Best Reads (and Listens) of 2019

Happy New Year! Just like last year, we’ve compiled a list of favorites from all of the books/blogs/podcasts that we read or listened to this year. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

BOOKS

Boundaries, by Henry Cloud & John Townsend | Being selfless does not mean living without boundaries (crazy, right?!). Psychologists Henry Cloud and John Townsend draw plentifully from Scripture both to show this and to offer practical steps for (re)establishing healthy boundaries. They help readers identify areas in which we struggle to form boundaries and areas in which we overstep the boundaries of others. If you are feeling burned out or know that you are having a hard time establishing boundaries, I [Molly] highly recommend this book.

The Prodigal Prophet, by Tim Keller | If you have grown up in the Northeast in Christian circles, then you know the name Tim Keller. In his latest book, Keller writes about the story of Jonah and what it teaches us about the mystery of God’s mercy. His writing is methodical and simple, yet focusing closely on every detail in his designated passages of Scripture. I [Leah] particularly enjoy his books because he uses scripture to interpret scripture. In this book specifically, Keller parallels Jonah, the prodigal son, and Jesus to teach about our identity as Christians and how that impacts the way that we interact with the nations.

What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey | Grace is a word that gets thrown around a lot in Christian circles. But what does it really mean and how should it impact our individual lives? In this life-changing book (seriously, life-changing), Yancey examines the richness of the Gospel and God’s grace through stories and real-life examples. Yancey is an incredible writer, and his ability to convey complex ideas through narratives makes this book so enjoyable. It’s also challenging, though, and as Yancey plumbs the depths of grace (in all of its scandal and unfairness), it’s hard not to be convicted. I [Ana] read this book while undergoing some deep wrestling this past Fall, and the Holy Spirit used Yancey’s words to really deepen my grasp of God’s grace as it applied to me and my daily failures.

Not Yet Married, by Marshall Segal | Although the title of this book makes it seem like it’s intended for couples thinking about marriage, it’s actually for everyone who’s not yet married, even those who aren’t even thinking about dating. In fact, Segal doesn’t even address dating until the second half of the book. Not Yet Married is about living for God, no matter your relationship status, and is a wonderful and thought-provoking read.

Love Does, by Bob Goff & Letters to the Church, by Francis Chan | Leah got to these in 2018, but I [Molly] am throwing them in here again, because I read them both this year and absolutely loved them. Read more on our 2018 list.

Cross-Cultural Servanthood, by Duane Elmer | If you’re interested in missions (or even just living in a multicultural community), I [Ana] highly recommend this book. I read it before I left for Ethiopia and it really helped prepare me for the complexities of doing ministry and life overseas. Elmer does a wonderful job of highlighting the challenges and beauties of serving in cross-cultural contexts, and he offers very practical advice for navigating cultural gaps. While the content may seem specific to missions-oriented workers, Elmer’s writing applies to anyone in a ministerial role (which is every Christian, really), and in today’s globalized society, we all come in contact with different cultures on a regular basis. As such, I think that Cross-Cultural Servanthood offers valuable truth for any Christian who is seeking to love others well amidst personal and cultural differences.

To Hell With The Hustle, by Jefferson Bethke | Pardon the language in the title, but this book has to be my [Leah’s] favorite book of 2019. Jefferson Bethke, author of Jesus > Religion, penned a convicting and thought provoking book about “reclaiming your life in an overworked, overspent, and overconnected world.” Touching on the importance of Sabbath, the holiness of obscurity, and how to prioritize your life, Bethke’s latest book is a must read if you feel burnt out, on the verge of becoming a workaholic, or like your load is greater than your limit.

Honorable mention: The Meaning of Marriage, by Tim & Kathy Keller | I [Leah] cannot fully include this book in my best reads of 2019 because I am still working my way through it. However, I love Tim Keller and the insight from him and his wife is profound and thought provoking regarding God’s true intent for marriage. It is a great read for anyone regardless of stage of life, relationship status, view of marriage, or religious identity.

Honorable mention: Union with Christ, by Rankin Wilbourne | This book came highly recommended to me [Ana], and although I haven’t finished it yet, I give it my vote of confidence! In 2017, the book won a Christian Book Award and it has also been listed as a top book by Desiring God (John Piper’s ministry). Wilbourne does a wonderful job of explaining the doctrine of union with Christ (a doctrine that is often forgotten in modern evangelical thought), its importance, and its application. It is meant for theological laypeople (like you and me), and is rich with Truth that is meant to transform readers’ individual relationships with Jesus into intimate fellowship. 

BLOGS:

Sayable.net: This has got to be one of my [Ana’s] favorite blogs of all time. Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a seasoned writer on all things related to faith, life, and womanhood. Her wisdom is reflected in the nuance and artistry of each post; she is knowledgeable about Scripture and is very well-read. Lore is also incredibly honest about her own struggles, and she’s written a lot on singleness, marriage, mental health, and walking in faithfulness. If you’re looking for some quick but rich insights, check out her blog or follow her instagram account!

Phylicia Masonheimer: I [Ana] have followed this blog since I was in middle school. Phylicia has written on a wide breadth of topics (from relationships to productivity to parenting), and I really appreciate her stark honesty and commitment to Scripture. The subtitle of the blog is “Every Woman a Theologian,” which captures the spirit of her writing and ministry. 

PODCASTS:

Breakaway Ministries: I [Ana] have listened to Breakaway’s messages throughout this year and have really benefited from them. Breakaway is a huge college ministry at Texas A&M; the podcast episodes are recordings of their weekly large-group talks. Breakaway was founded by Ben Stuart, who authored Single, Dating Engaged, Married, which we’ve recommended before on Common Ground! Many of the recent podcast episodes are by the ministry’s current director, Timothy Ateek, who is very good at speaking into the lives of college students. His messages are rooted in Scripture and are very Gospel-centered. Breakaway recently did a series on singleness/dating (through the book of Song of Solomon) as well as a few episodes on common objections to Christianity.

More to Be: Of course, we had to include the podcast of More to Be, a ministry founded by Leah’s mom! Mrs. Pulliam has a ton of podcast episodes stored on her website. Her podcast focuses on living faithful lives as women in relationships, at work, and in community.

Truth for Life: This isn’t really a podcast… rather, it’s a HUGE archive of recorded sermons (and blog posts) from the Bible teaching ministry of pastor Alistair Begg. I [Ana] absolutely love Begg’s preaching; he has this special way of diving into Scripture and theology while also retaining applicability and without being dry. One unique feature of Truth for Life’s site is that it allows you to search for sermons according to chapters of the Bible as well as topic. So if you’ve been meditating on a particular book or chapter of Scripture and want some great preaching to supplement, you can look up all of the sermons that Begg has preached on it using the “by Scripture” tool.

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