Book Debrief

With graduation and my job next year drawing nearer and nearer, I thought it would be helpful to reflect upon some of the best books I have read this semester and what I have learned from them. Reading is one of the best way for me to learn, and whether it’s a biography, piece of literature or non-fiction work of theology or apologetics, it is always helpful for me to discuss what I am reading with others and write about it.

 Fabric of Faithfulness by Steven Garber
Whether your a college graduate, college student, professor or college minister (or even a parent!), this book is super helpful in identifying the core ingredients that people need to connect the dots between what they believe and how they behave everyday. The book explains in detail how students a mentor, community and set of tested convictions to be able to live out their faith. A mentor is someone who can show them that this relationship with Christ is feasible and lasting and demonstrates how it can play out in their workplaces. A community is a group of peers who they can live life with, learning from each other and challenging each other. A set of tested convictions means beliefs that can be interrogated and seen through the lens of culture and the college lifestyle.
This book was very helpful to me because it articulated the purpose and goals for campus ministry so well. It gave me priorities to focus on when equipping students to be salt and light in their university and in their future careers as well.
Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden
I love reading biographies! The best ones are extremely compelling and narrative and allow me to step inside some real person’s shoes for a bit. Biographies also allow me to survey someone’s life and learn lessons that took them their whole 70 or 80 or 90 year lifespan to discover. How spectacular this is!
This is the first Jonathan Edwards biography I’ve read. Published by Yale University Press and written by Marsden, it is a thoughtful, labor-intensive project. Extremely well-written, it encapsulates America at that time period and illustrates Edwards’ life and the Second Great Awakening without any superfluous sentimentality. The reader is able to see this great “hero” of the faith as not a hero at all– but rather a man leaning his whole weight on God’s grace and sometimes so plagued by doubt and fear that he struggled with accepting that he truly was saved. Not only do Edwards’ heart issues parallel those in my own heart and in those of my friends. The struggles that the Calvinists were going through at that time, including church schisms, raising up the next generation, etc., are remarkably similar to issues that the American church is wrestling with today. This book gave me both historical perspective and encouragement.
Friend Raising by Betty Barnett
As I raise support for my position next year, it is both helpful and heartening to be walked through the process by a seasoned veteran. Barnett has been raising support throughout her whole career, and  offers sound strategies as well as the Biblical perspective that one must maintain when support-raising. Also, putting support-raising in the framework of friendship is very helpful. Her book is filled with Scripture and the last 20 pages are helpful resources on how to organize and keep track of your support team.

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