Here are the books read in 2016, in no particular order, along with a short informal review.
- Jesus Among Friends and Enemies edited by Chris Keith and Larry W. Hurtado. This was a recommendation by my online New Testament Professor Dr. Chipman, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a very good book. It explores the historical setting and sociological implications of the various groups and persons discussed by the authors. The authors utilize a variety of references to present their views for each group which is very insightful. But, one must have some understanding of critical scholarship so to not throw it down and scream ‘Heresy.’
- Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free by F.F. Bruce. This was another book recommended by my online New Testament professor and an excellent work. It is a collection of lectures given by F.F. Bruce and worth having in your library. While an excellent book it was not my primary resource when writing but equally visited.
- Paul and His Letters by John B. Polhill. This book was read in 2015 in preparation for New Testament Survey II but I included it here for several reasons. One is that I really enjoyed this book as it has become a primary resource for Paul’s letters. Second is Polhill’s view of Pauline authorship along with an outline for each letter. Lastly is the references contained in the notes section. The reference section alone is worth having this book in your library! But you will enjoy having it as a reliable resource.
- A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry by Heath Lambert. My approach to counseling while in the Army has been very simple…the direct approach. But this doesn’t translate well into the civilian population so I have been working on how to interact with those not from my tribe. This book by Dr. Lambert is excellent as I appreciate how he opens with the swirling debate between secular, integrated approaches, and the need to depend on the sufficiency of God’s Word for counseling. Plus each chapter is laid out systematically building upon the next as one would expect when the title is ‘A Theology of.’
- Christ, Muhammad and I by Mohammad Al Ghazoli. Wow! There was times when I wanted to throw this book down rather than continue reading it. It is shocking to learn that the Muslim prophet Muhammad had 23 wives and one of them, Aisha bint Abu Bakr, was only six years old when he married her! And then when Aisha was nine years old the Muslim prophet Muhammad had sex with her! And somehow the god Muhammad followed approved this? Let me be clear here that the Muslim god is not the holy God of the Bible my friend! They are not the same! This book is very revealing as it was originally written in Arabic with the intention of reaching Muslims with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about Islam that Muslim scholars are aware of but ignore…get this book. Just remember that it was originally written in Arabic and then translated into English.
- The Gospel for Muslims by Thabiti Anyabwile. A very quick and excellent read. A couple of points that I appreciate with this book is Thabiti’s reminder that the Gospel for Muslims is the same Gospel for everyone! Excellent point. The Gospel does not change as it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe [Rom 1:16]. The second thing I like about this book is the chapter on witnessing to African-American Muslims. He identifies many of the differences between African-American Muslims and Arab Muslims which are very important in my opinion.
- On Pastoring by H.B. Charles Jr. If you have not heard H.B. Charles Jr. speak you are missing out on a humble and gifted pastor, preacher and servant. And while his book is a reflection of his years in the ministry, you will soon realize the wisdom he passes on to the reader. The chapters are short but very captivating. He closes the book with short sayings he has assembled over the years that are often cited on Twitter! Excellent book to have and revisit.
- From Student to Scholar: A Candid Guide to Becoming a Professor by Steven M. Cahn. This book was a Twitter recommendation by someone that I follow. And while I am not interested in becoming a professor I am interested in pursuing doctoral studies. The first three chapters were the ones that I was interested in as the author writes about the common problems many doctoral students encounter and some steps to be better prepared. These chapters will be revisited after my application for doctoral studies is approved. Yes, I am that positive about it!
- Missional House Churches: Reaching Our Communities with the Gospel by J.D. Payne. This is a very good book that examines both arguments for and against house churches. This book came about after several books were used for research in 2014 in developing a church strategy to reach the community through missional communities. There are many voices that argue against house churches as they are in favor of the traditional approach, but Dr. Payne presents a well-structured and well-balanced book examining house churches. If you are thinking about house churches as part of a strategy to reach the various communities in your city…you will want to read this book.
- A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small-Group Dynamic by Rick Howerton. Rick was invited to speak during a church staff meeting to observe and help guide our discussions. After sharing about the work on a new missional strategy he recommended this book as it speaks directly to what we were planning. It was like reading elements of our strategy, but ten times better! So again, if you are considering missional strategies to reach the communities of your city….get this book. But let me warn you now that it is difficult to find.
- Connecting in Communities: Understanding the Dynamics of Small Groups by Eddie Mosley. This book was a recommendation by Rick Howerton and worth every penny. I like to tab important pages intended to be a reference and this book ate up a lot of Post-it tabs! The information is well organized and user-friendly. Again, if you are interested in small groups why reinvent the wheel when there are so many wheels already out there? This is a solid wheel!
- Praetorian Project: Multiplying the Gospel Through Military Church Planting edited by Clint Clifton. This short book was given to me by my Pastor as we read various books by Military personnel for our Military Ministry. It is part of our goal to transition from being a Military Friendly Church to a Military Focused Church (but that is another blog for another day). This book is very short and was read in one sitting…about four hours. It does present some great thoughts on Military planting churches near Military bases, but it also presented a topic on membership that made me pause. Maybe it was just how it was phrased that initiated filling the margins with rhetorical comments!
- The Mighty Weakness of John Knox by Douglas Bond. I enjoy the series A Long Line of Godly Men and have several others. But who can resist reading about a Reformer who carried a sword! What can I say…I am a fan of John Knox. During my time on campus visiting Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Christian George, Curator of the Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Assistant Professor of Historical Theology, encouraged people to find a dead guy [theologian] to fall in love with and learn about. John Knox just might be that one. He was bold in defending the Gospel and a reformer! The book is a short read and very well written for its brevity. No complaints as I already mentioned earlier that I have the others in this series.
- John Knox and the Reformation by D.M. Lloyd-Jones and Iain H. Murray. Reading the book by Douglas Bond influenced me to purchase this book and it is remarkably excellent for how short it is. But again, I am a fan of John Knox. He carried a sword! But I will share my recommendation with caution because this little book wets your appetite for more. So I ended up purchasing The History of the Reformation in Scotland by John Knox and the book titled John Knox by Jasper Ridley. I have not read these last ones but plan to get reacquainted with my dead friend in the near future!
- The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism by Carl F.H. Henry. Let me first just say that this book is no easy read! The first reading gets you acquainted with Henry’s writing style, language, and topic. And I am not ashamed to write that I had to re-read several chapters! And while this book was written 1947 it continues to address the need for Christians today to faithfully engage the culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Onward: Engaging The Culture Without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore. Excellent book as I enjoy Dr. Moore’s candor, wisdom, and humility. I also appreciate Dr. Moore’s leadership at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission as he leads the engagement among the many important topics today. And he is not afraid to address the cultural Christianity that has invaded many Southern churches. If Dr. Moore lived around the time of John Knox he too would probably have carried a sword!
- Born This Way? Homosexuality, Science, and the Scriptures by J. Alan Branch. A very well written and enlightening book on a subject many Christians are weak in. So weak that many are quick to accept the growing opinion of society that homosexuals are Born This Way. This is a must have book that explores the evolution, research, and desire of sexual immoral lifestyles, the inconclusive science many want to ignore, and the current debates surrounding this topic.
- Transforming Sexuality: What the Bible Says About Sexual Orientation and Change by Denny Burk and Heath Lambert. Another excellent and insightful book on a relevant cultural topic of our day. What sets this book apart for me was chapter two, Is Same Sex Attraction Sinful, where the authors explore the topic if desire is sinful. They meticulously unpack Scripture that was very insightful and shaping to what I understood about desire. Thank you!
- What does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality by Kevin DeYoung. Simply Biblical. Kevin DeYoung first moves through the Bible to present the biblical argument and then takes on the questions. Another book to have as a reference as this discussion about homosexuality and the church will continue, especially with major denominations now embracing liberalism.
- Family Worship by Donald S. Whitney. For a small book this is wonderfully packed and highlights the need for family worship. I see this book as an appendix to Dr. Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life because of how crucial it is in discipleship. He leaves no room for the Christian to ignore family worship as he teaches how basic and uncomplicated family worship is. You do not have to be a theologian or a music major to lead your family in worship! Buy it…read it!
- Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney. While another quick reading book it still packs a theological punch. This book was read in one sitting, or about four hours. It moves very quickly and was very informative. I particularly enjoyed how he illustrated how to pray the Bible. Not difficult at all. But what I enjoyed was learning that I was already praying the Bible so the validation was exciting. Now to only continue praying the Bible!
- My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. This was one of my morning devotional books for 2016 along with reading Scripture. I was given this book not long after coming to faith in Christ in September 2007. It has been a wonderful influence in my walk with the Lord and will remain a reoccurring devotion throughout my life.
- The One Year Christian History: A Daily Glimpse Into God’s Powerful Work by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. This was a second morning devotion book for 2016 incorporated into my morning readings. What I enjoyed about incorporating this book as part of my morning devotion was how my prayers often included portions of what happened that day in history and my own walk with the Lord. Good book but I question some of the dates used when citing passages from Nehemiah. But that is me!
* I started Paul & The Gift by John M.G. Barclay, another recommendation from my New Testament professor, but did not finish reading it. The material is very interesting as it starts off with the anthropological perspective and the historical examination of ‘gift’ as used across cultures. It is a deep and theologically rich textbook, yes I used textbook purposely, and will take me a little more time digesting than the common reader. So it is on my list for 2017…after more books on counseling, discipleship, hope and healing for our Veterans, and more books on reaching Muslims.
Look for my reading list in January 2018!