2005 saw me with an eclectic assortment of books on my nightstand. I read books from authors such as Thomas Friedman to Sarah Vowell to Eugene Peterson to Bill Clinton. My favorite reads from 2005 are as follows (in no particular order):
1. blink – Malcolm Gladwell
2. Freakonomics – Steven Dubner & Steven Levitt
3. The Best Question Ever – Andy Stanley
4. Searching for God Knows What – Don Miller
5. Buck-Naked Faith – Eric Sandras
6. No god But God – Raza Aslan
7. Coffeehouse Gospel – Matthew Paul Turner
8. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith – Anne Lamot
9. Blue Like Jazz – Don Miller
10. Volunteer Revolution – Bill Hybels
Of these I would like to quickly go over my top three…
3. Coffeehouse Gospel.
This is the first book of RELEVANT Magazine writer Matthew Paul Turner. It is a short book, but a profound read. The atmosphere Mr. Turner wants to turn us onto when sharing our faith is that of a coffeehouse – relaxed, caring & deep. It sounds very much like the atmosphere of The Inklings (the group of writers & thinkers C.S. Lewis was a part of). That is, we can agree to disagree; we respect one another’s beliefs, fears & ideas; we speak passionately about what we feel is truth; & we forget about non-essentials.
Mr. Turner isn’t saying that we convert churches into coffeehouses, however. He is saying that our outreach can be as comfortable as talking in a coffeehouse. That as we share our most important story with others, we can weave it throughout the course of normal conversation.
We are all called to be evangelists. No one is excluded. Matthew 28 makes that clear. And in The Coffeehouse Gospel, Mr. Turner helps us be confident in sharing that story with those who need to hear it.
2. No god But God
If I were to write a book on Christianity, I would model it after this book. Mr. Aslan is a scholar & a fluid writer. He lays out quite clearly the history & beliefs of the Islamic faith. The history reads like a story & really captures your imagination. I have listen to lectures on Islam, read articles & books on the faith, but none have laid it out so coherently. It is fascinating to learn the history & people associated with this faith.
1. Searching for God Knows What
The best book I have read in a very long time. Mr. Miller is witty, poignant & fresh. In the same honest, refreshing writing style used in Blue Like Jazz, Mr. Miller brings faith to life. He asks questions which some of us may not want to hear the answer for, & he puts a new spin on old ideas. His writing is like a breath of fresh air for the Church. He is straight to the point & pulls no punches. Mr. Miller writes on his website regarding the book, “I've seen more and more how, in my own life and in the lives of the Christians around me, we subscribe to false gospels that are troubling our souls. Because we live in a constant sales enviornment where we are told a certain car will make us sexy or a certain dishwashing detergent will be a miracle for our dishes, we assume the gospel of Jesus works the same way, that is, if we invest something, we get something more back. But this is not the case. To understand what the Bible explains Jesus' gospel to be, we must look to each other, to the way a father interacts with a child, a bride to a bridegroom, a doctor to a patient. When we let go of the idea of Jesus as a product and embrace Him as a being, our path to spiritual maturity begins.” This is a must read book for everyone.