Though being a slow reader, reading books has always been one of my favorite activities, and traveling often by the London train system has even fueled this habit further—especially since I have no interest in the Financial Times newspaper that so many read, and I hate to spend my travel time on the phone screen. I love to plunge into the content, ask questions, and draw conclusions. (You guessed correctly; I am not a fiction fan!) Here is my reading list from 2019.
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller. If you are simply human, like me, you struggle with humility and always question your significance. You will never know how insecure, self-centered, and ego-centric you are until you come face to face with the gospel of Christ. Keller does a great job in using the Apostle Paul’s example to say ‘a truly gospel-humble person is not a self-hating person or a self-loving person, but a self-forgetting person.’ This short book is worth a re-read at every year.
The Way of the Shepherd by Dr Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak. When a friend first gave me this book, I thought ‘Oh, another leadership book’. The book’s seven principles not only give insight for team leadership, but also for the way you disciple your children and develop church leadership, with a clear thrust on both Main Street and Wall Street business leadership. The book’s back says: ‘The Way of the Shepherd is about your heart, your character, and your priorities.’
God’s Big Picture by Vaughn Roberts. This book is one of the best Bible overviews I have studied. Its theme, ‘God’s people, under his rule in the place of his blessing’, says it all. If you want to have an overall understanding of what the Bible is all about—even if you’ve read it for decades, this is a must read.
The Reluctant Evangelist by Richard Coekin. If you think the book of Jonah is only about the debate of a guy who spends three days inside a big fish, Coaekin draws some applications to challenge your gospel understanding with his theme, ‘Moving from can’t and don’t, to can and do’ in sharing the good news of Christ.
Dig Deeper by Niegel Reynan & Andrew Sach. This book helped my Bible study, especially in seeking to understand the entire bible—book, chapter, and passage context. Indeed, it contains the ‘Tools to unearth the Bible’s treasures’. A highlight, I have watched Sach put these tools to use in class, as he is currently one of my teachers.
Weirdest Nativity by Andrew Sach and Jonathan Gemmell. Both these guys are on my current lecture team. I thought including the enormous red dragon in the nativity story was an interesting approach. It’s a great gift to share with your non-Christian friends that already know the nativity story.
The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper. This is a great book to read for those in word/pulpit ministry. As in many of his books, Piper extensively quotes from Jonathan Edwards exhorting us to display the glory of God in preaching.
Gospel Centered Marriage by Tim Chester. Small but very impactful in as it ‘Shows how a proper understanding of the gospel leads to a fruitful, faithful and fulfilling relationship.’ Great for both married couples and singles hoping to get married
Discipline While You Can by James Dobson. Though old, and some of the ideas might be debated in the 21st century, it is a great read if you have children under the age of 13. A Dr. Dobson’s classic on raising children.
Keys to Better Preaching by John Garlock. This book, given to me by my friend Kyle from his church leadership team, does not focus on the biblical content of expository preaching, but on practical communication in the context of a church gathering. Though most of the skills are what you will find in your college communications class, the way Garlock injected them in a church gathering was insightful.
The God Ask by Steve Shadrach. Recommended by my missionary friend Mike, this is the best book I have read on forming partnerships and raising support for missions. It is especially helpful for word/gospel-focused ministry rather than humanitarian service orgs. Personal support raising is the most dreaded fears of most missionaries. This book takes a God-centered approach by saying, ‘It’s not your mission, its God’s mission’. Therefore, you are his agent in recruiting faithful partners for the Kingdom. A must-read if you are in gospel proclamation ministry and have to raise your own support.
Capturing God by Rico Tice. I loved Tice’s simple approach in explaining the cross as capturing the image of God. Great read on a simple and straightforward understanding of the cross.
Can We really Trust the Gospels by Peter J. Williams. If you are simply the logic chopper or battle with confusing atheistic ideas that are designed to make one doubt the gospels, this book is for you. Williams does a great job in showing the historic evidence on the trustworthiness of the gospel, especially by quoting three non-Christian sources to prove the historic events surrounding Jesus Christ, and the spread of early Christianity.
On top of the Bible, theological studies, reading and writing sermons, I finished the year reading through God Is the Gospel by John Piper, and digested various Bible books such as Jonah, Numbers and Philippians in a single in-class day.
What was the best book you read in 2019?