Every year I write a post sharing what books I read that year. My hope is to be able to pass on some of the better books and encourage more reading. This year was a fruitful year for me in regards to reading. The Lord had me reading books that would so clearly apply and speak to so many of the things I was processing in Scripture, life, and ministry. In no particular order:
The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
This was not my first time reading through Calvin’s Institutes. However, this new translation of the earlier 1541 edition was so refreshing and fun to read. It’s also about 400 pages shorter than the 1559 editions (1,200 pages). The was Calvin works through the Apostle’s Creed, shows Christ from all the Scriptures, and his section on prayer were among my favorites. If you have been too intimidated to start reading Calvin, this is a great place to start.
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs
This was a real life changing read this year. The further you get into this book, the more sure you are that you have never been content. Burroughs seems to take a pick-axe to the heart and expose how we are content with such ungodly things and could care less about true godly contentment. When you feel you are almost dead, and probably not a Christian, he comes and gives such a beautiful picture of what contentment in Christ looks like. This book has forever changed me.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
No, I never read it until now. Yes, it was hands down my favorite book of the year. Lewis’ way of putting story to such important biblical themes had me curled up in the fetal position weeping, more than one time. I will reread this book many times in the future. If you haven’t read it, don’t wait any longer.
The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney
Joe Rigney’s book has topped quite a few lists this year, including Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition. Rigney does a masterful job at easing some of the greatest tensions so many of us have between loving God and enjoying his good gifts. I have read Jonathan Edwards and C.S. Lewis on this topic but I really believe that Rigney has presented it in a sweet, biblical, and refreshing way that made me treasure my cuddling sessions with my wife and daughter even more.
Live Like A Narnian by Joe Rigney
If you read The Chronicles of Narnia and The Things of Earth in the same year, you have to read Live Like A Narnian by Joe Rigney. This book really was one of those books you fly through because you are having fun reading. My new introduction to Narnia was livened by the way Joe Rigney covers some of the main themes throughout the Narnia series.If you love The Chronicles of Narnia, buy this one today.
The Relational Soul by Richard Plass and James Cofield
The book that these two men have written display years of experience and it should be on every pastor’s shelf. Plass and Cofield have written a book aimed at equipping pastors with the lifestyle and tools necessary to not burnout and leave the pastorate. Driven by a goal of communion with God above being “successful,” the authors have written a timely resource for an age of church planters who leave the ministry within their first 5 years of gospel ministry. In a culture that defines us by our effectiveness, there is a great temptation to sacrifice our alone time with God, loving our family, and rest for the sake of productivity. This book will combat those areas to try and keep the soul of the pastor healthy.
She Calls Me Daddy by Robert Wolgemuth
I have two daughters, Olivia and Hadley. They are two of the greatest gifts I could’ve asked God for. This book is aimed at equipping dads of daughters in equipping their girls for life. I’m a softy so it was no surprise that I cried about 20 times reading this book. If you have daughters, read it.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Lewis’ timeless classic surprises me every time I read it. Even though this was my fourth time through, topics like consumerism in the church, pride, and the way culture views women made me more and more sure that Lewis was deeply aware of who he was and the weaknesses of all believers. So many of us can quickly forget that Satan goes around like a roaring lion seeking to devour Christ’s people (1 Pet. 5:8), and because of that fact, The Screwtape Letters are such a great reminder that we ought to be aware of Satan’s schemes and God’s victory over them.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
I read this for the first time since I first became a believer. Lewis has a way of answering skeptics that really leaves all excuses without weight. As I read through it this time I was able to see what an influence he had on Tim Keller (The Reason for God). Like Keller, I think there are many of us who are indebted to Lewis as an apologist, especially his love for unbelievers and wanting them to know and treasure Jesus.
More Than Conquerors by William Hendriksen
Over the last five years I have tried to consistently read Revelation commentaries. My hope is to one day write a guide for the church I am one of the pastors at so I like to build my library around this goal. This was my second time through this one and I think it is one of the best in regards to being clear, short, and helpful. If the book of Revelation seems confusing to you, or you want to understand the amillennial view, this is a great start.
Walking with Jesus through His Word by Dennis Johnson
There is no man who has shaped my deep love for Christ in the Old Testament more than my former professor, Dennis Johnson. In his newest book, he has written to the layperson trying to inspire them to experience what the disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24) did: Seeing Christ in all the Scriptures and have their hearts burn within them. If you love hearing sermons about Christ in the OT but are intimidated in regards to how to do so faithfully yourself without abusing the Scriptures, this is the book for you.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
As an Army veteran, I love reading an array of stories from other veterans. In Unbroken, Hillenbrand tells the courageous story of the perseverance and faith of Louis Zamperini. From his childhood, to being a P.O.W., to coming to faith in Jesus Christ, this book had me waking up early and staying up late to experience more and more of this great story of a great hero.
The God of Great Reversals: The Gospel in the Book of Esther by Timothy Cain (Advance Copy)
This one was a great honor for me to read (numerous times). What started as a sermon series from the lead pastor at our church has now shaped its way into a book. The man, brother, and friend who has taught me so much about preaching is releasing his first book. In a book of the Bible where God’s name is not mentioned once, Cain makes Christ and the gospel shine bright throughout the book of Esther.
Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves
Reeves has done it again with Rejoicing in Christ. Aside from Narnia, this book had me truly rejoicing in Christ. Like he did so well in the The Unquenchable Flame and Delighting in the Trinity, Reeves brings the Scriptures and church history to a place of great enjoyment and accessibility. I think I might have underlined every sentence on every page while moaning, “Mmmm” over and over (I had to apologize to my wife, she thought I might have received the gift of tongues numerous times). Seriously though, this is a book that will reignite the mature believers love for Christ while being a great resource for someone trying to figure out who exactly Christ is and what he has done.
Other books read this year: Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, Miracles by C.S. Lewis, The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, and The Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham.
I hope you enjoy this next year of reading.