Favorite Books of 2016
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:
- You read the book this year
- You really liked the book and would recommend it to someone
- The book was helpful to you personally
- 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, maybe you’d like to find a book on a specific topic, or maybe you’re looking for a book to add to your Christmas list. Either way, take a look! (The red titles are Amazon links.) Let us know your favorite book this year in the comments.
Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
This books brings out with clarity a doctrine that is often overlooked or undervalued. Many Christians understand that the Bible teaches we are “in Christ” but really do not fully know all the benefits of that truth. This book is clear and concise in illustrating the significance of this crucial doctrine.
They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz
An incredible eye-witness account of the persecution of Christians fleeing the terror of ISIS.
Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame by Heather Davis Nelson
Unashamed distinguishes the difference between guilt and shame and shows how the truth of the Gospel frees us from shame.
The Scars That Shaped Me by Vaneetha Rendall Risner
Vaneetha’s story is compelling as she does a great job showing from Scripture how God uses our suffering for his glory and ultimately for our good.
The Blessed and Boundless God by George Swinnock
This is a short book highlighting the attributes of God. The best way to read it is one chapter at a time with room to meditate on the attributes covered.
The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel
I read this about five years ago, and was so helped by this Puritan pastor. I reread The Mystery of Providence this fall and the book is even more helpful than I first experienced it. It traces God’s providence through every fabric of our lives in order that we would see it with wonder and amazement.
Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs by Isaac Watts
This hymnal has been one of the most helpful tools in my spiritual growth over the years. I was so thrilled to be able to republish it recently through Doxology & Theology. Watts provides doctrinal accuracy with the aim of allowing our hearts to being filled with love for Christ.
Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves
The word Trinitarianism looks and feels intimidating, but right knowledge about God is fundamental to right living. It is pivotal for believers to be able to answer the question, “Who is God?” Reeves does a great job of answering this question by unpacking the doctrine of the Trinity in a way that is accessible for everyone.
You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith
This book articulates why discipleship needs to be centered in and fueled by our immersion in the body of Christ. Worship is the “imagination station” that incubates our loves and longings so that our affections are toward God and his kingdom. This book will challenge you to think about the social influences that are impacting your life on a daily basis.
The Drama of Scripture by Craig Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen
In this book, Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen provide an engaging overview of the storyline of the Bible. The book surveys the grand narrative of the Bible, demonstrating how the biblical story forms the foundation of a Christian worldview.
Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller
In Counterfeit Gods, Keller shows how even good desires can cross the line into idolatry. It's a good reminder to repent when those desires become more important to my happiness than God. Modifying a behavior is fleeting but resting in Christ's work on the cross is the only thing that brings change and lasting joy.
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
Written in the 1950s, Elliot recounts the experiences of her husband, Jim Elliot, and a team of missionaries who traveled to Ecuador to share the gospel with the Waorani people. It's a powerful testimony of the Lord's faithfulness and how God's plan cannot be thwarted even in the midst of tragedy.
The First Chapters of Everything: How Genesis 1-4 Explains Our World by Alasdair Paine
Alasdair Paine takes readers on a highly accessible and beautiful tour through the Bible's first four chapters. True to the book's subtitle, he does a wonderful job showing how these chapters account for our world better than any other worldview.
Why Trust the Bible? by Greg Gilbert
Objections to the Bible's realiability show up in every generation, and thus there will always be a need for clear counterarguments to these objections. This book more than meets this need in our day. Brief and well-argued, Gilbert convincingly shows why we can be sure that the words in our Bibles are faithful translations of the original documents.
Transgender by Vaughan Roberts
Coming in at under 100 pages, this should probably be considered a "booklet". Roberts' book is a helpful introduction to what the Bible has to say on an issue that has been receiving a lot of attention recently.
The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them by Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock
A good companion to Roberts' book. In a climate which increasingly downplays the importance of biological gender, Strachan and Peacock argue that gender is an essential ingredient of the world God created and called "good". Far from being something to dismiss, the book argues that gender and the roles God assigns to each are given to us for our flourishing and are a necessary part of God's mission.
Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson
This beautifully written book by Hannah Anderson seeks to help readers live out all we know about God’s limitlessness by trusting him and being humble by acknowledging our own God-given limits.
In this book, Pastor Scott Sauls encourages us to apply the gospel by befriending and loving people who are different than us: different ethnicities, different religions, different lifestyles. Sauls shows that befriending those who feel marginalized models the gospel in a uniquely Christian way.
The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot
Everyone knows the sting of loneliness, regardless of the size of your family or social circle. Elisabeth Elliot, who was widowed twice and a single mother serving as a missionary in South America, wants us to understand that God not only meets us where we are, but that even loneliness has a great purpose to God.
Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp
We were made to be deeply communal people in families and friendships, but when sinners meet, things go awry. In this book, Tim Lane and Paul Tripp help us understand that our primary relationship is with God, and that all other relationships flow out from our relationship with him, teaching us to love others in a healthier way.
Come Ye Children by Charles Spurgeon
If you have children of your own, serve in the children's area, or know someone who has kids (yes, you just got included in this list), you should read this book. Charles Spurgeon shows the importance of sharing our faith with children and gives practical, easy-to-understand steps on how to do this important task given to us directly from Christ.
Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney
Dr. Donald Whitney describes how prayer life suffers when it becomes mundane and we say the same old words routinely, which is how I felt. This book pushes you into relating your prayers with your reading in Scripture, and teaches how to simply pray what you read. The Bible becomes a conversation with God as you read about him and speak to him at the same time.
Visual Theology by Tim Challies
This book is abbreviated systematic theology for visual people. Tim Challies takes deep theological concepts and puts them into flow charts, graphs, and infographics with simple explanations tagging along each page. It’s a great change of pace for organizing our thoughts on God.
Living in the Light: Money, Sex, and Power by John Piper
John Piper takes a refreshing perspective of idolatry. Standing alone, nothing in the title of this book is sinful—all three are gifts given to us by God. The danger comes when we pursue anything above our pursuit of God, and Piper helps us to see how to live with the gifts and not fall into the snares of sin that can easily follow them.
When God Comes Calling by Ted Fletcher
This book is a fascinating biography of Ted Fletcher. It begins in his youth as he fought in the Korean War, met Billy Graham in the field and became a very successful businessman after the war. Later in life God called him into ministry and after many difficult financial transitions, guided him to start a wonderful agency sending missionaries overseas which eventually became known as The Pioneers.
The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer
This is an encouraging read about leadership starting in the Old Testament with Psalm 23 as the initial basis for a shepherding style of leadership. The analogy of how sheep respond to their shepherd is reflected throughout the book as a model of how true shepherds care for their sheep by knowing them, feeding them, leading them, and protecting them. It’s especially great for men as we lead our families.
40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible by Robert Plummer
This is a quick, helpful book that covers a wide range of questions about the Bible. If you'd like to grow in reading, teaching, and understanding the Scriptures, this is an amazingly helpful resource.
Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
One of the classics of Puritan literature, this book challenged and comforted my soul. Following the journey of Christian to the Celestial City provided a helpful reflection on the Christian life that reset my expectations and provided needed comfort in the war against sin.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
This book is another classic piece of Christian writing. Dr. Whitney clearly communicates the importance of spiritual disciplines, explaining the role, value, and method behind basic disciplines like prayer, Bible reading, meditation, fasting, and more. If you're looking for greater inspiration for growing in the disciplines, this book is a must read.