Month: January 2017

2016 Books Worth Reading

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Well, I confess I’m a bit late on the “here is my list of books from 2016” blog post that so many people do. Maybe part of that is I don’t like to be too mainstream, or maybe it is just because I haven’t had time. Either way, here is a list of some of the books I read or re-read in 2016 that I think might be worth your time. Let’s share together too. What did you read in 2016 that you think is worth my time? Hope this blesses some of you.

1.) You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith

This was one of my favorites. Smith is making the claim that we are not first “thinking” beings, but “desiring” beings. We are shaped and formed (for better or worse) by participation in daily and weekly rituals, or what he calls “liturgies”. The world is calling for our desires, and Christian worship is then the place that recalibrate our desires toward God and his vision of the world. Pretty fascinating little book.

2.) Surprise the World: Five Habits of Highly Missional People by Michael Frost

This is a great and simple book on rethinking evangelism. Rather than evangelism simply being about sharing information, Frost is reminding us that the goal is to see the reign of God become a reality in the world. So, he’s proposing five simple missional habits or rhythms that the people of God can live into to proclaim the good news to the world. There is also a free PDF version here.

3.) The Day the Revolution Began by N.T. Wright

You had to know he’d make my list, right? This book was one of my top two, and I’ve probably said enough on this book already. It’s big, and not for the faint of heart, but I think it is a must read. Wright gives us a more Christian view of the cross of Christ than the dumbed down version many of us have inherited.

4.) After You Believe by N.T. Wright

Okay, so he made the list twice. Big deal 🙂 This is a great book on spiritual formation and how we grow into the image of Christ. And being formed into the image of Christ, learning to live his way in the world, this is what being truly human is all about. This book is in line with books like The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard (another worthwhile read).

5.) Eat this Book by Eugene Peterson

Peterson does a marvelous job here in getting us to think more deeply about Scripture. Rather than it being simply a fount of information, a list of commands, a book of little promises, he is giving us a fuller vision of Scripture as something that gets into our bones, our DNA and reforms us for a gospel shaped life. And it’s Eugene Peterson, who is such a poetic and unique writer.

6.) Saban: The Making of a Head Coach by Monte Burke

Okay, so I know this is not at all fitting with the above, but it was quite fascinating. This somewhat controversial book (Saban hated it I understand) is very interesting in giving you a background and a little history on Coach and what has made him the way that he is. Whether you are an Alabama fan or not, if you like college football you will probably enjoy this little book. And if you hate Alabama (as some astonishingly do), this may help you hate them more 🙂 This also proves I’m capable of reading something besides a theology book!

So that’s my list. What did you read last year?

The Rescued Rescuers

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“The loving purpose of God, working through the sin-forgiving death of Jesus, frees us from the power of the ‘present evil age,’ so that we may be part of God’s new age, his new creation, launched already when Jesus rose from the dead, awaiting its final completion when he returns, but active now through the work of the rescued rescuers, the redeemed human beings called to bring redeeming love into the world – the justified justice-bringers, the reconciled reconcilers, the Passover People.”

– N.T. Wright in The Day the Revolution Began

I’m closing in on the end of Wright’s new book, and this paragraph was just too good not to share. God’s promised future, where all things find their restoration and completion in Christ, is coming. But, we who belong to Jesus – the baptized people, the Passover People- we belong to that future now. Therefore, we live lives now as if that future is already a reality. We live lives now that seek God’s reconciliation, redemption, and restoration. We are the rescued rescuers, the reconciled reconcilers.

You want to know what evangelism looks like in the 21st century? The same thing it did in the first. The redeemed people of God living into their vocation of bearing God’s image to the world. It’s not just about imparting information to people, not just about standing up and preaching, not just about sharing a packaged set of beliefs to get someone to subscribe to them. Rather, it’s about embodying God’s reconciliation in the world.

You want to see God’s kingdom come and his will done on earth as in heaven? Then let’s go seek the things of the kingdom on earth today.

Let us be people who extend mercy where the world seeks revenge.

Let us be people that recognize and extend help to the poor and hurting when the world steps over them.

Let us be people that seek peace when the world seeks violence.

Let us be people that share our resources when the world hoards.

Let us be rescued rescuers, joining the revolution that Christ began on Good Friday when he began to reverse the curse of sin and death. May we be people today who seek to live now as if God’s future world is a reality.