What’s Your Love Language? What is God’s?

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that LastsDo you know the five love languages? In his bestselling book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman explains that people show love and receive love in one of five ways: through words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Though I identify with all five, I wasn’t surprised to learn that my primary love language is words of affirmation. After all, I am a writer and make my living using words.

He goes on to say that many people marry someone with a different love language. The result is often frustration: what one person does to communicate love is not received as such by the other person, and how one spouse expects to be shown love is not what his or her partner typically does. This results in two people in love, showing their love, but not feeling loved.

The solution is to express love in the way our spouses will best receive it, by speaking their love language – not our own.

Dr. Chapman extends this concept of love languages to God in his book God Speaks Your Love Language: How to Feel and Reflect God’s Love. Unlike people who primarily use one or maybe two of the love languages, God excels at all five.

Though he shows us his love in all five ways, we might not perceive all of his various grand expressions of love but only those that align with our primary love language. What we receive best from him matches our love language, which is different from other people, so don’t compare yourself to them.

In response to God’s perfect love for us, we respond by showing him our love through our primary love language. That means my preferred way of showing God love may not match yours. That doesn’t imply either of us shows God our love in a wrong way, just a different way. He receives all expressions of our love.

Then armed with a better understanding of how God shows his love to us and how we confirm our love to him, we can love others in a more effective and God-honoring way by using that person’s love language.

What is your primary love language? How do you show your love to God? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Book Review: The Church in the House a Return to Simplicity

The Church in the House a Return to Simplicity

By Robert Fitts (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

The Church in the House a Return to SimplicityRobert Fitts opens The Church in the House with a mission statement for a house church. Once he has readers engaged in the subject, he then builds a biblical case for house churches, including a detailed discussion of what is and isn’t a church (or the church).

Using the metaphors of a wheel and a vine, he advocates the vine as an ideal picture of church growth – living, spreading out, putting down new roots, and so forth – versus a wheel image that portends centralized control and a rigid structure.

He concludes the book with practical information about starting a house church, how that looks, and what it entails. For those so inclined, the bibliography offers a suitable list of resources for future study.

This book serves as a great primer for those seeking to learn the rational of house churches. It also functions as an apt resource for those pursuing the vision of a house church. For both groups, it is a short and easy read, packed full of useful information and insights.

[The Church in the House: a Return to Simplicity, by Robert Fitts. Published by Preparing the Way Publishers, 2001, ISBN: 978-1929451074, 120 pages.]

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Book Review: A Spirituality of Fundraising

A Spirituality of Fundraising

By Henri J. M. Nouwen (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

A Spirituality of FundraisingBased on a speech Henri Nouwen gave in 1992, this book is the eventual outcome. In it, Henri challenges us to consider the spiritual aspects of raising money for Christian service and outreach opportunities. It should not be an unpleasant reality but a form of service whereby vision is shared and people are invited into missional participation. In viewing fund-raising as a ministry opportunity, we are able to help the “Kingdom of God come about.”

Before embarking on a fundraising effort, those doing the asking need to first consider their own views and perspectives on money. Their security needs to rest completely in God. If they have ungodly notions about money, their efforts to raise funds for ministry purposes will be limited.

When approaching wealthy people for donations, there is first the opportunity to minister to them and their needs. Financially well-off folks struggle, too, and need love. In this way, fund-raising is really about creating long-term relationships with donors and potential donors, inviting people into spiritual communion. It is about building community.

In this, prayer is the starting point of soliciting contributions for ministry. As such, this book is a must-read for those engaged in Christian fundraising.

[A Spirituality of Fundraising, by Henri J.M. Nouwen. Published by Upper Room, 2011, ISBN: 978-0835810449, 64 pages.]

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Book Review: Mentoring Millennials

Mentoring Millennials: Shaping the Next Generation

By Dr. Daniel Egeler (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Mentoring Millennials: Shaping the Next Generation is ideal for anyone mentoring those in the Millennial generation. (Sometimes called Generation Y, the Millennial generation consists of those born after 1982 and whose parents are baby boomers.)

The book opens with a compelling call to leave a legacy via mentoring Millennials, “the next generation.”  Egeler captures readers’ attention and inspires vision by spelling out the details of the hugely untapped potential of Millennials – and points out the substantial peril of ignoring this nascent generation at risk. This dichotomy is brought into perspective with a clear summary of what it is to be post-modern, offering a candid, yet insightful interpretation of the post-modernal mind-set, perspective, and priorities.

Truly, the post-modern Millennial is a generation with great promise and even greater need; they are the future and deserve the focused attention of today’s mentors. Egeler follows with a concise summary of Stanley and Clinton’s mentoring model. He then discusses each methodology, replete with personal experiences that are convincingly illustrated in light of the post-modern Millennial via his compelling story telling ability.

[Mentoring Millennials: Shaping the Next Generation, by Dr. Daniel Egeler. Published by NavPress, 2003, ISBN: 978-1576833827, 168 pages.]

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Book Review: Heart Speaks to Heart

Heart Speaks to Heart: Three Gospel Meditations on Jesus

By Henri Nouwen (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Heart Speaks to Heart is three prayers to Jesus from Henri Nouwen.

The prayers were written in the days preceding Easter, with an eye towards Jesus’ death and resurrection. As such, the prayers are suitable for the Easter season, but they are also appropriate for any time.

This book is not a discussion on prayer or about the heart of Jesus, but instead it is a prayer from the author’s heart to Jesus’ heart. As Nouwen asserted, “I simply prayed as I wrote and wrote as I prayed.”

The three prayers are preceded by an introduction, explaining the events that led to their creation. They are followed by an epilogue, detailing how they are shared with the person who gently, yet insistently, prodded Henri to pursue this journey of heart to heart prayer.

[Heart Speaks to Heart: Three Gospel Meditations on Jesus, by Henri Nouwen. Published by Ave Maria Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-1594711169, 61 pages.]

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Book Review: Revolution

Revolution

By George Barna (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

In Revolution, Christian futurist, George Barna deftly and convincingly communicates that our world is on the leading edge of a revolution – and that virtually everyone is oblivious to it. Barna states that “this revolution of faith is the most significant transition you or I will experience during our lifetime,” (p 11). While this might sound like hyperbole, Barna is completely serious.

To support this conclusion, he expounds on the characteristics of those who will participate in this revolution, takes a look at the current church, details seven trends, and suggests that the future will present us with new and exciting ways of being the church.

He points out that Jesus was the ultimate revolutionary and that we in the United States can (and should) follow his example; this book shares the initial steps in doing so.

Revolution is a must read for anyone truly serious about sincerely following Jesus and who wants to make the most of this unfolding opportunity for a kingdom revolution.

[Revolution, by George Barna. Published by Tyndale Momentum, 2012, ISBN: 978-1414338972, 160 pages.]

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Book Review: The Ragamuffin Gospel

The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

By Brennan Manning (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

This book was not written for people who have their act together, but instead for the “bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.” It is for me and it is likely for you. A ragamuffin, by the way, is “a shabbily clothed, dirty child.” It may not be an attractive metaphor, but it is revealing.

The Ragamuffin Gospel ask questions — questions you may have thought, but were afraid to voice. It doesn’t provide answers as much as it points the way towards reflection and self-discovering; it is awe-inspiring in the process.

Cleverly thought-provoking, this is not a religious book, but it is highly spiritual. It is a short read, but may not be a quick read as you contemplate the depth, fullness, and richness of the journey on which it takes you.

The “visual edition” of The Ragamuffin Gospel (linked below) is filled with equally stunning and thought-provoking artwork and photos. Let it inspire and encourage you, as you pour over its inviting pages.

[The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out, by Brennan Manning. Published by Multnomah Books, 2005, ISBN: 978-1590525029, 272 pages.]

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Book Review: The Practicing Congregation

The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church

By Diana Butler Bass (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

If you follow the media at all, you have likely heard of the demise of interest and attendance at mainline churches in the United States and abroad. Although there may be some truth in that assessment, it is only part of the truth. There is also occurring numerical growth and spiritual success among some mainline congregations.

The Practicing Congregation looks at those churches, encouraging and enlightening us along the way. This sentiment is succinctly summed up in the subtitle: “Imaging a New Old Church” and as such it becomes a primer for tomorrow’s church.

The contents of this book are applicable to all who follow the God revealed in the Bible, but is focused specially on mainline churches.

As a bonus there is a compelling afterword by Brian McLaren that extends Butler Bass’s mainline principles to evangelical, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox perspectives.

For the academic minded, this work is heavily and thoughtfully footnoted.

[The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church, by Diana Butler Bass. Published by The Alban Institute, 2004, ISBN: 978-1566993050, 129 pages.]

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Book Review: The Great Emergence

The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why

By Phyllis Tickle (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

The subtitle to The Great Emergence provides a concise summary of this book’s content: “How Christianity is Changing and Why.” To respond to this statement, Tickle first explains what emergence is, then how we arrived at this point, and concludes with where it is going.

Along the way, Tickle provides a succinct and insightful history lesson of Christianity, complete with Protestantism and Catholicism (Western Christianity) Eastern (Greek) Orthodoxy, and Oriental Orthodoxy. She notes 500 year cycles at which point major changes, or “Great Transformations,” occur. We are currently at that point of great transformation.

She introduces the “The Quadrilateral,” a matrix that effectively portrays the distinctions within North American Christianity. As readers progress through the book, the diagram morphs as additional detail is added and future trends are projected. This aptly serves to provide a clear graphical summary of the text’s detailed explanations. This book offers a cogent summary the emergent and emerging church, as well as offering a clear and compelling glimpse into the future.

[The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why, by Phyllis Tickle. Published by Baker Books, 2012, ISBN: 978-0801071027, 224 pages.]

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Book Review: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

By Phillip Keller (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

The idea of a shepherd overseeing his flock is a powerful metaphor of the relationship between God and his people. Unfortunately, today’s world has largely lost touch with its agrarian roots, missing much of the deeper meaning of a shepherd’s watch and care over his flock.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 takes an interesting and insightful look at the 23rd Psalm from the perspective of a shepherd, who is also the author. By learning how a good shepherd protects, cares, and provides for his sheep, we can gain a better understanding into how our Good Shepherd cares for us, his sheep.

Furthermore, as we learn about the sacrifices Keller made for his sheep and the ways in which they benefited — generally oblivious to his loving efforts — we gain insight into God’s sacrifices for us to keep us safe from enemies, healthy from maladies, and content in our existence. Sometimes, though, sheep thwart the shepherd’s efforts; in this regard, Keller again shares from his experience, in which we see the loving patience of the Good Shepherd emerge.

Reading this book will appreciably change the way you read Psalm 23.

[A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller. Published by Zondervan, 2007, ISBN: 978-0310274414, 176 pages.]

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