For those of you who are looking for presents for next Christmas or want to spend the Amazon gift cards, you got for Christmas here are the ten best books I read in 2016 and why you should read them too.
- Confessions – St. Augustine
Confessions is a Christian Classic and rightfully so. What is so profound about the book is that it is an autobiography from a giant of the Christian faith written in the form of a prayer. It is the story of a restless soul because of disordered love. How a restless heart found it’s home in Christ. Beautiful, timeless and life-giving. A must read at some point in every Christian journey.
- The Call to Joy and Pain. – Ajith Fernando
This book was a book that came into our home at the perfect time. Every year we as a church family read four books together that tie into our pastor’s messages for the year. This was one of those books. It was not just a book that my wife and I read out of obligation to our church community it was profoundly helpful as we walked through the joy and pains of cancer. It is by far one of the best books I have read on the topic of suffering in the Christian life and the pastoral vocation.
- The Rule of Love – JV Fesko
The Rule of Love is a deceivingly small book. I read this in preparation for writing our VBS curriculum which was centered around the Ten Commandments. Fesko brings the Decalog to life in such a way that you are convicted afresh by each command. You see each command in ways you have never seen them before. JV doesn’t just leave you there wounded and bleeding he follows each command with the all-surpassing beauty of Christ that moved me to worship time and time again.
- You Are What You Love – James K. A. Smith
Many books have recently been written about worldview. These books are valuable, and I thank God that they have been written because their value in a post-Christian America should only increase. What Dr. Smith has done in his Book You Are What You Love is complete the picture that the worldview arguments begin. So many worldview books are written from a rationalistic point of view. Smith writes this book to say our worldview matters but what matters most is what do you love. He says we are first and foremost lovers. And he is right. For all you Family Pastor’s out there he has a couple of chapters on teaching kids and raising kids that are killer. Such a great book.
- The Psalms of Jesus – Tim Keller
I am not sure that I have read a better devotional in my life. Keller’s devotional on the Psalms came at the perfect time as my wife, and I walked through this devotional daily as we faced the task of walking through cancer treatment a day at a time. I found David and Keller the perfect companions for a journey that had good days and awful days but in both days a never changing sovereign God who never let go.
- Christianity and Liberalism – J Gresham Machen
This book was written in 1923 and read like it was written in 2015. The Liberalism that invaded the Mainlines in the early twentieth century has invaded much of evangelicalism as a whole in the twenty-first century. Machen’s diagnosis is powerful and more relevant that you could imagine. It serves as encouragement and warning to the church today.
- The Pastor: A Memoir – Eugene Peterson
This is a book I will read again. It is the Autobiography of Eugene Peterson the pastor and author of The Message translation of the Bible. It was not at all what I was expecting in all the best ways you could imagine. His approach to the scriptures, church, and to life, in general, was mystical yet theologically grounded in the scriptures. Out of all the books, I read this year this one challenged more presuppositions and spoke to me in a language I needed to hear from a pastor I have come to respect because he just wants to be just a pastor in a world that is telling pastors they need to be relevant, famous and efficient.
- All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
I read this book because of the considerable hype by everyone online. It did not disappoint. It was a beautifully written historical novel set in World War II. I was a story of sacrificial love and hope that was well worth every moment.
- Reclaiming Conversation – Sherry Turkle
As a parent, this may be one of the more important books you can read. It is all about how do we reclaim conversation in a world that is increasingly nonverbal and overly electronic. Technology is not going away, and we need to be better at understanding and to leverage it in raising our digitally native kids so that technology enhances their world rather than destroying it.
- Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis has a way of making extremely complicated truth understandable. His down to earth orthodoxy makes him so unique that his books even though they are half a century old they are completely relevant and not difficult to read. If you can only read one book by Lewis, I would say it should be this one. Mere Christianity is the cornerstone of Lewis’ view of the Christian faith and life in general. For those who are new to the Christian faith, it is formative for those who have been a Christian for a while it provides much-needed language in which to communicate your faith to others.
This year was a change for me I started graduate school a little over a year ago, and the books I want to read are now waiting for me because of books I have to read are taking precedence. I have learned a couple of things about reading this year.
1.Reading books above what you typically read or are comfortable reading push you to read more efficiently and read more widely. There are books I would never have read this year if it were not for that.
In 2014 it was estimated that there are over 8,000 multi-site churches in America. In the past 2 years, I am certain that number has grown. The reality is Multi-site churches are not going away anytime soon. There are many challenges to doing Family ministry in a multi-campus setting, from staffing to leadership development to volunteer management. One of the greatest challenges I’ve found is in logistics. How do you make things work at campuses in different locations, of different sizes with different needs.
One of those challenges we have always struggled with is how do we show videos at various locations? Most curriculums now offer video teaching or video elements to their curriculum. Distribution to the various locations is difficult. We’ve done most everything from burning DVD to sending custom made jump drives. Those all took lots of time and had lots of room for error. This lead us to our current system.
One of the questions I get asked often is “What Bible should I buy my kids?” It’s a great question because when I was a kid, there was the KJV and The Picture Bible that was pretty much it. Now there are more Bible versions and types of Bibles than there are flavors at Baskin Robins. The problem is finding Bibles for your kids that
aren’t too far below them or to advance for them.
One of the jobs we have as parents is helping our kids learn the discipline of reading their Bibles. We live in a culture that is growing more skeptical and even hostile towards the Bible and it’s claims. We need to be more intentional about giving our kids a Biblical worldview but even more than that we must do our best to help them find the world of God true and beautiful.
Here are the Bibles I recommend by age.
Flap Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – Think Jesus Story Book Bible for 2 year-olds. “The perfect introduction to timeless stories from the old and new testaments the Lift-the-Flap Bible
combines breathtaking illustrations with delightful text. With flaps to open on every page (and surprises to find underneath), children join in the thrill of discovery as they take part in each of the stories from the Old and New Testaments. Through the pages of this stunning Bible, the greatest story ever told is traced and the wonderful news that God loves us is brought home to the heart of every child.”
Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones –
This book still moves me even after I have read the cover off four copies and am now on my fifth. If your kids are 4-8 years old this Bible is a must. “The Jesus Storybook Bible
tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. At the center of the Story is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. Every story whispers his name. From Noah to Moses to the great King David—every story points to him. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the Story unfolds, children will pick up the clues and piece together the puzzle. A Bible like no other, The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God’s great story of salvation—and at the center of their Story too.”
The Action Bible by David C Cook
– My kids love this Bible it is great because it tells most of the stories of the bible in a very visually appealing way. It is a great segway Bible for kids bridging them from Story Based Bibles into Text Based Bibles. “Here’s the most complete picture Bible ever! And it features a captivating, up-to-date artwork style—making it the perfect Bible for today’s visually focused culture. The Action Bible
presents 215 fast-paced narratives in chronological order, making it easier to follow the Bible’s historical flow—and reinforcing the build-up to its thrilling climax. The stories in The Action Bible
communicate clearly and forcefully to contemporary readers. This compelling blend of clear writing plus dramatic images offers an appeal that crosses all age boundaries. Brazilian artist Sergio Cariello has created attention-holding illustrations marked by rich coloring, dramatic shading and lighting, bold and energetic designs, and emotionally charged figures. Let this epic rendition draw you into all the excitement of the world’s most awesome story.”
NirV Devotional Bible by Zondervan
– I like this Bible for older girls because of the readability of the translation and the fact that it has a year worth of devotions built in. “Complete with a year’s worth of devotions, the Kids’ Devotional Bible, NIrV will help children develop a habit they’ll want to keep. Engaging weekday devotions, fun weekend activities, interesting illustrations, and a dictionary make this a Bible they’ll want to read and apply to their lives. It includes the complete New International Reader’s Version (NIrV)—the stepping stone to the NIV—making it easier for young readers to read and understand.”
The Action Study Bible (ESV)
– While the ESV is my favorite translation because of the way it is translated it can be difficult for kids to read. This Bible is still a great bridge from The Action Bible into a full-text Study Bible.
“See God in action in this illustrated study Bible for kids and teens!
What do you get when you combine the trusted English Standard Version with illustrations from Marvel comic artist Sergio Cariello? An amazing study Bible that brings God’s Word to life for kids and teens”
10+ boy or girl
ESV Grow Bible by Crossway – Again ESV isn’t my first pick for a kids bible. What I like about this Bible is that even though the translation may be tough the helps sections are really good. “The ESV Grow! Bible is designed specifically to reach children ages 8–12 for the time between when they use a children’s Bible and a more advanced Bible. Coupling the full ESV text with many helpful features, this is a Bible that young students can call their own.The ESV Grow! Bible comes with all-new features to help children learn and understand God’s Word. Nearly every other page features a “W Question”, boxes answering the who, what, where, when, or why of a text—basic questions a child might have while reading. Introductions to each Bible book, charts, and maps help young readers understand the themes, characters, and context of Scripture. 45 “Cross Connections” explain how certain Bible passages point to Christ and 90 “4U” sections explain and apply texts to the child’s life. In addition, articles about Jesus and the teachings of the Christian faith help children understand important theological concepts.”
Zondervan Study Bible Personal Size
– This Bible is perfect for the Teen to College age crowd. The editor of this Study Bible is a solid Theologian and the NIV is very readable yet still accurate. “The NIV Zondervan Study Bible
, featuring Dr. D. A. Carson as general editor, is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. An ambitious and comprehensive undertaking, Dr. Carson, with committee members Dr. T. Desmond Alexander, Dr. Richard S. Hess, Dr. Douglas J. Moo, and Dr. Andrew David Naselli, along with a team of over 60 contributors from a wide range of evangelical denominations and perspectives, crafted all-new study notes and other study tools to present a biblical theology of God’s special revelation in the Scriptures. To further aid the readers’ understanding of the Bible, also included are full-color maps, charts, photos and diagrams. In addition, a single-column setting of the Bible text provides maximum readability.”
If you have a Bible that you would like to recommend place the link to it in the comments section.
Kids are a joy. Kids are the best thing ever. Kids are also a lot. I remember seeing as a single person families come to church with well dressed little kids and smiles on their faces thinking wow what a beautiful family. I had no idea! Now four kids later I have a bit more of an idea.
I came across these photos and literally laughed out loud. Danielle Guenther has great skill as a photographer but also must have a few kids judging from some of the pictures she takes. These are fantastic. If you have not crawled along the floor using your iPhone as a flashlight you probably don’t have kids. I most identify with the parents sneaking out and the dad trying to reach his phone while holding his baby. Which one is your family?