When asked a question, I may not know the answer but I often suggest a helpful book. I read a lot and love to recommend books to others. So, why not share? Here are my favorite books for 2013. They are not always religious but they are interesting. The list is in no particular order. With each book there is information provided by Amazon.com followed by, “Why I recommend this book.”
“The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus”by Adam Hamilton. Travel with Adam Hamilton as he retraces the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Once again, Hamilton approaches his subject matter with thoughtfulness and wisdom. Using historical information, archaeological data, and stories of the faith, Hamilton follows in the footsteps of Jesus from his baptism to the temptations to the heart of his ministry, including the people he loved, the parables he taught, the enemies he made, and the healing he brought.
Why I recommend this book: Adam Hamilton has a unique way of helping us understand and explore our faith. “The Way” like a beautiful painting paints a picture of Jesus; where he walked, who he touched and what he said. For example, one chapter describes Jesus through mountains. Jesus was tempted on a mountain. He prayed all night on a mountain. He gave his best known sermon on a mountain. He was transfigured on a mountain and finally crucified on a mountain. Clearly, the mountains were important. Read “The Way” and you will better appreciate who Jesus Christ is and why we follow Him.
“Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend” by Andy Stanley. With surprising candor and transparency pastor Andy Stanley explains how one of America’s largest churches began with a high-profile divorce and a church split. But that’s just the beginning… Deep and Wide provides church leaders with an in-depth look into North Point Community Church and its strategy for creating churches unchurched people absolutely love to attend. Andy writes, ‘Our goal is to create weekend experiences so compelling and helpful that even the most skeptical individuals in our community would walk away with every intention of returning the following week…with a friend!’ ‘ Deep and Wide is a rich resource to help all of us stay intentional about the main thing – building a church that reaches people who are far from God.’ – Steven Furtick, Lead Pastor, Elevation Church
Why I recommend this book: Andy writes in Chapter four: “I grew up attending churches designed for church people. No one said it, but the assumption was that church was for church people. The unspoken message to the outside world was, ‘Once you start believing and behaving like us, you are welcome to join us.’” “Deep and Wide” will help your church really understand how to reach those people who choose not to attend. Going deep is Andy’s challenge to deepen our relationship with Christ. Going wide teaches how to widen our reach as individuals and as a church.
“The Post-Black and Post-White Church: Becoming the Beloved Community in a Multi-Ethnic World” by Efrem Smith. Efrem Smith, an internationally recognized and innovative African-American leader, offers a workable plan for connecting theology, practical ministry models, and real stories of people in multi-ethnic Christian communities. Using the example of Jesus, Smith develops a theology of multi-ethnic and missional leadership. Embracing urban and ethnic subcultures such as hip-hop, this book provides a rich mix of multi-ethnic church development, reconciliation theology, missional church thinking, and Christian community. This book is written for anyone wrestling with what it means to be a Christian in an increasingly multi-ethnic world polarized by class, politics, and race.
Why I recommend this book: Efrem Smith his church: “There is a Spirit-led, organic ‘something’ that takes place at the Sanctuary Covenant Church that is difficult to put words to but if we are willing to live in this ‘something,’ it will point us on a larger scale to the future of the church in the United States and beyond. Some are drawn to the Sanctuary Sunday after Sunday because of the something unique within the multi-ethnic church.” This is the church, God wants us to become so this is a book you should seriously read,
“The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom. A compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours. The inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time. He returns to our world–now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began–and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both.
Why I recommend this book: “His hair is long. His beard reaches his knees. He holds his chin in the cup of his hands. He closes his eyes. He is listening to something. Voices. Endless voices. They rise from a pool in the corner of the cave. They are the voices of people on earth. They want one thing only. Time.” Great, great story as only Mitch Albom can write it, but more importantly, a lesson about the meaning of time and how we spend it.
“Embrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life’s Terms” by Zig Ziglar and Julie Ziglar Norman. Zig Ziglar has made a career out of telling people how to have a positive attitude, no matter what their circumstances are. But when a fall down a stairway onto a marble floor leaves him with a head injury, he is challenged with how to put the principles he’d been speaking about into practice. Ziglar’s willingness to be transparent has him back writing and speaking with renewed energy before audiences in the tens of thousands to show that life on life’s terms is still well worth living. Embrace the Struggle affirms the validity of the principles Ziglar has held true his entire life and includes not only his account of living positively through difficult circumstances; it also includes heartwarming stories of real people who encouraged him with how they put into practice these vital principles.
Why I recommend this book: Several years ago, Zig Ziglar, my mentor, fell down a flight of stairs and sustained a serious head injury. Zig lost much of the energy and vitality that made him famous. Yet, Zig still maintained his enthusiasm for living. “Embrace the Struggle” written with the help of his daughter, Julie, documents his years following the fall: “If you will embrace the struggles that come your way, you will go farther, faster and be blessed by the unexpected turn of events more than you could possibly have imagined.” Even in his final years, Zig Ziglar provided a powerful lesson and an awe inspiring example of how to deal with tragedy and how to live out your final days.
Next week: Five more books for 2013. If you would like to send me a comment on any of these books or recommend a few of your own, please feel free to email me at LarryDavies@PrayWithYou.org