Ten Book Recommendations for Pastor Appreciation 2018

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Every year I compile  a list of book recommendations for Pastor’s appreciation month. They would benefit any pastor who receives them as gifts next month. If you’re a pastor and get a gift card consider one of these titles. For last year’s list go here.

  1. Susie by Ray Rhodes (reviewed here).
  2. 12 Faithful Men edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson (reviewed here).
  3. High King of Heaven edited by John Macarthur (reviewed here).
  4. Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey (reviewed here).
  5. Preaching by the Book by R. Scott Pace (reviewed here).
  6. Preaching as Reminding by Jeffrey Arthurs (reviewed here).
  7. Walking Through Twilight by Douglas Groothuis (reviewed here).
  8. Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom Rainer (reviewed here).
  9. Some Pastors and Teachers by Sinclair Ferguson.
  10. The Preacher’s Catechism by Lewis Allen

 

 

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Letters to an American Christian (A Review)

Bruce Ashford, provost of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written a valuable resource for Christians seeking to navigate our current cultural and political milieu without compromising Christian conviction.

Written in the form of letters to a young Christian in college Ashford addresses a wide range of issues. He addresses the role faith plays in the Christians public life, making clear that one’s faith influences life in both the public and private spheres. Ashford often makes clear that often times there is a reductionistic understanding of issues such as immigration on both the right and the left.  He helps readers think through hot-topic issues such as transgender movement and how Christians should respond to it.

I hope this book would have a wide readership and that those who read it will actually be moved to more thoughtful interaction with the issues of our day. If social media is any indication many believers are more prone to knee-jerk reaction than thoughtful response to the challenging cultural issues of our day. If you’re a parent of a teenager I would strongly recommend getting this book and studying it alongside your child. If your a pastor or youth pastor it would be a beneficial resource for believers of all ages.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Call (A Review)

The Call by Os Guinness

The Call since its original publication 20 years ago has become a spiritual classic. In this work Os Guinness provides readers with a better understanding of the biblical teaching regarding the call of God.

In thirty chapters Guinness addresses the many different aspects of God as they are found in Scripture ranging from such topics as the call to be a distinct people in the world today to the final call of death in which believers are called home. This book is biblicaly rooted and gospel-centered. In every chapter one finds there is material for reflection and conviction. For instance in chapter 20 Guinness addresses the dangers of greed in relation to God’s exclusive call on our life. He points to the contrast of a calling economy and a commercial economy, pointing readers the fact that we are to live life for God’s sake. The chapters are short and this edition includes a study guide in the back to help readers reflect on the call of God. This book would lend itself well to either reading in a group study or as a daily devotional.

This book would prove to be beneficial to both believers and nonbelievers who are expressing interest in Christianity. I would heartily recommend this rich and engaging book to all readers.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Passion in the Pulpit: A Review

Passion in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Adam Dooley

Those who have studied preaching in seminary, and even some who have not, may be familiar with the concept that logos,ethos, and pathos are the essential parts of preaching. Much attention is given to logos, the content of epreaching, and attention is given to ethos, the character of the preacher, but pathos, the persuasive nature of preaching is often neglected or even ridiculed. This title helps serve as a corrective to that neglect and disdain.

In this book author Adam Dooley provides an exploration of each topic in the various chapters with Jerry Vines providing illustration of how the principles at hand are applied in the pulpit. One chapter that particularly stood out to me was the second chapter, which serves as a warning against personality driven preaching. I do have to disagree with what was said in chapter 4 when it states, “Though the Law is not binding as a moral standard for believers, it remains a relevant hermeneutical  key that helps us understand God and ourselves better (68).” Overall though this book is a helpful resource giving practical tips on how to be a better and more convincing preacher, pointing to the importance of heart felt preaching in persuading others of the truth of the Word.

I would commend this book as a valuable resource for any preacher. It offers practical insight and application in an area of preaching that is often ignored by preachers and writers.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Wife of Charles H. Spurgion(A Review)

Susie by Ray Rhodes

Susie Spurgeon, one of the most influential women in church history, has been one of the most neglected in terms of Christian biography. This neglect has been remedied in Ray Rhodes’s masterfully research biography due to be released September 4, 2018. Ray has scoured over primary sources to provide as full of an understanding of her life and contributions as possible.

As author Ray Rhodes notes there is scant information on the first twenty years of her life. It is with the calling of her future husband as pastor of New Park Chapel in London that the reader really begins to know Susie. Rhodes sheds light on Susie’s initial impressions of her future as well as the progress of their courtship. Susie’s role as mother to twins Thomas and Charles also brings to attention the sacrifice that the family made arising from the vastness of Spurgeon’s ministry. One can imagine that if Susie had not been a devoted and godly mother they would have turned out very differently.  She shared in the sufferings of her husband as well as bearing her own physical sufferings that took a serious toll on her health. These sufferings proved to be what led her to pursue a ministry that she is greatly known for, providing books for impoverished pastors and missionaries. It is in books that Susie has greatest legacy not only in the ones given as a support for those in ministry but also those written by her.

For those who have appreciated the life and labors of C.H. Spurgeon this title is truly a treasure that has been unearthed. While many of Spurgeon’s biographers will give some information on Susie such as their courtship, her illness, and her book fund. None of them have put in the painstaking effort of researching her to such an extent where she comes alive on the page, which is exactly what Ray Rhodes has done in this work. I’d highly recommend this title because as with her husband’s life story hers is one that has much to teach us today.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Dangerous Good: A review

Dangerous Good by Kenny Luck

The church and our country is facing a crisis with men. Many Christian men are living in conformity to the ways of the world as opposed to the identity they are called to in Christ. In this book pastor and author Kenny Luck provides a wake up call to men.

In ten chapters Luck addresses areas in life men need to address to be a force for dangerous good in the world. Luck addresses issues such as our identity in Christ, morality, treating women with dignity, and courage. I think the first two chapters are the most important as he focuses on men neglecting their Christian identity and the moral confusion found among young men. That confusion was illustrated in the murder of Christopher Lane who was killed in cold blood because teenage boys were bored and wanted to kill someone. In a society where men, even Christian men, are becoming increasingly isolated and immoral this book is greatly needed.

I would commend this book to all men, especially Christian men.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 

42 Seconds: A Review

42 Seconds The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions by Carl Medearis

As Christians we’re called to share the gospel, the good new of what Jesus has done, with those we come across. How do we do that? Carl Madearis in this book explores Christ’s conversations in the gospels to help readers see a pattern for personal evangelism in how Christ interacted with people.

This book is comprised of twenty short chapters divided into four sections. The first section explores the principle of being kind to those we are interacting with. The idea behind niceness being that we are to notice people, greet people, and developing a personal interest in people. The second section addresses the importance of being present attentive to the person we’re talking to as opposed to simply thinking of what we want to say and how we’re going to fix their problems. The third section addresses the need for boldness in making a gospel transition. The final section addresses the importance of Christ-likeness in gospel conversation.

Overall this book provides good insights into evangelism. While it might not revolutionary or groundbreaking it is a biblical and thought provoking reminder of the importance of sharing of faith and the importance of following the model of Christ.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus 3rd edition: A Review

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

Last year noted author, apologist, and convert to Christianity from Islam finished his course after a battle with stomach cancer. Later this month a third edition of the book that explored his journey from Islam to Christianity will be released.

Like many Nabeel began his exploration of Christianity as one opposed to it and sought to disprove it, and it was his journey to disprove Christianity that led him to faith in Christ. As he explores his journey he provides the reader helpful background information on Islam and its belief system. In addition to his story of coming to accept Christianity as true, the appendix with supplementary material from some of the best Christian apologists. One contribution that I found particularly helpful was Josh McDowell’s chapter on the role of dreams in Muslim conversions to Christianity.

In a time when Islam is still growing and poses such a challenge for the church Nabeel’s testimony is powerful reminder of the transforming power of the gospel. While Nabeel has finished his course hopefully through this book and others he has authored his story will continue to impact others by demonstrating the truth and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Preaching by the Book : A Review

Preaching by the Book by R. Scott Pace

While there is no shortage of books on preaching and sermon preparation R. Scott Pace has provided a concise and valuable contribution on the task of preaching.

In three sections composed of eight chapters Pace provides a general overview of the what, why, and how of preaching. In the first section he explores the importance of textual preaching and the priority of allowing the form of Scripture to shape the form of the sermon. In the second section he addresses studying the text and forming the sermon outline. In the third and final section he addresses the importance and use of introductions, illustrations, and invitations.

This book would make a helpful refresher to experienced preachers and a helpful introductions to those starting out as preachers. As a preacher I know I must constantly be growing, learning, and improving on this area of ministry and this book has helped me to do just that. The two chapters that have helped me the most are the chapters on illustrations and invitations. If you’re a preacher I would encourage you to get this book, if you’re aspiring to pastoral ministry this book should definitely be added to your list of reading.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Essential Jonathan Edwards : A Review

The Essential Jonathan Edwards by Owen Strachan and Douglas A. Sweeney

In 2010 the five-volume Essential Edwards was published by the authors of this volume. The authors have compiled much of that work into this present volume, making it much easier to access their previous work. If you’re just discovering Jonathan Edwards this book would be a great starting point to understand his life and his work as one of if not the greatest theologian America has ever produced.

This volume is divided into five sections following the same structure as the five-volume series published eight years ago. The first section provides a biographical overview of his life. The second explores the theme of beauty which was a common theme in his written works and sermons. The third section traces Edwards understanding of the good life. The fourth section addresses the nature of true Christianity as opposed to nominalism. The final section traces Edwards’s understanding of heaven and hell and how that understanding shaped his life and ministry.

This year will mark the 260th anniversary of Edwards’s passing and after all those years his works are still in print and still relevant today. Edwards served his day as a model pastor-theologian a dying breed in our day. His love of God and his commitment to sound doctrine and true godliness are evidenced not just in his writings but in his life work. If you’re unfamiliar with Edwards you won’t go wrong with reading this book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.