Inspired by Bill Gates release of his “best books 2018” the CCF ministry staff have come together to release our favorite reads of the year. In our case, some are new and some are old, but all of them have moved us in some profound ways. Here’s our lists with the hope of inspiring some reading in the church.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – This is a delicious classic from Dickens. I listened to it via book on tape in the car. Follow Pip in the mid-1800’s through many life adventures. Pursuing Pip’s desire to “become a gentleman,” the book explores themes like wealth and poverty, social class, love, jealousy, and fortune. It is a classic because it does such a good job of dissecting human motivations and emotions.
A Praying Life by Paul Miller– I reread this again this year and it continues to be one of the best books I have ever read on prayer. If you have ever struggled in prayer, read this book. Miller moves way beyond guilt or technique and moves to the heart. He has helped me learn and practice a more prayerful life.
The Great Omission by Dallas Willard – The subtitle is “Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship” and that is Willard’s aim. In the first section of the book, Willard covers why being a disciple of Jesus has been lost in the Western church, and why recovering this is essential. In the second half of the book, Willard covers “spiritual disciplines” we can pursue to be formed into the likeness of Christ. Active discipleship matters!
The Big Picture Story Bible by David R. Helm with illustrations by Gail Schoonmaker – You may be asking, “What is a grown man doing with a children’s Bible story book?” After multiple attempts to find a Bible that would engage my preschool boys, I came across this great story Bible for kids. This book captures the theme of redemption through Jesus found throughout the Old and New Testament in a compelling way that even children can grasp. While the illustrations may be hit or miss for adults, they are captivating to kids and provide enough wonder so an adult can read aloud the pages without the child losing interest. If you are seeking to instill God’s story and God’s Word in your children (or grandchildren), I would recommend this book!
Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof – This isn’t a self-help book. It’s a get-help book. Whether you’re a parent of a 15-month old or a 15 year old, raising kids who genuinely believe that knowing God really matters can be daunting. This book shares 5 Family Values that can maximize the influence parents can have in their children’s lives by intentionally tapping into the influences of the community around you. Parents, this is a book you need to read sooner than later.
Sticky Faith by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark – There is no silver bullet that ensures youth will grow and continue in their faith after graduation. In fact, research shows half of graduating seniors have deep struggles with their faith. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t principles we can all apply that have a crucial and positive impact on the spiritual growth of young adults. This book will change your whole perspective on the conversations and relationships you have (or don’t have) with youth and how you can be a factor in their spiritual vitality for following Jesus. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, crazy uncle or neighbor to a family, this book will change the way you see your influence over the little ones around you.
12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke – Do you control your phone, or does your phone control you? This is the question that Tony Reinke seeks to answer in 12 Ways. In a powerful, measured, and convicting way, Reinke dives deep into the hidden world of the human heart that so easily loves age-old sins packaged in a shiny new way. Not sure what to think about your kids’ smartphone usage, let alone your own? Pick this book up as a starting place and then never look at your phone in the same way again.
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD – Sleep when you’re dead? No. Sleep, or you’ll be dead. This is the maxim, I’m sure, that Matthew Walker, one of the world’s leading sleep scientists, has adopted for his talks about sleep. Walker brilliantly shows us the benefits of sleep, and the horrors of not getting enough sleep, by supporting it with cutting-edge contemporary science. You will see God’s magnificent handiwork in the science of sleep and, hopefully, you’ll come away wanting to get your 8 hours of sleep tomorrow night.
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry – Ever long for a simpler and slower life? This book will send you into that longing and make you never want to leave it. Berry, the celebrated philosopher, poet, author and farmer, teases out the implications of our ever increasingly mechanized world by contrasting it with the life of a small-town single man who abandoned the call of ministry for a barber’s life. Filled with theological nuggets and valuable insights into rural American life, this book will give you new perspectives on community, love, church, and what it means to belong.