Daughter of a Preacher Man: A Road Less Traveled by Anna Picard (Author House)
Daughter of a Preacher Man: A Road Less Traveled has a relevant message for churches, pastors and their families. Picard writes from personal experiences of life on a small island, living with extended family, multicultural influences and strict religious expectations. She brings the reader face to face with her anger, frustration, heartache and, ultimately, God's grace.
The author mentions several experiences—particularly in sections about "On-stage performances," "Church politics," "Life's mistakes," "Faith and prayer" and "I want what Daddy has or do I?"—that negatively affected her and her siblings due to the strict religious expectations. Out of that raw emotion, Picard offers her insights to both the preacher's kids and their parents to prevent others from the same heartache. Two experiences mentioned, "On-stage performances" and "Church politics" resonated with me personally as a fellow pastor's daughter, since I experienced similar emotions.
Although at times the book seems a little harsh, I would recommend Daughter of a Preacher Man, A Road Less Traveled. It offers a new perspective and insight that would be beneficial to anyone who ever has served in a ministry capacity.
Second Baptist Church of Houston South Campus
Strangers in a Strange Land by Britt Towery (The Tao Foundation)
Strangers in a Strange Land tells the story of a remarkable missionary couple, Texans Maudie and Wilson Fielder, set in the geo-political upheaval of 20th century China. The book works on several levels—historical narrative, biographical drama and missions mandate.
This year marks 100 years since Wilson Fielder landed in China as a Baptist missionary. On the ocean voyage to the Orient, he realized he couldn't imagine ministry in China without the love of his life, Maudie Albritton. He proposed by mail, and she joined him two years later. A century ago, life in rural China wasn't that different from life in their West Texas homeland, and they adapted well.
The young Fielders may have been "strangers in a strange land," but their hearts embraced the Chinese people. Neither harsh conditions, nor two wars, nor his internment in prison camp could keep them away. They kept returning until the Nationalist/ Communist civil war forced them back to Texas in 1950. They left their legacy—a host of trained and faithful Christians—in the China they loved.
In Strangers in a Strange Land, Britt Towery puts a face on Baptist missions. He knows that face well: He was friends with the Fielders, and he served more than 30 years as a missionary in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China.
Marv Knox, editor
Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God by Dallas Willard (IVP)
This new edition of Dallas Willard's work, originally published in 1984, is interactive. It includes six exercises asking the reader to read, reflect, respond and rest on assigned Bible verses. The Scriptures assigned in the six exercises—which Willard calls "Hearing God in Scripture"—are from 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, Psalms, Romans and 1 Corinthians.
"Being close to God means communicating with him," Willard says. But the book goes much deeper. It provides a blueprint for communing with God, then moving from communion to union. In addition to hearing God in Scripture, Willard mentions God speaking through his "still, small voice" and even notes the adversaries of that voice.
The beauty of this book is they way it exposes the reader to hearing God through obedience to him. The hefty volume's exhaustive appendix tells the reader where to find the answers in the book, and it provides an expanded Scripture index. There is also a six-session companion DVD, produced in conjunction with Renovare. Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline, and John Ortberg, author of The Me I Want to Be, join Willard on the DVD. With its supplemental sections, Hearing God is 304 pages. You may need, as I did, to read and read it again, but it is well worth it.
Skip Holman, minister of discipleship
Northeast Baptist Church