Halfway-Point Favorite Books of 2020

With June on its way out the door and the first half of 2020 nearly in the books, I thought I’d take a little time to tell you about my top five reads of 2020 thus far. Maybe one of them will be of interest or help to you.

  1. Saints & Scoundrels by Nancy Guthrie (202 pgs)
    I’ve read other books that are biographical sketches of people from the life of Christ, but this one was different. Those seem to rely heavily on speculation and arguments from silence. Guthrie, though, makes no speculations. She uses what is plainly revealed in Scripture to delve into the lives of ten people (or in some cases, groups of people) connected to the life of Christ. Some on the list are no-brainers (e.g. Peter), while others may surprise you. Guthrie’s writing style is smart but conversational. The best thing about this book, though, is that it’s really about you and me. In each chapter, she gives excellent points of application that go beyond what you were taught in Sunday school.
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  2. Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin (223 pgs)
    In this book, Rebecca McLaughlin, who holds a PhD from Cambridge, tackles some of the most difficult objections to Christianity: Doesn’t the Bible crush diversity? Hasn’t science disproved Christianity? Isn’t Christianity homophobic? and How could a loving God send people to hell? She gives researched, reasoned, and biblical answers to each of these questions. She doesn’t build strawmen, but deals with the opposition head-on. Though McLaughlin is “confronting Christianity,” her book isn’t confrontational, but rather conversational and winsome. I would recommend this book to you if you are skeptical about Christianity or have a friend who is. Read it together, and it will start some fabulous conversations.
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  3. Humble Calvinism by J.A. Medders (162 pgs)
    If you want to blow up a little dust, just say the word Calvinism in an evangelical setting. Either you’ll get theology buffs up in arms defending their baby or taking up arms to attack. Either way, there will be some action. J.A. Medders, a pastor in southeastern Texas, is an avowed Calvinist, but this book isn’t about swaying you to his side. It’s is about two major things: the Gospel and humility. He walks through the major points of Calvinism, giving a helpful explanation of each, and then focusing on how it ought to lead to humility rather than arrogance. This unintimidating book (only 162 pages!) is definitely worth reading—whether you’re a Calvinist or not.
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  4. Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund (213 pgs)
    In Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund sets out to expose the heart of Christ to his reader, that is to show that Christ’s heart is gentle and lowly. He relies heavily on Puritan writing, but you won’t feel bogged down by it. Ortlund’s writing itself is gentle and straightforward. If you are one who struggles with seeing God as severe or out to get you, or if you worry that God can’t forgive that sin again, this book is for you. Or maybe you don’t struggle with those things, but you want to get to know your Savior better. This book is for you. It was a delight to read and to savor. The chapters are short, so it could also be a great companion for your quiet time.

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  5. God’s Grace in Your Suffering by David Powlison (117 pgs)
    When David Powlison passed away from pancreatic cancer last summer, I mourned—almost as if I knew him in person. Though I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Powlison, he has certainly mentored me from afar. In God’s Grace in Your Sufferings, one of his final published works, Powlison unpacks Scripture using the framework of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation.” He takes the hymn verse by verse, teasing out the lyrics, examining the biblical text in which they’re anchored and then showing application to his own life and making application to yours. As is typical of Powlison’s writing, this book is gentle, brilliant, and convicting. It’s been said that we’re always coming out of a trial, about to enter a trial, or right in the middle of a trial. Regardless of which season you find yourself in, I commend this brief book to you.
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I’ll be taking a break in the month of July, so pick up one of these books, and I’ll see you in August! 🙂

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