Great Books Volume 2
What is your name and role at North? Can you tell me a little bit about your family?
My name is Jared Ashcraft and I serve as a lay pastor at North Church overseeing our global missions. I also own a paint store with my father here in Albuquerque named The Color Company. I have been married to my beautiful wife Julie for 18 years this October and we have 2 daughters, Autumn who's 11, Akira who is 6 and our son Jude who is 4.
Why is reading important to you?
Reading is important for many different reasons. It's entertaining and fun. It's also informative. It can lead us to see things in a different light or perspective. What's fascinating about reading is that God, the creator of the cosmos and everything in it, chose to tell the story about who he is to all of humanity, through the written word. He didn't ultimately pass it down orally, or draw it on a cave wall with pictures, or wait until mankind had developed the technology to make motion pictures. He told us about himself through a book. Clearly it's important to read the Bible, however I think we can learn and grow from reading histories, biographies, theology books, fiction and non-fiction as well.
What is the most influential theological book you've read?
One of the most influential theological books that I have read is "The Cross of Christ" by John Stott. I think there are certain books for all of us that strike a chord personally and, for me, it was this one. I will often go back to it as a reference for certain topics or re-read certain chapters. Theology books can sometimes be too heady and difficult to understand for your average Christian, but Stott did a good job at keeping things simple yet thorough. His explanation of why the cross was required and what the cross accomplished, is easy to understand and life changing. It's probably the book I recommend the most and if you haven't read it, you should.
What is the most influential non-fiction book you've read?
Last year I read "Bonheoffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" by Eric Metaxas. It's a biography aboutDietrich Bonheoffer, who was a pastor in Germany during Hitler's rise to power. Bonheoffer chose to stay in Germany, rather than flee, and conspired with others to assassinate Hitler. Metaxas often includes excerpts from Bonheoffer's books and letters (some of which he wrote while in prison) to guide the reader in understanding what Bonheoffer was going through and what he was thinking. It's a fascinating story that challenges our understanding about the church and the plans that the Lord has for us in this world.
What is the most influential fiction book you've read?
When it comes to the most influential fiction book I've read I'm a total nerd. I love "The Lord of The Rings" and "The Hobbit". I had only been married a couple of years when my wife Julie suggested that I read them. I remember hesitantly starting and then being so captivated by the story that I couldn't put the book down. Honestly, until I had read these books, I hadn't really been very much of a reader, so I credit the series with giving me a desire for reading. I know that they have been made into movies, and they are pretty good, but watching the movie and not reading the book is like going into a coffee shop and enjoying the smell of coffee but never drinking a cup. You just don't get the full effect.
What are you currently reading?
Currently I'm finishing "Only Time Will Tell" by Jeffery Archer. It's book one in a series of six called the"Clifton Chronicles”. So far I've enjoyed it and am looking forward to starting the next book. I'm also reading "Christian Reflections" which I believe is a compilation of some of C.S. Lewis' papers on different Christian subjects. Lewis is always worth the read.