Favorite Reads of 2015
Of all the joys I have in life, reading is one of the greatest! Each year I take in a lot of books. The topics cover a wide range: preaching and ministry, leadership, discipleship, spiritual formation to well written biographies. I do not get to a lot of fiction, but anything with a good story or compelling message could be found in my list of favorites.
Each year I post a list of my favorite books. This is not a list of my favorites books published this year. Instead what you have here is a list of favorite books I read over the last twelve months regardless of when published. Perhaps you will find something you enjoy.
The Voice Translation of the Bible - I read the Bible through every year, and in 2015 I chose to read the Voice translation. Please take time to read the introductory material which explains how this translation is a bit different than other popular versions. You might be surprised at the powerful blessing a change in translation can be for your daily quiet time!
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen: This masterpiece is at least an annual read for me. I am continuously captivated by the Nouwen's powerful insight coupled with his personal vulnerability. Every time I read this book I come away with new perspectives on Jesus' most famous parable.
Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis by Ben Witherington III. One of the best books on what Jesus and scripture actually taught about finances ever printed. Witherington is one of the most prolific New Testament Scholars of our time and his insights on money will surprise and empower you to better understand the ministry and teaching of Jesus.
Life On Mission by Tim Harlow. I read this book for the second time this year as our congregation went through the connecting study. Tim was my youth pastor when I was in middle school, but my personal affinity for him is not why this was a worthy re-read. Harlow does a fantastic job of calling the church to live out our call to make disciples, to live as missionaries in our daily lives.
Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Jeanne Guyon. A Spiritual Formation classic, but I read it for the first time for a class in the fall of 2015. It could be an excellent addition to your quiet time studies as there is much biblical insight worth contemplating.
A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What by Gordon MacDonald. This was a fantastic book for practical application of Spiritual Disciplines in our daily lives. A big thank you to Scott Surovec, Discipleship Minister at GCC, for introducing me to MacDonald's work!
Brimstone: The Art and Act of Holy Nonjudgment by Hugh Halter. If you are not seeking to be challenged or stretched in your understanding of what it is to follow Jesus, then this book is not for you. Halter is a master at looking at the manner in which the church functions in North America and identifying areas where we need to grow if we are to wear the name of Jesus.
Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation down to Earth by Hugh Halter. This was my first experience with Hugh Halter's writing. This was a great read on what the meaning of the incarnation of Christ is and the implications it holds for followers of Jesus.
Patched Together: A Story of My Story by Brennan Manning. Before this kindle find (got it free from one of the advertising emails they send) I had not read any of Manning's work. This book was quickly followed by the next gem.
The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning. If you want to take a stab at understanding grace, I highly recommend this book! Manning is a compelling and gifted writer whose words seem to latch onto the quiet parts of our mind.
Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction by Caleb Kaltenbach. Speaking of grace, my good friend Caleb Kaltenbach's book, will challenge you to think through your understanding of God's grace. Always biblically solid, Caleb will bring some familiar stories from scripture to life in his own life's journey. His testimony will stretch what you thought you knew of God's grace while inviting you to embrace the tension between grace and truth.
The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America by Randy Peterson. Biographies are great, but when it is a biography of a great friendship which God used to shape the culture of our nation, that is worth taking a look at. A joyful read!
Leading Missional Communities by Mike Breen. It is no secret that I am a fan of Breen's. His work has blessed my life and ministry in countless ways. This book is a great read for anyone interested in missional communities.
Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow by Carey Nieuwhof. It helps to have someone who has been there and done that to point out key questions which leaders should discuss in our churches. This is just such a book. There are not magic tricks or silver bullets in this book, just an honest discussion of questions which must be tackled.
I hope you take some time to enjoy some of these books. They have a blessing to me, and I hope to share that blessing with you.
What were some of your favorite reads over the past year?