This week, Jared, Pat, and I will be listing our top reads of 2014. If you are setting reading goals for the next year, these are books you should consider picking up. If you think we've missed something, leave a comment below and let us know about it.
1. A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller. This is the best book I've read on prayer. Paul Miller did a masterful job of talking about prayer and applying it to our everyday life. Using examples from his own life it was easy to resonate with how to pray, why it is so vital, and how we can continue to grow. Reading much like a devotional, this book isn't just a manual on steps of prayer. It engages the reader spiritually, emotionally and practically. A Praying Life helped me go deeper with my love of God, my standing as his son, and challenged my sinful cynicism. Every Christian should read this book.
2. The Hole in our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness by Kevin DeYoung. Robert Murray M'Cheyne, minister in the Church of Scotland, once said, "The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness." In this short book DeYoung discusses what holiness looks like in today's world, how we grow in holiness through sanctification, and how we are continuing to grow more like Christ. This is an important book in today's culture. I have many conversations about why holiness matters since we live in God's grace. This is a short book on this topic that is very helpful.
3. Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis's Chronicles by Joe Rigney. Live Like a Narnian is a great companion book to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Joe Rigney is able to take stories from the chronicles and dive deep, giving readers a richer understanding of Narnian mythology. This book was a quick, fun, and easy to understand. My kids have been reading through the chronicles and for a time I was reading this with my kids for our nightly devotions.
4. Jackie Robinson: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad. One of my goals each year is to read a biography. I chose Jackie Robinson for two reasons: First, I love baseball and wanted to learn more about an important aspect of baseball's history. Second, and more importantly, I wanted to know more about the man who broke the color barrier in America's national pastime. I wasn't disappointed. Jackie was an extraordinary man who struggled with many things throughout his life. This extraordinary man had to overcome racism throughout his life, health issues later in his life, and hard struggles with his family. Jackie's story is quite inspiring. If you haven't read about Jackie Robinson you should add it to your reading list for 2015.
5. Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend. I enjoy history. This book is historically compelling on a national and international level, but also has significance for me because the main figure is from St. Louis. The book is about Lutheran minister, Henry Gerecke. Gerecke volunteered to be a World War II chaplain at age 50 and went on to minister to Nazi's war criminals after the war. This book was interesting from a historical perspective but it was also great from a pastoral perspective. Gerecke struggled with his assignment to be a chaplain to some of the greatest war criminals in our time. He struggled because he understood many of the atrocities the Nazi's were on trial for. Read for yourselves and learn how he came to embrace his assignment and in the end brought some of the men to Christ.
6. The Hidden Wound by Wendell Berry. I have many friends who have recommended Wendell Berry's writings. I was not disappointed as I read my first Wendell Berry book. This book focuses on racism, specifically racism that not everyone notices. Berry examines how racism effects all of us and changes how we view culture and each other. He pulls from experiences in his own life growing up in Kentucky with African-American workers on his farm. He shares his thoughts on how this shaped his entire life. If your looking for a good book to help you process through your own beliefs about race, then take time to read The Hidden Wound.
7. Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family by Jessica Thompson. Exploring Grace Together is a family devotional with 40 weeks on how are families live out grace together. This book hits so close to home that at times, when reading through different scenarios she included, I thought she had a spy in my house. From legos to kids tempers, Jessica Thompson writes a great book that helps kids and parents understand God's grace and our need for Him. One night we were going through the devotional and I looked over and my oldest son was crying. The devotional was talking about how God's love and legos and my son was able to connect with a new understanding of the depth of God's love.
8. On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church by Deepak Reju. Deepak tackles an incredibly important topic for our churches. Every church needs to look at how it is protecting it's children. Deepak helps churches to understand why protection is such an important topic today, how to implement protection in our church, and finally what happens if a child is abused at your church. This is such an important issue and good book: I got a copy for each of the elders at our church.
9. Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy history and like reading biographies. This book captures both. Eric Metaxas was able to summarize 7 men from throughout history that impacted the world around them because of their faith. I say summarize because the book isn't very long and it captures the lives of seven men. Metaxas isn't able to go into as much detail since each chapter is relatively short. I recommend men take time and read this book to see how faith impacts lives.
10. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung. Everything in culture seems to draw us to go 100 mph. Most people have multiple events every week and church on the weekends. DeYoung talks about the need for slowing down and the importance of taking a Sabbath. DeYoung reminds us that Sabbath isn't a suggestion but a command. Important for all of us in this technological, immediate gratification world.
What books do you think I missed? What would you add? Leave a comment below to let me know about what you've been reading over the past year.