Tuesday, December 24, 2013

More Good Books From 2013

Yesterday, I posted my first ever "Top Books of the Year" list here at Hot Orthodoxy.

There were a bunch of other books that I enjoyed and learned from, gave a goodly number of stars for at Amazon and GoodReads, and also recommend to others that I didn't short list to the tip top.

I commend these to you, as well:

Reflections of a Small Town Pastor: Engaging in God's Mission in Smaller Places by Lee J. Smith

I have read other books about small town and rural ministry, but it had been awhile, and this book was refreshing and affirming of what I do every week. Smith clearly loves the “town and country” church and desires for pastoral ministries to flourish in those settings.

Reflections would be the first book I would now give to a young seminarian who is thinking about going to a rural or small town church or who has just received their first call to one.

[Read my review at the Next Step Resources blog.]

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield

Rosaria Butterfield was a leftist lesbian university professor with a disdain for Christianity. Then she was shown Christian love by a couple who became her true friends, and eventually she came to Christ and found her true identity in Him. Now, she is a pastors' wife and has written out her story in this book.

The Secret Thoughts was one of the most engaging, encouraging, and interesting things I read this last year as I wrote about hope for holy sexuality.

[Her testimony was featured in Christianity Today.]

Bridging the Diversity Gap: Leading Toward God's Multi-Ethnic Kingdom by Alvin Sanders

This is a great introduction and guide to leading organizational change towards a Christ-centered multi-ethnicity. EFCA leader Alvin Sanders promotes an "inside out, top down, and all in" philosophy. I especially appreciated how Sanders showed the biblical/theological underpinnings of the goal and also didn't sugar-coat the obstacles to achieving success. Full of sobering realism with no "silver-bullets," yet hopeful for real progress.

[Read my very short review here.]

Finding God in the Dark: Faith, Disappointment, and the Struggle to Believe
by Ted Kluck and Ronnie Martin

These two authors open up their lives and share their stories of deep life disappointments. They also share how they sinfully responded to their disappointments and then what God taught them through it all.

One of the authors, Ronnie Martin, has recently become an EFCA church planter in our district and a new friend. He's also the author of the popular article "Hey Worship Leader, Are You a Theological Lightweight?" at The Gospel Coalition.

Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables by Phil Vischer

I thought this might be fun read. I'm a fan of Veggie-Tales (who isn't?) and this promised the backstory of both it and its creator. I grabbed it out of the church library one Sunday afternoon....and didn't put it down until I'd read all 274 pages.

I had known that Vischer had kind of burned out, but I didn't realize how bad it had gotten and why.  He does a great job of telling his own story in both the highest highs and the lowest lows and also some of the lessons that God taught him through it all.

And he's constantly funny (still is, I follow him on Twitter). Me, Myself, and Bob may not be the best book ever, but it was just what I needed that day.

One of the best things about what happened in and to Phil Vischer was that he ended up creating What's in the Bible? which is better than Veggie-Tales, by far.