The following is the list of my reading completion in 2008, in its chronological order. The number in the parenthesis ( ) indicates the number of its pages. Like many preachers, this does not include the “normal readings” of the Bible, critical commentaries and others for sermon preparations:
- The Treasure Principle, Alcorn (95)
- Praying Backwards, Chapell (205)
- Worry, Powlison (30)
- Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, Ryken and others (516)
- Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, Duncan and Hunt (175)
- A Tribute to My Father, Piper (12)
- God of Promise, Horton (204)
- He Who Thinks Has to Believe, Wilder-Smith (97)
- The Sermon on the Mount, Ferguson (171)
- The Sermon on the Mount, Boice (328)
- Studies in the Sermon on the Mount – Second Volume, Lloyd-Jones (336)
- Still Sovereign, Schreiner and Ware (356)
- Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, Peterson (241)
- The Lord’s Supper, Watson (86)
- What Jesus Demands from the World, Piper (389)
- Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?, Mathison (160)
- The Deliberate Church, Dever and Alexander (221)
- The Expository Genius of John Calvin, Lawson (142)
- The Twelve Ordinary Men, MacArthur (201)
- Respectable Sins, Bridges (187)
- Christianity and Liberalism, Machen (189)
- “Seminary, Subjectivity, and the Centrality of Scripture: Reflections on the Current Crisis in Evangelical Seminary Education” by Hafemann in JETS 31:2, June 1988 (16)
- “The ‘Analogy of Faith’ and Exegetical Methodology: A Preliminary Discussion on Relationships” by Johnson in JETS 31:1, March 1988 (12)
- “Machen’s Warrior Children” by Frame (36)
- “Is the Reformation Over?” by Johnson (14)
- Preaching for Revitalization, Ross (240)
I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to finish some other books that I wanted to finish this year, largely due to my mismanagement of time, which I am repenting.
Let me offer a few words of advice that I’ve learned over the years from my mentors, my own failures, etc.
- Plan ahead and be intentional about your reading plans.
- Be realistic.
- Don’t compare yourself with others. Either it would lead to pride or serious depression (sometimes both).
- Set a budget for books. If you’re serving at a church as a paid staff, ask your elders for a budget. The church that is not interested in supporting their pastor(s) to read (sound books) does not have the best interest for their pastor(s), let alone interested in a genuine spiritual growth for their church. The church grows as their pastor grows. The church will go where the pulpit leads (whether for good or bad). Hence, it is extremely important what is influencing the pulpit. Even if you’re not a paid staff at a church, set a budget for books. Perhaps, eat out less. A good book is far better than food and clothes. I would even forgo a nice sushi dinner for a good book, if I have to.
- Widen your reading genre. Don’t just read books on theology. I encourage our folks to read at least one or two biographies annually of the past heroes of faith. Get to know men like Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon, Machen, Lloyd-Jones, and many others (including some of the godly women of faith). That way, you would appreciate your pastor and his work more. If you are in the ministry, you need to read a far more than the people in the pews. That may not mean much since average people in the pew are biblically, theologically, and historically illiterate. While some may read the latest books from Oprah’s Bookclub or Joel Osteen, you need to help them understand that junk foods are not good for soul. Over the years, I’ve developed a habit to read books on theology, exegetical treatments, biblical studies, biographies, preaching, leadership, church, Puritans, Christian living, and theological journals annually.
- Ask your pastor(s) for recommendation. Since time and money are of essence, ask your pastor for his best recommended book on any of those genre. Sometimes quality is better than quantity.
I’ll try to provide a short reading review of each. Hence, please check back.