The Books of 2018


I love books! I love to read. If anything, one of the great frustrations of my life is the lack of time I give to reading. There is always more I wish to absorb. Below are some of the books I read in 2018 (the ones that I have in my home office). Perhaps you have read some of these, too, or might choose to once you see them here.

Abiding in Christ, by Andrew Murray. This is a classic late 19th century reflection on how the disciple of Jesus abides with Him each and every day. Definitely a worthwhile read. Click here for Amazon.

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, by Patrick Lencioni. You simply cannot put this down, especially if you have any responsibility in leading an organization. It is, as always, humorous, honest, and visionary, and a sure standard for organizational success. Click here for Amazon.

Call for the Dead: A George Smiley Novel, by John Le Carré. What a great start to a compelling series by this world-renown fiction author. Good fun for anyone wanting a thoughtful and energizing diversion. Click here for Amazon.

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith. This is a sobering and thoughtful survey about the interplay between American evangelicalism and race throughout the American experience, going back to colonial times. Technical and demanding, it is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand where the American church has been relative to matters of race and justice. Click here for Amazon.

Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, by Harold W. Hoehner. Hoehner’s work is perhaps the most authoritative commentary on the Epistle of Ephesians, the climax of decades of fine scholarship. Definitely a must for pastors and teachers alike. Click here for Amazon.

Ephesians: Word Biblical Commentary, by Andrew T. Lincoln. Ephesians is one of the most significant commentaries written on Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus–tremendous scholarship and global authority. Click here for Amazon.

Exploring Ephesians and Philippians: An Expository Commentary, by John Phillips. Phillips’ work is one of the better surveys of these two Pauline letters, written with a helpful blend of scholasticism and pastoral wisdom. Click here for Amazon.

God’s View of You: Discovering Your Biblical Worth, by Colleen Mehrer. I had the privilege of writing an endorsement for this book. Here is part of what I said: “Colleen’s burden is to empower women from all walks of life to embrace God’s view of themselves, but page after page, as a man, I found her genuine, biblical, practical and visionary challenge to be perfectly timed and personally catalytic for me too.” Indeed! Get a copy today. Click here for Amazon.

The Hand of God, by M. Burleigh Holder. This is a terrific autobiography on a most remarkable life–a true disciple of Jesus and global statesman whose influence will permeate many generations. I hope you can find a copy somewhere.

The Heidelberg Catechism. Written in 1563, this is a thoughtful and pastoral resource even today for understanding the beauty and complexity of the Reformed faith. Click here for Amazon.

Insider, Outsider: My Journey as a Stranger in White Evangelicalism and My Hope for Us All, by Bryan Loritts. This is a raw and authentic look at the way two cultures clash, how the gospel helps us bring them together, and how to have hope when the journey forward is very messy. Click here for Amazon.

In Touch: Everyday from the Living Bible, edited by Edythe Draper. Honestly, I have had this daily collection of Scripture since I was a kid and cannot put it down. I read it every evening. Click here for Amazon.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson. I read somewhere recently that Bryan Stevenson was being touted for the Nobel Peace Prize. Read this book, and you will see why. It is moving, authentic, heartbreaking, and visionary. You absolutely must read this. Click here for Amazon.

Mandarinfish: The Splendor of the Diverse Church, by Ron King. My dear friend, Ron King, leads The Bridges Church in Fremont, California, which is a leading multi-cultural and multi-ethnic congregation within the Evangelical Free Church movement. Mandarinfish is a remarkable read exploring their journey and how it has been so richly shaped by the gospel. Definitely worthwhile! Click here for Amazon.

Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel, by David Rhoads, Joanna Dewey, and Donald Michie. This is a scholarly work devoted to helping the reader appreciate the sweeping narrative of the Gospel of Mark, acknowledging that many of the ancient biblical texts were originally intended for oral presentation. Click here for Amazon.

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, by Eric Metaxas. This is one of two selections of Metaxas’ in my list, and is a worthy read for those wanting a good introduction to the life of Martin Luther. Luther scholars may want more from this, but for anyone knowing little about the great reformer, this is a good start. Click here for Amazon.

The Message of Ephesians, by John W. Stott. This classic work is worth the time of anyone wishing to understand Paul’s letter to his friends Ephesus. Warmly written by one of evangelical Christianity’s most respected voices, it is a helpful blend of solid scholarship and pastoral wisdom. Click here for Amazon.

More Than Coping: God’s Servants Can Triumph Over Emotional Pain, by Elizabeth Skoglund. This fascinating work leans into the lives of C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, and J. Hudson Taylor for insight into how the Christian worker can endure the toughest circumstances of life. An easy and important read. Click here for Amazon.

No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America, by Ron Powers. This is a gut-wrenching story of an American family whose sons are schizophrenic–one of whom died and the other working to survive. It offers a thoughtful survey of how mental illness is dealt with throughout history, with helpful recommendations on moving forward responsibly. Click here for Amazon.

One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race, by John M. Perkins. It is not an overstatement to call One Blood a manifesto penned by one of America’s greatest statesmen and disciples of Jesus–John Perkins. It is a must read, and serves as an excellent follow-up to the book Divided By Faith, mentioned elsewhere in this list. Click here for Amazon.

Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger. Let me be really clear. This, given to me by a good friend, is one of two of the best fiction works I have read in over 20 years. Truly a masterpiece, a beautiful glimpse into a Minnesota family struggling with some of life’s most poignant realities. Everyone must read this book. Click here for Amazon.

The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. What do you get when you have a real former president and one of the world’s best fiction writers work together on a story about a president in crisis? A really good read! Click here for Amazon.

The Reckoning, by John Grisham. I love John Grisham. I have read nearly every one of his books. I can hardly put them down, and this one is one of his all-time best, taking you from Jim Crow South to the South Pacific and back. If you dare try any fiction, let me recommend Grisham. Click here for Amazon.

Seven Women And the Secret of Their Greatness, by Eric Metaxas. Metaxas has provided here what he has offered in many other fine works: a meaningful glimpse into the lives of a select number of iconic people, in this case, women whose influence will linger for generations. A very good read. Click here for Amazon.

Sharing Success, Owning Failure: Preparing to Command in the Twenty-First Century Air Force, by Col. David L. Golden, USAF. This is one of the most practical books on basic leadership that I have read in a long time. It should be read by anyone who has any management or leadership responsibility, no matter the field. Click here for Amazon.

Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life, by R.C. Sproul. R.C. Sproul is one of my heroes–a marvelous theologian and pastor whose influence on my life is quite deep. This work is insightful and loving for anyone who wishes to survey how God meets us in the midst of life’s toughest stuff. Click here for Amazon.

Syntax of New Testament Greek, by James A. Brooks and Carlton L. Winbery. Syntax is a classic resource for those looking to steward their knowledge of biblical Greek in the most effective manner. Always worthy of a read so as to stay fresh with the language. Click here for Amazon.

The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, by Charles Swindoll. This is a terrific collection of stories and anecdotes useful for anyone who tells stories and offers useful anecdotes. Of course, it is presented with my friend Chuck Swindoll’s typical wit and wisdom. Click here for Amazon.

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. Let me be really clear. This is one of the two best fiction works I ever read in over 20 years. The other one is on this list, too. A brilliant book about a man’s effort to maintain his tribal culture in the face of European colonialism, it is considered one of the world’s most beloved books. Definitely a must read! Click here for Amazon.

Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission, by Amy Simpson. Simpson’s work is the gold-standard for how the church can and should address the realities of mental illness. With nearly a third of those within the church having some kind of mental illness, this is a must read, certainly for church leaders and those who wish to be part of meaningful, redemptive care. Click here for Amazon.

Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations, by Jimmy Scroggins and Steve Wright with Leslee Bennett. This fun book is a powerful and accessible resource for communicating the good news of Jesus Christ with humility, confidence, and joy. Check it out! Definitely worthwhile. Click here for Amazon.

The Utter Relief of Holiness: How God’s Goodness Frees Us from Everything that Plagues Us, by John Eldredge. So many of us carry much pain, and Eldredge’s book helps us see how the salvation that is wrought through Jesus Christ can heal us from the things that plague us and empower us toward a joyful and liberating holiness. Excellent read! Click here for Amazon.

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. This is the second on my list by the Dutch Reformed pastor, Murray. Also a true classic, this is a beautiful and instructive work on a practice of prayer influenced by the life of Jesus. Click here for Amazon.