I was working over Christmas and New Year and had quite a busy time, but as 2020 came into being I had just over a week off. But don’t let the picture confuse you, I was not on a tropical beach. My wife, Sabine, and I enjoyed a week of holiday in our flat in Edinburgh, Scotland. The wind was blowing, it was raining, but at some points we did see the sun! We had a lovely week.
I can know how good a holiday was based on how many books I read, and by good I mean relaxing. Yes, I’m one of those weird people who relaxes by reading. This holiday was really good, in 8 days I read 12 books! I thought I’d give you a wee insight into my holiday reading at the beginning of 2020.
These are the books I read and the order in which I read them…
The Creaking on the Stairs by Mez McConnell
There are some books that I wish never needed to be written, this is one of them! But I am so thankful that Mez opens up about his childhood, the abuse that he suffered and how he has dealt with it throughout his life. This book is a phenomenal resource for the church! Mez lifts the eyes of his readers to see how the gospel can transform the abused and the abuser. He tells his own story but most importantly he uses it to share Christ. I cannot recommend this book enough!
A Christian’s pocket guide to understanding suicide and euthanasia by D. Eryl Davies
One of the topics that is coming more and more to the forefront of the world is euthanasia. Therefore, Christians need to wrestle with how to communicate gospel truths and interact with this subject in a helpful and meaningful way. This book is a good, short (Just over 100 pages) introduction to the topic; it is a good starting place. The book is very short, therefore, there are obviously topics that it does not address. I would recommend that you pick it up and begin to think about this important topic though.
A Christian’s pocket guide to how God preserved the Bible by Richard Brash
Where did the Bible come from? How do we know that it hasn’t been changed and corrupted? Why is it so important to know that the Bible has been preserved over time? These are just a few of the many questions that Christians have about the Bible. This book takes a theological approach to the topic of God preserving His Word. Brash grounds his understanding in the doctrine of God, His providence and more. Again, this is another short introduction to the topic which is a good place to start.
God’s Gift to Women by Eric Ludy
My wife bought me this book as a bit of a joke. Every so often she will buy me a book that sounds unbelievably bad to give us both a laugh. The presentation, style and title of the book flies in the face of today’s world. It is a call for men to ‘discover the lost greatness of masculinity’ by becoming a ‘warrior-poet’. I know, super cheesy. Basically the whole book could be summarised in a blog post; if you want to be a godly man, love the Lord first and foremost and let everything else flow from that. The book was written by Ludy in his early 30’s, I do wonder what he would change about it now. I found the writing style very verbose and somewhat forced (drawing things out and extending explanations that really weren’t necessary). Whilst I get what Ludy was trying to do, there are plenty of other books that do the same thing in a more coherent, structured and shorter form.
Church – Do I have to go? by Garrett Kell
Recently I’ve seen a number of people and books calling Christians out of the ‘church’. The problem is that many of these people don’t know what the church is, or the role that it should play in the life of a Christian. In this book Kell gives you a wonderful picture of the church by asking a series of questions. The format of this whole series is that you walk through the book and pause at different parts, you hear the stories of others and you have questions to think through. I would like every Christian to read this book, no matter how long you’ve been a Christian, because it is so simple yet it tells you the glorious truth that the church is the body of Christ, God’s representatives on Earth and that Christians are the children of the living God. Buy this book, in fact, go buy the whole series!
The Way Forward by Joe Barnard
This is a great book that will help you disciple men in 2020. The book just released the other day and I would highly recommend it. Here is my full review of the book posted just last week.
Including the Stranger by David Firth
How should the people of God respond to ‘outsiders’? This is a big question that the nation of Israel had to wrestle with. But Firth doesn’t hone in on the Law, instead he turns to the prophets to see how the nation of Israel should have interacted with the foreigner and sojourner amongst them. Historically people have looked at the Bible and used it as a basis to commit atrocities against those who are different from them (be it culture, colour, or country of origin), but that is twisting God’s Word. Firth takes you to a number of books in the Old Testament and helps you see how God would have his people treat others. I think that this is a very important book for people to read today, as a global church we need to know how to respond to and welcome those who are different from us. What better way to do that than being informed by God’s Word?
Help my Unbelief by Barnabas Piper
One of the books in the Bible that I use most is the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 9:24 we read one of the most relatable and real confessions that we find in the Gospel; the father of a demon-possessed boy brings his son to Jesus and asks for him to be healed he says “I believe; help my unbelief’. In this book Piper uses this confession / request to get under our skin. This book will shake up the comfortable and it will comfort those in need. Piper don’t come with glib answers, or to-do’s to help your faith grow, but he offers an honest and open look into his own life and helps us see that our confusion is normal. This book was such an encouragement to me, you should buy a copy.
Dominion; The Making of the Western Mind by Tom Holland
This is not my usual kind of read, but so many Christians that I respect were raving about it and I knew I needed to give it a read. It’s nearly 600 pages. This book is written by Tom Holland, a historian, and it gives you a look into how the Western world has come to think the way it has. Holland draws our attention to the fact that our Western world has its very foundation in the Christian faith. Many of the things that we think, the ways we act and the things that we say can be traced back to the Christian faith. This was a fascinating read, it is long but not overly complicated, it has lots of historical facts and details but it is not boring. If you’re interested in history and understanding why we think the way we do, this book will help.
Reenchanting Humanity by Owen Strachan
The theology of mankind is such a fascinating study and it is all encompassing. The world we live in portrays an idea about humanity that is vastly different from that of the Bible, from that of our Creator. This book is a great read, it is another slightly longer one coming in an just under 400 pages, but it is definitely worth a read. Strachan touches on topics like imagine, depravity, technology, sexuality, race and ethnicity, work and more. I do not agree with everything this book says but it is such an important book to help you think through who we are as people and how we relate to God. If you’re interested in theology and what to have a very readable and exciting study on the theology of mankind, this is the one for you.
When Darkness seems my closest friend by Mark Meynell
Depression, the black dog, melancholy… there have been so many names that have described this horrible state of mind that is familiar to so many of us today. In this book Mark Meynell opens up about his own journey with depression. One of the things that I like about this book is that it’s written by a man who is still there, there is no ‘I’m all sorted now, here’s how you can be too!’. Mark is honest about the struggles he faces and open about how his depression have changed him over the years. This is particularly helpful for those of us in ministry to read. I’ve read many books on this topic over the years, but this is one of the best.
Your Future Self Will Thank You by Drew Dyck
So, it’s now 2 weeks into the New Year… you’ve probably already given up on those resolutions right? I know I have! This book will help you understand why and will help you think of ways to change that going forward. Often the problem is that we are looking for quick and easy fixes that never happen and certainly never last. In this book Dyck helps us see why this doesn’t happen but also helps you see how we need to set good habits in place. This book is funny, insightful and well worth a read in 2020, you won’t regret it!