We are living in the golden age of Christian publication. I am grateful to God for that! Here are my top 10 favorite reads of 2015.
10. Christ and Culture Revisited – D.A. Carson: To what degree is the church called to change the culture? What expectations should we have? Should we expect the church to have such an influence in the culture that the United States becomes a new “Israel”? Or should the church, more or less, keep to itself? This has been a conversation among Christians for centuries. While not an easy read, this book by Dr. Don Carson offers a balanced approach that, I believe, reflects accurately the Bible’s posture on the issue.
9. Formed for the Glory of God – Kyle Strobel: Jonathan Edwards has influenced my preaching, theology, and approach to ministry. This book documents Edwards’ own spiritual practices and is chalked full of helpful illustrations and analogies in a very readable manner.
8. Ordinary – Michael Horton: We are in love with the spectacular! “Going viral” is the new ideal. This bleeds into church ministry. We can slowly drift into this thought that says: “church is about wowing people” or “doing something BIG for God!” Horton’s reminder that the Bible’s message is ultimately about walking faithfully with God and loving people was convicting and quieted my heart. The Christian life is not about being spectacular. It’s about being faithful through the ordinary.
7. The Pastor as Public Theologian – Owen Strachen & Kevin Vanhoozer: Pastor vs. Theologian. This is a dichotomy that never existed throughout most of church history. Many believe the pastor is supposed to be the CEO of the church. The Bible doesn’t see it that way – neither have the majority of Christians throughout Christianity’s history. The majority view is that the pastor is supposed to be the church’s resident theologian.
6. Prodigal Church – Jared Wilson: This book is a cousin to Horton’s book, Ordinary. Wilson’s book examines the unintended consequences of “seeker-driven” church. If the church’s primary mission is to draw a crowd, many have succeeded. If the church’s primary mission is to make disciples, many churches have fallen short. This book draws our attention back to the fact that a church is supposed to teach believers to obey everything Jesus commanded, not just draw a crowd.
5. Rescuing Ambition – Dave Harvey: Many of us are ambitious. But why? What motivates our ambition? Harvey pulls the cover off our ambitions exposing how selfish and self-glorifying they can be and how they can be sanctified and leveraged in service of God and love for others.
4. The Gospel – Ray Ortlund Jr.: Ray is a wise, gentle, and peaceful pastor. I have much to learn from him. This book is about two things: gospel-centered doctrine and gospel-centered community. If a church has both, that church is powerful. The takeaways are plentiful, but the big one for me was: gospel + safety + time.
3. The Things of Earth – Joe Rigney: I’m supposed to set my heart and mind on things above, but I love golf, books, and Thai Curry. Christians have felt a tension of loving God with heart, soul, mind, and strength while still longing to enjoy the things of earth. How do we live in that tension? Read Rigney!
2. Becoming Worldly Saints – Michael Wittmer: Did I mention Christians know they’re supposed to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, but also enjoy food, sports, and trips to the Grand Canyon and Disney? How do we do both? In addition to reading Rigney, read this one!
1. What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? – Kevin DeYoung: Gay marriage is legal, now what? My first concern is not what chief justices or bureaucrats believe about it. My first concern is what Christians believe about it. Many within Christianity are attempting to harmonize following Jesus with the goodness of homosexuality. DeYoung’s book is masterful at not only presenting the clear teaching of Scripture, but also responding to the common objections raised by those who affirm same-sex relationships.
We can all learn so much from these writers to help us grow in our spiritual walk and I love the opportunity to share these revelations with others!