As 2020 comes to a close, it is always appropriate to look back and reflect as well as to think towards the coming year and the opportunities that a fresh year can provide to us. Below, you will find a series of resources for spiritual, mental, and physical health. As we conclude this year, ask yourself and (more importantly) ask God how you can become spiritually, physically, and mentally healthy in the coming year.
Books to Read
- Reading is one of my passions. Every year, I read to be entertained, to enter new, creative, fresh worlds, and to grow and encounter new thoughts and ideas from people who are much smarter than I am. Below are some of my favorite book that I read which provide opportunities for spiritual growth and reflection:
The Crucifixion by Fleming Rutledge
- Fleming Rutledge spends more than 600 pages contemplating the cross and its’ significance. She seeks to understand not just one image of the cross but all of them and how they work together to build in images for us to understand forgiveness and how the very fabric of the world was changed on that day that Jesus went to Golgotha. If you are looking to focus on the cross as well as the way Scripture discusses what takes place there, this is the book for you.
Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf
- Volf writes this book with the history and background of the war between Croatia and Serbia in mind, and he asks how it is that followers of Jesus can exclude sin, evil, and all their cunning relatives while also seeking to embrace our neighbor as ourselves–even if that very same neighbor is an enemy. This book encourages followers of Jesus to seek true justice in the form of the way of the cross. It is an excellent book for our times that are still filled with dissension, violence, and “Otherness.”
The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel
- Abraham Heschel writes from his extensive background and knowledge on the prophets to help us understand their social context and the importance of the words that they spoke both then and now. I would encourage anyone who wants to understand the prophets to pick up this book and read with Heschel through these important texts.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- It is no secret that race relations have been strained to a very high level this past year. In this work, Robin DiAngelo helps the reader to understand the concept of race and whiteness in the midst of these difficult, but important, times. For people who are concerned with loving their fellow human beings regardless of race or ethnicity, this book can help give you language for why race can be so confusing and difficult to talk about.
Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels by Richard B. Hays
- Richard Hays shares this work to help readers of Scripture see the themes of Scripture that carry through both Testaments. The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) is not simply something to be discarded now that we have the New. The Old Testament enlightens us and emboldens the story of the New Testament as we seek to see understand what God is up to throughout all of history.
Nonviolence: A Brief History by John Howard Yoder
- This series of lectures compiled into a book allows the reader to consider the way of non-violence. For those who read this book, it is certain that there will be follow-up questions and scenarios that will require further study. However, this journey is well worth it in a world that is defined by violence. How might we choose a different way–the way of Jesus?
But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Closterman
- This book is not specifically a spiritual book or even a Christian one. I was most intrigued by the opening chapters of this book that asks the question of why do we continue to treat past and future differently? We look at the past and can see that the best laid plans never pan out in the long run, and yet we continually approach the future as if we can plan for every eventuality. Instead, we ought to look to the future in different ways, ready to adapt for the challenges that come along the way. This book, while not spiritual, has definite implications for the life of faith.
Struggling? Need Help?
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the organization Help.org. This organization exists to get resources into the hands of people who are struggling with addiction and substance abuse so that they can start their journey toward recovery. As the holidays come and go, and as the new year begins in a few days, there are many who may be struggling and need encouragement or even just a place to start to turning away from destructive tendencies and behaviors. If you or someone you know could benefit from these articles, please review them (linked below) and know that you are not alone. If Skillman Church of Christ, the folks at Help.org, or others can be of help to you, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask.
I hope that you all have a very happy New Year, and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow with you in 2021!