2013 is coming to a close and as I reflect, it has been a year of great reading for me. In the past I despised reading, but the past few years I have discovered more valuable treasures in the pages of literature than I did in 19 wasteful years of literary ignorance and television indulgence.
This time of year many bloggers give their list of the best books they read this past year. Many of these lists were compiled before Christmas. I am a little late (as usual). Still yet, I am going to join in this throng as I have always been helped by these lists in the past. It is a good way to recommend some great books you have read. I have read many books this year. The books on my list are not necessarily 2013 publications. This list is merely the top ten books that I read this year, regardless of when they were published. I pray that for those of you who read this will head to a bookstore or swing over to Amazon and pick up some amazing works that will engage your mind, pierce your heart, and enhance your faith. May God be glorified in your reading.
1. Knowing God (J.I. Packer)
This is an all-time classic Christian work and is one of the best Christian works of the 20th century from one of the greatest evangelical theologians of the past 150 years. If you wonder why people rave about J.I. Packer, reading any number of chapters in this book will resolve your wondering. Knowing God is a theological mammoth of a book that knitted my heart ever closer to God. If you read this book daily, you will feel as if you are being led by Packer to a refreshing river of theological and biblical truth to replenish your thirsty soul. This will be a book you will turn to again and again.
2. Five Points: Toward a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace (John Piper)
My year is not complete until I have read multiple books by John Piper, my favorite pastor-theologian-author. No single person has helped me grow in my faith more than Piper through his writing and preaching. I thank God for his ministry and for this book. While I have read a few books written by Piper this year, I found Five Points to be the most enjoyable. It is a short gem (96 pages) that explains the doctrines of grace, more traditionally known as, the five points of Calvinism in a thorough, yet enjoyable manner. Piper walks through each point with a biblical-theological lens, exalting the glory of God’s sovereign grace all the way.
3. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (D.A. Carson)
This is another short book that is theologically rich and pastorally poignant. The love of God is talked about heavily among Christians (as it should), but it seems that many Christians totally misunderstand the biblical sense of God’s love. This misunderstanding leads to many interpretive issues and practical ministerial errors. This short book is a compilation of a series of lectures given by Carson that expounds this difficult doctrine of God’s love. I needed this book this year and have greatly benefited from its thesis.
4. The Bible and the Future (Anthony Hoekema)
I love reading Anthony Hoekema. I have read all three of his major theological works, but I was most helped by his eschatological masterpiece, The Bible and the Future. I do not have much solid background in eschatology, but this book went a long way to help me clearly see through the common fog that surrounds the doctrine of last things.
Jim Shaddix is an excellent pastor who loves to teach pastors. He does just this in this work. As a young preacher of the Word, Shaddix showed me in this book what it means to preach the Word (and what it doesn’t). This book not only helps preachers, but congregations as well.
6. Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Michael Reeves)
This may be the very best book I read in 2013. One of the most amazing, thrilling, joyous, central, and confusing doctrines of Christianity. Michael Reeves shows the absolute necessity of the Trinity and how without it Christianity falls apart. The unparalleled glory of God oozes through Reeves’ explanation and biblical exposition of the Trinity. My total confidence in this doctrine was only further strengthened by reading this book and my worship heightened.
7. Follow Me: A Call to Live. A Call to Die. (David Platt)
I thoroughly enjoyed Platt’s first two works (Radical and Radical Together), but this third work in my opinion is his best. It is full of grace and gospel and glory. This book will pierce your heart and cause you to reflect and repent as you marvel at the grand holiness and grace of God. It is an easy and quick read that will lead you to realize what it means to follow Christ, understand the power of God’s grace in the gospel, and lead you to rely upon that grace.
8.God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology (Jim Hamilton)
This is a biblical theology for the ages. This book aided me in my study of the Bible this year like no other. As I read through the Bible, this book was my companion and my guide. It led me to greater understanding and greater worship of our great God.
This is a comprehensive historical sketch of Christian missions that will tug at your heart and stir your emotions toward the glory of Christ in the lives of those who gladly gave their lives for the sake of the gospel among the nations.
10. The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins)
And finally, I end with the only fiction book (series) I read this year. After refusing to get in on the Hunger Games fad, I have finally given in. The bandwagon is long gone, but I genuinely enjoyed reading each of these three books. The ethical dilemmas that Katniss faces are very real and her responses are totally genuine. The evil of totalitarianism and the greatness of humble, sacrificial love made this book series for me. The storyline of The Hunger Games is compelling and addictive. Because of this series, I will be reading much more fiction in 2014.