Apart from the books listed here, I read my Bible throughout the year. I believe the Bible is God's inspired Word to us, and of all the things I read, I see the Bible as what is most essential for me to be feeding on. Most of the postings I add to my blog are a result of my time spent reading God's Word.
With that in mind, here are the books that I've read this year.
- Hidden in Christ: Living as God's Beloved by James Bryan Smith. This is a book of devotionals based on select words found in Colossians 3:1-17, one of my long-time favourite passages of Scripture. Each chapter hones in on the rich meanings of words carefully chosen by the Apostle Paul, and I found that Dr. Smith's insights repeatedly brought the words home to my personal context so that I could better experience the reality that Paul intended for his readers to realize in their everyday lives as they reflected on this passage. It's another of those books you want to start reading again as soon as you complete it!
- Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger. This book is a must-read for all desert-lovers. The book reads as slowly as a camel crossing the Empty Quarter, but is thoroughly mesmerizing in its recounting of the cultural and contextual details as Thesiger crossed the vast Empty Quarter of the Arabian peninsula by camel two times. The stories Thesiger tells are made all the more appealing by his obvious love and respect for the Bedu people, who helped him across "the sands" where no Westerner had ever before travelled. These desert adventures occurred just before the oil companies appeared on the scene, which Thesiger rightly feared would forever change the cultural landscape of the Bedu people, making this book a precious time capsule of an age we will never see again.
- The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense by John Bevere. I get offended. And sometimes I let offenses linger. And I know that every day, I face numerous opportunities to get more offended. I don't always resist those temptations. So when a particular instance of this came up in my life, someone recommended I read this book. I'm glad I did, because as I read it, I became more and more aware of how much I needed to read it as personal examples of what Bevere was writing about kept coming to mind. This book is very direct and very practical, and I found it very helpful. I now plan to work through the study guide that came with the version available at the link above.
- Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall. I found this book around the same time that the above book was recommended to me, so I figured I must really need to carry on with this theme. Kendall had a completely different approach from John Bevere, each with their own strengths. And though I struggled at times with what seemed like Kendall's somewhat passive approach on how we respond to significant sins in the Church, I was encouraged by his humble grace-oriented perspective on how we need to avoid carrying superior attitudes toward others. But the chapter on forgiving oneself was worth the price of the book for me! I went back and prayed through that whole chapter after I had read it and may do so again. The many insights of that chapter could make a real difference for me!
- Come Back, Barbara by C. John Miller and Barbara Miller Juliani. A wonderful book written by a father and his daughter about the many challenges they faced as parents and as a daughter growing up in a Christian home. This book tells the story from both the father's and the daughter's perspective about the journey each of them experienced and on the lessons that each of them learned about themselves as the daughter turned away from God and then eventually returned to Him.
- The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi. The scope of this book is astounding. Thoroughly researched and well-written, Mangalwadi presents a compelling case for how radically the truths of the Bible have influenced the world we live in. I found reading it hard slogging at times, and sometimes grew quite weary from how thought-provoking this book is, but I'm glad I read it. This book serves as a beacon in a dark and deteriorating world, offering a Christ-centered worldview, in contrast to the hopeless relativism being tossed around these days.