Top 10 Books of 2018
I read a lot. I do this because I honestly enjoy it. While I’ve always enjoyed reading, in past years I have had to really focus on developing healthy reading habits. It did not come naturally to me and it still does not. Every time I open a book, it’s only because I deliberately set aside time to do so. The last few years, I’ve had great success in meeting my personal reading goals. This year was a difficult one filled with many transitions, so I did not quite live up to last years reading. Thankfully, I was still able to read enough for some much needed encouragement. I write this to counsel you to be diligent in your reading, yes of course Bible reading is paramount, but also reading good Christian books. Reading solid books from trusted writes can help you in incredible ways.
Finding those books can be harder than one might think. While the internet has made resources more easily accessible, it has also opened the floodgates of filth and poor theology. One cannot go wrong with reading classics like Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress (which I read every single year) or Lewis’ Mere Christianity, but maybe you are looking for something a little more modern. Here are my top ten books from 2018 that I read this year.
10. Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders by Aubrey Malphurs
I’m not sure exactly how I stumbled upon Malphurs, but I thank God that I did. I own every book he has published, Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders fits well with his other works. This book is primarily focused on leaders, but it would be helpful for anyone trying to understand how to deal with their emotions or the emotions of others. While the title would not suggest it, Malphurs has filled this book with Biblical principles on understanding how to maintain healthy emotions while leading others to do the same.
9. How to Grow by Darryl Dash
There are literally hundreds of books on spiritual growth, but this one sticks out. Dash is able to do what many of those do not, show how the Gospel is the root of spiritual growth. It’s not about how much effort you can muster or activities you can do that cause growth, but those things are evidence of that growth. The beauty of this book is really in its simplicity. This book would be a help for any Christian, no matter where you’re at in your walk with Christ.
8. Passion in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Adam Dooley
I’m a preacher, so obviously some of these books will be primarily aimed at myself. The third volume in Vines’ Pulpit series is a great addition to any pastors’ shelf. It’s aimed at helping the preacher understand the pathos or the passion of the text. Adam Dooley is a name to look out for in the future, his contributions to this book are incredibly impactful.
7. Basics for Believers by D.A. Carson
It’s D.A. Carson, that’s enough to make it on this list, right? While that may be true, Carson continues his brilliance of New Testament studies by walking the reader through the book of Philippians. I just got this book a few weeks ago and sped through it for two reasons. 1. It’s a short read. 2. It’s also a great read. As a preacher I find it inspiring to see how a teacher can explain the text so carefully but also so easily to his audience. Any believer would be blessed by this little read, especially new converts. This book would make a great discipling tool for one-on-one meetings.
6. The Essential Jonathan Edwards by Owen Strachan and Douglas Sweeney
Many know the name Jonathan Edwards and perhaps they would be able to give the name of his most famous sermon, but Edwards was so much more than his incredible Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. His impact on theology cannot be understated, nor his impact on pastoral ministry or even missions. Strachan and Sweeney do a nearly impossible task of taking the magnificence and eloquence of Edwards and maintaining it while making it more easily understandable for modern audiences. If there was one book on Edwards I would give the common Christian, it would be this one even if it is over 400 pages.
5. The Gospel Come with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield
The whole evangelical world was seemingly pushing this book earlier this year. At first, I was a little surprised with how often I kept seeing this book publicized - it was everywhere. While I was a little late to the party, I eventually purchased it and read it nearly immediately. Now I know why everyone was raving about it. Butterfield masterfully lays out the Biblical mandate of hospitality. She shows the successes that it brings as well as pitfalls to avoid along the way. This is the best work on evangelism that’s been done in years.
4. Longing for Motherhood by Chelsea Patterson Sobolik
I originally picked up this book to try and better understand what some of my female congregants and friends have experienced. I got that. What I didn’t expect was to find one of the most encouraging and insightful books on suffering in recent memory. Sobolik writes her story with courage and transparency, helping the reader to see the depths of sorrow in suffering as well as the hope of relying solely on God. Just one piece of advice, read this in private if you do not want to cry in public.
3. Biblical Theology by Nick Roark & Robert Cline
9Marks is constantly producing helpful books for local churches. Biblical Theology is yet another in this long line of successful additions. This book simply and accurately displays what it looks like to see Jesus as preeminent in all things - including Scripture. Roark and Cline have written a helpful tool for new theologians as well as those who aren’t as familiar with the framework of Biblical theology.
2. Preaching That Moves People by Yancey Arrington
I have read a lot of books on preaching and none of them have been nearly as helpful to me as Arrington’s Preaching that Moves People. This book isn’t about developing content, but it’s primarily focused on how to deliver that content. This is a topic that many pastors would be benefited from wrestling with in their preaching. I’m so glad I read this book and so glad to say that my preaching has improved since I began to implement some of the tactics described in this modern classic.
1. The Kingdom and the Glory of the Cross by Patrick Schreiner
Let me peal back the curtain for a moment, I’m a dispensationalist. I’m also reformed. These two theological identities do not usually reside in one mind. A few years ago I did an extensive study on my views regarding dispensationalism, I did this because I did not understand one key theological term in the New Testament - the Kingdom. I was not happy with the definitions that I learned in college and seminary. I was not happy with the definitions I read in dispensational books. While, I came to agree with myself (which is usually a healthy thing to do) on the main tenants of dispensationalism, I remained confused by some concepts of the Kingdom of God and how that relates to the church in the present and the future.
This summer I did another extensive study into the Kingdom. I read book after book. Examined every single Scripture passage where Kingdom was either stated or inferred. Then I picked up this little beauty and boom it made sense to me. Now, I do not agree with all that Schreiner writes on the Kingdom, but this book along with Jon Bright’s The Kingdom of God were incredibly helpful for me to understand how I parse the Kingdom with my dispensational and reformed leanings. I love this book.
That’s it. Can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring!