For many a bookworm, there’s no better place to be than their favourite nook, curled up with a good book. But when a new year begins, with the holiday hustle behind you and the pressure of a fresh start ahead, reading a book may seem a waste of time. With the onslaught of busyness, reading seems a luxury you cannot afford.
But perhaps, that’s precisely the reason why you should read.
Sometimes doing the contrary of what is expected, the result is the joy of expanding the mind, enriching the soul and lightening the heart—the load of the new year becomes less burdensome.
So, where to find a good read, given the abundance of material out there? City News shortlists the three most helpful lessons taught in our top picks—all to help you start 2022 on the right foot.
ONE: LEARN HOW TO ABIDE IN CHRIST
The Ruthless Elimination Of Hurry: How To Stay Emotionally Healthy And Spiritually Alive In The Chaos Of The Modern World by John Mark Comer
“There is an undercurrent of anxiety that rarely, if ever, goes away. This sense that we’re always behind, always playing catch up, never done.”
Jesus in Matthew 11: 28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In this book, John Mark Comer urges the reader to pursue a different way—one that is away from hurry, the great enemy of spiritual life. He speaks of an “upside-kingdom”, doing what is contrary from what many people consider important.
Comer, the former senior pastor of a successful megachurch, draws from his own experience in consciously shifting away from a busy lifestyle. He had been a successful pastor, but he was tired, stressed out and spiritually empty.
In the foreword to this book, John Ortberg says, “We are so used to spiritually mediocre days—days lived in irritation and fear and self-preoccupation and frenzy— that we throw our lives away in a hurry.” In our endlessly busy existence, we can relate to Comer’s disdain for “more” and his desire for “less”.
When the author made the decision to re-calibrate, he reached a healthier, more spiritually alive state. When we do that, he shares, we can reach the place Jesus meant when he said to “abide”, the verb of abode of home. It is a place of rest, peace and power. If coming to this place of rest, peace and power is something you feel you need in 2022, this book is a great starting point.
TWO: LEARN HOW TO LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, MIND AND STRENGTH
Thinking. Loving. Doing.—A Call To Glorify God With Heart and Mind, edited by John Piper and David Mathis
“In reality, you are not a human being but a human becoming.”
This book is special because it is a seven-in-one volume, with the contributions of seven stellar spiritual leaders: Rick Warren, Francis Chan, RC Sproul, R Albert Mohler Jr, Thabiti Anyabwile, John Piper and David Mathis.
This a great read for those who wish to tackle the meaty issues of character development as they begin the year. At times, it is not an easy read but it is a worthy tome to press into for the treasures it holds. We must not avoid things that are uncomfortable, even painful, if they can help us to become more Christlike.
Francis Chan and John Piper both urge us not to shy away from pain. In his chapter “Think Hard, Stay Humble”, Chan describes the “unceasing anguish of loving the lost even when it is difficult. He writes, “This kind of thinking, with its accompanying pain, motivates us. And it motivated Paul. He had unceasing anguish over the lost, and he had to do something about it.”
The concepts plumbed are deep, but the bite-sized chapters make these heavy truths easier to chew. This book gives you just enough of a taste of complex topics such as a biblical worldview on philosophy, the peril of pride as we progress, and thinking for the sake of loving.
THREE: LEARN HOW TO ATTAIN UNFAILING HOPE
Experience The Impossible: Simple Ways To Unleash Heaven’s Power On Earth by Bill Johnson
“I try to live in such a way that nothing becomes bigger than my awareness of God.”
This is a book teeming with hope. Every chapter contains injections of faith-filled optimism, and one that comes flowing out of a relationship with God. As encountering Bill Johnson of Bethel Church often does, reading this book will leave you feeling recharged, with a greater perspective of heaven and its priority in our lives.
In times where problems can seem insurmountable, Johnson encourages the reader not to be impressed by them, nor live in reaction to that negativity. He writes, “the drive to remain free from disappointment has given place to this hopelessness and pervasion of Christianity.”
Instead, he fiercely calls for the reader to give their attention to the promises of God: “I must be convinced of God’s overriding goodness, as well as the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.” He says that it is simple, “to stay more aware of God than of problems.”
He also addresses both head and heart issues in being connected to God’s reality. He reminds us that the way we think either expresses or undermines faith. And the heart to hear God’s voice is more important than the ability to. One is reminded that faith is not about performance, but rather about aligning our centre to God and having a real relationship with Him.
With that, Johnson magnifies what is important. He asks the reader to consider that in the light of eternity, every loss is temporary, every victory is eternal, and that is why every believer is able to live with constant hope.
All three titles are available at The Ink Room