Top 10 Books from ’13

Each year I try to track the books I read. In the “old days”, I just wrote the titles down in my paper journal but now I’ve posted them all on Shelfari.  I read 32 books in 2013 – a few more than 2012.  Then at the end of the year, I try to sort through my list and pick the books which stand out in my mind for various reasons.  Here’s my lists from 2012 and 2011 and 2010.

The top 10 for 2013 in no particular order:

1. Jesus and the Victory of God by N.T. Wright

An important book which sets the foundation for much of Wright’s popular writing in recent years.

2. Killing Bono by Neil McCormick

Fascinating inside view of U2 as well as the corrupting impact of idolatry upon the life of a man who didn’t succeed in the way Bono did.  Blog post inspired by this book is here.

3. Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Ricard Dowden

A country by country tour of the continent which helped me gain historical and cultural perspective on many countries I knew little about. Insightful and sobering.

4. The Pastor by Eugene Peterson

Peterson writes like a wise old grandfather telling his tale to his grandson.  My review is here.

5. The mission of God’s people : a biblical theology of the church’s mission by Christopher J. H. Wright

Very helpful book in thinking about what the church is suppose to be doing.  You can read my review here.

6. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lemott

This had me laughing and crying – I just didn’t want to stop reading.

7. The Letter to the Ephesians by Peter O’Brien

I read this while preaching through Ephesians at New City – helpful for my soul as well as my preaching.

8. Tribes by Seth Godin

Read this if you are trying to lead anything.  Review here.

9. The Gospel of Matthew by J.C. Ryle

The former bishop of Liverpool always has insights into whatever passage he’s diving into.

10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Thought it was time to read this classic again before I watched the 2nd Hobbit movie by Peter Jackson.

 

Tweets of the (2) week(s) (Dec 16-29)

3 Steps to Teach Your Skill Set

Yesterday was the day. Time for my 13 year-old son, Kaleb, to ride the London tube by himself for the first time. He’s been riding the bus (a double-decker red London bus – not a yellow school bus!) to school by himself for two years, so he had some experience and was ready to move up to the next level of transport in the city.tube_map

He was invited over to spend time with his good friend, AJ Patel, who lives in Hounslow which is about 9 miles from our house in Shepherd’s Bush. Normally not a bad 30 minute drive but on Friday afternoon before Christmas, I was not in the mood to fight the traffic. Time for Kaleb to ride the tube.

I taught him how to ride in three simple steps: Instruct, Model and Guide.

Instruct – pass along the relevant information

My first step was to verbally communicate the information Kaleb needed to get from Shepherd’s Bush to Hounslow. Which train to take, where to look for the signs, what door to exit, etc. He need some basic knowledge so we reviewed this before we left home.

Model – show how it is done

To get to Hounslow from Shepherd’s Bush, you have to take two trains – the Hammersmith Shep Bush Mar& City to Hammersmith and then the Picadilly to Hounslow. This provided me the perfect opportunity to model for Kaleb how to ride the tube. Of course, he’s ridden the tube many times before, but this time, he rode with intentionality. I was with him as we checked our Oyster cards, and looked for the correct platform and observed tube etiquette (let people off before you get on, no loud talking, etc.)

Guide – help along the way

Finally, Kaleb was ready to ride the Picadilly line to Hounslow by himself. Thankfully, we both have phones so I was about to guide him along the way. “Remember to get the train headed to Heathrow”, “Text the Patels from Osterly” and “Hounslow West is your stop” where all reminders of what we had already discussed but were now reinforced while in the process of actually riding the tube.

This same pattern should repeat itself in many other areas as we seek to pass along skills to the next generation. Over the years, I’ve seen my father raise up many new bible study leaders again and again. He discusses how to lead a group as he models leadership in the small group. Over time, the leadership is passed on as he steps into the background to guide.

At New City our desire is to raise up new leaders for the next generation.  As part of our strategy, we brought on board a pastoral apprentice, Oong Lee, who joined us in September. Oong is developing as a preacher so we are following these same steps:

Instruct – we’re reading Bryan Chapell’s book “Christ Centered Preaching” together
Model – he’s attending New City with an eye on the preacher
Guide – we go over his sermons before and after to edit and evaluate

If we skip one of these steps, problems may occur.  Crucial mistakes, discouragement, or even a breakdown in the relationship can happen if we are not willing to take the time and effort needed to pass along skills younger people need.

What skills do you have? Are you passing them along to the next generation?

Is it time for you to Instruct, to Model and to Guide?

The most wonderful time of the year?

For several years, my family and I lived in Southall – “little India” as some call it because it is home to thousands from the Indian sub-continent. One of the most enjoyable times each year in Southall is Diwali – the Indian festival of lights. It’s a time of family, food and lights. Southall

Families and friends get together to eat loads of Indian food and then set of fireworks outside. I have never seen so many individual fireworks going off as I’ve seen in Southall on the night of Diwali.

But there’s a difficult dark side of Diwali as well. Because Diwali is a time for family and many in Southall are away from family – it can be the most depressing time of year. One year we as we walked around there was a commotion at the train station and we found that someone had committed suicide by stepping in front of the train.  This is not completely unusual as the Southall train station has more suicides than any other station in the UK.fireworks

But you don’t have to be an recent immigrant to feel the pain during holiday times. The Christmas season brings parties and dinners with co-workers, family and friends. At those gatherings we realize that we don’t really like some of these people.  Or memories flood in of the close relative who is not going to be there this year. Or maybe we’re just not invited to the parties, and this deepens the loneliness we feel.

Christmas IS a joyous time. But this deep joy in your soul does not come from seeing the lights, or getting the present you always wanted or even being together with family. These are good but they are not enough.

Even in the best of times, with the best parties and best presents and best family gatherings, we will be left with an ache. A feeling that something is not right – that it could have been better. There should be more happiness; deeper love within the family; and friendships that are more open and honest.

But there is hope during this season of the year.  And we find it in a place that we least expect it – from a child. baby

We are all faced with problems, but they are not child-like problems. And the solutions are not child-like either.  At Christmas we celebrate that God has broken into our reality to bring us hope – a hope that is rooted in the reality of a child born in a manger 2000 years ago.

Isaiah 9 predicts the birth of a baby who will bring hope.  Joy will come because this child will bring the end of war and oppression.  He will rule “with justice and with righteousness.

Hope comes not just from the baby, but from the fact that this baby grew up.  He grew up to be the king.  The King of Kings who “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Rev 21:4

That is wonderful.  That does bring hope.  This is a wonderful time of the year.

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