My Favorite Things of 2016
Everyone this time of year makes lists. But I wanted to do something a little different. Instead of just lists on books, music, media, etc., I want to put out just one post that (hopefully) shares with you some of my favorite things of the last year. Specifically, I’ll be focusing on my favorite Music, Podcasts, and Books. Some of these were released this year, some of these I just finally got around to experiencing this year. Either way, I hope the list turns you on to some good things to listen to and read through!
First up, Music.
The Year of Hip-hop
Sho Baraka and Trip Lee both restored my faith in Hip-Hop this year. The Narrative by Sho talks about ethnic/racial issues in a truly God-centered way that I loved from start to finish. He is a lyrical pro, and his skills are on display. As is usual with productions from Humble Beast, the music is different (jazz/swing instrumentation) and it’s easy to listen to but never boring. From top to bottom, this album is brilliance.
Waiting Room by Trip Lee is my second favorite of the year. Pretty diverse musically, and the songs “Too Cold” and “Clouds” are amazing. “Ready” is an amazing piece of music, getting me on the verge of tears every time. Go and get both of these albums, you won’t regret it.
Honorable mention: “Reflection” by Derek Minor
More Favorite Music
Wolves at the Gate put out a metal album that is everything you could want heavy music to be. The lyrics for lowly give me shivers every time:
“Prisoned am I to this shell of the dust
It speaks of only fiction that I could never trust
Captured alive in this sinful estate
Vexed am I to see I do the things that I hate
Rip out the framework leave no stone unturned
Until my heart forgets all that my flesh ever learned
Tear down the structure till nothing is left
God deliver me from this body of death”
The album is a step forward lyrically (as if that were possible for Wolves at the Gate) and musically. Go get it.
Next, check out Artifex Pereo (especially if you like more intelligent or progressive rock). These guys are some of the most complex and intelligent rock artists alive today.
The guys in Paper Route put out my next favorite release. The album “Real Emotion” is perfect for the indie-rock fan. It has 80’s synths, modern rhytmic elements, and it flows back and forth between the two with ease. Balconies is a beautiful song.
Needtobreathe is good at music (need I say more). Go buy HARDLOVE and see them live. House of Heroes put out the best (musically speaking) album of their career. If you like concept albums and straightforward rock and roll, look up Colors right away. Thrice also dropped their return-from-hiatus-album this year, and it did not disappoint.
Two bands I really got into this year for the first time were My Epic and Citizens & Saints. Both of these bands write incredibly powerful lyrics and incredibly interesting music. Even though My Epic only had an EP this year, it was one of my favorite releases. A Mirror Dimly by Citizens & Saints is a fantastic concpet album about wrestling with faith, doubt, assurance, and fear.
My (severely limited rankings) have to be:
- The Narrative by Sho Baraka
- A Mirror Dimly by Citizens & Saints
- Types and Shadows by Wolves at the Gate
- HARDLOVE by Needtobreathe
Most podcasts are not worth your time, let’s be honest. Most everyone has one in today’s age. However, if you are looking for entertainment, education, and more, then here are some of my favorites.
Doctrine and Devotion – Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler talk about serious topics with theological accuracy, and it never gets boring. If you have a sense of humor and a mind to learn, this is a good listen for you.
Sheologians – It’s a well known fact that most “Christian” teaching aimed at women or by prominent female figures is less than stellar theologically. However, that is not the case with Sheologians. Summer and Joy talk about important topcis in digestible segments, and it’s well worth the listen. Don’t buy that Joyce Meyer book, listen to this instead.
The Dividing Line – Yes, it can be deep thinking at times. But I have learned so much in the vein of apologetics in the last year just by listening to this program. It will help you grow in the defense of the faith.
The Happy Rant – more in the vein of pure entertainment, but easily one of the funniest podcasts I listen to week to week.
The Rugged Marriage – Two guys talk honestly and openly about how to have a Gospel-centered marriage.
Finally, Favorite books
The Pastor’s Justification and The Prodigal Church by Jared Wilson might be my favorite books this year. Both help pastors connect good theology to the practical (and exhausting) work of ministry. Do your pastor a favor and by them these books. They will challenge them, grow them, and encourage them.
On the heavier side of study, read The Distinctives of Baptist Covenant Theology. Far too many false assumptions are made on the topic of God’s redemptive work from the Old Testament and the New. Suffice to say these are not isolated dispensations but the entirety of biblical history is one glorious story. It’s dense, but a good read. Another book for every Christian to prioritize reading is What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James White. The study is deep, but the book is accessible to all readers, and it will enable you to understand Islam and defend your faith against criticism.
On the lighter side, I loved Batman Returns (yes, I read a graphic novel) and Ready, Player One is worth the read if you are looking for a novel.
The modern classic on my list is Hole in our Holiness by Keving DeYoung. Also, buy a copy of The Valley of Vision. You won’t be disappointed. They will practically and daily help you build up your faith.
Up there with Pastor’s Justification and The Prodigal Church for the year was Visual Theology by Tim Challies. It’s easy to read, entertaining, and visually fun to look at. If you are new to studying theology and want something that’s accessible for any level, this book is top of the list.