Pastor Bob O'Bannon
In Proverbs 23:23, we have a Biblical mandate for buying good books: “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction and understanding.” Accordingly, here are five books I read in 2013 (though they were not necessarily released in 2013), and I heartily recommend them for your reading pleasure in 2014:
What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (by Sherif Girgis, Robert George and Ryan Anderson). This is not an argument against homosexuality; rather, it’s an argument for traditional marriage. The authors make a pragmatic case (without appealing to church tradition or Scripture) that marriage between one man and one woman is actually good for children, for spouses, and therefore good for society and human flourishing in general.
A.Lincoln (by Ronald White). Abraham Lincoln is one of the most recognized names in history, so it seemed a wise use of time to read this recent (2009) biography of the great man. This book is consistently engaging, endearing and informative. It even includes a glossary of significant individuals so you don’t get lost in all the names. I was especially interested to learn that Lincoln, though a reluctant churchgoer, sat under the preaching of a Presbyterian pastor named Phineas Gurley, who was committed to the doctrines of the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Center Church (by Tim Keller). This is basically a textbook explaining Keller’s philosophy of ministry. Everything you ever wanted to know about Keller’s approach to worship, evangelism, preaching, church planting, discipleship, revival, contextualization and the basics of the Gospel is right here. This is worth multiple readings and careful study.
Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (by Lee Eclov). Anyone thinking about getting into pastoral ministry should read this. It’s full of down-to-earth, practical advice for how to relate to people, and how to treat them with grace. Best advice: “Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (by Paul Miller). There are some great one-liners in this book: “Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart.” And, “Time in prayer makes you even more dependent on God because you don’t have as much time to get things done.” At the end, Miller offers a practical suggestion for how to keep prayer requests on index cards. I’ve been using this system myself now, and I’ve found it helpful in keeping up with the large number of matters I try to pray for regularly.