Much of our material life can be taken away in a blink of an eye, yet what shapes our ideas, thoughts and devotion is an area that we can own forever. I tell my kids that Americans invest so much time on gym memberships as if a flabby body is the worst that can happen to them, yet their minds are turning flabby with lack of use. Education has become test-taking regurgitating rather than training minds to form original thoughts and conclusions. Here are my suggestions to own a new mindset in a month:
The 5 Pound Mental Curl
You can smell the gunpowder and taste the salty tears. The Civil War becomes very familial through the telling of four women's lives. Whether you are a northerner by upbringing or a southerner by choice, you will feel the virtues and shortcomings of both sides as they devise codes, hide strangers and fight in disguise. Because it is nonfiction that is written to entertain rather than compel action, I have ranked it as a beginner weight.
The 7 Pound Mental Lift
You get to read how a Canadian family sells their possessions and follows God's leading to the mission field in the early days of Youth With a Mission. The presence of the Holy Spirit is at work in this book as the author discusses the tensions of living in close community and the rewards of a full faith lifestyle where you are not sure how you'll pay for the food or the laundromat. It is a personal journey that is surprisingly open and humble. Not everything is perfect and the author understands that God's timing transforms the impossible situations. Weighted lighter, because the book could dismiss personal accountability as you think, "That is fine and grand for him, but I'm on a different path."
The 15 Pound Mental Rep
A free Kindle read. I loved how the author shares his own kidnapping story and yet titles the book Rescue the Captors. He really understood that after almost half a year with Marxist Columbian guerrillas, they were the real ones taken captive by the prince of darkness and a brutal political system. He used his time with them to recount how God has worked in his life and even how he made some very foolish decisions and yet God was merciful to him. After his release, he willingly endangers his life by creatively sharing Christ to his former captors. This book packs a lot of punch in a small spine.
The 25 Pound Mental Hold
I have often thought my life has turned out differently than I expected, so I was intrigued by the making peace of it all. I found this book a precious personal story of how Jesus teaches a lady his sufficiency in being utterly undone. The story was never suppose to be about us. Over and over again the church can pretend there are unacceptable sins like ruined marriages and the speck they see in the churchgoer's eye is awful big to the plank in their own. Though this book delves into living free from censure, because Christ took the ultimate condemnation, there is a painful struggle which endures that is healing and then broken open again. True to life are self-doubts and hurtful labels. The universal need to find our peace in God make this book contend for some real muscle building.
The 35 Pound Tie
These two stories come from two different continents and yet the brutality might as well as come from one. Both books have highly graphic word pictures that are disturbing. The Camp 14 book allows us, well-fed Americans, to understand how the power of survival and the dream of food drive a North Korean labor prisoner to escape. Freedom means nothing to the hungry. Give a starving man a steamed bun and he will be your slave. Sadly communism tapped into that principle by making millions unable to eat without a government handout. The track record around the world is you gain more control of your populace when they are eating from your hand.
This Voice in My Heart tells a similar story of surviving a genocide with a huge amount of guilt. The wings on his feet may be a gift to run from his past nightmares. This book is far more redemptive as sufferings of Jesus remind this young man that he will survive. As God whispers to his heart, you are amazed that one so brutally hurt can say,"I am a very, very fortunate man to have lost and to have gained so much." After reading this book, you will have no doubt that forgiveness is divine and humanly impossible without the Spirit of God.
The 50 Pound Mental Giant
This book redefines who our neighbor is as the world shrinks with technology and knowledge.
Is it an easy read? No. It might even leave you feeling burnt out with the enormity of the task. I think this is a book you read slowly and pace it with prayer and lots of Scripture. Caution should be used that you don't pull a muscle so badly that you quit. Know that Ephesians says that Christ prepared good works for us to do in advance and ask him for the ability to see what they are and walk in them. Remember that when you follow Jesus you will never be overextended. He promises to carry our burdens and give us rest. Rest in the fact that changing the world is not solely up to us; God is the force behind all significant and eternal change.