The Best Book I’ve Read in 2017
Earlier this month we asked church members to tell us about the best book they have read this year and would recommend to others.
Keep Your Love On: Connection, Communication and Boundaries by Danny Silk
I didn’t choose this book, it chose me! A while ago I was ill and at home when this book was lent to me. It comes from the Bethel ‘stable’ and is part of a series called ‘Loving on Purpose’ (there are some helpful related resources online).
The book is written in an easy conversational style, about one of the most demanding and tricky areas of life: building successful relationships. It is full of wisdom and heartfelt stories. It is convicting and I found it life changing.
Recommended by Vicky Mennear
The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son & Spirit by Michael Reeves
When you pick up a book from the shelf which has the Trinity as part of its subject, you either drop it like a hot potato or are weirdly attracted to it. Initially I thought this book would help me to understand or grasp the concept of the Trinity better, but what I found is a book which enabled me to relate to God more deeply and intimately because of the Trinity.
Questions like ‘What was God doing before creation?’ and ‘How did the Son relate to the Father when He was on this earth?’ get answered but drew me into that relationship by the Holy Spirit ‘through whom we cry “Abba, Father”‘.
The book describes a God who by nature is loving and He wants to continually demonstrate His love to us, plus calls us to love God as the greatest commandment.
This is a book I would absolutely recommend – even if you usually steer away from anything to do with the Trinity!
Recommended by Richard Moores
The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge
This is a long book, but Rutledge writes so sensitively and engagingly that it was not a slog, even when tackling subtle theological points. A US Episcopalian priest and preacher, understanding the Crucifixion has been Rutledge’s life’s work, and it has yielded a book broad in scope and rich with insight. She shows well how no single view of the Atonement (e.g. penal substitution) can do justice to the range of pictures Scripture itself uses, and clarifies divisive issues.
Jesus is our Passover Lamb, but also our Scapegoat, Ransom, Substitute, Representative Man, and Victor over the powers of darkness.
Recommended by Phil Clarke
The Incomparable Christ by John Stott
In this book Stott takes a looks at Jesus from four different perspectives. In the first section, ‘The original Jesus’, he briefly outlines what each author in the New Testament emphasises about Jesus.
In ‘The ecclesiastical Jesus’ he talks about twelve different emphases the church has had, such as bridegroom, saviour, and social liberator and how this has affected the witness of the church.
The third section, ‘The influential Jesus’, describes how twelve individuals including Thomas Barnardo, St Francis of Assisi, and William Wilberforce have been motivated by aspects of Jesus’ life.
The final section of the book takes a broad sweep through the book of Revelation showing us ‘The eternal Jesus’. The emphasis is on the eternal kingship and reign of Christ.
In true Stott style the book is very readable and will stir you to worship the incomparable Christ Jesus!
Recommended by Simon Clay
Born to Create by Theresa Dedmon
The author, Theresa Dedmon, is a staff member at Bethel Church, Redding where she is the head of the Prophetic Arts Department. The book is full of stories of how creativity has released healing, the prophetic and the knowledge of God’s love into the community outside the church. Everyone is made in the image of God and therefore as he is the Creator so we are all born to create. Don’t think of creativity as only being art.
Read this book to find out about how the creative gift you have been given can influence those around you.
Recommended by Bernice Hopper
No Well-worn Paths by Terry Virgo
2017 has been a year of looking at church history for me. It’s been a joy to explore stories of the past that fire my joy for the present! My standout read has been Terry Virgo’s ‘No Well Worn Paths’, which tells the story of his early life and ministry up to the year 2000.
While it is written as his personal story, the book provides a fascinating insight into God’s work through New Frontiers, which is especially illuminating for those of us who haven’t grown up in the movement. But even if you are deeply familiar with this story I’d definitely recommend a dust down and re-read over Christmas!
Recommended by Joe Williams
The Life You Never Expected by Andrew & Rachel Wilson
This book is an account of one couple’s journey navigating through a life that looks wildly different from the one they imagined. Using Psalm 130 as a touchstone, the reader is invited into Andrew and Rachel’s story, as they share their own experience of parenting children with special needs with raw honesty and candour. As they unravel the gritty reality of grief, disappointment and lament, they address the problems of suffering, fighting for joy and the unresolved ‘why?’
The book is structured around five cycles of weeping, worshipping, waiting and witnessing which provide a raw, honest and at times deeply moving commentary on the issue of suffering. It is an invitation to engage with suffering and disappointment and our own experience of failed expectations, whilst trusting in the One who sees it all.
I consider this one of the best books I’ve read on the issue of suffering and laying down our ‘right to understand’. It left me rejoicing afresh in the gospel of Jesus.
Recommended by Becky Webb
Thank you to all those who contributed to this week’s post.
Why not consider adding some (or all!) of these to your ‘Christmas list’ so you can explore them in 2018!