This is a different kind of list, because this was a different kind of year. At least it was for me, and I know it was for many of you. Rather than feature academic books in biblical studies that were published this year, I chose to include books that I read that proved deeply encouraging to me in a variety of ways this year. Note also that the books are listed below simply in alphabetical order of author’s last names.
2022 was a year of transition for my wife and me, and we faced some health challenges in our family. In the midst of these trials and challenges, the books listed below comforted my soul and deepened my trust in the true and living God. Praise God for his love and compassion. Praise God also for authors who write books that minister not only to the mind but also to the heart. This list comes with my best wishes to all of you for a Merry Christmas and a God-glorifying New Year.
1. Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard. The author’s thesis is that after the initial romance and honeymoon phase, many husbands settle in to a routine and maintenance mode in their marriage. The author tells the story of an amazing trip he took with his wife on their honeymoon. He does a great job encouraging husbands, including me, to rekindle their first love with their wife. Buzzard gives a lot of practical tips on how to do that. It’s never too late to put our wives first and to be creative and sacrificial in expressing our love for them!
2. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world by John Mark Comer. The title and main thesis of the book resonated with me, as this year I slowed down the pace of my life and spent much time with God in prayer and reflection. Focusing on my relationship with God uncluttered and simplified my life and prepared me for serving him more wholeheartedly, eliminating unnecessary distractions.
3. Sanctification: Set Apart and Growing in Christ by Marny Kostenberger. This book has yet to be published; it is scheduled for release in June of 2023. It is the result of my wife’s deep research and spiritual reflection of several years. I was deeply impacted by reading this manuscript, especially the chapter on the eternal holiness of God, which forms the foundation of this book. There are quite a few books that talk about sanctification, but in my opinion this one is unique, because it grounds sanctification in the eternal holiness of God.
4. A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis. This is a well-known, deeply personal book by this famous British author. In it, Lewis shares his struggles after the death of his wife. It is an honest yet ultimately hopeful account of Lewis’s doubts and courageous journey and shows that Christianity is deeply comforting at times when there are few answers and many unanswered questions.
5. The Flames of Rome by Paul L. Maier. The author is longtime professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University. His knowledge of ancient history, especially as it pertains to illumining the background to the Bible, is virtually unmatched. I read this book for edification and entertainment, but found it also to be extremely educational, especially the impeccably researched footnotes. I’ve read several other of Maier’s books and enjoyed them tremendously.
6. Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund. I read this book at a time of deep soul-searching and trial and found it extremely comforting and therapeutic. I was led to contemplate the blessed truth that my Savior is gentle and lowly (Matt 11:28–30). Jesus calls me to come to him and to learn from him, so he can give me rest for my soul, and he invites others to do the same.
7. In the Lord I Take Refuge: 150 Daily Devotions through the Psalms by Dane C. Ortlund. I spent 150 consecutive days of the year reading through one devotional in this book every morning, and it was a balm for my soul. The psalmist’s honesty and expression of emotions was deeply refreshing, and the author’s commentary was consistently encouraging and spiritually nurturing. I highly recommend you read through this devotional, especially if you are going through trials.
8. The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl R. Trueman. I heard the author speak at a church in Kansas City and afterwards got this book. I didn’t read all of it, but quite a bit of it, and what I read struck me as utterly brilliant. It helped me understand much better how we got to where we’re at right now in this volatile moment of Western civilization.
9. Equipped to Love: Building Idolatry-Free Relationships by Norm Wakefield. This is a classic book that epitomizes the spirit of the author’s ministry. His main thesis is that many of our relationships, even our marriages and relationships with our close friends and loved ones, are often idolatrous. We use others to meet our own needs rather than loving others with the love of God in Christ. The author helped me learn how to love from a pure, selfless heart, seeking God’s best for those I love.
10. The Third Third of Life: Preparing for Your Future by Walter C. Wright. This is a very helpful book for those who, like me, enter the third third of their lives. The author casts a very hopeful vision of making significant contributions and leaving a legacy. In many ways, this is a phase of life where we can serve sacrificially and live out some of our unrealized longings and dreams. The book is interactive and very engaging, and I recommend it highly.