what i read in february

This month puts my tally to seven books so far this year! I am passionate about each of these books on my shelf this month. The common threads, unintentionally, have been solitude, idolatry, technology addiction, pressing against lies, ministering with compassion. These books have made me wonder why people don’t read and how in the world they function without books. Everyone that owns an iPhone would benefit from Changing The Subject, every minister should read The Way of the Heart in seminary, every Christian should invest in Counterfeit Gods, and The Broken Way continues to take my breath away. Humor me? Read on for all the good words about these books that my nose was stuck in this February.

fullsizerender-1

  • The Way Of The Heart: Connecting With God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence by Henri J. M. Nouwen 

We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of the Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others. But with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to Him in whose name we minister.

Henri Nouwen’s pen, I am convinced, was made of gold. This account is easy to read and gives a deeper level to Christianity’s simplest lessons in a way that convicts and inspires. This book touches on how we have replaced compassion with systems, living life together for meetings, action for God as intimacy with God. Nouwen redefines ministry, what it looks like to live out a true ministerial life, and the problems of how we have been approaching it in the 21st century. I highly recommend this read if you are seeking more prayer, solitude, and compassion in your life… or, maybe, especially if you don’t know why those components even matter on the daily. (This book would be especially profitable for church staff, pastors, and those in leadership roles in their communities!)

img_6801

  • Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and the Only Hope That Matters by Timothy Keller

We become like what we worship.

In this book, Keller takes the three main things that we have set before God as a culture and points to the truth of how life in Christ trumps everything the world has to offer. What made me love Tim Keller even more in this book, is that he is aware and awake to the problems of our secular and church culture. He knows what is going on outside of his generation and has such a gift for pointing us to the Scripture that applies to the same issues we are wrestling with today. Counterfeit Gods made me ask myself what motivates me to wake up in the morning (is it an idol or my God?) and made me look at money, sex, and power completely differently. This goes on my list of “Christianity Classics” and I’ll be recommending it for years to come.

dsc02992

  • The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into The Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp

In Christ, I  am chosen, accepted, justified, anointed, sealed, forgiven, redeemed, complete, free, Christ’s friend, God’s child, Spirit’s home.

Oh, The Broken Way. This was my second journey through The Broken Way, and so much more came alive to me on this time through. I led a small group in my church and we watched the accompanying videos and discussed our readings each week. Something I appreciated that wasn’t at the front of my mind when I read it last October, was how Voskamp doesn’t just tell us truth, but invites us to live the story with her. I appreciate her honesty that doesn’t make me feel like it’s impossible to live a messed up, cruciform, yet-truly-abundant life. To see my first full review of the book, go here. If you’ve read The Broken Way and don’t want to let the truths of the book get dusty in your mind, check out my book-based playlist. 

fullsizerender

  • Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age by Sven Birkerts

Do most of us truly wish to be in the swim of the digital “now”? Or is it more that people are afraid of not being in that swim? Could both be true at once? Almost everybody I know makes the same superficial complaints about the distraction, the triviality, the frustration, the self-alienation, you name it. At the same time, there is clearly such a powerful, and, it seems, increasing desire to be in touch – to express ourselves, to hear from others, to  be caught up in that pulse for a time eases our essential loneliness.

A T T E N T I O N: Everyone that owns an iPhone needs this book. While The Way of the Heart was about the spiritual implications of noise in our lives, Birkerts takes on a more intellectual angle. It’s about our generation’s “fragmentation of focus” & being “choked by noise”. How technology is literally rewiring our brains, our kids’ brains — how it’s changing the way we communicate & see art. It initially made me want to pull every iPad from every little kid’s and grown adult’s hand, and honestly? I don’t think that a bad thing. We need to be more aware of the issues of connection, attention, and communication because of the silent change brought on by our devices. Simply put: this book has encouraged me to forget about my phone more often, embraced people over systems, buy in physical stores when possible, create with no distractions, and read more books. If I ever go completely off the grid, y’all can blame Sven Birkerts.

Currently reading….

 

Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

…and currently contemplating on what titles to choose for the weeks and months ahead!

What authors and topics have been keeping you flipping pages as we dig in deeper to 2017? Tell me what books have been on your mind in the comments!

december reads. 

Here it is, friends. 

The books that are bringing my list of 2015 reads to an end. 

 

25. When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper.

“ …it is a good fight because we are not left to our own strength in the fight.”

I cannot say enough good words about When I Don’t Desire God. John Piper is an incredible teacher. This is the first book I’ve read by him. It had been on my shelf untouched for almost one year, merely because I was intimidated by the title and the legend of the author. I was continuously convicted and encouraged in what the fight for joy should truly look like. Piper laid the foundation with Scripture and wisdom, and finished the book with practical ways to increase uninterrupted intimacy with God. I tore up every page with notes and highlights. It drew me back into the Word. If you’re looking for a deeper book to enrich your relationship with Christ in 2016, I would highly recommend you picking this one up. 
 

26. Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life by Henri J. M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglas A. Morrison. 

“By setting out with Jesus on the road of the cross, we become people in whose lives the compassionate presence of God in this world can manifest itself.”

Unexpectedly, I found that When I Don’t Desire God and Compassion correlated well together. Like When I Don’t Desire God, I tore up every page with highlights and it drew me back into the Word. I appreciated its size of 137 pages, but what it lacked in quantity it made up for in quality. Compassion reminded me that we will never exhaust the Bible or the attributes of God. The Christian life is so much more than what we have molded it to be with our weak hands. It’s about prayer and action. It’s about living in gratitude, within community, in the knowledge that all is grace. It’s about living for the God that could be human so well because He is so divine. I would also highly recommend Compassion

• • • • • 

The 26 books I read in 2015 were some of the best. I’m glad you let me tuck away my thoughts about them here. 

As you can imagine, I’m already daydreaming about the pretty words and the convicting words to come my way in 2016. 

What’s on your reading list for the upcoming new year?