I read 54 books in 2018: about one a week. I love learning and books are one of my favorite forms of learning. I tend to read five types of books: Christian Living, Theology, Leadership, General Non-Fiction, and Fiction. If you’re interested in tracking my reading, getting fuller reviews, and sharing with me your favorites, I use Goodreads and would be happy to have you friend me there. Here were some highlights for me in 2018:
The Garden of Eden was no picnic. When God created Adam and Eve, he placed them in the Garden not to vacation, but to work. Before sin ever entered the picture, God formed Adan and Eve in his image, and called them to exercise dominion in the Garden of Eve.
We are called to create order from disorder, to cultivate, and till, and build. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden not just to sip Mai Tais and binge on Netflix (not that there is anything wrong with that!); they were put there for the sake of dominion. God wanted caretakers who would craft, build, and create order.
We were made for work. We were made for dominion.
There are some interesting studies that reveal the impact of not working. It has been well documented that there are significant negative mental and emotional outcomes for those who are unemployed.[i] Anxiety rises and self-confidence drops which leads to an increase in substance abuse and violence against self and others.[ii] Consider, for instance, the unhealthy of the lives of those whose profession is to be famous, like the Kardashians.
We were made to work.
1. We’re Gonna Be Rich! This Snapple commercial makes me laugh out loud every time.
2. The Five Biggest Little Ways to Improve Your Marriage. Shaunti Feldhahn shares ow the little things can transform your marriage.
3. The Gospel in 140 Characters: My friend Benjamin Vrbicek shares the story of seeing a minivan with this message painted on its windows: "Heaven is for real, So is Hell! Jesus Christ is your only escape! Receive Him Today!!" He considers how that version of the gospel is deficient and suggests a better way to speak the gospel.
4. I Don’t Think I Want to Be a Christian: How to talk to your teen who doesn't want to be a Christian any longer.
5. The Pastor As Navigator: Stephen Calpine shares wise insights not just for pastors, but for Christians as well in walking through the tensions of extremes in the Christian life: “For just as Odysseus had to sail between the two great monsters, charting a course that minimised his losses, so too the pastoral task has to sail between competing extremes, that while good when sailed between, can threaten to crash ministry on their rocks if we sail too close to either side.”
I heartily endorse NT Wright's thesis: a robust doctrine of the bodily resurrection of Christ necessarily impacts our lives. Wright spends much of his book firing shots across the bows of both the fundamentalists and the liberals.
Wright attacks the fundamentalists' belief in a non-corporeal resurrection, grounded in an implicit dualism. It's an important attack. This idea that the real part of us is our immortal souls which will, alone, live on in heaven, is not just non-scriptural, it's anti-scriptural. Furthermore, as NT Wright points out, it has several deleterious effects: it undermines any urgency for the church to do her work here and now; it can create apathy to change unjust social institutions; and it can lead toward a truncated understanding of how we are to respect and appreciate the bodily existence God has granted us.