Can you hear it? Time is beginning to slow down. And soon, just after the Christmas day celebrations, it will come to a grinding halt. The days between Christmas and New Year’s are some of my most cherished quiet moments of the year. That’s because I’m able to relax much with my family, read deeply and widely, and reflect on the past year to plan for the new one.
In my last post, I talked about reading through the Old Testament using the new NIV Zondervan Study Bible. I believe this is a growth-oriented goal; and would encourage you to consider joining me in it as you aim for what matters in 2017.
One of the best ways to grow in God’s Word is to be reading it daily. Think about your morning (or evening) routine and what needs to change. This is an intentional way to learn and love God more. And don’t take for granted the opportunity to be doing this with others. Accountability and encouragement help us to go the distance when we are tempted to quit, get sick, or overwhelmed by life.
Along with getting a head start on my Bible reading plan, here are three exciting books I plan to tackle (or have already started reading) before the New Year.
(1) Live Smart: Preparing For the Future God Wants For You, Dan Dumas
This book presents 14 principles from Scripture that apply the wisdom of Solomon to everyday life. While it is aimed at middle and high school youth, and appears to be a tremendous devotional/teaching resource—I believe it is just as important to read the material for myself before handing copies out to others. Plus, I love Proverbs and need the wisdom of God’s Word to “live smart.”
In a recent online interview, the author shared:1
These 14 are core values for young people who desire to live intentionally. I wish I had someone sit me down and walk me through living smart. These are important lessons for us all to learn and I had to, unfortunately, learn the hard way at times. These principles still affect my daily life. How I make decisions, etc. I hope this book saves the next generation from a lot of foolish living and unwise choices.
I wrote it partly out of duty because I really care about the next generation of gospel leaders. Secondly, I wrote it for my own boys, which one of them has just arrived in his teenage years. Thirdly, I wrote it because there is not a lot of solid material out there to serve the younger generation. I hope the readers sense the urgency in my voice as I walk them through these fourteen critical principles.
This looks like a great read; and one I will likely not be able to put down.
(2) A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry, Heath Lambert
I’m 50 pages deep on this one and can already attest: it should be required reading for any-and every-one who counsels others with the Word of God. Heath Lambert writes in his “Crucial Introduction”:2
The twentieth century witnessed the ascendancy of a theological vision of reality characterized by a disavowal of the authority of God in counseling. This approach to counseling was marked by a nearly complete rejection of the Godward nature of counseling practice. This was a distinct change from the preceding centuries, which had been characterized by religious dominance regarding counseling.
By the 1900s, Christians had been largely excluded from counseling work and were on the defensive about that task. Secular counseling practitioners failed to appreciate that they were engaging in theological work and did not appreciate that efforts at instructing people about how to live in God’s world are eminently theological.
The problem is that they were engaging in faithless, God-disavowing theology that hurts rather than helps people. The work of secular counseling practitioners is not neutral and is not scientific. Secular counseling is a conversational intervention where an unbelieving man or woman seeks to provide secular answers, solutions, and help to a person with questions, problems, and trouble. Such counsel bubbles up out of the overflow of a commitment to a secular view of life. Examples of this reality are many.
Just two chapters in, I can see why many of the men I respect in ministry are making such a big deal about this book. Heads up: I will, too.
(3) Reviving New England: The Key to Revitalizing Post-Christian America, Nate Pickowicz
I received a copy of this from the author, the pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Gilmanton, NH, and a “Twitter-friend” (You know what I mean, yes? We’ve never met in person, but interacted numerous times via social media.) Dr. Steven Lawson writes in his foreword to the book:3
This author has done the church a great service by writing this plea that calls for another Great Awaking to come to this barren wasteland. However, this book is more than a plea. It contains a strategic plan for restoring God’s Word in the Northeast. You will find that this book outlines the steps to be followed for the road to recovery.
This work both diagnoses the fatal disease and prescribes the strong medicine needed for the healing of our churches in this day. It is a book that needs to be injected into your spiritual bloodstream and surge through your soul.
What are you planning to read in the days ahead? Do share! I’d love to hear from you.