Thursday, December 26, 2013

Year End Book Review 2013

Well, it's that time of year again to reflect on my reading material from the past year and try to convince you to read some of it.  The tradition continued this year and I was able to meet my goal of 5 books this year, so still batting 1000!  In fact, I actually read 6 books this year but my wife says that one of them was too short to count, but I'm counting it anyway.  And despite what some may say about meeting and exceeding my goal and that it must be too easy so you should increase your goal; to you I say not a chance.  I like have attainable goals because they breed habit and consistency.  So without further ado, my reads for 2013!

Shepherding A Child's Heart - Since Laura and I have a youngin' running around, I started off by trying to increase my parenting chops.  This is a wonderful book, however, if you are looking for a "how to" manual this would probably not be for you.  Instead, the author of this book, Tedd Tripp, provides a Gospel centered framework on raising your child.  He effortlessly and effectively highlights that all parenting (discipline, love, teaching, and ultimately shepherding) is for one purpose.  And that purpose is not just good behavior for your child but that in everything they do/don't do, they would see their need of the Gospel.  The author provides many entertaining stories that highlight this idea which makes the book fun.  I would highly recommend this book to any young couple/parent looking into the purpose of parenting.  As we shepherd our children in their need for Jesus, they will hopefully see Him and turn to Him.  That is the goal and this is a great book to give you that kind of kingdom perspective of parenting.

Thinking, Loving, Doing: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind - This book has several authors including John Piper, Francis Chan, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Al Mohler.  Needless to say, it is a powerhouse of information and practical challenge.  The basic idea of the book is that there are different facets of the Christian life including the analysis and critical thinking of our faith and how that relates to the world around us; the command that we are to love those around us despite cultural/social backgrounds; and ultimately that if we really believe the Bible to be true there is a command to do what it says.  This book is broken up into three sections with many of these authors brilliantly making their points in individual chapters.  Despite the different authors in the book, it carries a very coherent thought.  This book contains many of the authors I like to read and are challenged by so I am glad to have this book on my shelf as a reminder to think, love, and do.

Next up on the list is a short book to kind of catch my breath with the first two.  But while it may be short, it is none the less challenging.  The book, is called Pastor Dad and it's author is none other than outspoken and sometimes controversial Mark Driscoll.  Controversy aside, he makes very biblically based arguments about what being a man, father, and husband entails in his very upfront, vocal manner.  He makes a call in this book for men to be men and he does not hold back which, for me, makes the book entertaining and we sometimes need a slap in the face to help see our failures and laziness.  His ultimate goal is to get men to realize that they are the head of the household and need to let Jesus lead their lives, so that they can lead their wives and children to establish and Godly and fruitful legacy.  There is lots of practical application in this short read and I would encourage any man to read this book.  I actually gave a copy of this book to every guy in our Sunday School class to read on Father's Day this year.  We had some good discussion and challenge from it.  So I would encourage you to read it as well.  And since it is a FREE PDF, you can start right now by clicking here!

Crazy Love - Written by one of my favorite authors/teachers, Francis Chan provides a chillingly powerful and convicting book on the meaning of being a Christian.  Words really can't describe this book.  But it will make you think.  It will make you look at our life and as Paul says in Corinthians, examine yourself to see if you are in the faith.  He starts by outlining the grandeur of God and the greatness of the Gospel and then wraps up by providing a very clear cross road question.  Are you in or are you out?  This was my second favorite book I read this year and it really lights a fire underneath you to continue the work of the Kingdom.  I would highly recommend this book.

The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias - In this book, the intellectual author and speaker explores issues of God' sovereignty and how we fit into God's plan.  Everything from our existence to our talents to our purpose is all logically discussed in an effort to highlight the fact that "we are God's workmanship, created by Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we might walk in them." Eph 2:10.  This book provides a very thought provoking (it is Ravi after all) look into how we fit into God's meta-narrative and what that means for followers of Christ and non-believers.  This is a great book but be prepared to spend some time, especially if you've never read anything by Ravi.  He is thorough.  He is academic. And you may have to read some paragraphs a few times but I am sure glad that God made Him and that God weaved him into our team on this earth.

Crucifying Morality by R.W. Glenn - Well, I saved the best for last.  This was my favorite book of the year.  And it is probably one of the best books I have read.  The author tackles the Beatitudes that Jesus gives in Matthew as he opens his Sermon on the Mount.  And in a way you might not expect, R.W. Glenn utterly destroys the fluff and somewhat false teaching that we have come to accept regarding the Beatitudes to brilliantly reveal that Jesus is really outlining the crux of the Gospel.  He breaks down the notion that these are a barometer of our "goodness" and points to the fact these Beatitudes drill right to the heart of every person.  This book is a challenge as it rocks your thinking in a good way, but is beautiful because of the way he highlights the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus.  You must read this book and uncover the "counter-intuitive gospel logic" that we all desperately need.

So, as always, go forth and read!  All of these are good but I am excited to see what next year will bring.  I know I will be reading some biographies this year but I am excited to see how God will challenge me over this next year with both old and new authors!  If you've missed the other reviews you can access them by clicking these year links! 2010, 2011, 2012

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