My Favorite Books of 2013

Looking back over the books I read in 2013, here’s a list of those I most enjoyed and heartily recommend.


To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Chronicles of Narnia, volumes 4-7, by CS Lewis – Ben and I finished reading these together this year to complete the whole set, read in the order in which they were originally published: The Horse and His Boy, The Silver Chair, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle
The House at Pooh Corner, by AA Milne – Another book read to the kids. Classic stories.

History and Biography

The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South, by Bruce Levine
The Passage of Power, by Robert Caro – The fourth volume in Caro’s series on Lyndon B. Johnson, this one covers his failed bid for the Democratic nomination in 1960, his Vice-Presidency under John F. Kennedy, his ascension to the presidency upon JFK’s assasination, and the first couple months of his presidency as he established himself and his administration.

Faith and Theology

King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, by Timothy Keller
Longing for Enough in a Culture of More, by Paul Escamilla
Creed: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters, by Luke Timothy Johnson
Speaking of Sin, by Barbara Brown Taylor
The Illumined Heart: Capturing the Vibrant Faith of Ancient Christianity, by Fredrica Mathewes-Green
Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament, by Sandra Richter

Other Non-Fiction

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall – Really fun read by a good storyteller
The Post-American World, release 2.0, by Fareed Zakaria
The Rare Find, by George Anders
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathon Haidt
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in LIfe and Work, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Book Review of Minding the Good Ground at

My latest book review for Asbury Seminary’s ministry resourcing site is up. The book is Minding the Good Ground: A Theology for Church Renewal (Baylor 2011), by Jason Vickers. Vickers is a professor at United Methodist related United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Here’s the link.

Seedbed Book Review of Deep & Wide, by Andy Stanley

My latest book review is up at It’s a look at Andy Stanley‘s recent book for pastors and church leaders, Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend.

Check out my review here.

Review of Christine Pohl’s Living into Community

My review of Christine Pohl’s excellent book, Living into Community: Cultivating the Practices That Sustain Us, is up at I had Dr. Pohl for a couple of classes as a student at Asbury Seminary, including Ethics of Hospitality. This new book is a wonderful companion to her classic Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition.

My review is here.

Review of Laying Down the Sword, by Philip Jenkins

My latest book review is up at Asbury’s resource site, It’s a review of Philip Jenkins’ fall 2011 book, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses.

The book deals with a difficult subject, the presence of troubling examples of, and even commands to participate in, extreme acts of violence. It’s a subject that represents a stumbling block to many.

Jenkins is a scholar with a good reputation. I read his excellent book, The Next Christendom, ten years ago. It calls attention to the shift in the “center of gravity” in global Christianity from the northern to the southern hemisphere with the exceptional growth of the Church in South America, Africa, India, and China.

Check out my review of Laying Down the Sword here.

Review of Practicing Theological Interpretation

My latest review is up at Asbury’s resourcing site. The book is Practicing Theological Interpretation, by Joel B. Green. Joel was my professor for Introduction to the New Testament at Asbury. Great teacher and scholar. He is now at Fuller Seminary in California.

I enjoy reading Joel’s work. It’s challenging–you need your thinking cap. He has a wonderful command of the English language and never fails to offer penetrating insights and arguments. Practicing Theological Interpretation is no different.

Latest Review on Asbury Seedbed: How the Church Fails Businesspeople

Didn’t get this posted here when it first appeared, but here it is now. My review of How the Church Fails Businesspeople (and what can be done about it), by John C. Knapp, is on Asbury Seminary’s resourcing site,

As a pastor, this was a challenging book to read. I’m glad I read it. It is helping me think about how to disciple and lead people for how Christ calls them to engage their work as an essential part of their Christian witness and ministry.

Hope it stimulates your thinking as well.

Two New Reviews Up at Asbury Seedbed

I’ve got two reviews on Asbury Seminary‘s resource site, Seedbed.

One is for Hijacked: Responding to the Partisan Church Divide, by Mike Slaughter and Chuck Gutenson. It addresses the issue of churches becoming overly characterized by political affiliations rather than their commitment to the gospel. Mike Slaughter is pastor of Ginghamsburg UMC, a large church in Ohio. Chuck Gutenson has a PhD in philosophical theology (also a prof of mine and good guy!).

The latest is for God is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China, by Liao Yiwu (translated by Wenguang Huang). It is an amazing collection of interviews with Christians in China. Through their own stories, the author introduces us to incredible testimonies of faith and shares his own exploration of Christianity.

Asbury Seedbed Summary of McKnight’s The King Jesus Gospel

I’ve got a new “Seedbed Summary” up on Asbury Seminary’s resource site,

This one is on The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited, by Scot McKnight. McKnight is a New Testament studies professor at North Park University in Chicago.

Check out my summary here.

Asbury Seedbed Book Summary of Keller’s Generous Justice

I’m proud to be a part of Asbury Seminary‘s new resource site Seedbed.

I’ll be contributing book summaries/previews roughly monthly. The first one is up today on an excellent book I recommend, Timothy Keller’s Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just.

Check it out my preview of Generous Justice here and while you’re at it, browse around and check the site out too.


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