Continuing my annual tradition of sharing the best Christian resources I encounter during the year here are my Top 12 of (20)12.
1) Kingdom: A Journey Through Matthew- series from the Church at Brook Hills. I went to Birmingham in March and heard Mark Platt preach. Oh man, God has given him a gift of wisely and rightly dividing the Word. Video and audio of all sermons available online, and also the notes that go along with the sermons. They also have a podcast.
2) Reading the Bible for All it’s Worth- series of 4 sermons out of Covenant Life Church, one on why it’s important to rightly interpret God’s word, then one each on historical context, literary context, and content and application. Solid stuff. Available on their podcast 1/8-1/29, or online.
3) The Songs of the Servant- series from Redeemer (mostly Tim Keller) on Isaiah. This is a series from 2010 that I listened to back then but re-listened to as I was reading through Isaiah this year. Ah, they are super solid. You can buy the series online, though one of them is in the free sermons section, if you want to get a flavor (and it’s my favorite one!).
4) Desperate- series by Covenant Life Church from 2010 on how Christians should live desperate for God. It was very convicting for me, and super practical! Available on their podcast or online.
5) Holy Spirit series- What a wonderful and challenging series on the Holy Spirit from my home church- Trinity Grace Church (Upper West Side). I learned a lot through this!
6) One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp – 2012 was a year of thanksgiving. Learning to be thankful. Choosing to be thankful. Seeing how giving thanks is radical in a world of complaining, striving, whining, and always seeking “more more more.” This book was a key part of that journey.
7) The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller- This is an excellent book about marriage, great for both those who are single and those who are married. This is unquestionably a book I will read again and again.
8) The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence- An incredibly simple yet hard idea- to develop the discipline and practice of constantly communing with the Lord, continually walking in His presence, all day, every day. This is a short but powerful book that really challenged, inspired, and encouraged me to develop this practice and way of life.
9) The Genesee Diary by Henry J.M. Nouwen- This was the last book I read in 2012, and it was stellar. Nouwen spent 7 months in a Trappist monastery in NY, and this book is his journal from those months. During that time he wrestled with his restlessness, anger, impatience, and desire to please others. Through his time there he learned to see and experience God more simply and wholeheartedly. So real, candid, and helpful.
10) Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in Age of Distraction by Arthur Boers- This book was helpful in thinking about my use of technology and its role in my life. I think it’s probably hard to write a book about technology without sounding a bit over-the-top or judgmental, but while I definitely felt a bit of that at times, overall I think there are good principles, challenging questions, and a thoughtful look at how to engage with our fast-paced always-connected age.
11) Serving Each other through Forgiveness and Reconciliation by Tim Keller. This is a great article on forgiveness that just seemed to come at it from a little different angle than I’d heard/read before and really gets at the heart of community and accountability in relation to reconciliation. Link to the article here or here.
12) ESV Chronological Bible Reading Plan- I have seen and used different Bible reading plans but never had read through chronologically. While it’s generally reading straight through, the plan brings some overlapping texts together (e.g., passages from 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Chronicles, and Psalms) so you’re reading them at the same time, and puts things in fully in time order. It’s great, and I did it with a group from my church and we met once a month to chat about what we were learning- great accountability and so cool to see what the Lord did through 8 other people’s lives through the Word over the year!
The Best of the Rest
The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns- This is a book written by the President of World Vision and tackles the question of how individual Christians and the Church (particularly in the West) live out mercy, generosity and service to the poor and marginalized in our world. I have a few issues with some of the underlying theology/emphasis, so that’s why it’s not in the top 12, but I do think overall it’s a convicting and worthwhile read.