Best books of 2011


As I promised some people, here is a list of the top ten books I’ve read this past year with a brief description (they might not have been published this past year).  I did not rank the books in any particular order.

Mission of God by Christopher West. From the very first book of the Bible, there is a mission for God’s people. What West does is articulately and biblically demonstrate that redemption always is connected with mission. If we think that mission is simply going oversees, we don’t understand the whole of it. What gets clear is that we in the west are reductionistic in our thinking (we reduce everything to something very narrow). God’s plan of mission is to the whole world right now, right where you are at. This is sometimes a difficult book to follow because West is meticulous but it’s certainly a must read.

Following Jesus, the Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship (Biblical Theology for Life) by Jonathan Lunde. What Lunde is offering links following Jesus to biblical history, particularly the concept of covenants. Frankly, it’s an immense project and the fact that he did not cover every aspect is representative of the scope. However, what he covers is essential to recovering a more robust understanding of discipleship, the gospel, and how God is working out redemptive history. Good, solid biblical theology is being done today and Lunde is right in the heart of it all.

College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture by Steve Lutz.
Books focusing on college ministries once were sparse. Recently, however, there seems to be a renewed focus on collegians/young adults given the phenomena of young people disengaging from their faith and extended adolescence. We are realizing the transition from high school to college is more important than we once thought. Lutz is strong in his thinking regarding being missions oriented and recapturing a robust understanding of the gospel!

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. A compelling book about an icon. You might not like him as a person but certainly his genius was demonstrated by how much he’s shaped so much in normal life. Isaacson’s style of writing seems to be honest based on numerous interviews so you won’t get a biased picture of the man.

The Sabbath World by Judith Shulevitz. What happens when a former orthodox Jew (now largely secular) rediscovers the importance and beauty of the Sabbath? Despite the “loose” theology at times, it’s a very good primer on how Sabbath ended up as doing whatever you want to do, even for those who go to church.

Generous Justice by Tim Keller. It’s funny how Tim Keller kind of snuck under the radar and then “BAM”, all of a sudden he’s being touted as a modern day C.S. Lewis. For those of us who have been listening to him for quite awhile, he’s intelligent but very grounded in how people live their daily lives. This is a great book for connecting the gospel to a grace-filled justice, and is very much connected to what Christ inaugurated with His resurrection. A must read.

Mind Your Faith by Dave Horner.  Again, as I mentioned previously, the lack of real resources directed toward the younger generation think deeply about their faith is apparent.  This book fills a real gap. Three sections – mind, faith, and character. What makes this book great is that Dr. Horner doesn’t dumb down philosophy but he states it in ways that make it easier to comprehend. Most of his examples have to do with sharing your faith with others. The second section is on faith. I was excited to see a clear explanation of why reason and faith do not need to be pitted against one another. Dr. Horner explains how they are compatible.  I think section three is the cash value! Here Dr. Horner is in his “ethics zone”. His deep desire for college students is that they actually take their faith seriously enough where they flourish in life – they do well, they live life in accordance with how God set it up, it is the life of shalom. One of the most stirring statements he makes is that you will never give up something unless something more beautiful, captivating comes along.

Why we Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Cluck. I have often wondered if we have a robust understanding of church. While we don’t want to make church “mandatory” why is it that people are satisfied with just “attending”? If we asked people what church really is would be satisfied with their answers? Again, I think it’s a clear case that we are reductionistic in our understanding of church and it’s disconnected from a gospel rhythm. DeYoung and Cluck are at the heart of trying to recapture a “thick” understanding! DeYoung is the theologian while Cluck’s contributions are insightful and often humorous.

The Litigators by John Grisham. I’m reading it now but it’s typical Grisham and a great read for down times! Seriously, you need books like this to “unwind”!

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. What happens when a journalist begins researching the subject of memory and somehow finds  himself competing in U.S.A Memory Championships? A great book on understanding how humans have used  their memory and trained it. Unfortunately, I can’t remember anything else about the book…



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