Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ten from 2011: Books

I read more books in 2011 than any other year of my life.  I read books that a guy like me was supposed to like but I ended up hating, I read books that disturbed me and I read books that helped me to understand the gospel a little better.  As usual, many of the books on this list were written and published long before 2011 but these are ten that I benefited from in 2011 and, for one reason or another, would recommend to you in 2012. 

This isn’t the kind of book that you take with you to the beach.  I read it over several months as I prepared to preach through the book of Ecclesiastes last year.  It is a very accessible and practical read.  If you are a pastor you need to preach through Ecclesiastes and you need to use this book.

This book falls into the disturbing category.  Jeannette Walls’ memoir details her childhood under an alcoholic father, an enabling mother and the wreckage they left behind them.  This one is not for the squeamish. 

Keller is one of those rare authors who is able to take complex concepts and break them down for the common reader.  This book on the Gospel of Mark is no exception.

Here’s another one from the disturbing category.  Pat Tillman was an elite defensive back in the NFL and a patriot.  After 9/11 he walked away from the game he loved to defend the country he loved as an Army Ranger.  The friendly fire that killed Pat Tillman in Afghanistan and the political maneuverings that hid the facts regarding his death from his family aren’t near as disturbing as the image Krakauer paints of Tillman using his dying words to affirm that there is no God.  This is not a Christian book but it should inspire Christians to take their disciple-making mandate more seriously. 

Krakauer is an excellent author and that excellence is on full display in this book.

This was one of the most beneficial books I read in 2011.  Altrogge’s theme of finding contentment in Christ was spot on.  This book is short, powerful and much needed.

I got in trouble for reading this book while I was sitting through a jury selection process.  The bailiff told me that if I put it up he wouldn’t take it away.  It was the 4th grade all over again.  The trial I was waiting on involved a husband and wife who were splitting up and fighting over who gets what.  I wish I had let the bailiff take the book up and give it to them.

This book is now required reading for couples I counsel.  It’s another quick read that packs a big punch.

Keep your eye on this Spurgeon kid.  If he keeps at it I see big things in store for him.

Spurgeon’s classic is the best pastoral ministries book I’ve ever read.  If you are a pastor, elder or deacon you are doing massive harm to yourself with every day that goes by without having read Lectures to My Students. 

You can use this book for bicep curls while you’re away from your home gym but don’t let the size intimidate you.  This biography reads like a thriller and reminds us of the importance of taking the gospel seriously with our head, heart and hands.

This is another fast paced historical thriller that is by far the most entertaining book I’ve ever read.  I hope the movie does it justice.

My friend Marty Duren recommended this to me and I’m glad he did.  He called it a game-changer and he was right.  This book forces the reader to wrestle with the possibilities that giving the poor family in the community a bunch of Christmas presents every year may be doing more harm than good.  But this isn’t a book that just talks about what’s wrong.  There are real solutions offered here for how churches and individuals can engage in strategic generosity.

We question our government for simply throwing money at needs and our questions are valid.  But we are no different when we do the same thing with a Jesus stamp.  True Christ-honoring generosity is thoughtful generosity and this book helps with that.

If you care about helping those in need you must read this book and talk about it with those who are helping you in your vision.

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