Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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I love to read books in a variety of genres – theology, biography, sports, leadership, faith and work, professional development, etc. I’m pretty sure I got my love of reading from my parents, who both loved to read.

Previously I’ve shared 10 books that I think every leader should read. Now, I would like to share my 5 all-time favorite books, other than the Bible, of course. These are books that I go back to and re-read from time to time. Here are my top 5 books and my previously published reviews of them:

  1. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
  2. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
  3. Crazy Love by Francis Chan
  4. The Prodigal Son: An Astonishing Study of the Parable Jesus Told to Unveil God’s Grace for You by John MacArthur
  5. Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul

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I’ve always enjoyed getting lost in a good book. I read books in a number of different genres, such as theology, Christian living, biography, faith and work, personal and professional development, leadership and sports, and have favorite authors in each genre. I define a “favorite author” as someone who when they release a new book it’s almost a given that I’ll want to read that book.

Here are my favorite authors in each of these genres, and some of my favorite books by those authors. I enjoy so many that putting this list together was much harder than I anticipated.

Theology/Christian Living

  • Sinclair Ferguson – The Whole Christ, Devoted to God
  • R.C. Sproul – The Holiness of God, Chosen by God, Reformation Study Bible (Editor)
  • Tim Keller – The Prodigal God, Prayer
  • Michael Card – Biblical Imagination series on the Gospels (4 books)
  • Jerry Bridges – The Joy of Fearing God, The Pursuit of Holiness
  • John Piper – Don’t Waste Your Life, Future Grace
  • John MacArthur – The Prodigal Son, The MacArthur Study Bible
  • Scott Sauls – From Weakness to Strength, Jesus Outside the Lines
  • Bryan Chapell –  Unlimited Grace, Christ-Centered Preaching
  • Kevin DeYoung – Taking God at His Word, Crazy Busy
  • Francis Chan – Crazy Love, Multiply
  • Michael Reeves – Rejoicing in Christ, Delighting in the Trinity
  • Scotty Smith – Objects of His Affection, Everyday Prayers
  • Steven Lawson – A Long Line of Godly Men Profile series
  • Albert Mohler – We Cannot Be Silent, The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down

Older authors that I enjoy are:

  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Spiritual Depression
  • Charles Spurgeon – Morning and Evening


  • Iain Murray – Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones (two volumes), Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography
  • Eric Metaxas – Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Amazing Grace

Faith and Work

  • Tim Keller – Every Good Endeavor
  • Gene Veith – God at Work
  • Hugh Whelchel – How Then Should We Work
  • Amy Sherman – Kingdom Calling
  • Os Guinness – The Call
  • Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger – The Gospel at Work
  • Tom Nelson – Work Matters
  • Matt Perman – What’s Best Next

Professional Development

  • John Maxwell –  The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, Intentional Living
  • Jim Collins – Good to Great, Great by Choice
  • Marcus Buckingham – Go Put Your Strengths to Work, StandOut 2.0
  • Patrick Lencioni – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Advantage


  • John Maxwell – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, The 5 Levels of Leadership
  • Ken Blanchard – Lead Like Jesus; Servant Leadership in Action (Editor)
  • Albert Mohler – The Conviction to Lead


  • John Feinstein – A Good Walk Spoiled (and his other golf books)


  • Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers, The Tipping Point

These are my favorite authors, who are some of yours? 


My Summer Reading List

I love to read and have a number of books in a variety of genres (theology, biography, leadership, faith and work) that I plan to read this summer. Here are ten books on my summer reading list:

Immanuel Labor: God’s Presence in Our Profession by Russell E. Gehrlein
I’ve enjoyed reading the author’s articles on the integration of faith and work and am looking forward to this book.
From the Amazon description:
“Here is a fresh, comprehensive, Christian perspective on work. This is a solid introduction to this critical subject. It is especially geared toward those in need of Gods guidance on finding the right career and how to integrate their faith with the job. It is well-grounded in scripture, contains numerous inspirational quotes from other Christian leaders, offers practical wisdom, and includes many personal illustrations. Topics consist of the value of everyday work, thorns and thistles, the eternal value of work, finding a job that fits, how we are to work, and implications for those in ministry. It includes a helpful index of three hundred scripture references and questions for group discussion or personal reflection. This book will expand your view of how God can use your unique abilities in the workplace and how his presence at work makes all the difference.”

The Affectionate Theology of Richard Sibbes by Mark Dever
Mark Dever is a respected author and the long-time pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church.  I’ve enjoyed some of his previous books and hearing him speak at theology conferences.
From the Amazon description:
“In a time of political turmoil and religious upheaval, Richard Sibbes sought to consistently apply the riches of Reformation theology to his hearers’ lives. He emphasized the security of God’s covenant, the call for assurance of salvation, and the place of the heart in the Christian life. In The Affectionate Theology of Richard Sibbes, Dr. Mark Dever gives readers a penetrating look into the life and theology of this fascinating figure.”

Seven Leaders: Preachers and Pastors by Iain H. Murray
Iain Murray is co-founder of the Banner of Truth Trust. I enjoyed some of his previous books and hearing him speak at theology conferences.
From the Amazon description:
“Spiritual leaders lead people to heaven. Here in Seven Leaders are accounts of seven such men, together with the distinctive features of their lives in John Elias, the necessity of the power of the Holy Spirit; in Andrew Bonar, the reality of communion with Christ; in Archie Brown, the irresistibility of love; in Kenneth MacRae, the need for faithfulness to death; in Martyn Lloyd-Jones, theology and doctrine; in W. J. Grier, passing on the ‘sacred deposit’; and in John MacArthur, the governing authority of the word of God.
An Old Testament miracle once took place at a burial. We are told that when the deceased was ‘let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet’ (2 Kings 13:21).
Through books, the past can be touched, and the consequence may be as much of God as when Martin Luther handled the old writings of Jan Huss. Records of faithful servants of Christ still speak and can bring new life today.”

If There’s a God Why Are There Atheists?: Why Atheists Believe in Unbelief by R.C. Sproul
R.C. Sproul was my spiritual mentor for more than 30 years. He died in late 2017.
From the Amazon description:
“A common charge levelled against people with religious beliefs in general, and with Christian convictions in particular, is that their beliefs are motivated not by reasonable evidence but by psychological needs. In fact, many respected people, accepting the arguments of atheist thinkers, believe that psychology and the social sciences have explained away religion.
In this thoroughly revised and updated edition of If There’s a God, Why are There Atheists?, R.C. Sproul examines the arguments of four prominent atheists:
– Sigmund Freud: religion arises out of guilt and the fear of nature.
– Karl Marx: religion is used to keep the lower classes happy.
– Ludwig Feuerbach: religion is only wish–fulfilment.
– Friedrich Nietzsche: religion is rooted in man’s weakness.
Engaging with these thinkers’ works on a psychological as well as theological basis, Sproul shows that there are as many psychological and sociological explanations for unbelief as for belief – and that atheistic conclusions should not be accepted blindly.
For the believer who is troubled by doubts or who wants to respond intelligently to unbelievers, it offers clear, thought–provoking analysis. For the unbeliever who has an open mind, it offers stimulating debate, worthy of time and thought.”

Acts 1-12 For You: Charting the Birth of the Church by Albert Mohler
Albert Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theology Seminary, host of the daily program The Briefing.
From the Amazon description:
“There is no more thrilling part of the Bible than the book of Acts, and no better guide to it than Albert Mohler. This first volume takes in the ascension of Jesus, the coming of the Spirit, the birth of the church, the start of persecution, the conversion of Saul, and the divine call to world-wide evangelism.
If you want to be fueled for Christian life and mission, you will want to read this book.
This Expository Guide takes you verse by verse through the text in an accessible and applied way. It is less academic than a traditional commentary and can be read cover-to-cover, used in personal devotions, used to lead small group studies, or used for sermon preparation. There is an accompanying Good Book Guide for small group Bible studies.”

Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock by Gregory Thornbury
I enjoyed Larry Norman’s ground-breaking music and am looking forward to reading this new book about him.
From the Amazon description:
“The riveting, untold story of the “Father of Christian Rock” and the conflicts that launched a billion-dollar industry at the dawn of America’s culture wars.
In 1969, in Capitol Records’ Hollywood studio, a blonde-haired troubadour named Larry Norman laid track for an album that would launch a new genre of music and one of the strangest, most interesting careers in modern rock. Having spent the bulk of the 1960s playing on bills with acts like the Who, Janis Joplin, and the Doors, Norman decided that he wanted to sing about the most countercultural subject of all: Jesus.
Billboard called Norman “the most important songwriter since Paul Simon,” and his music would go on to inspire members of bands as diverse as U2, The Pixies, Guns ‘N Roses, and more. To a young generation of Christians who wanted a way to be different in the American cultural scene, Larry was a godsend—spinning songs about one’s eternal soul as deftly as he did ones critiquing consumerism, middle-class values, and the Vietnam War. To the religious establishment, however, he was a thorn in the side; and to secular music fans, he was an enigma, constantly offering up Jesus to problems they didn’t think were problems. Paul McCartney himself once told Larry, “You could be famous if you’d just drop the God stuff,” a statement that would foreshadow Norman’s ultimate demise.
In Why Should the Devil Have all the Good Music?, Gregory Alan Thornbury draws on unparalleled access to Norman’s personal papers and archives to narrate the conflicts that defined the singer’s life, as he crisscrossed the developing fault lines between Evangelicals and mainstream American culture—friction that continues to this day.  What emerges is a twisting, engrossing story about ambition, art, friendship, betrayal, and the turns one’s life can take when you believe God is on your side.”

The Gospel at Work: How the Gospel Gives New Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs (Updated and Expanded Edition) by Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger
I read the first edition of this book twice, once in a Faith and Work Book Club with friends at work and am looking forward to this new edition.
From the Amazon description:
“Reclaim God’s vision for your life.
Many Christians fall victim to one of two main problems when it comes to work: either they are idle in their work, or they have made an idol of it. Both of these mindsets are deadly misunderstandings of how God intends for us to think about our employment.
In The Gospel at Work, Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert unpack the powerful ways in which the gospel can transform how we do what we do, releasing us from the cultural pressures of both an all-consuming devotion and a punch-in, punch-out mentality – in order to find the freedom of a work ethic rooted in serving Christ.
You’ll find answers to some of the tough questions that Christians in the workplace often ask:

  • What factors should matter most in choosing a job?
  • What gospel principles should shape my thinking about how to treat my boss, my co-workers, and my employees?
  • Is full-time Christian work more valuable than my job?
  • Is it okay to be motivated by money?
  • How do you prioritize – or balance – work, family and church responsibilities?

Solidly grounded in the gospel, The Gospel at Work confronts both our idleness at work and our idolatry of work with a challenge of its own – to remember that whom we work for is infinitely more important than what we do.”

Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ (Theologians on the Christian Life) by Michael Reeves
I’ve enjoyed a few of Michael Reeves earlier books and hearing him speak at theology conferences and am looking forward to this new volume from the Theologians on the Christian Life series. And can we ever read too many books about Spurgeon?
From the Amazon description:
“Charles Spurgeon, widely hailed as the “Prince of Preachers,” is well known for his powerful preaching, gifted mind, and compelling personality. Over the course of nearly four decades at London’s famous New Park Street Chapel and Metropolitan Tabernacle, Spurgeon preached and penned words that continue to resonate with God’s people today.
Organized around the main beliefs that undergirded his ministry—the centrality of Christ, the importance of the new birth, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the necessity of the Bible—this introduction to Spurgeon’s life and thought will challenge readers to live their lives for the glory of God.”

Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life as Fuel and Fire (Theologians on the Christian Life) by Jason C. Meyer
I’ve read a few books about the respected London pastor Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and am looking forward to this new volume from the Theologians on the Christian Life series.
From the Amazon description:
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, commonly referred to as “the Doctor,” had a successful career in medicine before abandoning it all to become a preacher in London. His sermons—displaying the life-changing power of biblical truth—diagnosed the spiritual condition of his congregation and prescribed the gospel remedy.
This study of Lloyd-Jones’s life will encourage and exhort readers to consider the role of the knowledge of God, the power of the Spirit, and the fullness of Christ in their daily lives, allowing them to discover the inseparable union of doctrine and the Christian life.”

Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of The King by Chris Rodell
I’ve read several books by and about Arnold Palmer, and am looking forward to reading this new book written by someone who knew him.
From the Amazon description:
“About 40 miles east of Pittsburgh is the small town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the place Arnold Palmer called home. The world knew Palmer as The King. But the Palmer Latrobe knew was funnier, goofier, saltier, and less grandiose than the one justifiably loved around the globe. In Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of the King, journalist, Latrobe resident, and accidental Palmer insider Chris Rodell draws upon over 100 interviews with the golf great conducted over 20 years, providing an intimate, charming, and at times irreverent glimpse at the icon outside the spotlight.”

This is my list (and I reserve the right to add other books too!). How about you? What do you plan to read this summer?

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Here’s my favorite books that I’ve read this year, not all of which were actually published in 2017. I read and/or listened to more than 65 books this year in a variety of genres, from faith and work, biography, theology and sports. These are my favorite books of 2017. How about you? What were some of your favorites?

Top pick – Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. This book was suggested to me by Lecrae to help me understand his decision to “divorce white evangelicalism”. My wife Tammy and I read and discussed this powerful and well-written book.

Here are the rest of my favorite books (in no particular order):

  • The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols
  • From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership – Scott Sauls
  • The Mythical Leader: The 7 Myths of Leadership – Ron Edmondson
  • The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul’s Teachings – John MacArthur
  • Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God – Courtney Reisigg
  • Learning to Love the Psalms – Robert Godfrey
  • Calling to Christ: Where’s My Place? – Robert Smart
  • Discipleship with Monday in Mind: How Churches Across the Country Are Helping Their People Connect Faith and Work – Skye Jethani and Luke Bobo
  • Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story – Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture – Mark Miller
  • Workplace Grace: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work – Bill Peel and Walt Larimore
  • Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear – Scott Sauls
  • Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture – David Murray
  • Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

See what I’m reading now.

Author of the Year – Scott Sauls. Scott is my author of the year for his two books   Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear and From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership. I also enjoy reading his blog, which you can read here.