2009 Reading Reflections

Well, 2009 is almost over so I thought that I'd post my readings for the year. As usual, some books were better than others. I read some of these books because they were requirements for seminary, while I read other for different reasons. I'm happy to say that a few fiction works finally made their way into my reading list. I really do love to read fiction, but I usually don't have time to fit them in with all of the non-fiction that I have to read. I hope that during 2010 I'll be able to keep this trend going. I'd like to finish the Harry Potter series, and then find another fantasy series to jump into. (Recommendations anyone?)

Of the books that I read, here are a few that I really enjoyed:
  • Salvation Belongs to Our God by Christopher J.H. Wright - In this book, Wright begins with the end; meaning, he takes us to the book of Revelation where we see the vision of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation gathered and worshiping Go. Then Wright shows how God's "global vision" is everywhere throughout the OT and NT. (And in turn, our vision and mission must likewise be to see God's kingdom spread globally.) He also helps us to have a deeper understanding of "salvation language" as we read the Scripture.
  • Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin - This autobiographical book about Larkin's struggle with sin (i.e. sexual sin in particular) was interesting, humorous, gritty, and honest. Every man should read this book. Larkin reminds us of the vital role that Christian community plays in each of our lives as we seek to live for Jesus.
  • Ministires of Mercy by Timothy Keller - In this book, Keller helps to remind us that showing mercy is the responsibility of every believer, every church. It is not optional. Keller helps to answer questions that always seem to arise as we talk about helping the poor and needy: Is it proper to distinguish between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor? What is the relationship between word and deed, evangelism and mercy?
Here's the complete list of book readings for the year:


Twitter and the Kingdom of God

There was a time when I said that I thought that Twitter was pointless. Do we really need a play-by-play update from every person regarding their daily activities? Even though I had my doubts regarding Twitter, I decided to give it a try. Now that I've been "tweeting" for a couple of months, I have a few thoughts about why I think Twitter can be a good thing. Specifically, I think that Twitter can be used in the service of God and His Kingdom.

Twitter and Prayer - First, after receiving tweets from friends and family, I've sensed the need to pray for them in that moment. It's amazing the things that people are willing to share with the world--struggles, pain, frustrations, fears, anxieties. Use the insights gain from tweets in order to pray for others.

Twitter and Scripture - Second, I've been been encouraged by some of the tweets that I received--especially from ESV. Everyday I receive a tweet from ESV that contains a bible verse. The timing of some of these tweets has been amazing--comfort, conviction, encouragement. One day I had just gotten angry with one of my daughters--not the righteous kind of anger. In the middle of my sinful actions I received a tweet--"Let everyone be slow to anger..." It was as though God Himself had sent me a text message. I was convicted immediately and sought to be reconciled with my daughter. Not only could you sign-up to receive Bible-verse-tweets, but you could send out Bible verses, quotes, probing thoughts through Twitter.

Twitter and Community - Third, Twitter has helped me keep in touch with people even when I didn't have time to personally call, email, or see them. Of course, Twitter should not replace community, but it can help us keep connected with those that we love.

So, do you tweet? Why or why not? Can you think of some ways that Twitter (or other social networks/tools) can be used to expand the kingdom of God? Leave a comment.

(And in case you wanted to know, you can follow me at www.twitter.com/EMAshley)



There's always a lot of build-up before the holidays--whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, or any other holiday. The stores roll out the merchandise, people sometimes wear themed clothing, and homes are decorated. Yet, as soon as the holiday is over, changes are made to get ready for the next big holiday. Amy and I were in Target on the day after Christmas, and we noticed that they already had Valentine's Day gifts out. (And they also had out bathing suits, which seemed really strange to me.)

It seems as though so many people live for the holidays. Yet, I wonder how many people deal with depression and dissatisfaction after the holiday is over. Now, I certainly don't have a problem with enjoying the company of family and friends, going to parties, or participating in any other holiday events. Yet, I think that we need to be careful that we don't focus our lives on the "big days." If we are not careful, our holidays can turn into our idols. Our hope, attention, satisfaction will only be found in knowing Christ. Any other hope will always fail.

So, enjoy the holidays and all that comes with them. But don't live for the holidays. And if you are one that is feeling down and out because Christmas has come and gone, remember that there is hope and joy to be found in Jesus. He will satisfy you.


A Few Things I Love About the South

1. Sweet tea

2. "Ya'll"

3. Hospitality

4. Cheese Grits (Don't even think about putting sugar in these!)

5. Having total strangers smile and wave at me (especially while driving)

6. Hearing older Southern ladies talk.

7. Fried food (chicken, pickles, Oreo's, etc.)


Neither Left Nor Right

The ideology of the Left believes big government and social reform will solve social ills, while the Right believes big business and economic growth will do it. The Left expects a citizen to be held legally accountable for the use of his wealth, but totally autonomous in other areas, such as sexual morality. The Right expects a citizen to be held legally accountable in areas of personal morality, but totally autonomous in the use of wealth. The North American "idol"--radical individualism--lies beneath both ideologies. A Christian sees either "solution" as fundamentally humanistic and simplistic
-Timothy Keller, Ministries of Mercy


Another Semester Ends

Thanks to everyone who prayed for me during my week of finals. As always, the Lord's grace and mercy has surrounded me. On Sunday, we'll be arriving in Virginia in order to visit with our family. Be on the lookout for a number of new posts. I've got a lot of thoughts floating around in my head, and I'm sure some of them will make their way to this blog.


Family, Sickness, and Exams

So, I thought that I would be back to regular blogging by now, but that has not happened yet. We had family visiting with us last week for Thanksgiving. Then, over the weekend all of our family was sick. (And we're still recovering). Also, this is my last week of classes before exams. (I don't really want to think about how many papers I need to write or how many exams I need to study for!) I guess the best word to describe life at this moment is: busy. But busy isn't bad. It just means that blogs get neglected for a bit longer. For the two of you who are still reading this blog, I anticipate a return after exams next week. Who knows, maybe a blog post appear before that time. Only time will tell.