Faith is a Bible-centered church existing to display God’s glory.
My goal in 2019 was to read 52 books for Pastoral ministry. This was on top of any fiction or comic books that I read. In reading for Pastoral ministry, I wanted to a wide variety of types of books. I wanted to read biographies, theology, leadership, Christian living, and church helps. Unfortunately I did not accomplish my goal this past year. I only read 51 books, falling 1 short. Below I give a short synopsis of the top 5 books I read in 2019, along with a list of the other 46 books I read. A book with an asterisk means it was not the first time I read the book. Here are the Top 5 books I read in 2019
The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson
One of the biggest challenges in the church today is a right understanding of the relationship of God’s Law and God’s Gospel. There are many Christians today who think and believe that there is no relationship between God’s Law and the Gospel. This is a false belief. But the church today is not new to this challenge and misstep in the relationship of the Law and the Gospel. This has been a struggle for generations.
Sinclair Ferguson, in “The Whole Christ”, does an excellent job in showcasing the important relationship that exists between the Law and the Gospel. Using the Marrow Controversy from the early 18th Century in Scotland as a background, Ferguson explains the importance of God’s Law and how it fits with God’s good news of Christ’s redemption on the Cross. Ferguson explains the history of the Marrow Controversy. He shows the reader what led to the controversy, explains how the controversy was ultimately dealt with and then points to the modern way this controversy still exists. All the while Ferguson makes a strong case for the importance of the Law and the importance of the Gospel. He deals with important theological ideas like “Legalism” or the rejection of the freedom the Gospel brings. He deals with “Antinomianism” or the rejection of God’s law on the life of a Christian. Ferguson then shows the truth that in the Whole of Christ, there is both a freedom in the Gospel and a delight and desire to obey the Laws and Commands of God.
I would highly recommend this book for every Christian to read. As they read this book, they will come to a better understanding of the freedoms in Christ. The verse “we are free indeed” will become more precious to the reader. Yet the reader will also come to grasp the importance God’s Law still plays in their life. They will grow and learn to cherish the beauty of the commands of God and delightfully obey them. But the best part for the reader will be the majesty they will begin to see in Christ. It is only in Jesus that the Law and the Gospel are truly wed together. Christ will become more precious and glorious as this book is read.
Favorite Quote: “In both mind and affections, God’s Law must not be divorced from God’s gracious person, as demonstrated clearest in His Son”.
The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges
If you are thinking about going into Pastoral Ministry or are a Pastor, this book is a recommended read. Yes, Charles Bridges wrote to Pastors from generations ago. But he is still important and a critical voice to Pastoral ministry of today.
The book is broken down into five parts and sections on the ministry. First, Bridges covers a general view of what being a Pastor is about. He lays out the theology, Scripture references, and importance of the ministry. Second, he covers what a successful ministry looks like. He points to important thoughts and actions that produce a successful Pastor in the life of his church. Third, Bridges speaks to the character of the Minister. Character is what produces a Pastor; thus character is key. Fourth, he speaks to the public life of the Pastor. What is the Pastor in relation to the world. And lastly, Charles Bridges speaks to the Pastor about his home life. The pastor is truly first and foremost a father and husband before he is a shepherd.
The Christian Ministry is a book that shows a good foundation for ministry. This book changed the way I think about ministry in some ways. It grounded me in my conviction of Pastoral Ministry. And it encouraged me in my service to God shepherding His people. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Favorite Quote: We must live every moment by faith; and as we live, we shall love, overcome the world, crucify sin, and delight in the service of God as His ministers”.
Conscience by Naselli & Crowley
You have heard the expression, “let your conscience be your guide”. To some extent that line is true. Our minds and hearts lead us and our conscience is the filter and guide to the mind and heart. Conscience is a book about the mind and the sanctification of it.
This book is written for the lay Christian. It does not wade too deep into theological terms or scholarly words. Naselli and Crowley want to keep their teaching on the conscience at a very readable and practical level. Yet the book is still clear, Biblical, and concise in what a conscience is, how it is formed, why it must grow, and the part the Holy Spirit along with God’s Word plays in it. They do an excellent job taking the picture of a conscience back to Scripture. They literally unpack every passage in the Bible where the word, conscience, is used. Then they explore what the Bible says in a very helpful, usable way.
After reading this book. I found myself thinking about how I form my conscience. I began thinking about what I put into my mind. I thought about what affections I was desiring. And I thought through the verse, “be transformed through the renewing of your mind” and how this would drive my conscience. This was helpful read for every Christian that wants to grow in their walk by faith.
Favorite Quote: “We know if no other religion that freely offers such a comprehensive and eternal cleansing at the deepest level of conscience”.
Fundamentalism and the Word of God by J.I. Packer
This books is older. It was written in and published in March 1958. But it is still relevant for today. God’s people still wrestle too much with the nature, authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of God’s Word. This book is a needed voice for a needed time.
This book was written in the age of Liberalism. Christian scholars began rejecting the authority of God’s Word. They began to reject the nature of revealed truth. They began to question the very nature, clarity, and work of God’s Word. Enter Packer and the fundamentalism of God’s Word. Packer begins the book by defining the term Fundamentalism. He contrasts this word with the Liberalism of his day. They he sets out and unpacks the authority God’s Word has on God’s people. He follows this up with a discussion on faith and God’s Word and reason and God’s Word. He then returns to how Liberalism has failed God’s Word.
Fundamentalism and the Word of God is a book designed to give God’s people confidence in God’s Word. Yes, there are some big words used. Yes, this book deals with the theology of God’s Word. Yes, this book is from a former generation. But the book is clear on its points. As I read the book my love for God’s Word grew. Yet as my love for God’s Word grew, I also found myself wanting to submit and be humble before God’s Word. A very helpful and encouraging read for anyone who wants to grow in their love for God’s Word.
Favorite Quote: “The Gospel’s assure us that the historic Israelite belief in the divine authority of the Old Testament was the foundation of Christ’s whole ministry”.
The Compelling Community by Dever & Dunlop
Do you love your church? Are you a leader in your church? Does your church lack a community feel? Are there more members than people who attend? Does a feeling of love lack in your church? Do you want to see your church grow? Do you have no joy while at church? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.
Jamie Dunlop is an Elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He is part of the 9Marks group of men and churches. This books is a call to have a healthy church. A healthy church is a church that has a strong community atmosphere. People come to church because they love one another. The community is unified around a worship of God through prayer and teaching. Membership, preaching, prayer, church discipline, and mission are all things Dunlop teaches that create and point to community. Part 1 lays out a vision of community. Part 2 shows how to foster community. Part 3 tells how to protect community. And part 4 explains how community is at work.
As a Pastor, this book was extremely helpful for me. It gave me a vision to aspire to. It would also be a great book for other church leaders. If we are people who want a healthy church, if we are leaders who want the sheep to desire to come to church each Sunday, if we are pastors who want a stronger community in our fold, this book is a great resource.
Favorite Quote: “Lose what is supernatural about that community and, I fear, in a generation or so, you lose the Gospel”.
Here are the other 46 books I read this year for Pastoral Ministry.
-*A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin
-Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement by George Smeaton
-A Peculiar Glory by John Piper
-God Dwells Among Us by Beale & Kim
- Mission by Andy Johnson
-Setting Our Affections upon Glory by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
-The Legacy of Luther ed. by R.C. Sproul & Stephen Nichols
-The Atonement by Leon Morris
-The Gift by Glen Scrivener
-Communion with God by John Owen
-Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology by T4G
-The City of God and the Goal of Creation by T. Desmond Alexander
-Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
-One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm
-Prayer by John Onwuchekwa
-The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink
-The Pleasures of God by John Piper
*-Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung
*-Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
-Manhood Restored by Eric Mason
-Preaching in an Age of Distraction by J. Ellsworth Kalas
-The Temple and the Tabernacle by J. Daniel Hays
-Work and Labor in the Lord by James Hamilton
-Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles
-Confessions by Augustine
-*When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper
-The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson
-The Meaning of Sex by Dennis Hollinger
-The Gospel & Adoption ed. by Moore and Walker
-Old Paths by J.C. Ryle
-Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine
-How Does Sanctification Work? By David Powlison
-The Bible Fellowship Church by Harold Shelly
-The Prayer of the Lord by R.C. Sproul
-Words of Delight by Leland Ryken
-The Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning
-The Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek Thomas
-Particular Redemption by John Hurrion
-Messy Church by Ross Parsley
-Leading with Love by Alexander Strauch
-Truth Matters by Kostenberger, Bock, Chatraw
-Jonathan Edwards by Ian Murray
-Why Can’t We Be Friends by Aimee Byrd
-Minister of Mercy; The New Testament Deacon by Alexander Strauch
-Preaching the New Testament ed. by Wenham & Paul
-The Attributes of God (Vol. 1) by A.W. Tozer