become the definition of the two slow songs sung at church on a typical Sunday morning? Obviously, there is so much more to worship as it applies to both life and music – particularly if you are part of a church worship team. Though chiefly directed towards those who serve in the ministry of music, anyone could benefit from Bob Kauflin’s wisdom in this book as he covers a variety of topics from the devastating effects of worshipping the wrong things, how to base our worship on God’s self-revelation rather than our assumptions, the fuel of worship, the community of worship, to the ways that eternity’s worship should affect our earthly worship. (more…)

  4. In a world where the word “dating” is thrown around willy-nilly and where the church stands mostly silent on the topic, it can be difficult to find sound guidance in pursuing a relationship without it resulting in heartache and trauma, now so prevalent in the lives of many young adults. In True Love Dates, Professional Counselor Debra Fileta encourages singles not to “kiss dating goodbye” but instead to experience dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy, and rooted in faith. We often complicate that by entering relationships with our past baggage and preconceived ideas of what it means to find “the one”.  But the good news is that it is possible to find love in a way that honours both God and the opposite sex, and this book is a great tool for teaching you how.
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  5. Church is an amazing thing, and a vital part of any Christian’s life. However, is it always what Christ originally intended? Is it run on the same basis that the apostles started with in the early church? In light of this, what would you do if you met someone you thought just might be one of Jesus’ original disciples – still living in the twenty-first century? That’s Jake’s dilemma when he meets a man who talks of Jesus as if he had known him, and whose way of living challenges everything Jake had previously known. What at first seems like a set of inspiring conversations soon turns Jake’s thinking and his church life completely upside down, and leaves him wondering: is there something we’ve missed with church, and if so, what is it? (more…)

  6. Though written chiefly for young men, the concept and title of this book hooked me so fully that I had to read it – Finishing Strong, and I believe it is as relevant for women as it is for men. In most cases, we young people tend to be consumed by the here-and-now of every day; living and loving in the present as best we can. Yet in the back of our minds, we know the clock is ticking – the days are counting down to the point where we will finally break the tape at the finish line. So it begs the question – how do we want to finish life’s race? And how can we finish it well? (more…)

  7. Any Christian who hasn’t heard a song by Keith Green has pretty much been living under a rock. His music shook the church as a whole back in the 70’s, and continues to move people in powerful, God-inspired ways even today. But how many of us know the story behind the man? Keith’s wife Melody has written their story from the very beginning of their Christian walk, documenting the journey God took them on up till – and proceeding – Keith’s tragic death in a plane crash that also took the lives of two of their children. One might assume this to be just another ordinary, typically dry biography of some face behind a career. But it’s not. It’s far from it.

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  8. Faith and doubt. So often we think these words are opposing poles on the belief scale, but are they? Is it possible to have faith in God, yet still struggle with uncertainty? Many people say they have “stumbled” in their walk with God by doubting His existence, but is having a questioning mind proof that you aren’t a true believer, or proof that you could be a real one? In this book, John Ortberg masterfully approaches the subject of faith and doubt not as a dividing line between hostile camps, but as a razor’s edge that runs through every soul.

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  9. Smashing all the preconceived notions of dating and courtship, this book is based upon some mind-bending questions: what if being in love isn’t a good enough reason to get married? What if dating isn’t about finding “the one” but about serving the One who loves you most? What if it’s not about who you marry, but why? Read on, it gets deep.

    Many of us want to get married, but not many of us stop and ask ourselves why, or even how we should go about it. Marriage is an intrinsically precious gift God has given mankind, so doesn’t it stand to reason we should treat it as such in the search for it? Gary Thomas leaves no stone unturned and no question unasked in this book. I even dare to say – cast all other books on dating and romantic relationships aside. This is the one.

    I have to say I was impressed by Gary Thomas’ approach to this topic. The entire book is based on the concept found in Matthew 6:33 – “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” It was objective and to the point, and as I have had many questions over the years about the subject of dating, courtship, relationships, waiting, etc. I found it relieving and inspiring to see that the author did not shy away from answering the tough questions. Gary also didn’t pamper or play to singles, which was refreshing. So many books seem to pat singles on the head these days and reassure them that “God has a plan”. Many others praise singleness loudly so that those who are unmarried don’t feel bad for not having a significant other. This book brings the entire argument down to the simplicity of Scripture:

    “Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7:39 clearly left the choice of marriage up to us in the clearest, most explicit of terms: “She is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord”… Scripture thus tells us that it is our choice whether we want to get married and who we want to marry. This isn’t a denial of God’s providence, nor does it preclude God leading two people together in certain cases. Rather, it’s the Bible’s way of saying that while marriage is really important, it’s also something God lets us decide whether we want to be participants in, and who we want to be participants with. God has given you an awesome responsibility, so choose wisely. (pg. 63)

    Some of the chief constructive insights I took away from this read were the dangers of infatuation, the myth of finding “the one” exposed, the differences between passive and active waiting, what character traits, flaws and backgrounds of a person will either benefit or detriment a marriage, and the importance of family ties (taking your future family into account when choosing whom to marry is of utmost importance). However the book also goes very deep into some of the horror stories of bad marriages that evolved out of poor choices or as a result of sordid pasts. Some of the chapters gave me chills of dread, and in a couple of the final chapters that deal with rough pasts and addictions, the sexual references are very high and would be disturbing for unprepared readers. Even so, the wisdom therein is still well worth taking into account.

    I all but devoured this book. The writing style is easy to pick up, and though some may find Gary’s blunt opinions offensive, I found it challenging and motivating. On the whole, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Every person considering marriage should read it. It not only teaches you how to view marriage and begin the search for a spouse, it gives you valuable insight and constructive criticism on what you ought to be doing about yourself. You may want to be married, but are you ready for it? The things you are looking for in a spouse, do you have? Most importantly, why do you want to get married?

    Let me give you [the worst] nightmare: a marriage without a mission, a life without purpose, a relationship without any end beyond its own “happiness”. Matthew 6:33, seeking first the kingdom of God, will breathe life into any marriage and remains, I am convinced, the single best reason for two people to join their futures together. Such couples aren’t lost in simply pursuing a pleasant five or six decades; they are determined to live a life with eternal impact. (pg. 248)


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  10. Singles are getting conflicting messages from today’s culture, both Christian and secular. Is it okay to want to be married? Is there anything a never-married woman can do, within a biblical framework, to “assist” the process? Good news! There is. Candice Watters from  Focus on the Family’s Boundless webzine knows what she is talking about, and since she is successfully married and in a godly, thriving marriage, I found her wisdom well worth heeding.

    As a currently single young woman, I have recently been frustrated by the amount of relationship counselling books that are (for the most part) written by singles. What’s up with that? Doesn’t that seem like the blind leading the blind? So one of the first things I did when I saw this intriguingly titled book was to check up on the author. And hey! She’s married! So obviously, I could sit down and pay attention. I know of many people who often go through their lives to-ing and fro-ing in their quest for whether or not it’s “God’s will” for them to be married or single, and this book – once and for all – turns that thought process on its head. Read on.

    Using clear-cut guidance from Scripture and the wisdom of older mentors, Candice Watters lays it out plain: unless you have specific Paul-like qualities, tendencies, and traits in your life that all but guarantee you the rank of celibacy, you are meant to get married. Period. It all comes quite simply back to God’s first mandate to man:

    “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:27-28

    Even in sight of this, the author in no way makes marriage an idol to throw your life after. She quite clearly states being “careful for what you wish for, because you might just get it”. Having said that, since marriage is no light task, she makes the point that the effort invested in reaching that objective should not be assumed easy, either. I felt emboldened and encouraged by the fact marriage is something that can – and should be – sought after with the same degree of prayer, passion and anticipation as any career. It can be prepared for, it can be a purpose to strive after, and though the results and timing are ultimately in God’s hands, there are things women can do to take advantage of the opportunities God brings across our paths to speed the process.

    God is sovereign. And God works through means… We get our bread from the hand of God through the hands of all the people who had a role in making it possible. Just as with bread, I believe God provides husbands and wives for those who desire to marry. Ultimately, it’s God who brings us a mate. But not the way He dropped manna from heaven. This is a book about means – about how God can provide marriage through the work of our lives and those around us – not in a frenzy of desperate activity, but in a symphony of faithfulness among a community of believers pursuing the lives God has called us to live.

    Packed with wisdom and solid guidance it may be, it wasn’t the easiest read. It took me a while to get engaged with the flow of the book, and some of the chapters felt extra long. This is more the kind of book you read a bit at a time rather than sitting down to consume it cover to cover. Yet if you take the time to do so, you will mine a lot of valuable advice from its pages. Though predominately directed at women, I also feel this book would be a good eye-opener for men desiring marriage as well.

    If marriage is something you feel called to but aren’t certain of God’s will concerning it, read this book. It’s a well-aimed call to singles to rise up and seize hold of the purpose they know God has placed on their lives, and to not be afraid in reaching out for it.

    ~ Jasmine

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