Every year many great new books are published, and for me, it is practically impossible to keep up with all of the new books as I would like! For that reason, this list presents my favorite reads from 2015, many of which were published in different years.
1. Heaven, How I Got Here by Colin S. Smith
This is a special book for me, not only because my pastor wrote it, but also because I read it to my late mother while she was in the hospital. From my review on The Gospel Coalition:
In his new book, Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross, Colin Smith takes a fresh approach to a sometimes troubling topic. Instead of describing heavenly details like the people you’ll meet, the things you’ll do, or the appearance of the Holy Spirit, Smith writes from the heavenly vantage point of the person closest to Jesus as he died on the cross: the thief at his side who would come to believe.
One challenge in writing about the thief on the cross is that Scripture only contains a few short verses about him. But it’s clear that this nameless thief had a front-row ticket to the crucifixion of Christ—something the Bible does say a lot about. Smith, senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church outside Chicago, imaginatively walks us through the thief’s life, his rebellion and hatred toward God, and his understanding of the Messiah both before and after putting his trust in him.
2. Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies
From my review: “Reading Do More Better felt like taking a crash course with a productivity expert. It is also remarkably well-rounded for a 114 page book…There aren’t many books I call a “Must Read”, but for those whose jobs and lives thrive on planning, organization, and execution of tasks, Do More Better is not only a “Must Read”, but also a “Must Implement” if you want to do more of what matters better.”
3. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller
From my review: “Working my way through Preaching felt like a master artist was showing me around his studio and explaining his craft and process in detail. Although most of us will never be as gifted as Keller in preaching, readers will have their toolbox filled and mind sharpened to preach Christ to our secular culture in fresh and compelling ways. Personally, the middle section (“Reaching the People”) challenged me the most to diagnose the underlying cultural narratives found in myself and those to whom I preach. This means my being more intentional in conversations and prayerful reading for a better understanding of the large waves of thought sweeping through our culture…If you’re a preacher looking to strengthen your preaching or a truth communicator at any level, Preaching will be an invaluable resource to help you communicate God’s Word to the heart of your listeners by the power of God’s Spirit. I suspect this book’s value will only grow over time as our culture and church is more influenced by secularism and more desperate for the lasting hope of a living Savior.”
4. How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor by James K.A. Smith
James K.A. Smith makes the thrust from Charles Taylor’s deeply insightful A Secular Age more readable. This is an important book, still not the easiest to read, but one I will go back to for insight on the secular culture.
Listen to a helpful discussion of the book on The Wednesday Conversation.
5. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
An allegory on heaven and hell like only Lewis could write. Add this one to my will-read-again list.
6. Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves
Many books on the Trinity are merely theological and not devotional. Reeves knows that’s not the way to go, but rather knows the Trinity should be our delight.
7. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
Nabeel Qureshi’s story of growing up Muslim and finding Christ while researching his faith and the Christian faith to debate his Christian friend mesmerized me. This is a book of coming to faith that will encourage and edify. Fans of Lee Strobel (who writes the foreword) will love this as well.
8. When God’s Voice is Heard: The Power of Preaching by Various Authors
This is Dick Lucas’ Festschrift and is a rich collection of essays on preaching by John Stott, J.I. Packer, D.A. Carson, David Jackman, and more. Dick Lucas and his organization Proclamation Trust are big influences for us at Leadership Resources, so it was a no-brainer to read this.
9. We Cannot Be Silent by Albert Mohler
Amazon Description: “Twenty years ago, not one nation on earth had legal same-sex marriage. Now, access to same-sex marriage is increasingly seen as a basic human right. In a matter of less than a generation, western cultures have experienced a moral revolution. Dr. R. Albert Mohler examines how this transformation occurred, revealing the underlying cultural shifts behind this revolution: the acceptance of divorce culture, liberation of sex from reproduction, the prevalence of heterosexual cohabitation, the normalization of homosexuality, and the rise of the transgender movement. He then offers a deep look at how the Bible and Christian moral tradition provide a comprehensive understanding upon which Christians can build their personal lives, their marriages, church ministry, and cultural engagement.” Read my brief review.
10. The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges
It is hard to find a better book to show people how the gospel continually transforms us than Bridges’ The Discipline of Grace. The subtitle shares the heart of the book “God’s role and our role in the pursuit of holiness”—holiness is not something we are left on our own to do, nor is it a ‘let go and let God’ type of thing, as if it will happen automatically. This is a book to read and re-read. It might even change your life.