Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish by Christina Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Friendship is something that many of us struggle with. We long for it, yet often find ourselves on the outside, wondering what it takes to have the closeness we see others experiencing. In this book, the author particularly addresses the area of friendships for women in the church. For Christian women, friendship goes beyond merely being friends, but having a bond and unity in Christ that makes us a family. She uses the example of the Trinity as an example of perfect community – three persons in one – experiencing perfect unity and community. Because we are made in God’s image, we have been made to experience community with one another. But because of sin, that community has become broken and does not often meet the desires that we have for it.
After explaining the theology behind Biblical friendships and the unity we have as believers in Christ, the author then takes us into practical ways that we can serve and encourage each other and thus grow in our friendships. Community takes work and she talks about some of the downfalls that we often experience. Loss of friendships whether through moving, changes of the season of life, or conflict, all contribute to our loneliness and longing for community. In the last section of the book, the author addresses ways that friendships can be destroyed through gossip or even idolizing our friends and placing unrealistic expectations on them.
Developing friendships such as the author describes requires effort on our part. Not everyone at our church will become a close friend. But rather than waiting for others to come to us, we need to reach out in service to our sisters in Christ. While we wait for friendships to develop, we also remember that ultimately Christ is our true Friend, One who never lets us down or leaves us.
I recommend this book, whether friendship is a struggle for you or not. It is a good reminder of what friendships should strive to be and Who ultimately is the Friend we all long for.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher Christian Focus in exchange for my review.
Guidance and the Voice of God by Phillip D. Jensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Very practical, easy-to-read book on how to determine what God’s will is. Reminded me of Kevin DeYoung’s book Just Do Something. The truth is that God has revealed what He wants us to do in His Word. When we look for additional signs outside His Word, we are basically saying that His Word is inadequate.
Would recommend this for every Christian to read. Really tackles misconceptions that abound in today’s Christian culture about how to find God’s will.
Growing Your Faith: How to Mature in Christ by Jerry Bridges
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a bit of a compilation of Bridges’ previous works, summarized together into one book. He takes us through sanctification – the need for the Holy Spirit as well as our own responsibility. Challenging and helpful book!
Jerry Bridges is one of my favorite authors and I have read most of his books and re-read some as well. There was a lot of good stuff in this book, but for some reason I didn’t underline as I went through. Definitely worth a re-read at some point.
Each year Becky hosts the Operation Deepen Faith challenge to read the Bible, study it, and grow in our faith. There are several options and you can participate in one or more of them, depending on what your goals are. You can see them at her post here.
I try to read the Bible each year using different reading plans. Every other year (on the “even” years), my husband and I plan to lead a group of people through reading the Bible in 90 days, from February 1 to May 1. In 2016 this will take place from February 1 to April 30 due to the leap year. I plan to use this reading plan for the 90 day reading. Once that is completed, I plan to read the Bible again along with God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment by Jim Hamilton. There is a reading plan for reading his book along with the Bible, to better get an idea of Biblical theology.
I read a lot of Christian non-fiction (her #7 goal), so that’s pretty much a given. I’m also working on Bible memorization (her #5) so will continue with that in 2016. I’m finishing up Ephesians and hope to start on 1 Peter by February or March.
She has a couple of optional choices this year that look like fun – the Alphabet Reading plan, as well as the Bingo Challenge. I’m hoping to do both but will have a separate page for them. She also has a goal for reading some of the creeds or confessions. While not committing to that, I do desire to read some of these and have a better grasp on these statements of faith.