This Week’s Reads

Because of always having several books on the go simultaneously, I finished 3 this week and they’re phenomenal enough to recommend them here.

The Dean’s Watch by Elisabeth Goudge is stuffy and passionate and achingly beautiful. I’d read it a long time ago, and it felt especially fitting to be re-reading it this week, since its setting is Advent. The characters are vivid and alive, even if sad and scruffy. They’re real. I’ve heard that it’s to be an allegory, but I haven’t seen through it all yet. There’s something in this quote though, that means more than the words say:

“It does not matter, Job,” said the Dean at last.  “I mean it does not matter that the clock was broken. What matters is that the clock was made.”

For years, I shied away from Henri Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer because I thought it was too deep and wordy. But when I actually opened it I found it very readable and accessible. The depth and wisdom was amazing. The thoughtfulness and careful words are to be read slowly and digested. He talks alot about loneliness and how it’s not something to run away from, but can become a source of life for others.

This is the announcement of the wounded healer: ‘The master is coming–not tomorrow, but today, not next year, but this year, not after all our misery is passed, but in the middle of it, not in another place but right here where we are standing.’

This morning over coffee, I finished The Shack, the book that took the evangelical world by storm some years back. I’d read it before, after an operation when I was in a daze of painkillers, so not everything registered very well, but my impression then was the same as this time: that its message is valuable and powerful, but the writing style was very distracting. I wanted to mark out all the fluffy adverbs. Even so, I really like the picture of the fellowship and love among the Trinity, and the way they shower love and are ‘especially fond’ of people. The story was both convicting and comforting.

Mack, if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again.

I never wanted an e-reader before, but today I do. Next week I plan to go to the US for 2 months. I’m teaching a Bible school class for girls for 3 wks, and have  no room to take any books for resources. Living with one checked-in bag for 2 months means only essentials go. In theory and in practice, I like travelling light. But I hate to be book-less. I don’t know yet how my ideal will match my practice.

Related post: Heavy Books

To Have and To Hold–A New Book!

I’m delighted to tell everyone who will listen about a new book that my friend and mentor, Sharon, wrote. It’s out now! To Have and To Hold is written for women who find themselves alone and wondering how to think about themselves and life and God.

Sharon is a gifted teacher and mentor, and writes out of her own experiences and questions. I was privileged to read the manuscript, and what I liked best is how she is brave to ask and wrestle with questions that have no quick, pat answers. It’s a must-read if you are wondering why there are singles in the world, and what is God up to in your aloneness?

You can order the book now from Christian Learning Resource for only $10.99.

Call  800-222-4769       or email for your own copy.

And in your spare time, visit her lovely blog at

To Explain

The link for Westminster Seminary Bookstore is there because I’ve just finished taking a course from there, under CCEF, Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. The course was “Dynamics of Biblical Change” and was 12 wks, by correspondance. Dr. David Powlison was the lecturer. It was a grueling but wonderful time. I would highly recommend the course to anyone who was looking for Biblical ways to search out their heart motives and pursue God’s wisdom in all of life.

The next course is “Methods of Biblical Change” which I’m considering taking later this year. Paul Tripp is the lecturer for that one, I understand.

It’s actually sort of sad to break the tradition that Mondays became for me: listening to 3 hrs of lectures every Mon. morning. Then throughout the week, there was assigned reading of chapters and articles, and response papers. During the 12 wks we worked on a self-counselling project, and at the end wrote a report on that, as well as a report on a ministry project. Because the end of self-examination and pursuit of wisdom is to reach out and bless and minister to others, and not always stay navel-gazing.

I loved how the course was very practical, realistic, and always tied into Scripture. I have a new appreciation, knowing that the Bible actually speaks into real situations of the real world. There’s a lot of security and freedom in that.

So check out the Westminster bookstore. They have some good stuff. I recommend the book Come Back Barbara by C. John Miller and his daughter Barbara. It’s the incredible, beautiful story of a prodigal daughter, written by the father and daughter. John has passed on now, but Barbara is one of the instructors in the counselling course.