Staff Picks: Favorite Things

December 28, 2017

2017 was a crazy year! Like most years there were ups and downs, but through it all it’s cool to look back and see how God worked in my life, my family, and in our church. It’s also fun to go through and look at a few of my favorite things from past year. Many of them have been written about in our Staff Picks series, but others have not. I’ll highlight a few below and feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

FAVORITE BOOKS

 

I’ve got three of them! I wrote about all in Staff Picks, so I’ll just quickly highlight them here:

  1. Suprised by Hope by N.T. Wright – This book wasn’t written in 2017, but that’s when I read it. Wright looks at what the future hope of Christians actually is and what we should be doing as we wait for that hope to be actualized. Deep, but incredibly practical, Surprised by Hope was a formative book for me this year and continues to impact how I view my calling as a follower of Christ.
  2. Jesus Untangled by Keith Giles – This one was written in 2017 and it was incredibly timely. Giles looks at the current American political landscape and it’s relationship to the Church in America. Throughout the book, Giles challenges generally accepted practices and beliefs by appealing to the Bible and the teachings of the early church. I was left with a lot to reconsider in my own life and a heart to see the Church regain a place of meaningful influence unfettered by political agenda.
  3. Words from the Hill by Stu Garrard – This was the best book I’ve read of 2017 and one of the best books I’ve read. Ever. I cried about every chapter. On the front cover it says not to read unless you’re prepared to be wrecked for everything that breaks God’s heart. I was wrecked whether I was ready or not. You will be too and it will be beautiful.

 

FAVORITE ALBUMS

We’ll keep the theme of three going again. You’ll notice a lot of hip-hop on the list. I don’t have quite the musical ear that our other staff members have so it’s always the lyrics that hook me when I listen to music. Naturally, rap allows for more words and therefore more content for me to enjoy. Maybe you’ll enjoy it too.

  1. All Things Work Together by Lecrae – Lecrae’s albums have been trending more and more raw and honest. This album continued on that trend. Both the lyrics and the music echo the doubt and struggle he’s fought through recently. There were a few tracks I didn’t care for, but all told this album was another good one in Lecrae’s discography.
  2. Worthy by Beautiful Eulogy – Beautiful Eulogy is basically a hip-hop worship band. I often struggle to connect with a lot of popular worship music, but the stuff that Beautiful Eulogy puts out is good hip-hop quality and the lyrics are deep in their praise of Jesus. If you love Jesus and like rap, even a little, I can’t suggest this album enough. If you don’t like hip-hop just go look up the lyrics. They’re enough to inspire you to worship.
  3. Science Fiction by Brand New – This isn’t a Christian album, but Brand New has long been a band that adds some depth, substance, and even biblical imagery. Science Fiction creates a mood – from weird interludes, a few effects, and the singers voice your left with a melancholy feel. The album is a bit emotionally draining as their song topics range from mental illness to Christian hypocrisy to artistic insecurity, and, finally, to existential dread. Now that I’m done that paragraph, it probably doesn’t sound too inviting, but I dug it.

FAVORITE MOVIES


I tried keeping up three as long as I could, but I’m only bringing you two this time. Though one is a documentary about a movie, so maybe it counts as two and therefore I have three. You can decide.

  1. Arrival – I wrote about this movie here. But briefly put, Arrival was my favorite movie of the year. It is everything you could ask for from a movie. Intriguing plot line (twists!), well-written & acted, and great cinematography. For those reasons alone, it comes with my strong recommendation. It also plays on the themes of fear and faith, which I discuss more in depth in the link above.
  2. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – “Fascinating!” “Absolutely intriguing from start to finish!” Those are official reviews, but they are mine. This documentary explores the psychological process and resulting effect of Jim Carrey’s role as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon. As soon as I turned it on I was drawn in. I’ve heard of method acting and the weird ways some actors get into their role, but for Carrey, his fellow actors, and even Andy Kaufman’s real life family this role literally took on a life of its own.

FAVORITE BIBLE VERSES

God is always teaching, so long as we are listening. I’m not always listening. But this year I did manage to catch a few things that can be summed up by two verses:

  • Matthew 5:14-16: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in Heaven.

Our youth group’s theme this year has been Light of the World, and these verses have really spoken anew to me this year.

  • Matthew 28:17: And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

My wife pointed this verse out to me around Easter and it has really been the verse that I’ve thought about most. I’ll actually be preaching a bit about this theme in February, but for now I’ll just say that it’s been a great comfort to see that the disciples doubted. It was just after the crucifixion that they doubt, either. This verse is after they have spent 40 days with the resurrected Jesus and he’s about to entrust them with the great commission. Jesus left the responsibility of making disciples with a group of men, some of whom doubted.

FAVORITE CHURCH MEMORY

  • Boston Mission Trip

What an awesome time to see this group of nine teens answer the call of God to love their neighbor. This is a trip I’ll remember for awhile and I think the kids will too.

  • Glow Party

Speaking of events our kids will remember for awhile. This was a ton of fun and got our year started off right!

 

 

REMEMBER! You can share your favorite things of 2017 in the comments here, on Facebook, or on Instagram?