Top 10: 2016 Book Recommendations

As 2016 comes to a close and the Christmas season is upon us, the TEXAN staff put together a list of books that might be good to add to your 2017 book list or to buy as a Christmas gift. After reading a number of books this year, these are the ones we’ve found helpful for life or ministry. Maybe you could buy an extra copy and start meeting with someone every week or so to discuss it.

Discipleship
Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus
by Mark Dever

Discipleship is a growing buzz word today, serving as the answer to many problems churches face. But if the Great Commission calls every Christian to be a disciple-maker, what does that actually look like? How do you create a culture of discipling in your church? Mark Dever defines discipling as “helping others follow Jesus” and offers a clear, organic approach to discipling that is both simple and intentional.
He weeds through objections, calling Christians to re-orient their lives toward others and to initiate discipling relationships. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, new or seasoned believer, this book will help you walk in obedience as you fulfill your part of the Great Commission.

 

Christian Care
Being There: How to Love Those Who Are Hurting
by Dave Furman

All around us, our Christian friends are struggling with pain, grief, depression, difficulty and loss. Dave Furman, a pastor who battles daily with a physical disability in his arms, shares from his experience and Scripture how Christians can care for one another in their times of need. Furman’s pastoral heart shines through as he offers practical advice on what compassionate Christian love looks (and does not look) like. This book is helpful for pastors, church members and caregivers of all ages.

 

Marriage/Dating
The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption
by Matt Chandler

King Solomon once said, “of making many books there is no end” (Eccl. 12:12), and this is certainly true of the number of books written on marriage. However, Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, offers a refreshing approach to love, dating, marriage, and sex in his book The Mingling of Souls, which draws lessons from another of Solomon’s writings—The Song of Songs. Walking through the Israelite king’s love ballad, Chandler follows the many stages of romantic love from initial attraction to dating to courting to marriage to lifelong marital commitment. Chandler holds up the biblical standards for love and marriage and offers practical advice on relationships between men and women, addressing conflict, and maintaining intimacy for the long haul. The audiobook version is a great way to spend a road trip.

 

Suffering/Trials
The Unwanted Gift: Hearing God in the Midst of Your Struggles
by Tom Elliff

How does a person handle problems that seem too large for human grasp? Is it possible to hear from God during these moments? In The Unwanted Gift, Tom Elliff describes the kind of problems that drain energy, bring emotional fatigue and test one’s faith. When he and his wife Jeannie learned that cancer had begun spreading throughout her body, they found themselves scrambling for answers. Initially knocked off balance, the Elliffs still sensed God’s sovereign control. They turned to 2 Cor. 12:7-10 to study the Apostle Paul’s acceptance of a “thorn in the flesh” and found guidance to believe and behave in a manner that honored Christ. As they sought to understand the purpose of suffering, they found motivation to aggressively cooperate with God and discover how this “unwanted gift” could be transformed into a platform upon which God would display his “unfathomable grace.”

 

Apologetics
Why Trust the Bible?
by Greg Gilbert

This short book answers the questions of the skeptic and strengthens the believer’s trust in the Scriptures as Greg Gilbert walks through a reasonable defense for why we can believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God. He examines the reliability of English translations along with the trustworthiness of the manuscript evidence. He asks if the books of the Bible authorized as the canon are accurate and if the original authors were telling the truth. Ultimately, he says, the historical reliability of the bodily resurrection of Jesus should convince us of the Bible’s truth. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, then we can trust the words of a resurrected man who fulfilled the prophecies about him and proved that he was indeed God in the flesh. The book is accessible for all reading levels and recommends more technical books for those who want to dig deeper. Read it with older children or another believer, or use it to start gospel conversations with unbelieving friends, co-workers or family members.

Spiritual Growth
Praying the Bible 

Orando la Biblia (Spanish Edition)
by Don Whitney

Have you ever felt like your prayer life was boring? Maybe you find yourself praying the same old things about the same old things. Don Whitney addresses this in Praying the Bible (which is available in English and Spanish), offering a simple, practical method on how to use Scripture as a guide to prayer. After reading this book, your quiet times and prayer life will become more effective and enjoyable as you grow closer to God and pray for friends, family and your church.

 

Pastoral Ministry
Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church
by Thom S. Rainer

Change is unavoidable and necessary in the church, but it also contains the potential for knocking a church off track in pursuing its vision. Too many churches and pastors have been damaged by unwise navigation on the seas of change. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, draws from conversations with pastors and research from thousands of churches to offer tools for pastors and church leaders to lead a congregation through changes, both big and small, without ending up in the ditch. He discusses how to evaluate the readiness of the church for change, garner support for the vision, navigate conflict and address problems along the way.

 

Homosexuality
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

In this thought-provoking autobiography, tenured English professor Rosaria Butterfield shares how she went from secular feminist in a committed lesbian relationship to a follower of Christ who left a homosexual lifestyle and eventually married an evangelical minister. After writing a critique in the newspaper on evangelicals’ gender politics, she received a letter from a local pastor inviting her to his house to discuss her views. What developed from this unlikely display of Christian hospitality was a friendship that exposed Butterfield to the gospel and turned her world upside down. This book, along with her follow-up book, Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ, presents a biblical view of sexuality and a reminder that no one is too far from the love of God.

 

Children’s Fiction
The Owlings
by Daniel A. DeWitt

This worldview adventure introduces young readers to a young boy named Josiah and a group of friends—talking owls—he meets in his back yard. The owls help the young boy and his friend Addi discover one of the greatest truths in the entire world: that there is more to this world than just nature.

Parents will enjoy reading The Owlings series to their children and discussing a Christian worldview.

 

Christian Classics
The Incarnation of the Word of God

by Athanasius

Athanasius was the bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, and a tireless adversary of the Arian heresy, which claimed that Christ was not fully God. The Incarnation is one of his great works and deals succinctly with one of the most difficult doctrines of the Christian faith. The Incarnation is devotional, inspirational and readable theology—essential to anyone’s library. Modern printings are available on paper and digital for less than $10. Buy a version with the introduction by C. S. Lewis, on the virtues of old books—worth the price of admission.

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