Soul Food - Books that Blessed Me in 2018
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great 19th Century Baptist preacher, and pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle once said, “Visit many books, but live in the Bible.” With such profound counsel as a guide, before I mention a few of the more helpful books that entered my study in 2018, let me first emphasize the importance of Holy Scripture in life. For starters, I want to encourage those of you that dear to me, those of you who have only recently taken up the Bible in your daily reading. Allow me to be your cheerleader for a second. Don’t give up. The Bible is the most profound book that has ever been written. Not only is the Bible filled with exciting story-telling, beautiful poetry, and amazing prophecy, it is God’s Word. The Bible is a miracle book. Paul reminds Timothy that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). So when you get discouraged because you do not understand it on the level of Dr. John MacArthur Jr., John Piper, or R.C. Sproul, give yourself a little slack. The Bible is a lifetime book, not a good holiday read. Before you start purchasing and reading any of these excellent volumes below, make sure you’ve given plenty of time to the systematic reading of the Bible. I am thankful to my N.T. Greek Professor, Dr. James A. Qurollo for instilling this in me so many years ago.
Vaguely, I remember reading another piece of advice from The Prince of Preacher (C.H. Spurgeon). In his book, Lectures To My Students, he challenged his pupils to read much and widely on many subjects. As a young seminarian, I took this bit of wisdom to heart and it has been a personal rule of my reading ever since. With this in mind, it occurred to me that my little list could be more helpful if a general category was provided. If you are looking for a book in any of these areas, perhaps this will give you a little more perspective.
The Spiritual Life & Growth
- Comfort In Affliction, James Buchanan.
- Confessions, St. Augustine
- The City of God, St. Augustine
- The Revived Puritan, The Spirituality of George Whitefield, Michael A.G. Haykin
Buchanan’s little book was used by God to keep my heart and mind closed to Scripture as He prepared me to go through a time of suffering in 2017 and 2018. Perhaps your prayer life could use a bit of inspiration. The classic writings of St. Augustine, Confessions & The City of God are wonderful sources of drawing your devotion back to the simple love of Jesus Christ that it needs to be. In The Revived Puritan you may witness spirituality in action through the letters of the great Puritan evangelist, George Whitefield.
Doctrine & Culture
- Beauty, A Very Short Introduction, Roger Scruton
- Behold Your God, Rethinking God Biblically, John Snyder
- The Beauty of God, Theology and the Arts, Editors: Daniel J. Treier, Mark Husbands, & Roger Lundin
The two books on beauty are challenging to be sure. So if you are looking to stretch your mind and heart in the coming year, all three of these books are for you! Behold Your God, is another spiritual treasure and source of growth in your understanding of God.
Worship & Ministry
- Embracing Obscurity, Anonymous
Almost three years ago this book was gifted to me by a dear friend. It lay in my “Read Next Stack” for that whole time. It lay that pile not because the desire to read it was not present but because of the height of the stack. Are you ready to be challenged by God to give glory to Him for what He does through you? Are you reading to grow in genuine humility? Then get your hands on this little book, then prayerfully read each section.
Biography & History
- Logic On Fire, The Life & Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Snyder
- Robert Lewis Dabney, A Southern Presbyterian Life, Sean Michael Lucas
- Saints and Sinners at Jersey Church Settlement, The Story of Jersey Baptist Church, Garland A. Hendrick
- Truths That Transform, The Life of Dr. D. James Kennedy
Though the titles of each of these works are self-explanatory, don’t let that stop you from broadening your understanding of what it means to live for and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Biographies are a great love of my life, especially, biographies of Church Fathers, pastors, theologians, and missionaries. Occasionally, I run across a history of a local congregation that is a challenge and filled with stories of God’s wonderful power through the gospel. That’s what I found when John and Ellen Sharpe gave me a Saints and Sinners at Jersey Church Settlement.
These are the books that I thought might be helpful to recommend to each of you. If you venture into the pages of one or more of them, I hope they bless you as they did me.
Happy Reading in 2019!