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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
Looking for some great gifts for the readers in your family? Or maybe some solid mental meat for yourself to chew on during the long, cold months of January through March? I can’t claim to have read the latest, or even the greatest books of the year, but I do love a good book and read a lot of them. Here’s a summary of the best books I’ve read this year, categorized for quick decision making. Perhaps you’ll find some to give, and some to enjoy.
Best Worldview Books
Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, by Andy Crouch – So you’ve read Chuck Colson & Nancy Pearcy’s world-view magnum opus, How Now Shall We Live? Great! It does an excellent job of explaining and illustrating the great problem of our culture’s departure from the Biblical world-view. But HNSWL, along with Pearcy’s follow-up volume, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, and many others are long on critique but short on answers. To paraphrase Crouch: The problems that Biblical Christians face in our culture today cannot be solved by condemning it, copying it or critiquing it. The only way to fix our country’s wayward culture is to replace it with more and better culture. Crouch’s book does more than fill the gap; it does a masterful and thoroughly Biblical job of explaining how lasting cultural change comes about. The quality of the answers we get to a problem depends upon the quality of the questions we ask. Crouch asks and answers the right questions.
Through A Screen Darkly, by Jeffery Overstreet – Everyone loves a good movie, but do you know why you love it? Do you understand what the director is doing and how his skill is affecting your experience and shaping your understanding? Overstreet is the cultural commentator and film critic for Christianity Today, who says, "I have a strange compulsion to sit down between Christian culture and secular society, trying to help them understand each other—and ultimately, God—better through a shared experience of art." I thought I knew how to watch a film until I read this book. My enjoyment and understanding is immeasurably deeper because of Overstreet.
Best LGBT Issues Book
Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, by Rosaria Butterfield. As I have reviewed this book elsewhere I’ll just say that Rosaria’s book helped me better understand the dilemma we face and the approach we need to take on these issues.
Best Ministry Book
Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help And How to Reverse It, by Robert D. Lupton. Lupton speaks with forty years of inner-city ministry wisdom on how to help the truly needy among us. He isn’t your standard urban ministry leader, long on street skills but short on clarity. Bob’s writing is brilliant, compelling, and concise. You will come away a wiser, deeper Christian after only a few hours with this book.
Best Self-Help Book
On The Threshold of Hope, by Diane Mandt Langberg. Twenty-five out of every one hundred women you meet – and that number is growing - have experienced some kind of sexual brutality. The same is increasingly true of men. This is the book they need. Langberg has over thirty years of experience counseling sexually traumatized people. She is compassionate, wise, deeply spiritual, solidly Biblical, and oh so clear. Get this book, read it, keep a copy on your shelves. You will meet someone who needs it and they will thank you for it.
Best Memoir / Biography
No Easy Day (Navy Seal’s story of how they got Bin Laden), by Mark Owen & Kevin Laurer. (Audio book).
Best Fun Books
Sometimes you just need to turn your brain off and be entertained. I often “read” (listen to) books from Audible.com, where you can download unabridged books read by professional actors and narrators. Listen while you work out, walk or drive long distances. They’re great for making a long trip go quickly. My favorites this year: The Testament, by John Grisham; Operation Krondstadt: The Greatest Tale of Espionage to Come Out of the Early Years of MI6, by Harry Ferguson; The Mysterious Island, by Jules Verne. These and many others have made our road trips much more enjoyable. I’m happy to share them with you via CD or download if you’d like.