I thought I would share some engaging reads recommendations. I try to read widely, seeking to expose myself to culture, politics, art, theology, leadership, community, humor, biography and spiritual life. In preparation for classes at the university and for my coaching/consulting work, here are a few books I have just finished or am reading as I move into 2013.
A Thicker Jesus: Incarnational Discipleship in a Secular Age, by Glen Stassen. My son has taken a class with Glen and speaks highly of him. A deeply theological and philosophical book, Stassen (an ethicist) outlines 3 core dimensions of incarnational discipleship (along the lines of Bonhoeffer). He then applies this to 7 challenges in our world: democracy, science, individualism, sin, the cross, love and war. Not a quick read.
Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand. Tracing the absolutely stunning and incredible story of Louis Zamperini, this NY Times bestseller is a must (though emotionally gut-wrenching) read. It is beyond imagination what Zamperini survives and endures, and his story will challenge you to rethink your life, commitments and purpose in this world.
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, by Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien. I am just starting this book that makes an appeal to understanding the cultural mores of biblical times in order to avoid many interpretative mistakes – often quite serious ones – when reading the Bible.
Healing ADD, by Daniel Amen. This 12-year old resource helped me get my head around the 6 types of ADD, the characteristics of people who struggle with them, and how to structure our lives to manage the challenges ADD poses.
Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, by Dallas Willard. I am doing a re-read of about ½ of this book for a course I am teaching on Christian Character Formation at TIU. For spiritual formation to be effective, we must look inward, keep a vision for the Kingdom of God, and have a posture of humble, self-denial, allowing the Holy Spirit to change our hearts, minds, emotions, body and soul. A challenging read – be prepared to reflect and engage deeply.
It Worked for Me (in life and leadership), by Colin Powell. The General and former Secretary of Defense speaks plainly and openly about leadership and life. I am halfway through and there are many straightforward, clear leadership lessons for leaders at any level. Highly recommended.
The Furious Longing of God, by Brennan Manning. There are few writers who grab my heart and pierce my soul like Manning (Ragamuffin Gospel, A Glimpse of Jesus, Abba’s Child and a dozen more). Brutally honest, deeply personal, and unreservedly grace-filled in that grand Manning kind of way, this book is written “for people who know they are sinners because they have experienced the yaw and pitch of moral struggle.” Manning drives home the forgotten or unbelievable truth that God has an intense longing to be with us, know us, love us, forgive us and guide us. I really needed this book (and looking forward to reading his just released All Is Grace).
Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team Six Operator Adam Brown, by Eric Blehm. Another book that is a gut-check kind of biography that looks into the psyche of a young leader faced with intense life-and-death challenges, ultimately giving his life to protect others. Sad but motivating
S.H.A.P.E.: Finding & Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life, by Erik Rees. More of “process tool” than a book, SHAPE is a practical approach to helping people gain clarity about who they are and what they can aspire to do for God. Using it in a class of college students who are doing internships in the field, where they are learning to serve and lead. Clear, basic, practical, and very interactive.
The Next Decade: Where We’ve Been… and Where We’re Going, by George Friedman. Our world is changing and requires a new kind of leadership and engagement from the United States – especially the office of the President. What role should US Presidents play in the next 10 years with respect to our influence, terrorism, the Middle East, Russia, China and the Far East? How do we use technology, our political will, military power and economic policy? An insightful perspective on the world in our times.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. I will likely read this again and everyone ought to read one biography of this man who embodied so much of what it meant to be a Church Leader and a faithful Christian in an age of intense evil, horrific suffering and complicated choices. This martyr has much to teach us from his life and in the meaning of his death. If you’ve read Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, this will give you a look at the man behind those classics.
The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited, by Scot McKnight. A MUST READ for EVERY CHRISTIAN LEADER!!! Are we teaching the Gospel Jesus and the Apostles taught? Are you creating a Salvation Culture or a Gospel Culture? There is much talk about gospel-centered ministry and teaching, combined with the rise of new coalitions, organizations and movements devoted to this effort. Unfortunately, most point to 16th and 17th century understandings of the gospel, or popular 4-step methods rather than looking at what Jesus and the Apostles actually taught when they preached “the gospel.” Clear, biblically grounded (reviews all the gospel sermons in the NT), theologically sound (yet simple) and easy to read.
The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You, by John Ortberg. This might sound like a self-centered book, but actually is not. It is about surrendering yourself to the work of God in the flow of the Holy Spirit as he shapes us into what he desires. Just about ¼ through it but will likely use it in our small group. John makes the process of spiritual growth accessible and understandable, offering sound wisdom for relationships, temptation, prayer, surrender, confession, self-examination and forward movement in faith.
Now it’s your turn:
In the comments below, Please share 1 book that you would recommend as an Engaging Read TODAY!
I look forward to reading each and everyone of your responses.