I’ll admit right away that I have never kept a single New Years' resolution, at least not for very long. Truth be told, I can’t think of any friends of mine who have either. Yet such resolutions often reflect noble intentions, the desire to start afresh or to commit anew to a discipline that has eluded us for the past 365 days. In 2019, I endeavored to read at least one book a month...but life, ministry, and marriage had a way of eating up all of my free time. It’s not to say that I didn’t read any books, I just didn’t finish very many of them. Still, I think the task is a noble one. I’m a huge believer in the power of good books to shape our thinking, to renew our love of God, and to help us to dive deeper as we seek to understand his word and his world. I believe in books because God does. As one pastor said, “God believes in books, he wrote one.”
Still, it’s hard to know where to start. A quick glance at the thumbnail above this blog, taken from Trinity College in Ireland, should give you an idea of the problem. There’s just a LOT of books, and theology is a big topic to dive into without some idea of where to start. It’s with that in mind that I’ve asked some of the new contributors to our blog to offer a few suggestions. Over the next several weeks you’ll hear from different writers about the books that have shaped their relationship with Christ and their understanding of how to love him well. I didn’t put a lot of requirements on this project, there was no, “Expiration date” that made a book too old or too new to mention. You’ll find that some of these books came out a long time ago, while others are fairly recent. For some of our authors, these were books they encountered in their childhood, while for others it was something they read in college. They cover topics that are all over the map: culture, theology, justice, worship, even comic books, but all of them are unified in their witness to Jesus and the power of the gospel.
None of these articles should be taken as full endorsements, there is only one book that is without error: the Bible itself. That’s the one you should be reading before you put any of these on your amazon wish list. If you haven’t already gotten in the habit of regularly reading scripture, let that be your first New Years' resolution. But other books can help us to understand the Bible better, and many times it is through them that the Bible itself finally comes alive to us. It’s often in the wisdom of other Christians that Christ helps us to look at his word with fresh eyes.
In addition to giving you some items to put on your amazon wishlist, I think that it will help you get to know the contributors to our resource page a little bit better. One of the first questions I ask whenever I’m getting to know someone else in ministry is, “What books have influenced you?” After all, you can tell a whole lot about a person from what has shaped the way they love and serve Jesus.
Martin Luther once said, “One book is enough, but a thousand is not too many!” That line does a good job of capturing the spirit of this series. Scripture is the most important thing that we can read, but after you’ve done that I’d encourage you to take a look at some of the writings that have shaped us here at the resource page, and see if God doesn’t use them to stir something in your own heart.