I love reading. I read a few books deeply and slowly (#1 and #3 below). I read others quickly (#9 and #10). Regardless, I seek to remain open for God to speak to me in unexpected ways. The following are my top 10 picks for the second half of 2017 that you may want to add to your list for the coming year: 1. Matthew: A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28 – Frederick Dale Bruner. On most days, as part of my Morning Office, I set apart an extended time to meditate on the Gospel of Matthew. I do inductive Bible study with a double-spaced manuscript of Matthew, marking it up with different colored pens. I then study each text by slowly reading Bruner’s commentary. I have been in Matthew now for almost two years. Bruner is, in my opinion, one of the most insightful, scholarly and devotional theologians alive today. I can’t recommend this. Read more.
I am a great lover of books. I am also a believer that reading broadly and deeply is foundational if we are to offer good leadership in a rapidly changing and global context. Reading offers unique opportunities for us to grow, expand into worlds beyond our own, and to be mentored by people we will never meet. Here are my top 10 books from the last six months that you may want to consider adding to your list: 1. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis – Robert D. Putnam Putnam, a Harvard social scientist, has written a classic that I believe is a “must read” for church leadership teams. He explores in penetrating detail how rich and poor Americans are now living, learning, and raising children in increasingly separate and unequal worlds. Moreover, he shows convincingly that we are facing a crisis in that kids from privileged backgrounds are starting and finishing further and further. Read more.
I like to read more broadly than usual in the summer months to stretch me and to open up doors for God to speak in unexpected ways. The following are my top 10 picks for the first half of 2016: 1. Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age – Sheryl Turkle I consider this the most important leadership book I’ve read so far this year because of the implications of her research on how digital technology is impacting our culture. I find myself returning to her insights in discussions on building community, discipleship, preaching, and developing next generation leaders. Click here to read the blog I wrote on this book. 2. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi At the age of 36, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. A brilliant neurosurgeon and excellent writer, he records for us, with penetrating insight and clarity, his process of. Read more.
“Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading – that is a good . . . life” Annie Dillard. That is so true! The following are my recommended top 10 picks from this past year: 1. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma – Bessel van der Kolk This is a critical, important read for every one of us wrestling with discipleship in the church. Bessel van der Kolk , medical director of the Trauma Center in Boston and one of the foremost authorities on trauma in the world, offers innumerable insights on how to serve the increasing number of people in our churches stuck due to trauma. I continue to prayerfully read and study this book weekly. 2. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie This timely book gives us insight from the perspective of a Nigerian immigrant who comes. Read more.
I love reading 4-5 books at a time. This summer was no different. The following are my recommended top 10 picks from this summer: 1. The Gospel of John: A Commentary by Frederick Dale Bruner Bruner is my favorite scholar/writer of commentaries in my thirty plus years of preaching. I have been in John 6 for the last three months, meditating on the Greek text, English text, and Bruner’s keep insights. He offers a rare combination of devotion and scholarship. 2. Spider in a Tree by Susan Stinson This is a well-written and well-researched, historical novel about Jonathan Edwards around the time of the First Great Awakening in New England. It gives a brilliant insight on our need for a broad view of church history. We all have flaws. Here is a story of how a great theologian like Edwards can bring you to heaven and, at the same time,. Read more.
T.S. Eliot noted in Four Quartets: “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” Reading broadly helps us as lead from a a broader place of life, from a place of reality. The following are two short books that I read recently that helped place my life more accurately within “reality.” The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death is about about a French, 44-year old father and husband who was editor-in-chief of Elle magazine. He writes by blinking with his left eye as he lay dying in a hospital as a quadriplegic. Having suddenly lost everything through a rare disease, he finds himself trapped in a body that will not work. His final reflections on life are captured here in painful clarity as he finds himself utterly alone before he dies. The Wave is written by a wife who loses her husband, two children, and parents in the cataclysmic tsunami of December 26th, 2004. Read more.