I haven’t kept up my reading like I used to. I have read some books this year that have changed the way I view life, ministry, and my own spiritual growth. They have impacted me greatly and I want to share with our loyal readers and curious on-lookers my favorite reads this year.

1.  Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda by Henry & Richard Blackaby. B&H Books, Expanded Edition 2011, 432 pages.

669187_1_ftcOf all the books I have read this year, this was a surprise and the greatest impact on my work as a minister of the Gospel. I read this as part of our area-wide monthly ministers lunch. We read a book together and discuss a couple of chapters each month. It has been great to have a discussion about something spiritual as well as engaging in our calling as ministers by reading something that has an effect on our ministries.

The beginning couple of chapters was tough to swallow and I feared it wouldn’t be very valuable to me. The Blackaby’s approach church spiritual leadership from a business point of view and then speak to history’s greatest leaders (as well as their failures) and then apply the information to church leadership and spiritual discipleship. The hardest part I had with the first two chapters was that I just didn’t connect with the business mindset and it didn’t feel relatable to me.

Oh, how wrong I was. When I got past the introduction of leadership in the first two chapters, this opened up so much for me and my ministry. This book is so valuable to me now.

2.  Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age by David Platt. Tyndale Momentum, Revised and Updated Edition 2017, 320 pages.

51RjlW49K7L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I had read the original version of Platt’s book and decided to teach a class for our Young Adult ministry on the controversial topics they hear a lot about in our world today. I knew this book would help me approach each subject in a loving, God-centered, Gospel-leading, and grace-filled way.

Since the last edition, Platt has expanded on topics such as the legislation of same-sex marriage, the more vocal exposure to the transgender movement, as well as the increase in immigration and the refugee crises happening around the world. I read this new and expanded version of the previous work and it was a phenomenal read.

Platt approaches each subject through the lens of the Gospel. While it may seem that a book like this, with topics like this, and with someone who is more conservative in thought, one might think they would be pounded over the head on what they “should or shouldn’t do”. Platt doesn’t do this. He gracefully takes the reader through each topic and speaks from Scripture on what the Bible actually says about each subject. He skillfully exegetes the passages so that you know you’ve studied Scripture about what it really says. Then he gently speaks to the reader about how we approach the subject, letting us know that some things God doesn’t want us to do and others He wants us to speak out about, all the while speaking compassion to the struggles and temptations sin has wrought on our world.

3.  Recovering Redemption: A Gospel Saturated Perspective on How to Change by Matt Chandler. B&H Books, 2014, 224 pages.

81pMfTK6zyLMatt Chandler wanted so badly to change. He realized his efforts weren’t going to get him there. Because he tried a lot. When we realize we aren’t in control, when God is in control, and let God take over our lives, we will see that things will change.

Many people think if they’re good enough and do enough and try hard they will succeed and make life better. It is only through the power of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit that will transform your life. Great book.

What were your favorite books this year?