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BOOKS TO READ
Providence – by John Piper
Here’s a big, honk’n book I recently started. It’ll take a while to get through it. This dude is 752 pages long. Whoa! With any long book, the question of stewardship looms large. But I can’t imagine a better topic, or a better author to read for almost 800 page turns. You can get this book on Amazon, from Crossway, or you can do what I did: download the pdf for free from Desiring God (here).
“While some see God’s hand only in miracles, and others don’t see his hand at all, providence is the wonderful truth that God is sovereign in and over everything that happens. Combining passion with a curious spirit, John Piper has cherished and proclaimed this truth throughout his ministry. This engaging book is not just about one doctrine, but ranges throughout the alpine vistas of God’s work in our world, our redemption, and our lives today. It is deeply faith invigorating.”
―Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“In this remarkable book, John Piper reveals the personal side of sovereignty, helping us glimpse the intricate complexity, winsome beauty, and ultimate purpose of God’s plans in action. Piper is able to write about a multifaceted doctrine in a way that is easy to grasp and so practical!”
―Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder, Joni and Friends International Disability Center
“A nail sinks into a board because God planned for a hammer to hit it. A student makes an A on a test because God planned for the student to study. A jet flies from New York to Los Angeles because God planned for fuel to be available, wings to stay put, engines to thrust, and a pilot to know what he is doing. In none of these cases do we say that the cause was pointless—the hammer, the studying, the fuel, the wing, the engine, the pilot. Neither is prayer pointless. It is part of the plan.”
Amazon – $35.99 (kindle-$21.99)
Thrift Books – $34.99
Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion – by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck
Jesus loves the Church and gave Himself up for her. And so should we. That’s why I love books about healthy church life. This book engages the mind and the heart, and the way the authors express themselves will keep you reading, which we welcome in any book. Also, Ted Kluck must be the most successful author you’ve probably not heard of. He’s written a bunch of great books.
“I sometimes find, especially among my peers, that authenticity is not a…means of growing in holiness, but a convenient cover for endless introspection, doubt, uncertainty, anger, and worldliness. So that if other Christians seem pure, assured, and happy we despise them for being inauthentic. Granted, the church shouldn’t be happy-clappy naive about life’s struggles. Plenty of psalms show us godly ways to be real with our negative emotions. But the church should not apologize for preaching a confident Christ and exhorting us to trust Him in all things. Church is not meant to foster an existential crisis of faith every week.”
If you’re looking for reality, authenticity, and honesty, you’ve found it in this book. Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, shrewd observers and faithful practitioners, have once again written a book that is like the best of foods–good tasting and good for you. Their style is easy, creative, and funny. They are theologically faithful, fresh, and insightful. They are sympathetic with many concerns and even objections to much in the church today, yet are finally defensive, in the best sense of the word. They are careful critics of the too-popular critics of the church. They are lovers of Christ and His church. I pray this book will help you love Christ’s church better, too.
-Mark Dever, author of 9 Marks of a Healthy Church
Two young men, a pastor and a layman, here critique the criticisms of the institutional church that are fashionable today. Bible-centered, God-centered, and demonstrably mature, they win the argument hands down. As I read, I wanted to stand up and cheer.
-J. I . Packer, professor of theology, Regent College
Amazon – $14.98 (kindle – $9.99)
Thriftbooks – $4.69
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification – Walter Marshall
Not many books deserve your attention every year. But The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification does! I’ve heard wise theologians argue recommend this book as the best book on gospel-centered sanctification. Read it and you’ll see why. It’s a classic I come back to over and over again. You really should too. It’s that good.
“You cannot love God if you are under the continual secret suspicion that he is really your enemy! … You simply cannot love God unless you know and understand how much he loves you. … In the gospel, you can come to know that God truly loves you through Christ. When you have this assurance, you can even love your enemies, because you know that you are reconciled to God. You know that God’s love will make people’s hatred of you work together for your good.”
This is perhaps one of the best treatises on the doctrine of sanctification ever penned. It was first published in 1692, yet remains today as one of the most authoritative treatments of the subject. The contents are the culmination of Puritan thought on living the Christian life. Combining doctrinal precision and pastoral sensitivity, Walter Marshall shows how sanctification is essential to spiritual life, dependent on spiritual union with Jesus Christ, and inseparable—though distinct—from justification. He shows how holiness involves both the mind and the soul of the believer and that it is the aim of the Christian life. It is no wonder that this book has been reprinted many times throughout the years and received such high praise from leading ministers of the gospel. – Monergism
Amazon – $23.57 (kindle – $7.95)
Thriftbooks – $39.34
Monergism – $0.00
Finding The Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation – by Elyse Fitzpatrick
The distinction between the Law and the Gospel, as presented by Walter Marshall (above), Michael Horton, and others changed my life. It changed the way I read the Bible. Elyse Fitzpatrick was a prominent voice to help me think better about the Law and the Gospel. I see a continual need to read the Bible better as well. You too? Oh, and here’s a great, 1hr seminar by Elyse, about this same topic.
But let’s get really honest first: how long has it been since you felt a passion or excitement about spending time in the word? Sure, you read the Bible, but when it’s time to read the Bible, do you anticipate that Jesus will be due, or his Bible reading become a guilt-motivated duty? If that’s what it has become to you, your struggle to get it done and it spending time in the Bible is not something you do as much as you think you should you wouldn’t be alone.
“Elyse introduces us to the way Jesus taught his followers to read and understand [the Bible], which puts who he is and what he’s done firmly at the center of every part of the Bible’s story.”
–Nancy Guthrie, author of the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series
“Whether you have studied the Bible for years or just begun, Finding the Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation will renew your mind and refresh your soul.”
–Susan Hunt, author of several books, including Spiritual Mothering
“I love that Elyse’s new book is laser-focused on helping us see the context of God’s big story and how all the pieces fit together.”
–Gloria Furman, cross-cultural worker, author of Missional Motherhood and Alive in Him
Amazon – $8.99 (kindle – $0.00)
Jude – Bible Study Book – by Jackie Hill Perry
Ok, so this isn’t a book, exactly. It’s a Bible study which could benefit an individual, one-on-one discipleship duo, or a small group. Ladies in my church are currently using this and loving it. Gospel-focused. Rich. Honest. Insightful. Go get it.
“I never write reviews but this study deserves 10 stars. Yes Jude is only 25 verses but this study dissects it AND challenges us the reader to open our bible and pray that God reveal himself to us as we go through this study guide. It’s so good I couldn’t not write a review. It’s a must buy.” – Amazon Buyer, one of almost 2000 to review it!
ARTICLES TO READ
“TGC Essays” – by TGC
Oh, boy. Lookie here. A treasure trove of topical essays from our friends at TGC. I love collections like this, where tons of useful reading is loaded into one place – articles here
“How Hyperbole Dulls Our Spiritual Discernment” – by Thomas Schreiner
Another TGC resource. Thomas Schreiner really hits an important nerve by identifying the role of hyperbole. – article here
“On Membership Interviews” – by Pastors Talk Podcast
Not an article, but an audio. Pastors and church leaders: listen to this interview from 9 Marks, about the value of membership interviews. Only 18 minutes. – article here
“The Unbusy Pastor” – by Eugene Peterson
Also for pastors, a really helpful article about busyness from Eugene Peterson. I’ve been listening more carefully to Peterson lately, and this article was good. – article here
Enjoying this weekly update on books and articles? Read, like, and share it with someone else.
I like skillful writing, especially articles. So often I read through Pulitzer Prize winning pieces. You can search all the winners for the last 100+ years on the Pulitzer website. This week I was reminded of a fascinating Pulitzer winner from 1920 called “Law and the Jungle,” written out of Harvey E Newbranch’s journalistic concern for riots in Omaha, Nebraska. Current debates about US law add to the intriguing nature of this piece of history. (article)
*As always, be a discerning reader.