Well a new year begins and I am blessed to have a few days break. I had the Noro virus on C day which you don't want if you can help it.
I decided to eat mini mince pies this year trying to cut the calories and simply found I ate twice as many. There must be some lesson there.
We all start with a few fresh thoughts for the year ahead. I have long since given up on the 'new year resolution' and for what it's worth have found it more helpful to think in decades not years. My old Vicar told me years ago 'you can get far less done in a year than you imagine and far more in a decade than you can ever currently comprehend'.
We got a church planted in 2012 which was an adventure and really began ten years ago but that's another post. We are very much still climbing to altitude and I haven't yet turned the 'fasten seat belt' signs off.
I always suggest readers start a journal and you might be blessed reading Keep a record of your story.
At this time of year I enjoy reviewing all the things I missed in 2012. I have become perfectly content that I seem to now operate a year in lieu on matters of fashion and popular culture. Otherwise known as being past it.
Steve McCoy's Best Albums of 2012 is a joy to read and I have picked a few off the list.
My highlight (due to my love of Country folk) is Brandi Carlile's Bear Creek. A simply wonderful album to listen to loudly in the car and 'That wasn't me' is as good a song as you'll hear this year. If you like a country ballad, that is.
Now onto books.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” so said C.S. Lewis
What I generally do is draw up a list of books that catch my eye from all the many 'year lists' and they go on my pile and I may or may not read them.
The Spectator columnist's always list their favourite books which is such a good read. Here's why- illustrated by a sentence by Lloyd Evans
'Last year I read lots of books by stand-up comedians. They were good fun but entirely unmemorable. This year I read lots of books by philosophers. They were no fun whatsoever and also entirely unmemorable. The topic of metaphysics has fallen into the hands of people without a sense of humour.'
The recommendations are in three sections: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Here's my pile for any who are interested:
Deep and wide: Half way through and such a helpful collection of wisdom and experience.
In the shadow of the sword: A book to read if you feel you need to know more about Islam
Churchill: Biographies of this great man are all fearfully thick and Johnson's is only 200 pages.
Seven men: Metaxas Bonhoeffer bowled me over in 2011 and so I eagerly anticipate his new tome.
The Advantage: My pal recommended a book by Lencioni about meetings but this seems to be his catch all read.
The Shadow of Death: My RS teacher at school taught me nothing and just read us Father Brown stories out loud which may have, in fact, taught us everything. Apparently, this may be it's heir.
Generation to Generation: Family process in church and synagogue: I read his 'Failure of nerve and this is apparently the better book and a classic.
Who do you think you are?: He may not be everyone's cup of java but he's forgotten more than I will ever know. Who we are in Jesus is such an important thing for each of us to grasp and I can't think of many Christians who don't need to read this book.
The Conviction to Lead: I have made a few comments about this and thought I had better read it.
Getting the love you want: My sister is doing an MA/Doctorate in Couples Therapy and she is recommending a few interesting books to me.
Multiply: A book about making disciples.
Fierce conversations: A great Vicar recommended this book to me and if you don't like having difficult conversations or are too easily a people pleaser then this might be one to read.
Waiting for sunrise: Boyd is one of my favourite novelists.
The list will be constantly added/subtracted during the year. Not very planned or strategic but as I have never been accused of being either that's probably OK.
A book on the CT Books of the Year list that caught my eye was Still: Notes on a mid-faith crisis by Lauren Winner. If you are struggling or have a massive sigh in your soul as we start this year this might be the book for you. It's on my list.
So enjoyed watching Last orders a documentary about the legendary Chas and Dave. Do watch. I saw them in 1985 in Margate.
The thing I read that most impacted me over Christmas was 'Why God?' by Maureen Dowd in the NYT. John Stackhouse has some thoughts on it.
James MacDonald was my find of 2012 and he's what one of my readers calls 'those bombastic preachers you like'. I have listened to the same talk called Vertical Church Reprise three times in a month and think you should all sign up to his podcast. Comes obviously with a 'bombastic' warning.
David Stroud's talk 'The Kingdom and Church planting' is a great one he gave to the Vineyard Leaders conference. He leads NFI. Incidentally, some pastor pals and I have Terry Virgo coming to speak to us in March which is exciting.
One of the least bombastic men in my roster is Jonathan Martin and his preaching has really been an encouragement-so one reader tells me.
I found listening to 'The Vision of a Leader' interesting but he's another of the shoutey American's I'm afraid.
Don't miss Sister Wendy in Art and the Gospel and her wonderful Desert Island Discs She's not American, shoutey and manages to make becoming a hermit sound appealing. Her book on prayer is the best on the subject. It should go on your list.
We could all do worse than allocate a couple of prayerful reflective hours to read 'Blemishes to Christian Character'
If you haven't watched Simon Sinek on 'Asking why' it's thought-provoking.
I spent NY's eve with friends away from the big city eating roast lamb, shared a rather fine Pomerol, watched a film about a blogger on BBC 2 (Julie and Julia) and eased into Petula Clark and Adam Ant on Hootenanny. Crazy life me.
Films I am looking forward to: