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5/25 | Started 01.29.21 • Finished 02.17.21 | 2.5 stars

For me, just a biography with a slightly different tone than most. I learned some things about Washington that I wasn't aware of and I liked the way it was formatted, but the book itself was nothing to write home about. Just kind of middle of the road for me. Not bad, but not great. I definitely could have done without the author's opening salvo about masculinity and the lack of women writing about George Washington. I honestly don't think it contributed to the reading nor had any effect on the overall read. Wasted space and useless politically correct dither in my opinion. Anyway...

Political partisanship, Washington predicted, would reduce the government to a crowd of bickering representatives who were very good at thwarting each other but got very little accomplished for their constituents. And for all his talk of unity, he had come to see people as for or against his administration and had little patience for criticism. Unbridled partisanship was his greatest fear, and his greatest failure was that he became increasingly partisan.

Comforts From The Cross, by Elyse Fitzpatrick

7/25 | Started 01.01.21 • Finished 02.24.21

What a wonderful collection of 31 readings from Elyse Fitzpatrick, all of which are focused on the work of the cross and how it actually impacts our lives rather than being another point in the story of Jesus. I found every day to be encouraging and uplifting, raising my eyes to the glory of Jesus, his suffering, sacrifice, and victory. It was helpful for training my mind to remember the gospel every day - to in fact "preach it" to myself - for it is my very life.

If this battle is so difficult, why don't we just give up? That would seem reasonable if it weren't for the gospel. The gospel teaches us that instead of focusing on ourselves and our closely clinging sin, we've got to focus on, to consider, Jesus. We've got to look away from our sin, whether because it's alluring and drawing us toward it or because it's condemning and pushing us into ourselves and away from our Savior. We must patiently focus all our attention on him. We've got to think, ponder, or consider, Jesus. Every aspect of the gospel is meant to encourage us in our war against sin.

Closer Than A Sister, by Christina Fox

6/25 | Started 02.18.21 • Finished 02.19.21 | 5 stars

Since I had just read one book on friendship, I figured why not read another? Turns out this one was a great follow-up to the other as it talks more practically about how to be a true sister in Christ to your friends. Fox breaks her book up into three parts: 1) A Community of Faith, 2) Living with Sisters in Community, and 3) Challenges in Sisterhood. At the start, she spends some time explaining how we were made for community because we are made in the image of a God who is community itself (see: the Trinity). It is our union with Christ that makes union with others possible.

“Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Fox moves on from there to describe six ways that sisters in Christ live in this community together. They help each other, mourn together, rejoice together, exhort one another, learn from one another, and grow together. She gives practical insights on how to go about doing these things with your friends, always pointing back to Christ as the one who enables this kind of friendship.

To depend or rely on anyone else is foreign to us. But we have to remember that God did not create us to live in isolation. We weren’t made to be autonomous. We were created to be dependent upon God and mutually dependent upon others in the Body of Christ. We were created to live in community and to need one another.

Finally, Fox goes into the challenges we can face when trying to develop healthy community with our sisters in Christ. She writes about how cultivating community is hard work, work that we sometimes don't feel like doing. She helps the reader understand what to do with loneliness or a friend who rejects us. And in one of the most important chapters, she details barriers to community such as gossip, idolatry, and conflict. Then she closes by reminding us that we have a perfect friend in Christ.

When you feel unloved, disconnected, lonely, and friendless, remember Jesus. He has loved you from before time began. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:4-5).

A number of helpful reflection questions are included at the end of each chapter as well. I could see some of them working for a group setting if someone wanted to do a book study with some friends. Either way you approach it, I would highly recommend this book both for its solid foundation and for its practical helps.

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