Ruth Clemence’s Top 5 IVP Reads for 2018
We asked prolific book blogger Ruth Clemence about her top five books she’s read from the IVP list this year.
This has been one of the most refreshing, Christ-centred books I have read recently and it is written in such a beautiful and clear way. Liz shares how it is possible to be contented in any and every circumstance and as she is someone who has suffered from a chronic lung condition from a young age, experienced bullying and the loss of her teaching career, she writes from experience in times where it is fair to say contentment could be difficult. I love how she includes a prayer and questions to reflect on at the end of each chapter. In particular, her love for God and His Word radiates through every page which has encouraged me in my faith. It includes biblical references and theological insights throughout which adds to the richness of her own story.
This book will be a trusty companion for anyone who is struggling to ‘catch contentment’ in their everyday life, for anyone who wants to draw nearer to the Lord and be fully satisfied in Him and for those who are going through a difficult time when it is hard to see God in their situation.
Tim Gough is an experienced youth work practitioner, but what I love about his book is that he does no talk about more ‘methods’ of doing youth ministry, but brings youth work back to the heart of the Bible itself. I really love how he sets out the chapters following the different sections of the Bible that make up its overarching narrative (Pentateuch, History Books, Wisdom Literature, Psalms, Prophets, Gospels, Acts and Epistles) and draws out eight essential biblical foundations for youth work in each one. There is a fantastic diagram in the conclusion which visually depicts and summarises the main points from the book and is designed to be supra-cultural, being true regardless of context or culture.
I found it interesting that the role of the youth worker is mentioned as a facilitator. Young people should grow into their own relationship with Jesus and not rely solely on the youth worker. The whole church should be involved in supporting the ministry and where possible, the parents should be supported to nurture their children and teenagers in the faith as they spend the most time with them.
This book is essential for anyone who is involved in the spiritual formation of young people, whether parents, grandparents, guardians, youth workers, mentors etc. I also recommend it to any church attender or worker as it is foundational that everything we do is rooted in the Bible.
3. Mad or God? by Pablo Martinez and Andrew Sims
Two Christian psychiatrists dispel the belief that Jesus was a mad man by giving a psychiatric assessment of Christ’s mental state, his consistency of life, his character and his relationships as shown in the gospels. For anyone who has ever considered Jesus to be a lunatic, this book proves that Jesus had ‘the healthiest mind of all’.
I really enjoyed this book because I think it is helpful to have the expertise and professionalism of two practising psychiatrists address a question that has been used to dismiss Jesus altogether. Just like author Lee Stroebel who used his investigate journalism background to prove ‘The Case for Christ’, I believe this book will provide further evidence that Jesus was who he claimed to be. It will appeal to those who like proof, information and inquiry, anyone interested in mental health and it is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to further explore the claims of Jesus.
As I have done some travelling, I was very excited to read a book by someone who shares that passion! Sharing some of his own experiences of travelling the world and including fellow travellers’ experiences too, Peter brings a rich understanding of different aspects of how faith and travel can come together. He spends time exploring travel in the Old and New Testaments, crossing cultures and countries and brings his memoirs to life in a down-to-earth, conversational style.
I found it interesting how he writes of God being Lord over every aspect of creation – including cities. As someone who feels close to God when I am walking in nature, the countryside, along a beach etc., for me, a city is not the first thing I think of when I want to connect with God. Peter challenges me to think about travel through the lens of faith and I wish I had read this before my own gap year. Throughout the book, the author’s love of travel and seeing God in every aspect of it is infectious. It definitely got me thinking about the theology of travel which is something that I had not considered before.
This book would appeal to those who love adventure and travel and who want to know more of God in those experiences. It is also ideal for individual or group reflection as there are ‘questions for the road’ to consider at the end of every chapter and a short prayer.
I have always looked to the idea of ‘calling’ with interest, especially as someone who likes to have a plan and know that they are going in the right direction! Ayo and Ruth make it clear that this book is not a formula to figure out our calling, but they look to the Bible to see how people gained direction from God. They offer helpful ideas such as looking at our passions, what we enjoy and what our gifts are and how that can help meet needs in the world. I love how it is firmly rooted in God’s ultimate direction in our lives to follow Him, being transformed throughout our lives into Christ-likeness with our gaze towards eternity.
Although this was written by a young couple who are both in careers and are speaking to their generation, I feel that it is a good book on God’s purpose for life generally and it is short and concise which makes it great to dip in and out of. If anyone is looking to discover how their life is part of God’s bigger plan whilst exploring their own sense of calling, this will be a great starting point with lots to consider.
I am really looking forward to reading Catherine Campbell’s ‘Journey with Me’, a 365-daily devotional throughout 2019. It was published this year, but I like to start things from a set-point… i.e. January 1st! Catherine shares words that have touched her heart and life personally and I look forward to walking alongside her in the coming year.