top 5 “must reads”

Man carrying large stack of books

Top 5 “must reads” of 2011….

1) The Radical Disciple by John RW Stott

When John Stott passed away a few months ago, to my surprised, I cried.  It was weird.  But what I came to realize is that so much of my life and theology and thinking and ministerial philosophy have been shaped by dear “Uncle John.”  The Cross of Christ and The Incomparable Christ are both well worn as they sit upon my shelf.  The Radical Disciple is Stott’s final work.  And he knew it.  Through the prologue Stott wonderfully says his “farewells.”  In The Radical Disciple Stott speaks from the heart and the end of a valiant and humble life.

2) Radical by David Platt

Platt confronts any inkling of self-righteous, pharisaical religiosity.  Radical is a call to faith that is real.  Faith that is authentic and genuine.  Faith that is truly, fully, wholly faith.  Our ministry team went to the D6 conference in Dallas a few months ago and Platt was one of the speakers.  Toward the end of his time he said, “I realize that after everything I’ve shared I’ve made a few of you angry.  But I’ve learned in ministry that about 10% of those who listen aren’t going to like me, and frankly, I’m good with that!”  🙂  Our Tuesday morning group worked through Radical chapter by chapter.  We are better Christians, disciples, husbands, and fathers because of it.

3) Why Jesus? by William Willimon

At the Tulsa Workshop last year Terry Rush advocated Will Willimon’s Why Jesus? to our Thursday morning group.  Following Jesus will lead you into dangerous territory.  Too often we seek to avoid conflict.  But if we’re following Jesus how can we avoid it?  Willimon calls us to a close, intimate understanding of this One we hail Lord and Master.  The challenge of faith is to follow.  And to follow Jesus.  Not Jesus as a flannel-graph.  But Jesus as the Way, Truth, and Life.  I’ve read Willimon for years.  You can’t go wrong with anything that comes from his pen.  But Why Jesus? is arguably his best work yet.

4) Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

“He has shown you what is good.  To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).  “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice'” (Matthew 9:13).  Tim Keller’s The Reason for God and especially The Prodigal God are both phenomenal.  If I had done a top five list of what I read last year The Prodigal God would have been at the top!  And so if you haven’t read it you’d be extremely blessed if you did.  Generous Justice is what is becoming to me “vintage Keller.”  Intellectual and yet practical.  Both sophisticated and heart changing.  Keller’s treatise is to live like Jesus.  Compassion.  Humility.  Conviction.  To have a Kingdom purpose and vision.  Eyes that see and ears that hear.  To see life through the lens of Christ and to love God and love others in a way that we as Christ’s church have failed miserably in previous generations to attain to or even aspire to.  If a big picture view of the work of God is what your seeking, Generous Justice is an excellent place to start.

5) Costly Grace by Jon Walker

If you know me well at all you know my affinity toward all things Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I’ve read The Cost of Discipleship at least a half a dozen times.  Jon Walker’s wonderful work Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship is an invaluable companion.  He takes the themes that Bonhoeffer unpacks in Cost and runs with them.  The pursuit of costly grace and denial of anything that cheapens the grace of God made manifest in the Gospel of Jesus.  If you’ve never read Bonhoeffer or do not know his history you’re missing out!  If I were you, in 2012 I’d read: 1) The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer 2) Eric Metaxas’s brilliant biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and 3) Jon Walker’s Costly Grace.  And in that order.  If you’ll do that in the coming months, you’ll never be the same.

I’ve read about 20 books this year.  Most of which were published over the last couple of years.  There are others that came very close to edging out one or two of the five that I’ve listed here.  But if you’re asking me, these five are an excellent, excellent place to begin.

Glory to God!


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