Best Books of 2018

I love to read and for the last several years I have set my annual reading goal at 50 books. Narrowing that list down to my top five favorites on the year is never easy.

I usually end up reading a lot of books that were published prior to the current year, and last year was certainly no different. You can see my complete annotated list of books I read last year here. But, here are my picks for best books of 2018:

1. The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in our Post Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield

This was not just a great read, it was powerful and convicting. Combining both personal narrative and didactic prose, Rosaria Butterfield presents a compelling picture of community and care. The book is best used as a descriptive tool, not a prescriptive one, presenting readers with a picture not an absolute approach to hospitality. Not everyone will be able to duplicate the exact model of community building that the Butterfield’s do, but that should not rob us from drawing on the principles she models.

2. Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock by Gregory Alan Thornbury

Christian celebrity culture is a monster that both creates heroes and destroys them all at once; the story of Larry Norman is a keen example of this reality. Gregory Thornbury writes beautiful prose about a compelling figure, but he also writes about the Father of Christian Rock, as Norman was called, in a way that puts a finger in our own chests. This book is as much about Christian subculture as it is about Larry Norman. While many may not be familiar with the subject of this biography, they will find it relevant nonetheless.

3. Diehard Sins: How to Fight Wisely Against Daily Destructive Habits by Rush Witt

This is a fantastic work that takes the doctrine of sin and applies some laser focus to it. Witt explores sin from the angle of the subtle, insidious, sins that creep into all our hearts. He gives us tools for solid self-evaluation and confrontation of our sin and helps us to develop not simply better awareness but better responses. An excellent book for me, and a wonderful tool for counseling!

4. Biblical Counseling Basics: Roots, Beliefs, and Future by Jeremy Lelek

There are a number of different introductory texts on the nature, process, and practice of Biblical Counseling, but Jeremy Lelek’s is a particularly unique one. Lelek is both a LPC and a Biblical counselor, and with feet in two different communities he brings some unique insights and help to readers. His case studies are more thoroughly developed and yet his theology is very well formulated too. This is a text that provides lots of insight and fresh perspective for Biblical counselors of all stages of development and experience.

5. Disruptive Witness: Speaking the Truth in a Distracted Age by Alan Noble

Alan Noble has written an important book, one that offers a critique to a problem we often don’t see. His thesis too has implications for our preaching, our counseling, our VBS, and our apologetics, as well as our evangelism. While he doesn’t explore every facet of these implications, he opens up an important conversation. If the message of the gospel is not breaking through barriers we certainly want to pray for the Spirit’s power to awaken hearts, but we also ought to evaluate the ways in which we are communicating that message in a distracted age. Disruptive Witness is a useful tool for evaluating our current cultural climate and thinking strategically about how to live distinctly as Christians within it. I highly recommend this book.

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