Friday, December 23, 2011

Books, books, books

It’s hard to overstate the importance of books in the Christian life. C.J. Mahaney shares how his salvation and a love for reading went hand-in-hand:
“Before that evening when Bob told me the gospel, I literally knew nothing of God or His Word. I’d never cracked open a Bible. But from the day of my conversion I couldn’t get enough of Scripture or Christian books. Not long after my conversion, I got a job at a Christian bookstore just so I could read as much as possible” (Living the Cross-Centered Life, p. 148).

Donald Whitney observes, “I’ve always found it to be true that growing Christians are reading Christians. For some it’s a habit they find hard to develop…But let me encourage you to find some time to read anyway, even if it’s no more than one page per day and one book per year” (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, p. 221).

Here’s a list of books I read in 2011. Some were deeply convicting or comforting; others were purely amusing and relaxing.

A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Kindle Edition by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (in progress)

The Bible by God (I’m currently reading through the New Testament)

The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha

“But God…”: The Two Words at the Heart of the Gospel by Casey Lute

The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck, Kevin Balfe and Jason Wright

Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life by Jimmy Davis

Getting Back in the Race: The Cure for Backsliding by Joel Beeke (in progress)

The Evangelicals: What They Believe, Where They Are, and Their Politics by Christopher Catherwood

Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure by Craig Robinson

Heaven Revealed: What is it Like? What will we Do? … And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About by Paul Enns

How to Meet the Enemy: Arming Yourself for Spiritual Warfare by John MacArthur (in progress)

Intentional Parenting: Family Discipleship by Design by Tad Thompson

Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin by Brian Hedges

Living by God’s Promises by Joel Beeke (a couple chapters)

Navajo Code Talkers by Nathan Aaseng

The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies

Presentations in Action: 80 Memorable Presentation Lessons from the Masters by Jerry Weismann

The Organized Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Conquering Chaos by Staci Eastin

Pujols: More than the Game by Scott Lamb & Tim Ellsworth

Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys who are Sick of Porn by Tim Challies

The Sword: A Novel by Bryan Liftin (just started this one)

Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges

What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People by Joe Navarro

What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert (in progress)

Each of these books had a unique role to play and shaped my thinking in new areas. It’s hard to know which influenced me the most. Apart from the bible, I think it’s a three-way tie between A Praying Life, Trusting God, and Heaven Revealed. All of them ministered to me deeply as my family went through so much suffering this year. They really became dear friends that brought comfort and food to my soul, and helped me better care for my wife and others.

So what have you been reading lately? What was your “Book of the Year”? Do you have any books you plan to read in 2012?


  1. Hi Stephen,

    How do you like Beeke? I particularly like his clarity and reverence in the way he writes.

    This past year I have focused the majority of my reading on older books, and in some cases ancient books.

    In no particular order:
    On the Origin of Species – Charles Darwin
    The Analects of Confucius- Confucius
    How to Speak and Write Clearly – Joseph Devlin
    The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx
    An Introduction to Philosophy – George Stuart
    Family Worship (Booklet) – Joel Beeke
    Concerning Christian Liberty – Martin Luther
    Selections From The Table Talk – Martin Luther
    Parmenides – Plato
    City of God (100 pages left)- Augustine
    Categories – Aristotle
    Institutes Of The Christian Religion – (1/3 through it) John Calvin
    The Certainty Of Faith – Herman Bavinck
    Christianity and Liberalism – J. Gresham Machen
    The Reformed Faith – Lorain Boettner
    Ante-Nicene Volume 1 – Early Church Fathers (Still Reading)
    A Short History Of Greek Philosophy – John Marshall
    The Bruised Reed – Richard Sibbs
    After The Fact: The Art of Historical Detection –Davidson & Lytle
    Building A Christian Worldview Vol. 1 –Hoffecker & Smith
    City Of Man – Gerson & Wehner
    The Modern Middle East –James Gelvin
    America: A Narrative History – Tindall & Shi
    Worldviews In Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas – Ronald Nash
    Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric Hellenistic Times – Thomas Martin
    30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary – Funk & Lewis
    Justification – Michael Horton (Editor)
    Republocrat – Carl Trueman
    Grace And Glory: A Collection of Sermons – Geerhardus Vos
    Welcome to the Reformed Church – Danny Hyde
    Three Views on Baptism – David Wright (Ed)
    Bringing the Gospel to Covenant Children: In Dependency on the Spirit (Booklet) – Joel Beeke
    Devotional Reading -------
    A Body of Divinity – James Ussher
    The Heidleberg Catechism
    Westminster Confession of Faith


  2. What a great selection of books. I can see your love for history and Reformed theology. I too enjoy Beeke's reverence and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Puritans. He's done a great favor to the church by diving into the Puritan waters and bringing up their greatest pearls of wisdom.

  3. A Praying Life by Paul Miller. Second time around.
    Salvation - Lewis Sperry Chafer
    The Bible
    True Spirituality - Francis Schaeffer. Second or third time around.
    The Five Major Doctrines Of The Christian Life -
    John D. Brooke - in progress
    Failure: The Back Door To Success - Edwin Lutzer
    To Change The World - James Davison Hunter
    What Is The Gospel? - Greg Gilbert
    The End of Christendom - Malcolm Muggeridge
    The Kingdom In History And Prophecy - Lewis Sperry Chafer
    Prayer - O. Hallesby
    The Reason For God - Timothy Keller
    The Forgotten God - Francis Chan
    The Moody Handbook of Theology (ongoing)-Paul Enns

  4. A friend named Ron Bock made this comment via email:

    Tim Keller, writing about James Davison Hunter:

    “No writer or thinker has taught me as much as James Hunter has about this all-important and complex subject of how culture is changed.”

    IMHO, "To Change The World" is the most significant book I have read in the last 10 years, maybe even longer. It's significance is its RELEVANCE to all the things we do in "church." Hunter put into words so many things that I have been unable to say. He makes so much sense!


  5. Hi Stephen! What a great list of books! I am honored that you read mine along with the rest of them. Thanks for reading! Blessings, Jimmy Davis


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