#TheBookshelf - Stu Bothwell

Stuart serves as Executive Pastor at Lagan Valley Vineyard and as part of his role facilities the development of WTC, a bible college that offers part-time pathways in Kingdom Theology.

  1. Christian Classics - The Wounded Healer - Henri Nouwen

    Ronald Rolheiser dedicated his book The Holy Longing to Henri Nouwen, describing him as “our generation’s Kierkegaard, [who] by sharing his own struggles, mentored us all.” 

    More than ever, it’s easy to get tripped up by the myth of the strong leader and that’s precisely why Nouwen’s writings, particularly in The Wounded Healer need to be read and re-read today. Through his gritty honesty, Nouwen invites us to develop the art of gentleness and to lead from our wounds.

    Other than Willard, no one has helped shaped my understanding of spiritual formation quite like Nouwen, which is no surprise when you find him speaking of Jesus like this:

    “His appearance in our midst has made it undeniably clear that changing the human heart and changing human society are not separate tasks, but are as interconnected as two beams of the cross.”

  2. Theological Foundations - The Crucifixion - Fleming Rutledge

    Last year I started reading through The Crucifixion, which draws out the “kaleidoscopic, inexhaustibly rich” nature of the cross on every page. I’ve got to be honest - I’m still not done yet!

    Rather than looking at atonement for sin and the victory of Christ as two conflicting motifs, Rutledge invites us to see that the way ahead is found in holding these two truths in dynamic tension. 

    This is a big read and to be honest I'm still not done. Yet each time I pick this book back up I can't help but be powerfully struck by the living reality of the cross which continues to transform peoples lives today. 

  3. Discipleship & Development - Sacred Fire - Ronald Rolheiser

    This is the best book I’ve read on discipleship. Hands down. 

    I haven’t come across anyone who writes with such groundedness on discipleship, particularly when it comes to the most human aspects of life like, people, sex and death.

    Through the book, Rolheiser unpacks three phases of discipleship: Essential Discipleship (the struggle to get our lives together), Mature Discipleship (the struggle to give our lives away) and Radical Discipleship (the struggle to give our deaths away).

    As a teaser, towards the end of the book, Rolheiser highlights ten invitations towards maturity:

    Live in gratitude & thank your Creator by enjoying your life.

    Be willing to carry more & more of life’s complexities with empathy.

    Transform jealously, anger, bitterness & hatred rather than harden your soul.

    Let suffering soften your heart rather than harden your soul.

    Forgive-those who hurt you, your own sins, the unfairness of your own life & God for not rescuing you.

    Bless more & curse less.

    Live in a more radical sobriety.

    Pray, affectively & liturgically.

    Be wide in your embrace.

    Stand where you are supposed to be standing & let God provide the rest.

  4. Church & Mission - Kingdom Calling - Amy L. Sherman

    The workplace is one of the most powerful spaces to be participating in the mission of God. 

    One of the reasons why I love my church is that we’re committed to seeing our community move towards vocational clarity - connecting the dots between what we do everyday and what Jesus is up to in the world. 

    My wife is a physiotherapist and I get to work for a church but I love that we are both ministers of the Kingdom, doing the Father’s business and doing it equally. Our contexts may be different, but there is nothing inferior about the treatment room when it comes to the work of the Kingdom.

    As a dear friend of mine puts it, our vocation as church leaders is not to create ministries but to release ministers into their everyday lives.

    Amy Sherman’s Kingdom Calling has helped frame my thinking around how I can equip the saints well, to help them listen to their life and to see that their 9 to 5 is full of Kingdom purpose.

  5. Culture & Literature - Gilead - Marilynne Robinson

    When it comes to wrapping my head around culture, I’ve recently found Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve and Jonathan Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind really helpful. That and anything that David Brooks ever writes, tweets, says, thinks or does. I’m such a fan boy.

    Yet, I couldn’t not include Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, the long winding tale of Rev. John Ames writing to his son as he processes his life, ministry and death. I read this book at a time of transition a few years ago and has become etched into my own story.      

    After the slow burn, the final two pages of Gilead moved me like no other piece of fiction has. I’ll let you read them for yourself.