This post is more a personal record than anything else. A look back at the books I’ve read in 2016, the learnings from them, and the way God has used them to expand my Christian worldview.
I’ve explained before that I am part of a book club. We call ourselves The Romans 12:2 Project, meet every five weeks or so, and read books that will expand our understanding of God, faith and what it is to be a Christian today.
These are the books we read this year… of course, I did read beyond this selection, a few leisure reads (Maeve Binchy, Paullina Simons and even Lee Childs!) and additional recommendations from friends and family (Annette Mace’s book, and I can highly recommend The Grace Outpouring too, by David Roberts and Roy Godwin). But these are the books we discussed:
The Gift of Being Yourself by David G. Benner
Love, Tears and Autism by Cecily Paterson
The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight
A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller
Farewell Four Waters by Kate McCord
Gray Matter by David Levy
Deliver us from Evil by Don Basham
Chapter One by Daniel Flynn
Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
I’ll spare you a critical review of each and every text. Every one of them has given us insight into God’s character in amazing ways. As we sit around my big old dining table and share between gulps of tea and mouthfuls of cake, I’m always amazed at the different interpretations that emerge.
Admittedly, we’re a glass-half-full kinda group. We tend to centre discussion around the good bits and trip quickly across the others. And certain books resonate more strongly with some than others. So, these are the books that have changed my faith…
I’ve actually already written about this book, it impacted me that much. In short, it’s about a neurosurgeon who was challenged to pray with his patients before operating on them. On their brains. At first, you might think, okay, big deal! But as I read further I realised just what this meant. It was a man occupying one of the most highly-regarded professions humbling himself before his patient and handing it all over to God. That’s huge! The personal application is obvious and many months later, this man’s testimony still comes to mind in situations where I too can humble myself and pray.
Deliver us from Evil
This book isn’t pictured above as I’ve already loaned it out. My husband has read it too. I think that’s a good measure of a text! Deliver us from Evil was, for me, an eye-opener of a book. It opened my mind to, or perhaps reminded me of, the spiritual realm and the constant war between all that is good (God) and all that is not (Satan). It gave me some practical tools too for overcoming certain strongholds in our lives; the power in speaking the name of Jesus, the covering of his blood and how to find release from soul ties, for example. The timing of my reading this book with other things happening in my life was nothing short of God-appointed, not to mention the amazing deliverance that has resulted both in my life and the lives of close friends. My life has been changed by this book. And that’s all I can really say about it – you definitely need to read this book to understand just what I’m getting at!
Hinds’ Feet on High Places
This book is what’s called an allegory, that is, a story with a hidden meaning. It is the journey of Much Afraid to the High Places, following the Shepherd and learning to trust his every instruction. The classic text has the feel of a children’s storybook, a fable or a fairytale, but embedded within all the descriptions of the landscape, the challenges and the characters are lessons for our own faith journey. In this way, it was at times a tricky book to read, knowing that everything – even the stones! – has a symbology attached, was at times gruelling. But the blossoming of Much Afraid’s relationship with the Shepherd was enchanting and made me yearn for the same. A truly beautiful book that could be read – in fact, should be read – again and again.
And now, I look forward to what God will reveal to me through my book-reading this year!
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”