"Ordinary" by Michael Horton

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Title: Ordinary
Author: Michael Horton
Start Date: 3/7/17
End Date: 3/16/17
# of Pages: 224
Edition: Zondervan paperback (2014)
ISBN: 9780310517375
Purchase: Amazon

Quick Take: insightfully evaluative

Source: Jake Davis

Why I Chose It: A friend recommended this to me, and the concept of a book pushing back against the trend of dissatisfaction with the normal, everyday experiences of life caught my attention.

Quotes: (1) "We do not find success by trying to be successful or happiness by trying to be happy. Rather, we find these things by attending to the skills, habits, and - to be honest - the often dull routines that make us even modestly successful at anything. If you are always looking for an impact, a legacy, and success, you will not take the time to care for the things that matter." (2) "Wisdom challenges our youthful restlessness without quenching its zeal." (3) "In his providence, God has given to each of us specific gifts, inclinations, talents, and opportunities. We are not unlimited. Our future is not "whatever we want it to be," and we are not able to become "whatever we wish." Yet all of this is for our good - and the good of others. The gifts and opportunities we have been given are to be used not merely for private advancement, but for the public good. And this is why we all need each other. In society, every sort of calling is needed for the commonwealth." (4) "If ambition has been converted from a vice to a virtue, contentment has been transformed from a virtue into a vice. Think of how we use the word in normal conversations. It has come to mean settling for second best (which is always wrong). Lacking sufficient ambition, one is content to be something less than what he or she is capable of being." (5) "CNN will not be showing up at a church that is simply trusting God to do extraordinary things through his ordinary means of grace delivered by ordinary servants. But God will. Week after week." (6) "'...but the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.'" (7) "Our families, including us, do not need more quality time, but quantity time."

Other Notes: To a frenetic, stressed out culture, this book suggests a time out and a re-evaluation. I love the quote Horton returns to throughout the book, from George Eliot's Middlemarch, commenting that our relatively unencumbered life "...is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs." Half the book addresses everyone's daily existence, the other how it impacts the church. The question to ask yourself: does faithful, uneventful, ordinary life feel like failure compared to audacious goals, ambitions plans, and world-changing dreams? It is an encouragement to treat contentment with commendation, not contempt, and I think it is a message which needs more air time.

BooksKarl Magnuson