A very Sola Panel survey (Jean Williams)

One of the things we’re doing as we wrap up the year here at Sola Panel is to ask our contributors to share some of their highlights for the year from the world of reading and the web. Here’s Jean Williams’s contribution:

  1. Three best Christian books of 2009:
    • Tim Chester’s You Can Change
    • Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety
    • Ed Welch’s Depression: A Stubborn Darkness

    I’ve been reading a lot about change, anxiety, depression and biblical counselling, as you can see! These three books are top in their field.

  2. Top stretching theological read of the year:
    • I’ve just written about John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God for EQUIP book club, and while it’s not a stretching theological read (along the line of Calvin’s Institutes), it certainly continued to push my thinking about the place of joy in the Christian life—as Piper’s books always do!
  3. Best fiction of 2009:
    • Definitely Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead: the beautiful, haunting reminiscences and reflections of an old American Protestant preacher writing his last letter to his young son, as he recalls the family relationships, long lonely years and historical events that have shaped his life. I enjoyed the book’s sympathetic portrayal of the Christian faith, with reference to John Donne, George Herbert, John Calvin and Karl Barth! I can’t put it better than The Washington Post article which said Gilead is “so serenely beautiful, and written in a prose so gravely measured and thoughtful, that one feels touched with grace just to read it”.
  4. Best non-theological non-fiction of 2009:
    • Arch Hart’s Adrenaline and Stress was exactly what I needed in a year when I came close to burnout through a workaholic and over-enthusiastic tendency to schedule far too much into my life! I’d recommend this book to anyone in ministry, and certainly to anyone who experiences stress or tends towards workaholism.
  5. Favourite Matthias Mediarelease of the year:
    • Always The Briefing, of course! It’s a monthly treat when it arrives in our letterbox.
    • I was also helped by Peter Bolt’s Living with the Underworld (AUS | US)
    • I’m looking forward to reading Paul Grimmond’s Right Side Up (AUS | US) and Colin Marshall’s The Trellis and the Vine (AUS | US); they’re looking at me eagerly and expectantly from the shelf!
  6. Best website(s) discovered this past year:
  7. Three best sermons or other audio downloads heard this year (individual talks or series; could be from preachers you hear locally, and not just the overseas heroes):
    • I haven’t listened to many individual sermons this year. Instead, I worked through a 24-talk series by Ed Welch: Issues in Biblical Counselling. I highly recommend it to anyone in ministry or counselling, or anyone who struggles with (or who supports anyone who struggles with) any of the big four: suffering, anger, anxiety or guilt. That should cover everyone! The series is available from PTC Media at the Presbyterian Theology College in Melbourne.
  8. Most memorable article(s) you’ve read this year:
  9. Book of the year and why:
    • Tim Chester’s You Can Change: This book broke through my legalism and perfectionism with the gospel of Christ—something I wasn’t sure would ever happen. Chester taught me that change is possible through God’s grace. He encouraged me to turn in faith from the lies of my heart to God’s truth and, in repentance from the idols of my heart, to obedience. I’m sure this book will become a Christian classic. It’s a rare thing to find a book on Christian growth that is gospel-centred, readable, biblical, real, intelligent, clear and practical.

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