Some New Year's Readings

At the beginning of the new year, my "resolution" (if one could call it that), was to try and read at least 2 books a month. Truth be told, I have been doing a so-so job at that, just wrapping up my first one now, but it got me thinking about the books I've read

Christian books can be tricky. I've read ones that are boring, ones that could have been condesnsed into a few paragraphs, and ones that were outright laughable in their handling of the Biblical texts. Within that range though are a few gems. I certainly don't think of myself as the arbiter of good vs. bad Christian books, but I thought sharing some favorites from my library could actually be helpful, as one of the hardest questions when trying to read devotionally can simply be, what's worth reading? Here are a few that I think are, if you'd like to join me in reading something new this year.
First up is one that i brought up during my last Sermon: With, by Skye Jethani. This one has been hugely influential in the way I see God, and it does so by simply asking how we ought to relate to him. The author suggests that humans have a tendency to see their lives lived below, above, from, or for God, when in actuality the Bible stuggests that a life lived with God is the approach Scripture models.  (I'd also reccomend some of his other books like Futureville and his What if Jesus was serious... Series
Next up is one that really caused me to rethink the way I approached apologetics, and talking with people who disagree with me as a whole. The Reason for God by Tim Keller can at this point probably be considered a modern classic. It addresses apologetic questions that many non-Christians have, and offers comelling responses, but honestly, what was more influential to me was the way Keller went about answering the questions. I always thought that apologetics was about winning arguments, defending God's honor, or twisting someone's arm with sheer logic into the kingdom, but what Keller models is a spirit that says "Jesus is so wonderful, and I want to help you see that he is in fact the thing that your soul is searching for, even if you can't quite see it yet". Again, I also recommend plenty of his other books, Like Generous Justice or The Prodigal God.
Here's an old one- maybe a true classic. In the late 1600's, a monk knwon as Brother Lawrence wrote a book all about how to recognize and live in light of God's real presence. What makes it so unique though is that his role in the monastery was not one of great honor, but instead that of dishwasher. The relationship that he modeled with God and wrote about in his letters, and the way in which he saw his mundane work as a way to experience it has the potnetial to reshape the way you see your day to day work as a truly spiritual experience.
Finally, I'll end with one of my favorites. I never expected a fictional book to be one of the most influential Christian reads of my life, but The Lost Letters of Pergamum is just that. In it, New Testament Scholar Bruce Longenecker sets out to explain how a first-century Roman may have interacted with the claims of Jesus in his context, and it does so by creating a story centered around a roman man who begins a set of letter correspondences with Luke, the author of the Gospel. The way that he speaks about his first experiences with the first-century church rocked me deeply, and I rarely can make any decision or have a conversation about the church of today without thinking about his narrative. If you want a book that challenges the way you think about Jesus and the church he created, this is for you!
So that's just a few samples of some books from my shelf. If you're looking for something to read, hopefully this gives you a starting point (though I'll warn you, I only own 1 copy of each, so I can only share them 1 at a time if that was your plan!)

Dan Vandzura