What Grieving People Wish You Knew by Nancy Guthrie (published by Crossway, 2016). Boy, do I feel better equipped for ministering to those who suffer! I did not know anything about this book, before I picked it up and now I think every Christian needs to read it – especially church leaders! Guthrie gives tremendous help on the kinds of things we should be saying to the grieving and NOT saying (and why). She gives a plethora of practical suggestions for bearing one another’s burdens and speaking the truth in love. Also, throughout the book, she gives countless anecdotes from other people who have suffered in some way and what ministered kinds of things to their hearts.
Delighted in God by A.W. Tozer (published by Bethany House, 2015). Reading any book from Tozer is like, a friend of mine recently said, interacting with Moses after he saw the glory of God on Mt. Sinai. If there were ever an author who seemed to regularly experience God’s glory due to his close fellowship with the Creator, it is Tozer. This book is the unofficial sequel to The Knowledge of the Holy. In it, you will discover some practical helps on how to respond to a study of the attributes of God. Each chapter ends with a hymn to ponder or sing. I cannot recommend this book enough for reading – especially after Tozer’s book I mentioned above. The man of God will walk closer to God when He learns of and about God; that is the driving force of this book.
Biblical Counseling and the Church: God’s Care Through God’s People edited by Bob Kellemen and Kevin Carson (published by Zondervan Publishing, 2015). The title suggests it is all about counseling, but it is more a book about discipleship in the local church and how a church can equip its people to counsel one another – which is a form of discipleship. Every church leader should read this book, and I hope to take our leaders through it one day.
Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter by Thomas R. Shreiner (published by B&H Publishing, 2018). The way this book begins and ends may be the most encouraging feature. The author begins by dedicating this book to 3 men that he disagrees with on the nature and usage of miraculous gifts: John Piper, Sam Storms, and Wayne Grudem. By calling them “coworkers in the Gospel of Christ”, the author helps the reader understand that the issue of miraculous gifts is not of primary importance, and I appreciate his grace and humility in treating such a subject. Also, the authors ending was “cut from the same cloth” as he reminds his readers of the subject of I Corinthians 13 and how it applies to debates about the miraculous gifts. He reminds us that love is the most important gift given to the church and even uses this helpful paraphrase, “If I have the right view of spiritual gifts, but I don’t have love, then I am nothing.” The view the author takes – Cessationism – is my view, but that is not why I loved this book. While Schreiner and I agree on why Cessationism is a preferred view about miraculous gifts, the strengths of this book lie primarily in the clarity of his arguments. Many books that debate miraculous gifts can get a little “heady” at times. Not this one. I have not read a book on such a book that is simpler and clearer than this one. I would gladly put this book in the hands of any Christian – no matter the level of spiritual maturity.
Making Sense of the Ministry by David Wiersbe and Warren W. Wiersbe (published by Moody Press, 1983). I will classify this book as the biggest surprise of 2018 for my reading schedule. I acquired it in the library of a retiring pastor. Most of the book elevates the need for pastors to be trained in college and/or seminary, along with giving them the necessary tools to prepare them for full-time ministry. Both authors fill their chapters with wise quip after wise quip, and you will not be disappointed that you read this book – even if you aren’t in full time ministry.
Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying & Divided Churches by Brian Croft (published by Christian Focus, 2016). What a tremendous help this book was to me. As I complete my 5th year at my current church as a Teaching Pastor, I am convinced now more than ever that our church is being revitalized. The principles in this book will serve us well going forward, and this author has the experience of being in revitalization projects. If you read this book, you will be equipped to better cast vision, persevere, establish leadership, encourage membership, build unity, and worship the Head of the Church.
A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D.A. Carson (published by Baker Academic, 1992). Move over W. Bingham Hunter. There is a new “favorite book” on prayer on my book shelves. This collection of expositions on prayer are thorough, insightful, provocative, and biblical. The book is one the more accessible books by the author. Typically, books that are a collection of sermons aren’t as engaging as this one but this one is an exception to that rule. Every Christian should read this book first when needed to stimulate their own prayer life.
The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield (published by Crossway, 2018). What you will discover in this book is not a “how to” guide on practicing hospitality but the author showing how they practice hospitality from their own home. You will be amused, moved, and convicted to hear stories of this family’s Christlike love for the stranger. You might even gather ideas for your own home for future hospitality opportunities.
Gospel Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical Guide edited by Cameron Cole and Jon Nielson (published by Crossway 2016). Looking for a template to writing a philosophy of youth ministry? This book is the only one you will need to read. Its contents include the Gospel, discipleship, preaching, relationships, parents, small groups, leadership training, music, retreats and events, evangelism, the poor, and short-term missions.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (published by Random House, 2010). This book (and movie) was recommended to me a few years ago, and I found it at a book sale for a few bucks. That price was undervalued! What a moving story of the perseverance of Olympian and Air Force office Louis Zamperini who was a POW in Japan and tortured beyond imagination. The only story I have ever read that comes close to the amount of torture he endured is Richard Wurmbrand. You will find this book hard to put down.