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BOOKS TO READ
Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been – by Jackie Hill Perry
Every book tells a story. But not every story captivates the same way. The story of Jackie Hill Perry captivates for many reasons, but most of all because of God’s grace. Like all Christians, Jackie’s story begins with major obstacles between her and God. But grace broke through. Read her story to understand better the power of the gospel. Read her story because it will instill hope in you. Read her story so you can instill hope in others. Also get the audiobook, narrated by the author.
“Yet, unbelief doesn’t see God as the ultimate good. So it can’t see sin as the ultimate evil. It instead sees sin as a good thing and thus God’s commands as a stumbling block to joy. In believing the devil, I didn’t need a pentagram pendant to wear, neither did I need to memorize a hex or two. All I had to do was trust myself more than God’s Word. I had to believe that my thoughts, my affections, my rights, my wishes, were worthy of absolute obedience and that in laying prostrate before the flimsy throne I’d made for myself, that I’d be doing a good thing.”
Jackie Hill Perry is a writer, poet, and artist whose work has been featured on the Washington Times, The 700 Club, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and other publications. Since becoming a Christian in 2008, she has been compelled to use her speaking and teaching gifts to share the light of the gospel of God as authentically as she can. At home she is a wife to Preston and Mommy to Eden and Autumn.
Searching Our Hearts in Difficult Times – by John Owen (yes, Owen has an Amazon author page)
Oh how helpful the Puritans have been to my life. Of course, they’re not perfect; only the Lord is flawless. But these brothers (fathers even) had such an ability to deliver strong, biblical, pastoral wisdom, and to connect it to real life. You might think a man like John Owen couldn’t possibly understand our modern lives. But you’d be wrong. His view of the world transcends time, and the truths he delivers land in every era. Searching Our Hearts in Difficult Times is a must-read among the Puritan Paperbacks. Its original title was boring. The new title hits the nail on the head.
“I do not look for any safety or deliverance in the trials and afflictions ahead, except for what is obtained by believing. I see no help in anyone who thinks otherwise. Bless God, who has provided for us this door of entrance before the flood comes and the rain falls. Bless God for it, I say, and make use of it, and be able to plead it before him. And let God know you have made your choice; that you are under his protection and not that of the world. I do not say you will be saved in time, but you shall be saved to eternity. I cannot say that you will have peace with men, but you shall have peace with God. I cannot say that you will not lose your lives, but I will say that you shall not lose your souls—and they are our greatest concerns.”
I cannot exaggerate the blessing that Banner of Truth has been to my life and the lives of my colleagues. Young people often ask me to share with them the books which have most shaped my theology and fanned into flame my zeal. The answer is always the same – Banner books and the Puritans. It is with the greatest urgency that I encourage every young Christian to read the Puritans, and the very best place to start is the Puritan Paperback Series from Banner of Truth.’ — Paul Washer
‘I started reading the Puritan Paperbacks when I was in college. I’ve read around a dozen of them by now and have always found them edifying, convicting, and deeply spiritual. There are several—like Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor and Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices—that I come back to often. You won’t find better physicians of the soul than the Puritans.’ — Kevin DeYoung
Here we have a helpful book, especially as religion and race intersect in meaningful ways. The authors expound on survey data about the views of people regarding race, and religion. Culturally-sensitive Christians will find this book super interesting and thought-provoking. The conclusions are keen and thoughtful, detailing the role of individualism, free will, personal relationships, and other influences.
“Much research points to the race problem as rooted in intergroup conflict over resources and ways of life, the institutionalization of race-based practices, inequality and stratification, and the defense of group position.1 These are not the views of white evangelicals, however. For them, the race problem is one or more of three main types: (1) prejudiced individuals, resulting in bad relationships and sin, (2) other groups—usually African Americans—trying to make race problems a group issue when there is nothing more than individual problems, and (3) a fabrication of the self-interested—again often African Americans, but also the media, the government, or liberals.”
“This path-breaking book is the best study in print on the racial attitudes of white evangelical Protestants. The book’s unusual strength comes from its ability to combine a reliable summary of historical circumstances with careful attention to what evangelicals actually say and sensitive use of responsible sociological theory. The arguments of the book are made even more forceful by the willingness of Emerson and Smith to take the evangelicals’ own theology seriously, especially where that theology calls into question standard patterns of evangelical racial practice.”–Mark A. Noll, Professor of History, Wheaton College
“This book is a report card for the church leaders and, I hope, the larger society. The authors show how racial valuations are basically built into the structures of society, and so we are, in a sense, failing by design.”–Robert Franklin, president, Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, the largest historically African-American seminary in the U.S., as quoted in Christianity Today
“A carefully nuanced descriptive analysis of ‘the white experience’ in relation to evangelical religion. Not since I read Charles Marsh’s God’s Long Summer have I encountered such a conscientious engagement of the ethical problem of religion and race among white evangelicals.”–Cheryl J. Sanders, Professor of Christian Ethics at Howard University School of Divinity and senior pastor, Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C., as quoted in Harvard Divinity Bulletin
Michael O. Emerson is the Tsanoff Professor of Public Affairs and Sociology at Rice University, the author of numerous articles on race relations and religion, and the co-author of United by Faith. He lives in Houston, Texas. Christian Smith is the Chapin Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the author of American Evangelicalism and Christian America? What Evangelicals Really Want. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Amazon – $17.58 (kindle – $10.49)
Thriftbooks – $8.19
christianbook.com – $15.99
The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts – by Joe Rigney
So Piper wrote the Foreword, and that’s reason enough to read this book. But wait, there’s more. This book brings such a wonderfully fresh look into the source of our gladness, which is God Himself. But many of us have felt a tension between enjoying God without worshipping His gifts. Rigney brings important clarity to this tension, helping us to magnify God’s glory as well as our gladness in Him, the greatest Giver of gifts. And pastors, check out this sobering article by Rigney.
The challenges we face are Narnian challenges. The victories we win are Narnian victories. But our time in Narnia is not an end in itself. We go there so that we then can live better here. By taking us out of this world, Lewis enables us to become something that we weren’t before, something greater and grander, so that, when we return out of the wardrobe, we face our own Giants of Despair differently. We face them as true Narnians.
“If there is an evangelical Christian alive today who has thought and written more biblically, more deeply, more creatively, or more practically about the proper enjoyment of creation and culture, I don’t know who it is . . . This book has been very helpful to me. I mean that personally. I think I will be a better father and husband and friend and leader because of it.”—John Piper, Founder, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary
“We are probably familiar with the proverb about the overly pious fellow, the one who is so heavenly minded he is no earthly good. And we have seen the opposite so many times that we don’t even need a proverb for it—the carnal thinker who is so earthly minded he is no heavenly good. And no earthly good either, as it turns out. The hardest thing to achieve on this subject is balance, but it is a difficult feat that Rigney has accomplished. Buy this book. Make it one of your earthly possessions. Read it to find out what that is supposed to mean.”—Douglas Wilson, Senior Fellow of Theology, New St. Andrews College; Pastor, Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho
“Reading this will be a sweet moment of profound liberation for many. With wisdom and verve, Rigney shows how we can worship our creator through the enjoyment of his creation. This is going to make a lot of Christians happier in Christ—and more attractively Christlike.”—Michael Reeves, Director of Union and Senior Lecturer, Wales Evangelical School of Theology; author, Delighting in the Trinity, The Unquenchable Flame and Rejoicing in Christ
Joe Rigney is Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons. He’s convinced that he’s descended from King Lune of Archenland on his father’s side.
The Cross and Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians – Bible Study Book – by D.A. Carson
Ah, now one particularly for the pastors and church leaders. No matter how or where you serve, you have the same task as I: we need to make Christ central. D.A. Carson (may he live forever) brings lessons in leadership gleaned from 1 Corinthians, and meshes them into the context of local church ministry.
And don’t forget to go ahead and read every other book by D.A. Carson.
“Focus on Christ crucified. That is what Paul did: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:2). This does not mean that this was a new departure for Paul, still less that Paul was devoted to blissful ignorance of anything and everything other than the cross. No, what he means is that all he does and teaches is tied to the cross. He cannot long talk about Christian joy, or Christian ethics, or Christian fellowship, or the Christian doctrine of God, or anything else, without finally tying it to the cross. Paul is gospel-centered; he is cross-centered.”
“Some years ago my pastor told me to stock my library with anything by D. A. Carson. Baker Books recently issued a reprint of his 1980 classic The Cross and Christian Ministry, and graciously offered me a copy for review. Now having read it, I’d recommend it as the first book of Carson’s to pick up and read. I enjoyed it so much, I bought a digital copy as well.
The book is based on a series of lectures Carson gave on 1 Corinthians 1-4 and 9, which gives the book its subtitle: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians. Carson taps into a core truth about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and the foundation of his entire ministry: Christ and him crucified. The gospel, the good news, is the center. Carson shows how Paul’s grasp of the gospel dictated his entire approach to ministry, from identifying the root cause of the world’s hostility to our message, to correcting self-righteous attitudes and factionalism, to laying down our rights in service to others, to learning what it really means to become all things to all people.” – Amazon Reviewer
D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978. Carson came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he also served for two years as academic dean. He has served as assistant pastor and pastor and has done itinerant ministry in Canada and the United Kingdom. Carson received the Bachelor of Science in chemistry from McGill University, the Master of Divinity from Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto, and the Doctor of Philosophy in New Testament from the University of Cambridge. Carson is an active guest lecturer in academic and church settings around the world. He has written or edited about sixty books. He is a founding member and currently president of The Gospel Coalition.
Amazon – $15.84 (Kindle – $8.99)
christianbook.com – $9.99
Thrift Books – $5.39
ARTICLES TO READ
“An Open Letter to Those Frustrated By Their Progress in Sanctification – by David Powlison
Most of us are slow movers, when it comes to spiritual growth. David Powlison, a deep well of wisdom, writes you a letter if you feel this way about your own sanctification. – article here
“MacKenzie Scott Gave Away Billions. The Scam Artists Followed.” – by Nicholas Kulish
The story of MacKenzie Scott’s generosity this year has been incredible, amazing, confounding, and inspiring. But as with all things in a fallen world, humans find a way to ruin it. Come on, people. Try to be cool about this. – article here
“How Should I Pray When I Want to Quit Ministry?” – by Jeff Robinson
2020 was super difficult for all of us, and especially for pastors and other leaders. Let’s be honest, it’s still difficult. For many pastors, the year of covid drove us to pray. But we struggled to know how. Christians and pastors did and can benefit from this article again. – article here
“Growing My Faith in the Face of Death” – by Tim Keller
Tim Keller is a gift to the Church. His diagnosis of serious health concerns troubled many who recognize his value. Here Keller discusses his own quest to take the pastoral advice he gave to many others. – article here
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I found this list of “20 Must Read Books for Writers” helpful, as I routinely keep an eye out for writing helps. The home of this article seems a creepy place, so I didn’t click around much. But if you’re looking to read about writing, look at the list. (article)
*As always, be a discerning reader.