I love books, whether it’s reading them, talking about them, giving them as gifts, or even flipping through them at the library or bookstore. Books become a conversation partner stirring us to action or stretching our thinking. At any point, I’m reading (or researching) several books, so it’s easy for me to get excited about new books. But, having grown through Mark Vroegop’s preaching, serving under him as a staff member, and getting the chance to see this book develop, I’m especially excited to share with others what I think will be a very helpful gift to the Church. Here are my top 5 reasons (among others) to read Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament.
As a fan and student of Church History, I love timeless books. Any Christian in any place at any time could pick up John Owen’s Communion with the Triune God and benefit from it. But there’s also great value in timely books, such as Alan Noble’s Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age.
“[Tol Proudfoot] had become an elder of the community, and had recognized his memories, the good ones anyhow, as gifts, to himself and to the rest of us.”
Maybe it’s my small-town upbringing, but I feel at home when reading Wendell Berry’s fictional stories. His characters aren’t larger-than-life heroes or villains but they capture the ordinary, beautiful, flesh-and-blood people I’ve encountered in life. His plots aren’t moved along by intense action, but in their familiarity as true to life stories you might hear at your own family gathering.
One of the best things Christians can do to stir their affections for God is to read books focused on Jesus. These books help us follow Paul’s pattern of looking up to Jesus as the means by which we start looking like Jesus. “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Nothing refreshes the heart like a few sips of Christ’s glory.
I first listened to Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead on Audible and now have read it, alongside her two follow-up novels (Home and Lila). The trio share overlapping characters and stories from the vantage of three different characters. It’s similar in ways to what Wendell Berry has done with some of his Port William characters in his stories and vignettes.
After recently preaching, I was reminded of a Wendell Berry poem about how we work but we ultimately rest as God does the work. I think this applies not only to preaching and ministry but to parenting, relationships, speaking truth to someone, any attempt at making a difference, gardening, our work, and many other things. There’s so much work for us to do, and yet in some ways so little we can do. Much has to be “left to grace” while we rest.
In a sermon this morning, I shared one of my favorite quotes from Jared Wilson’s Imperfect Disciple. Jared is one of my favorite authors today, and in my opinion, this is his best book yet. Below is a short summary from my Amazon review, followed by a few of my favorite quotes to entice you to sneak this into your Christmas list.
When we really think about the Incarnation (God taking on flesh), it should stir wonder in us. In The God Who Became Human, Graham Cole summarizes his hope for the reader.
Most books fall pretty neatly into some category: fiction, theology, history, devotional, leadership, etc. The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon does not. It’s a cookbook, of sorts. It’s a theology and apologetics and philosophy book, of sorts. It’s a personal memoir and Christian living book, with a good bit of humor sprinkled in. The short quote on the bottom-front of the book by Craig Claiborne of The New York Times is fitting: “One of the funniest, wisest, and most unorthodox cookbooks ever written.”
Erik Raymond has become one of my favorite authors, and not just because of his love for Boston and its sports teams. I regularly visit Erik’s site at The Gospel Coalition: Ordinary Pastor. He writes with a pastor’s love of the Word and love of people. You can always bank on his words being Christ-centered, and therefore, full of the life-giving grace of Jesus. Like Jared Wilson, Raymond uses a very readable, conversational, sometimes humorous tone to find new ways to drive the same old gospel into the heart.