Last year I posted my favorite reads from the year. Here's some favorites from 2013. If you'd like to know more about any of these, just ask! The links are all to Amazon's listing of the title.
Going Public - one Christian family's stories and guidance on shepherding kids through the public school system. This is a good read on the role of parents regardless of your choice for schooling your children. Whether you homeschool, private school, charter school, or public school, active parental involvement is vital. Really enjoyed this.
The Black Banners - A fascinating insider's look at the war against al-Qaeda.
A couple of books on fatherhood:
What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him - not an indictment of my dad, but a reflection of my desire to be a good dad. Highly readable, punchy, content is very good - especially his chapters on sex and pornography.
Time for the Talk - a wonderful help to parents preparing their children (especially fathers preparing sons) to walk through the physical transition from childhood to adulthood.
Amazing Grace - the biography of William Wilberforce who battled for and attained the abolition of the slave trade in England. One takeaway (among many): Christians don't have to be pastors or in formal ministry to be useful servants for the cause of Christ. Serve God in whatever calling he's given you!
Two WWII Books:
One from the Pacific theatre: Unbroken - the remarkable story of Louis Zamperini, a World War II bombardier and POW. Really. It's remarkable. You should read it. I find myself thinking of this story when I start to complain or think about complaining about some mild discomfort (cold, hunger, uncomfortable sleeping conditions, etc.)
One from the European theatre: A Higher Call - how the paths of an American bomber pilot and a German fighter pilot crossed over warn torn Europe. Would be better if the author or either of the pilots acknowledged that only a sovereign God could orchestrate a story like this.
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert - Wow. Lots to learn here.
What should be on my list for 2014?
The last week has given me a couple of highlights of love. They have come by way of 2 young men named Sean.
Sean #1 is a college freshman. Driving home from Mississippi to Kentucky after completing finals, he was involved in a terrible car accident. Today he remains in a medically induced coma, fighting for his life, upheld by the power of God and the prayers of His people. Both of his legs are broken, his face is lacerated, his lungs are bruised, and he has swelling on his brain. His parents, siblings, family, and friends are heartbroken. They want so badly to bring light and joy to the one God has used to bring them so much light and joy. You can track his progress and be better informed how to pray here.
I've seen love in Sean #1's story from his sweet family. I've seen it in the way God's people have rallied around them and provided for them in remarkable ways. I've seen it in Sean's facebook page exploding with assurances of prayer, love, sadness. I've seen it in the III on people's arms (matching Sean's III for himself and his 2 other brothers). I've seen it in a restaurant - Salsaritas - where Sean worked, holding a fundraising day where they gave a percent of their sales to the family. How was business that day? The biggest day in their history. What a joy to see love emerging from the ashes of tragedy. Please pray for Sean and his family.
Until yesterday, Sean #2 was a Chinese orphan. But a friend of mine and his family, who had already adopted 2 children from China, decided to do more. Here's the story. This young man was on the verge of being too old to be adopted. Jeremy and Amanda kicked things into high gear to pull off an adoption in extremely short order to beat the deadline. They're in China now and have their new son. What kind of love must it take to not just adopt a baby, but a teenager? Love beyond telling.
These remarkable demonstrations of love, however, are a shadow and reflection of the love of God for his people. He loved us when we were unlovely. He loves us extravagantly. He shows us that love most clearly through Christ who came into the world to save sinners like us. "...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) Love beyond telling or comprehending. I hope the Seans will teach us something about God's love for us and challenge us to go and show that kind of love to others.
At Christmastime many note that it's all about remembering the birth of Christ or that Jesus is the reason for the season. This is, of course, good and right. But at the risk of sounding like I'm from the department of redundancy department (I've preached on this more than once and we discussed it last night at church as well), if we don't remember WHY Jesus was born, it won't do us much good to celebrate THAT he was born.
So Why was He Born?
Listen to the scriptures in their own words (all quotes from the ESV). When you read "came" or "appeared" remember his birth is how he came into the world; it's how he made his appearance. He came to earth by being born of a virgin.
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. - 1 Timothy 1:15
How Should We Respond?
Thanks to my GBC church family for brainstorming for these responses last night.
1. Acceptance. Believe! This Christmas could be your best ever if you trusted in this Christ who came to save sinners like you and me from our sins.
2. Humility. He sought us; not the other way around. He saved us because we cannot save ourselves.
3. Gratitude. How could we not be thankful for the greatest gift?
4. Worship. Glory to the newborn King, indeed!
5. Joy. Our hearts must sing with gladness. Joy to the world: The Lord is come and is coming again!
6. Peace. The Prince of Peace secures our peace with God and we, then, can have peace within.
7. Obedience. If he came to destroy the work of the devil, we must not continue in it.
8. Tell Others. This is not a message to be kept to ourselves.
May we delight in this Christ this time of year and always!
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.
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