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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: Counterfeit Gods

Books I've read this year (and my top recommendation)

jenmichel@me.com

I began the year with an ambitious reading list. You can find it here and laugh at the foolish notions January can put into a woman's head. So far, I've read:

The Fruitful Life by Gerald Bridges (My most recent issue for Today in the Word was about the fruit of the Spirit. This book was a good resource for that particular topic. I'd recommend it as a resource for newer believers.)

Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller (This book is especially appropriate for me since the book I'm writing is on the subject of desire. Keller has terrific insights to help us explore what motivates some of our chronic sin patterns.)

Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith (I am now an official Smith groupie. This book is a more academic and theologically profound treatment of desire than mine will be, but you'll probably see lots of Smith in my book. And Jamie, if you're reading, will you write my foreword??)

Death of Adam by Marilynne Robinson (Ok, confession. I've only finished the introduction and half of the essay on Darwinism. She's brilliant. And I am not.)

Still by Lauren Winner (I blogged about this book here.)

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (I felt good for having read it, but this, unfortunately, was the biggest pleasure of the experience.)

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler (I blogged about it here.)

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (I started out LOVING this book. I was listening to it on audio, but I got tired of it and didn't finish.)

House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (I am reading this now. Can you believe I have a Master's in Literature and this is my first Wharton?)

And finally, the BEST book I've read so far and one that I suggest you IMMEDIATELY reserve at the library or buy on your Kindle:

Lit by Mary Karr

I love spiritual memoir, and I suppose this book fits into that genre, although it certainly wouldn't figure as "typical."

First prayer that Mary Karr ever prays?

"Higher power: where the f--- have you been?"

This is a book that is jarring and raw. Mary Karr has bled this book from her veins, and I cannot believe how stunningly powerful it is without the least hint of having been overwrought. I am in LOVE with this book. I want everyone to read this book. And if it didn't break every rule about writing, I would now end this sentence with a thousand and one exclamation points.

!

Later, I'll tell you more about the writing wisdom I took away from Karr's book. But for now, get the book and READ IT.

!

No confessions today: and why God may not give you what you want

jenmichel@me.com

The piece I told you about yesterday - the one where I go live with shame - will run tomorrow. If you are looking for it today, alas, your curiosity will simply have to idle. I'll tell you when it's up at her.meneutics, ok? Promise.

And in the meantime, I'll share something I'm learning from Tim Keller and his book, Counterfeit Gods.

"Why is getting your heart's deepest desire so often a disaster? In the book of Romans, Saint Paul wrote that one of the worst things God can do to someone is to 'give them over to the desires of their hearts' (Romans 1:24). Why would the greatest punishment imaginable be to allow someone to achieve their fondest dream? It is because our hearts fashion these desires into idols. In that same chapter, Paul summarized the history of the human race in one sentence: 'They worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator' (Romans 1:25). Every human being must live for something. Something must capture our imaginations, our heart's most fundamental allegiance and hope. But, the Bible tells us, without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, that object will never be God himself."

God may spare you your worst disaster by refusing to give what you ask.

"Sometimes God seems to be killing us when he's actually saving us."

We can't always presume to understand the good that God intends for us. But it is good, whether it feels like it or not.

So if today, you're troubled by prayers that aren't answered and wondering whether God is standing idly by, He is not. He is working actively for your good.

But it may be that your good requires that He withhold something from you.

This, too, you can trust by faith.