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The Top Ten Books I Read In 2020

As we look back at the unpredictable year that 2020 turned out to be, the two areas in life that were well within our control were: 1) our relationship with God and 2) our personal growth. Unless you were an essential worker, you had plenty of quarantine time to read, study, and better yourself. Did you waste your time this year? Is your relationship with God better than it was before the COVID-19 lockdown or is it worse?


Leaders are readers and if you're not burying your nose in anything besides the Bible, you're not growing. At a minimum, I read between 10-15 books every year because I know there are godly men who have plenty of knowledge and experience to share when it comes to ministry. In this episode, Aaron and I share some book recommendations for 2020. I would highly encourage you to read all of these titles or give them as gifts this Christmas season.


Book Titles (in no particular order):


The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield

Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department's curriculum.


Then, in her late 30's, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down--the idea that Christianity, a religion she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was. That idea seemed to fly in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a train wreck at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.


The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield

With this story of her conversion as a backdrop, Rosaria Butterfield invites us into her home to show us how God can use this same “radical, ordinary hospitality” to bring the gospel to our lost friends and neighbors. Such hospitality sees our homes as not our own, but as God’s tools for the furtherance of his kingdom as we welcome those who look, think, believe, and act differently from us into our everyday, sometimes messy lives―helping them see what true Christian faith really looks like.


Fundamentalist U by Adam Laats

In Fundamentalist U, Adam Laats shows that these colleges have always been more than just schools; they have been vital intellectual citadels in America's culture wars. These unique institutions have defined what it has meant to be an evangelical and have reshaped the landscape of American higher education. Students at these schools have been expected to learn what it means to be an educated evangelical in a secularizing society. This book asks new questions about that formative process. How have conservative evangelicals hoped to use higher education to instill a uniquely evangelical identity? How has this identity supported the continuing influence of a dissenting body of knowledge? In what ways has it been tied to cultural notions of proper race relations and proper relations between the sexes? And perhaps most important, how have students responded to schools' attempts to cultivate these vital notions about their selves?


Tender Warrior by Stu Webber

The definition of manhood itself is obscured by a culture in moral free fall. But this book cuts through the fog and defines a powerful blueprint for being the man—the Tender Warrior—that God desires for you and your family. Written in a warm, personal style, Weber presents the characteristics of tender warriors—including learning to speak the language of women, watching out for what lies ahead, and keeping commitments—in an upfront, straightforward style that challenges readers to realize God’s plan for men.


Stu Weber’s now classic teaching on a man’s vigilance, staying power, and consideration for the women in his life will move you to pursue the man you were created to be.


Your Future Self Will Thank You by Drew Dyck

Self-control isn’t very popular these days. We tend to think of it as boring, confining, the cop that shows up and shuts down the party. But the truth is that people who cultivate this vital virtue lead freer, happier, and more meaningful lives. After all, our bad habits—from the slight to the serious—bring a host of painful consequences. Ultimately, they keep us from becoming the people God created us to be.


Your Future Self Will Thank You is a compassionate and humorous guide to breaking bad habits and growing your willpower. It explores Scripture’s teachings on how to live a disciplined life while offering practical strategies for growth based on the science of self-control. Whether you want to deepen your spiritual life, conquer an addiction, or kick your nail-biting habit, this book will help you get motivated, stay on track, and achieve your goals.

Sure, self-control is hard, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. Get the help you need to be freer, happier, and more productive. Your future self will thank you!


**Bonus Book - Getting to No by Erwin Lutzer

Everyone is familiar with the cycle: We decide to break a bad habit once and for all. We may even experience some short-term success. Yet almost inevitably, we fall back into that undesirable behavior and the frustrating process starts all over again. The experience can leave us feeling powerless to make changes in our lives.

Popular author and pastor Erwin Lutzer believes it is possible to break the cycle of addictive behavior. Filled with biblical insight, Getting to No: How to Break a Stubborn Habit takes an honest look at the temptations lying beneath the surface of every bad habit. Lutzer examines tough issues-such as why temptation exists, what purpose it serves in our lives. and what happens when we fail again-and provides practical tools that will help you find freedom from bad habits for good.


The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby

The Color of Compromise is both enlightening and compelling, telling a history we either ignore or just don't know. Equal parts painful and inspirational, it details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. You will be guided in thinking through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church.


The Gospel Driven Church by Jared Wilson

Many evangelical churches face the problem of the open "back door"--even as new people arrive, older members are leaving, looking for something else. Combined with this problem is the discipleship deficit, the difficult truth that most evangelicals are not reaching the unchurched at the rates they think they are. In fact, many of the metrics that we often "count" in the church to highlight success really don't tell us the full story of a church's spiritual state. Things like attendance, decisions, dollars, and experiences can tell us something about a church, but not everything.


Gentle and Lowly by Dane C. Ortlund

Christians know what Jesus Christ has done―but who is he? What is his deepest heart for his people, weary and faltering on their journey toward heaven? Jesus said he is “gentle and lowly in heart.” This book reflects on these words, opening up a neglected yet central truth about who he is for sinners and sufferers today.


Finding the Right Hills to Die On by Gavin Ortlund

In theology, just as in battle, some hills are worth dying on and others are not. But how do we know which ones? When should doctrine divide, and when should unity prevail? Just as a medic on a battlefield treats the severely wounded first and then moves on to the less serious injuries, we must prioritize doctrine in order of importance. Pastor Gavin Ortlund implores us to cultivate humility as we prioritize doctrine into four ranks―essential, urgent, important, and unimportant―so that we will be as effective as possible at advancing the gospel in our time.


What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp

Somehow, someway, every marriage becomes a struggle.

Everyone’s marriage morphs into something they didn’t intend it to be. At some point you need something sturdier than romance. You need something deeper than shared interests and mutual attraction. You need changed expectations, you need radical commitments, and, most importantly, you need grace.


Family Discipleship by Matt Chandler

Discipling your family can feel like an intimidating task, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming or complicated. With a simple plan in place, discipleship is something every parent can do.

Pastors Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin have made it their mission to help you develop a sustainable rhythm of gospel-centered discipleship focused in three key areas: time, moments, and milestones. Filled with suggestions, sample plans, and Scripture references, this book begins with the end in mind―equipping you to create a unique plan for your family as you raise your children in the love and fear of the Lord.


Hey Listeners, be one of the first ten people to leave us a review (between 12/15-12/31) on Apple Podcasts to get a free, digital copy of any of these books! Leave a review and post about it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter using #BSPTOPTEN


Let us know if you agree or disagree with these thoughts by reaching out to us. If you want to be a guest on the podcast specific to this topic or any other topic, you can email our producer at jason@rivercitybaptist.church.


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