July – 2014
“Bring. . . the books!” (II Timothy 4:13). These were some of Paul’s last words to Timothy. If books were not important they would not have been on his “wish” list. Someone said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. “Andrew Bonar said that “Reading good books will wean us from the world and take us within the veil. ”His brother, Horatius said, “Whatever you read begin with God’s blessing on it. ” Solomon wisely said, “Of making many books there is no end and much study is wearisome to the flesh” (Eccl. 12:12). I do not wish to visit with you about the “many” books of which there are no end, but only a few select books that need to be “chewed and digested”.
Apart from Bible reading I have been most enriched by the inspirational and devotional writings of godly saints who have been in close touch with God. That is one reason I often try to acquaint others with rich “voices from the past. ”Some of these books I became acquainted with early in my ministry years; others in more recent days. Men like Wilbur Smith, Howard Sugden and Warren Wiersbe have given me a great love for books, as well as the privilege of working in a Christian Book Store during my academic days. From a very recent survey I have also included books recommended by pastors, missionaries and college presidents; relevant books that may be helpful to you from their personal perspective.
Walking with the Giants; Listening to the Giants, Giant Steps, Warren W. Wiersbe, Baker Publishers – (the first two are out of print but available through Abebooks. com. The in print edition, Living with the Giants, is a combination of the first two titles covering only the lives of great men of faith, not the very helpful books recommended in the first two volumes).
The Valley of Vision, a Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust. You will keep this small volume right next to your Bible. These are men who walked tall with God and revealed it in their communion with Him. The leather-bound edition is a keepsake and once read, you will want to share it with others. Series by S. D. Gordon on “Quiet Talks. ”Quiet Talks on Service, Prayer, Power, About Jesus. May find as free app on Nook/Kindle/I-Pad. The writings of S. D. Gordon are little known today but will take you time and again into the quiet presence of God and His desire that we be holy and separated unto Him.
Read the Hymnbook! Gadsby’s Hymns (Gospel Standard Societies); Worship in Song Pocket Hymnal (Lillenas Publishing Company). There is something about reading the hymns in quietness without the accompaniment of music that draws you into heavenly solitude, and often renewed repentance.
One Year Book of Christian History, a Daily Glimpse into God’s Powerful Work, Michael & Sharon Rusten, Tyndale Publishers. All believers should acquaint themselves with God’s workings in the lives of His saints and His church throughout the centuries. This volume will give you daily glimpses of God’s powerful works in the lives of such people as John Harper who shared the gospel message with passengers on the sinking Titanic; Jonathan Edwards and the day he rocked New England with his famous sermon on “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. ;” Martin Luther and how God destined him to change the course of history through the posting of his 95 theses leading to the Protestant revolt from Roman Catholicism.
Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers, Hendrickson Publishers. Acts 1:8 states that “You will be my witnesses. ”Following the days of the apostles, God raised up another group of men to proclaim and protest the “faith” from the constant winds of errant doctrines. These men faced opposition, persecution and sometimes death for their defense of the Gospel. But through their witness the church extended its roots into the entire world. If men like Luther, Calvin, Wesley and others profited from their writings, certainly we also should welcome them into our lives giving praise for their boldness and faithfulness to truth. In the back of the book you will find brief biographies of each of the thirty-nine church fathers featured.
This Day in Baptist History, Thompson & Cummins, BJU Press, highlights great events in Baptist history (one for each day of the year) which have been conspicuously tucked away in the annals of time. It speaks of changed lives, unshakeable faith in adverse circumstances and the bold stand many took, some at the cost of their lives, for biblical truth. Not only devotional, theological and historical in content, but also a strong defense of Baptist doctrine.
The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer, Christian Publications – a modest attempt to aid God’s hungry children so to find Him. Truly a treatise on Psalm 42:1: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. ”
Profiles in Reformed Spirituality: Christ is All, the Piety of Horatius Bonar; A Consuming Fire, the Piety of Alexander Whyte; Trading and Thriving in Godliness, The Piety of George Swinnock. Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapids, MI. These brief devotional writings are excerpts from expanded works on submission and holiness before God by Bonar); Whyte (noted author of Whyte’s Bible Characters and an illegitimate child who became a pulpit prince); and Swinnock (swallowed up in life studying and living in the presence of God and swallowed up in death at his peak in writing and preaching @ age 46).
On Being a Servant of God, Warren W. Wiersbe, Baker Books – a Classic on the biblical pattern of true ministry following the example of Jesus. Wiersbe in his introduction states that these 30 chats are for ministers spelled with a small “m,” as well as all who should be involved in “full-time Christian living. ”In other words, every believer should be a servant and every servant should read this book
On Being a Leader for God, Warren W. Wiersbe, a “must” to be read by any who are in any type of spiritual leadership ministry. Wiersbe states that every generation needs to discover and train new leaders. Why? Because the future isn’t what it used to be!A companion volume to “On Being a Servant of God,” and seeks to present a practical “theology of leadership” based upon biblical principles.
My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, Discovery House Publishers. Born in Scotland, ministered in Japan, America, and England and died at age 43 while a chaplain serving British Commonwealth troops in Egypt (ruptured appendix). You must go through it at least once, and if you do, you will always keep this devotional nearby. This volume will help you to grow downward in humility and upward in adoration and praise of the Savior.
Awake My heart, J. Sidlow Baxter, Kregel Publishers. Each page is a Bible study in itself. This volume will not only inspire but give a fountain of ideas for preaching and teaching. Very unlike other daily devotionals. Born in Australia, Baxter attended Spurgeon’s Theological College in London; pastored in England and Scotland and traveled worldwide as a conference speaker. His “Explore the Book” is one of best on synopsis of all 66 books of the Bible. A “must have” for the serious student of Scripture.
Day by Day with J. C. Ryle, Christian Heritage Publisher, devotionals taken from a number of his writings which have stayed in print over 100 years. Endowed with gifted intelligence, his doctrinal teachings were even understandable to the person on the street. If your heart is warmed by these devotionals you will want to purchase his 4 volume set on “Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. ”Available on Nook/Kindle for just pennies of its bookstore price.
One Year Book of Poetry, Tyndale Publishers, 365 classic poems reflecting God’s majesty for everyday life. These poems are complemented by selected Scriptures, devotional insights and introduction of their authors and their experiences with God. John Keble and Christina Rossetti have become favorites. Helpful index of poems, poets and topics.
Take Heart, Daily Devotionals with the Church’s Great Preachers, Kregel Books, contains daily devotions from some of history’s greatest preachers and insights from their most thought-provoking sermons. Soul searching, soul-stirring and many insightful helps for further study.
Amazing Grace, 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Books, excellent for family devotions as well as information about authors of some of the greatest hymns ever written. Includes Scripture texts also. Osbeck’s earlier writings included volumes on “101 Hymn Stories,” and “101 More Hymn Stories. ”
Until He Comes, Daily Inspirations for Those Who Await the Savior,Calvin Miller, Broadman & Holman Publishers. One of the more gifted communicators of our day, Miller writes this devotional to encourage us by sharing thoughts from all four Gospels. A treasury of assurance for all believers as we await the Lord’s return. Many sermon ideas can be gleaned from this volume as it focuses on the life and ministry of Christ in the Gospels.
The Red Sea Rules, the Same God Who Led You In Will Lead You Out!Robert J. Morgan, Thomas Nelson. This small but poignant volume gives 10 God-given strategies for difficult times. Given to me by a friend knowing we had both been through “Red Sea” experiences, I cannot recommend it highly enough to encourage you during the boisterous billows of life and ministry.
Beside Still Waters, Words of Comfort for the Soul by C. H. Spurgeon, Nelson Publishers. Arranged in biblical order with texts from nearly every book of the Bible, Spurgeon carries us along the path of life with encouraging perspectives on God’s mercy, provision, projection and compassion. Known as the prince of preachers, there was a dark side to Spurgeon’s life that often led him through deep depression and physical limitations while at the same time attempting (quite successfully I might add) to encourage his flock through a devastating plague of cholera, numerous deaths, and orphan life in his community. What he preached to others was simply God’s Word for his own sorrows and struggles. Spurgeon died at 58 years of age. Especially good for those going through difficult times and in need of a balm for their souls. Includes a very helpful topical index.
BONHOEFFER, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas. Thomas Nelson Publishers – The author said, “Who better to face the greatest evil of the 20th century than a humble man of faith? ”And that is exactly what Dietrich Bonhoeffer did until executed in 1945 (at age 39) for his attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Well known for his classic book entitled, “The Cost of Discipleship,” this is a riveting account of a young life dedicated to Christ and the demise of Nazism. A long, but worthwhile read.
OSWALD CHAMBERS, Abandoned to God,The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest, David McCasland, Discovery House Publishers. Almost unbelievable that one can make such an impact and leave behind so much in writing and living only to be 43 years of age. This is more than a “once read. ”His mind was the mind of Christ and so are all of his writings. I gave a copy of Chamber’s “Utmost” to a non-believing doctor who commented, “this is one of a very few books that has captured my attention. ”Readable, revealing and reprimanding.
The Pursuit of God, the Life of A. W. Tozer, James Synder, Christian Publications. Biographies of great writes and preachers need to be read and absorbed. Noted revivalist Leonard Ravenhill stated that Tozer had an intimacy with God beyond any other man he had ever met. Need more be said to entice you to read about the man just known as “Tozer? ”
ANDDREW BONAR, Diary and Life, Banner of Truth Trust. Andrew Bonar was to devotional writing what his brother, Horatius, was to hymn-writing. This volume includes a diary of his life as well as reminiscences of his life. This portion is also available in a paperback by daughter, Marjory Bonar, entitled “Andrew Bonar, the Good Pastor,” (Ambassador Press). . His closest friend was Robert Murray M’Cheyne (he wrote Memoir and Remains of R. M. M’Cheyne) and was convinced, like M’Cheyne, that it is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus and that unholiness lies at the root of our little success. This volume includes devotional extracts of sermons and writings which will draw you into the presence of the Lord, just as it did Bonar.
Matthew Henry, His Life and Influence, Allan Harman, Christian Focus. Of course we know him as the author of Matthew Henry’s Commentary, but we don’t know the story of how much he accomplished for God’s glory despite suffering from ill-health and intense sorrow in his family life. Take a stroll back in time and you will be humbled, challenged, inspired and motivated to “press on toward the goal,” in your walk with God.
Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ, the Ministry Adventures of Tyndale, Judson and Paton,John Piper, Crossway Books. Piper has written a series of biographies entitled, “The Swans Are Not Silent. ”This is volume five. The entire series, preached at Pastors’ Conferences, are available on Olivetree. com. Look for books by John Piper. These three men had this in common: they endured a thousand momentary afflictions and daily deaths so that others could reap an eternity in heaven!You need to read all of these brief accounts of great men of God.
An All-Surpassing Fellowship, Learning from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Communion with God, David Beaty, Reformation Heritage Books (just recently published). I have admired M’Cheyne for years, even giving my youngest son “M’Cheyne” for a middle name. That is also my grandson’s middle name! For one called home to glory at age twenty-nine, it is almost unimaginable the spiritual impact he made throughout Scotland and beyond. You will learn of his early years and call into ministry as well as his holy communion with God. It will challenge you to seek that same sweet fellowship with the Lord.
King of the Cannibals, the Story of John G. Paton, Jim Cromarty, Evangelical Press. Missionary to the New Hebrides, John MacArthur highly praises Paton as one of those nearly-forgotten missionary saints that needs to be remembered by those of a new generation. An excellent read for young people and adults alike.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First Forty Years (1899-1939; D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith (1939-1981); Iain H. Murray, Banner Of Truth Trust (Nearly 1200 pages in 2 volumes but well worth the read as you will see British spirituality repeating itself here in America). Actually it is now available in paperback in condensed form from the same publisher.
Meet the Puritans
MEET THE PURITANS, Joel Beeke & Randall Pederson, Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapids. If you want to become a serious student of the lives of the Puritans this is where you must start. Rather lengthy at nearly 900 pages, but containing nearly 150 brief Puritan biographies including theological introductions, most noted books written and insightful summaries which will make you want to grow tall spiritually. Forget about their idiosyncrasies, peculiar behavior and not always acceptable theology even though their careful biblical exposition leaves much to be desired today. Let them become your friends and grow from their intimacy with Christ and passion for the unregenerate. This is a volume that will rest comfortably by your armchair and will cause you to search your heart constantly to rid it of any sinfulness to the Savior and willfulness to the flesh.
Voices from the Past, Puritan Devotional Readings (365), The Banner of Truth Trust. This volume will familiarize you with the depth, passion and knowledge of Puritan preaching. Herein you will find their thoughts on the glory and attributes of God, divine providence, fellowship with God, holiness of life and the mortification of indwelling sin, heavenly mindedness, prayer, evangelistic zeal and trust in the Lord during times of affliction. If you add daily devotionals to your Bible reading, put this one at the top of your list!For you pastors, this volume is rich in sermon ideas. Very well indexed.
The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts, Douglas Bond, Reformation Trust. If you like such hymns as “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed;” “I Sing the Almighty Power of God;” “Joy to the World;” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past;” “When I survey the Wondrous Cross;” you need to read the story of the hymn writer behind them. It was a delightful read of a man captured by the presence of God.
GLORIFYING GOD, a Yearlong Collection of Classic Devotional Writings from the Pen of Thomas Watson, Thomas Nelson Publishers. Thomas Watson is the Puritan pastor who inspired Charles Spurgeon and a nation. This 17th-century minister is my favorite of all the Puritans because of his understanding of the sovereignty of God, his ability in making Bible truths simple, his vast knowledge of the Scriptures and skillfulness in communicating truth in a systematic manner. In his preaching and teaching Watson always had the flock in mind in cheering them on to trust in an all-knowing God.
The Christian on the Mount, a Treatise on Meditation, Thomas Watson, The Northampton Press. For the Puritans, meditation was the discipline of thinking deeply about God and His Word. Different from Bible reading and different from Scripture memorization. This volume will challenge you to holy exercise of the mind in order to bring the truths of God to remembrance through serious pondering, followed by instruction on applying such truths to personal living.
All Things for Good, Thomas Watson, Banner of Truth Trust. A careful and thought provoking exposition of Romans 8:28. A classic that should be in the library of every believer. Watson carefully examines each phrase and provides a biblical answer to why do bad things happen to good people.
The Art of Divine Contentment, Thomas Watson, Soli Deo Gloria Publications. An exposition of Philippians 4:11, Watson describes discontentment as a disease to the soul. Believers are bent towards discontentment in many areas of life and must come to grips with the understanding that our contentment, under any circumstance, must be in Christ and what He has done for us.
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs, Banner of Truth Trust, has been considered the classic on contentment so must also be read if you have struggles in your life in this area.
The Precious Things of God, Octavius Winslow, Northampton Press. John MacArthur states that “this book is a profound study of twelve things Scripture calls ‘Precious,’ a handbook for faithful Christian living. ”Winslow is not one of the more well-known Puritans, but his writings reveal an intimate walk with God.
To give you a good taste of which Puritans enrich your life, you should purchase Voices From the Past, a daily devotional mentioned above. Two bookstores and websites where you can obtain these writings: www. heritagebooks. org; www. banneroftruth. org; Soli Deo Gloria is now under Heritage Books.
Rest & Relaxation Reading
Sometimes we need to read outside of our field. It may be face-paced fiction, particular magazines (I recently downloaded WORLD Magazine on my IPad for less cost), secular biographies or maybe light-hearted Christian novels. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Christian “page turner” novels based on biblical prophecy by Joel Rosenberg. Nearly all of them have been on the New York Times bestselling list. Rosenberg is a Jewish believer who writes with great insight into last day events. He has been a political columnist with World Magazine,worked with some of the world’s most influential and provocative leaders, and has been called “a force in the capital” by leading journalists. Here is the sequence of his writings: The Last Jihad (2002); The Last Days (2003); The Ezekiel Option (2005); The Copper Scroll (2006); Dead Heat (2008); the Twelfth Imam (2010); The Tehran Initiative (2011); Damascus Countdown (2013).
No man can be called friendless when he has God and the
Companionship of good books!
Recently Recommended Books by Pastors, College Presidents and Missionaries
July – 2014
Note: in a recent survey to pastors, college presidents and missionaries the response about good books they have recently read was so favorable I have simply listed their suggestions and in some cases their evaluations.
“Spiritual Leadership” by Oswald Sanders.
“Peacemaker” by Ken Sande.
“Disciplines of a Godly Man” by Kent Hughes.
“Simple Church” by Tom Rainer
Grudem’s Systematic Theology.
“What is the Mission of the Church” by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert
“The Conviction to Lead,” Al Mohler
Kevin DeYoung’s book called “Taking God at His Word” is a nice study on Bibliology. Scott Hafemann’s commentary on 2 Corinthians in the NIV Application Commentary series is excellent.
“Encouragement for Today’s Pastors: Help from the Puritans” by Joel Beeke and Terry D. Slachter
“A Gospel Primer” by Milton Vincent.
John Piper’s “Think” is wonderful in context of how anti-intellectual our churches can be. As is his – “Don’t Waste Your Life. ” I dug into Piper’s “This Momentary Marriage” – top line as well.
David Paul Tripp’s recent book called “Dangerous Calling. ” (Recommended by several).
On Preaching by H. B. Charles, Jr.
“He is Not Silent” by Al Mohler
“From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology” by John Dyer. Kregel digital editions. (read on Kindle) John Dyer is a Dallas Seminary graduate and current director of Web Development at Dallas. The book is a balanced, carefully written approach to technology. He traces the use of technology from the very beginning in Genesis, and tries to shape some sense of a theology of technology. He deals with both its dangers and it beneficial uses. His major point is that technology is never neutral, for its very purpose is to transform. It not only transforms our world, it transforms us. It reaches us on the level of our values, and we must understand this to integrate it properly into our worldview.
Sam Allberry – “Is God Anti-Gay? ” Solid treatment that pushes us back to Scripture to examine our hearts. “Is Jesus the Only Way? ” Phillip Ryken – On target. Also any commentaries by Ryken.
Wayne Grudem – “Business for the Glory of God. ” Good treatment of how God views work and business. I want to teach this in the fall in an adult class.
“How People Change” – by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp.
The Story of John G. Paton – by John G. Paton.
“The Surprising Offense of God’s Love” by Jonathan Leeman is one of best books I have read in 10 years. It exalts the church and church membership. It has a reformed perspective and misses the Matt 16 issue. It also has the kingdom mixed up. But it shows that God loves contra-conditionally, not unconditionally. It defines church membership as a covenant relationship, not just a commitment. It identifies the self-love/consumer mentality as good as any book.
Philip Yancey: “Prayer, Does it Make a Difference.”
Serving as Senders: How to Care for Your Missionaries While They Are Preparing to Go, While They Are on the Field, When They Return Home, by Neil Pirolo
“The Leader’s Palette: Seven Primary Colors” -Ralph E. Enlow Jr. Ralph is the head of ABHE, the accreditation and enabling group for Biblical Higher Education. It is one of the most biblical and helpful book for spiritual leaders of any responsibility.
Lit!A Christian Guide to Reading Books, Tony Reinke, Crossway. Even J. I. Packer puts his stamp on this volume: “If you need help to read books as both a discipline and delight – as in truth all of us do – then this is the book for you. Don’t miss it!” A concise aid on how to learn to read better, more widely and perceptibly.
Biblical SLAVE Leadership, a Stewardship from Above to Lead from Below, Daniel L. Anderson, Regular Baptist Books. My good brother, Dan Anderson, has served as president of Appalachian Bible College for more than thirty years and is more than qualified to write upon such a subject. I love their campus model, “Life is for service!” If you are a leader at any level, this book will instruct you on how to do it biblically. Foreword by Charles C. Ryrie.
CHIEF, Leadership Lessons from a Village in Africa, Paul Seger, Sawubona Press. Director of Biblical Ministries Worldwide, Brother Seger spent his childhood in Nigeria, where his parents served as pioneer missionaries. In this book he shares twenty basic leadership principles learned from a remote African village but principles that originate from the Bible. Don’t let the title mislead you. You will learn from a different perspective how to lead and be led.
The Hole in Our Holiness, Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness, Kevin DeYoung, Crossway. Becoming a prolific young writer, DeYoung guides us through such questions as what does it mean to be holy? Why should we care? And how can we change? John Piper calls it, “Ruthlessly biblical!”
CAPTIVATED, Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, Thabiti M. Anyabwile, Reformation Heritage Books; and JESUS on TRIAL, James Montgomery Boice & Philip G. Ryken, P&R Publishing, are two excellent books to read on the last hours of Christ on earth. The Cross and Christian Ministry, Leadership Lessons from I Corinthians, D. A. Carson, Baker Books, asks the question, “Is the Cross truly the center of our ministry? ” We see crosses everywhere today but not viewed as the Cross was in the first century. Our culture must be confronted with the genuine meaning of Calvary!
-Maynard H. Belt