Pastor J.D. is an avid reader—both by personality and by conviction. But you don’t have to devour books as ravenously as he does to benefit...
As I’ve written before, good writers are voracious readers. Most of the books writers consume should be about something other than writing, but every now and then, it’s good to read up on the craft itself. Call it professional development. Or peeking at your fellow classmate’s answer key.
I’ve been reading an excellent new book recently by Rosaria Butterfield, called The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World. Rosaria has a gift for communication, which comes through in this book. But she also has a gift for discernment—recognizing the need of the hour for the American church. And one of the biggest needs of the hour now is a return to biblical hospitality.
Jesus’ tardiness in coming to Lazarus was not due to a lack of care. As Jesus would explain, God had orchestrated this situation for a greater purpose: to reveal his glory through his control and ultimate victory over all things (John 11:4). I’ll go ahead and give you the punchline: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. But along the way, Jesus teaches us what faith in a really big and sometimes confusing God looks like. Jesus was doing three things in Mary’s and Martha’s pain, and they are what he’s doing in your pain as well.
Recently our staff team read through a challenging and prophetic book, The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb. The authors, Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel, talk about a dangerous trend in churches like ours—a trend towards focusing less on the humility, weakness, and servanthood of sacrifice, instead prioritizing the triumph, power, and boasting of success. They say, "With the decreasing emphasis on the pastor-shepherd, we have seen the rise of the leader. … We are often looking more for a dragon than a lamb. These pastors are much like the shepherds in Ezekiel 34, who were fixated on feeding themselves and disinterested in actually feeding the flock." (pp. 146, 141)
Not every book here is created equal. Some are classics worth savoring (and re-reading); others, while imbalanced, have something timely to say. We’ve read a bunch of these titles already. We’ve put many others in our queue for 2018. And we’d encourage you to do the same. Pick up a few of these and you might just end up finding the best book you’ll read in 2018.