Do you read? And when I say, “Do you read?” I mean, do you read more than your Facebook, Twitter, And Pinterest feeds? More than emails and blogs? Like, you know, actual books? If you don’t you should, and you know you should. (Keep reading - that’s the extent of my guilt trip.) If you do read, chances are you might be looking for something to read. Here are my “best” books from 2015...they weren't necessarily published in 2015, but they're the ones that had a deep impact on me, the ones I enjoyed the most, the ones I imagine I’ll go back to reread one day. (They're in no particular order.)
Run With the Horses, Eugene Peterson – this is Peterson’s reflections on the book of Jeremiah, a book that is rarely preached, but is rich in truth just the same. Jeremiah as a character study is absolutely fascinating, and Peterson gives great encouragement for living out one’s calling to the hilt.
Encounters with Jesus, Tim Keller – James and I will probably always remember 2015 as “the year of Tim Keller” as we read just about every book of his we could freely get our hands on. This was one of my favorites – it’s originally material Tim put together as sort of a seeker’s Bible study/apologetic for the Christian faith based on the life of Christ. His reflections and insights are superb. Highly recommended.
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Tim Keller – this tome is absolutely astounding. If you are in a season of pain or suffering, this book will undoubtedly speak to your heart...especially once you get past the first part on worldviews of suffering (fascinating in its own regard and worth reading, nonetheless, however). Keller’s insights on the problem of evil in view of Christ are fabulous. Expect to be deeply encouraged.
Praying the Bible, Donald Whitney – a short read, but a must-read for anyone who wants to improve as a pray-er. Think how-to book combined with godly counsel from a deeply Christian man. Dr. Whitney was one of James’s seminary profs, and we can honestly say that he lives what he writes (so anything you find by Whitney is bound to be very good).
In the Land of the Blue Burqas, Kate McCord – this book was recommended to me by a friend of mine, and if you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to do so. I was struck by Kate’s ability to counter Muslim thought and culture with Christianity and the teachings of Jesus, and was challenged to grow in my ability to do the same in the context of my ministry. One caveat - it was a little hard to discern just how or when or if she ever asks her Muslim friends to make a commitment to following Christ...or if she only ever asks them to “consider” what Christ is saying & who He said He was. But I understand that I don’t live or minister in a Muslim context...nor am I bold enough to write about it even if I did...so I am willing to hold this critique lightly, recognizing that her book may not explicitly describe her ministry in full. Excellent read, especially if you want to understand Islamic thought and culture.
Seeking Jesus, Finding Allah, Nabeel Qureshi – Another one recommended by another friend of ours. This is a book that is hard to put down once you start reading, so buyer beware. Nabeel writes of his path towards faith in Christ. I was most struck by how similar his story of faith – and the barriers he had to work through - is to that of the intellectual Chinese, and the cultural barriers they encounter in coming to Christ. Loved it.
The Day the Crayons Quit, Drew Daywalt – quickly became a “classic” in the He family, one that we return to over and over again, especially when we need a laugh. (And when do you not need a laugh?) What is funnier, orange and yellow crayon arguing over who is the true color of the sun, or naked beige crayon too ashamed to come out of the box? Please hurry to your library to check this out if you’ve not read it yet.
The Hardest Peace, Kara Tippetts – Okay, so not one I would recommend you read when you or a loved one is maybe, possibly dying of cancer. But wow, what a testimony to how one can go through pain, suffering, and loss with deep faith. (I still remember my friend saying, "WHY?! WHY would you read that right now?!!!!!!") Beautifully written. Expect to cry. More than once. Read it any way.
Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great, Bob Shea – I think technically the first time we read this was 2014, but we’re sneaking it on to this list because...there just aren’t enough books in the world that make you laugh out loud. This is one of them, and one that we He girls return to again and again. Taste my cloven justice!
Galatians, A Journal and Doodle Bible Study, Kari Denker – I worked my way through Galatians this year, and thank God for the way He used this study to root out remnants of legalism that have long been lurking in my heart. Doesn’t get any better than the Word of God, folks, and this is an excellent way to study it. (As long as we’re on the subject, I’d also heartily recommend “Galatians for You” by...shock, surprise...Tim Keller as well.)
The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung – I read just about everything Kevin writes, and this is his writing at its finest. The whole story of the Bible in a fairly succinct, theologically rich, sometimes hilarious story that your entire family should read and reread.
What about you? What did you read last year that taught, encouraged, inspired, or convicted you? Let me know in the comments below...