More Suggested Reading

It has been a while since I’ve shared what I’ve been reading with you, so today I thought I’d offer just a few of the books that I’ve read since the beginning of the year that I would recommend to you.  Enjoy!

 father hungerFather Hunger, by Doug Wilson

Admittedly, I pretty much like everything that Doug Wilson writes.  Sometimes I will disagree with Wilson, but I still like the way he says it.  He is a wordsmith, and his ability to turn a phrase and cut straight to the heart of the matter is brilliant.

One description of the book states, Father Hunger takes a thoughtful, timely, richly engaging excursion into our cultural chasm of absentee fatherhood. Blending leading-edge research with incisive analysis and real-life examples, Wilson traces a range of societal ills — from poverty and crime to joyless feminism and paternalistic government expansion — to a vacuum of mature masculinity.  Extoling the benefits of restoring fruitful fathering, from stronger marriages to greater economic liberty, Father Hunger encourages and challenges men to “embrace the high calling of fatherhood” and become the dads that their families and our culture so desperately need them to be.

affectionsSetting our Affections Upon Glory by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

When Peter was walking on the sea with Christ in Matthew 14, it was only when he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to notice the waves and the wind that he started to sink.  For many of us even today, the troubles and trials of this world seem large and unconquerable, and we have taken our eyes off of our Savior, off of God.  When that happens, the world seems huge, and God seems so small.

Setting our Affections Upon Glory will help to correct that vision.  A collection of 9 sermons from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, challenges us to reevaluate the focus of our lives and the object of our affections, individually, and as the Church.  Covering topics such as prayer, evangelism, and the church, this timely book serves as a wakeup call to the church, exhorting all of us to remain faithful to the Word of God and fostering a spirit of renewed devotion fervor.

trellisThe Trellis and the Vine  by Collin Marshall and Tony Payne

In this wonderfully written book on ministry, Marshall and Payne show how all Christian ministry is a mixture of trellis and vine.  There is vine work: the prayerful preaching and teaching of the word of God to see people converted and grow to maturity as disciples of Christ. Vine work is the Great Commission.  And there is trellis work: creating and maintaining the physical and organizational structures and programs that support vine work and its growth.  The habit of many churches is to let the “trellis work take over” while all of the “vine work” is done by very few, so that the church is all structure and little fruit.

The Trellis and the Vine is a great study for the leadership of the Church, but also for every church member, calling for a major change in the way we “do Church,” so that the vine may flourish.

callingDangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp

This is one of the hardest, but most helpful books I’ve read on the Pastoral Ministry, but also one that I would recommend to everyone who is preparing for the ministry, or has ever felt discouraged in ministry, or who has ever had a pastor who has been discouraged and questions their call – in other words, I recommend this to everyone.

Writing as a Pastor who has counseled other pastors, and who has dealt with his own failures and frustrations, Tripp reminds Pastors that we are all in the midst of our own salvation, that we will struggle with insecurities and outright sin in our own lives, we will handle the struggle and sins of others very poorly at times, and we will be tempted to accept mediocrity in our ministry.  Refreshingly, the solution offered by Tripp is not a method or program to revitalize your ministry, but a heartfelt, humble return to the all-surpassing glory of God in Jesus Christ.  Dangerous Calling, above all else, is a powerful call for pastors to keep Christ at the heart of their ministry.

gileadGilead by Marilynne Robinson

This is not my normal fare for fiction.  When it comes to pleasure reading, I usually turn to J.R.R. Tolkien or Stephen Lawhead.  But from the very first paragraph of Gilead, I was hooked.  The novel is the fictional autobiography of the Reverend John Ames, an elderly Congregationalist pastor in the small, secluded town of Gilead, Iowa who knows that he is dying of a heart condition. Writing in 1957, Ames explains gives an account of his life for his seven-year-old son, who will have few memories of him.  Immediately the Father/Son, Iowa Pastor themes intrigued me, but quite honestly, this is some of the absolute best writing I have ever encountered.  You can feel the wear and worry of age on the old pastor, taste the scorched dust as Ames recounts his journey through Kansas with his father to find his grandfather’s grave, and glimpse the inexpressible glory that only a Pastor really appreciates as he gently wipes the water from a child’s forehead in baptism.  This has quickly become one of my favorites.

Good Reading!

Worth the Read (6/8)

As a pastor I do a lot of reading on a lot of topics from a lot of sources.  I began to realize lately that perhaps I should be passing these readings along to you.  So each Friday – Lord willing – I will assemble sort of a “Best Of” reading list, highlighting some of the stuff that’s come across my desk (or screen) this week.  Enjoy!

15 Things Wives Should Stop Doing – What do your words and actions say to your husband about your love for him?  by Mary May Larmoyeux.

Ugly Dies – by Doug Wilson.  On the topic of killing the “old self.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.  This is a good reminder on the meaning of taking up our cross and following Christ.

Why Obamacare Fails to Get God’s Vote – by Bill Blankshaen.  This article (or series of articles) discusses the Affordable Healthcare Act of the Obama administration from and covenantal perspective.  Its interesting, and perhaps looks at the debate from a perspective many have not considered.

North Dakota Woman Marries Herself – from the Huffington Post.  One wonders if this isn’t just a gag, but it has all the makings of a real story.  It only serves to demonstrate how important it is that the church take an active role in defending the Biblical teaching that marriage is ordained by God for one man and one woman.

By What Standard – an excerpt from the documentary called Collision, where Douglas Wilson debated Christopher Hitchens on Is Christianity Good for the World?

And Finally,

A friend on Facebook linked this video, and it just has to be shared again.  Sing along, you know you want to.