It’s that time of the year again. That is, I get to reflect on the books that I read over the past year. Since 2007 I average about 4,300 pages of reading per year, which amounts to about 26 books. But this year, by the grace of God, I read 28 books, which totaled 6,139 pages.
Contrary to what people might think, for me this is not a time for self-gloating or feeling self-satisfied. Rather, the opposite is true. That is, I generally feel ashamed of how much time I’ve wasted on frivolous things as to not reading or praying more as I could have done. Nonetheless, I thank the Lord for the knowledge I acquired, teachers I gained, perspectives I pondered, methods I tested, and sins I repented.
The following is the list of books that I read in 2010 (in the order of which I completed). I hope this list can somehow serve some people to be wise on what to read or perhaps to read something better.
Duduit, Michael. Handbook of Contemporary Preaching. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992. 607 pp.
This is written by many notable evangelical scholars and leaders (e.g. Timothy George, Calvin Miller, Sidney Greidanus, Bryan Chapell, Al Mohler, etc), and edited by Michael Duduit. It is divided into nine major parts: 1) the roots of contemporary preaching, 2) contemporary preaching methods, 3) preparing the sermon, 4) preaching and the biblical text, 5) presenting the sermon, 6) preaching and the ministry, 7) preaching to the needs of people, 8] special concerns in contemporary preaching, and 9) resources for preaching. The sheer size of this volume can intimidate some, but it is totally readable. Recommended for preachers.
York, Hershael W. and Bert Decker. Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003. 275 pp.
This volume is divided into three major parts, totaling 14 chapters: Part I: The Text (Chap. 1-5), Part II: The Sermon (Chap. 6-10), and Part III: The Delivery (Chap. 11-14). Both men have a high view of Scripture and both men are strong advocates for expository preaching. I had the privilege of learning from Dr. York for one of my doctoral seminars at Southern, and he says, “The best way to get people involved in a church is to give them something worth hearing at every service.” If you’re interested in preaching in a way that is worth hearing, I recommend you read this.
Adams, Jay E. Handbook of Church Discipline: A Right and Privilege of Every Church Member. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974. 120 pp.
I went through this book with the men in our church and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would highly recommend every church member to read it and understand that church-discipline is a biblical mandate for every professing church.
Goldsworthy, Graeme. According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1991. 251 pp.
If you want a solid introduction to Biblical Theology, read this book.
Kaiser, Walter C. The Majesty of God in the Old Testament: A Guide for Preaching and Teaching. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007. 174 pp.
If you’re a Kaiser fan, you want to read this book. He is usually very helpful in the areas of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, but here you get to see his masterful skills applied homiletically in various OT texts. This book served me two ways: devotionally and homiletically. My heart was moved with exaltation toward Yahweh at the end of every chapter, and also ignited the passion to preach the OT more accurately, namely in hermeneutics and theology. An excellent book to read.
Litfin, Duane. Public Speaking: A Handbook for Christians. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2007. 364 pp.
This book is not only for preachers, but includes anyone who wishes to improve speaking in public – e.g., Sunday School teacher.
Mahaney, C. J. Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. 191 pp.
Perhaps, one of the better books on the subject. My wife and I read it together as our family devotion and found it to be very helpful.
Ryle, J. C. Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots. Moscow, Idaho: Charles Nolan Publishers, 2001. 405 pp.
There are some books that simply leave an indelible mark. I would say this is one of those books. This classic work was first published in 1877, yet it reads as if Ryle lives in our time. Personally, this book was hard for me to read. In fact, it took me several years to finish it. This is not because it is poorly written. Rather, it was because my heart was in poor condition to receive it. This is not one of those books that you can casually read with a quick pace. For me, I allowed the Spirit of God to exegete my heart and he caused me to reread the same chapter over again and again. And almost every time, I cried out to God for repentance and renewal. Yes, it is that kind of a book.
Beisner, E. Calvin. Answers for Atheists, Agnostics, and Other Thoughtful Skeptics: Dialogs About Christian Faith and Life. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1993. 192 pp.
I try to read at least one book in the area of apologetics per year. Afterward, I realize why I read only one apologetics book a year.
Longman, Tremper. Making Sense of the Old Testament: Three Crucial Questions. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998. 154 pp.
Although I may not agree with him in some points, I appreciate his redemptive-historical approach to looking at the entire Scripture and appreciate some tenets of Reformed soteriology that are peppered throughout. This is a welcoming addition to preacher’s library.
Greidanus, Sidney. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. 373 pp.
Time to time the author’s covenantalism and his theological impositions show. For instance, his link between circumcision and baptism is not exegetically convincing. Also, his view that the Psalms of Israel are now also the songs of the new Israel, the church is not convincing. However, he will help you to see the big picture of the entire Scripture, which I so appreciate. This volume is certainly a welcoming addition to a preacher’s library.
Barnhouse, Donald Grey. Romans 1:1-3:20. 4 volumes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. 12 pp.
I merely reread his introduction for my preparation in Romans. Nothing earth-shattering. However, his commentary is helpful expositionally and devotionally. Recommended for laymen.
Goldsworthy, Graeme. Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000. 272 pp.
I generally enjoy reading Goldsworthy. He is especially helpful in seeing the big picture of Scripture. One of the concerns I have for exegetical/expositional preaching is being overly consumed with the text that they fail to make any connection with the bigger picture in the redemptive-history. To say it another way, you don’t want be so consumed with a particular tree that you missed the whole forest.
You may not agree everything that the author says in this particular volume. For instance, I disagree with his assessment on what is not considered preaching the gospel. He writes, “Preaching predestination, or creation, or the new birth, or the baptism of the Spirit is not preaching the gospel…they are not the essential message to be believed salvation” (83). Moreover, he notes that those things do not directly address the matter of one’s justification and assurance of salvation. I disagree with him at this point because predestination and justification are not mutually exclusive, and both are essential aspects of the gospel.
Although I detect a few weaknesses, the strengths of this book outweigh the weaknesses. This volume is intellectually stimulating, theologically rich, and practically useful. It is definitely a welcoming addition to all preachers.
Davis, Dale Ralph. The Word Became Fresh: How To Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts. Ross-shire: Mentor, 2007. 154 pp.
As the subtitle indicates, if you want to improve preaching OT narrative texts, read it.
Gibson, Scott M. Preaching the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006. 222 pp.
Several OT scholars contributed to this volume (e.g., John H. Sailhamer, Duane A. Garrett, etc). This volume helps how to interpret and preach various genres in the OT. Worth reading it.
Ramey, Ken. Expository Listening. The Woodlands, Texas: Kress Biblical Resources, 2010. 127 pp.
I’ve been saying for years that expository preaching requires expository listening. For pastors, that implies then if you want your congregation to become expository listeners, they need to be well trained as to what expository preaching is. I argue that pastors/preachers are not the only ones who need to be trained in this matter, but equally important to train our churches. Pastors need to teach and model this regularly. That is why even in my preaching, I regularly point out why I am saying what I’m saying from the text, how the text fits into the context (both immediate and broad), and how it is connected to the big picture of God’s redemptive-history. Not only do preachers need to explain what the text means, but also what the text implies and applies.
This book is a wonderful resource, not only for preachers but also for every church member. I just wished I should have wrote the book when I had the idea several years ago but Ken Ramey beat me to it [wink, wink]. It’s well written and very practical. Please read it if you haven’t.
Marshall, Colin and Tony Payne. The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything. Kingsford, Australia: Matthias Media, 2009. 196 pp.
This is one of those books that I wished it was available when I first entered the ministry. But since it is now available, no pastors should remain ignorant concerning discipleship. Thoroughly biblical and practical.
Dever, Mark. What is a Healthy Church? Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007. 126 pp.
I’m still shocked how many church members and pastors are not familiar with Mark Dever and/or 9Marks ministries. It is my belief that every church ought to read Dever’s earlier work, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. But if you want to read a shorter version, read this. How would anyone know how to gauge whether the church they attend is biblical or healthy? Our churches need reformation. Become part of the solution rather than a problem.
Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17. 2 volumes. NICOT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990. 100 pp.
I read for preparation to preach Genesis. Yes, the introduction alone is 100 pages! That’s why preachers need to work ahead to preach. Hamilton is considered one of the top exegetical commentaries on Genesis. Don’t read this when you’re tired.
Wells, David F. The Courage to Be Protestant. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008. 253 pp.
I enjoy reading David Wells. Come to think of it, I believe I have read most of his works. He is one of the few contemporary writers that helps me think keenly of our culture and churches. Many times I’m surprised to find out that our thoughts are congruent. That’s always encouraging because I realize that I’m not alone in thinking this or that. In this day and age when the line is blur as to what it means to be an evangelical, let alone, to be a Protestant, this book is helpful in making such distinction. I would recommend this book if you’re interested in becoming a theologically discerning Christian.
Heisler, Greg. Spirit-Led Preaching: The Holy Spirit’s Role in Sermon Preparation and Delivery. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007. 156 pp.
This is perhaps one of my top readings of the year. Certainly, the best preaching book that I read this year. What makes this book unique is the combining infusion of pneumatology and bibliology throughout the process of sermon prep. Unfortunately, such is the rarity in many books on homiletics.
Blomberg, Craig L. Preaching the Parables: From Responsible Interpretation to Powerful Proclamation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004. 251 pp.
The author is a notable NT scholar who specializes in hermeneutics and the Gospels. Since literary genre determines how to interpret certain book of the Bible, Blomberg helps in how to understand and preach the parables in the Gospels. It is worth your money and time.
Baucham, Voddie. What He Must Be…If He Wants to Marry My Daughter. Wheaton: Crossway, 2009. 213 pp.
You won’t regret reading this. In fact, some of you would wonder why a such book did not exist in the past. It is thoroughly biblical and offers many wise pastoral counseling (e.g., premarital, marital, and postmarital). I would highly recommend this book to all Christians.
Schreiner, Thomas R. Interpreting the Pauline Epistles. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1990. 167 pp.
Thomas Schreiner is one of my favorite NT scholars. I appreciate him because he doesn’t always “land” on whatever is most popular interpretation, but is careful in his exegesis and offers cogent argument for his positions. This book is no different. You’ll find helpful advices on how to best handle one of the most important portions of God’s Word.
Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2006. 305 pp.
The sheer size of this volume is intimidating. It has 624 pages! However, I read only selected portions for my doctoral seminar. It is perhaps one of the most thorough books on hermeneutics. I would not recommend this for laymen, but for someone who already had some graduate-level exposure to hermeneutics and textual criticism. It is certainly a welcoming addition to a preacher’s reading list.
Robinson, Haddon W. Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1980. 230 pp.
I reread this classic this year. His definition of expository preaching is still taught in many classrooms today. According to Robinson, “Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through him to his hearers.” Whether you’re a novice or veteran preacher, if you haven’t already, you need to read this book.
Dever, Mark and Sinclair Ferguson. The Westminster Directory of Public Worship. Ross-shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2008. 127 pp.
If you’re familiar with those names, it shows that it is possible for a staunch Baptist and a staunch Presbyterian to get along [wink, wink]. As a Baptist, I appreciate the Presbyterian’s church polity, orderly worship, tradition, and theology, such as, The Westminster Confession of Faith. This book touches on all of that. In this day and age when Christian-lite and theology-lite are part of the prevalent shallow worship, we would all do ourselves a favor by gaining some weighty substance from a Puritan literature like this.
Philpott, Kent. How to Care for Your Pastor: A Guide for Small Churches. Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2008. 122 pp.
There is a lot of talk about what pastors are to do for their churches. A conference after a conference, you’ll generally hear this theme. Also, there are myriads of books on what pastors are to do for their churches. However, you’ll rarely hear what churches are to do for their pastors. I believe the pendulum needs to swing to other direction to have a proper and balanced view for both parties. And that is the premise in which Philpott writes. Moreover, the author argues that the life of a small church pastor is radically different and more challenging than those who pastor at not-so-small churches. I can just see many pastors who nod their heads in agreement. Without sounding self-serving, I would recommend everyone who are part of small churches to read this, so that one would learn to sympathize with their pastor’s struggle, develop love and compassion for their minister, and cultivate practical ways to help love his vocation.