I am an avid reader. I am happiest with a stack of books on my nightstand - or now, a bunch of unread books on my Kindle. Books inspire me - whether they be fiction or non-fiction, autobiographies or history. I love to read and I learn so much from reading.
Every once in a while a book comes along that doesn't JUST inspire, it CHALLENGES me. It makes me think. It gives me new ideas to ponder. It upsets me, even. In the end, God uses these writings to help me grow.
So here is my recommended reading list for you for 2012....I hope you'll be challenged as well:
1. The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God's Call to Justice by Mark Labberton - This book sent me on a journey. An uncomfortable journey at that. As a worship pastor and a regular church attender this book challenged me to realize that as I worship God, my heart must begin to hurt for what hurts him. I must begin to love what he loves. I must become concerned about more than my own church even. I'd say that reading this book was one of the catalysts for starting the Give Worship Project.
2. Community 101: Reclaiming the Local Church as a Community of Oneness by Gilbert Bilezikian - My favorite verse about community has always been John 13:35, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." This verse constantly challenges me and gives me hope and - on some days - makes me sad because I think we do such a bad job of truly loving one another. Dr. B, as he is affectionately known, does a masterful job in discussing and challenging us to true Biblical community and oneness as the Body of Christ. And since I have the honor of having spent time personally with the author I can tell you that he lives what he writes!
3. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream by David Platt - This book will simply turn your world upside down. That's about all I can say.
4. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn - After you read this book, ignorance will no longer be an excuse. You'll be horrified, terrified and in tears - all in the first chapter. But yet you will see moments of hope - but you'll have your eyes opened wider than you might like! If you enjoy a safe, comfortable existence, it's time to find out how the most oppressed people in the world live - women in the eastern half of the world.
5. As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda by Catherine Claire Larson - I read this book after my first visit to Rwanda, where stories of neighbors killing neighbors were fresh on my mind. I also read it in the middle of my own journey to forgive. It was a rear-kicking account of TRUE stories of forgiveness and reconciliation in the wake of a genocide that left almost a million people dead in just 100 days. There are brilliant chapters interspersed that teach on Biblical forgiveness and reconciliation - this would be a great read for a small group.
6. Plan B: What do you do when God doesn't show up the way you thought He would? by Pete Wilson - Pete Wilson is one of my favorite pastors. He's funny, kind, challenging and humble. And I'm glad to call him a friend in ministry. Reading this book was very healing for me in the midst of my own "Plan B" experience. I might read it again this year!
There you have it. My recommendations for your reading in 2012. Make it count!
**Disclaimer: Don't read these books if you don't want to be changed!**
What book has really challenged you? What would you recommend that others read?