Top Reads of 2017

This year I was able to read almost fifty books. What a privilege and joy! Several I read to my children. One children's book got on my runner-up list. If you are going to read a book this next year, why not pick a winner?  The list is as follows with number one being my favorite book.
  1.  Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by Duane Elmer.                                                                                                                         Mike Bowden suggested I read this book, and I am thankful. It is worth another read. It is an important book for the missionary but applies to the evangelist and pastor and ministry leader. 
9. The Compelling Community: When God's Power Makes the Church Attractive by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop. My wife found this book online and suggested I read it. It did not disappoint. It was excellent, practical, and challenging. I found it to be a great read for church leaders. I love IX Marks resources. They offer a refreshing take on the church in an evangelical world that tends to degenerate to the lowest common denominator or get into fads. 
8.  Truman by David McCullough. I love everything McCullough writes. This won a Pulitzer Prize for a reason. This was an amazing down to earth look at a president with many admirable qualities. He seems to be one whom we can look back and learn from. And the circumstances have some interesting parallels to today. Life can be lived better by looking at those who have gone before us. You will enjoy this book. 
7.  Abortion: A Rational look at an Emotional Issue by R. C. Sproul. This is a must-read. I appreciated the logical and sensitive approach to the subject. It challenged my mind to think through logically what I believe. The book is definitely worth a second read. In the year that R.C. Sproul passed away, this book is a reminder of what we lost, a great thinker, communicator, defender, pastor, teacher, and servant. 
6.  Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. I have a bachelor’s degree in Theology and a Master Degree in Divinity, yet I found this book had much to teach me about my faith. He offers wonderful arguments, quotes, and perspective on the Bible and Christianity. Each chapter begins with an engaging story that relates to the argument he makes demonstrating the validity of Christianity. I think this is another very important read for all who seek after truth. 
5. The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken. This is an amazing story of the persecuted church in our day. Nik Ripken (a pseudonym) was converted and sought to change the world. He was radical in his faith only to find himself stuck down by tragedy. His mission in life took a turn. He began to explore the stories of people who die for their faith. He interviewed over seven hundred people in dozens of countries how they can stay strong in their faith amidst persecution. I could not put this book down or look at my troubles the same after reading this book. 
4. Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard. This is a fast-paced history like all history books should be. Amazing!!!! 25-year-old Winston Churchill is a P.O.W. He makes an escape one night with a biscuit in his pocket two candy bars and 300 miles of foreign soil with two local languages he doesn't know. His co-conspirators are stuck and could not join him, so he is alone. What does he do? How did he get in this situation? This is the tale of the young Churchill not many know. I love books by Candice Millard.  
3. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. What a surprise and exciting book. C.S. Lewis retells Psyche's mythology powerfully and suspensefully. He draws out the differences between rationalism and superstition through this tale. I could not put it down and want to read it again and again. When I read C.S. Lewis, I feel smarter. His vocabulary and broad knowledge of literature seem to ooze off the page into my soul. He is often witty, but here you meet another side of Lewis that shows how dynamic he was. I understand Till We Have Faces took him decades to write and his favorite book he wrote. 
2. His Banner Over Me by Martha Nicholson Snell. Sorry, this book is out of print. I love Martha Nicholson Snell’s poem The Thorn. So I wanted to learn more about her. In 1953 she wrote a biography and Moody Press published it. Martha was a poet and an invalid. The book is simple and brings you back to the turn of the 20th century, much like Laura Ingalls Wilder did. You experience the heart of a child captivated by God’s creation. She moves the reader through time. And you hear of her trials and faith. The reader ends wanting more. It was a charming surprise and I hope it gets republished someday.
1. Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to a Well Ordered Way by Stephen A. Macchia. This book was by far my favorite. It covers a wide range of topics that help one assess their life and refine the direction. It helps you listen to God and be aware of who you are and who God has made you to be. Every other week I meet with another leader in my church and I am discussing it. Pastor Jeff is doing the same. Pastor Mike read the book and took a week-long retreat to work through the questions it presents. I think every leader should read and explore this book.  These were honorable mentions: Tim Keller on Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God  Alexander Strauch on Meetings that Work: A Guide to Effective Elder Meetings.  Heidi by Johanna Spyri. For my top 10 list from 2016 click here. Happy New Year!


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