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Best Books of January 2016

Last week I shared that a friend and I were taking the #vtreadingchallenge. That means we’re working to read 8-9 books a month. To say it’s a stretch for both of us is an understatement. We both have pretty demanding jobs and a house full of children (disclaimer: he’s outpacing me on the number of kids and likely books too). Nevertheless, we’re staying in communication, regularly encouraging each other, and reading of course!

At the beginning of each month I’m planning on sharing the two books I enjoyed the most from the previous month and why that’s the case. It’s subjective and influenced by my tastes, desires, and circumstances. I've got two simple objectives. First, I want to be able to recommend helpful books that I’m learning from and being shaped by. Second, I want to encourage you to read and grow in your faith and personal life.

I need to state at this point that the book I read more than any other is my Bible. Since 1996 I’ve had a pretty large appetite for the words of Scripture. These days I’m reading my Bible more an more via Logos Bible Software. I do my best to read the Bible through at least once each year. I’ve found a constant reading has given me the ability to see the themes and overall message of the Bible more clearly.

Without further delay the two books from January which I enjoyed reading the most were:

  • Trusting God by Jerry Bridges – I wrote previously about this book here. As I continue to think through and dwell on Bridges’ words I’m stunned by the apparent simplicity and overwhelming complexity of the sovereignty of God. Discussing this doctrine is similar to jumping into the deep end of the pool for the first time – it seems enticing, welcoming, and potentially fun, but once you’re there you realize you’re going to need help in order to stay afloat. Bridges is a timely lifeguard for those of us seeking to plunge into the riches of God’s sovereign control and leadership. Even using the word “control” feels heavy-handed. Thankfully, with gentleness and care Bridges helped me (and potentially you) address some of the most difficult places to apply this doctrine consistently. I’d recommend this book to a wide audience. It’s certainly for you if you’ve faced questions such as “Why has my life turned out this way?” or “How could God be good and loving and allow this to happen to me?” I would suggest you read this with a friend...someone you can trust and talk to about what you’re reading, thinking, and feeling.
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulson – This book was a blast from the past for me. I read it as a young kid and was recently reintroduced to it by a friend. It was a quick read, and one that I shared with my kids. I had to withhold some of the info regarding relationships, marriage, and divorce as my kids aren’t quite ready for understanding the protagonist’s “secret”. This is story of survival, adaptation, and perseverance. As we read it we took a page from the Popcorn Theology playbook and worked to filter what we were consuming through a distinctly Christian worldview. The kids enjoyed the read and both asked for a “hatchet” when we finished. For now, I’ll just read them another book and save us all from a 6 year old and a 9 year old running around with hatchets.

Reading has shaped my life and I hope by sharing you’ll consider letting it shape yours. Good books are like good friends in some respects. You know what makes good books even better? Good friends! With that I’m headed out to share with my #vtreadingchallenge comrade about the books I read in January!

Tolle Lege!

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