What I’m Reading: January 2023
Well, another year has come and the pages continue to turn! I have been encouraged lately that many of my friends have posted about their reading goals, and what all they read in 2022. So many good books, and not enough time in the day!
Anyhow, here's what I've been reading lately...
How to Build a Healthy Church: A Practical Guide for Deliberate Leadership
I greatly appreciate the ministry of 9Marks and the wonderful resource library that these brothers have produced over the last 20+ years. It has greatly served pastors like me and the churches we lead. In this book, Mark Dever and Paul Alexander present an argument calling Pastors and churches away from church growth strategies, and man-centered strategies, back to the ideals of the New Testament Church.
From the book, “This is more than a step-by-step plan to mimic; it's a biblical blueprint for pastors, elders, and anyone committed to the church’s vitality.”
I’m using this book with the leaders in our church. Highly recommended!
Elders in the Life of the Church: Rediscovering the Biblical Model for Church Leadership
This is another valuable book from the 9Marks resource library. Phil Newton and Matt Schmucker offer not only a biblically sound and well articulated case for plural elder church leadership, they also give practical advice and real life examples on how to lead a Church to adopt and practice New Testament Elder leadership.
Leadership in the Christian Perspective: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Practices for Servant Leaders.
If you serve in a leadership capacity in any way, be it in the workplace, Church, the home, the community, etc., then this book will benefit you. Irving and Strauss present a compelling understanding of leadership rooted in the character and practice of the triune God. “Empowering leadership,” they write, “is a process by which leaders and followers participate together for the purpose of achieving common goals and shared vision.”
The book begins by looking at the leader him/herself. Who we are is foundational and essential to the kind of leadership we give to others. Making sure that we are healthy, honest with ourselves, and genuine with our people is priority number 1 for leaders. The book then focuses on the leading of others and leading toward success.
If you are looking for a helpful book of leadership, this is one for you.
The Soul in Paraphrase: A Treasury of Classic Devotional Poems
I am not a big poetry reader. In fact, I have often found most poetry closed off to me (with the exception of Wendell Berry). But, in this book, Leland Ryken offers a collection of beautiful devotional poems and serves as a tour guide for the reader. After presenting the poem, Ryken then provides helpful commentary explaining the poem and its value to the reader.
I have always appreciated that poetry is an art and a powerful form of human communication, but it has just never been something that has been open and enjoyable to me. But, as I’m getting older and learning to read better, I find it more attractive. And with Ryken’s help, I have found this book to be a real joy.
Refreshment for the Soul: A Year of Daily Readings from the Heavenly Doctor, Richard Sibbs
Richard Sibbs was a puritan, living roughly sixty years after Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Germany. He lived and ministered during the English Reformation, and is remembered by many as one of the foremost Puritan Preachers. But, more than anything, Sibbs is remembered as being “the heavenly doctor.” He possessed a special skill in the care of the soul, explaining the beautiful truths of Scripture and applying them deeply and directly into the soul of a person. Many of my own heroes of the faith look to Sibbs as their own hero.
The book is formatted as a daily devotional with a short Scripture selection and accompanying commentary from Sibbs. You will not waste your time with this book, and perhaps, you will find a love for Sibbs and wade into his larger works.
Recently, I have found a children’s series of biographies called, “Who Was…” They are small books (65-75 pages) about various historical figures written as very brief introductions for children. My children and I just finished “Who was Theodore Roosevelt” and “Who was George Washington.” After we finished Washington, my sons both commented that I needed to purchase more. There are many to choose from in this series, and they are affordable and easy to read! These are a great introduction into the world of biography for kids.
Benedict XVI: A Life, Volumes 1 and 2
I’ve also recently begun working on a 2 volume Biography about Pope Benedict XVI. I have always been somewhat intrigued with the pomp and circumstance that exists around the Pope, and I’m also particularly drawn to the ceremony and high church practices of Rome (not that I’m considering Catholicism). But, in the recent passing of Pope Benedict, I learned a great deal about his life, his theological accomplishments and writings, and it made me want to know more. So, I’ve picked up this two-volume work by Peter Seewald and intend to read it as I’m able.
Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, seems to have been an incredible man, a shrewd and orthodox theologian, and doctrinal guard dog for the Church of Rome.
Just for Fun
On a recent hike with my friend Justin, he mentioned that he had just finished a peculiar and enthralling book called Salvation on Sand Mountain. “Terrifying, tragic, intriguing, otherworldly.” It is the true story of backwoods Alabama religion, snake-handling, and murder. He said it was the best book he’d read in a long time. So, compelled by words I ordered a copy and, true to his description I cannot put the book down! I read half the book the day I got it.
If you’re looking for an easy, enthralling read, this one's for you.
I would highly commend a subscription to World if you do not have one. They are a Christian based news source providing daily news updates through their web based platform, and through their podcast “The World and Everything In it.”
A Nation of Biblical Illiterates - Thaddeus Williams
Without question, the most pressing article I’ve read this month. We are becoming a nation of biblical illiterates.
You Bless it You Bought it - R. Albert Mohler
Mohler considers the Church of England’s endorsement of Same-sex unions.
Is Andy Stanley Affirming? - Denny Burk
Denny Burk considers the latest sermon from Andy Stanley…
The Re-Education of Jordan Peterson - Craig Carter
Canada’s leading intellectual is under fire and being forced into re-education.
Setting the Course for Life - Jennifer Patterson
Life after Roe…
Enduring Lessons from a Courageous Manifesto - Bethel McGrew
McGraw considers the modern implications of a courageous letter on homosexuality from Joseph Ratzinger from 1986.
A Call for Intellectual Protestant Leadership - Brad Littlejohn
Are we becoming less intelligent in our religious leadership?
Why I Joyfully Submit to Male Church Leadership - Emily Anderson
A woman’s perspective on submission.
Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ and the Spirit of the Age - Patrick Miller
Miller offers a profound critique of our modern age and one of its emblem bearers, Prince Harry.
Podcasts I'm listening to Regularly...
The Briefing - Al Mohler
The World and Everything In It