Christmas is the season for giving and that means books! Last night, as a special treat, I got to spend about two hours in Borders. I bought a book for myself and a book to give away. I also read about ten other books but that’s what the armchairs are for right?
An Irish poet once said, “books are the greatest gift one person can give another.” I agree! Don’t give me socks or ties or cologne – give me a good book I haven’t read yet. I have a stack of unread books, but there’s always room for more.
Perhaps you’re looking for a good read or a gift idea. Here are some good books that I’ve just read.
The True Nature of God by Andrew Wommack
Andrew Wommack estimates that only one in a thousand Christians has an accurate concept of God’s nature. So for the 999 of you who still think that God is like the cruel and hard prophets of the Old Testament, I recommend you read this book. God does judge, but He is not judgmental by nature. God is love. Wommack writes, “You know what God is like when you look at Jesus.” Sinners come to Jesus with simple faith. They have nothing that qualifies them other than the finished work of the cross. But then they become self-centered, focusing on all the things they’re either doing or not doing for Jesus. Before you know it they’re trusting in themselves and that’s not good. They’ve taken their eyes off Him even as they seek to live for Him. Second Peter 1:3 says that everything we need comes through our knowledge of Him. It’s not about faith formulas or techniques – it’s simply about knowing God. God gives us faith that we might know Him. Everything else is a by-product of that relationship. The reason we don’t love Him more is that He’s been misrepresented or misunderstood.
South: The Endurance Expedition by Ernest Shackleton
This book is the chief reason why I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately. I can’t put the thing down. As my eyelids start to close I tell myself, I’ve just got to get off the ice floe, or, I’ve just got to make it to Elephant Island. I read Alfred Lansing’s version of the doomed Endurance expedition years ago, but this is the first time I’ve read Shackleton’s own account of his trip to Antarctica. Shackleton and his men were trapped on the icepack for months. They faced death from many quarters: Attacks from leopard seals, tidal surges, killer whales roaming the leads, gale force winds, thirst, frostbite, unrepeated feats of navigation and endurance. This is a made-for-Hollywood story with action on every page. Yet Shackleton tells the story with Victorian modesty. There’s no hype or introspection, just the facts. The leopard seal attack gets three sentences out of 400 pages. Shackleton was a restless man but a brilliant leader. He would wake in the night sensing something was wrong and save his men from disaster. Shackleton made tough decisions and led by example. The lives of his men mattered deeply to him and he was utterly committed to getting every one of them home. This just may be the the 20th century’s best survival story.
Walking in the Will of God by Steve McVey
I wish I had read this book 20 years ago. I remember backpacking around Europe and running into young Christians who were taking a year off to search for God’s will for their lives. Most were afraid that if they did not find it they would miss the mark and disappoint God. When they failed to discern His perfect will those same people would later say, “there is no plan – just do the best you can.” According to Steve McVey, God does have a plan for your life and He loves you so much that He will ensure you live it out. “It’s up to Him, not you, to make it happen.” This whole urge to figure things out in advance is just a flesh trip, a futile quest for control. God has better vision than us. He is the director of your life story. Trust Him, relax, and enjoy the show. This book is both inspirational and practical. Don’t treat the Bible as a map, says McVey. Jesus is our map. Stay close to Him. Legalism says we have to listen hard to hear His voice, but grace declares that God will speak loudly enough for us to hear.
Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
I haven’t actually read this one and it wasn’t at Borders last night when I went to get it. But if it’s half as good as the first two parts of Morris’s biography of Teddy Roosevelt, this is going to be a zinger. Why read a book about America’s 26th president? Because he was a man’s man! He single-handledly arrested cattle rustlers, hunted grizzlies, led the charge up San Juan Hill, dug the Panama Canal with his bare hands, navigated the Rio Roosevelt, built a blue-water navy, and invented the teddy bear. Roosevelt was known as the Bull Moose on account of his toughness. Once, when campaigning for re-election, he was shot in the chest at close range by a would-be assassin. With the bullet buried in his chest he proceeded to give an 80 minute speech. He opened with the famous line, “it takes more than a bullet to kill a bull moose.”
Me, Myself, and Bob by Phil Vischer
This is a book about dreams and what happens when God lets them die. Phil Vischer was the creative brains behind the hugely successful Veggie Tales franchise. I had never seen a Veggie Tales animation before reading this book, but if you’re aged 3 to 6, then you’re probably a fan of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber. So here’s the story: Vischer, a computer animator, starts this company called Big Idea because he wants to use computer-generated vegetables to teach Christian values. Right from the start it’s a smash hit. And then, just after the premier of the first Veggie Tales movie, Big Idea declares bankruptcy. A little while later Vischer is kicked out of the company he started. His dream in tatters, God begins to teach Vischer the difference between vision and revelation. With a new understanding of how God values him, Vischer moves on to other projects. Stressful work is replaced with restful work. What had previously felt like “pushing a boulder uphill” now feels as easy as gliding on ice. The last few chapters of this book are a must-read for anyone with a dream of making a big splash for God.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis
I have to say I’m a little apprehensive about the third Narnia movie being released by Walden Media this month. It’s not that they did a bad job with the first two movies, but how do you transform the mini-epic of Dawn Treader into a movie? It has so many separate little stories. It’s the buffet of tales that makes this book so endearing. Although it’s the fifth of the seven chronicles of Narnia, it is usually the first book I read when I reread the entire series. What’s it about? It’s the story of Edmund, Lucy, and their nasty cousin Eustace as they journey to the Eastern Islands in search of seven lost lords. Needless to say they find them, but not without lots of adventures along the way. My favorite part is near the end when they are rowing through a sea of lilies knowing that they are approaching the edge of the world, and are thus close to Aslan’s country. Every time I read it I wish I was in the boat with them.
So, that’s my list. What are you reading, or hoping to read, this Christmas?