- Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
- Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis
- Development Through the Lifespan by Laura Berk
- The China Study by Colin and Thomas Campbell
- Prayer by Tim Keller
- Understanding Sexual Identity by Mark Yarhouse
- Servant Evangelism by Alvin Reid and David Wheeler
- Radical Together by David Platt
- Here I Stand: Martin Luther by Roland Bainton
- Great Commission, Great Compassion by Paul Borthwick
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero
- The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen
- When the Darkness will Not Lift by John Piper
- Baptist in America by Thomas Kidd
- The Heart of Leadership by Mark Miller
- True North by Mark Liederbach and Seth Bible
- Do More Better by Tim Challies
- Family Worship by Donald Whitney
- The Mission Minded Child by Ann Dunagan
- Learning to Invest by Matt Schoenfeld
- TED Talks by Chris Anderson
- The Missional Leader by Roxburgh and Romanuk
- Shaped by God’s Heart by Milfred Minatrea
- Great by Choice by Jim Collins
- Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas
- Giving Up Gimmicks by Brian Cosby
- Hudson Taylor by Hudson Taylor
- 21 Great Leaders by Pat Williams
- Everything You Wanted to Know About God (Jesus Edition) by Metaxas
- Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry by Cole and Nielson
- 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin
- Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
- The Printer and the Preacher by Randy Petersen
- Linchpin by Seth Godin
- Embattled Rebel by James McPherson
- Lead Small by Reggie Joiner
- The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni
- The Secret of Teams by Mark Miller
- Accelerate by John Kotter
- The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
What I’ve Read in 2015:
The books that I would especially recommend are in bold.
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
- Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
- The Be-With Factor by Bo Boshers
- Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxes
- The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
- Knowing God by J. I. Packer
- Finally Free by Heath Lambert
- Augustine as Mentor by Edward Smither
- Get Out by Alvin Reid and Josh Reid
- Provocations by Soren Kierkegaard
- Connecting Church and Home by Tim Kimmel
- Jesus Continued by J. D. Greear
- His Excellency by Joseph Ellis
- Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley
- First Family by Joseph Ellis
- An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture by Andrew Davis
- To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler
- Commentary on Philippians by John Calvin
- Effective Parenting in a Defective World by Chip Ingram
- The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie
- Philippians by Moises Silva
- What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung
- Tech-Savvy Parenting by Brian Housman
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
- The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller
- The Go-Getter by Peter Kyne
- Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Strong Father, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker
- Family Ministry Field Guide by Timothy Paul Jones
- Possessed by God by David Peterson
- Simply Good News by N. T. Wright
- Parents in Pain by John White
- Theology: The Basic Readings by Alister McGrath
- Speaking to Teenagers by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins
- Anointed Expository Preaching by Stephen and David Olford
- Excellence by Andreas Kostenberger
- The Conviction to Lead by Al Mohler
- The Marriage Clinic by John Gottman
- Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels
- The Space Between by Walt Mueller
- Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
- The Teenage Brain by Frances Jenson
- Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp
- Help! I’m a Student Leader by Doug Fields
- Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen
- Food by Jim Gaffigan
- The Brain Maker by David Perlmutter
- H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick
- Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley
- The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
- The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth
- 7 Family Ministry Essentials by Anthony and Marshman
- The Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee
- Sexual Detox by Tim Challies
- Christian Formation by Estep and Kim
- Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is) by Joshua Harris
- Strategic Disciple Making by Aubrey Malphurs
- Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches by John Hammett
- Children Matter by May, Posterski, Stonehouse, and Cannell
- Answering the Call by Ken Gire
- The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper
- Gospel Families by Jonathan Williams
- Soren Kierkegaard by Joakim Garff
- Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem
- Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
- The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
- What’s Best Next? by Matt Perman
- Onward by Russell Moore
Links to previous book lists:
How do you pick just five books?
Books are great for various reasons, but this list consist of those that had the greatest impact on me in 2015, especially the first three. The last two were both published in the last couple of years (Gospel Families in 2015) and should be considered top resources for families.
Provocations by Soren Kierkegaard
I’ve read a few books that I return to more than others because of their content and the pleasure of reading them. This book will be one. Kierkegaard writes as one who holds nothing back, but rather writes as if everything were in his journal. Provocations is convicting and hopeful for the Christian. Read it slowly (as if you had a choice)!
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
This book is another reason to say that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. The story of Louis Zamperini is riveting and captured so well in Laura Hillenbrand’s writing. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished. As captivating as his early life and wartime experiences were, the last couple of chapters were my favorite! I couldn’t recommend this book enough.
Knowing God by J. I. Packer
There’s a reason this book consistently shows up on “Books Every Christian Should Read” lists. I will be reading this one again.
Finally Free by Heath Lambert
Great resource for men in their call to live in purity. Very helpful. Lambert is both practical and theological. Both are necessary in the fight for purity.
Gospel Families by Jonathan Williams
A great read with a necessary perspective: that families make disciples and disciples reach the nations. Practical suggestions for what it looks like to apply the gospel to your family and to live out a gospel presence in your community.
As a Student Pastor I’m frequently meeting with students about their struggle with purity, whether that be a result of something their viewing online or because of crossing a line physically with another person. In addition to meeting with students, I’m asked by parents about resources for leading their sons and daughters through the difficult terrain of sexual purity during adolescence.
And although these conversations can revolve around any number of issues related to sexual purity, pornography continues to be the largest topic of discussion (statistics suggests that average age of a first exposure to porn is 11 and that 40 million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites). For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be some of the most helpful material related to the issue of pornography.
Closing the Window by Tim Chester (Best for Immediate Porn Free Living)
This books provides the most helpful framework for how to overcome pornography. After opening with reasons to give up porn, Chester frames the book around five steps to fight the war against pornography:
- Abhorrence of Porn
- Adoration of God
- Assurance of Grace
- Avoidance of Temptation
- Accountability to Others
“The reality is that often we dislike the shame and the consequences of sin, but we still like the sin itself. We dislike the shame of porn, but in reality we still want to view it… The Bible talks about the pleasures of sin. They’re temporary. They’re dangerous. They’re empty pleasures, compared with the glory of God.” (p. 15)
Finally Free by Heath Lambert (Best for Sustained Porn Free Living)
Lambert’s book begins like many other books about living without pornography, namely with reasons to give up porn. The unique element of Lambert’s book is the emphasis on using Spirit-controlled characteristics to continue living porn free. These characteristics include humility, service and gratitude. This book could easily be the best overall book for someone looking to be victorious in their struggle.
“The great danger in your struggle is that you will devote all of your energy to thinking true and awful things about pornography and spend no time dwelling on the true and wonderful things about Jesus.” (p. 28)
You Can Change by Tim Chester (Best for Understanding Christian Growth)
It’s rare that a book on Christian growth combines such gospel insight and practical application. Unlike other books on growth that are grounded in moralism, You Can Change springs forth from a proper understanding of our fallenness, God’s glory, and the wonderful news that God works through the gospel. Although the book is meant to be a catalyst for all types of change, the books principles can be applied easily to struggles with lust and pornography.
“Jesus is the perfect person, the true image of God, the glory of the Father. And God’s agenda for change is for us to become like Jesus.” (p. 14)
Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is) by Joshua Harris (Best Overview of Lust/ Sexuality)
Harris stresses the good gift of sex, a healthy perspective of sexuality, and the grace of God. From here, he emphasizes the need for purity in this issue. Although not as practical as other books, Harris does provide practical steps to pursue purity, including accountability, the reading of God’s Word, creating an intentional plan to fight temptation, etc.
“Sexual purity is clearly something only God can bring about in your life and mine. God’s standard of not even a hint quickly brings me to the end of my own ability and effort. It reminds me that God’s standard is so much higher than the standards I place for myself that only the victory of Christ’s death and resurrection can provide the right power and the right motive needed to change me.” (p. 27)
Wired for Intimacy by William Struthers (Best for Understanding the Neuroscience of Porn)
This unique read provides an overview of the development (or lack thereof) of the brain because of pornography. The battle against pornography needs to take into account the reality that inappropriate sexual images affect us physically and intellectually. Change is a change of behavior and thinking.
“As men fall deeper into the mental habit of fixating on these images, ages, the exposure to them creates neural pathways. Like a path is created in the woods with each successive hiker, so do the neural paths set the course for the next time an erotic image is viewed. Over time these neural paths become wider as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. They become the automatic pathway through which interactions with women are routed. The neural circuitry anchors this process solidly in the brain. With each lingering stare, pornography deepens a Grand Canyon-like gorge in the brain through which images of women are destined to flow. This extends to women that they have not seen naked or engaging in sexual acts as well. All women become potential porn stars in the minds of these men. They have unknowingly created a neurological logical circuit that imprisons their ability to see women rightly as created in God’s image.” (Kindle location: 807-812)
Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Alberry (Best Related to Homosexuality)
Written by a pastor who has struggled with same-sex attraction in the past, Is God Anti-Gay? speaks biblically and graciously about issue about same-sex attraction and how to counsel with those who may be struggling in this area.
“But there is a caution: having made it easy for someone to talk about their sexual struggles, we must not then make the mistake of always talking to them about it. They may need to be asked about how things are going from time to time, but to make this the main or only thing you talk about with them can be problematic. It may reinforce the false idea that this is who they really are, and it may actually overlook other issues that they may need to talk about more. Sexuality may not be their greatest battle.” (Kindle location: 738-742)
Mobicip – Parental Controls
This week, I want to recommend ApParent Privilege by Steve Wright. The book is a short, easy read, but full of practical advice for parents who want to see their children develop spiritually.
This is the description from Amazon.com:
Parents have the greatest privilege of their lives literally in front of them everyday: their children. Pointing their children to Christ, modeling faith, encouraging with words, and showing unfailing love isn t a burden. It’s a privilege. Apparent Privilege will arm parents with biblical understanding and up-to-the-minute research to show them the unparalleled opportunity they have to be the primary influence of their children. It will give parents a biblical view of parenting, answer questions and concerns we all have, and help them understand how Christian parenting must become more than taking your children to church. In short, this book will equip a parent live a life where the difference is apparent.
Steve currently serves as Pastor of Discipleship and Church Planting at Family Church in West Palm Beach, FL. He has formally served as a pastor to students and families. His experience and understanding of Scripture has led him to place significant emphasis on the family for discipleship. He names seven ways that parents can nurture faith in the home:
1. Family Worship
2. Praying as a Family
3. Serving as a Family
4. Passage Trips
6. Journey days
7. Family dinnertime
He says this about the need for a home to be distinctly Christian, especially through Family Worship:
If a casual observer were to visit our homes, what practice would he or she see that is distinctly “Christian”? In many families today there is little noticeable difference between the home lives of Christians and the home lives of the unchurched. It should make us wonder what traditions and habits we are passing down to our children. It is my conviction that children need to see dad and mom leading in the study of God’s Word, sincere in their prayer life, and faithfully pointing to eternity. The Christian home has lost its badge of distinction as many families no longer practice family worship in their homes. I believe family worship, or whatever you choose to call it (family night, breakfast with Daddy, etc.), is the best place for our children to learn how to worship firsthand.
How can you begin the process of leading a time of family worship? He suggests the following small steps:
Start Small. Don’t be extreme by setting a standard of an hour each day for family worship. This will set you up for failure. Be realistic on what time and how much time works best for everyone.
Stick with it. It might be awkward at first for everyone (even you), but it will get easier over time.
Be realistic. When and how often should be determined by what works for your family and puts a win under your family’s belt. Some families start with once a month or once a week, some do every weekend, and others fo five days a week. Some families meet in the morning, some at night. Choose what works for you.
Have a plan. It could be structured or very informal, based on a Bible-reading plan or working through spiritual issues or questions. At first you may read on verse and share a statement of what God has been teaching you then end by praying for protection and blessing for your family. Some families have musical talent, and many young children love singing Bible songs. Some families memorize a verse together.
Give it time. Develop a plan for a few weeks, then evaluate later to determine if you need to make some minor tweaks or create a new plan entirely. Don’t worry, God will honor your efforts. He will finish His work.
Make it interactive. It would be wise if it weren’t a one-sided sermon. Make sure that your goal isn’t to simple scold your kids. This is a time to focus on the Lord and His Word, not on our kids’ failures and weaknesses.
Don’t overwhelm them. Make the worship time inviting and short enough leaving your children wanting for more. Then increase the length and depth as everyone gets more comfortable.
Be transparent. Be honest. Be open. Your children know you; so don’t try to fool them. If you don’t know what to say, then tell them so. In those moments, tell them that you are doing this because that is what the Bible tells us to do, and you are all learning this together.
One final word of advice: get to know parents who already have a set plan for family worship. Ask them questions. Learn from them, but understand that just because something works for their family doesn’t mean it will work for yours. The specifics of family worship are not spelled out in the Bible, but it is very clear that it is our responsibility and privilege as parents. I also encourage you to use the bible as your curriculum. There is so much confusion about which curriculum works with which age and whether or not your kids will like it. You can avoid these curriculum worries simply by going to the Bible.
Take a step of faith by submitting to God’s design for YOU to be the primary nurturer of your child(ren)’s faith. This book is simply one tool that will help you take that role seriously and give you practical advice to help you get there.
I love being your Student Pastor!
“the LORD be magnified!” Psalm 40:16
I’ve read some great reads this year. This is a list of my five favorite.
The Power of Habit / Charles Duhigg / Personal Growth
This was one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read. Duhigg argues that much of what we do in any given day is actually done as a habit. So, change your habits and you’ll change your life. Read this book to recognize your habits and to put together a game plan for personal growth.
Broken-Down House/ Paul Tripp / Christian Living
Paul Tripp is my favorite author and I’ve attempted to read most of what he writes. He constantly finds ways to apply the gospel to the Christian. This book did not disappoint. It was encouraging, convicting, and helpful. It ends up being a synopsis of the Christian life.
What’s Best Next / Matt Perman / Productivity
Perman’s What’s Best Next is a book about productivity and time management written from a Christian perspective. He begins by showing that God does care about our productivity and as a result, so should we. Then, Perman discusses some of the ways to become more productive and what that looks like for Christian, whether that be in the workplace or in the home.
Simply Christian / N.T. Wright / Christian Theology
This is the second time I’ve read this book. I read it a couple of years ago and it had a huge impact on my life. Reading through a second time was no different. Wright, much like Tripp, writes in an easy-to-read manner. This particular book is an argument for the legitimacy of the Christian faith. He argues from such things as our need for justice. This is the closest book I’ve read to C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
True Spirituality / Francis Schaeffer / Christian Living
Finally, it was a toss up between this book and the other book I read this year by Schaeffer, He Is There and He Is Not Silent, which is written more in the category of Wright’s Simply Christian. The application was very simple.
- Resisting Gossip / Matthew Mitchell / Christian Living
- The Ministry of Intercession / Andrew Murray / Prayer
- Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing / S. Kierkegaard / Philosophy
- The Practice of the Presence of God / B. Lawrence / Christian Living
- Aristotle for Everybody / Mortimer Adler / Philosophy
- The Power of Habit / Charles Duhigg / Personal Growth
- Lord, Teach Us to Pray / Andrew Murray / Prayer
- Speaking Truth in Love / David Powlison / Biblical Counseling
- Speed Bumps / Mike Landry / Prayer
- A Call to Prayer / JC Ryle/ Prayer
- Wired for Intimacy / William Struthers / Christian Living
- C.S. Lewis / Alister McGrath / Biography
- Simply Christian / N.T. Wright / Christian Theology
- Reading for Preaching / Cornelius Plantinga / Christian Ministry
- Real Life Discipleship Training Manual / Jim Putman / Christian Ministry
- He Is There and He Is Not Silent / Francis Schaeffer / Philosophy
- The Fault in Our Stars / John Green / Fiction
- Saved without a Doubt / John MasArthur / Christian Theology
- Truth Matters / Kostenberger, Bock, and Chatraw / Apologetics
- The Gospel at Work / Traeger and Gilbert / Christian Living
- Every Good Endeavor / Tim Keller / Christian Living
- True Beauty / Carolyn Mahaney / Christian Living
- Born to Run / Christopher McDougall / Health and Fitness
- The Master Plan of Evangelism / Robert Coleman / Evangelism
- Be a People Person / John Maxwell / Leadership
- Baptism and Fullness / John Stott / Christian Theology
- The Old Man and the Sea / Ernest Hemingway / Fiction
- Health and Fitness / Philip Maffetone / Health and Fitness
- Thinking. Loving. Doing. / John Piper / Christian Living
- What’s Best Next / Matt Perman / Productivity
- Fear and Trembling / Soren Kierkegaard / Philosophy
- Treasure Island / Robert Stevenson / Fiction
- How to Read a Book and Enjoy it More / Ben Johnson / Reading
- The Giver / Lois Lowry / Fiction
- The Godly Home / Richard Baxter / Christian Family
- I Am a Church Member / Thom Rainer / Church Ministry
- Theology: The Basics / Alister McGrath / Christian Theology
- Cooked / Michael Pollan / Health and Fitness
- Edwards on the Christian Life / Dane Ortlund / Christian Living
- Saint Thomas Aquinas / G.K. Chesterton / Biography
- Next Generation Leader / Andy Stanley / Leadership
- The Intelligent Investor / Benjamin Graham / Personal Finance
- The Stories We Tell / Mike Cosper / Christian Living
- True Spirituality / Francis Schaeffer / Christian Living
- Broken-Down House/ Paul Tripp / Christian Living
- Faithful God / Sinclair Ferguson / Bible
- The Dead and Those About to Die / John McManus / American History
- Leading Change / John Kotter / Leadership
- Make It Last / Jeff Lovingood / Student Ministry
- As You Go / Alvin Reid / Student Ministry
- Switch / Chip and Dan Heath / Leadership
- Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome / Kent and Barbara Hughes / Pastor
- The Next Christians / Gabe Lyons / Christian Living
- The Juvenilization of American Christianity / Thomas Bergler / Student Ministry
- A Manual for Writers / Kate Turabian / Writing
- On Writing Well / William Zinsser / Writing
- Leading At a Higher Level / Ken Blanchard / Leadership
- Building Leaders / Aubrey Malphurs / Leadership
- Almost Christian / Kendra Creasy Dean / Student Ministry
- The Power of a Praying Husband / Stormie Omartian / Family
- The Auschwitz Escape / Joel Rosenberg / Fiction
- The Present Age / Soren Kierkegaard / Philosophy