Happy Monday, everyone,

I often get asked, "what are you reading?" or "what is a good book you'd recommend?" So, I thought I'd take a week off from putting down some of my original thoughts to share with you some of the voices who have been influencing me. Since the start of January, I have been fasting most forms of digital media, which has left me with MUCH more time for reading, and I have enjoyed and benefited from several books so far in 2021 that you may find enjoyable, encouraging and helpful.

Here are a few books(or twelve) that I've read in 2021 that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

1. The Chronicles of Naria, by CS Lewis

It's no secret that I'm a huge CS Lewis fan. I love his work and writing so much, I quote him often in sermons and even named my dog after him. Oddly enough, I've never read his fiction (mostly because I'd prefer a movie to a fiction book). So, I decided since Netflix and podcasts are out of the picture, I'd tackle some of Lewis's fiction. I ploughed through the entire Chronicles of Naria series, which in order goes;

    1. The Magician's Nephew

    2. The Lion the Witch, and the Wardrobe

    3. The Horse and His Boy

    4. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia

    5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

    6. The Silver Chair

    7. The Last Battle

The books are short, easy to read, super entertaining, and more than that, FULL of the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST. There were many moments that brought me to tears as Lewis imagined the work of Christ played out in another world. I strongly recommend any believer, at any age, to read these books. (I am paying my kids a stipend for every book they complete :)

A few favourite quotes from Narnia:

“One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again.”

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

“I am [in your world].’ said Aslan. ‘But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” 

“Girls aren't very good at keeping maps in their brains", said Edmund, "That's because we've got something in them", replied Lucy.” 

By way of a bonus in the Lewis fiction section, I also read through his sci-fi series called "The Space Trilogy," which was much more geared towards adults, super theologically rich, philosophically deep, and wonderfully nerdy. If you love Jesus AND space, you'll love these books. A fun fact about the space trilogy is that Lewis and his buddy J.R.R Tolkien (author of the Lord of the Rings series) challenged one another to write a science fiction book. Lewis published three, Tolkien never finished his. I highly recommend them and will undoubtedly read them again.

    1. Into the Silent Planet
    2. Perelandra
    3. That Hideous Strength

Fun Quotes from the space series:

“No: Space was the wrong name. Older thinkers had been wiser when they named it simply “the heavens.””

“You do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but you have lost love because you never attempted obedience.”

“I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.”

I haven't only been reading fiction these days; I have a couple of others that may be of interest to you that have really impacted me.

2. Sacred Rhythms, by Ruth Haley Barton

I've done a lot of reading as of late in the area of spiritual disciplines and transformation (throughout last year reading A Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard, and the Great Omission, by Dallas Willard, all of these titles were amazing and I highly recommend them), however, this book by Ruth Haley Barton stands apart from the rest for me. This may be premature, as it's so recent for me, but I dare say it's the best book I've read on how to practice the Way of Jesus with Jesus, and see real, inner transformation. It's as practical as it is intellectual, as grounded as it is lofty, and as a pastor, I would be most thrilled to know some of my church family were reading it. (Maybe I'll pay my church family to read this one as I am my kids with Narnia). 

A couple great quotes:

“Your desire for more of God than you have right now, your longing for love, your need for deeper levels of spiritual transformation than you have experienced so far is the truest thing about you. You might think that your woundedness or your sinfulness is the truest thing about you or that your giftedness or your personality type or your job title or your identity as husband or wife, mother or father, somehow defines you. But in reality, it is your desire for God and your capacity to reach for more of God than you have right now that is the deepest essence of who you are.”

“Many of us try to shove spiritual transformation into the nooks and crannies of a life that is already unmanageable, rather than being willing to arrange our life for what our heart most wants. We think that somehow we will fall into transformation by accident.” 

3. Canoeing the Mountains, by Tod Boslinger

I've found this book to be so helpful this season that we are in as a church that I gave a copy to our Sr. Lead team, as well as a couple of other friends. A ministry colleague from Ontario sent this to me, and it has been a huge asset for navigating new territory. If you love the church, are a leader, or just want to know how to lead in times of change and transition, this is one of the most complete and yet most accessible and understandable books I've read on the topic. Bolsinger parallels the story of Lewis and Clark's exploratory mission across the US in the early 1800s to the uncharted territory the church is facing in the 21st century. I strongly recommend this book for anyone who loves the church, is invested in her direction at a leadership level, or just wants to be stretched in their understanding of organizational change.

Some punchy quotes from Canoeing the Mountains:

"Christian leaders: You were trained for a world that is disappearing.”

“We don’t learn from experience, we learn by reflecting on experience.”

“To stay calm is to be so aware of yourself that your response to the situation is not to the anxiety of the people around you but to the actual issue at hand.” 

Okay, there's a current recommended reading list that ought to keep you busy for a while. I will try to do this from time to time; I hope you find it helpful!

Have a great week!