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

Mobilizing God’s Army for the Great Commission

This is the tenth post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: David Platt                                    Key text: Romans 15:18-21

The picture of missions in the New Testament: some stay and build up existing churches, others go and plant new churches. The ultimate issue isn’t whether we stay or go, but whether we are obedient.

What if God has designed the globalization of today’s workforce for the spread of the gospel to the unreached people of the world?

[Platt goes on to quote Romans 1-8 from memory. Pretty incredible, so go check it out on the video below.]

Romans shows us that the gospel is good and that it is so good it is worth eternal damnation for yourself so that others might have it. If you behold the beauty of Romans 1-8, you bear the burden of Romans 9.  Read more of this post

The Church as the Means and Goal of Missions

This is the ninth post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: D.A. Carson                                     Key text: 1 John 4:7-16

What does sin do?

  • Defies God- this is what makes sin so heinous; it challenges God’s sovereignty
  • Utterly corrupts individuals- every dimension of our human existence has been twisted by sin
  • Corrodes all social relationships- we have to cover up, point fingers, and lie. Do we pursue things with equal passion for others or only for ourself?
  • Issues in death- sin leads to both physical and eternal death

What does the gospel do?  Read more of this post

What Do Cross-Cultural Missionaries Cross Cultures For?

This is the eighth post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: Michael Oh                                     Key text: Various

What if Christians truly cared more about missions than other things like money, power, etc?

The church needs to be a prophet and a servant. Prophets tell a culture what it needs to hear from God. Because of God’s Word, every Christian has the ability to speak prophetically into the culture. Servants meet the needs of a suffering people. God cares about all kinds of suffering, especially eternal suffering, and so should we.  There can be redemptive purposes in suffering. It can be a blessing if it heightens our awareness of our need for God. Through our temporary sufferings for the advancement of the gospel, others can come to the eternal comfort of salvation.  Read more of this post

The Life Worth Living for Christ is a Life Worth Losing

This is the seventh post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: Matt Chandler                                   Key text: Philippians 1:21

Any loss we experience on earth will be viewed as insignificant when we reach our eternal home.

Paul is an example of a violent opponent of the gospel who was made into one of its greatest proponents (Acts 7-8). Paul wasn’t a seeker, but God didn’t care. He wanted him to be His (Galatians 1:15-16). Paul is proof that there is no one beyond God’s saving mercy.

When it comes to missions, we don’t have to go; we get to go. Missionaries are extraordinarily ordinary people. They don’t have any superpowers and they aren’t holier than other Christians.

It brings God pleasure to reveal Himself to us and save us. When God saves you, he doesn’t do it because you gave Him permission to do so. He did it because He’s God.  Read more of this post

The Call of Christ: Inspired, Informed, Confirmed

This is the sixth post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: Mack Stiles                                    Key text: 2 Corinthians 5:10-21

All Christians are called to missions, but not all Christians are missionaries. Missionaries are people who take the gospel into a culture and make disciples there as their vocation. Being a missionary isn’t a “higher calling”. A calling isn’t what we do for God, but is a call to God. Missions is simply another part of the Christian life. Our calling in Christ is this: to make disciples and to be holy. Our calling is to demonstrate how foolish we are in order to make God look great (1 Corinithians 1:26-29). A calling must be inspired by God’s Word.  Read more of this post

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