This is part 2 of my review of the best reads of 2014. In this list, I highlight the ministry and faith-oriented books I read in the past year.
I read some really good books in this category this year – so many good ones that I found it difficult to choose a few to provide capsule reviews for. Here are the best, and the rest.
The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung. This was my first time reading DeYoung’s stuff –and he has quickly become a favorite. He has a wonderful way of communicating deep truths with great mix of humor and conviction. The chapters on repentance and what it means to be “in Christ” are especially powerful.
Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and our Union with Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick spends about equal time on two profound topics – first, the incarnation of Jesus Christ in human flesh and second, the doctrine of our union with Christ. This is not dry theology, but a book that takes theological truths and explains how they should change our lives.
The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson. This book unpacks the gospel in two distinct ways. Chandler looks at the good news from a personal level, aptly describing how it impacts us. Then he looks at the gospel from a cosmic level, showing how it affects all of creation. He saves the best for last – the last chapters about the importance of viewing the gospel in these ways and about the dangers of moralism are especially worth the read.
The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in your Life and Ministry by Jared C. Wilson. Wilson is another author I discovered this year. Like Kevin DeYoung, he has quickly become a favorite. This is easily the best book for pastors I have read this year. Humble, honest and gospel-oriented, it is both convicting and encouraging at the same time.
Spirit-Empowered Preaching by Art Azurdia. Dr. Azurdia has spoken at 2 conferences I have attended. His messages are always powerful and incisive. In this short but deep book, he probes the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the work of preaching. These truths have changed how I approach the pulpit each Sunday.
Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves. I have read a lot of theology, but I have never had the Trinity explained to me better than I have in this book. Using Scripture and many historical testimonies, Reeves does a wonderful job bringing the doctrine of the Triune nature of God home to the reader.
The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy and Kathy Keller. I try to read a marriage book each year. This is one of the most sane, well-thought out, balanced and biblical books on marriage I have ever read. This is a book I would not hesitate to give as a gift, even to a young adult who is not yet married but struggling with what marriage really means.
2nd Tier Reads – very good, not great.
Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by D. A. Carson
Making Spiritual Progress: Building Your Life with Faith, Hope and Love by Allen Ratta
The Gospel as Center: Renewing our Faith and Reforming our Ministry Practices by D. A. Carson and Timothy Keller, eds.
Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung
Forever: Why you can’t live without it by Paul David Tripp
The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Iain H. Murray
Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
AHA: The God moment that Changes Everything by Kyle Idleman
Real Peace: What we Long for and Where to Find It by Andy Farmer
Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse Fitzpatrick
To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson
The Great and Holy War: How World War 1 became a Religious Crusade by Philip Jenkins
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt
Broken-down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp
Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People like Jesus by Jeramie Rinne
Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus by Jonathon Leeman
Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive by Thom S. Rainer
When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper
7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness by Eric Metaxas
The Wonder Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles by Jared C. Wilson
The Peacemaker by Ken Sande
The Daring Heart of David Livingstone by Jay Milbrandt
3rd Tier Reads – books I finished but were mildly disappointing.
Rewiring Your Preaching: How the Brain Processes Sermons by Richard H. Cox
Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Pure Desire: How One Man’s Triumph can help others break free from Sexual Temptation by Ted Roberts