My 2015 List of 10 Favorite Books

In no particular order, here are my ten favorite books that I read in 2015, though some were published earlier than this year. More can and should be said about each, but a few sentences per book will have to suffice for now.

  1. The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ, by Ray Ortlund. Devotional, enriching, moving. I believe every pastor and every church member would greatly benefit from the time spent in this book. I read it at the beginning of 2015, and now near the end of this year, I’m still exceedingly grateful for its message. O how we need the gospel as Christians.
  2. Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness, by Richard Hays. This book was great fun to read and full of insight. Hays wants readers to see how the Old Testament helps you read the New, and how the New Testament helps you read the Old. Lightning strikes all over the place.
  3. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story, by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen. The authors narrate the story of the Bible, including a brief chapter on the intertestamental period. In six “Acts,” they take you from the creation of the world to the return of Jesus. This is a well-written and well-told drama about the Greatest Story ever told!
  4. The Pastor’s Ministry: Biblical Priorities for Faithful Shepherds, by Brian Croft. I’ve benefited from Croft’s other books, but this may be his most important to date. And the subtitle is right on point: he lays out the biblical priorities for pastors. This is a book ministers should read and re-read. The author is a pastor who loves pastors, and he knows exactly what we need to hear.
  5. The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts, by Joe Rigney. At the risk of overstating my case, this is not only one of my favorite books this year, it’s one of the most important books I’ve ever read. Rigney is wise and thoughtful as he guides the reader on how to appropriate God’s gifts in His world.
  6. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, by Timothy Keller. I love Keller’s writing and preaching, so I was especially excited to pick up this book. And it was everything I hoped it would be. Preachers should read books on preaching, and Keller’s is a must.
  7. Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ, by Tony Reinke. There are only a few books I’ve read in one sitting, and Reinke’s book on Newton is one of them. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop. His work on Newton is soul-nourishing. Added to that: Reinke is a fantastic writer!
  8. Traces of the Trinity: Signs of God in Creation and Human Experience, by Peter J. Leithart. Speaking of fantastic writers, Leithart is the man. This book made me laugh and cry, hopefully at all the right places. He writes with beauty about beauty, and these pages left me in greater awe of God. Our Maker is a magnificent artist who has left traces of Himself everywhere.
  9. Knowing Christ, by Mark Jones. I am drawn to books on Christology, and this one had a particularly strong pull. A few pages into the book, I realized I would love Christ more after finishing it, which is exactly what Jones would want. If Christ is like a diamond held high, Jones turns it slowly and patiently, leaving us to marvel at every angle.
  10. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis (former MI6 spy). I know this seems like cheating, because the Chronicles contain seven books. But this is my list, and you can’t stop me. Adding to the enjoyment of the series was the experience I had reading these aloud to me seven-year-old. My first journey through them may have been as an adult, but I still believe in Deeper Magic before the dawn of time.

If you’ve enjoyed any of the above, I’d love to know.

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“A Wondrous Sight”

A new poem for Advent:

“A Wondrous Sight”
December 7, 2015

Long and bending high and low,
Through darkness into light,
The path of hope from Eden’s land
Beheld a wondrous sight:

A newborn child inside a manger,
Still and sound asleep,
A son who came as Christ the Lord
With promises to keep.

 

 

7 Sermons on the Olivet Discourse

Recently at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, I preached through the Olivet Discourse, which is Matthew 24-25. The seven messages are here:

  1. “Not Yet the End: Birth Pains and the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 24:1-14)
  2. “Run for Your Life: The Great Escape from Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:15-28)
  3. “With Power and Great Glory: The Sign of the Son of Man In Heaven” (Matthew 24:29-35)
  4. “That Day and Hour: The Unknown Coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:36-42)
  5. “The Thief, Master, and Bridegroom: Three Parables about the Coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:43-25:13)
  6. “Entering into Joy or Judgment: A Parable of Talents, Servants, and Settling Accounts” (Matthew 25:14-30)
  7. “All Nations Gathered for Judgment: The Eternal Separation of the Sheep and the Goats” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Good News and Merry Promises

I’m at Dan Dumas’ blog today writing about the Old Testament hope for a Messiah. And stay tuned for upcoming articles from other contributors to the Advent series.

My post is called “Good News and Merry Promises,” and here is the opening paragraph:

The newborn baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger, was proof that God keeps his promises. These promises came in the form of prophecies, covenants, figures, and types. The story of the Old Testament was a long road of hope, but the path was not straight or smooth. Yet amid temptation, sin, failure, despair, and death, God’s promises propelled forward by his sovereign power.