Posts filed under ‘Books’

Three Books on Ecclesiastes

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I just finished preaching through Ecclesiastes. It was difficult but rewarding. When venturing into a complex and debated book like Ecclesiastes, it is always helpful to be in dialogue with others who have gone before you. Here are three accessible companions I found helpful on my journey.

Living Life Backward by David Gibson

Gibson has provided us with a lively popular exposition on Ecclesiastes. Not only is his exegesis compelling, so is Gibson’s ability to apply the text to our context. This book is a gift to the church and a great resource for teachers and preacher who venture into the wild world of Ecclesiastes.

Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes by Sidney Greidanus

This book is a must-have for any preacher or teacher working through Ecclesiastes. Greidanus walks teachers and preachers step-by-step from “passage to proclamation” for every single passage in Ecclesiastes. Greidanus also explores various ways to move from this often difficult Old Testament book to Jesus Christ and its New Testament application.

Recovering Eden by Zach Eswine

Recovering Eden is a pastorally sensitive and poetic guide written on a popular level. Eswine explores the main themes of Ecclesiastes in a reflective and engaging way. One note, this book does not move through the text chapter by chapter, however, there is a helpful index in the back if you plan to use it as a reference for teaching or preaching.

There are several other helpful works as well, my next choices would Ryken and Akin. 

January 18, 2018 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

A Pastor’s List: My Favorite Books Read In 2017

 

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This is not a list of books published in 2017 (though some were), it is a list of books that I read in 2017.

As a pastor, I usually read 3-4 commentaries for each sermon series I preach (6 series in 2017). In order to narrow the list, I will set the commentaries aside.

This is a list of (somewhat) recently published books that had a profound impact on my own spiritual formation and philosophy of ministry. It’s also a list of books that I would recommend to my pastor friends. Click on the title to view it on Amazon.com.

The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus by Zack Eswine

Eswine helped us see that pastoral work keeps requiring our surrender to small, mostly overlooked things over long periods of time. As a pastor, I was never meant to know everything, fix everything, and be everywhere at once. That’s Jesus’ job, not yours.

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith

Smith has long argued, in the tradition of Augustine, that who and what we worship fundamentally shape our hearts. Too often we do not realize the ways our hearts are being taught to love rival gods instead of the One for whom we were made. Smith not only argues that worshiping in a local church is central to the heart of Christian formation and discipleship, he also suggests several practices for shaping the Christian life. This book is a popularized version of the arguments Smith made in his 2009 book Desiring the Kingdom.

How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs

Have you ever wondered how much the herd mentality affects your thought life? Perhaps, our hostility toward one another is not based on facts, but on a desire to be included in a particular group. Professor Jacobs digs into the nuts and bolts of the cognitive process, offering hope that each of us can reclaim our mental lives from the impediments that plague us all.

The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson

In this work, Peterson traces his journey of discovering of what it really means to be a pastor. As always, Peterson challenges conventional wisdom regarding church marketing, CEO pastors, and American Christian consumerism by presenting a simple, faith-based description of what being a minister means today. He urges us to pay attention to God, and to one another.

Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical by Tim Keller

We live in the age of skepticism, where so much faith is placed in reason, progress, and emotion that one might wonder: why should anyone believe in Christianity? In this follow up The Reason for God (2009), Keller explores what role can faith and religion play in our modern lives.

Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine by Kevin Vanhoozer

In this book, Vanhoozer argues that theology is not merely a set of cognitive beliefs, but is also something we do that involves speech and action alike. In order to illustrate his point, he uses a theatrical model to explain the ways in which doctrine shapes Christian understanding and forms disciples. According to Vanhoozer, disciples need doctrinal direction as they walk onto the social stage in the great theater of the world.

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel

Why do so many pastors implode under the spotlight? Why do modern-day churches become so entangled in growing their brand that they lose sight of their true purpose? Because, according to Goggin and Strobel, Christians have succumbed to the temptations of power and forgotten Jesus’ seemingly contradictory path to power – giving it up. This book paints a richly biblical vision of power through weakness.

Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God by Rankin Wilbourne

The gospel answers life’s most foundational questions about identity, destiny, and purpose. Union with Christ is a central gospel metaphor for understanding what it means to live in Christ and actually become like Him. According to Wilbourne, nothing is more practical for living the Christian life than grasping this reality!

December 30, 2017 at 7:05 am Leave a comment

Summer Reading List

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I recently joined a podcast called “The Front Pew” with Chris Griggs and Ben Rudolph. The podcast is a conversation between three pastors in North Carolina about life, ministry, church and mission as they see it…from the front pew.

This past episode, we discussed the importance of reading and offered a list of books to read over the summer. Here is our list.

The Christian Life

Theology

Ecclesiology

Pastoral Ministry

Biography/History

Fun/Enjoyment

Take up and read!

June 8, 2017 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Sharing Jesus Teaching Videos with Dr. Alvin Reid

SharingJesusWithoutFreakingOut_3D-01-1 2.png“How do you start meaningful conversations about your relationship with Jesus Christ? God gives you daily opportunities to share His love with others. You don’t have to look hard to take advantage of the right moments to help other people find the love and joy of Jesus in their lives. Do you feel nervous about the thought of talking to others about your faith? In Sharing Jesus without Freaking Out, you’ll learn how to incorporate biblical stories into conversations with the people in your life. You already have the gifts necessary to share God’s love with other people. You don’t need a memorized evangelism script or a tract handy. Simply relax, tell your story, and you might be amazed at how natural it can be to share Jesus.”

A few months ago I invited Alvin Reid to Fairview Baptist Church for our quarterly leadership training. In partnership with B&H Academic and The Baptist State Convention, this seminar on evangelism was recorded as a resource for Dr. Reid’s newest book, “Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out“.  I hope these sessions challenge you and encourage you like they did our church family.

The videos can be found here: http://www.bhacademic.com/sharingjesus-teaching-videos/ 

April 23, 2017 at 9:29 pm Leave a comment

The Curious Christian

hero-cover-2Curiosity is such a childish word, right? Not so fast. Just because we grow up doesn’t mean we should lose our wonder at the world, or the people around us. When we do, we lose so much because curious is how God made us to be.

My friend Barnabas Piper is on to something here. Without curiosity a Christian’s life is incomplete. “Without curiosity he can never discover deep things, deep connections God tucked below the banal surface of life.”

In his new book, Piper explores what curiosity is, and how it affects relationships. Here are a few good quotes!

  • Curiosity is more than a mere trait. It is a discipline, a skill, a habit – one that will expand your life in magnificent, if subtle, ways.
  • Imagination guides and shapes our use of information.
  • God is echoed in rhythms of music, meter of poems, strokes of brush, taps of a hammer, numbers on a pivot table, laughs with a friend, fantastical fiction, icicles, acorns, sweet tea, oak trees, walleye, alloy metals, espresso, and cirrus clouds.
  • You and I were created to create and discover, created for the vocation of reflecting God’s image.
  • Curiosity combined with courage presses in and digs deeper in relationship.
  • If curiosity is not increasing our joy and capacity for enjoyment then something is amiss.
  • Curiosity is a hunger to know more truth so that we can show people more truth so that our world will see more of God.
  • Curious people create more, find better solutions to problems, overcome challenges, meet needs that arise, make connections, and prepare better for the future.
  • Open-mindedness, at its best, is humility and grace blended with curiosity – but not without conviction.
  • The Christian faith should be curious, not blind. It should be full of questions, not fear questions.
  • True curiosity is the pursuit of truth, the exploration of God’s creation and will for the world.
  • Questions are the currency of curiosity. But unlike other currency there is no withdrawal limit and they multiply themselves. Spend liberally.

Be curious. By all means, invest the time to read this book.

March 14, 2017 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

Two Books You Haven’t Heard Of…

Well, perhaps you have heard about them. If you haven’t, they are worth your consideration.

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When a parent leaves, undoubtedly the children struggle to make sense of it. While I have never experienced this personally, I have friends and family members who have. One thing is clear, nothing hurts like the abandonment of a parent.

In his book Left, Jonathan Edwards (not the puritan) writes with honesty and transparency as he reflects on his life as an abandoned child. Edwards also writes in a way that provides hope for anyone struggling with the absence of a parent. As a pastor and a Christian friend this book was important to read because it provided a window into the lives of others that have experienced the pain of parental abandonment. I am thankful for Jonathan’s contribution to the church, and his reminder that while “…abandonment always leaves scars, Jesus heals. And He will never leave you.”

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DISCIPLESHIP

My friends Derek Radney and Trevor Lawrence are unremittingly clear-headed thinkers and know what they believe and why they believe it. When I received their book on Discipleship, I know it was going to be thorough and articulate.

In Discipleship, Derek and Trevor attempt to outline a comprehensive introduction to the Christian faith in a way that is faithful to the task of passing on the truth once for all delivered to the saints. It is comprehensive not because it explains everything exhaustively but because it covers the basics of the whole expanse of what Christianity concerns, teaching the doctrine (the truth), the morality (the way), and the fellowship (the life) of the Christian faith. You will notice that the book is organized around the ancient discipleship structure “the way, the truth, and the life”. This book is a good tool to read with others and explore what it means to be a Christian and to help others learn how to do the same.

January 13, 2017 at 9:52 pm Leave a comment

Isaiah: Free Advent Devotinals

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I recently wrote a series of devotionals through Isaiah for LifeWay.

Advent is a special and important time to reflect on the birth of Jesus and everything Jesus came to do. The goal for using the devotionals,

  • Draw your family closer around the birth of Christ
  • Help you develop fresh appreciation for why Christ came
  • Adopt a purpose- and mission-filled approach to the busy Christmas season.

I encourage you to not only use it for your family but to share it with other families in your study groups.

You can download them here. 

December 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

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