I confess that the total number of books I read this year was not the volume that I had planned. But it seems many plans for 2020 were disrupted, so I think I am in good company. Out of the books I read, I wanted to recommend my favorite ones from this year. They are not the newest books or maybe the best in eyes of some, but they were helpful to me this year. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Parenting with Loving Correction by Sam Crabtree
I’m always on the lookout for solid parenting books that harmonize a good theology of parenting with practical wisdom. This is because there are many moments where I feel lost and confused as a parent and it encourages me to glean wisdom from more experienced parents. I recommend this book because it helped shape my view of discipline and correction. Here is my book review.
“Even before heart transformation occurs, effective parental correction can help a child learn to recognize a standard, so that later, after conversion, he’ll marvel that he now wants to behave righteously (thus honoring his parents)” (Crabtree, p. 37).
2. Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke
Lately, I’ve found it very difficult to motivate myself to read. I could blame COVID fatigue, or just a spiritual lull, but this seems to be historical struggle of mine dating back to elementary school. So I appreciate any material on the art of reading itself. It’s hard to find good books about reading, let alone Christian books on reading. This is one of those good books. If you struggle with reading like I do, or you are a reading fanatic, there is something for you in this book. Here is my book review.
3. The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju
Pastoral ministry is full of counseling. When my seminary professor warned ministry would be more counseling than preaching, he wasn’t lying. This book is a good foundational book that provided pastoral refreshers for counseling and practical wisdom on the basics of biblical counseling. I recommend it even for the non-pastor who can glean universal biblical counseling principles for their own relationships.
“Pastors should think of counseling not primarily as an attempt to fix problems, but as an attempt to reorient worship from created things to the Creator by means of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Pierre/Reju, p. 74).
4. Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney
Like everyone else, I have a tendency to get lost in my words and thoughts when praying extemporaneously. Repeating the same old Christian clichés and losing my train of thought is more frequent than I would like to admit. But this book helps aid in that trouble. Praying the Bible has had a profound impact on my prayer life and has brought great scriptural substance to the content of my private prayers. Donald Whitney is very clear on explaining the process, and any Christian who struggles with prayer will benefit from this small book.
“What you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers” (Whitney, p. 32).
5. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
I read this book in seminary, but I read it very quickly. (I had so many books to read). With the death of Packer, I decided, like everyone else, to pick up a Packer book in honor of his life and ministry. During this go-around, I committed to reading at a slower pace, and I am so happy that I did. This book is theologically rich yet addresses the misconceptions of Christian evangelism that are still in discussion today. You know you’ve written a good book if it still speaks to audiences of any generation. Packer tackles the misunderstanding that the sovereignty of God is inconsistent with fervent evangelism, and he declares that Christians who truly hold to God’s sovereignty will be a great tool for spreading the Gospel to sinners in need of grace.
“Our evangelistic work is the instrument that he uses for this purpose, but the power that saves is not in the instrument: it is in the hand of the One who uses the instrument” (Packer, p. 32).