Today marks the beginning of Teacher Appreciation Week 2013. So, just in case you are in a really appreciative mood, this teacher has decided to take today’s blog post and link to my Amazon wish list.
As you scroll down the list you’ll see books by various authors covering a whole host of different topics costing anywhere from $.99 to $30.
I’m not actually expecting anyone to purchase anything off the list, but I am curious about a few things maybe you can help me with. What books would you add to the list? What are you reading that I should place on my wish list? What are your thoughts and reviews concerning the books already on the list?
The following list is my nominees for top books of 2012. The qualifications for such a prestigious position are simple – I had to have read it, enjoyed it and found it somehow helpful or convicting. These books are in no particular order.
“In this world, one thing is certain: Everybody hurts. Suffering may take the form of tragedy, heartbreak, or addiction. Or it could be something more mundane (but no less real) like resentment, loneliness, or disappointment. But there’s unfortunately no such thing as a painless life. In Glorious Ruin, best-selling author Tullian Tchividjian takes an honest and refreshing look at the reality of suffering, the ways we tie ourselves in knots trying to deal with it, and the comfort of the gospel for those who can’t seem to fix themselves—or others.
This is not so much a book about Why God allows suffering or even How we should approach suffering—it is a book about the tremendously liberating and gloriously counterintuitive truth of a God who suffers with you and for you. It is a book, in other words, about the kind of hope that takes the shape of a cross.”
Leadership Principles from a Renowned Agent of Change
Cultures and organizations do not change without strong leadership. While many leadership books focus on management or
administration, the central focus of The Conviction to Lead is on changing minds.
Dr. Mohler was the driving force behind the transformation of Southern Seminary from a liberal institution of waning influence to a
thriving evangelical seminary at the heart of the Southern Baptist Convention. Since then he has been one of the most prominent voices in evangelicalism, fighting for Christian principles and challenging secular culture.
Using his own experiences and examples from history, Dr. Mohler demonstrates that real leadership is a transferring of conviction to others, affecting their actions, motivations, intuition, and commitment. This practical guide walks the reader through what a leader needs to know, do, and be in order to affect change.
Bring Me the Books Review Coming in January
Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families by Douglas Wilson
Fatherlessness is a “rot that is eating away at the modern soul,” writes Douglas Wilson, and the problem goes far beyond physical absence. “Most of our families are starving for fathers, even if Dad is around, and there’s a huge cost to our children and our society because of it.” Father Hunger takes a thoughtful, timely, richly engaging excursion into our cultural chasm of absentee fatherhood. Blending leading-edge research with incisive analysis and real-life examples, Wilson:
Traces a range of societal ills―from poverty and crime to joyless feminism and paternalistic government expansion―to a vacuum of mature masculinity
Explains the key differences between asserting paternal authority and reestablishing true spiritual fathering
Uncovers the corporate-fulfillment fallacy and other mistaken assumptions that undermine fatherhood
Extols the benefits of restoring fruitful fathering, from stronger marriages to greater economic liberty
Filled with practical ideas and self-evaluation tools, Father Hunger both encourages and challenges men to “embrace the high calling of fatherhood,” becoming the dads that their families and our culture so desperately need them to be.
“Wilson sounds a clarion call among Christian men that is pointedly biblical, urgently relevant, humorously accessible, and practically wise.” ―Richard D. Phillips, author of The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men
“Father Hunger illulstrates one of the greatest influences or lack thereof on the identity of a man: a father. Read a book that will strike an invisible chord in the lives of men both lost and found.” ―Dr. Eric Mason, pastor of Epiphany Fellowship, Philadelphia
Zealous faith can have a dangerous, dark side. While recent calls for radical Christians have challenged many to be more passionate about their faith, the down side can be a budding arrogance and self-righteousness that ‘accidentally’ sneaks into our outlook. In Accidental Pharisees, bestselling author Larry Osborne diagnoses nine of the most common traps that can ensnare Christians on the road to a deeper life of faith. Rejecting attempts to turn the call to follow Christ into a new form of legalism, he shows readers how to avoid the temptations of pride, exclusivity, legalism, and hypocrisy, Larry reminds us that attempts to fan the flames of full-on discipleship and call people to Christlikeness should be rooted in love and humility. Christians stirred by calls to radical discipleship, but unsure how to respond, will be challenged and encouraged to develop a truly Christlike zeal for God.
Even if you go to church, it doesn’t mean that you are being exposed (or exposing others) to the gospel explicitly. Sure, most people talk about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn’t there—at least not in its specificity and its fullness.
Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, popular pastor Matt Chandler writes this punchy treatise to remind us what is of first and utmost importance—the gospel.
Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!
VIDEO: To see the video of Matt speaking on The Explicit Gospel Tour, please visit Crossway’s vimeo page here: https://vimeo.com/41100864
This is Tom Ascol’s response to the recent anti-Calvinist The Traditionalist Statement Of God’s Plan of Salvation – a document published by some within the Southern Baptist Convention and signed by such men as Ergun Caner and Jerry Vines.
I found this book to be incredibly insightful not concerning the debate within the Southern Baptist Convention but also insightful concerning the doctrines of grace in general.
In this transformational book, trusted pastor Thabiti Anyabwile repositions our thinking about spiritual fellowship. Extending the concept of Divine life presented in Henry Scougal’s classic The Life of God in the Soul of Man, Anyabwile contends that union with Christ is not individualistic, but is discerned in the soul of the local church. This vision of spiritual fellowship is not centered on external activities and programs, but on our shared life in Christ.
The hole in our holiness is that we don’t seem to care much about holiness. Or, at the very least, we don’t understand it. And we all have our reasons too: Maybe the pursuit of holiness seems legalistic. Maybe it feels like one more thing to worry about in your already overwhelming life. Maybe the emphasis on effort in the Christian life appears unspiritual. Or maybe you’ve been trying really hard to be holy and it’s just not working! Whatever the case, the problem is clear: too few Christians look like Christ and too many don’t seem all that concerned about it.
This is a book for those of us who are ready to take holiness seriously, ready to be more like Jesus, ready to live in light of the grace that produces godliness. This is a book about God’s power to help us grow in personal holiness and to enjoy the process of transformation.
Christians face lots of practical questions when it comes to life in the local church: How is the gospel displayed in our lives together? What are we supposed to do and believe? Different followers answer differently—even as they preach the same gospel! What should we think about such differences?
A church’s life, doctrine, worship, and even polity are important issues. Yet they are so rarely addressed. The Church is Mark Dever’s primer on the doctrine of the church for all who see Scripture alone as a sufficient authority for the doctrine and life of the local church. He explains to the reader what the Bible says about the nature and purpose of the church— what it is, what it’s for, what it does.
Indeed, Scripture teaches us about all of life and doctrine, including how we should assemble for corporate worship and how we’re to organize our corporate life together. God has revealed himself by his Word. He is speak- ing to us, preparing us to represent him today, and to see him tomorrow! A congregation of regenerate members, fulfilling the responsibilities given to us by Christ himself in his Word, regularly meeting together, led by a body of godly elders, is the picture God has given us in his Word of his church.
For years people who have read the satire and parody on the Stuff Fundies Like blog have asked for someone write a companion that not only points out the problems in Baptist Fundamentalism but also provides solutions. Fundamental Flaws strives to look not only the negatives that are so easily found in these fundamentalist churches but also to point to a better way.
Those who are long time readers of the blog will find some familiar material in this book as well as some newly written sections to address the seven key areas of church, standards, education, sex, missions, history, and authority.
This book does not attempt to be exhaustive in its approach to any of these topics but provides a solid starting place for an ongoing conversation that is vital to the spiritual health of those both in fundamentalism and those who have recently departed from it.
Christianity Today just released their choices for the top ten books of 2012. Here they are:
Alvin Plantinga (Oxford University Press)
“This book offers topnotch scholarship to pit against the very best arguments of contemporary atheism, as well as to clarify what truly is at stake in the battles orthodoxy faces in science, biblical studies, philosophy, and more. A tour de force by one of our era’s great philosophers—and we can be glad, again, that he is on our side!”
G. K. Beale (Baker Academic)
“This is Beale’s ‘great work,’ and will mark his career for many decades to come. He’s been working on it for 25 years, and it shows. It is dense, exhaustive, and provides a compelling theological framework for understanding Scripture (Creation, Judgment, New Creation), helping us see what the New Testament is doing with the major Old Testament themes. … I can see many of us referring to it for decades.”
Ross Douthat (Free Press)
“A searching and illuminating reading of our times that is probing in judgment while sympathetic in mood. It makes sense of the history we have lived in a way that inspires renewed—and im-proved—movement forward.”
Amy L. Sherman (InterVarsity)
“This practical, lively, theologically grounded book provides guidance for congregations trying to bring their faith to bear upon a needy world. It’s also a compelling invitation to look beyond individual moral and spiritual concerns to the ways faith is always and necessarily about the community. Sherman’s many well-told examples of Christians who have taken inventive initiatives to bring their vocational skills together with others’ needs are helpful in their specificity.”
Timothy Keller (Zondervan)
“It would be hard to find a pastor who thinks more deeply—and more theologically—about his work than Keller. Center Church represents not just a case study for the growth and development of Re-deemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, but also a theological blueprint for doing ministry in the 21st century. Words like thorough, comprehensive, and even magisterial come to mind to de-scribe it.”
Douglas Wilson (Canon Press)
“An insightful satire on contemporary Christian culture that moves seamlessly from laugh-out-loud funny to startlingly poignant. Wilson’s critique of the church is sharp, humorous, and uncomfortably accurate, but he doesn’t leave it at that. With honesty and heart, he portrays the difficulty of forgiveness and what it means to live in community. I loved this book!”
Lamin Sanneh (Eerdmans)
“Sanneh, one of the most original Christian thinkers of our time, recounts how he made his way as a poor boy from a remote, colonial West African town to become a distinguished professor in one of the world’s greatest universities. At once a personal memoir, a conversion and pilgrimage story, and an intellectual excursion, the book shows how Sanneh’s lineage and life encounters have shaped his remarkable body of scholarship. With sharp insight, Sanneh … reveals some of the trials he has endured at the hands of prejudiced and unwelcoming colleagues and congregants. But even when doing so, he stays gentle, speaking the truth in love.”
Daniel Philpott (Oxford University Press)
“Philpott’s authoritative study of the ethics of political reconciliation offers new hope for solving one of humanity’s most intractable problems: bringing justice in the aftermath of human con-flicts. Philpott focuses on restoring right relationships—going well beyond conceptions of human rights that do not redress wounds of injustice. He appeals to Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions for resources on restorative justice.”
Lauren F. Winner (HarperOne)
“Despite deep pain and doubt, Winner relentlessly searches God’s mysteries, seeking peace and authenticity in her faith. Her spiritual memoir is unblinking, credible, and compelling.”
Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott (Oxford University Press)
“This truly impressive volume combines two virtues that rarely coexist. It is accessibly deep. Many books cover their subject matter in an accessible manner, and many others plumb the depths of their subject matter. [This] successfully does both. Organized clearly and written well, I can imagine no better introduction and in-depth analysis of this incredibly important figure.”
You can read the entire post here including honorable mentions.
An Atheist Philosopher’s Book of the Year (by a Christian) and a Christian Theologian’s Book of the Year (by an Unbeliever)
Justin Taylor over at the Gospel Coalition posting an interesting piece listing an atheist’s favorite Christian book of the year and a Christian’s favorite atheist book of the year.
“As a non-Christian, indeed a committed atheist, I was worried about how I’d feel about this book but it pulled off a rare feat: making Christianity seem appealing to those who have no interest in ever being Christians… Spufford understands that the trick isn’t to try to convince the reader that Christianity is true but rather to show why it’s interesting, wise and sometimes consoling.” – philosopher Alain de Botton
“I know it seems strange that I should think so highly of a book written by an unbeliever, a man who at the end of his investigation refuses to acknowledge the existence of the God of the Bible as the only answer to his question. But this book actually turns out to be a marvelous, though unintended, apologetic for Christian monotheism. The reason is that again and again throughout his search Holt finds the explanations of philosophers, mathematicians, and physicists to be utterly devoid of consistency and persuasive power.” – Christian pastor, author, and theologian Sam Storms
Check out the entire post here which includes Sam Storm’s other top ten books of 2012.
Dane Ortlund over at the Gospel Coalition has published a list of books he feels would aid readers in a more gospel-centered reading of the Scriptures. Among those that made the list are books I too can recommend:
To see the entire list, click here.
Today on the Desiring God Blog Tony Reinke posted his thoughts on the 12 top books of 2012. Here they are:
1. Steve DeWitt, Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything (Credo). Pastor Steve DeWitt saw a need for a book on beauty, decided to research and write the book, and then floated it to eight Christian publishers. He was rejected eight times. A book on beauty for Christians is not a book anyone will buy, he was told. We can be glad a little publisher named Credo House caught the vision for the book. Page-by-page this book opens eyes to God-centered beauty. This is not merely a book about aesthetic appreciation. The true brilliance of this book is that it first looks at the beauty of Christ and the beauty of God’s holiness, then shows how it is through divine beauty and through Trinitarian beauty that all lesser created beauties of the world are illuminated. Of all the books released in 2012, this is in my opinion the most remarkable, and perhaps the most needed, and for those reasons it is my choice for the book of the year. On Authors on the Line episode 11 (tonight) we will talk more about beauty with DeWitt. And if you’d like a sample of the book, I pulled my 30 favorite quotes from it and posted them here.
2. Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity (IVP Academic). This was not the only book on the Trinity published in 2012, but it was by far the most delightful and soul-nourishing. Reading this is truly a rush for your head and your heart, with orthodoxy and doxology colliding page after page. Reeves writes, “Neither a problem nor a technicality, the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy.” And later he writes, “In the triune God is the love behind all love, the life behind all life, the music behind all music, the beauty behind all beauty and the joy behind all joy. In other words, in the triune God is a God we can heartily enjoy — and enjoy in and through his creation.” Along with Eyes Wide Open, this is one of my favorite books of the year. It is a beautiful book and we posted two excerpts on the blog (here and here). Reeves also appeared on the Authors on the Line podcast to talk about it (episode 2).
3. Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (Crossway).This is a painful, slicing, surgical kind of book, the kind of book that divides intentions and thoughts in the heart of anyone whose life is dedicated to ministry. It is a surgical book, and Paul Tripp is a skillful surgeon, a self-disclosing brother, and a wise hope-giving counselor. If you are a pastor, lay elder, ministry leader, or Christian writer — if you are involved in ministry in any way — this is essential reading. It is a masterpiece, if such a thing can be said of such a painful and exposing book. Of all the books published in 2012, this is essential reading for pastors. And if your pastor has not read it (it’s worth asking), this will make a possibly life-changing, maybe even life-saving, gift for him this Christmas. Not to end on a trivial note, but from an aesthetic perspective — board design, dust jacket, art, page layout, fonts, paper, overall feel, size, and weight — this is the sharpest book I saw all year.
4. Albert Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters (Bethany House). Mohler set out to write a book to influence all types of leaders, not just pastors. And he succeeded. This book is for any Christian who has been positioned in a place where leadership decisions are required — from CEOs, to managers, to pastors, and to husbands. In this book, all Christian leaders will find direction and encouragement for their calling. This is the best book on leadership of 2012, and perhaps my favorite book by Mohler to date. He appeared on the Authors on the Linepodcast to talk about it (episode 5).
5. Kyle Strobel, Jonathan Edwards’s Theology: A Reinterpretation (T&T Clark). Scholars can spend their lives studying the writings of Jonathan Edwards, and many do. It seems Edwards’s scholarship develops along three lines or stages. Stage one is the gathering and making all of Edwards’s works accessible and available, work that is largely done thanks to the folks at Yale University. Stage two is getting arms around the many different branches of Edwards’s thought, and that is being done in books by authors like McClymond and McDermott. And finally, stage three considers whether Edwards’s theology can be held together by a certain center. This work is being done now, and most notably in 2012 by a young scholar named Kyle Strobel. In this book he argues that the Beatific Vision is at the center of Edwards’s thought. The Father dwells on, and delights in, the beauty of the Son, and this then shapes everything else for Edwards. “In short, I propose that Edwards’s trinitarian theology forms the overall contours of redemption by focusing on the redemption of personsby God’s self-revelation of his inner life. God’s glory, as the reality of his own beatific-delight, is the grounding of creation, redemption and consummation, determining the kind of redemption that must take place. Ultimately, God redeems by revealing his beatific-glory in Christ, through the regenerating activity of the Spirit, so that the elect experience God’s own personal delight and thereby truly know God” (19–20). At $80 this book will be outside the scope of affordability for many readers, but no worries. Strobel has a more popular-level (affordable-level) work coming out next summer that echoes these same conclusions,Formed for the Glory of God (IVP, 2013). He appeared on the very first episode of Authors on the Line.
6. Constantine Campbell, Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study (Zondervan). I did not expect to see in my lifetime an exhaustive study of every mention of union with Christ in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Such a job would require an intensive amount of research, clear categorical distinctions, and unimaginable organizational creativity. But in 2012 Constantine Campbell pulled it off. At 480 pages, the book is surprisingly concise for all the ground it covers. The book is also encyclopedic, and is certain to become the standard work on understanding the various ways Paul engages the theme of union with Christ as a web to connect his entire theology. A really incredible feat, this book does require familiarity with Greek, although no Greek is needed to enjoy our Authors on the Linediscussion (episode 7).7. Joel Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Reformation Heritage). This year we saw more public criticism directed at the Puritans than any year I can recall. And yet the Puritans emerged from the dust to continue serving as spiritual lights for the modern church. As a follow-up to Beeke’s Meet the Puritans (2007), which was a series of biographical sketches, A Puritan Theology is historical theology at its finest, systematizing the Puritan’s theology (and modern Puritan scholarship) in a way to make them even more accessible to pastors and lay readers in the church. This large project was developed along themes of systematic theology, but with a heavy emphasis on piety and application. If it was important to the theology and spiritual life of ye olde Puritans, you will likely find it somewhere in this 1,060-page tome.
8. Ray Ortlund, Proverbs: Wisdom that Works(Crossway). Look up proverbialist in a dictionary and you are sure to find a mug shot of Ray Ortlund. And while some will think the choice of best commentary of the year should have gone to thick books like those from Schnabel (Acts) or Pao (Colossians) or Block (Deuteronomy), I chose Ortlund. Through his proverbial writing style he models to modern readers an interpretation of the ancient book of Proverbs through a Christ-centered lens. His commentary is loaded with relevant points like this: “Twitter and blogs and emails would be cleared of much conflict if we humbled our opinions before Christ. What are we here for, really? What does God want to be stirred up in our hearts? He says, stir one another up to love and good deeds.” This 224-page commentary is a gem from 2012. Ortlund brilliantly models for the modern Christian how to interpret and pastorally apply the book Proverbs in light of Christ’s finished work. It’s one of those rare commentaries best read cover to cover.9. Sally Lloyd-Jones, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing (Zonderkidz). This is the devotional follow-up to the 2007 release The Jesus Storybook Bible, and is every bit its equal in quality of storytelling and visual illustrations. And it may actually be superior in content. In a devotional style, we see again Lloyd-Jones’s excellence in how she skillfully translates complex and abstract theological categories (like glory) through story to young children. But what I have noticed in reading this to my two youngest children (7 and 5) is how incredibly easy it is to finish the story and be led right into a conversation with them about God. There are some really priceless stories in this new book, including one titled “Dance!” that explains to children God’s inter-Trinitarian delight (19), and one called “Glorify!” to essentially introduce Christian Hedonism in 135 words (52). This is another masterpiece from Sally Lloyd-Jones for parents who want to provoke Godward thoughts in the minds and hearts of their children and families.
10. Jared Wilson, Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus (Crossway). Few young authors can drive the gospel into the modern life like Jared Wilson, and in 2012 he released what I think is his best book yet — Gospel Deeps. The title is taken from the writings of Puritan Thomas Goodwin (+10 points). This book, like its author, is endlessly tweetable: “If holiness makes you a sourpuss, you’re doing it wrong.” “If Christ is true, then boredom is a sin.” “We are saved from God to God by God through God for God. The godhead works in concert so that salvation will engulf you in God.” Any church with one of those removable letter signs will find all sorts of inspiration from this book. This is a serious book about the depths of grace in Christ, and it’s an edifying and enjoyable book on the rich delight of the gospel. Slowly reading through it two times are sweet memories I take from 2012.
11. Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst: Abundance Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood (Canon). If you liked Rachel’s first book you will like this follow-up, and in my opinion you may even like it more. In this second book, I think she does an even better job centering motherhood on the perfect work of Christ. It was one of my favorite reads of the year, if such a pronouncement can by made by a guy about a book by a woman for women. The book will be released from Amazon in late January 2013. Until then it can be ordered and shipped from the publisher, Canon Press.
12. Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Crossway). This book navigates two erroneous views of sanctification, namely sanctification by over-introspection and sanctification by self-forgetfulness, while managing to be a firm and gentle corrective to a third popular error, sanctification by mere justification-recall/refresh. In avoiding these errors, DeYoung is able to firmly set the pursuit of holiness within the framework of gospel hope and (something that I think is particularly needed today) within the context of our living and vital union with Christ. Although the book has gotten quite a lot of press this year, it remains one of the brilliant books of 2012 and is very much worth reading if you haven’t gotten around to it yet. It’s worth noting the book is a finalist for the CBA book design of the year award.
You should check out the entire post including all of his honorable mentions by clicking here.