My stocking was always my favorite thing to open on Christmas morning. I think it was the randomness of the items inside: candy, socks, chocolates, toothpaste (probably to alleviate some of the damage done by the candy and chocolate), fingernail polish, razors, and all kinds of other items. As they spilled out, I loved sorting through them all.
So, rather than offer you a top ten list, I thought I’d put together a “stocking” full of some of my favorite things from 2016: podcasts, songs, books, and Bible studies. These have encouraged me this year, and I hope you might find something to enjoy in the random assortment.
Talks to Ponder
One of the most helpful talks I heard this year was from Nancy Guthrie at an RTS counseling event. Her session was packed with wisdom from her new book, What Grieving People Wish You Knew About What Really Helps and What Really Hurts. Thankfully, it was recorded, and you can watch and listen here.
And don’t miss Following Jesus Far From Home from Mary Wilson. “We are far from home yes, but we are not far from Him.” Amen.
Songs to Sing
I’ve played the Getty’s new album, Facing a Task Unfinished, more times that I can count. Songs move my heart like nothing else, reminding me of truth in a way that awakens joy. Some of my favorites (in addition to the title song) are He Will Hold Me Fast and For the Cause.
Books to Read
It’s been the year for teal books. (Okay, Humble Roots isn’t teal, but it’s close!) I’ve recommend each of these books on multiple occasions:
If you’re looking for a book to read with your kids, The Radical Book for Kids is wonderful. It is packed full of so many good things for our kids to learn (from how to memorize Scripture to mini-biographies to praying the Lord’s prayer). It’s a great resource for bedtime reading or family devotions. I’m pretty sure everyone in the family will learn something from this book, even the parents. Plus, it’s on trend: teal.
My favorite book from 2016 wasn’t published this year. In fact, it wasn’t originally published this century. However, it felt extremely relevant in a year that seemed to display (and celebrate) every variety of sin. It faithfully reminded me that rather than look at the sin “out there” I must continually look at the sin “in here.” It’s easy to forget we’re in a battle, but we are, each and every day. If I could recommend any book to you, take a look at Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices. I know the title isn’t trendy and the concept might seem like the last thing you want to read about. However, if we’re going to fight Satan’s schemes, we need to be aware of how our enemy works. Here are some quotes:
“Satan’s first device to draw the soul into sin is, to present the bait—and hide the hook; to present the golden cup—and hide the poison; to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit that may flow in upon the should by yielding to sin—and to hide from the should the wrath and misery that will certainly follow.”
“A man may have enough of the world to sink him—but he can never have enough to satisfy him.”
“The more the saints are beaten with the hammer of afflictions, the more they are made the trumpets of God’s praises, and the more are their graces revived and quickened.”
“God’s forbearance of sin is never the overlooking of sin.”
“Humility is the nurse of our graces, the preserver of our mercies, and the great promoter of holy duties.”
If you’re looking for a Bible study for the upcoming year, I highly recommend Courtney Doctor’s From Garden to Glory or Jen Wilkin’s study on 1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ. If your group prefers a study without homework, take a look at this study on the book of Romans. My husband taught it for the past two years and finished this spring. Yes, I’m biased, but it’s the best Bible study I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s completely free.