Love Your Neighbor… If You Want To

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus tells us this the second greatest commandment. (The first being to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”)

There is no asterisk directing us to a note at the bottom of the page that reads, “Actually, you don’t have to do this one if your neighbor has a different skin color, religion, political affiliation, or opinion than yours.”

Just something to think about.

Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

The author believes that many people who leave “the church” do not leave because they no longer want to follow Jesus. Rather, they leave so they can follow Jesus. This book does not advocate giving up church; in fact, community is promoted. However, many times we start to depend on church for our spiritual life and as more church-goers do this, the church becomes stagnant and relies more on being locked into tradition than on finding ways to open up to God’s will. As the author states, “God can’t be contained by the structures that claim to serve him but often try to manage and control him.” This book tells us how we can turn ourselves and our churches back to serving God.

There are several questions at the end of each chapter and a Study Guide at the end of the book. Because I didn’t want to distract myself from reading for the review, I didn’t take the time to sit down and answer the questions. I will do so in the near future. I did read all the questions and one stood out for me. Part of the question reads: “Imagine that all church services were shut down and church buildings closed, all denominations disbanded. Imagine that the only way Christian faith could survive was through people living it and passing it on to others through friendship and daily informal interaction.” Living our faith, what a concept.

I enjoyed the author’s friendly writing style. I firmly believe God wants us to enjoy life and it’s clear that Mr. McLaren shares that belief. He includes personal stories and humor and is not afraid to make fun of himself. (Such as the fly-fishing lesson gone awry in which he described himself as a criminal caught in Spiderman’s net.) This turns what could have been a dry, hard-to-read book into an enjoyable, informative and thought-provoking book.

This book is written, not just for Christians, but also for Jews and Muslims.

The seven ancient practices are fixed-hour prayer, fasting, observing the Sabbath, the sacred meal, pilgrimage, observance of sacred seasons (the liturgal calendar), and giving.

Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series)
Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Dragon and the Turtle Go On Safari by Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark

My kids and I all enjoyed this book. I thought it was a cute, funny story. I liked that the authors didn’t let the message get in the way of the story. The last page has a Bible verse: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid…. God goes with you; he will never leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6. However, the book is not preachy and is really just a cute story. The “boys” are camped at the base of Mount Sillymanborrow and every noise they hear is an exotic animal. As a bonus, at the end of the story, we get to read The Legend of Mount Sillymanborrow.

My 2-year-old likes the Dragon and Turtle story and wants to read it every night at bedtime. He doesn’t really care for the Legend story.

My 9-year-old liked the main story and thought the Legend story was funny. He’s very literal, though and didn’t get the “Sillymanborrow” reference until I explained it. Then he thought it was hilarious.

I like that the messages of overcoming fear and helping others are subtle and part of the story and not in-your-face, like some annoying preschool shows and books.

I would definitely recommend this book.

Rank this review for a chance to win a copy of The Dragon and the Turtle Go On Safari.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions are my own.

The Way It Should Be

If we pay attention to kids, we are reminded of the way things should be. I’m not talking about silly stuff like peace and happiness. I’m talking about doors that open when you stand in front of them and say over and over, “Open door. Open door. Open door.” And we would never lose another remote or set of car keys if inanimate objects would answer when we call. I have to remind the boys on an almost daily basis that their toys or shoes will not come running when they call. They are always disappointed to hear that they actually have to go look for things.