While God has given us the Bible as the book that fully equips us for every good work
(2 Tim. 3:16-17), our lives can be enriched and blessed by other good books along the way. Reading is a practice that can deepen our understanding, broaden our perspective, and stretch our thinking. We should read discerningly and widely. We do not have to swallow everything we read, but we should remain open to learning things we were previously ignorant of. Much of my reading is done in theology, but I occasionally read on other subjects. Here are a few of the books that I enjoyed the most last year in no particular order.
The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine (A.W. Tozer)
Tozer’s writing always challenges me to dig deeper and focus more on eternal things. In Pursuit, he writes about our need for an increased desire for fellowship with God and His presence above all else. This book will stir you and push you past the bounds of spiritual mediocrity.
100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet (Pamela Paul)
This fun read points out the various things that have changed in our lives as the internet has taken over just about everything we do. Paul mentions several things we no longer need or need to do now that we have the internet. But she also mentions things like eye contact, memory, and attention span that we have surrendered to technology and the internet. This is a fun book, but also one with several sections that make you think about how fast we’ve changed as a society in such a short time frame.
Jen Wilkin’s short book on the ten commandments is a rich treatment of an important topic. She shows how the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. While we are not under the ten commandments today, we do need to read from the law and learn from its principles (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6, 11). She shows Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the law and how the holiness demanded then is still expected now.
Rigney takes on a challenging topic, demonstrating how God created His world good but sin has disrupted it. We are to hate the sin in this world, but we are free to enjoy family, friends, hobbies, and entertainment. More than enjoy these things we are to see them as blessings from God and signposts that point us back to Him (James 1:17). Rigney handles this topic well and helps us to see there are aspects of the world we are not to enjoy and aspects we must enjoy.
I am late to the party on this. I have had it on my shelf for some time and heard good things about it but did not get around to reading it until this year. Clear’s book gives principles that help us accomplish goals and do hard things by developing good habits and breaking bad ones. His approach is simple, easy to implement, and can be done with just about any habit we want to develop or part ways with.
Eric Ortlund wrote a more technical version of this book called Piercing Leviathan that I read last year, but this one was just as good. He teaches us how to live well in suffering and how to help others we know who are suffering. This is not necessarily a chapter-by-chapter commentary on the Book of Job, but it is a rich devotional resource to read alongside the book. If you plan to preach or teach on Job you’ll benefit from reading this book.
Old Made New: A Guide to the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Gregory L. Lanier)
How Christians should use the Old Testament is a topic that people have written about and discussed for a long time. In this book, Lanier argues the best way to answer that dilemma is to study how the New Testament authors used the Old Testament. He says that those unfamiliar with the Old Testament can learn a ton simply by reading the Old Testament summaries in the sermons in the Book of Acts. He gets a little technical in some places but is extremely helpful in showing how we can trace Old Testament quotations, allusions, and references and get the most out of the Old Testament as we live under the New.
Jesus Through the Eyes of Women: How the First Female Disciples Help Us Know and Love the Lord (Rebecca McLaughlin)
Jesus was supported by and followed by women throughout his earthly ministry. While we might be tempted to overlook their significant impact, and His impact on their lives and the role they played in His, this book by Rebecca MacLaughlin points to a more biblical view of the women in Jesus’ life. Instead of degrading women, Christianity has uplifted and honored women. This book walks through the lives of the women who we read about in the gospels and demonstrates how they followed Jesus and were blessed by him.
Surviving Religion 101: Letters to a Christian Student on Keeping Faith in College (Michael J. Kruger)
Kruger wrote this book as letters to his daughter who was a freshman at UNC. These short letters take on various apologetic issues and questions and show how Christians in college can be prepared to respond. This is not a difficult read and would be helpful to parents preparing to send children to college or those heading off to college. Kruger shows why Christianity is believable, true, and worth defending.
Jesus the Great Philosopher (Jonathan T. Pennington)
Pennington argues that Jesus’ first followers saw Him as a teacher, preacher, rabbi, and philosopher. He shows Christianity as the best philosophy in the world and argues for our need to restore our view of Jesus as the great philosopher. Pennington is knowledgeable in various areas and disciplines and writes well. This book will get you thinking about Jesus in a way that many probably don’t think of Him enough.
There seems to be a tension these days between studying the Bible and practicing what we read. Some argue that it is more important to study, and others argue that we should focus more on being doers. Kurtz shows how these are two sides of the same coin. He walks readers through a thorough analysis of the fruit of the Spirit and how as we learn more about God we should be transformed into obedient disciples. If we are not being transformed, we probably are not learning as much as we think we are. This book works on the heart and shows us how once the heart is properly shaped and molded our hands will follow.
Gavin writes from a Christian perspective to argue for the existence of God. He makes arguments based on beauty, mathematics, and design. He ends his argument by focusing on Christianity and the person of Jesus Christ. While I did not agree with every single thing he said in this book, it still is a great work on apologetics and shows us that Christianity is not only true, but it’s beautiful.
Redemptive Kingdom Diversity: A Biblical Theology of the People of God (Jarvis J. Williams)
Beartown (Fredrik Backman)
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (Travis Bradberry)
Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Christopher Ash)
How to Speak a Sermon: So That People Will Listen (Larry Trotter)
No one can read everything, but we should also take advantage of the things we can read that will bless our lives. I hope you will read some of these and be blessed, informed, and challenged as a result.
*The inclusion of a book on this list does not imply endorsement of everything in each book or every belief held and espoused by the author(s).