Books I'd Recommend

I read a lot. I read to relax. I read to learn and grow. I read to think. I read to change. I read literally dozens of books each year. Some books grab me and won’t let go. Other books are merely “junk food” for the brain. Here are ten books I read in 2017 that stirred me, and, I pray, shaped me as a disciple/disciple-maker. Perhaps the same might happen for you.

Practicing the Power

Sam Storms

Dr. Storms is a like-minded and trustworthy mentor in matters regarding our own pursuit of the active presence and power of God through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Practicing the Power is an immensely practical guide, and inspired me toward more passionate obedience to “pursue love and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1).

Counseling the Hard Cases

Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert

This past March through May, I participated in the Fundamentals Track, the first level of training provided by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. The Lord used that training, and especially this book, to call me to repentance of my unbelief in the sufficiency of God’s Word to address and supply all the graces necessary to solve even the hardest and darkest counseling-related problems people face. This book engendered new hope, inspired fresh resolve, and communicated remarkable wisdom for serving people in emotional, psychological, relational, and situational pain.

Reading the Bible Supernaturally

John Piper

Reading Piper on reading the Bible is like pouring gas on a fire. Knowing God in Christ is life to the fullest. How will we enjoy God in Christ but through the Word of Christ? Reading the Bible Supernaturally is a big book for many—perhaps like reading Julia Child’s cookbook is to ordinary cooks. But the rewards are more than worth it. Feast yourselves on the richest of foods!

Gospel Fluency

Jeff Vandersteldt

Here is an introduction to the language we pray might be our "native tongue." We use the term “the functional centrality of the Gospel.” Unpacking the meaning of that is Jeff's fastball. This is ground level content for every member of Emmaus Road Church. 

The Benedict Option 

Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher is interesting. He’s provoking. He’s smart. And he can help us think strategically and practically about how to live life together on mission in our city.

Surprised by the Power of the Holy Spirit

Jack Deere

Jack Deere’s teaching on the active presence and power of God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit was profoundly influential in my thinking and practice in the early 1990s. I read this book when it first came out in 1993. As part of my search to find useful tools to nurture our continuationist pneumatology, I re-read this book this past summer. It set my heart on fire again for more of the fullness of God and for the manifestation of Christ’s kingship in and through our spiritual community. This book is particularly helpful, I believe, in answering objections to our convictions regarding the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, as well as intensifying our expectation for more of the Spirit’s power.

The Art of Work

Jeff Goins

I picked up this book, partly because of my interest in vocation as it relates to people’s developmental process. I also picked it up because it seems that so many of our people are experiencing some degree of vocational “disorder.” Goins’ book is profoundly useful in giving people a lens and framework through which they may learn to be more attentive to God’s formation of their story. Goins gives us practical means by which we can discern the good works God has prepared in advance for us to walk in.

Good and Angry

David Powlison

I read anything written by David Powlison. He serves me as a “long distance” mentor. His book on “redeeming anger, irritation, complaining, and bitterness” (the sub-title) is brilliant, God-centered, and immensely useful. Again, for a people committed to the functional centrality of the Gospel (i.e., the Gospel getting things done in our lives, and producing Gospel fruit in our lives) this book is a gold mine. The Biblical counsel in this book is transformational—even if you don’t perceive you struggle with sinful anger. Here is a powerful paradigm for growing up IN CHRIST.

Liturgy of the Ordinary

Tish Warren

One of my favorite reads all year. I’m interested in spiritual formation. I’m interested in the means God uses to shape our souls. I’m interested in helping people be more attentive to God’s transformational activity in their lives. I’m a fan of great writing. Tish Warren’s book brings all those things together.

The Art of Divine Contentment

Thomas Watson

Ryan and I have been thinking and praying and planning to preach through Paul’s letter to the Philippians beginning in January. There are few guides more trustworthy than the Puritans when it comes to expository exultation. Watson, who preached these sermons on Philippians 4:11 in 1653, absolutely nails it regarding the theme of satisfaction in God. This may be the most important book—next to the Bible—that I read all this past year. Required reading!!!