2020 Favorite Books: The Rickies

It has become somewhat traditional within the world of “Reformedom” for pastors and ministries to share their read lists at the end of each year. I encourage you to check out the 2020 recommendations from The Gospel Coalition, Tim Challies, and Christianity Today (to name a few).

Joining in the fun, I give you the first annual  “Rickett Awards” (or, the Rickies). These awards mean absolutely nothing and are thus completely arbitrary, being selected by a panel that consists of only me. Now, I know that I recommend a lot of books. I’m a nerd- it’s what I do. So, I’ve narrowed down my list from this year to give you my favorites. Ladies and Gentleman, without further ado, I give you… the RICKIES

For Christian Living, the Rickie goes to…

Struck Down but Not Destroyed, Pierce T Hibbs

This short book is hands down one of the best books written on anxiety from a biblical, Christian perspective. Hibbs writes with firsthand knowledge of the beast that is anxiety. Having suffered with severe panic attacks his whole life, he writes biblically but also with great sympathy and compassion. While anxiety is something that we tend to run away from, Hibbs encourages readers to lean into it, and thus lean closer into our walk with Jesus. It is balanced, it is biblical, it is compassionate. Read this book.

For Fiction, the Rickie goes to…

Jaber Crow, Wendell Berry

This past year I have read more fiction than any year prior. I have, as you can imagine, gravitated towards theology. However, I came into 2020 with the objective of reading more fiction simply for the enjoyment of it. I was not disappointed when I discovered Wendell Berry. Berry is a modern day poet and advocate for agricultural reform. He has created a world that centers on the fictional town of Port Williams, KY. Each novel is a deep dive into characters that interact with one another throughout the series. Jayber Crow is a great introduction to Berry.

For Theology, the Rickie goes to…

Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray

This one is a classic that I wish I had read a long, long time ago. If you’re new to the Reformed faith, this is an easy to digest introduction to the person and work of Jesus. Atonement, justification, union with Christ- all of these are defined and explained in short chapters that follows the logical order of salvation. This book is often quoted by theologians and pastors and that for good reason. This book will only leave you edified and encouraged. Therefore, I highly recommend it.

For Current Issues, the Rickie goes to…

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman

How did we get here as a society? That’s the question that Trueman seeks to answer. Following the philosophical ideas of Rousseau to Nietzsche to Frued, this book illustrates that our culture’s current position on sexuality didn’t just develop overnight. Nor does the sexual revolution of the 60’s adequately explain the link between “identity” with our sexuality. For anyone interested in a philosophical, theological, historical, and profoundly intellectual survey of our current state of affairs, read this book. It’s getting a lot of buzz, and for good reason.

Finally, For BEST BOOK OF 2020, the Rickie goes to…

Gentle & Lowly, Dane Ortlund

Published by Crossway, this book has also generated a lot of buzz. This is probably a book that will settle into my top 5 of all time. Written with compassion and pastoral overtones, this book explores the heart of Jesus toward sinners. Ortlund writes, “This book is written for the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty. Those running on fumes. Those whose Christian lives feel like constantly running up a descending escalator.”  It is short, easy to read, and it’s a fresh application of the Gospel. I cannot recommend this book more highly. If I could afford it, I would buy everyone in our church a copy of this book. It encapsulates everything that I want to express as a pastor. My guess is that in 50 years this book will be what AW Tozer is today.

So, there you have it! The first annual Rickies is in the books. (See what I did there?) Happy reading in 2021!

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