We seem to enjoy lists, especially at the end of the year. Looking at “best of the year” kind of lists seems to stir up a bit of nostalgia in us for a year that is about to end. Perhaps there’s something in us that longs for a happy ending and these lists give us enough encouragement to enter the new year on a positive note.
So, in that spirit, I thought I would present 9 of my favorite books I read this year. These are not books that came out this year, but simply books I read this year (not counting Scripture, which is obviously #1). I believe reading to be important (see here) and yet it’s one thing many modern Christians don’t seem to be doing much. I hope this list will encourage you to read more in 2020.
In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of 2019:
This book is a modern classic and I would argue it’s a “must read” for every Christian. We need to be confronted with the majesty and power of our God on a regular basis, and this book was one that God used to do that for me. If you feel bored, complacent, or simply stuck in a rut, I suggest this as a book that God might use to overwhelm you with Himself.
Andrew Peterson is a songwriter and author. He has spent his whole life creating using words, and this book is a memoir to such a creative life. He encourages us to remember that we are all creatives, whether you write, sing, cook, garden, etc. As creatives we are simply mimicking our Creator God. As we do so, our “creation” should point back to God and be a light in the darkness. If you consider yourself creative, then read it. If you don’t think you’re creative, the you definitely need to read it!
The Trinity is something that we all know is important, yet often feel too confused to talk or think about. Reeves does a good job of writing about such a difficult topic in a way that is not only understandable, but delightful. It stirred my heart to worship God, even in the mysteriousness of who He is as three-in-one.
Part of the process of finishing my Ph.D involved reading the entire 14 volume commentary set on the book of Romans by Lloyd-Jones. While it was daunting to take on such a large feat, it was actually very enjoyable. Lloyd-Jones is a gifted communicator who can challenge your intellect and stir your emotions. Read anything of his you can get your hands on, but if you’ve never read any Lloyd-Jones’ work, I would recommend starting with his Sermon on the Mount series.
Other than the MLJ Romans commentary, this book was the most intimidating challenge, only because of the sheer volume. Dumas is a brilliant writer and you’ll find your curiosity continually peaked. The providence of God and the justice of God are a few of that major themes woven throughout the book. Like many old novels that I’ve read, there were parts that were slow, but if you keep plowing you’ll be greatly rewarded.
I read this book due to a long discussion in our Sunday school class about the spiritual gifts and whether they all have continued or not. Schreiner explains each position clearly and fairly and then explains where he lands and why. I mostly agree with Schreiner, but there are a few places I don’t. Whether you agree or not, this book is a good resource to provide a better understanding of the discussion.
Anyone living in the Bible Belt understands the difficulty of “cultural Christianity.” The author, Dean Inserra, argues that cultural Christianity is “a huge mission field in desperate need of laborers.” He provides practical advice and encouragement in order that we might better minister to cultural Christians. If you live or do ministry in an area that is culturally religious, I think this will be a helpful book for you.
There have been many times I’ve heard someone explain why they simply hate “Calvinism.” However, it’s often the case that as they tell me more it becomes clear they have many misunderstandings about the doctrines of grace. They end up arguing against hyper-Calvinism or some version they’ve been told that simply isn’t accurate.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with this teaching, one must at least seek to understand the position accurately before refuting it. If you are looking for a book that explains the doctrines clearly and helpfully, I would highly recommend this book.
9. Crazy Busy
For those of you too busy to read, perhaps you should start with the book.