Saturday, May 28, 2016
Loving God, Loving People, Serving the World

Reading List

The following books are recommended by our pastor. 
Updated December 2015
Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, by Bob Kauflin
This book is written by a church music leader primarily to other music leaders.  However, I found it extremely helpful to me as a pastor.  Kauflin's work is deeply theological in its approach and biblically faithful to what worship truly is while tackling a lot of the practical issues with which leaders wrestle in regards to worship in the church.     
Loving My LGBT Neighbor, by Glenn Stanton
This is the perfect book for Christians to read right now on the heels of our Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage.  It is written from a biblically faithful point of view and filled with practical help on how to lovingly and constructively engage those within the LGBT community.  It's full of commitment to truth and grace while dispelling many of the fallacies we fall into during the heat of debate.  This is a great resource for every Christian and the church that desires to be faithful to the teachings of Scripture on marriage, family and sexuality and wants to minister well to all people. 
Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically, by John MacArthur and members of the Master's Seminary faculty
This is great resource for the pastor.  The book is a compilation of over 20 essays on a variety of issues related to pastoral ministry.  What I find most appealing is that every essay is biblically oriented on its given topic.  I highly recommend it for every pastor's study.
C.S. Lewis: A Life, by Alister McGrath
A new biography of one of the most intriguing Christian figures of the 20th century by one of my favorite authors.  You will learn much of Lewis' complex life, from the battlefields of WWI to his unusual love relationship with an American woman.  Lewis may be best well known for his Chronicles of Narnia, but he continues to be a voice for the reasonableness of the Christian faith in a world growing ever more skeptical. 
Love & Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs
This marriage enrichment book is based on the firm conviction that what the  Bible teaches in Ephesians 5:22-33 is true and practical in what it both describes and prescribes for husbands and wives.  This book will especially help wives understand their husbands need for respect in the same way they need love.  I believe this book hits the nail squarely on the head and has the potential to help you achieve greater satisfaction in your marriage.
Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters, and Theology
by David Capes, Rodney Reeves and E. Randolph Richards
This is a marvelous, reader friendly work that will give you a great overview and understanding of the world Paul lived in and the contents of his letters, which make up such a significant part of our New Testament.  It might look and sound boring, but it's not!   You will gain a much greater appreciation and understanding of the nature of God's Word.   
Dangerous Calling, by Paul David Tripp
Written for pastors and for lay-leaders who care about pastors, this book confronts the particular pitfalls that come with vocational ministry.  I found it as humbling as it was helpful.  Tripp speaks from experience and biblical wisdom into the uncomfortable truths that every pastor needs to confront.  I highly recommend this book to fellow pastors, deacons and elders. 
Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Religion by John MacArthur
MacArthur pulls no punches in arguing that the Charismatic/Pentecostal movements of the 20th century that have grown tremendously globally should be understood biblically as false religions.  His argument primarily rests on a the view that the miraculous gifts testified to in the NT were given only during the time of Jesus and Apostles.  He contends that modern day speaking in unknown tongues and faith healings are either faked or the product of demonic activity, not the work of the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, crediting such activity to the Holy Spirit is blasphemous.  This is a very interesting read both for the history of the Charismatic movement and the thought-provoking biblical argument that challenges much of that traditions practice.  You may not totally agree with MacArthur at the end, but it is worth your time and consideration.   
Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working, by Craid Groeschel
The book is dedicated to "everyone who is sick of normal and is ready for something better."  This book examines, what I would call, the aspect of counting the cost of following Jesus.  It's absurd to think that you can be a faithful follower of Jesus and look and behave like a world opposed to God's commands and principles.  This book is an awesome reminder that genuine followers of Christ are going to be a God kind of weird on the narrow path with Him. 
There's Hope for Your Church: First Steps to Restoring Health and Growth, by Gary L. McIntosh
Written primarily to pastors and church lay leaders, this book offers a quick and easy read that is filled will pratical wisdom for those seeking to turn around a declining or plateaued church.  I've passed this book along to each person on our current Long-Range Planning Team, but every church member could benefit from its content about what it really takes to reinvigorate a flat church and make it an exciting growing body of believers once again.
24/6: A Presecription for a Healthier, Happier Life by Matthew Sleeth
Dr. Sleeth, MD, unpacks the significance of the fourth commandment - "Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy."  He explains why God gives this command and why it's so very important.  He observes that our 24/7 culture has totally forgotten this - including Christians. You'll find a great challenge in this book to regain a biblical awarness and practice for you and your family in regards to Sabbath observance, which means rest.  You'll enjoy his perspective as a medical doctor as well.  This isn't a book you might naturally want to pick up, but you need to!
Transform Your Church with Ministry Teams, by E. Stanley Ott
Many churches today are moving away from the tradtional committee-driven model to ministry teams.  This book helps explain that this is more substantive than just changing the name.  Ministry teams are designed to generate better fellowship, develop leaders, and moblize people more effectively for ministry.
Christianity for Skeptics, by Steve Kumar & Jonathan Sarfati
Thinking people have legitimate questions about God, faith, Christianity and the Bible.  Without undermining the role of faith, this book takes a logical approach to demonstrating that clear thinking can demonstrate the reasonableness of the Christian faith.  It is extremely readable that can help the skeptic think more thoroughly about the claims of Christianity and help the Christian learn how to engage a skeptic constructively on his own ground.  Great resource for older teens and college students.
Freedom Manifesto: Why Free Markets are Moral and Big Government Isn't, by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames
The word moral in the subtitle first caught my eye.  This book lays out a contrast between a vision for America that is based on more federal government in our lives or less.  The authors use plenty of contemporary examples to illustrate their views and write much about what they believe most successfully drives the American economy - in the past and now.  A sub-theme, however, does emerge, although not as strongly as I would like, concerning the intersection of morality and economic approaches.  I highly recommend this book to you.
Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? by John Fea
The Book's title is only a tease because the author doesn't really answer the question.  However, Fea does a masterful job at addressing the major issues as a historian should - with objectivity and clarity.  This is an excellent introduction to the topic and written for a more popular audience and not merely for fellow historians.  I found myself nodding in agreement as I turned the pages, thinking this is the book I would want others to read.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
A hefty read (500+ pages), but worth every minute spent in it.  The author makes the world of pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer come alive.  You are drawn into his tumultuous world of 1930-40s Germany and the critical moral questions pressed upon Christians and the churches by the rise of the Third Riech under Adolf Hitler.  Metaxas brings out the complexities of the times as some Germans worked to oppose Hitler and the journey of this young pastor as he became part of a conspiracy to kill Hitler.  Bonhoeffer's courage and conviction will inspire you. 
The Accidental Revolutionary: George Whitefield and the Creation of America, by Jerone Dean Mahaffey
An enjoyable, readable introduction to the life and work of one of the greatest Christian evangelists - George Whitefield.  Considered by some American historians as a forgotten founding father, Mahaffey picks up the argument that Whitefield should be given significant credit for his influence in the American colonies in roughly the three decades leading up to the American Revolution.  Although he was not a revolutionary himself, the author argues that his religious rhetoric informed the political rhetoric and categorical thinking of the revolution. 
Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary, by J.D. Greear 
A refreshing read that helped me remember the centrality and the power of the gospel of Jesus in my life and in the life of the church.  Greear uses a prayer that he calls the "gospel prayer" as more than just an organization tool, but as a challenge to gospel renewal and focus.  This is an easy read, but challenging in its content. 
Christian America? Reflections on Our Religious Heritage, edited by Daryl Cornett
I have been privileged to edit and contribute to this project on American religious history.  Through a point and counterpoint format, this work seeks to assess to what degree Christianity has influenced and been part of American history and culture through four different historical interpretations.  If you enjoy thinking through such a subject for yourself and not being spoon fed one particular view, I think you may enjoy this read. 
The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor by John Piper and D.A. Carson
These two men, one a pastor and the other a teacher, speak well to the need to a holistic approach to minstry that weds the head and heart.  The authors both teach and speak from personal testimony about their callings as ministers of the gospel.  Concise (111 pgs) and extremely readable.  This is a great message to those of us leading in the church.
Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger
This is our Sunday School Leadership recommended reading for the 2011-12 Sunday school year.  This book helps break down clearly the purpose of the church (making disciples) and gives tremendous guidance for developing a simple strategy for accomplishing this purpose.  What's presented is not merely theory, but based on case studies  of 400 American curches.