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Favorite Books of 2017

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Each year, our staff puts together a short list of our favorite books of the year. Not all of these books were released this year; in fact, many of them are a few years (or centuries) old, but we read them this year.
Each person chose books based on this criteria:
  1. You read the book this year
  2. You really liked the book and would recommend it to someone
  3. The book was helpful to you personally
  4. The book may be helpful to a significant part of our church
Take a look through the books below. Maybe you’ve read some of these or maybe you’d like to find a book on a specific topic. Either way, take a look! (The red titles are Amazon links.) Let us know your favorite book this year in the comments.

Afshin Ziafat

The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther

This classic work was Luther’s reply to a diatribe on free will written by Erasmus. This debate centered on whether human beings, after the Fall of man, are free to choose good or evil. This book was greatly helpful in articulating the biblical position of the depravity of man and understanding the pervasive influence of sin on the will of man. It makes clear that our only hope if the intervention of God’s grace.

God’s Word Alone - The Authority of Scripture by Matthew Barrett

This book looks at the historical and biblical roots of the doctrine that scripture alone is the final and decisive authority for God’s people. It walks through the progression of the critical debate between the Reformers and the Catholic church over final authority. This book calls the church today to have a robust view of the authority of Scripture alone in the face of a culture drifting away from biblical ideals.

The Legacy of Luther by RC Sproul and Stephen Nichols

This book is not merely a biography of the great Reformer, but it focuses on the life, teaching, and enduring influence of Luther.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book is a classic by one of my favorite expository preachers of all time. Lloyd-Jones brings incredible insight into one of the most important sermons ever delivered - the Sermon on the Mount. As always, he masterfully applies it’s teaching to everyday life. 

 

Matt Boswell

From Weakness to Strength by Scott Sauls

Sauls walks through many challenges that leaders face, showing from Scriptures principles that move us toward humility and dependence in the work of leading. This book is pastoral and useful, especially for those in various forms of leadership.

Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon

The investment Spurgeon made in writing the Treasury of David pays dividends to this day. While Spurgeon's sermons are his greatest gift to the church, this commentary on the Psalms stands as one of his greatest works. Any student of the Psalms would benefit richly from this set.  

 

Grant Castleberry

The Cross of Christ by John Stott

John Stott's The Cross of Christ unpacks both the events surrounding Christ's death and the meaning of Christ's death for the world. His explanation of the Lord's Supper and the significance of Christ's substitutionary death is heart-stirring. 

A Peculiar Glory by John Piper

This book by John Piper on the inspiration of Scripture is excellent and accessible. Piper argues that Scripture has a unique glory since it reveals the glory of God's character. 

Everyone's a Theologian by R.C. Sproul

This book is "theology for everyone" as its title suggests. It combines both succinctness and clarity from one of America's greatest living theologians. 

Rachael Deatherage

Enjoy: Finding the Freedom Daily to Delight in God's Good Gifts by Trillia Newbell

Trillia invites the reader to wonder, to delight, to enjoy living, and most importantly remember the God who gives all good gifts.

Giddy Up, Eunice: Because Women Need Each Other by Sophie Hudson

Don’t let the title throw you - this book is a strong call for intentional cross-generational relationships between women in the church. Sophie Hudson uses the biblical example of Lois and Eunice (Timothy's grandmother and mother), along with her special brand of Southern humor and storytelling to show the value of walking with women both ahead of you and behind you.

Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick

This book is a perennial favorite - Elyse shares the love of God on full display and in the second half of the book gives practical examples of the life-transforming effect of remembering his love for us.

Jeremy Herron

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

Although this book is written as an understanding of how to love someone in the LGBT crowd in an honoring way without giving up our conviction, I found that the same truths can be applied to any other sins. This is my favorite book of the year - I loved how Caleb constantly gives examples of Christ's life and encourages us to enter into relationships that often seem taboo or compromising to our beliefs. 

The Tech-Wise Familyby Andy Crouch

The premise of this book is that technology can be a good thing, when in its proper place. We should have control over the technology around us and not let it consume our lives. The book is incredibly applicable and filled with easy-to-make adjustments in my house and in my life to allow new moments where God can work. 

 

Bob Patton

Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global by Andy Johnson

This is a 9Marks book that shares a philosophy of what constitutes the solid components of a missions program at a local church.

Well Sent: Reimagining the Church’s Missionary-Sending Process by Steve Beirn

This book is a reliable biblical and practical guide to developing a missions-minded church.

Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Brant Hansen

The book is dedicated to those who want grace for themselves but struggle to extend it to others!  My favorite quote from the book is:
“God knows others' private motives. We don’t. God knows our private motives. We don’t.
We think we can judge others' motives. We’re wrong.”

Josh Stewart

Think Again: Relief From the Burden of Introspection by Jared Mellinger 

Being introspective can be a helpful trait, but when it comes to spiritual things, it can also be a dangerous temptation. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Any practice that detracts from faith is an evil practice, but especially that kind of self-examination which would take us away from the cross-foot proceeds in a wrong direction.” This book will be a wonderful guide for anyone who struggles with introspection and the tendency to look at ourselves instead of at Christ. 

Luther's Commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther 

When I first learned about Martin Luther and his faithful contending for the faith during the Reformation, I pictured a strong, fiery character. What I didn't realize was how gentle, humble, and pastoral he was. Luther's Commentary on Galatians is a beautiful expression of Luther's pastoral heart, as he applies the text to the deepest parts of our thinking, feeling, and behavior. This is a wonderful resource that will enflame a deeper awareness of how the gospel changes the way we should think and live. 

The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes 

This was the most impactful book I read this year. It focused on the gentleness of Jesus toward broken sinners, and how "a bruised reed he will not break; and the smoking flax he will not quench." It helped me realize how much Jesus loves broken men and women like me, and it helped me love Jesus more. 

Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore

In my opinion, every Christian should read this book. Dr. Moore gives a faithful explanation of what temptation is and how to battle it. Moore reminds us that we will all be tempted and we will all fall but we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. He is our advocate and that is our greatest news and hope in the midst of temptation. This book will change the way you fight sin and process temptation. 

 

Jennifer Grisham

Confessions by Augustine

Easily one of the most formative books I have ever read. The beginning is a confessional prayer, in which Augustine recalls the issues that kept him from Christianity, leading to the moment he became a Christian, and concluding with helpful theological discussion and application. The book was written between 397-400 AD, so many ideas that seem commonplace today were handed down from Augustine and other church fathers.

Answers to Prayer by George Müller

Want to learn how to pray better? Want a picture of true faith? Read this book. The journal of George Müller, founder of several orphanages in the late 1800s, powerfully reveals a person who put all his hope in God. I cannot recommend this book enough.

40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible by Robert Plummer

For the most part, this book is remarkably accessible for believers who want to understand how they should interpret Scripture. Each chapter is brief but offers helpful framework for reading various parts of the Bible (varying by biblical genre and category) and understanding them in the way the human and divine authors intended.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport 

Why is a business book on this list? Simply put, we live in an age of distraction as social media and entertainment invite us to satisfy our appetites with trivial things. This book was a helpful call for me to seek God's guidance regarding how I can follow him by giving him the best of my mind and heart while working hard for his kingdom.

And the book of the year, which made the lists of three staff members:

The Imperfect Disciple: Grace For People Who Can't Get Their Act Together by Jared Wilson 

Matt Boswell: 

This book is for those of us who feel like our growth in Christ has been slower than we had hoped. Jared Wilson writes with all of his winsomeness in communicating the work of God’s grace that sustains us as we walk with Jesus.

Jeremy Herron: 

This book was a great reminder to me that the goal is not my own perfection because I cannot be Jesus (nor do I want to replace him!). Over and over again, this book encouraged me to be who God made me to be and to rely on Romans 5:8 as I continually make mistakes in this life God has given me. God uses all people, even as broken as we are, to do his will for his glory and I'm thankful to be part of his plan for creating and nurturing disciples. 

Josh Stewart: 

This may be my favorite introductory book on discipleship. Rich with gospel applications, Wilson has written a book to help those who feel burnt out, overwhelmed, or defeated by their inability to fix themselves. It reminds us of our constant need for Jesus and helps us see that discipleship involves resting in him, not in our own ability. 

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