Top Ten Reads of 2020
For 2021 I recommend to you the top ten best books I read last year. These are not all new books, in fact some are very old, but they represent the gold nuggets of my reading last year. You may ask why I would not write about something more relevant during this chaotic time. I believe that a major part of why we are in this situation is that too many people have stopped reading and thinking critically. We need to cultivate our ability to think clearly and discern right from wrong. This begins with scripture and continues through the study of history and theology, ending with a look at current events. I hope these books will be helpful to you. Each of these books are available in the church library.
Christian Contentment – Andrew Davis. We live in a time consumed by discontent and ungratefulness. From a very early age people are trained by advertising and consumer culture to be discontent with what they have and their situation in life. In this life-changing book, Davis explains how discontent destroys a heart of thankfulness to God, displays a lack of trust in the good providence of God, and ultimately undermines true worship because of our doubts about the goodness of God.
This book is a powerful antidote to abundant false teaching in our day related to “the power of positive thinking.” Instead of teaching you how to change yourself through positive thinking, Davis rightly teaches us how to live a content life that rests in the good providential actions of God.
Faithfulness and Holiness
Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of JC Ryle – JI Packer / JC Ryle. This outstanding work is a double feature on one of the ministers that has most influenced my life. The first section is a biography overview of JC Ryle written by JI Packer. The second half of the book is a full re-print of Ryle’s work entitled Holiness first published in 1877.
The volume is entitled Faithfulness and Holiness referring to the faithful life and ministry of JC Ryle and his constant calling for holiness in the life of his parishioners. Ryle is a little known, clear speaking, pastoral, giant of the faith. I highly recommend this work for your biographical inspiration and theological learning.
We Cannot Be Silent
We Cannot Be Silent – R. Albert Mohler. Albert Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a leading voice in our day helping Christians make sense of changes in society. In this important book Mohler walks the reader through how American society has so radically changed in its moral nature from just a few decades ago. He rightly interprets what has happened, how a new sexual ethic has been formed, and how biblical Christians should respond to being radically out of step with the current flow of our culture.
I highly recommend this book to every parent and college student. It’s very hard to speak directly to issues of sexual ethics from the pulpit because of having children in the audience, but these issues cannot remain unaddressed or unclear in your thinking.
Bonhoeffer – Eric Metaxas. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an influential and brilliant theologian, pastor, and Christian leader during World War II. Bonhoeffer was a central leader in training pastors and organizing German churches that refused to submit to the evil ways of the Third Reich. Bonhoeffer spent much time in prison for these efforts and was eventually executed by the Nazi’s for his Christian faith.
This book is not only an inspiring biography, but paints a sobering picture of what it means for the ground to quickly shift under the feet of the established church. By many small decisions, the church can die by a 1,000 cuts, or brave Christians will resist the overreach of government and maintain the biblical Christian local church.
Sermons on 2 Peter
Sermons on 2 Peter – Martin Lloyd Jones. I love reading the excellent sermons of careful preachers. Martin Lloyd-Jones is one of my favorite. This is a book of expository sermons which also serves as a running commentary on the epistle of 2 Peter. Outstanding balance of theological insight and practical application.
Adopted for Life
Adopted for Life – Russell Moore. This excellent and challenging book is both a theological and practical look at adoption. Moore speaks to his own adoption experience and explains why adoption should be central to every church and every Christian.
Adoption is a picture of God’s acceptance of us into His eternal kingdom. Whether you feel led to adopt, are a family member or friend of someone who has adopted, or just don’t understand why we make such a big deal about adoption at Redeemer, this book is for you!
Strengthen Your Marriage
Strengthen Your Marriage – Wayne Mack. Christian marriage, between one man and one woman, is the normal design of God for the most important human relationship. It was designed by God to be a blessing and source of happiness. The powerful destruction of sin works particularly to destroy marriage, and all the downstream heartache that comes from divorce.
I encourage every married couple to work through this very practical workbook. May the Lord strengthen marriages and form new marriages in Redeemer in 2021! Stay tuned for more details on our spring marriage conference.
Isaiah – Andrew Davis. The book of Isaiah is one of the most important prophetic books of the Old Testament, but remains a closed mystery to most Christians. I highly encourage you to get a copy of this commentary by Pastor Andrew Davis and use it for your devotions over a few months. I suggest you read a chapter of Isaiah followed by the few pages of commentary written by Davis on that chapter. You will be amazed and greatly encouraged by Davis’s theological insight and practical applications to your life.
Sing: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church
Sing: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church – Keith & Kristyn Getty. This book speaks to what we strive for in the musical worship at Redeemer. The music at most churches today is a performance for an audience of people. The people in the audience receive that performance like they would any other show, and “enjoy” the performance or dislike it. This is not what musical worship is supposed to be in the local church.
Our musical worship on Sunday morning is for the Lord, and is supposed to be many Christians together lifting up their voices to honor Jesus as Savior. This is congregational singing. All of us together singing theologically correct and meaningful songs to the glory of God. If these concepts are foreign to you, then you need to read this book.
Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy
Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace Of Lament – Mark Vroegop. This book is for those whose hearts are broken and do not know how to express this to the Lord. This book is deeply personal, applicable, and life-changing. It is partly biographical and partly theological. It tells a story of deep personal grief, and then teaches you how to rightly express your grief to God using the many Psalms of lament in the Bible. There is a time to grieve and there is a right way to grieve without becoming bitter.
May the Lord Jesus give us an abundance of His Spirit in these days,