Book Recommendation from a Pastor
“Placed for a Purpose” by Chris and Elizabeth McKinney
Recommendation by Pastor Mat Pau
In this past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “neighboring.” Maybe it’s the fact that more and more our country is characterized by divisiveness. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve had to stay home. Or maybe it’s simply the conviction I get when I read Matthew 22:35-40 that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor. It’s a verse that we’re all familiar with, and while we seek to apply that verse to others, I’ve often found that there’s a slice of people in my life that often get left in the dark and forgotten – my literal next-door neighbors.
I’ve read through at least three different books on this subject. But Placed for a Purpose by Chris and Elizabeth McKinney is now my go to book on loving and neighboring well. It’s short – spanning only 6 chapters; insightful – injecting profound truths that I often miss from familiar passages. But what I love most about this book is that as the subtitle suggests, it truly is a “simple and sustainable vision for loving your next-door neighbors.” At no given point did I feel overwhelmed by what neighboring might entail, nor did I feel like the contents were out of reach. If anything, this book has helped me to see that God uses our seemingly insignificant acts of neighboring for an impactful purpose (cf. Mark 4:30-32). In short, I felt free and hopeful: Free to neighbor with the ways God has created me, without the need to wonder if I’m being “spiritual enough” or if my conversations are “on the right path;” and hopeful that God uses my simple everyday efforts to “sow seeds” for the gospel.
If one of the areas that you’re hoping to grow in is loving your neighbors well, or perhaps this is one area that you haven’t even considered, let me encourage you to read this book. Along with what was already mentioned, each chapter ends with a helpful discussion guide summarizing the key points of the chapter, an assignment so that you can begin applying the ideas, and even a prayer for the week. It’s a great book for couples or roommates to go through as they seek to love their neighbors well.
- “If God had said Adam would need a neighbor alongside him and that it was ‘not good for man to be alone’ in a perfect world, how much do you imagine he would need a neighbor in a fallen world where he’d see and experience things he was never meant to see?” (5)
- “During his time on earth, he promised to one day restore his creation completely. His friends and followers saw bits of that future kingdom sprouting up as the effects of winter were undone right before their eyes. But sin and its consequences still linger in the world today. The snow is still melting… This means that in your little corner of your neighborhood, God desires to use ordinary people to make his kingdom flourish in your neighborhood. He is calling you to join him in pushing back against the effects of sin and death. In short, he wants to use you to bring spring to your neighborhood.” (8)
- “The question isn’t ‘Who is – or isn’t – my neighbor?’ The question is “How will I demonstrate neighborly love and thus prove to be a neighbor?’” (22)
- “Across that fence, your neighbor carries with him both that glory and ruin – a glory which motivates our respect and a ruin which motivates our compassion.” (36)
- “Hospitality is not agenda driven; instead, it seeks to create spaces where relationships are built and where the gospel can enter in.” (54)
- “We love to see a spiritual harvest, where people place their faith in Christ and lives are changed, but sometimes we forget how essential each step is in cultivating the soil to prepare such a harvest.” (67)
- “Consider that what our non-believing neighbors may need most from us initially is not little conversations about Christianity – though they need those too – but rather little conversations by Christians on other subjects with our Christianity latent.” (93)
- “We risk being rejected, sidelined, and misunderstood. Maybe worse. But what might feel like an initial rejection could be just a snapshot in that person’s life. We don’t always have the bigger picture of what God is doing or will do when we put ourselves out there in these conversations” (96-97).
When we find our strength wilting, our confidence diminishing, we find our backbones steeled by our identity in Christ. Meditate deeply on what the Scriptures say and draw comfort for whatever trial or blessing you encounter today.
Even when we’re wronged, it’s a God given opportunity to grow. We can display the grace we’ve been shown by how we respond when sinned against. Let us be tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us (Eph 4:32).
As some of us begin to regather at outdoor services, let us be mindful, considerate, and loving towards those who long to be with the church, but for whatever reason can’t. While we lament how things are not the way they’re supposed to be, we worship still and cling to the hope of heaven.
We are always teaching our children, whether we realize it or not. Instead of being discouraged, we can press on knowing God supplies the grace to shepherd these young hearts towards Him.
This article reinforces a lot of what we heard this past Sunday. What I appreciate the most is it gives us some questions to work through as we examine how to engage others and still honor Christ.
Prayer aligns our hearts to rightly acknowledge the kind of relationship we have with God. As that truth humbles us, it leads us to a deeper trust and a greater petition to the One who is almighty, kind, and good.
This article offers helpful and practical suggestions on how to pray for our nation and leaders. Regardless of how things develop this week, we can do our part by being faithful in prayer.
Here’s a good chunk of our online service worship music. Put it on play as a way to keep your mind and heart fixed on Christ and the promises of Scripture.
This one has a unique vibe. The lyrics draw much inspiration from the Psalms and especially Malachi, where “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.”
A nicely arranged medley put together by a brother and sister duo.
A podcast and a transcript as Alasdair Groves considers some common questions we might have of negative emotions. We see how God has gifted us emotions that we might grow in our faith.
There are few phrases as rich, seminal, and significant in the Bible than being “in Christ.” In this video clip, Steve Lawson and Derek Thomas expand on what these potent words mean.
Last week, we included a podcast from R. Kent Hughes on disciplines of a godly man. For this week, we have the counterpart from his wife.