Top 10 Books For Dads

As I’m often asked for book recommendations on various subjects, I decided to put together an online list of my top ten books in various categories. Basically, if I was only allowed 10 books in my library on that subject, these are the ten I would choose. Previous posts include:

With “Father’s Day” just round the corner, I’m listing the Top 10 Books for Dads. After this list you’ll find a poll where you can cast three votes for your favorite books in this category. Click on “View Results” to see what books are most popular.

You can also add any book not on the list by writing the title in “Other” or in the Comments  I’ll add these to the end of the post under “Reader Suggestions.”

1. The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men by Richard Phillips.

This is by far my favorite book on biblical manhood (don’t be put off by the cover)> It’s not exhaustive but covers all the bases like marriage, parenting, work, church, friendship, etc. Especially good for young men setting out on life.

2. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller.

We have to have one book dedicated to marriage on the list, and what better choice than Keller’s marriage transforming book. Nothing has influenced my own marriage in recent years more than this book.

3. The Shepherd Leader at Home by Timothy Witmer

Witmer applies the leadership principles of his popular book on church leadership, Shepherd Leader, to the home front.

4. Parenting by God’s Promises by Joel Beeke.

This book achieves that rare biblical balance of combining the huge responsibility God lays upon parents together with the huge encouragement God gives to faithful parents about their children.

5. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller.

An excellent foundation to a lifetime of work that makes me wish I was a teenager again. A perfect companion volume would by God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Veith. A new book on work, productivity, and getting things done is What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman.

6. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung.

Most Dads are. So if you want to slow Dad down a bit, this book should do the trick.

7. Conviction to Lead, The: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Al Mohler

The values, principles, convictions and practices of a proven Christian leader.

8. What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Yawn

This is not just a book for men who had no fathers or poor fathers. It’s a book for all men, and especially for fathers who want to raise their sons to be men of God. Easy to read with lots of biblical teaching and common sense advice. I haven’t read it, but I noticed there’s a companion volume What Every Woman Wishes Her Father Had Told Her.

9. God, Marriage, and Family (Second Edition): Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation by Andreas Kostenberger.

It’s a big book that you will find useful to have on your shelves as a reference book on a range of current cultural issues such as birth control, homosexuality, singleness, re-marriage, etc.

10. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism by John Piper & Wayne Grudem.

Like #9, this is another substantial and demanding book on the list. The go-to book for the complementarian position (i.e. that God has made men and women differently and with different roles to complement each other). One for serious and disciplined readers.

Honorable Mentions

What’s the Difference? Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible by John Piper

A Guide To Biblical Manhood by Randy Stinson and Dan Dumas

Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole by Eric Mason

Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families by Douglas Wilson

What He Must Be: …If He Wants to Marry My Daughter by Voddie Baucham

Now you decide, what are your favorites? You can cast three votes and write a book in “Other” if it’s not on the list and I’ll add it to Reader Suggestions below.

Reader Suggestions

What would you add to the list and why?

Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard

Future Men by Douglas Wilson.

Anchor Man: How a Father Can Anchor His Family in Christ for the Next 100 Years by Steve Farrar.

Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family by Steve Farrar.

Check out

Faking Cultural Literacy
There’s a theological version of this too.

5 Biblical Portraits of The Biblical Counselor
Bob Kellemen: “It is significant that rather than portraying himself through the imagery of a fix-it-man mechanic, Paul paints portraits of himself as a brother, mother, father, child, and mentor in 1 Thessalonians 2.”

Identifying The Cause of Mental Illness
Brad Hambrick continues his helpful and balanced series on this complicated subject.

What is Love? [Infographic]
Well worth spending a few minutes praying over this.

A Commencement Speech Worth Watching
Former Navy Seal has plenty of great advice for young people who want to change the world. One little nuggest: “Start by making your bed!”

15 Ways To Exasperate Your Children

Through the Apostle Paul, God gave fathers the primary responsibility for disciplining their children (Eph. 6:4), but in connection with this he also warned them about the danger of provoking their children to anger. If you want to exasperate your children in this area of life, here’s a quick list of how to do it:

1. Excessive discipline: Too often or too hard.

2. Disproportionate discipline: Way out of scale to the offense.

3. Inconsistent discipline: Child punished for one offense one day but not on most other days.

4. Prejudiced discipline: Unfairly favoring one child over another.

5. Unexplained discipline: No explanation of why the child’s attitude, words, or actions were wrong, and therefore no understanding

6. Unforgiving discipline: Despite child saying sorry, the father keeps the child under a cloud for days/weeks after the discipline.

7. Imbalanced discipline: Discipline is never balanced with encouragement or praise for anything done right.

8. Humiliating discipline: Aims to belittle and shame.

9. Public discipline: No attempt to hide the child’s offenses and punishment from others.

10. Bad-tempered discipline: Terrifyingly out of control.

11. Prayerless discipline: No prayer before, during, or after the discipline.

12. Heartless discipline: No attempt to get behind the why of the wrong and show the child the need for heart-change.

13. Unwarned discipline: Child was never instructed about what was wrong or warned about the wrong before the discipline.

14. Selfish discipline: Parent takes out frustrations on child to make themselves feel better.

15. Gospel-less discipline: No hope of divine or parental forgiveness. Christ’s atoning sacrifice is ignored.

When we fathers look at such a list, we can only say with grief, “Tick, tick, tick…” “Done that, done that, done that…done them all!” That’s why we must repent of our sinful discipline and cast ourselves afresh on our Heavenly Father’s mercy. But we mustn’t only confess to God and seek His forgiveness; we have to do the same to our children too if we’ve exasperated them in these ways. If we’ve never said, “I’m sorry, I was wrong,” to our children, there’s something wrong with us.

Check out

And God Made Them Male And Female And…
Facebook now gives users 58 genders to choose from.

Is Your Busy Season Becoming A Lifetime?
Melissa Martin: “As a church-planting wife in a youthful church, I have the opportunity to listen to many young wives and mothers. Over and over, I hear the same thing. They are tired. They are discouraged. They lack joy. They are deep in that “busy season” but don’t see a clear road for this season to ever end.”

7 Traits of Leaders Who Hire Well
Eric Geiger: “In my role, I interact daily with leaders and managers who hire people, who invite others to join the teams they lead. I have observed these seven common traits in leaders who hire well, leaders who seem to excel at attracting the right players to their teams.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder And Eskimos
Brad Hambrick encourages us to learn from the Eskimos and become less of a “doing” culture and more of a “being” culture.

The End of Books
Interview about reading trends and habits with Tony Reinke, author of Lit! A Christian Guide To Reading Books.

Foreknown: An Abortion Story
Wow! This powerful short film is an excellent counter-culture documentary about abortion, “proclaiming the truth about life and the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.”

Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully

Some authors firehose you with so many multiple ideas that you eventually say, “Enough!”

Others take just one thought and turn it around and around and around with such skill that they leave you crying, “Encore!”

John Piper does the latter in his short new book, Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully, which looks at the sometimes perplexing question of if and how we should use eloquence to advance the Gospel.

It’s a question that’s long exercised me because, as Piper points out, the Apostle Paul seems to put oratorical gifts in the “worldly” category (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:17; 2:1). Yet, as Piper also proves, all the Apostles, the Prophets, and even Jesus himself, used various verbal and literary techniques in their Gospel communication.

I suppose I’m extra suspicious because some years ago I was greatly blessed through an incredibly eloquent and popular preacher who I later found out had been living a double, even triple, life. Ergo, any effort to be fancy or clever with words must be wrong.

So, how do we reconcile this seeming contradiciton?

Sovereign Grace
Piper does a superb job of explaining that the Bible does not warn against all eloquence or oratory, but only certain kinds, the kind that uses eloquence as an end rather than a means, and the kind that uses eloquence to promote the speaker rather than the Gospel. He then goes on to argue from the Bible and from three talented Christian wordsmiths – George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C.S. Lewis – that we should pour huge effort into developing our word skills for the sake of the Gospel.

Part of Piper’s argument is that only by working hard to describe the beauty of the Gospel will we actually see it. It’s a kind of virtuous circle; the more we strive for beauty in proclaiming the beauty of Christ the more beauty we and others will see in Him. Saying beautifully will help us savor and see beauty.

Don’t for a moment think that Piper is advocating mere acting, or depending upon human talent for sinners to be saved. No, throughout, Piper is at pains to underline the Calvinist doctrine of sovereign and monergistic grace. God is the decisive cause, and yet He uses our poetic effort.

Poetic effort? You mean, I’ve got to write poems?

Do not fear, fellow word-schleppers. When Piper talks about poetic effort, he’s calling us to be more poetic in our proclamation – to learn how to use words better for the glory of God and the good of sinners. We must exert ourselves, with God’s help, “to find striking, penetrating, imaginative, and awakening ways of expressing the excellencies” of Christ.

And this isn’t just for preachers, it’s for anyone who’s interested in improving their witness through words – spoken or written.

I’ve always been a bit uncertain about this whole question. I work really hard to be clear, simple, and passionate in my preaching. I strive for appropriate illustrations, quotes, and anecdotes to support my points. I pour a lot of time into memorable sermon points and themes.

But then I wonder: “Am I trying to do God’s work for Him? Am I depending on myself rather than Him?” Maybe I should follow the example of a preacher friend of mine in Scotland who tried to be as boring as possible so that when people believed, everyone would know it wasn’t him but God!

It does seem though that God especially uses men who have great natural gifts in speaking and others who have worked really hard to develop their gifts. It appears that God does bless literary and speaking gifts for the advance of His grace.

Clouds Clearing
Piper has totally cleared away my hesitation on this, mainly thought the superb introductory chapter examining the Corinthian passages that seem to condemn “wisdom of words.” I’m now totally convinced that if I do it for the right ends and in the right way, I can safely and helpfully work on becoming a more skillful verbal artist and expect God to bless that effort for His glory, the good of sinners, and the edification of my own soul.

The most common comment I get after sermons is, “That was very clear.” Which is fine; that’s one of my main aims.” But having read this book, I hope to hear more of, “That was very beautiful.” No, I hope to hear, “HE is very beautiful!”

Check out

New Church Growth Strategy: Intentional Ethnic Diversity
Some traditionally white churches and denominations are staving off attendance decline through diversification strategies.

Was Christ’s Death Divine Child Abuse?
You know the answer, but can you explain why not?

5 Things I’m Still Sure About God’s Law
R.C. Jr. with five positive things about the law that he is still positive about.

Kevin Durant’s Father
Almost one in four American children lives in a household without their biological dads. For brown kids, that number stands at about 28 percent. For black kids, it’s a little better than half.

Churches, Cage Matches, And The Schlepp
“One day while lecturing on Gregory the Great’s treatise On Pastoral Care, Professor Davis suddenly stopped, put down his chalk, looked over the class for a few moments and said, “You do realize most of you will labor in small churches and at the end of your ministry you may be hard pressed to think of more than a dozen people you have directly influenced.” He then picked up the chalk and returned to the lecture. Like the rest of the class I was nonplussed. Looking back now I see what was going on”

Should I Be Content With My Singleness?
nd a couple of other family-related posts from TGC. The Child of The Future, and Russell Moore on How Pastors Should Address Divorce And Remarriage.

Thunderstorm Supercell Timelapse in Wyoming
Best fullscreen with the music muted. Watch for your jaw dropping about 55 secs.