2018 in Books

This year I had the joy of reading some wonderful books and the bulk of them were of a similar genre, theology or Christian living. I guess that is to be expected but I did mix in some good fiction and social science along the way. 

You can get a snapshot of what I read here from Goodreads but there a few books I want to highlight and encourage you to read. 

My best book of 2018 was by far Gospel Humility from Andrew McCullough. While would could all use a dose or two of plain old humility, this book focused on the mission of the church to spread the gospel across the globe. It faithfully attacks presuppositions and gives us a bigger vision for the work every Christian is commissioned to. Here is what I said in my review: 

“Phenomenal and challenging look into setting aside some culturally defined views for the advance of the gospel. This is going to become a vital book for those doing cross-cultural work which is an increasingly real thing in the West as new groups move in and become part of the fabric of our culture. 

“With a humility of his own, McCullough guides you through a missions course well worth it. Take it up, read, and let it spur you onto the good works Jesus has prepared for you.”

If you are someone who believes in Jesus and desire for others to do the same, devour this book

The next book I commend to you is Creative Minority by Heather Grizzle and John Tyson. The book paints a vision for being a redemptive influence wherever God has placed us. Using our gifts, skills, interests, and vocations to serve others and adorn the gospel of Jesus to those around us. It is a little manifesto that you can rip through in one sitting or chew over for days. I used this book in a discipleship group at Reservoir Church and it was well worthwhile. 

Finally, my fiction recommendation from 2018 is Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. The beautifully imagined world in this tale deals with real-life struggle and gives a perspective of oppression, and the end to it, that our world could use (minus the violence!). I read this on summer vacation – it was Jimmy Fallon’s summer reading recommendation. It was a page-turner and a much-needed break from non-fiction in my collection for the year. 

Keep on reading friends and if you are looking for a place to start or head to next these three should be on your list! 

Intentionally Informed

While sitting on campus I overheard a conversation that surprised me. My fellow students were not spouting heresy (though this is possible!) but instead talking about a large ministry one of them had never heard of. “How do you not know about that…” is what as going through my mind – after all these are not “normal” people, they are seminary students…

The overheard conversation had me thinking about information and how we intentionally interact with it to gain useful knowledge. Now this instance is not that questionable and I am a bit of a geek when it comes to influential movements so I can’t expect everyone to care much about this type of information but what if a North American worship leader has no idea who Hillsong is? Would we be concerned? (Even if they are a psalm only worshipper…)

Seth Godin posted yesterday on the same issue from a business perspective. We are sadly wasting so much of our time in pursuit of pure entertainment with no learning…

Many people in the United States purchase one or fewer books every year.

Many of those people have seen every single episode of American Idol. There is clearly a correlation here.

Access to knowledge, for the first time in history, is largely unimpeded for the middle class. Without effort or expense, it’s possible to become informed if you choose. For less than your cable TV bill, you can buy and read an important book every week. Share the buying with six friends and it costs far less than coffee.

Or you can watch TV.

The thing is, watching TV has its benefits. It excuses you from the responsibility of having an informed opinion about things that matter. It gives you shallow opinions or false ‘facts’ that you can easily parrot to others that watch what you watch. It rarely unsettles our carefully self-induced calm and isolation from the world.

Of course the point here is not TV. Instead it is how we pursue knowledge and information. How do we properly balance learning into our lives? I don’t have all the answers but I do like being challenged by the idea that I waste an awful lot of time when I could be adding value to myself and benefit those around me.

Are you doing anything unique to increase your knowledge? And as Christians, how should we balance facts (general information) and faith (bible, etc)?