This year I read 34 books. Here are my top ten reads of this year:
Amy Gannett makes theology accessible for the non-Bible scholar. She advocates that our study of God should always lead to our worship of Him. I highly recommend this book for those who want to dig deeper into theology and have their view of God expanded.
"Theology (our study and knowledge of God) should always lead to doxology (our worship of Him). Worship should always be rooted in theology. When we study the nature and character of God as revealed in his Word, we are invited to respond in the affectionate, obedient discipleship of worship.
How can we keep our theology from being mere head knowledge? How do we give our worship roots that will last? By fixing our eyes on God Himself―the object of our study and the object of our worship.
Fix Your Eyes is an invitation to understand core doctrines of the Christian faith and apply them in our daily worship of God. It walks believers through key theological concepts and shows how each can be lived out in daily life."
This book absolutely transformed the way I view my body. No longer is it a project to manage with strict diet and exercise, but it is a tool to be used to serve God and others. My body is good (and so is yours!).
"It's one thing to know in your head that you were created in the image of God. Yet it's quite another to experience this belief in your body, against the cultural ideals of a woman's worth. And between the two lies a world of frustration, disappointment, and the shame of somehow feeling both too much and never enough in your body.
Jess Connolly is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and trusted Bible teacher who knows this inner conflict all too well, and this book details her journey--and yours--of setting out to discover how to break free from the broken beliefs we all hold about our bodies that hold us back from our fullest life. The truest thing about you is that you are made and loved by God. And the truest thing about Him is that He cannot make bad things. This book will help you believe it with your whole self, as Jess guides you through an eye-opening, empowering process of:
Renaming what the world has labeled as less-than
Resting in God's workmanship
Experiencing restoration where there has been injury
And becoming a change agent in partnering with God to bring revival to a generation of women
Far from a superficial issue, self-image is a spiritual issue, because God has named your body good from the beginning. Whether your struggle is with eating and exercise habits, stress or trauma, infertility or injury, this book makes space for you to experience God meeting you in this tender place, and ring His freedom bell over your body in a whole new way."
I listened to this book on audio, and it was absolutely fascinating. Highly recommend.
"The Four Winds is a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.
“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”
Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.
By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.
In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa―like so many of her neighbors―must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.
The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it―the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation."
I read this book because I knew I needed it, and it didn't disappoint. Control is an illusion, and the antidote is trust in a God who controls all things.
"We all wish we had more control. When our relationships are strained, when our bodies refuse to cooperate, when the future is uncertain, control promises security and peace. If only I were in charge, we dream. And this illusion seems more attainable than ever. Technology, science, medicine, and the internet all promise us ever-increasing mastery over our world.
The problem is, control is a "devil's deal." The more we seek it, the more it betrays us. In place of predictability, it gives us anxiety. In place of certainty, it creates more complexity. And in place of unity, it divides. It's not just that we cannot control things; it's that we break them even more when we try.
Thankfully the answer to our craving is not simply to "let go and let God." When our kids aren't listening, when our loved ones are self-destructing, or when our health is declining, we don't have to scramble after control, nor do we have to throw up our hands. Instead, God has given us a better tool.
In this culturally insightful and eye-opening book, Sharon Hodde Miller helps us discover the real power God has given us in Christ, to exercise influence over ourselves and our lives."
Susie Larson is one of the fiercest women of faith in our day. This book challenged me to believe God's promises are for me and to fight like the war has already been won.
"Your battle is real, but Jesus has won the war. What you believe determines how well you'll fight. Your understanding of who God is and who you are in His Kingdom makes all the difference when the enemy attacks, whether he's coming after your health, your finances, your relationships, or anything else. And though it sometimes seems like the enemy is winning the day, God Himself will have the final word.
Strong in Battle is about how to gain victory in your hardships and overcome obstacles you face in this life. God is training your hands for battle and your dependence on Him is your superpower, leading to better discernment and more power, wisdom, and authority. Intimacy with God will lead to love overcoming fear, which will help you fight with more courage, joy, and strength.
The battle is real; you're not imagining it. And this book's practical battle strategies will help you arise victorious with a stronger sense of who you are and what you possess through Jesus Christ. So fear not--you're on the winning side."
Biblical fiction is new to me, and just might be a new favourite! This book is captivating and will stir your imagination for biblical narrative.
"From the bestselling author of Jewel of the Nile comes the thrilling tale of a woman who feels she has no future but soon discovers the fate of nations may rest in her hands.
The beloved daughter of Jewish captives in Babylon, Keren is sold into Daniel’s household to help her family survive. She becomes Daniel’s most trusted scribe, while taking lessons and swordsmanship training alongside Daniel’s sons and their best friend, Jared.
But after a tragic accident changes the course of her life, Keren finds herself in a foreign country, charged with a mysterious task: teaching a shepherd boy how to become a lord. When she overhears whispers that hint at his true identity, she realizes she must protect him from the schemes of a bloodthirsty king.
Jared cannot forgive Keren. Still, he finds himself traveling over mountains to fetch her back to the safety of home. When he discovers the secret identity of Keren’s pupil, Jared knows he must help protect him. Love battles bitterness as they flee from the king’s agents, trying to save the boy who could one day deliver their people from captivity."
This book expanded my understanding as God as Father and how His love for the Son spills over into His relationship with us. The Trinity is often misunderstood or over-simplified, and this book helps to correct and expand our thinking.
"Why is God love? Because God is a Trinity.
Why can we be saved? Because God is a Trinity.
How are we able to live the Christian life? Through the Trinity.
In this lively book, we find an introduction to Christianity and the Christian life that is from start to finish rooted in our triune God--Father, Son and Spirit. Not only do we understand the person and work of Christ through the Trinity, but also prayer, the church and every aspect of our faith.
With wit and clarity, Reeves draws from church history down to the present referencing a wide range of notable teachers and preachers. Here is a rich and enjoyable portrayal of the basic beliefs of Christianity that opens up the profound and life-changing truths of our faith."
This book is a beautiful tale of love and heartbreak and tells of how one choice can devastate the lives of many. For those who would rather watch, it is also a movie.
"After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.
The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel."
This was a re-read for me, and it was just as inspiring the second time. This book will motivate you to carry out God's calling on your life with courage and faith.
"Listeners to Susie Larson's radio show and women she meets at events across the country tell her the same thing: I want to do something meaningful for God, but I don't know what to do, or how.
Drawing on her own hard-earned experiences, Larson shows readers how to overcome insecurities, busyness, and other obstacles in order to focus their gifts and passions on their unique God-assignment. With biblical insights and inspiring stories from a variety of women, this action-oriented guide will speak to every woman who has felt a nudge from God--from the visionary who wants to end poverty to the empty-nest mom who feels called to help the young single mother next door."
This book is stunning in its originality and opens our eyes to the wonder of how God's design ordinary things points to an infinitely creative God. Highly recommend.
"Jesus used things like a lily, sparrow, and sheep to teach about the kingdom of God. And in the Old Testament, God repeatedly describes himself and his saving work in relation to physical things such as a rock, horn, or eagle.
In God of All Things, pastor and author Andrew Wilson invites you to rediscover God in this way, too--through ordinary, everyday things. He explores the idea of a material world and presents a variety of created marvels that reveal the gospel in everyday life and fuel worship and joy in God--marvels like:
Dust: the image of God
Horns: the salvation of God
Donkeys: the peace of God
Water: the life of God
Viruses: the problem of God
Cities: the kingdom of God
God of All Things will leave you with a deeper understanding of Scripture, the world you live in, and the God who made it all."
These are the other books I read this year:
When Strivings Cease
A Town Called Solace
Find Your People
Your Story Matters
Creative Bible Teaching
Social Sanity in an Insta World
Eat This Book
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness
No Perfect Parents
Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible
The Magician’s Nephew
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Heaven Promise
Writing in the Margins
Tell it Slant
The Powerful Purpose of Extroverts
Find us Faithful