Top 10 Books of 2014

Below are my top 10 books I’ve read over the past year, along with a couple of my favourite passages from a handful of them. I HIGHLY recommend each of these, and am incredibly grateful for each of the people who recommended these to me. Enjoy!

notes-from-the-tilt-a-whirl1. Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl: Wide Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World (N.D Wilson)

“True atheism is nonsense. If there is such a thing as beautiful, such a thing as good, or even such a thing as bad, then there is a transcendent standard that determines which is which. An atheist can say that society prefers mothers to murderers, but he cannot say that this is as it should be. Tell us what is, by all means. But without God, you cannot tell us what ought to be. An atheist can tell us that he is a good person, that he has never stolen a lawn mower or murdered his wife. I believe him. What he cannot tell me is what is fundamentally wrong about lawn mower theft and wife killing. He will try, but he can’t change the fact that in his world there is no such thing as fundamental wrongness. Let the man with the biggest armies and the booming voice make the rules. Jews and gypsies and homosexuals be damned.

I don’t like that picture. I look at the world and I see beauty. I see love and loss, birth and death, joy and sorrow  I see a world where color exists, and in enormous generosity we were given eyes to see it. This is a world where bread makes a smell as it’s baked, and we just happen to have noses to smell it. Color, smell, sound, taste—these are things that could have gone unnoticed; we could have been senseless in this reality, careening around like so many spattering particles. Were our noses invented first, or the smells? Our eyes, or the sights? Breasts, or desire? We have been created as recipients. I look at the stars, at the grass, at my fat-faced children, at my fingernails, and I am oppressed by gratitude. I have been given a belly so that I might hunger. I have been given hunger so that I might be fed. I look in the atheist’s mirror. I look at his faith in the nonexistence of meaning. I look at his preaching and painting. I see nothing but a shit-storm. Why would I walk through that door? Why would I live in your novel?”

Layout 12. The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out (Brennan Manning)

“Grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours, not by right, but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God…Even our fidelity is a gift. “If we but turn to God,” said Augustine, “that itself is a gift of God.” My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”

death-by-living_book-cover_high-resolution3. Death by Living: Life is Meant to be Spent (N.D Wilson)

“Watching one’s small humans age and grow up packs a serious punch. It’s like being stuck in a dream unable to speak, like being a ghost that can see but not touch, like standing on a huge grate while a storm rains oiled diamonds, like collecting feathers in a storm. Parents in love with they raids are all amnesiacs, trying to remember, trying to cherish moments, ghosts trying to hold the world. Being mortals, having a finite mind when surrounded by joy that is perpetually rolling back into the rear view is like always having something important on the tips of our tongues, something on the tips of our fingers, always slipping away, always ducking our embrace…But this should inspire melancholy; it should only tinge the sweet with the bitter. Don’t resent the moments simply because they cannot be frozen. Taste them. Savour them. Give thanks for that daily bread. Manna doesn’t keep overnight. More will come in the morning.”

71BJQZWgilL4. Leaders Eat Last (Simon Sinek)

“Like the Spartans, we will have to learn that our strength will come not from the sharpness of our spears but from our willingness to offer others the protection of our shields.”

 

y6005. A Glimpse of Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred (Brennan Manning)

“Ambition to be a star in the Body of Christ is alluring and seductive; it is also demonic, the glamorous enemy of servanthood and love.”

 

9113UMHKjcL6. Proof: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace (Daniel Montgomery)

 

5113IyNqWIL7. A Gospel Primer for Christians (Milton Vincent)

 

 

In-the-Name-of-Jesus-97808245125908. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (Henri Nouwen)

 

51wxIlKwAsL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_9. Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims are Falling in Love with Jesus (Jerry Trousdale)

 

 

514PsIOYCmL10. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (Eugene Peterson)

 

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

What’s Next For The Ramseys…

We love the people who make up Mars Hill Church and wouldn’t trade the past couple of years we’ve had serving them and Jesus for anything. It has become clear to us over the past month however, that we will no longer be able to continue forward in good conscience under the current leadership structure and ministry culture.  So it was with a sad heart but a clear conscience that I handed in my resignation to Mars Hill yesterday morning, far earlier than we had ever hoped or anticipated. Because of the current work visa that I am on, that also means we will be required to leave the country by the end of this month.

That said, we have zero regrets. We are deeply grateful for the many new friendships we have been blessed with and the hundreds of young people we’ve had the great honor of serving. We’ve met some of the best people in the world during this season, many of whom we count as life-long friends who we will miss very much. The joy we’ve received far exceeds any sacrifice we’ve made or disappointment we’ve had to endure. We will continue praying that Jesus is glorified in whatever lies ahead for Mars Hill.

 So what’s next?

Well, when we came to Seattle in 2012 we pressed ‘pause’ on the dream God placed in our hearts to plant a church-planting church in one of Australia’s major cities. Recently, two of our closest friends in the world – Ross and Kathy Abraham – approached us with the idea of planting a new, stand-alone church out of their church (Elevation) on the northern end of the Gold Coast.

A New Church on the Northern Gold Coast

From the nightlife of Surfers Paradise, to the lower income areas of Southport, to the wealthy affluence of Sanctuary Cove, to the 17,000+ students at Griffith University – this a region that is in great need of more churches that will spread the gospel and love their city. We definitely see the Holy Spirit’s hand in this and are very excited to take our next step forward as we follow Jesus. We’ll begin the core group phase of this new church in October, as soon as we land back in Australia!

To all our friends here in the Northwest, we love you so much and will miss you terribly. We will be around until the end of this month, please let us know how we can serve you or pray for you during this time.

To all our friends back in Australia, if you’d like to be involved in any capacity, or just want to stay in the loop with our church planting journey, we’d love for you to fill out this expression of interest form. Lots more details to come, watch this space!  🙂

Still For Jesus’ Fame,

Adam & Kristina

Ambushed in Ethiopia

Having done several short-term mission trips before, I was excited to experience Ethiopia and encourage some of the Christian leaders there. My expectations were high and I thought I had a fairly good idea of what awaited us. But I was wrong. We were ambushed.

These beautiful people ambushed us with their joy. The pastors and evangelists we heard from blindsided us with their passion for Christ and captured us with their big smiles. The churches we worshiped with showed us how to approach God boldly in prayer. They inspired us with their lives of faithfulness and stories of resilience in the midst of opposition. We went to give them the gift of encouragement, but we returned far richer than we left.

Writing to the church in Rome, Paul describes the mutual encouragement that we experienced in Ethiopia, saying:

 “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom. 1:11–12)

One of my favorite moments in ministry to date happened on this trip, while I was preaching on the final night of the conference to around 2,000 pastors, evangelists, and leaders. I looked out on older pastors who had spent time in prison for their faith in Christ (while Ethiopia was still under a Communist regime) and many younger church planters and evangelists who face ongoing persecution as they advance the gospel deeper into unreached areas. Never have I met people with faces more singularly set toward Jesus and his mission. What could I possibly teach them?

C.S. Lewis, quoting Samuel Johnson, once wrote, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” I realized that Jesus didn’t want me to instruct these leaders as much as he wanted me to remind them of his presence and promise. My message was simple: “Bertu! Yesus kenante gar naw” (Take courage! Jesus is with you).

 

Next year I will be taking our very first team of high school students across the world to serve and encourage thousands of Ethiopian youth. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus is going to ambush them too.

For Jesus' Fame.