My Favorite Reads of 2016

This past January I wrote a post (click here) detailing my reading plan for 2016. As I look back at the year that was and the reading plan I set out to accomplish I am pleased. Overall the plan helped me have (and exceed) the goal of one book a month. I’m happy with how this year played out with my reading, and I’m looking forward to sharing my new list for 2017 in the next few weeks (stay tuned!)

Out of the books I read this year two of them stand out above the rest:

9781433544736m1) The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney

As soon as this was published in December of 2014 I knew it was a book I wanted to read. I’ve read Joe Rigney’s discipleship book on The Chronicles of Narnia before and thoroughly enjoyed his writing. I figured I’d enjoy this as well, and I did, very much! What caught me off guard is that the book did something that few books have done to me – it changed my view of God. Don’t mishear me. The book didn’t change anything for me doctrinally, but the book did help see new depths of joy within that theology and for that I’m very grateful.

I’ve been a longtime lover of all things Christian Hedonism, Desiring God Ministries, and John Piper. Joe Rigney is one of the professors at Piper’s Bethlehem Institute and it’s no surprise that Rigney displays the same Christian Hedonist perspective in this book. What was interesting is that Rigney took the thought and extended it to places Piper never dreamed of. John Piper says as much in his foreword when he commends Rigney’s book. Rigney’s main point in this book is not that God gives gracious gifts to His children, but that God intends we enjoy Him in His gifts by using His gifts well. Everything from lemonade, laughter of children, college football, scrambled eggs, and crispy bacon. Is the old hymn correct when it says ‘the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace?’ Rigney gives an emphatic ‘No!’ What really happens is that the things of earth grow strangely bright when beheld and used to the glory of God. How do we live faithfully in a world full of His blessings? By following the sunbeam back up to the Sun.

I commend this book to you. It’s worth your time, it’ll change you for the better.

9781848710115m2) The Forgotten Spurgeon by Iain Murray

The Prince of Preachers, he was called. Charles Spurgeon was a man for the times. A young pastor who burst onto Victorian London as a man gripped by Biblical conviction. Yet, this isn’t quite the image portrayed by many of his biographers. Iain Murray says the Spurgeon we’ve forgotten is the Spurgeon gripped by a robust Calvinistic theology, combative towards Arminian errors, and full of Spirit-filled unction and pleading in preaching. This is the forgotten Spurgeon Murray is burdened to present to us.

Originally written in February 1966 you may be tempted to think Iain Murray’s book has no place in today’s culture. Yet Murray’s description of the three large controversies within Spurgeon’s ministry are ripe for the modern Church. The first controversy was Spurgeon’s stand against the diluted gospel fashionably Victorian in the London to which the young preacher came in the 1850′s; the second was the famous ‘Baptismal Regeneration’ debate of 1864; the third was the lacerating Down-Grade controversy of 1887-1891 when Spurgeon sought to awaken Christians to the danger of the Church ‘being buried beneath the boiling mud-showers of modern heresy.’

The same three controversies are not only present in the modern Church, but it seems that by and large we have forgotten these battles Spurgeon fought. He often stood alone in these battles, yet though alone he stood firm. In the end, it killed him. As Murray weaves through these three seasons in Spurgeon’s life throughout his book I was gripped, encouraged, and emboldened to stand for the same truths Spurgeon stood for. You will be too.

Honorable mentions:

Tim Keller’s Preaching

Michael Horton’s Calvin on the Christian Life

Albert-Marie Schmidt’s Calvin

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2 thoughts on “My Favorite Reads of 2016

  1. Thanks for the suggestions! I just ordered Things of Earth thanks to your review. I also wanted to pass along a suggestion that I would love your thoughts on: The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations on Faith. Many blessings and keep up the great work!

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