My Top 5 Books of 2016

 

books2016

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close. The Lord has been faithful to provide once again this year, including an array of interesting books to read. Here’s a round up of my favorite books from this year:

  1. Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle
    A poignant book for Christian men and women of all ages, but especially for young men. Writing with his trademark timelessness, Ryle’s advice–or rather exhortation–is just as relevant today as it was when it was written. Ryle warns young men of common pitfalls and trends (like pride, an “invincibility” mindset, and a lack of seriousness) and challenges them to pursue holiness now by joining a church, praying, reading God’s Word, and being mindful of life’s brevity. He encourages young men to look beyond themselves and to be whole-hearted disciples now rather than to “put it off” until later in life so that they can be wild and immature now. This is a quick read that will leave a lasting impact.

    “Your soul is the one thing worth living for. It is the part of you which ought always be considered first. No place, no employment is good for you, which injures your soul. No friend, no companion deserves your confidence, who makes light of your soul’s concerns.”

  2. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unforeseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
    In this book Ed Catmull, one of the co-founders of Pixar, does a great job of weaving management principles into the Pixar story without overemphasizing either one. Catmull takes the reader inside Pixar and it’s well-known Braintrust to show how the culture they’ve built allows them to perform at such a high level (and how he and John Lasseter translated that to Disney Animation after their acquisition of Pixar). Many of the principles in the book can be applied to non-creative companies as well. If you’re a fan of the Pixar movies and learning more about corporate culture, then this is the book for you.

    “Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.”

  3. The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken
    Nik Ripken begins the books by sharing how his experiences in East Africa raised several questions in his mind about the goodness of God, the effectiveness of the gospel, and the prevalence of evil. These questions, as well as some personal tragedies, led the author on a new mission: to learn how persecuted Christians in different contexts have not only survived, but thrived. The stories shared in “The Insanity of God” are incredibly convicting: Christians who not only expect persecution to happen but have joy in the midst of it; Christians who pass on the faith from generation to generation, even without a Bible; Christians who share their faith despite the risk to their own health and well-being. It is a challenge to those in America who experience relative freedom and view persecution very differently.

    “Serving God is not a matter of location, but a matter of obedience.”

  4. Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
    Reclaiming Conversation gives the reader an insight into the effects an “always connected” culture is having on our ability to relate to ourselves, others, and the world around us. If you have spent any time in an office, coffee shop, restaurant, or other public place recently, you have likely noticed the symptoms yourself: coworkers staring at their phones during important meetings, couples texting others instead of spending time together, teens Snapchatting each other from across the room, or people walking into poles while looking down at their phone. Turkle delves into a variety of challenges that stem from our difficulty putting phones down to converse and experience the moment with others. She also looks at how technology is affecting our family, friendships, romance, education, and work. I’ve touched on this in some past blog posts. Is this a call to abandon technology? No, but hopefully this book will challenge you (like it did me) to take control of your technology instead of letting it take control of you.

    “Relationships deepen not because we necessarily say anything in particular but because we are invested enough to show up for another conversation. In family conversations, children learn that what can matter most is not the information shared but the relationships sustained.”

  5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    In what is considered by some to be the greatest book of all time, Dostoyevsky explores the depths of faith, evil, morality, and religion using the narrative story of three brothers and their repulsive father. Each of the three brothers personifies a particular worldview: Alyosha=morality/faith, Ivan=humanism/doubt, and Dmitri=sensuality. By using these characters, Dostoyevsky shows us what these three worldviews look like as they are lived out in the real world. Like many of us, they struggle with contradictions between their beliefs and actions and face constant challenges to their core beliefs. Through the brothers, the reader is able to wrestle with the same issues. The story is engaging, even if it bounces around quite a bit, but offers plenty of unexpected twists and meaningful insight. It’s definitely a long read, but well worth it (especially if you can listen to it as an audiobook).

    “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

I’d encourage you to take the time to read at least one of these books in 2017. Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge.

If you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading now and what I’ve read in the past, check out my Goodreads profile. Happy reading!

Have you read any of these books or do have a book that would recommend reading in 2017? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

-Lawson
Learn It. Love It. Live It.

BONUS:  My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

Martyrdom and Mission: Why Reformers Died In Their Day, How We Must Live In Ours

This is the tenth and final post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: David Platt                                      Key text: Psalm 51

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video

The Reformers remind us that it is right to give our bodies to defend the Bible and the gospel. Even if we don’t die, we mist give our lives to the same task. A theology of danger and martyrdom is not a prominent theme in our churches today. Our views of safety and security are far too often American and not biblical.  Read more of this post

The Reformation Began with Paul: Justification the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forevermore

This is the ninth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Thabiti Anyabwile                                     Key text: Romans 3:21-26

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

If we are genuinely Reformed it isn’t because we’re following the teachings of a certain group of men, but because we believe it to be what the Bible genuinely teaches. The doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is not a Reformed doctrine (in that it began during the Reformation), but a biblical doctrine.

We ought to be able to demonstrate this through Scripture alone. For example in Romans 3, we see that God  justifies through faith in Jesus Christ (v 21-22) because man has fallen short of the glory of God (v 23-24) in order to display His own glory to the universe (v 25-26).

Five Truths About Righteousness:  Read more of this post

God’s Glory as the Base of our Courage

This is the eighth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Matt Chandler                                    Key text: Romans 11:33-36

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

Those who persecute the faithful think they are serving the cause of justice. As hostility towards Christians increases, we lose the opportunity to explain ourselves. We are automatically characterized as something we are not and this causes us fear. Romans 11 provides a blueprint for increasing courage in our hearts and the hearts of others. Thin portraits of God won’t sustain us like a big, deep theology of God.

Not only is God big, but He is rich: He owns everything in the heavens and the earth. He is no stifled by a lack of resources. This encourages us because we are His sons and daughters. He has our back (Romans 8:31-39)! We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. This has tremendous implications for our courage. Having Christ as our inheritance gives us courage because it helps us put the sufferings of this age in the context of eternity. Everything now will seem worthless and small. We realize there is nothing that man can do to us. Even if we die, we gain eternity with Christ.  Read more of this post

Christ’s Call to Reformation

This is the seventh post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: John MacArthur                                     Key text: Revelation 2-3

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video

Have you ever heard of a church that repented for sins against its Head? Churches are rarely broken over their collective sins and cry out in repentance. Revelation isn’t written to the hating world, but to the churches (Revelation 1:4). When Revelation was written, paganism was in power, persecution was intensifying, and the church was struggling. Jesus and Paul both warned the church that this persecution and hardship would come (John 15:18-25; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-9). Revelation 2 and 3 are God’s spiritual diagnosis of the church. Two churches (Smyrna and Philadelphia) are true churches in good standing before God, but five are in decline and need to repent. In those five churches, there was compromise, hypocrisy, sin, and greed. It’s shocking that the church could decline so quickly after Jesus’ ascension.   Read more of this post

The Bondage of the Will, the Sovereignty of Grace, and the Glory of God

This is the sixth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: John Piper                                  Key text: Various

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

Are humans so sinful that God’s sovereign grace needs to create and decisively full and produce all inclinations to believe in and obey God? At the heart of Martin Luther’s theology was the idea that humans are dependent on God to rescue them from the bondage of the will. If free will truly exists, then it makes it incredibly difficult to understand how much credit for salvation goes to God and how much should go to us. Election gives God all the credit for faith. “The failure to see the depth of sin and the bondage of the will, left unchecked, becomes an assault on God’s sovereign grace.” -Martin Luther. Any exaltation of the “goodness” of self or the will negates the need for God’s decisive transforming grace. Luther doesn’t mean that the human will is inactive in salvation and obedience, but where the will is involved, God is actively creating the desire. “The gospel takes all the credit and glory from man and ascribes it to God, the One who created everything from nothing.” -Martin Luther.

Five Ways the Bible Describes the Bondage of the Will:  Read more of this post

Can We Be Glorified Without Being Sanctified? Good Works, Good News, and Christian Assurance

This is the fifth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Kevin DeYoung                                   Key text: 1 John

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

Good works, good news, and Christian assurance aren’t opposed to one another, but go together. Can we be glorified without being sanctified? No! If your life is habitually marked by sin, Christ calls you defiled and you are not on your way to heaven (Mark 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:17-21). We are in a dire situation if our life is marked by sin. Only those who conquer and overcome will escape the second death and eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2-3).

The authentic Christian life is filled with weakness, but not capitulation. Paul revels in his weakness, but never refer to is as a weakness or excuse to sin. To be a Christian, one who receives the reward, is to conquer and overcome sin. There is a close relationship in Scripture between sanctification and glorification (Romans 8:29-39; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 12:14). Without sanctification, we can have no confidence of our justification. Works are the fruit; not the root of salvation. One of the hallmarks of theological liberalism is to not be concerned about the meaning of words–favoring slogans over precision.

“Grace is glory begun as glory is grace consummated.” -Francis Turretin. Sanctification is the work of God to prepare us for the life and world to come. If we are to be glorified later, we will experience sanctification now.

Three Evidences We are on the Road to Eternal Life: Read more of this post

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