At the end of 2013, I shared the list of books that I had read along with a brief recap and a recommendation. Because of my busy schedule this year I have read fewer books but have tried to be pickier about what I chose to read. (I learned this from a book I read two years ago called Lit: A Christian guide to reading books.)
Here are a few highlights of the books that I read organized by category:
The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters by Albert Mohler. I have really grown in my appreciation of Al Mohler over the last couple of years. His daily podcast and blogs are always excellent, and what he did in turning around Southern Seminary is amazing. I think the man is a genius and since I try to read a book on leadership every year I was excited to read this one. I won’t recap the book since I already blogged about it here. If you are a leader in any capacity, you should read this book.
Get Real: Sharing your everyday faith every day by: John Leonard. Any attempt to learn evangelism and then do it should be applauded. The author had some good points in the book to take to heart. I was disappointed by how the author seemed to shy away from using the law in a gospel conversation. Romans 7:7 says that if it hadn’t been for the law Paul wouldn’t have known what sin was. I did like his thoughts on sharing the gospel with those people that God brings across your path and to not hide the fact that you are a Christian. “By letting everyone know that you are a believer, people will either automatically withdraw from you or be drawn to you.”
Category: Christian Living
The Truth of the Cross by R. C. Sproul. Similar to my feelings towards Al Mohler, I have really grown in my appreciate for Sproul’s teaching. I read this book leading up to Easter Sunday and I loved it. You can read a more complete review here. Basically, it’s full of the gospel. It will help you see sin more clearly, which will help you appreciate the cross more fully, and in turn, you will worship God more fully.
Strange Fire: The danger of offending the Holy Spirit with counterfeit worship, by: John MacArthur. This book was written as a response to the worldwide increase of the charismatic movement and the dangers that are associated with it. I thought the book was well written and made a lot of great points. MacArthur traces the shady history of the charismatic/Pentecostal movement from the beginning up until today. I didn’t agree with every word in the book, but what stuck out to me was the importance of looking at the beginning and leaders of any movement to understand it’s heart. I agree with his overall theme that Spirit-led churches are Word-fed and Christ-honoring.
Finally Free: Fighting for purity with the power of grace, by: Heath Lambert. This was an excellent book. It’s all about how to deal with pornography. Since this is a battle that every Christian man fights I encourage every one to read this book. It’s the most gospel-centered book that I’ve read on this topic.
Dangerous Calling: Confronting the unique challenges of pastoral ministry by Paul David Tripp. This is a good book for pastors as it addresses many important topics. However, I’m not a huge fan of Tripp’s writing style. He seems to ask long series’ of rhetorical questions which got really annoying after a while.
Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s worship tells the story of the gospel, by: Mike Cosper. You might have attended church your whole life without considering the amount of planning that goes into a service. Cosper’s book was helpful for me as we look at planning services for River City Church. Every church has a liturgy. We want our church services to walk through the gospel story and this book was helpful in our planning.
Category: Christian History/Biography
The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the heart of the reformation: by: Michael Reeves. This is my second book that I’ve read by this author and I really enjoy his writing. (The first was called Delighting in the Trinity and you really should read it.) It’s about the reformation and why as a Protestant we are still protesting. If you would like an introduction to the reformation then I highly recommend this book. P.S. I’m looking forward to the release of his next book: Rejoicing in Christ.
The 40 Most Influential Christians: Who shaped what we believe today by: Daryl Aaron. I already blogged about this book here. This book walks through church history by looking at the key leaders involved.
Unbroken: A World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption by: Laura Hillenbrand: The Biography of Louis Zamperini.
Devil At My Heels, Louis’s story in his own words written before Hillenbrand’s book and Angelina Jolie’s movie. I’ve written about both of these books here and I have really enjoyed learning about this man’s life and faith. It’s an incredible story and a great reminder that everyone needs forgiveness from the God the Father that only comes through Jesus.
Walking From East to West: God in the shadows, by: Ravi Zacharias. I have benefited from Ravi’s ministry for most of my Christian life. It was a joy to read about where he came from and how God saved him in order to use him for the spread of the gospel.
Category: Church Planting
First Steps for planting a missional church: by: Gary Rohrmayer. One of the many books that I’ve read on the topic of church planting. It’s a helpful guide, but as I’m finding out, there is no definitive church planting manual.
Total Church: A radical reshaping around gospel and community: by: Tim Chester and Steve Timmons. I could have classified this as a “Christian Ministry” book, but since I read it through the lens of church planting I included it here. In short, I loved the book and I think every Pastor and Planter should read it. Here’s a full review.
Not By Sight: A fresh look at old stories of walking by faith, by Jon Bloom. This was written by the co-founder and president of Desiring God. It’s a quick read and I enjoyed it. He looks at the Biblical stories with fresh eyes.
Death by Living: Life is meant to be spent, by: N. D. Wilson. This guy is a pretty good writer, but he does ramble a little. I wrote a helpful Amazon review here. I did like the book but wouldn’t really recommend it as a “must read.”
Well, that’s my list of books of 2014. What are your thoughts on these books? What were your favorite books of the year?