The Ministry of Ordinary Places By Shannan Martin

A review by Anna Jean Marie Bañas, Library Volunteer

Does ministry always mean something grand and unattainable for the ordinary (untrained) person? This question might be more relevant today as we still experience the effects of this pandemic. Several commonplace situations might also be on the table. What if you are just “stuck” at home or live in a small town or village? Or what if the people you encounter are the same kinds of people for some time? What if you are the newcomer?

Finding one’s place and calling in the daily and mundane life of people living in urban and suburban spaces shows that an ordinary person can be “called” and used as an instrument of God.

Finding one’s place and calling in the daily and mundane life of people living in urban and suburban spaces shows that an ordinary person can be “called” and used as an instrument of God. Shannan’s light narrative is easy to follow, and as she walks us through her daily life, events and relationships in her community, we can see how opening one’s mind, heart and life to what God presents right in front of us has far reaching effects as well.

Relatable ways on how one could effectively and easily share God’s love through family, neighbors and other community members through simple deeds and actions are recounted. This further strengthens the truth that one’s mission field need not be far to reap souls for Christ. Shannan arranges her stories into smaller events and themes of daily life which makes for high relatability of the reader. A healthy sprinkle of Scripture reference neatly ties her experiences with Christ’s teaching to His followers. Readers can follow how her little actions lead to increasingly deeper connections with members of her community. They are also shown not to discriminate and devalue the seemingly simple people and events presented to them by God.

Shannan’s voice is of one who has given up her life to serve the Lord in every way possible. Her responses also teach that it takes discernment and training to be attuned to what God calls people out to do. Her heart is on building relationships with those around her, for Christ to be able to work through and in each individual’s lives. This gives another view on how people could further the Kingdom of God in the place where they are currently planted and be effective, nonetheless. All it takes is that willingness to allow God to work through and in their lives. Through all these, God will allow people to grow and develop, placing their roots deeper and allowing them to bloom where they are planted. Highly recommend.

About the Book Reviewer:
Anna Jean currently works from home teaching Korean students online. When times get better, she hopes to return to hiking as she loves the outdoors, and photography also complements this hobby of hers. She also enjoyed the adult education classes offered at church, where you would have seen her plying herself with coffee.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places By Shannan Martin. Thomas Nelson: Nashville c2018. 217 p. ISBN 978-0-7180-7749-5.

JESUS 101: Was God in Error? [part 1]

The President of the Philippines paraphrased his version of the Adam and Eve storyinto his speech, after which he was bluntly colorful in his criticism of God.After he laid out how Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the presidentstipulated that God basically set them up for failure. How? By putting in thegarden dangerous elements such as the Serpent and the tree of the knowledge ofgood and evil that would eventually tempt them to sin. Then, there is thecommandment itself. Why would God give such a command? With these questionshanging unanswered, the President concluded with a question, “How can yourationalize a God like that?”

As a believer, I have to at least try to provide an answer.

First, allow me to tackle the president’s criticism aspect on God’s being. This whole episode reminded me of another person who was critical of how God handledthings. His name was Job.

Job was a wealthy man, considered “blameless” and “upright” according to God. One day, the devil came before God where He boasted about Job’s goodness, but the devil argued that Job is good only because God had favored him extravagantly. After some cajoling by the devil, God allowed the devil to put Job to the test to see if after the devil’s torment, Job would turn and curse God. Job passed the first test, when after losing his business to marauders and all ten of his children to a devastating catastrophe; he still blessed God in his prayers. But then the second test was when the devil inflicted upon his body with horrible debilitating skin sores. At first, he seemed to accept his circumstances, but after having a lengthy poetic discourse with whom he thought were his friends, he bemoaned the injustice that God allowed evil people to prosper while he suffered. Job wanted to confront God and complain. Now, it would seem that Job may have gotten the upper hand of the argument, but God had a big lesson for him.

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” [Job 38:1-4]

So, what is the lesson for us? I don’t know about you, but if God decides to come to correct me in the midst of a whirlwind, there can only be two logical ways for me to face him, with fear and humility. Why? Fear is easy enough. Anyone capable of controlling the weather is worthy of fearful respect. As the Bible says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…’ [Proverbs 9:10] As to humility, the question that God brought up about where was Job… or that matter, where were I or you… when He laid the earth’s foundation… well, you have to see the logic. It is arrogance for any of us to be critical of God, especially when first you don’t have His power and lack the experiential knowledge of Creation. Fortunately, Job learned his lesson and he was blessed beyond imagining.

Meanwhile, there are many people who still wonder whether God erred and why we are paying for it? We will tackle this in Part 2.

Until then blessings to you,

-Johann Quisumbing

The Prayer God Longs For

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

What is the proper way to pray? What should I do when it seems God does not answer my prayers? How can I be sure I am praying according to God’s will? Must I persistently pray until my prayer is answered? What is the prayer God longs for? The breath of spiritual life is prayer (p. 10). Prayer is vital if we desire to have a personal relationship with God because it is the best way to communicate with God. The specific prayer God wants to hear us pray is the prayer taught by Jesus to His disciples, “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13). White provides an analytical look at the world’s most famous prayer by taking it line by line, and consider the meaning behind it. He explains to us why we address our prayer to God (“Our Father”) and not to a triune Being, Lord Jesus, or to the Holy Spirit. Yet, he emphasizes that prayer is still deeply Trinitarian in nature, we pray to God the Father in Heaven in the name of the Son and through the Holy Spirit. He explains why our prayers to God should have similar structure or format. What should we pray for? We have been directed to pray for our past (forgiveness), our present (bread), and our future (temptation and evil). He answers questions that are often in our mind. White considers the Lord’s Prayer as presented in two movements: first, the focus on God himself – His name, kingdom, character and will. The second movement focuses on our needs: daily sustenance, forgiveness, and deliverance. Why do we pray for our daily needs and spiritual sustenance when God already knows we have those needs? When we pray for our daily bread, we are coming to God to say that we be given today the insight and patience we need, the sensitivity and commitment for our relationships, the money, knowledge and strength we need in the spirit of daily dependence, not demand. We are encouraged to pray to God when we have problems overwhelming us, face pressures that seem insurmountable, or too busy to pray. He reminds us never to forget to pray to Abba who longs to give the desires of our heart, according to God’s will. Allow the Lord’s Prayer to guide your conversation with God. Read it also as a meditation on prayer. White reminds us that when we confess and pray for forgiveness of our sins (God, forgive me for all my sins), we are confessing specific sins by identifying them and seeking forgiveness for them. There must be true repentance when we seek forgiveness of our sins. This book does not say anything about whether we should stand, sit, kneel or lie down when we pray; it does not mention the best time or day to pray, much less a direction to face. Jesus does not care what we should wear. Read the book and find out other questions about prayer, which White adequately answered using scriptures. Highly recommended.