As the New Year begins and I think back over the past twelve months, I wanted to share with you some of the best books I read from this past year.
For me, Reading is like having a conversation with a friend/ally/enemy, and this has been a year of good conversations. And so for those of us who are looking for new reads for 2013, here are some of my favorite resources from last year (in no particular order):
How God Became King by N.T. Wright If you like Wright, you’ll love this book. I have started to pray for N.T. Wright’s health, because I am pretty sure as long as he’s alive and writing, I will never have a problem with coming up with ideas for preaching.
Living the Sermon on the Mount by Glen Stassen Stassen is an ethics professor at Fuller Seminary and I read Stassens’ book while on Study Break in Pasedena and actually took him out to lunch to talk about it. I found him and his book very hopeful and helpful for understanding Jesus most famous words. It’s an incredibly practical book on what it looks like to follow Jesus today.
Living Jesus by Randy Harris This book is both simple and profound. Randy takes on what it means to try and live out the Sermon on the Mount today. Randy writes out of his experience with mentoring young men at ACU as they try to live out the Sermon on the Mount in community.
What Good is God? By Philip Yancey If you are a preacher/teacher of any kind, pick up Philip Yancey, this book is a great place to start.
Selling Water by the River by Shane Hipps. Shane is a genius at using metaphors that you would have never thought of, to make very complicated ideas about God accessible.
Who is this Man By John Ortberg This book was Ortberg at his finest. It’s a cursory walkthrough the ways that Jesus has turned the world upside down. I highly recommend this book.
Center Church by Tim Keller This was the best book I’ve read in a long time. It’s not for the feint of heart. Looks like a text book and basically is. But if you are a church leader/minister/shepherd/volunteer and you care about the local church and the city your local church is in, this book is a must read!
Your Church is Too Safe by Mark Buchanan. I’ve always appreciated Buchanan, but this book was one of the best I read this year. In the words of Rob Bell, “The local church has the seeds of her destruction planted in her. She’s called to risk and to refuse to accept caution as a virtue.” This is a book about that.
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero I don’t know very many ministers who wouldn’t benefit from reading this book. Or for that matter, many Christians, especially men. Being religious is often an easy smoke-screen to be able to hide emotional immaturity. Scazzero is painfully honest about his past and present failures and this book was helpful for me to just be able to name some of the emotions that guys tend to not be able to recognize.
ReJesus by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch A book about the many ways we make Jesus into our own image. They actually start off with an incredibly well-worded “Christian” prayer….done by one of the Grand Dragons of the KKK. Enough said.
Messy by A.J. Swoboda I hadn’t heard of Swobada before this, he’s a church planter in Oregon who has a natural story-telling ability and a life filled with great stories.
Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller. If you have a job that you love or hate or somewhere in between, get this book. This is the best Theological perspective on vocation that I’ve ever read.
The Road Trip That Changed the World by Mark Sayers. I love Sayers writing, and while I didn’t enjoy this book as much as his previous two, it was a great read.
Platform by Michael Hyatt Michael Hyatt is an incredible leader and resource for anyone who is trying to navigate the rapidly changing world of social media. This book was very helpful for me.
Love Does by Bob Goff One word, Whimsy. One of the most enjoyable books I read last year.
Heaven on Earth by Chris Seidman and Joshua Graves. I was preaching through the Beautitudes in the Fall and asked my friends for an advance copy for a series. But after a chapter the book started working on me. It’s just been released and if you are interested in what life with the Blessing of God looks like, get this book.
A Woman Called by Sara Barton, Sara is a good friend, and she talks about Gender roles in the church better than anyone I’ve read, and she just does it by telling her story. This book was challenging and refreshing, can’t recommend it enough.
Scarred Faith by Josh Ross This book hasn’t been released yet. But you’ve got to pre-order it. It’s extremely powerful story by my good preaching friend Josh Ross, about losing his sister to a rare disease. About half way through the book, you begin to realize this is more than just a book about Josh’s story, this is a book about a life with a wild and good God.
The Storytelling Animal. A NY Times bestseller, this is a book about why humans tell stories. Story is in our bones, we can’t live without it. It’s an incredible look into the reason why we tell ourselves stories. I will use metaphors from this book for a decade.
So those are my top reads from 2012, What did I miss? I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for 2013.