Thursday, January 22, 2015

Two Thousand and Fourteen’s Top Book

Before I tell you my choice for top book of 2014, let me share with you a couple of honourable mentions.

Honourable Mentions:

Books from the Building Healthy Churches series:
  • Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus by Jeramie Rinne 
  • Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God by Bobby Jamieson
  • Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God's Word Today by David Helm
  • Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles

I found these books extremely helpful. They are concise, well-written, and deal with subject matter that I find particularly important. The various authors are clearly passionate about their particular topic. And their passion is matched by their competency. Get your hands on all the books from this series and you will not be disappointed.

A Brief Theology of Sport by Lincoln Harvey:
Another short and well-written book on a topic that is dear to my heart. This read was eye-opening and heart-filling for a one-time athlete wannabe theologian like myself. I really appreciate the authors approach and hope this book encourages more discussion on this topic.

The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander:
I really appreciate Mark Dever and his ministry with 9Marks. This books articulates a philosophy of ministry that reflects much of what I think church should be about. I’m greatly encouraged having read this book.

Books on preaching from the Old Testament:
  • Jesus on Every Page by David Murray
  • Is Jesus in the Old Testament? by Ian M. Duguid
  • Joshua: No Falling Words by Dale Ralph Davis

I the summer of 2014, I had my first opportunity to preach a series from the Old Testament. I was thoroughly stretched by the task, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. These three books were invaluable to me and left a lasting impression. Whether you preach or not, these were great reads.

The English Language’s master wordsmith:
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare
  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • Henry V by William Shakespeare
  • Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
  • The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
  • As You Like It by William Shakespeare
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

As your eyes return to their normal position, having rolled back into your skull, and after you pick yourself up from the fetal position that bad memories from highschool English class forced you in to, let me suggest to you that Shakespeare is indeed one of the greats. And, if you’re willing, reading a play or two just might leave you pleasantly surprised. I’m looking forward to more of these in 2015.

The Ortlunds and my top two books of 2014:
  • Edwards on the Christian Life by Dane Ortlund
  • The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Jesus by Ray Ortlund

This is called keeping it in the family. I cannot say enough about these two books by Ray Ortlund and his son Dane. The Gospel is a heart-warming and soul-stirring look at the gospel and the impact it can have on a church, on the church’s members, and on those the church comes in contact with. Not much more than 100 pages, this book is nevertheless a heavyweight. Readable and memorable, The Gospel left me convicted and convinced; convicted by my lack of gospel-ness and convinced that the gospel can overcome that very shortcoming. Ray writes about the gospel in such a way that Jesus indeed looks beautiful. Get this book. Read it. And then pass it on. Edwards on the Christian Life was a book that I anticipated reading when I first heard it would be added to the Theologians on the Christian Life series. When I finally got my hands on it my expectations were resoundingly surpassed. What a book! If Jonathan Edwards is the theological juggernaut that people suggest – and I believe he is, and if we all should be reading him – and I believe we should, than I cannot think of a better place
to start than this gem. I am no Edwards expert, but I have read several of his “must read” volumes and Dane Ortlund’s book brought much clarity to my understanding of this great theologian and his teaching. And yet, this book would be very accessible and encouraging to those who have never read Edwards. I think I spent as much time writing in the margins and underlining passages as I did actually reading the book. Dane’s style is a pleasure to read and he left me wanting to read more of Edwards. These are two great books for 2014. Now, if I had to choose between the two, I’d tip my hat to the younger of the two Ortlunds. And I'm quite certain Ortlund the elder would approve of that decision. But I suggest you get a copy of both books and let the Ortlunds and their books edify.

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