Favourite Book of 2012
I received a free eBook this year, and it caught me off-guard. It’s not the book I expected it to be. And has it has marinated in my soul, I’ve found it has resonated with me deeply. Sensing Jesus by Zach Eswine was my favourite read in 2012.
What I thought I would find was a pastoral theology of Jesus’ ministry. Instead, I found the honest reflections of a man who has struggled with limitations of finitude, place, and knowledge. And in a refreshing way, Zach Eswine shares about his failures, burnout, family challenges, and leadership challenges that this ordinary pastor faced. Pastoral theology and personal autobiography are rarely intertwined; Eswine does it all here.
This book won’t give you a punch in the gut, but it will cause you to have a sober reflection on life, limitations, and the call of God.
Favourite Reads in 2012
This year allowed me the opportunity to dive back into books in ways that I haven’t done in years. Let me give you a few of my highlights (in no particular order). I’ll save my favourite read for tomorrow.
Pierre Berton’s War of 1812
- Since 2012 was the bicentennial of this famous war, and since we live close to many of the battlesights, I picked up this book. Berton’s writing is vivid and his recounting of history is clear.
Tim Chester & Steve Timmis, Total Church
- This book was my favourite read in 2007. I returned to it this year as our church staff read through this book. One of two books I read cover-to-cover on the plane this year, Total Church is a call to reshape ministry around the Gospel (through Word and Mission) and Community. The two introductory chapters are some of my favourite for framing up a philosophy of ministry.
Tim Chester, A Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness
- Rather than giving you a system to deal with your busyness or secrets to a slower life, Chester explores the inner drive of the soul. Lots to chew on in this book.
Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor
- Work makes up a large portion of our lives, and Keller’s work addresses how our vocation and faith are to intersect. Some of the early chapters are profound as they integrate different theologies of vocation. Later chapters help think through issues of work and the fall and living for the common good.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers
- I had read sections of this book before, but this year I worked through it with our pastoral staff. ”Logic on fire! Eloquent reason!” Having your head full and your heart hot, Lloyd-Jones may be controversial and opinionated, but he must be read.
Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
- This biography was a delight to read while being a bit of an enigma. This 600 page book took no time to read. However, I’m not convinced Metaxas has rightly understood Bonhoeffer. Painting him as more evangelical than neo-orthodox is confusing, and the handling of Bonhoeffer’s ‘Religionless Christianity’ was off. That aside, Metaxas paints a picture of a man who rightfully stood against evil as a prophetic pastor who died for his faith.
Tullian Tchividjian, Glorious Ruin
- A surprisingly delightful read (which I also read cover-to-cover on a plane ride this year). Tchividjian contrasts those who suffer as theologians of glory or as theologians of the cross. How we view suffering reveals our hearts - as those who want to moralize or instrumentalize suffering (theologians of glory) or as those who win by losing, are strong through weakness. Anyone familiar with Luther will find this a delightful read.
Douglas Wilson, God Rest Ye Merry
- Wilson’s whinsome style provokes you to think about the Incarnation in ways that you haven’t before. While some may be put off by his postmillenialism and reconstructionism, this book resonated with me in its attacks on the sentimentalism, moralism, and dualism over Christmas. To paraphrase Wilson: the greatest threat to Christmas isn’t 50” plasma TVs or big turkey dinners, but sin. And Christ has come to deal with sin. Read this book at your own risk.
Tomorrow I’ll post my favourite book for 2012.
The Fuel of Marriage - Keller
Tim Keller on how satisfaction with Jesus fuels marriage:
The simple fact is that only if I love Jesus more than my wife will i be able to serve her needs ahead of my own. Only if my emotional tank is filled with love from God will I be able to be patient, faithful, tender, and open with my wife when things are not going well in life or in the relationship. And the more joy I get from my relationship with Christ, the more I can share that joy with my wife and family.
- The Meaning of Marriage, p. 124.
Great Reads in 2011
Nothing stimulates the mind like a couple of good books. In 2011, four books stand out:
1. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller. Keller examines Ephesians 5 and shows how the biblical view of marriage gives us the power, mission, and fortitude for a strong marriage. Deconstructing the cultural ideals, the Kellers show that God’s design for marriage is grounded in the good news of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
2. Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande. This little book is the simplified version of The Peacemaker. Sande runs through the 4 G’s to resolving conflict: Glorify God, Get the log out of Your eye, Gently restore, and Go and be reconciled. A great primer for conflict resolution and a great read that our church staff found helpful.
3. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. While some areas of this biography may be historically questionable (i.e.: Mexatas’ failure to adequately deal with Bonhoeffer’s “Religiousless Christianity”), the book was inspiring, challenging, and refreshing. I had a hard time putting this one down.
4. What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. Our elders read and discussed this book, and it provoked a lot of good discussion. This book helped answer a lot of questions and raised a lot more for us in the process. A refreshing read!
For 2012, there are a few books that I’m looking foward to:
Tullian Tchividjian, Jesus + Nothing = Everything
Now - time to finish a few leftovers from 2011! What will you be reading in 2012?