Books I Enjoyed in 2018
Erasmus, a Dutch theologian from the 1500’s, reportedly said: “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” Though I’m sure he was exaggerating, I’m not sure by how much. The truth is, I can relate (ask my poor wife). I love to read. And I love to read for many different reasons, not least of which because it is one way for me to learn from the knowledge and experience of other saints.
Now, I know it’s not exactly the end of the year yet, but we’re getting close. So, I thought I would share with you a few of the most helpful and enjoyable books I have read this year (so far). My hope in sharing this list is that you might be encouraged to take up and read. And be blessed, encouraged, and equipped, as I have been.
Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus More Believable by Sam Chan: This is one of the best books I’ve read on the topic of evangelism (alongside Promoting the Gospel by John Dickson). And it’s by an Aussie! Sam is a public evangelist with the City Bible Forum in Sydney, and writes with humour, clarity, and insight about how we can effectively share the gospel in our post-Christian, post-churched culture. Some readers might find parts of it slightly technical, but overall it is incredibly helpful and thoroughly practical.
Enjoying the Presence of God: Studies in the Psalms by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: This came at just the right time for me. I was concerned that my relationship with God was becoming too cerebral, too reliant on my head at the expense of my heart. So, I picked this up one Sunday in-between services, and I couldn’t put it down. Lloyd-Jones offers nine reflections on different psalms, which trace a path to the heart of God and reveal what it means to know God and to enjoy his presence.
Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Ed Welch: I am convinced that in the years to come one of the most compelling arguments for the truth of Christianity will be our life together as the people of God; how we love and serve one another in the church. Ed Welch, an experienced counsellor and faculty member of Christian Counselling & Educational Foundation, offers practical guidance for all Christians to know how to both be helped and to give help to others. Because, as Ed points out, we are all needy and needed.
Long Story Short: The Bible in 12 Phrases by Glen Scrivener: I haven’t actually finished this one yet, but based on what I’ve read so far it promises to be a fresh and helpful guide to understanding the big story of the big Book that has turned the world upside down, the Bible.
The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ by Ray Ortlund: I’m cheating a little bit here; I read this last year, but it’s just so good I have to recommend it this year. Ray unpacks in brief but powerful chapters not only what the gospel is, but how it changes our lives, our churches, and our world. But the real strength of the book, in my opinion, is Ray’s thoroughly biblical insistence that the doctrine of grace will create a culture of grace in our churches. In Ray’s own words: “When the doctrine is clear and the culture is beautiful, that church will be powerful.” Amen.