Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Best Books of 2013: Spiritual

My favorite spiritual themed books of 2013 are not what you may typically think of when it comes to this category. Instead, all three authors weave in spiritual themes throughout engaging stories or powerful premises. So even if you don't normally read books in this genre, I highly recommend these:

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller

All of my tabs show how great this book is!
If you read Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz then you'll know he's not your typical "spiritual" writer. In fact this book is about the depression he faced after Blue Like Jazz's wild success. When movie producers approach him about turning that book into a movie, he has the chance to reexamine his life and learn what makes a story compelling. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is about him writing a new story for himself that is filled with risk and adventure.

To read my thoughts on how this book applies to John and I seeking to live adventurously in our marriage, read my post Living An Adventure. If you want to live an adventurous 2014, this book is a must read.

"People fear change, she said. Though their situations may be terrible, at least they have a sense of control; at least they know what to expect. Change presents a world of variables that are largely out of their control." 

"A good storyteller speaks something into nothing. Where there is an absence of a story, or perhaps a bad story, a good storyteller walks in and changes reality. He doesn't critique the existing story, or lament about his boredom, like a critic. He just tells something different and invites other people into the new story he is telling."

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist

I flagged about every recipe!
I couldn't put this book down. Shauna Niequist tells honest, vulnerable stories while being hilarious and thoughtful. Plus at the end of every chapter is a recipe, and as you can see from the all of the corners that I tabbed, I want to make almost all of them.

This book is about the connection with others when we gather around the table and enjoy "bread and wine" together. It is not overly religious; instead she discusses the profound meaning, restoration, and connection that results from a life spent around the table with others.

"Some of my most sacred meals have been eaten out of travel mugs on camping trips or on benches on the street in Europe. Many of them have been at our own table or around our coffee table, leaning back against the couch. They've been high food and low food, fresh and frozen, extravagant and right out of the pizza box. It's about the table, and about all the other places we find ourselves eating. It's about a spirit or quality of living that rises up when we offer one another life itself, in the form of dinner or soup or breakfast, or bread and wine."

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work by Timothy Keller 

Tim Keller wrote two of my favorite spiritual books from last year, and he's back with another home run. Every Good Endeavor explores the design and dignity of work and how we can begin to write a new story for work in our lives. Keller shows how the Christian view of work is used to serve others and is an act of worship when done with excellence, integrity, passion, discipline, and creativity. Many churches neglect talking about work even though we spend the majority of week there, and it's often seen as a necessary function to support those doing "God's work." Instead, Keller shows that your job is and of itself God's work and an opportunity to bring God glory.

If you struggle with finding passion in your work, not knowing how to find meaning in your job, or how to reconcile advancing in your career with your faith or values, then this book is for you.

"The book of Genesis leaves us with a striking truth - work was a part of paradise. One biblical scholar summed it up: 'It is perfectly clear that God's good plan always included human beings working, or, more specifically, living in the constant cycle of work and rest.'"

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