We are halfway through 2017, and from my personal readings for these six months, I have made my way through 15 non-fiction works and 8 fiction. Seven of those non-fiction books are part of a year and a half journey to reread the works of Francis Schaeffer who greatly influenced my spiritual growth while in college. Also to be found are a couple of commentaries. Instead of reading through the Bible as a whole in 2017, I decided to focus on four books, giving them three-months of attention each. Part of that is to read through a significant commentary for each book. January through June, I focused on Romans and Leviticus, and for July have started Mark.
With all of this reading, I want to give my picks for my top three books from my non-fiction list. So here we go:
#3. You’re the Husband by Jeremy Howard. Full disclosure: I know Jeremy and he is a friend of mine. While this certainly impacted my decision to pick up the book, it stands on its own merit as being a top-three. Jeremy’s book is a short read, directed at men on how to better love and spiritually lead their wives. He does a good job mixing biblical teaching, personal anecdotes, and humor, all while calling us guys to step up and lead. The brevity of the book is well paced, so it’s not difficult for any guy to fit into his schedule. Jeremy aims to edify, so the book calls us to do better without beating us down with how often we fail.
#2. Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out by Alvin Reid. Another short book, this one on personal evangelism. Reid is a big proponent of relational evangelism, and this is an excellent primer to help us grow in our ability to share the gospel with people in our different spheres of life. His aim is to develop evangelism as a lifestyle and not a canned program. When you know the basics of the gospel and you know how Jesus has changed your life, it becomes more natural than trying to lead people through a pre-planned presentation. I read Greg Laurie’s Tell Someone just before I read this. Laurie’s book was good and got me thinking. Reid’s book is excellent and hit home.
Honorable Mention. Leviticus (NICOT) by Gordon Wenham. I wanted to get an honorable mention in here before I give my #1, and I chose Wenham’s Leviticus commentary. Let’s face it: We know that Leviticus is filled with lots of good stuff. It is Scripture, and God gave all of Scripture for our edification and for deeper understanding of him. Yet, there are some books that are simply tougher for us to chew on than others, and Leviticus tends to be one of those. Wenham does a great job of explaining the background, or potential background, behind all the sacrifices and laws. He demystifies the book for our culture thousands of years later in a way that is both scholarly and straightforward.
Now, drumroll, please…
#1. The Imperfect Disciple by Jared C. Wilson. Wilson is becoming my favorite author of the present generation. He has a way of writing that is inspiring, challenging, and personal. He holds the gospel high and seeks to shine its light on all our dark crevasses. He writes that when he was approached to do a book on discipleship that he wanted to make sure it was written with his blood. He pours out his heart and soul deeply into this one.
Every day it seems that we are faced with new programs or tools in order to try to disciple people better, because, after all, we tend to stink at discipleship. Wilson writes for those drained by this constant barrage. He reminds us that following Jesus is a struggle. We sometimes get beat down by the same old sins. There is no magic formula to spiritual growth. As many moments of delight we experience there are also moments where we seem to be white-knuckle hanging on to the edge of a cliff.
And he reminds us that’s okay. Because we have a God big enough to handle us and see us home, and our Father loves us way, way more than we could possibly imagine. Yes, we’re redeemed wretches, but that also means that we are beloved sons and daughters of the King. So, we fight, we slip, we agonize, we get back up, and we press on. We revel in the joys and learn from the trials until that day that God welcomes us home.
Read this book. And if you’re a pastor, read his The Pastor’s Justification—it is the best and most refreshing book on pastoral ministry that I’ve read (that was on the list two years ago… a reread will likely happen soon).