I’ve been a book worm since the summer between second and third grade when my parents paid me for every book that I read that summer. I know, my motive may not have been so pure back then, but my love for books remains to this day. That’s one of the reasons why I love summer so much. Things in “church world” slow down a bit as the kids are out of school, families are traveling on vacation and the general program of ministry at the church slows down from a whirlwind to at least a strong breeze.
I normally read voraciously during the school year for sermon prep as well as for personal productivity and efficiency. I do make time for “fun reading,” but even that can get put on the back burner with all the demands of ministry as the pastor of a local church. So, when summer comes around, I normally have an arsenal of books waiting to launch into so that my mind may be stretched, and my spirit might be refreshed.
I know that others surely must feel the same as I do, so I thought that I would share with you ten books that I have selected to read during the summer of 2015. Some will be downloaded on my Kindle and carried on the trips that I will take this summer. Others are “classic” and thus not available for download. For these I’ll get to enjoy the feel of paper in my hand and experience the sensation of folding the corner down to save my spot for the next time I get to open the pages and dive in again.
Here are the ten books I’ve selected for my summer reading. When available, I have provided reviews or synopses to help give a glimpse into each book. I pray that this is a help and encouragement to you.
Peterson, Eugene H. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000.
“As a society, we are no less obsessed with the immediate than when Eugene Peterson first wrote this Christian classic. If anything, email and the Internet may have intensified our quest for the quick fix. But Peterson’s time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same–a long obedience in the same direction. Tucked away in the Hebrew Psalter, Peterson discovered “an old dog-eared songbook,” the Songs of Ascents that were sung by pilgrims on their way up to worship in Jerusalem. In these songs (Psalms 120-134) Peterson finds encouragement for modern pilgrims as we learn to grow in worship, service, joy, work, happiness, humility, community and blessing. This 20th anniversary edition of A Long Obedience in the Same Direction features these Psalms in Peterson’s widely acclaimed paraphrase, The Message. He also includes an epilogue in which he reflects on the themes of this book and his ministry during the twenty years since its original publication.”
Hyatt, Michael S. Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012.
“To be successful in the market today, you must possess two strategic assets: a compelling productand a meaningful platform. In this step-by-step guide, Michael Hyatt, former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, takes readers behind the scenes, into the new world of social media success. He shows you what best-selling authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and other creatives are doing differently to win customers in today’s crowded marketplace. Hyatt speaks from experience. He writes one of the top 800 blogs in the world and has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. His large and growing platform serves as the foundation for his successful writing, speaking, and consulting practice. In Platform, Hyatt will teach readers not only how to extend their influence, but also how to monetize it and build a sustainable career. The key? By building a platform. It has never been easier, less expensive, or more possible than right now.”
White, E. B., and Roger Angell. Here Is New York. New York: Little Bookroom, 1999.
“Perceptive, funny, and nostalgic, E.B. White’s stroll around Manhattan remains the quintessential love letter to the city, written by one of America’s foremost literary figures. The New York Times has named Here is New York one of the ten best books ever written about the metropolis, and The New Yorker calls it “the wittiest essay, and one of the most perceptive, ever done on the city.”
Stott, John R. W. Why I Am a Christian. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003.
“Why Jesus? Perhaps you have had the funny feeling that God wants to get your attention. Or maybe you’re intrigued with what you’ve heard about Jesus. Or maybe you’re simply looking for meaning and direction in your life. John Stott spent a lifetime wrestling with questions about Jesus both personally and in dialogue with skeptics and seekers around the globe. Now in Why I Am a Christian he provides a compelling, persuasive case for considering the Christian faith. If you take an honest look at Jesus, you will discover that following him gives you the purpose, identity and freedom you’ve been searching for―and far more than you have ever imagined.”
Nettles, Tom J. Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Fearn: Geanies House, 2013.
“Tom Nettles has spent more than 15 years working on this magesterial biography of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the famous 19th century preacher and writer. More than merely a biography it covers his life, ministry and also provides an indepth survey of his theology.”
“The American way of life, built on individual liberty and limited government, is on life support. American freedom is being gutted. Whether we are trying to run a business, practice a vocation, raise our families, cooperate with our neighbors, or follow our religious beliefs, we run afoul of the government—not because we are doing anything wrong but because the government has decided it knows better. When we object, that government can and does tell us, “Try to fight this, and we’ll ruin you.”
In this provocative book, acclaimed social scientist and bestselling author Charles Murray shows us why we can no longer hope to roll back the power of the federal government through the normal political process. The Constitution is broken in ways that cannot be fixed even by a sympathetic Supreme Court. Our legal system is increasingly lawless, unmoored from traditional ideas of “the rule of law.” The legislative process has become systemically corrupt no matter which party is in control.
But there’s good news beyond the Beltway. Technology is siphoning power from sclerotic government agencies and putting it in the hands of individuals and communities. The rediversification of American culture is making local freedom attractive to liberals as well as conservatives. People across the political spectrum are increasingly alienated from a regulatory state that nakedly serves its own interests rather than those of ordinary Americans.
The even better news is that federal government has a fatal weakness: It can get away with its thousands of laws and regulations only if the overwhelming majority of Americans voluntarily comply with them. Murray describes how civil disobedience backstopped by legal defense funds can make large portions of the 180,000-page Federal Code of Regulations unenforceable, through a targeted program that identifies regulations that arbitrarily and capriciously tell us what to do. Americans have it within their power to make the federal government an insurable hazard like hurricanes and floods, leaving us once again free to live our lives as we see fit.
By the People’s hopeful message is that rebuilding our traditional freedoms does not require electing a right-thinking Congress or president, nor does it require five right-thinking justices on the Supreme Court. It can be done by we the people, using America’s unique civil society to put government back in its proper box.”
Kidd, Thomas S., and Barry Hankins. Baptists in America: A History. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015.
“The Puritans called Baptists “the troublers of churches in all places” and hounded them out of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Four hundred years later, Baptists are the second-largest religious group in America, and their influence matches their numbers. They have built strong institutions, from megachurches to publishing houses to charities to mission organizations, and have firmly established themselves in the mainstream of American culture. Yet the historical legacy of outsider status lingers, and the inherently fractured nature of their faith makes Baptists ever wary of threats from within as well as without.
In Baptists in America, Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins explore the long-running tensions between church, state, and culture that Baptists have shaped and navigated. Despite the moment of unity that their early persecution provided, their history has been marked by internal battles and schisms that were microcosms of national events, from the conflict over slavery that divided North from South to the conservative revolution of the 1970s and 80s. Baptists have made an indelible impact on American religious and cultural history, from their early insistence that America should have no established church to their place in the modern-day culture wars, where they frequently advocate greater religious involvement in politics. Yet the more mainstream they have become, the more they have been pressured to conform to the mainstream, a paradox that defines–and is essential to understanding–the Baptist experience in America.”
Parker, Joseph. None like It: A Plea for the Old Sword. New York: Revell, 1893.
A classic reprint. No description or review available at this time.
Larson, Craig Brian. Pastoral Grit. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1998.
“Every pastor has felt the desire to throw in the towel to resign from a church or even drop out of the ministry. The press of day-in, day-out care for people can overwhelm the most noble reasons for entering ministry. A pastor’s own brokenness, sinfulness, restlessness, and self-doubts only compound the weight. Pastoral Grit examines honestly the spiritual and practical calamities that compel pastors to give up and offers realistic insight to help pastors persevere.
Pastoral Grit is honest, courageous, insightful, a candid account of what really goes on in a small fellowship of believers. While it debunks illusions, it is not in the least cynical or pessimistic. It’s soul-strengthening encouragement to do what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm-Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor is not in vain.'”
Morgan, G. Campbell. Searchings From The Word. London: Charles Higham & Sons, n.d.
“1188 sermon suggestions — One from every chapter in the Bible.Morgan’s expositions sparkle as they enhance Bible texts from every chapter in the Bible. Concise and delightfully free of redundancy, these selections reveal the master expositor’s keen, analytical insight into God’s Word. To encourage preachers and Bible teachers to develop their own sermon and lesson themes creatively, the author mentions that these are sermon suggestions — not sermons or sermon outlines. He intentionally left the notes untitled, “preferring to let the text of Scripture be their only caption.” These penetrating truths, firmly anchored in Scripture, are best described by G. Campbell Morgan himself: On every page of…the “God-breathed Writings” there are many thoughts which stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things which otherwise were hidden, and often illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. From the multitude of these, I have selected one in each chapter of the Bible. Perhaps the work will also serve to illustrate a method of showing how focal points of radiating light gather their radiance from the context.”