On this page, I will take you all along with me on my journey of reading 1,000 books. I will share with you what I am reading and usually offer a brief summary or thought following my completion of each book. It might take me the rest of my life, but I believe this could radically change the way I think, speak, and write, and that is worth any amount of time. Starting October 22nd, 2016, I am off to read 1,000 books. Here goes nothing!
1. Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine
“We are not ashamed. We are wise. We are not slow and behind. We are finding a capacity for meaning, beauty, depth, and reality that few who are clear-brained ever stop to learn” (117). This short book subtitled, “Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression,” proves to be true to its title. Suggested to me by a dear friend, this book draws on the experiences of renowned Christian preacher, Charles Spurgeon, and dives into the depths of a profoundly disturbed and tortured soul. By expounding on Spurgeon’s personal sufferings and experiences, Eswine speaks gently to those who suffer with depression and those who love someone who suffers with depression, offering hope in the suffering and light in the darkness.
2. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Finding a life of slow, sweet, deep experience is something I think we all long for. In Shauna’s collection of essays, she invites her readers into her own journey from a frantic, success-driven, buckle-down-and-get-the-job-done kind of life into a life of saying no, a life of investing time and presence in the things that matter most and releasing the rest. We are challenged, gently and with care like that of a close friend, to ground ourselves in the love of the Lord, to find our identity in God alone. This book is honest, charming, and filled with hope.
3. Ancient-Future Faith by Robert E. Webber
Robert Webber, in this book, dives into his belief that the most effective way for the Church to engage the postmodern world with the Gospel is to look back, to reclaim the classical tradition and adapt it to fit the postmodern world in which we live.
—First Semester Master’s Text books–
4. The Drama of Scripture: Finding our Place in the Biblical Story by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen
5. Worship in the New Testament: Divine Mystery and Human Response by Gerald L. Borchert
6. Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape our Practices by Bryan Chapell
7. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship by David Peterson
8. Enthroned on Our Praise: An Old Testament Theology of Worship by Timothy Pierce
9. A More Profound Alleluia by Leanne VanDyk
10. The New Worship Awakening by Robert E. Webber
Because I have become so far behind in posting the books I’ve read, I am going to post these as a group and give a short synopsis of what my first semester in my master’s of worship studies program covered, rather than going book by book. In the first semester, our discussion primarily focused on the theology of worship: what the word worship actually means, what scripture shows to be the biblical model for worship, and how all of this applies to the end goal of IWS programs, which is global worship renewal. My favorite of these was the Chapell text, though I enjoyed all of them immensely and gleaned so much from each one. Our final assignment for the semester was to write a paper arguing for five biblical principles of worship, supporting our position with scripture and other research. Based on the texts, my own study of Scripture, and my additional research, these are the five principles that I found to be the most essential to worship:
- Practices anamnesis—the concept of active remembrance in worship, remembrance that goes beyond cognition and actually enters into the reality being remembered
- Tells the Gospel Story—Biblical worship always tells the grand story of God’s redemption and leads worshipers to find their place in the metanarrative
- Calls the body to obedience—Biblical worship is formative to the worshiper
- Unifies the body of Christ—Biblical worship draws those in the body of Christ closer to God and one another
- Is Christocentric—Biblical worship centers on the person and work of Jesus Christ
11. The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Worship by Mark Labberton
When I started this book, I was afraid that it was going to be solely focused on social justice as the end and goal of worship. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book remains completely true to the Gospel as it teaches that our worship ought to form us and transform us into the likeness of Christ. Worship is dangerous because it allows us to be awakened to God’s call on our lives to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. We can no longer turn a blind eye to injustice, suffering, and oppression. Worship, when done in a way that is true to the biblical model, will always lead us to care more for the widow and the orphan, to pursue justice and seek righteousness. If our worship is safe, if it simply makes us more comfortable with our selves and our circumstances, it may be far from accomplishing the divine ends it has always been meant to. This book serves as a bold call on the global Church to CHOOSE to wake up and engage in worship that matters.
12. For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy by Alexander Schmemann
First things first: Schmemann is a total boss. He was an Orthodox priest, a writer, and preacher. He was also the Dean and Professor of Liturgical Theology at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary. This text is rich with meaning and inspires the readers to look deeply into their view of the world, of worship and liturgy, and of their own relationships with God. Schmemann suggests that the separation of sacred and secular spheres of life is a false dichotomy. All of life was always intended to be spent in communion with God, our creator. All of life is to be eucharistic. I had to read most sentences in the text two or three times, not because it was hard to understand, but because it is so rich with meaning that it took my soul multiple readings to process the beauty and depth of the words. I will certainly be reading this book again, and I hope you will read it too.