Wednesday, 02 August 2017 05:01

Books to Read

Written by  Tim Challies
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Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture

by David Murray


There’s no doubt that life is difficult. We are finite creatures who encounter an infinite number of opportunities. This forces us to make constant decisions between better and best, between the millions of things we could do and the few we actually should do.

 We are also weak creatures who have limited strength, foolish creatures who have limited wisdom, and idolatrous creatures who cannot even trust our own hearts and minds. It’s no wonder, then, that we often find ourselves overburdened with the cares and concerns of life.


What we need from time to time is a reset, a return to a purposeful and sustainable existence. This is the subject of David Murray’s book Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture. His book is written specifically for men (he and his wife have co-authored a forthcoming companion volume for women) and means to show that “God has graciously provided a number of ways for us to reset our broken and burned-out lives, and to help us live grace-paced lives in a burnout culture.” And while the book is applicable to all men, the particular focus is ministry leaders.


The book’s genesis was in Murray’s own health crisis. He was only in his forties when stress and overwork began to impact his health in a severe and potentially deadly way. A tightness in his neck became pressure in his chest and arms which became a diagnosis of blood clots in both lungs. Already in his hospital bed he came to see God’s mercy in this, for God had forced him to slow down and to reevaluate his life. “That prompted me to begin developing an informal program that I now call the Reset process. I have used it with numerous men, and now, through this book, I want to help you reset your life so that you can avoid crashing, or recover from it, by establishing patterns and rhythms that will help you live a grace-paced life and get you to the finish line successfully and joyfully.”


Reset is a helpful book that offers wisdom that will help men avoid patterns that lead to burnout. For those who have already experienced it, it will help them avoid repeating the errors that led them there. It does not promise a life of ease, but it does promise a life that is sustainable, a life that is purposeful, and a life that brings glory to God.



The Money Challenge

by Art Rainer


I often find my relationship to money similar to my relationship to physical fitness. For a long time I’ll be mindful and disciplined, I’ll save carefully and give with generosity, I’ll eat modest portions and exercise regularly. But if I’m not careful, I can inadvertently slip into bad habits and wasteful patterns. I need to maintain vigilance and, even better, to retain a biblical awareness of why both physical and financial discipline matter so much.


It’s for that reason that I make books on finance part of my regular reading diet. It’s not that I don’t have a well-developed theology of stewardship and money, but that I can slowly slide away from it. I was glad, then, to spot The Money Challenge, a new book from Art Rainer that offers “30 Days of Discovering God’s Design For You and Your Money.” The book is not framed around thirty daily readings, but it does break its application points into thirty parts, one of which can be completed each day for a month. The big point Rainer means to communicate is this: “You and your money are designed for something much bigger than wealth accumulation. We are wired to use our money for something far more significant than ourselves. God has designed us (and any resources we have) to make a difference in this world.” Money is designed to bring joy, but not in the way we tend to think. The joy we get from money is the joy we get from using it in the ways God intends.


So what’s the purpose of the book? It’s not to work you through the process of eliminating debt or saving for retirement. It’s not to help you avoid some of the too-common traps and temptations like credit card debt and high-interest car loans. All of those things are important and all come up along the way. But each of them is actually just a means to the greater end of living a life of God-glorifying generosity. This involves following a three-step formula: Give generously, save wisely, and live appropriately.


This is a life-long process of living within our means, not necessarily with frugality but with wisdom. “Living appropriately is managing your resources in a way that is both financially healthy and Kingdom-advancing. It is having the right perspective on the resources you have and the resources you will purchase.” Again, the great trick is that money and possessions really are related to our joy, just not in the way we think. In the end, accumulating them is far less satisfying than giving them away.


The Money Challenge is an excellent, short, readable introduction to a biblical view of financial management. It may be an excellent first choice for those who have never read a book on money, and it may be an excellent refresher for those who have. In either case, you’ll learn that God “does not provide wealth for hoarding. He gives wealth to share. He gives wealth for generosity. He gives wealth to invest in eternal treasures. He gives wealth to advance His mission.” Ultimately, he gives money for our joy and his glory.



Last modified on Wednesday, 02 August 2017 05:09
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