My Top Books Read in 2018



I guess it's time to reflect back upon the year of 2018. One of the ways through which I seek to grow in my faith and understanding of God and what it means to follow Him is by reading good books. As a pastor, I also regularly encourage others to take advantage of reading good, and faithful books for spiritual growth. This blog post then is an easy way that I can make recommendations to you if you are looking for a good book to "take up and read," or if you are still looking for a Christmas gift, which has the potential of being a great blessing for a believer in your life. 

I have listed the books into different categories ranging from "Most Helpful Book" to "Most Enjoyable Book". These are all books that I read this past year, not books that just came out in 2018. Many of the books have been around for many years. If you are looking for a more specific recommendation for a book, just contact me and I'd be happy to do my best to point you in the right direction. My email is clintondhogrefe@gmail.com

Most Helpful Book for Christian Growth: Tell the Truth by Will Metzger
The sub-title for this helpful book is "A Training Manuel on the Message & Methods of God-Centered Witnessing." The theme of the book is, "The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People." Of the books I have read on evangelism, this book is the most complete. Metzger critiques many modern methods of evangelism which fall short of sharing the "whole Gospel." He helps the reader to gain a thorough understanding of the Christian Gospel. It begins with an understanding of who God is, and the condition of humanity in rebellion against God, and the saving work of the Son of God through His life, death and resurrection. Metzger provides helpful diagrams, appendices, and a study guide. It truly is a manual for being an effective evangelist, and also a well written defense and explanation of the Biblical Gospel. I'd recommend it highly for all Christians seeking to be more effective in their Gospel witness. 

 This book is the final book in the Wilderking series by Jonathan Rogers. My children, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent in the imaginary land of Corenwald and the Feechiefen. The story follows the adventures of Aidan Errolson who is the long-expected "Wilderking" of an ancient prophecy. This Wilderking would re-unite the people of Corenwald with the feared and despised Feechie folk. The two peoples who shared an ancestry from long ago. The books are highlighted by wonderful storytelling and amusing characters and situations. We loved it and wished we could go back and experience more adventures, especially with our favorite Feechie, Dobro Turtlebane.

Most Helpful Book for Ministry: Worship by the Book edited by D. A. Carson
 I led a class on worship this summer and was very helped thinking through Christian worship by this excellent book. The book contains four essays on worship from four different pastor/scholars. D. A. Carson writes an essay which provides an excellent study of Biblically faithful worship within the church. His essay is followed by the explanations from three different pastors within three different Biblically faithful church traditions. The late Mark Ashton who served as the lead pastor of a highly respected, evangelical Anglican church in Cambridge, England wrote on evangelical worship in Anglican tradition. Kent Hughes, who served as pastor of College Church, Wheaton for over 25 years wrote on worship within the Free Church tradition. Then, Timothy Keller, who had served as senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhatten from 1989 to 2017, wrote on worship in the Evangelical Presbyterian tradition. Each pastor provided sample outlines of their church's worship services with explanations for each element within their order of worship. This book was enlightening and encouraging for a pastor like me to read, and I'd recommend it as one of the most helpful books on Christian worship I have read.

Best Children's Board Book: But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton
 For the past month and a half or so, our youngest, Betty, has been greatly enjoying sitting on our laps and having us read board books to her. At this time, she will pick out her favorite books and bring them to us to read. Of course there are some that she has us read multiple times each day. The book I think I have read the most to her is Sandra Boynton's classic book, "But Not the Hippopotamus." If you have not had the pleasure of reading this little gem to a small, curious child then you are missing out on one of life's greatest joys. All of Boynton's children's books are excellent, but I recommend you pick up BNTH and find the nearest child and enjoy the book together.

The late Lesslie Newbigin served as a missionary of the United Reformed Church of the United Kingdom in India. After many years serving the Lord in India he was greatly troubled to return to his native country to find that the culture had changed dramatically. He found that his own denomination as well as the Anglican church had compromised to a religious pluralism rather than remaining faithful to the Biblical gospel. In this, his most well-known book, Newbigin argues against the irrationality of religious pluralism and provides a compassionate defense of the truth of the Biblical Gospel. It was a little tough-sledding in the early chapters, but as I read his arguments in the later chapters I was very grateful I stuck with the book. I was not pleased with all of Newbigin's conclusions, yet, I found myself saying "Amen!" more often then groaning in disagreement. 

Most Enjoyable Book: Adoniram Judson by Vance Christie
I love biographies, and this year I enjoyed a few good ones. A few years ago, I had greatly enjoyed reading the classic biography on Adoniram Judson, To the Golden Shore, by Courtney Anderson, but I think I appreciated Vance Christie's work a little more. Judson's is a fascinating life. Remarkably devoted to serving the Lord and making every sacrifice necessary to make disciples among the Burman people in the 19th century. I found myself praising God through each chapter as well as deeply moved by the losses that Judson was called to endure. This is a great life story that you will not regret taking the time to read. 

For me reading good theology books humbles me to worship God and give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is exactly what this excellent book on the person of Christ did for me, chapter by chapter. I discovered Donald Macleod last year from reading his A Faith to Live By. I then realized I had his book on Christ in IVP's Contours of Christian Theology series already in my collection. This year I was able to read it along with several of my fellow pastor friends and we all thoroughly enjoyed his excellent writing and careful arguments. If you want to take some time meditating on the glory of the incarnation of the Son of God or you want some help answering some of the historical challenges against the orthodox teaching on the person of Christ, I don't think you can do much better than Macleod's excellent book.

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