My Top 10 Books for 2015

2015 was a busy year for me. Shelby and I were in the second year of our Real Estate business start-up, and we added the newest member to household, Mrs. Norah Shelton.

Through all of the hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to lose sight of the central things that should orient our lives. Faithfully attending Worship every Sunday morning and reading good books are two things that really help me to reorient on a regular basis. (I know you have heard the analogy of flight patterns, like 90% of the flight is actually course correction).

This year I read some really good books. The top five were just incredible.

1. Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent  by N. D. Wilson

Death by Living is a hard book to describe. It’s influence on my life this year cannot be underestimated. Have you ever started drinking something sweet before dessert? You know the sudden loss of sweetness soon after you have eaten a piece of cake or something sweet? The drink seems to lose its sweetness. Death by Living reminds you that God’s world is full of sugar, and we have, through neglect and ignorance, failed to taste it and savor it by becoming desensitized to the wonder and beauty that God fills our lives with. This book will cause you to belly laugh in one paragraph, and then sing, cry, and shout in the next. This book is perplexing in the same way that life is perplexing. It is not a book that you read to understand, it is a book that you read to better understand life. You have to strap in and go on a trip with Wilson, and seek to feel what he is trying to get you to feel, and when you do, you will walk away awake, alive, and so excited to exist in such a wonderful world; a world that is nevertheless filled with belly aches, thorns, knives, cancer, and death.

2. The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts by Joe Rigney

Joe Rigney’s book very much deserved to be my #1 pick for the year. The thing is, Rigney’s book was the same book as Wilson’s but at the same time different. They target different organs. I am thinking of Lewis’s distinction between the organ of reason, and the organ of imagination. Rigney’s book helps to bring mental clarity to perplexing questions. His goal is to provide mental clarity to equip you to enjoy God in and through creation. Wilson’s book stimulated the heart, eliciting wonder by sharing a life-giving heat to ignite joyful and sacrificial living as the means of enjoying God through our experience of being a part of God’s creation. 

3. A New Testament Biblical Theology by G.K. Beale

This mammoth of a book is no easy read. As a matter of fact, once I looked back, I realized that I have been chipping away at it for nearly two and a half years. Superb book that covers an incredible amount of terrain.

4. God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth by G. K. Beale

Same writer as #3: G.K. Beale’s most memorable work has been done on the Temple and how it has developed from Genesis 1-to the end of time. This is the most accessible study of the telos of the garden/temple that I have ever read.

5. The Doctrine of God by John Frame

John Frame has the uncanny ability to make difficult subjects seem so simply. This book was absolutely wonderful. His thinking is very fair and level headed; and his thinking is often very profound.

6. Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture by Peter Leithart

What a Gem! This was a delightful read! Leithart gives some stunning perspectives on John 9. I can’t recommend this book too highly.

7. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

Earlier this year I read this book, along with several others on the subject of productivity. This book is the absolute best book I have read on the subject. If you are wanting to accomplish more than you think possible, this is a great book to consider. Perman lays a lot of foundation work which makes his thinking in the later chapters very clear.

8. Luke for Everyone by N. T. Wright

Started this series and hope to finish it in 4 years. Was pleasantly surprised by how good these actually are. Just great short reads every morning that open up so much of the Scriptures.

9. Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World by N. D. Wilson

Part 1 of Death by Living, this book was almost as good as the second one. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

10. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K. A. Smith

The contemporary view is that we should seek to be changed from the inside out. The author here shows that children are shaped from the outside in, and thus we as adults are the product, in a limited sense, to the formative influences that we have been immersed in. The upshot of this work is the importance of the liturgy in the worship service. The liturgy is a heart shaping endeavor that is meant to help aim our hearts to the proper object.

Honorable Mention: Traces of the Trinity by Peter Leithart

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