Today’s the first day of 2018, so I’m taking a look back at 2017 this week. Let’s start with my favorite books of 2017.
I love to read. This year, I read less fiction and more non-fiction than normal. Which books were my favorites?
#1 – How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It
by June Hunt
When I look back on 2017, I see God growing me in forgiveness. I read several books, but June Hunt’s book is by far the best & most packed with Scripture. The other books explained forgiveness (as a textbook), but this one brings it down to real life.
Ms. Hunt uses Scripture to explain why and how to forgive others. She usually begins each chapter with a story of someone working through forgiveness and the benefits of forgiving. I learned so much about forgiving, especially when it hurts very much.
The awesome part of forgiveness is the freedom you receive when you forgive someone else. The other person does not need to apologize or even be sorry for how they hurt you. God gives us freedom and amazing peace when we take that person off our hook and put them on God’s hook.
We are all called to forgive like God forgives us and June Hunt can help you apply God’s Word. She’ll help you discover . . .
• What if it hurts too much to forgive?
• What if the other person isn’t sorry?
• How can I let someone off the hook for doing something so wrong?
Regardless of where you are in life today, you will need to forgive at some time. This book is the perfect companion to God’s Word to help you forgive.
#2 – Between Heaven & the Real World: My Story
by Steven Curtis Chapman
I haven’t listened to Chapman’s music much in the past, but this year I became a huge fan after reading his book. My brother’s family has supported Chapman’s adoption ministry and now relates to Chapman in the fact that both lost a child at an early age. In fact, my brother read this book as a devotional because it was chockful of lessons from God. So, I decided to read it, too.
My favorite thing about Chapman’s memoir is his honesty and vulnerability. He’s honest about his weaknesses in his marriage and the way he handles (or mishandles) problems in his family. If for no other reason, read this book to discover the lessons Chapman learns through marriage, kids, adoption and grief. You’ll be encouraged to be honest with your spouse, your kids and your friends. God does not want us pretending to be someone we are not … and Chapman encourages me to be more honest about my weaknesses and God’s strength.
I was also encouraged as I deal with loss in my life, specifically the loss of my sweet niece Anna. To see another Christian family work through their grief and heartaches is encouraging.
If you enjoy biographies, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.
#3 – Stuck Study Guide
by Jennie Allen
I usually don’t put Bible study guides on my favorite list, but this book had a profound impact on me the last 3 months. I joined a new Bible study in the fall and they were doing Stuck. When I first looked at the study guide, I thought to myself, “this looks like a wimpy Bible study”.
This skinny book is anything but wimpy. God used it to change my life. How so, you ask.
The morning of my dad’s second surgery one week of October, I was downstairs at our Ronald McDonald type home praying, reading, meditating. The topic was laying down your life, dying to self. I’ve heard that for years, but the questions Jennie Allen asked were significant. I had to write down things that were most valuable to me right now. So, I wrote down things like:
– good marriage
– good relationships with my adult kids
– being involved with my grandkids
– money to pay the bills
– desire to be heard since I’ve been hurt
– desire to be healed
…and some others
Next, she asked if I was willing to lay down my right to these things and let God defend me. WOW!
So, I chose the two that were most difficult for me at that time and I laid down my right to be heard and my right to be healed (emotionally). I told God I would let Him defend me. Over the next couple months, God gave me real-life opportunities to lay down these two rights when I wanted to defend myself. When I wanted to tell other believers how much I hurt. When I wanted to “feel” better.
I prayed to God begging for Him to defend me and hold me.
What do you think happened?
Miracles. Miracles from God. Miracles because God worked in His own way and defended me, working things out for my good.
There are 6 other chapters in this book. God used all of them in growing me closer to Him in ways I never imagined. As I write this post, I might host an online study of this book. Leave a comment if you’re interested in participating.
#4 – Prayers for Prodigals: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Child
by James Banks
Although I don’t have a prodigal child, this book encouraged me as I prayed for other prodigals in my life. Mr. Banks packs each of his 90 (1-page) prayers with Scripture. That means each day I’m praying Scripture for those prodigals in my life. I’m almost finished with my second reading / praying through this book.
If you have a prodigal in your life, do not pass “Go”. Do not do anything else, except get this book. I wish I had found it years ago.
#5 – Love Does:
Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
by Bob Goff
A year ago, I began attending a new church (after attending my old church for 35 years). I soaked up the encouragement from Connecting Point Church in College Station. I was a sponge on their vimeo account. After listening to the “Love Does” sermon series, I knew I had read Goff’s book.
Goff gives practical examples of love-in-action. He begins with a story about his Young Life leader who went with Goff to find a job after Goff dropped out of high school. After a couple weeks, they returned home. That’s when Goff discovered his Young Life leader had just gotten married. That leader did not see Goff as an inconvenience. Instead, he saw Goff as a young man who needed someone to love him, to care for him, to be concerned for him.
Read this book and your perspective on unconditional love will change.
#6 – Taylor’s Gift:
A Courageous Story of Giving Life and Renewing Hope
by Todd Storch
I heard Taylor’s mom speak at Texas A&M’s “Tell Your Story” last March. Their family’s story parallels my brother’s family. Taylor died in a skiing accident in 2010. Her parents chose to donate her organs and eventually began a non-profit for organ donation awareness.
You will cry as you read this beautiful story of self-sacrifice in the midst of deep grief. Even if you don’t have a young person in your life who died at an early age, I highly recommend this book.
#7 – The Day I Met Jesus:
The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels
by Frank Viola & Mary DeMuth
As I read this book, I felt transported back to the time of Jesus. I felt like I was an eyewitness to Jesus’ meeting with each of these five women. I was touched by Jesus love and forgiveness with each of them. As I read, I “experienced” Jesus forgiveness, grace, compassion and unfailing love in each these stories.
#8 – American Wife: Love, War, Faith, and Renewal
by Taya Kyle
Chris Kyle wrote American Sniper (which I plan to read in 2018). His wife wrote her perspective in American Wife. Just like Steven Curtis Chapman, Ms. Kyle is honest and vulnerable. She shares her faith and struggles in an honest way, but does not throw it in your face.
If you’re unsure about reading American Sniper, try this one. You’ll appreciate our military so much more. You’ll also see how God works and heals us through our grief. It’s another tear jerker.
#9 – The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard
by Kara Tippetts
Kara died of cancer a few years ago. She left behind a husband and young kids. She discusses how to gain peace in the midst of huge trials and suffering. Regardless of your trials, Kara encourages us to move away from control and fear, as we move towards God’s peace and grace.
The idea of moving away from control is so important to me. That’s the lesson I am learning. Give up control and let God take care of me. Easy to say; hard to do.
That’s my list of favorite books of 2017. What’s yours?
Question: What was your favorite book from 2017? You can leave a comment by clicking here.