As a pastor, one of my hopes is to see my people reading more. More Bible, of course, should always be paramount. But there are other books which help us flesh out and understand and apply the Bible to our own lives – and these can be quite helpful, too. Let me mention just a few fairly brief reads that you might consider picking up from a bookstore or online, and having a look. All but the last are available at cvbbs.com.
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson. Carson is one of the leading New Testament scholars of our day, and a brilliant academic. But this down-to-earth little book is not an effort in great New Testament scholarship, but a recounting of how the author’s dad – not a leading scholar or brilliant academic, but an ordinary pastor – put the principles of the New Testament into practice as an averagely gifted pastor serving all his life in small churches. Even if you are not a pastor, your heart will be encouraged by the story of this man who was. And you’ll probably get a little more insight into what a pastor’s life is like, and be helped to pray for your own.
Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes by Iain Murray. Everything that Iain Murray writes is well worth whatever time and money you will spend on it. This book (which I am currently reading) is no exception. Murray’s easy style, coupled with the life of one of the most remarkable Christian women of the 20th century, makes for an encouraging read. I’m finding myself challenged already by Amy’s disciplined life of service to Christ and to the at-risk children of India whom she so loved.
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit by Charles Spurgeon. If you enjoy sitting down and reading sermons (and you probably should!), there is no better collection than those of Charles Spurgeon, the greatest English language preacher of the 19th century. Simple yet profound, Christ-centered, and marvelously illustrated … you cannot but be blessed by delving into the preaching of Spurgeon. The sermons are available in 63 large volumes. Just pick up one volume and work your way through it on Sunday evenings. You’ll be blessed.
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. This is not a Christian book, but is immensely helpful to Christians nonetheless. Postman gives incredible insight into how the media through which we receive information greatly affect the way we take in, think about, and apply that information. The television, for instance, has greatly affected our present-day capacities for listening comprehension; which, in turn, greatly (and adversely) affects how deeply we are able to think about important subjects. Compare the depth of modern political debates with those of Lincoln and Douglas, says Postman. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Written in the era when TV was the primary multimedia device, Postman’s insights are all the more valuable in our era of multiplying media access. I highly recommend it as a good look in the mirror of your own technology habits … and what effect they have on the way you think.
So there you have just a few books that might be encouraging to you. Pick one of them up (or some other volume of good theology or church history), and you will be blessed by becoming a reader.