As a pastor I read books for a variety of reasons. I use many reference works and commentaries to build sermons. Reading for scholastic purposes can sometimes be tedious and time-consuming but it is a necessary part of good sermon construction. The following reads do not necessarily fall in that category. The books that I have listed as My Top 10 Reads for 2011 are ones that prodded me to stretch myself and embrace the nature and character of God. Each of these books is hard-hitting. You will be challenged by reading them. Most of them are counter cultural which means they hit biblical worldliness head-on. I want to point out that the list is in no specific order of importance. So I encourage you to get your Bible, sit down with one of these good books and prepare to grow closer to Christ.
1. Gospel, Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary, J.D. Greear, B&H Depth, 2011. This is a call to bring Evangelical Christianity back to the foundation of faith. Greear has integrated a prayer throughout the book that is helpful in focusing on the Gospel daily. Easy but powerful read that challenged me to get back to the basics..
2. Am I Really a Christian?, Mike McKinley, Crossway, 2011. A must read for every Christian. This book is only around 150 pages but what a book! The Bible tells us to examine whether we are in the faith and McKinley walks us through that process from a purely biblical perspective. Get it!
3.Pleasing People,How not to be an “approval junkie”, Lou Priolo, P&R Publishing, 2007. During this past year God has been dealing with the issue of pride in my life. I picked up this important book at a conference on a whim. It cut to the heart of pride as a reason for people pleasing. This is not a book for the faint of heart. Based on the Scriptures this read written by a biblical counselor of 19 years will assist you in walking before God with a pure heart.
4. slave, The Hidden Truth About Your Identity In Christ, John MacArthur, Thomas Nelson, 2010. The description on the back cover reads, “What does it mean to be a Christian the way Jesus defined it? MacArthur says it all boils down to one word: SLAVE.” In this book MacArthur shows how the misinterpretation of the word slave to servant has robbed us of the preciousness of our faith and the commitment that we need to serve Him. Excellent read.
5. abortion//a rational look at an emotional issue, R.C. Sproul, Reformation Trust Publishing, 1990,2010. Dr. R.C. Sproul, one of the great minds of Christendom today, tackles the subject of abortion. First published in 1990 it is even more relevant today than it was then. Sproul does not resort to emotionalism to sway belief away from abortion. He deals with the subject using “a factual, well-reasoned approach, using careful biblical scholarship, civil law and natural law…” It reignited in me a new passion for the sanctity of life.
6. What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission, Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert, Crossway, 2011. Kevin DeYoung hits another home run along with Greg Gilbert in this biblically balanced approach to the subject of mission. If you want to understand the concepts of kingdom, gospel and social justice then get this book.
7. A Holy Ambition, To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named, John Piper, Desiring God Foundation, 2011. This book is a compilation of sermons on the subject of missions preached by John Piper. Scholarly and biblical these sermons challenge all of us to raise up individuals to take the Gospel where it has never been preached. There is a passion that is communicated in the writings that challenged me to want to do more to send the Gospel to people who have never heard.
8. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, John Piper/Justin Taylor, Crossway, 2006. Dr. Piper and Justin Taylor address the subject of suffering in this important work. There has been a drought of teaching on the theology of suffering in the western culture. This book addresses that subject along with the sovereignty of God. One chapter that dynamically spoke to me was “Why God Appoints Suffering For His Servants.” I would encourage any Christian to read this book.
9. Tactics, A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions, Gregory Koukl, Zondervan, 2009. The apostle Paul showed us why it was important to be able to reason with unbelievers in everyday life. It is a skill we must develop but sadly most of us are too lazy to engage. Greg Koukl is a renowned apologist and brings the subject of reasoning our faith down to earth in a practical and straightforward approach. I have never read a better book on taking charge of a conversation and directing it to ones favor. This is a must read for every Christian in our dumbed down culture.
10. You Lost Me. Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church And Rethinking Faith, David Kinnaman, Baker Books, 2011. This is an important work that chronicles the cultural influence upon today’s youth. I found it important because it gives answers to the “why” question. A worthwhile read.