Here are the second five books of “Ten Books for Christmas.” I read a lot and love to recommend books to others. So, why not share? Here are my favorite books for Christmas and the new year approaching. 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 like this book.”
A Spectacle of Glory: God’s Light Shining Through Me Every Day by Joni Eareckson Tada. Do you ever wonder why God created you? The Bible spells it out plainly: God created you to showcase His glory—to enjoy it, display it, and demonstrate it every day to all those you encounter. After nearly 50 years of living as a quadriplegic, and dealing with chronic pain daily, Joni has learned firsthand the importance of glorifying God through the toughest of situations. Through this devotional, Joni will help you discover how to put God’s glory on display—how to say no to complaining and say yes to daily following God down even the most difficult paths. Along the way, you will find great comfort and encouragement by focusing on the one who longs to lead and guide you every step of the way, every day.
Why I like this book: “After nearly fifty years of quadriplegia and battles with cancer and chronic pain, I can say I’m a ‘bush not burned.’” That’s the understatement of the year. I’ve been an admirer of Joni Eareckson Tada for many years and have always found her writing to be truly inspirational. I look forward to using her newest through-the-year devotional in 2017.
Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing by Andy Crouch. Two common temptations lure us away from abundant living—withdrawing into safety or grasping for power. True flourishing, says Andy Crouch, travels down an unexpected path—being both strong and weak. We see this unlikely mixture in the best leaders—people who use their authority for the benefit of others, while also showing extraordinary willingness to face and embrace suffering. We see it in Jesus, who wielded tremendous power yet also exposed himself to hunger, ridicule, torture and death. Rather than being opposites, strength and weakness are actually meant to be combined in every human life and community. Only when they come together do we find the flourishing for which we were made. With the characteristic insight, memorable stories and hopeful realism he is known for, Andy Crouch shows us how to walk this path so that the image of God can shine through us. Not just for our own good, but for the sake of others.
Why I like this book: “How do we move from the story of Exploiting and Suffering to the story of Safety and Flourishing? How do we make space for the safety of childhood without retreating into the apathy of affluence? How do we elevate every member of our community to the dignity and responsibility of image bearing without succumbing to the temptation of idolatry?” Those are the questions leaders should be asking if they are truly concerned about the welfare of those they lead.
The Passionate Church: Ignite Your Church and Change the World by Mike Slaughter & Karen Smith. In 2008, the United Methodist Church lifted up “Four Areas of Focus” for ministry, and churches have responded. But at Ginghamsburg Church, in the rust-belt town of Tipp City, Ohio, the church has been doing exciting and effective ministry in those four areas for 35 years and more. 1. Engaging in Ministry with the Poor. 2. Improving Global Health. 3. Developing Principled Christian Leaders. 4. Creating New and Renewed Congregations. The work has led to a host of creative ministries and organic growth…because they were meeting the needs of their community and their world as the hands and feet of Christ. The book comes with a built-in facilitator Guide to encourage pastor peer groups and other leadership groups interested in deepening the discussion.
Why I like this book: “When did Jesus pioneers become Christian settlers, enclosed in our four walls, comfortable and complacent? More than 1/3 of our United Methodist churches are dying. When did we stop pouring ‘new wine into new wineskins?’” Reading “The Passionate Church” is not for the timid but if you are sincere about wanting to see your church become more passionate about the work of serving Jesus Christ, this book will give you many suggestions that could be life changing.
Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers: Finding Freedom from Hurt and Hate by Dr. Leslie Leyland Fields. “If our families are to flourish, we will need to learn and practice ways of forgiving those who have had the greatest impact upon us: our mothers and fathers.” Do you struggle with the deep pain of a broken relationship with a parent? What does the Bible say about forgiveness? Why must we forgive at all? How do we honor those who act dishonorably toward us, especially when those people are as influential as our parents? Can we ever break free from the “sins of our fathers”? What does forgiveness look like in the lives of real parents and children? Does forgiveness mean I have to let an estranged parent back into my life? Is it possible to forgive a parent who has passed away? Through the authors’ own compelling personal stories combined with a fresh look at the Scriptures, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers illustrates and instructs in the practice of authentic forgiveness, leading you away from hate and hurt toward healing, hope, and freedom.
Why I like this book: “The past can be borne in hope… Have you ever wondered why certain people who have horrendous life stories appear to rise above their pain, while others with comparatively milder sorrows endlessly struggle and anguish?” This book can be one of the most important books you will ever read, especially if you have family members who struggle with forgiveness issues.
Just Say Yes!: Unleashing People for Ministry by Robert Schnase. “Just Say Yes” shows church leaders how to unleash people for fruitful ministry. He teaches leaders to spot their own nay-saying, and gives specific instructions for reversing the culture of ‘No’ that has become so prevalent in many churches. Step by step, Schnase shows readers—pastors, other church leaders, and congregants—how to make significant change in their attitude and actions, to become a permission-giving church.
Why I like this book: When a couple discovered they would give birth to triplets, the whole congregation swung into action organizing volunteers and supplies. Out of that need was born a ministry, “Twins and More,” a support group for parents of multiple births. Every church is continually presented with opportunities for ministry. Unfortunately, many times the answer is, “No.” Just Say Yes teaches and encourages leaders and churches to recognize those opportunities and say, “Yes!”