Books

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON THE GOSPELS

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Earlier this week I presented JC Ryle’s “5 leading features of evangelical Christianity”.

I mentioned that Ryle was a faithful pastor and bishop in the Anglican Church during the second half of the 19th century.

However, Ryle is best known today for his writings. Even though he was widely read during his lifetime, Ryle and his books were quickly forgotten, because the church quickly lost its taste for gospel rich theology.

Thankfully and to our benefit, Ryle has been rediscovered and his books are once again strengthening God’s people.

I highly recommend his “Expository Thoughts on the Gospels”. These volumes are theological rich, but not too technical or heavy for the general reader. I highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for deeper insight into Scripture and particularly the four gospels.

These books are available in various editions. They were originally published as Ryle finished them in 7 volumes: 1 volume on Matthew, 1 on Mark, 2 on Luke, and 3 on John. You can also buy them in one volume for your e-reader.

Even better, you can download the eBook set for free here at Monergism.com. Take your time at the Monergism site and look over their many books included this hard to beat list of 300 free eBooks!

For those who love biographies, Iain Murray has just released “JC Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone”.

AS GOOD AS A BOOK

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This month rather than recommending a book, I am recommending a website. AlMohler.com is the home of Dr. Al Mohler’s articles and podcasts.

In my opinion Al Mohler is the preeminent evangelical voice commenting on socio-political issues today.

Mohler’s website has helpful articles and his daily podcast commenting on the news from a biblical perspective is exceptionally insightful.

A bonus at this time of year is Mohler’s annual summer reading list which is geared for those who love history and biographies.

Dr. Mohler is President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Mohler not only leads this seminary well, by God’s grace he rescued the seminary from liberalism and almost single-handedly turned it into one of the strongest biblical seminaries in the world today.

I have heard Al Mohler a few times and met him once briefly. In additional to having a brilliant and thoroughly biblical mind, he is an engaging and gracious man. You will benefit by listening to and reading what he has to say.

 

IT’S GOOD TO BE IN AWE!

Paul Tripp writes helpful books, and his new book “Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do” does not disappoint.

There are two things Tripp does exceptionally well in his writing

1.  He gets to the biblical heart of the matters we face

2.  He applies and illustrates the truths he shares with examples from everyday life which connect to all of us

The thrust of Tripp’s latest book is that the core reason for messiness and breakdowns in our lives is because we don’t have our “awe” in proper alignment.

In addition to addressing this issue for life in general, Tripp specifically helps us look at how this applies to the two areas that dominate our life – our family and our job.

I highly recommend “Awe” and anything else by Paul Tripp you can read

REAL HELP FOR DEPRESSION

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Depression.

Being confronted by this word brings an instant desire for avoidance.

However, if you suffer from depression, you can’t run from it. And if someone we love is burdened by depression we shouldn’t try to run from it.

That still leaves us with the frustrating and exhausting problem of not knowing what to do!

Zack Eswine provides an outstanding resource for us in his book, Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who suffer from depression.

Eswine not only has personal experience with depression, he draws in the wisdom of Charles Spurgeon who was one of the most famous and fruitful pastors in history. Yet, Spurgeon struggled bitterly for many years with his own depression (that knowledge itself should provide some comfort for believers who battle depression).

I heartily recommend this book to everyone, because we all will either walk through depression or know someone who does. Eswine writes:

Diagnostic words like “depression” are invitations, not destinations. Once you’ve spoken them, your travel with a person has begun, not ended.

If you have read books that promised to help and found them to be frustratingly empty of real help, Zack Eswine and Charles Spurgeon combine gentle pastoral care with clear biblical wisdom.

A MEAL WITH JESUS

Every once in a while I hear or read an observation I had never noticed in the Bible that is so obvious; I wonder “How did I miss that?”

“A Meal with Jesus” by Tim Chester did this to me.

According to Tim, “Food matters. Meals matter. Meals are full of significance”.

Well, that part I already knew and give it my hearty amen!

But what I had not noticed was his observation of how frequently the gospels portray Jesus in the midst of a meal. Immediately I realized, “Wow that’s right!”

Tim adds that even when the gospels don’t portray Jesus at a meal, he is speaking about food and meals. In fact the Bible actually describes Jesus by saying, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking” (Luke 7:24).

The book focuses on the gospel of Luke in which meals and Jesus are given a prominent role.

Since we all understand the dynamics of meals, Tim Chester’s book is approachable, interesting and beneficial to any reader who wants to apply biblical truth to their lives.

With meals being so prominent in the Bible and in our human experience, “A Meal with Jesus” is an intriguing read.

As Tim Chester points out, “We need a theology of leftovers”.

AN AMAZING TESTIMONY OF FAITHFULNESS

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My book suggestion this month is a change of pace. Usually I am suggesting a title on Christian living; this month’s recommendation is biographical.

Franz Hasel, was a 40-year-old deeply committed Christian. The odd twist was that he was also a German soldier during World War Two.

A Thousand Shall Fall by Susi Hasel Mundy (his daughter) shares his truly amazing story.

There are many stunning points in this fascinating and encouraging true story of standing for Christ when evil surrounds you.

Franz Hasel not only never killed anyone, his side arm was a fake carved out of wood (he was in an engineering company, so he was not involved in shooting at enemy soldiers).

He only missed celebrating one Sabbath Day (he was an Adventist) during the entire war.

Since his company move ahead of the rest to work on bridges, he was able to warn Jews to hide.

Franz was hated, mocked and persecuted by other German soldiers and officers, yet God protected him throughout the war.

Franz served on the Eastern Front is areas like Stalingrad, so he experienced horrifying amounts of bloodshed, brutality and deprivation. However, what stands out most is the warmth of his love for God.

“A Thousand Shall Fall” will appeal to those interested in biographies, history, WWII, Christian living or inspiration!

 

JERRY BRIDGES 1929-2016

Jerry Bridges died on Sunday, he was 86 years old.

Bridges worked most of his adult life for The Navigators, an international, interdenominational Christian ministry that helps people grow in Jesus Christ as they navigate through life.

You can read this article on his life at their website.

As fruitful as I am sure his work has been with The Navigators, it is Jerry Bridges’ writing that has marked the church and will continue to do so for years to come.

Jerry Bridges’ writing is marked by clarity and practicality. His writing and speaking was wonderfully full of gospel warmth.

Thankfully I was able to hear Jerry Bridges a few years ago. He was a small unassuming man in his 80’s with a soft and slightly raspy voice. Yet, he spoke with an authority that came out of a life well used by God and deeply in love with our Savior!

If you are unacquainted with Jerry Bridges’ books, this is a good time to find one and have your soul nourished. If you are a Jerry Bridges’ fan, his books are like old friends which bring joy with each new visit.

Jerry Bridges wrote more than 20 books over the course of nearly 40 years. This list was supplied by the Gospel Coalition website:

The Pursuit of Holiness  Jerry Bridges’ first book may be his best known and is still widely read

The Practice of Godliness 

True Fellowship  [republished as True Community in 2012]

Trusting God

Transforming Grace 

The Discipline of Grace

The Joy of Fearing God 

I Exalt You, O God 

I Give You Glory, O God 

The Gospel for Real Life

The Chase  [taken from Pursuit of Holiness]

Growing Your Faith

Is God Really in Control?

The Fruitful Life

Respectable Sins

The Great Exchange [co-authored with Bob Bevington]

Holiness Day by Day  [a devotional drawing from his earlier writing on holiness]

The Bookends of the Christian Life [with Bob Bevington]

Who Am I?

The Transforming Power of the Gospel

31 Days Toward Trusting God  [abridged from Trusting God]

God Took Me by the Hand  This is Jerry Bridges’ autobiography

*The Blessing of Humility: Walk within Your Calling

*Jerry Bridges last book will be released in June. It is on a topic that is needed by everyone. I expect that Bridges will handle this topic masterfully

ALL YOU COULD READ AND MORE

 

Since I am in Belarus for half of February, my book recommendation this month is to share with you a great book list.

Monergism is an excellent theological website that sells worthy biblical resources. They also provide extensive amounts of puritan e-book material at no cost (also known as free).

You can find their books and blog articles at Monergism.com

What I am sharing with you today is a link to this article a couple months back which listed dozens of recommended Christian books in a variety of categories: Christian living, biography, classics, basics, advanced reading, apologetics, men, women, children etc.

Each book is listed as a link so you can go right the Amazon page for that book to get more information or to purchase it

CHRIST FORMED IN YOU

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Every Christian is meant to become like Christ.

Every Christian one day will see this come to a complete reality.

For every Christian, that day has not arrived – yet.

These truths should make us interested in reading the book, Christ Formed In You by Brian Hedges. This is because we all need help in this process.

“Christ Formed in You” provides both solid biblical rooting and helpful practical guidance in this all important process facing every Christian.

Here is a sample, under the category of “Ten Ways to Kill Sin”:

1. Yield yourself to God
2. Accept that the battle never ends
3. Take God’s side against your sin
4. Make no provision for the flesh
5. Use your spiritual sword
6. Aim at the heart
7. Replace sin with grace
8. Stay in community
9. Look to the cross
10. Depend on the Spirit

Becoming more serious about becoming more like Christ is not only a worthy process – it is an entirely good process. Christ is entirely good and so is being entirely committed to him!

Here is another encouragement, the power of God is what makes this possible happen. We don’t have to (and cannot) pursue this purpose in our abilities or wisdom.

I recommend that you read “Christ Formed in You” with a highlighter and notebook in hand. There is also a study guide of this book for use with small groups.

MY FAVORITE BOOKS IN 2015

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Here are some of my favorite reads from 2015. My list is longer than normal – I had a hard time narrowing it down.

 

CHRISTIAN LIFE

Hidden in the Gospel  by William Farley
This is another helpful resource about preaching the Gospel to ourselves

The Insanity of God  by Nik Ripken
Life impacting stories from the persecuted church

Life on Mission  by Dustin Willis and Aaron Coe
Keeping our life centered on what Christ us called us to do and be

Big Love  by Kara Tippetts
A short book that presents powerful truths on love, particularly in parenting

Becoming Worldly Saints  by Michael Wittmer
Affirming that you can serve Jesus and still enjoy your life

If You Bite and Devour One Another  by Alexander Strauch
The sins of the tongue and how to overcome them

A Meal With Jesuby Tim Chester
An interesting look at Jesus work and ministry in the meals recorded in the gospels

 

PASTORAL / CHURCH

Is God Anti-Gay?  by Sam Allberry
A helpful book by a pastor who struggled with same sex attraction

The Compelling Community  by Mark Dever
A challenging look at the fact that community in the church should go beyond natural affinity

Family Ministry Field Guide  by Timothy Jones
An excellent look at family ministry in the Church

 

THEOLOGY

Slave  by John MacArthur
A look at the biblical teaching on our being more than servants of God, we are to be “slaves”

Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors  by Voddie Baucham
An excellent look at the life of the Old Testament Patriarch, Joseph

Fear Not  by Ligon Duncan
One of the best reads of the year on the subject of death and eternal life

To Live is Christ  by Matt Chandler
An walk through the New Testament Book of Philippians

Rejoicing in Christ  by Michael Reeves
The much awaited sequel to his “Delighting in the Trinity” which was my favorite book in 2014

True Worshipers  by Bob Kauflin
A look at worship, both personal and corporate

We Become What We Worship  by G.K. Beale
An exhaustive biblical theology on idolatry

 

HISTORY

The Boys in the Boat  by Daniel Brown
The interesting story of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team

Mission at Nuremberg  by Tim Townsend
Story of the pastor who was chaplain for the highest ranking Nazi criminals during the Nuremburg trials

The Hidden White House  by Robert Klara
Interesting story of the White House reconstruction during the Truman presidency

 

BIOGRAPHY

My Autobiography  by Charlie Chaplin

Rebbe: A life of Menachem Schneerson  by Joseph Telushkin
The life of an unusual man and one of the most influential Jewish leaders in recent history

The Heart of Everything That Is  by Bob Drury & Tom Clavin
The life of the famous Sioux chief, Red Cloud

A Curious Man  by Neil Thompson
The life of Robert Ripley, the founder of Ripley’s Believe it or not fame

The White Horse King  by Benjamin Merkle
The Life of Alfred the Great who formed modern England

The Number 41: Portrait of My Father  by George W. Bush
A personal story of the life of George H.W. Bush by his son

True History of the Elephant Man  by Michael Howell

 

NON FICTION

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek  by Annie Dillard
A highly acclaimed book covering Dillard’s year of observations on a creek and on life