It has been a while since I’ve shared what I’ve been reading with you, so today I thought I’d offer just a few of the books that I’ve read since the beginning of the year that I would recommend to you. Enjoy!
Admittedly, I pretty much like everything that Doug Wilson writes. Sometimes I will disagree with Wilson, but I still like the way he says it. He is a wordsmith, and his ability to turn a phrase and cut straight to the heart of the matter is brilliant.
One description of the book states, Father Hunger takes a thoughtful, timely, richly engaging excursion into our cultural chasm of absentee fatherhood. Blending leading-edge research with incisive analysis and real-life examples, Wilson traces a range of societal ills — from poverty and crime to joyless feminism and paternalistic government expansion — to a vacuum of mature masculinity. Extoling the benefits of restoring fruitful fathering, from stronger marriages to greater economic liberty, Father Hunger encourages and challenges men to “embrace the high calling of fatherhood” and become the dads that their families and our culture so desperately need them to be.
When Peter was walking on the sea with Christ in Matthew 14, it was only when he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to notice the waves and the wind that he started to sink. For many of us even today, the troubles and trials of this world seem large and unconquerable, and we have taken our eyes off of our Savior, off of God. When that happens, the world seems huge, and God seems so small.
Setting our Affections Upon Glory will help to correct that vision. A collection of 9 sermons from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, challenges us to reevaluate the focus of our lives and the object of our affections, individually, and as the Church. Covering topics such as prayer, evangelism, and the church, this timely book serves as a wakeup call to the church, exhorting all of us to remain faithful to the Word of God and fostering a spirit of renewed devotion fervor.
In this wonderfully written book on ministry, Marshall and Payne show how all Christian ministry is a mixture of trellis and vine. There is vine work: the prayerful preaching and teaching of the word of God to see people converted and grow to maturity as disciples of Christ. Vine work is the Great Commission. And there is trellis work: creating and maintaining the physical and organizational structures and programs that support vine work and its growth. The habit of many churches is to let the “trellis work take over” while all of the “vine work” is done by very few, so that the church is all structure and little fruit.
The Trellis and the Vine is a great study for the leadership of the Church, but also for every church member, calling for a major change in the way we “do Church,” so that the vine may flourish.
This is one of the hardest, but most helpful books I’ve read on the Pastoral Ministry, but also one that I would recommend to everyone who is preparing for the ministry, or has ever felt discouraged in ministry, or who has ever had a pastor who has been discouraged and questions their call – in other words, I recommend this to everyone.
Writing as a Pastor who has counseled other pastors, and who has dealt with his own failures and frustrations, Tripp reminds Pastors that we are all in the midst of our own salvation, that we will struggle with insecurities and outright sin in our own lives, we will handle the struggle and sins of others very poorly at times, and we will be tempted to accept mediocrity in our ministry. Refreshingly, the solution offered by Tripp is not a method or program to revitalize your ministry, but a heartfelt, humble return to the all-surpassing glory of God in Jesus Christ. Dangerous Calling, above all else, is a powerful call for pastors to keep Christ at the heart of their ministry.
This is not my normal fare for fiction. When it comes to pleasure reading, I usually turn to J.R.R. Tolkien or Stephen Lawhead. But from the very first paragraph of Gilead, I was hooked. The novel is the fictional autobiography of the Reverend John Ames, an elderly Congregationalist pastor in the small, secluded town of Gilead, Iowa who knows that he is dying of a heart condition. Writing in 1957, Ames explains gives an account of his life for his seven-year-old son, who will have few memories of him. Immediately the Father/Son, Iowa Pastor themes intrigued me, but quite honestly, this is some of the absolute best writing I have ever encountered. You can feel the wear and worry of age on the old pastor, taste the scorched dust as Ames recounts his journey through Kansas with his father to find his grandfather’s grave, and glimpse the inexpressible glory that only a Pastor really appreciates as he gently wipes the water from a child’s forehead in baptism. This has quickly become one of my favorites.