2014 really didn’t afford me much blogging time because it was the year of READING. But that’s ok. In my book, reading is both an important discipline and a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend the few waking hours I have free from chasing the wild things. The hurry-scurry of life and exhaustion of caring for littles can so easily squelch out reading time, so I was glad that seminary reading requirements gave me the motivation–or the excuse, depending on the day–to sit down and absorb some of the books on this list. I even found the time for some good page-turning fiction, which is a real treat these days.
Book choices are really important because the things you and I read really affect the way we think. What we read shapes our worldview(s) and the way we interpret reality. This, of course, is why God’s inspired Word must always be at the top of any year’s reading list and must inform the rest of our reading. I realize I can only read so many things in my lifetime, and I want to pick books that are worth my time. . .books that will make me think and examine myself and human nature. . . books that are going to make a difference in how I live my life. So, in no particular order, here are the books that accomplished those purposes for me in 2014, as well as a few picks on my list for the new year:
1. Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples (Francis Chan): Here in the Bible belt, almost anyone will claim to be a Christian. Nominal, cultural Christianity is still a relatively acceptable norm. But what does it mean to really be a follower of Christ? What does that look like? How does that impact the purpose and trajectory of our lives? Multiply is such an amazing resource to use as we seek to understand and help others understand what it really means to know God through Christ. This book is great to use in one-on-one discipleship settings and in small groups. I am going through the book with a friend who wants to grow in her walk with Christ and also with the ladies in our women’s ministry at church. Chan is very readable, and you will learn a lot regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey.
2. George Mueller: Delighted in God (Roger Steer): This is a biography that truly increased my faith and belief in the power of prayer. George Mueller, a pastor and evangelist, set out to demonstrate the faithfulness of God and eventually built orphanages to house thousands of orphaned children while praying in every penny of the costs. He had no salary and never asked one person for a dime. It’s amazing to read about God’s provision and delight in answering the prayers of His people when those prayers are in accordance with His will and for His glory. This is such an amazing story.
3. Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms (Gloria Furman): I can truly say that there are many days when I feel as though motherhood is causing me to lose my find. In the midst of craziness and real-life challenges, it’s easy to get frustrated and lose perspective. Gloria Furman’s book helped me get my thinking straight. It took me back to the gospel–to the purpose of motherhood and to the true Sustenance for motherhood. This is my number one book to recommend and give to new moms, and it’s a book I will return to many times through the years.
4. Is God Anti-Gay? (Sam Allberry): Homosexuality is the issue of our day. There are numerous conflicting views on this issue and even conflicting opinions concerning what the Bible says about this issue. So, what does God really think? What does the Bible really say with certainty about marriage, sexuality, and same-sex attraction? How can Christians be a beacon of gospel light, hope, and love to all people in this broken world, including those with same-sex attraction? This book is biblically sound, full of wisdom, and motivated by true Christian love. And it’s short to boot!
5. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Donald Whitney): This is a book that every Christian should read. Truly. Sustained discipline is not easy, but Whitney’s thesis verse is 1 Timothy 4:7 which teaches that growth in godliness is the result of God working through our practice of the spiritual disciplines. Whitney provides all sorts of practical helps for reading and meditating on Scripture, praying, fasting, serving, etc. This is another book that will benefit you greatly regardless of where you are in your walk with God.
6. Women of the Word (Jen Wilkin): I think so many Christian women genuinely want to read the Bible consistently, but because they have never been taught how to study and interpret it, they often feel confused and unsure of where to start. Jen Wilkin teaches easy, systematic ways to study and understand God’s Word so that it truly comes alive and makes sense. She helps women understand the big story of the Bible so that we can see how our individual stories are a part of that great, grand story.
7. Finally Free: Fighting for Purity by the Power of Grace (Heath Lambert): This is a book about finding freedom from pornography addiction through Christ’s power and grace. I had to read this book for class, but I thought it was excellent and very relevant as pornography is a rampant and common problem even among Christians. If you or someone you know are struggling in this area, this is an excellent, grace-filled resource–full of practical helps and the hope of the gospel.
8. Be Rich: Gaining the Things that Money Can’t Buy (Warren Wiersbe): This is actually a commentary on the book of Ephesians, but it reads like a regular book. I used this as a resource this summer while teaching a small group women’s study through Ephesians. It was excellent. Wiersbe has a “Be” commentary series that includes commentaries for almost every book of the Bible. These are very easy to read and understand and are great for personal study or group study.
9. Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (Donald Whitney): Dr. Whitney was my prof this past semester, so obviously I read a lot of his stuff. This is a short little book that will really help you examine your heart and life to determine if you are spiritually healthy or just spiritually busy. There’s a big difference.
10. The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins): Hmm…which book in the list doesn’t fit? Ha :)! I realize I’m a couple years behind the rest of the world, but these three books were my page-turning fiction splurge when I finished my class. They fall into the category of “books that make you think about the world, politics, and human nature.” They are excellent—very entertaining and brain stimulating. They will also make you thankful that, as Christians, we have a remedy and a true promise of hope for the horrific brokenness in our world.
11. Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Tedd Tripp): I think I actually read this is 2013, but this is my go-to parenting book. This will revolutionize the way you look at parenting and help you give your kids the hope of the gospel by getting into what’s really in their hearts.
Here’s what I have on the 2015 reading list so far:
1. Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand)
2. The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgement, the Hope of Holy War (Joshua Ryan Butler)
3. The Church Planting Wife (Christine Hoover)
4. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Tim Keller)
5. Love Does (Bob Goff)
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books as well as any recommendations you might have for me—particularly good fiction! Happy reading, y’all.