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Book Review: Do More Better by Tim Challies

“Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.”

Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity

I’ve known that we must be good stewards of our money but I didn’t always apply it to time. The way we spend our time is something we ought to think about more often. Do I do this always? Absolutely not. If you ever see the amount of playtime time I’ve put into Animal Crossing, you’d see I wasn’t kidding.

I don’t always look at how I spend my time on a grander scale but this book goes through practical ways in which we can do this. This is a book that would indeed help you “do more better”, and with that I end my review…Just kidding. 

In this book Challies explains why we must seek to be productive. Everything we do should be done for the glory of God and we must organize ourselves to do this as best we can. 

Godly productivity is a mindset. Challies makes sure to emphasize this. He actually tells the reader that if they are solely looking for ways to be productive to skip to the last chapters. What he does in this book, is break down what we need to be productive with and how it’s involved with our spiritual lives by breaking down tasks into categories and subcategories. I actually found this to be very helpful. It helped me organize myself better. 

For example, I am in a ladies discipleship group, this would be a subcategory under “Church” for me. Also in my church category is “Translation” a ministry I am a part of in my church. Here I would designate tasks revolving around the Spanish translation of the sermon. Usually, I need to gather all the Bible verses and have them ready in Spanish for when the preacher reads it, that way I don’t have to paraphrase. I’m not a fan of paraphrasing God’s word during sermons. So I set the task that needs to be done on my app, set a due date and a reminder because let’s face it, we don’t all remember everything always. 

Challies breaks down why it is important to be mindful of our time and how we manage it. He gives his own examples of how he does things and give life examples that are informative. 

This book will help guide you on how to practically set up a task management app, calendar and an information management tool such as Evernote so that you can do more better. It’s not a long book, you can definitely read it in a week or less and even setting up all the tools isn’t too complicated. I got a lot from this book. It’s worth the read. If you are looking to get your spiritual life together and want to be more productive definitely check it out. 

Here are a few quotes from the book I thought were notable: 

“You need to structure and organize your life so that you can do the maximum good for others and thus bring the maximum glory to God.”

Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity

“Your good works are like a light, and when that light shines, it illuminates God. When people see that light, they aren’t meant to look at you and say, “He’s incredible” or “She’s amazing.” They are meant to look at God and say, “He is awesome.”

Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity

“You haven’t begun to live a focused and productive life until you have said no to great opportunities that just do not fit your mission. There are many good things in this world that will go undone or that will have to be done by someone else.”

Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity

“If you are a student and apply yourself to your studies, you are doing a good work that brings glory to God, because what you learn can and will be used someday to benefit other people. If you work in an office environment and do your job with consideration to your clients and coworkers, you are doing good works that bring glory to God, because you are living outside yourself, doing what benefits the people in your life.”

Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity

“Busyness may make you feel good about yourself and give the illusion of getting things done, but it probably just means that you are directing too little attention in too many directions, that you are prioritizing all the wrong things, and that your productivity is suffering.”

Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity

“There is no task in life that cannot be done for God’s glory.”

Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity
Book Recommendations, Life, Pilgrimage, Thoughtfulness

Book Review: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

I’ve had many people recommend The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. After hearing about it for a while I have now finally read it. I saw that Allie B. Stuckey’s book club would be reading it and figured, now is the time. I had never read a book with an online book club before and thought it would be cool. Although I did not comment on any of the review questions, I thought it was nice to be reading the same book with many other women in the faith.

When I began reading the book, it took some time to get into the style it was written in. The book is a series of letters written by Wormwood’s uncle Screwtape.

In these letters Screwtape gives instructions on how to keep his patient from growing in Christ and being saved. He offers suggestions on how to keep him distracted so he doesnt grow, such as being dissatisfied with his church, looking at other believers as if they fall short (which we all do) and thus he should not be part of them or that because they fall short, then the whole faith must be false. He suggests having the patient become good friends with the elite because that will keep him grounded in worldly things. He discouraged godly relationships, basically anything to distract him from the faith. 

I’m sure in our experience we have come across seasons where we are dissatisfied with our church or are holding onto relationships that are not good for us. I just find it fascinating how a book written some time ago still resonates with what is happening now, kind of mind boggling really!

*I am an Amazon affiliate so I may get a small fee for any purchase you may make but this will be of no effect to the price you pay.*

Here are a few quotes from the book so you can get a taste of what I mean:

“Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that “suits” him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“The humans live in time but our Enemy (God) destines them for eternity.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts, Your affectionate uncle SCREWTAPE”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“but it is His long-term policy, I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self-love—a charity and gratitude for all selves, including their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours. For we must never forget what is the most repellent and inexplicable trait in our Enemy; He really loves the hairless bipeds He has created and always gives back to them with His right hand what He has taken away with His left.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

You can find a link to buy the book in this post. I think this book is worth the read. You will definitely see how concerns of the past are still relevant today. It is an interesting perspective to see how the enemy (the real enemy not the enemy in the book who is our Lord) might be plotting to keep up away from Christ and seeking spiritual growth. 

SDG- “Soli Deo Gloria”

Book Recommendations, Pilgrimage

Book Review: Corovavirus and Christ by John Piper

There is a lot going on right now, so this review will be brief. As we are all aware we are currently in the middle of a pandemic, or at least what I hope is the near end of the pandemic. So much has happened in the past two months, that it’s hard to put into words.

Because of the lockdown in New York, I have been working from home for a little over 2 months. I rarely leave my home and when I do it’s only to walk the dog. Going outside is a weird feeling, it’s as if we are living in Bizarro world, barely anyone is out and if they are, they are wearing masks.

Most people avoid walking on the same sidewalk as us, (possibly because our dog looks aggressive, but really she’s a sweetie who just loves smelling and jumping on people) but also because people are afraid to come into close contact with any other humans. I can only imagine how strange things will be when the city reopens. 

I began to read Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper, at the height of the pandemic, when the death tolls were in the thousands on a daily basis. I watched Gov. Cuomo almost everyday religiously just to keep up with what was going on. This book’s release was very timely. As I read through it, I was both informed and reassured that there is nothing outside of God’s control. I am a strong believer in God’s sovereignty and this book went into various reasons for the virus, many of which revolved around the sovereignty of God.

Although I was receiving bad news on what seemed like a daily basis, this book brought peace to my mind, until I didn’t, but it wasn’t the book’s fault I lost my peace of mind. A little over half way through the book, I was informed that a family member of mine was admitted to the hospital and that the doctors didn’t believe they would come out alive. Although I know God is sovereign, I was wrestling with the thought of my ill family member. 

About a week later, the doctor’s words became true, my aunt passed away due mainly to the virus. It’s a bit hard to write this because it is still recent, but I want to share my heart with you, because I think it might help give a different perspective. Now I have mentioned many times that I am a strong believer of God’s sovereignty, but at the time I found out, I was shaken.

I was sad and overwhelmed. You see, I knew my aunt was unsaved and I was struggling with the thought that she did not go to heaven. I do hope that in her last days she may have contemplated the gospel that was shared with her through the years by my mother and grandmother, and that she repented and was saved, but that is a mystery I will not know the answer to for some time. 

Of course I still feel sad, but trusting in God and his sovereignty has helped me. 

In this book John Piper gives many reasons for the virus, one being that God is showing what sin looks like, just in a form we are not used to. We know that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but we aren’t always able to see the weight of sin as we can now, with the virus. We know that there will be a second coming and that the earth groans waiting eagerly for Christ’s return, this is just one example of this. 

Things may look grim but we know who we have believed and we know He is faithful to keep us. I finished the book about a week after the bad news, the book helped me see again where my faith is rooted, and who my foundation is. God is in control of everything, even this virus, even all the bad things going on, everything is in His hands. I know that this virus has brought many to Christ, and the gospel was shared continually throughout this difficult time. God works in all situations, let us remember where our faith is. 

Check out the book for yourself, I tried to be vague because I do want you to check it out. I got a free copy from Crossway.org, they also have the audiobook available for free, you can find that here. A physical copy of the book was released and you can purchase it here. I would recommend this book to anyone, or any age, believer or non-believer, it helped put our current situation into perspective and I think you would enjoy it and learn from it. 

SDG – “Soli Deo Gloria”

Adulting, Book Recommendations, Life, Pilgrimage, Reading Journey

Book Review: 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke

As this year is ending, I have been striving to complete my reading challenge for this year. Every year I set a goal for myself of how many books I would like to read; this year’s goal was 16. As of today, I am 13 books in and have 3 to go. I am super excited, it has been a few years since I fully completed my goal. 

The reason I am writing this post is because I want to share one of my current reads with you. This book is titled 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke. I had mentioned it in a previous post for which books I intended to read over the summer. I must admit, I only made it half-way through that list but that is better than nothing.

Anyway, this book caught my attention a few years back when it was released. I always see how we are all, and I am including myself, sucked into our phones whenever we get the chance. We walk, we sit, we wait, we linger about all while holding our phones in our hands and scrolling through an infinite feed of new posts. I agree with the author that phones are not evil in and of themselves, but rather the way that we use our phone is what could be a problem here.

I noticed in myself, that whenever I was waiting around or in an awkward situation, I immediately reach for my phone. I know I am not the only one. I see it all the time. Mr. Reinke goes on to explain some of the reasoning as to why we behave this way.

I will talk about a few of the points he makes in the book but not too many as I would rather you check it out for yourself. Here are a few ways he mentions our phone is changing us:

1. We Are Addicted To Distraction

Remember how I just mentioned reaching for my phone while waiting, yup, I can honestly say I prefer to be distracted from the waiting so much that I reach for my phone the moment I notice there is something I need to wait for. What this does is help me lose track of time until the thing I am waiting for happens, be it waiting for the train, or waiting in line to order some food.

Sometimes to stop myself from reaching for my phone I remember a scene from one of my favorite books The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. In this book the main character finds himself in a town where the inhabitants are seen rushing back and forth through an invisible building, the explanation for this being, they were so busy looking and down and walking fast that no one stopped to admire the building and so they disappeared.

Of course, this is fiction and many loopholes can be found, but I tell myself that I must stop and look at my surroundings before they disappear. Now, of course, they will not turn invisible but with all the construction going on, it could be a familiar location that can be quickly replaced because I even take a moment to look up and see what is going on because I will rather be distracted by my phone. 

2. We Become Like What We Like

This I can also personally attest to. I love books and follow many bookstagrams. I just love to see piles of books, shelves of books, all neatly organized and picture-perfect, it is one of my little pleasures. But this can also take another turn, what if we begin to follow celebrities, we like their post, laugh at their jokes and next thing you know we find ourselves relating to them more than before.

I wrote a prior post briefly touching on this. The issue with this is we can become influenced by what we are seeing and liking that we will neglect our own views and where we stand.

As Christians, we are called to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Are we doing this often? How does who we follow affect this? Mr. Reinke also went into a similar topic in this book. 

3. We Neglect Our Flesh and Blood

I love the way Tony Reinke began this chapter, he does a good job of illustrating just how detached we can be from other humans when we have arguments on the internet. It’s like that other person is less than human because we do not see their actual flesh and blood through a screen.

Isn’t it almost crazy that a took we claim to use to draw closer to family members actually does the total opposite? We tend to have a conversation online but when it comes to being in person we are distant and awkward.

The fact that we put on a persona for our friends and then find ourselves unmasked in person we feel defenseless, it is so much easier to hide when we are not in the same room. Imagine how this can affect social interactions. We would much rather hold conversations online rather that meet up in person, this is definitely a way our phone if changing us.  

Overall, I highly recommend this book, I will not give more details about it because I would really like you to read it on your own and come to your own conclusions. This book helped me see some of the unhealthy ways I was using my phone, it is a real eye-opener. We should keep in mind who our Savior is and how we can live our lives to honor Him. If our phone usage does not draw glory to Christ, we may need to reconsider how we use this technology He has given us.

I hope you enjoyed this brief review and really encourage you to check out this book, you can find a link in this post to purchase the book on Amazon. *I am an Amazon affiliate so I may get a small fee for any purchase you may make but this will be of no effect to the price you pay.* Thank you so much for checking out this post, see you next time.

SDG – “Soli Deo Gloria”

Book Recommendations, Fitness Journey, Life, Reading Journey

Book Review: Fit For Life

Today I bring you a post that fits into two of my categories: health and books. This will be a review of a health book I recently read and also the results of trying out some of the suggestions in it. 

My husband recommended this book to me after seeing how much I was struggling to lose weight. At the time, I had a few factors stacked against me. I sprained my ankle about a year before, the pain had gone away when the sprain healed but returned after I began doing HIIT workouts. Shortly after the pain came back, I began physical therapy and was unable to exercise the way I was used to. 

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Book Recommendations, Reading Journey

My 5 Summer Reads

Over the years I have to realize I have a rather interesting reading habit; it’s either I read a book for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and finish it in less than a week or I snack on a book here and there and finish it after a few months. Never anything in between. Ever! I have no explanation for this.

However, this year I set a reading goal of 16 books (I know, seems small and achievable, but last year I didn’t complete it). So far I am seven books in and it is June. I think that is a decent place to be for the point in the year we are in. I think I can manage to catch up and actually complete my goal this year.

So, in order to combat my usual inconsistent reading pattern, I have lined up the books I plan on reading ahead of time in order to give myself a time frame to complete them, thus, staying on track. I am in it to win it this year!

Without further adieu, here’s my upcoming reading list:

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

*Quick disclosure: The photos for the items below are each linked to Amazon.com. Should you choose to purchase from them, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.*

Right now, I started a book my coworkers lent me. I just happened to walk by her desk and see this book, the cover caught my attention immediately. It was a beautiful blue (my favorite color) and has the image of a young girl with her back turned in a red blouse. It’s written by Erika L. Sanchez. I am only a few pages in and it seems promising.

It follows the story of a young Mexican girl who lost her older sister and how this shapes her life and relationship with her family. That is all I can say about it for now, and I would say anything else, even if I knew because I don’t like spoiling things.

Note: I have come across some explicit language, over the years and much ready I can gloss over the words as if they aren’t there. But, if strong language offends you, I’d say skip this one.

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You

Written by Tony Reinke, this is a book I have been wanting to read for a long time, pretty much since it came out. Knowing I live in the day and age where we are all addicted to our phones, I must admit, I too can be a bit addicted to my phone and am fighting to stay off of it for as long as I can. I know that in the long run, the time spent on my phone is not necessarily fruitful.

I think this book can help give me the biblical perspective to help me overcome the need to constantly check my phone because deep down I know I can be using my time better and I can use my energy on many other things, fruitful things.

Competing Spectacles

This book is actually written by the same author as the previous book and it has a similar topic. You see, I really am trying to fight this constant need to be on my phone. Here he looks at how we are affected by social media. Social media is something I definitely see myself struggling with.

I see social media this alternative world where everyone feels the need to share everything and anything they agree with and this is great but I find myself being angry at people posting their arguments and completely disregarding what opinions others may have. I gave up arguing on the internet a long time ago (it most definitely it not fruitful).

Sometimes social media triggers my argumentative side and I want to stay away from that ugly side of me. Not only this but the image we portray on social media is nothing short of a facade. We only show what we want people to see and hide our true selves.

Why spend all this time on social media, if all we do is present an image of ourselves that isn’t even us? These are the thoughts I fight with when it comes to social media and I am curious to see what this book has to say.  

A Wedding in Haiti

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American author who I admire very much. She has written many works taking place in the Dominican Republic and reflecting what it was like to live in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo era. If you do not know, Trujillo was a dictator in the Dominican Republic who ruled from the ’30s to the ’60s. He was eventually murdered and his reign of terror was officially over.

However, not every Dominican saw his time as a president as cruel and I think as a Dominican it is important to know our history and Julia does a great job of showing us a glimpse of what this time in the Dominican Republic was like.

In this book, she writes a story of her relationship with a friend of hers, a Haitian. Dominicans and Haitians are known for not getting along, so I look forward to reading about her relationship with a dear friend of hers, Piti.

Dreyer’s English

Because I can always use better grammar. I mean, come on, I run a blog! I need to have good grammar! I read my good reviews of this book and am looking forward to reading it. It is written by Benjamin Dreyer who is Random House’s copy chief, so he knows English grammar well. We can all improve our writing. And, I especially can if I plan on taking my writing to new levels.

I don’t think I mentioned it before in my blog, but I enjoy writing short stories and hope to one day be able to write a book of them, and if I intend to do this, I need to brush up on my grammar and work on my writing style. I think this book will be a great tool.

I hope you enjoyed this post and make some reading plans of your own. I definitely intend to make better use of my time, and planning out which books to read and putting my plan into action, I believe is one way to do it. Do you have any reading goals, any book recommendations? I would love the hear them, so feel free to comment below, and until next time…

SDG -“Soli Deo Gloria”

Pilgrimage, Reading Journey

Book Review: Don’t Waste Your Life – John Piper

This week I decided to do a quick book review/recommendation for John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life. This is a book I read a few years ago, my pastor had given it to me as a gift. I was very happy to be receiving a book and let alone one I knew was good because… my pastor gave it to me! At this point in time, I was newly saved and still trying to figure things out. I was still unsure of who’s books I should read or which preachers were solid, so this gift was very much appreciated.

Although the book was a Christmas gift, I didn’t begin to read it until the summer time. Once I began to read it, I couldn’t put it down. In this book, Piper shows us the way Americans seek the American Dream, the comfortable life. Living a comfortable life might seem pretty nice, I must admit, but as Christians called by Christ, this is not our mission. We no longer live to satisfy our own needs or wants, we live to glorify God and make His name known.

There are many ways in which a Christian can make God’s name known; sharing the gospel in the streets, talking to friends and family about the wonderful gift God has given us, and possibly even through the other media such as blogging (see what I did there?).

*Quick disclosure: The photos for the items below are each linked to Amazon.com. Should you choose to purchase from them, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.*

In this book, Piper goes through different topics such as The Beauty of Christ, Magnifying Christ, Making Much of Christ and Sharing Christ. Notice a pattern? The goal of this book is to help us make much of Christ in our everyday life. He ends the book with a plea to missions and this was very well done. He really explains the need to go to different parts of the world to share the Gospel and the importance of doing the Lord’s work and the beauty of it.

After finishing the book, I wanted to go on a missions trip as soon as possible. Unfortunately, even though my church was going on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic that summer, I was too late to be a part of it. I have yet to be able to go on a missions trip due to providential hindrances, but still, hope to go on one someday, Lord willing.

Below you’ll find a few quotes I picked from the book, just so that you can get an idea of what’s in it.

“Desire that your life count for something great! Long for your life to have eternal significance. Want this! Don’t coast through life without a passion.”

“He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

“But whatever you do, find the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of your life, and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it. And you will make a difference that lasts. You will not waste your life.”

“My joy grows with every soul that seeks the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Remember, you have one life. That’s all. You were made for God. Don’t waste it.”

“You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, perhaps just one, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by one great thing.”

SDG – “Soli Deo Gloria”

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