Pastors get asked lots of questions. One of the most common goes like this: What are some good books you’d recommend? Oftentimes the questions arise out of a deep desire to grow and people really want to know where they can turn for resources to assist them in their growing relationships with Jesus. That’s why the pastors at FBC Henryville take reading so seriously, and that’s why each year just before Christmas we release a list of our favorite books to commend to each of you for reading. Whether you use this guide for Christmas shopping, or as a helpful tool for reading throughout the upcoming year, we believe these books are solid sources that should be savored by reading. This year we’re expanding and doing the list a bit different. We’ve broken our list into ten categories and have listed ten books in each category. We’re giving you lots of choices! Additionally we’ve picked ten books (one from each category) to make up our top ten list. Enjoy your reading!
Toby and Cade
I. The Top Ten List: The Best Books for 2013
These books are for children, but you may be tempted to think that this is just a book for children. And they aren’t. In the Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd Jones goes through the Bible’s central stories and shows how they all point to Jesus Christ. This is great for children, adults, and families. Read this book! And…we’d also encourage you to pick up the brand new devotional for kids too, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing.
Christians usually have two really big problems. One, we’re still sinners. Two, we sometimes are tempted to think that loving the gospel and depending on the gospel means we don’t actually strive to live the gospel. These are the problems that DeYoung faces head on in this little book. The gospel of grace is really good news for people who don’t measure up, who could never save themselves. It’s also good news because it changes us. It transforms us. The gospel is meant to make us more like Jesus. If our relationship with Jesus is missing that, then there is an emptiness in our relationship with Christ that only he can fill.
There are several things that are typically true about men in general and Christian men in particular. First, they’d really love some direction on what the Bible says about being a man. Second, many don’t like to read anything except the sports section of a newspaper or a hunting magazine. If that describes the man (or men) in your life, then this is the perfect book. This book shares the biblical foundations of manhood (a godly husband, godly father, and godly leader), and it does so in a short little paperback that’s a breeze to read!
“An excellent wife, who can find?” asks the proverb. We are thankful for excellent wives, and we’re thankful for resources and books that help ladies understand and grow into the biblical picture of true womanhood. In a society that pressures us to see our worth through standards that are sinful and destructive, a good book like this helps women grow into a clearer reflection of Jesus in their own lives and in the lives of their families.
We love it when kids read, and we love it when parents read to their kids! But what are some good books that kids and young adults might actually like to read that will also give them good gospel truth? Are the Twilight and Hunger Games series all there is? We don’t think so. One example of a Christian author who is writing great books for kids and young adults is Brian Litfin. This book, the first in a series, tells the story of a world very different from our own in a distant future (four hundred years in the future to be exact). Everything we know has been forgotten. Life has returned (in many ways) to the way it was in the Middle Ages, with one big exception. The gospel has been forgotten, and Christianity has been suppressed. Then one day a gallant soldier of the kingdom trying to rescue a beautiful girl discovers something he has never seen before: a book, a book like no other, a book that will change everything.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the most important figures for Christianity in the twentieth century. He was a writer, a pastor, and a rebel. He understood that following Jesus meant standing up for the truth, not giving in to pressures to worship anyone other than Jesus. He also knew that being a disciple may mean suffering and sacrifice. These beliefs led him to work with the underground church in his home in Germany and to actively work to oppose and defeat the evil regime of Adolf Hitler. These beliefs would show the world the true power of the gospel, but they would cost Bonhoeffer everything.
People who are unchurched have a tendency not to know the gospel. People who are overchurched have a tendency to forget the gospel. The one thing we have in common is that we all desperately need the true gospel. That’s Matt Chandler’s passion in this book. He wants to shake us with the startling message of what the gospel is, what makes it good, and how Christians should be intentional about making the gospel known and cherished explicitly in their own lives and churches.
Churches do a lot of things. Churches do a lot of good things. Churches sometimes do things just to be doing things! The question is, though, is what should churches really be doing? What is the main thing and the main mission that churches should be focusing on? What is the heartbeat of everything that a church should be about? DeYoung and Gilbert explain why the Bible sets the agenda for the local church and why taking the gospel to our communities and the world is the mission of the church.
You may be asking a question. Why would pastors recommend a book (now made into major movies) about fictional creatures, magic, wizards, and dragons? That’s a good question, but we believe there are really good reasons to pick up The Hobbit this year and read it. First, Tolkien’s world is grounded in Tolkien’s own fundamental Christian worldview. Tolkien presents a world where evil is real, good is victorious, and the most unlikely of heroes are used for purposes greater than they could have ever imagined. Additionally, the new movies releasing over the next few years will be cultural events. Having a knowledge of the book and of Tolkien’s own Christian faith may help in starting and having conversations that you can bridge to the good news of the gospel.
On Sunday mornings we’ll still be in the book of Romans. This is a great book to pick up and read throughout the year as you prepare your heart and mind for our Sunday morning gatherings.
Those are our top recommended books for 2013, but maybe you want a little more, or maybe some of these books aren’t quite for you. So this year we’ve decided to go a little further in our recommended reading. We’re listing ten additional titles from each of the ten categories of books. These are great resources. You’ve got a lot of reading to do!
I. Bible Reading and Bible Study
1. How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler
2. Education or Imitation? Bible Interpretation for Dummies Like You and Me, Curtis Allen
3. How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens, Michael Williams
4. God’s Big Picture, Vaughan Roberts
5. Reading the Gospels Wisely, Jonathan Pennington
6. Promises Made: The Message of the Old Testament, Mark Dever
7. Promises Kept: The Message of the New Testament, Mark Dever
8. Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s Word, Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach
9. Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible, Wayne Grudem
10. According to Plan, Graeme Goldsworthy
II. Christian Living and Devotional
1. A Praying Life, Paul Miller
2. The Gospel is for Christians, Michael Chase
3. How the Gospel Brings Us All The Way Home, Derek Thomas
4. Gospel Deeps, Jared Wilson
5. Who Am I? Identity in Christ, Jerry Bridges
6. O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death With Courageous Confidence in God, Various Contributors
7. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Timothy Keller
8. Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching the Gospel to Yourself, Joe Thorn
9. When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, John Piper
10. The Transforming Power of the Gospel, Jerry Bridges
III. Especially for Men
1. The Exemplary Husband, Stuart Scott
2. The Conviction to Lead, Albert Mohler
3. The Shepherd Leader at Home, Timothy Witmer
4. Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes
5. The Godly Man’s Picture, Thomas Watson
6. Pornography: Slaying the Dragon, David Powlison
7. Sexual Sanity for Men, David White
8. Date Your Wife, Justin Buzzard
9. Gospel Centered Leadership, Steve Timmis
10. Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, Dennis Rainey
IV. Especially for Women
1. Practical Theology for Women, Wendy Alsup
2. Feminine Appeal, Carolyn Mahaney
3. Disciplines of a Godly Woman, Barbara Hughes
4. Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life, Elyse Fitzpatrick
5. Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, Mary Kassian
6. Comforts From the Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time, Elyse Fitzpatrick
7. Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God, Noel Piper
8. Helper By Design, Elyse Fitzpatrick
9. Damsels in Distress, Martha Peace
10. Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood, Carolyn Mahaney
V. Especially for Kids and Young Adults (And Older Adults Too!)
1. Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, Sally Lloyd Jones
2. Just Because You’re Mine, Sally Lloyd Jones
3. The Innkeeper, John Piper
4. What is the Gospel?, Mandy Groce
5. Big Truths for Young Hearts, Bruce Ware
6. The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, RC. Sproul
7. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Andrew Peterson
8. The Dragon’s Tooth, N.D. Wilson
9. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
10. Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress
VI. Church History and Biography
1. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, Mark Noll
2. Pages From Church History: A Guided Tour of Christian Classics, Stephen Nichols
3. For Us and For Our Salvation: The Doctrine of Christ in the Early Church, Stephen Nichols
4. Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History, Diana Severance
5. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, John Foxe
6. The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra, Adam English
7. Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought, Stephen Nichols
8. The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, Stephen Lawson
9. John Macarthur: Servant of the Word, Ian Murray
10. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption , Laura Hildebrand
VII. General Theology
1. Creature of the Word, Matt Chandler et. al.
2. Death by Love, Mark Driscoll
3. The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance, Thomas Schreiner
4. The Church, Mark Dever
5. Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith, Michael Reeves
6. Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible, Vern Poythress
7. Christ’s Glorious Achievements, Charles Spurgeon
8. The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul
9. Jesus the Son of God, D.A. Carson
10. Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free, Tullian Tchividjian
VIII. Missions and Evangelism
1. Radical, David Platt
2. Radical Together, David Platt
3. When Missions Shapes the Mission, David Horner
4. Tell the Truth, Will Metzger
5. Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged, John Piper
6. Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission, Tim Chester
7. Theology and Practice of Mission: God, the Church, and the Nations, Bruce Ashford et. al.
8. The Missionary Call: Find Your Place in God’s Plan for the World, David Sills
9. Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples, Francis Chan
10. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer
1. Lit: A Christian Guide to Reading Books, Tony Reinke
2. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
3. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Graham
4. The Memory of Old Jack, Wendell Berry
5. Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry
6. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
7. Til We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis
8. Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers
9. The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton
10. The Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor, Flannery O’Connor
X. 2013 Sermon Series
In 2013 we’ll be going through several different sermon series. On Sunday mornings we’ll still be in Romans, but during some of our other services we’ll be walking through the book of Galatians, looking at what it means to be a healthy and active church member, and beginning in the Fall of 2013 we’ll start a series entitled “The Shepherd and the Scepter: The Gospel in the Books of Samuel.” Some of these books will be great additions to your reading as you grow with us together this year.
1. The Finished Work of Christ: Romans 1-8, Francis Schaeffer
2. Encountering the Book of Romans, Douglas Moo
3. Galatians, Philip Ryken
4. What is a Healthy Church Member?, Thabiti Anyabwile
5. Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches, John Hammett
6. Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, Jonathan Leeman
7. A Display of God’s Glory, Mark Dever
8. A Son to Me: An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel, Peter Leithart
9. After God’s Own Heart: The Gospel According to David, Mark Boda
10. 1st Samuel, Richard Phillips