I love to read, and so far I’ve read some great books this year. I thought I’d share six of the books I’ve read so far in 2016 that have inspired me:

The Imperfect Pastor, Zack Eswine
Okay, I endorsed this one, but still, I had already read it once before I was asked to give an endorsement to the second edition! I rarely re-read books…rarely, but this one is so good I made an exception, plus I was anxious to see what new material Zack added. Not only a gifted writer, but Zack places his finger on the pulse of most pastors’ hearts as we battle envy, wrong motives, insecurity and people pleasing (among a host of other issues). I would recommend this book not only to those of us in pastoral ministry, but also Christians in general, as it will show you (by implication) how to better relate to and support your pastor.

The Power of the Cross, Tony Evans
Dr. Evans has been a significant inspiration to me, even before I started preaching at age 17. I remember listening to his radio ministry and hearing him in person and being beyond inspired. Charles Ryrie defines brilliance as the ability to make the complex simple, and if this is true, Dr. Evans is brilliant. He has the gift to take deep, complex theological truths, and use the perfect illustration or analogy so that we can grasp it. This book is quintessential Tony Evans, as he brings the cross and the events of first-century Jerusalem to our homes and hearts in 2016.

Mea Culpa, Kyle McClellan
Words like self-effacing, vulnerable and transparent best describe this short volume. Kyle, a pastor who has served several churches, writes, as the title suggests, of his failures. I found myself nodding and even wincing in agreement as he shares his many ministry miscues and fumbles. In this celebrity culture where so many pastors write books on success, using themselves as an example, and in our social media age when we tend to only show our best side, Mea Culpa is a breath of fresh air.

Prophetic Lament, Soong Chan Rah
No doubt my favorite book I’ve read so far in 2016. Dr. Rah argues that because our worship songs overwhelmingly have a triumphal edge, and with the deficit of lament songs, we have shaped a generation and culture who do not know how to grieve with those who grieve. Therefore, when historically oppressed minority groups grieve yet another instance of injustice, the church is ill equipped to sit and lament with those who are hurting. We need to return to the book of Lamentations, Rah suggests, while he walks us through it in a way that is deep, yet pastoral and practical. This truly is a must read.

Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, Terry Teachout
I love jazz music…old-school jazz, and, of course, that means Duke Ellington. Teachout has written a rich biography on the legendary Ellington. My only critique is, in his effort to focus on the music, the humanity of Ellington plays more of a secondary. Nonetheless, I found myself unable to put this book down as I went on this musical journey of Duke Ellington’s life and career—a man called America’s greatest composer.

Good Faith, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
It’s been said that to be an effective Christian we need to keep a newspaper in one hand and a Bible in the other. To follow Christ means we need to have an understanding of culture, and Kinnaman and Lyons, authors of UnChristian, have done it again with their insightful book on culture, Good Faith.

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