Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots by J.C. Ryle. If you know me, you know J.C. Ryle is my extra-biblical hero. And this is the 1st book I ever read from Ryle. If I could only take 2 books on a deserted island with me, it would be the Bible and this magnum opus by Ryle. Ryle has a gift for simplicity in writing and in his preaching. You will never read a Ryle book and be left scratching your head about what he is saying. And what more important subject do we need to be clear about than sin and holiness. This is the only book in my library that I read about 1x per year. If you decide to read it, buckle your seat belts – the 1st chapter is about sin.
Quotation – “True holiness is a great reality. It is something in a man that can be seen, and known, and marked, and felt by all around him. It is light: if it exists, it will show itself. It is salt: if it exists, its savor will be perceived. It is a precious ointment: if it exists, its presence cannot be hid”
Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J.P. Moreland. A few years ago, I felt convicted about the books I owned that I never read. At that time, it was about 100 books or so on my shelf that were untouched. So, I decided to spend the next year only reading un-read books (except for commentaries and reference books). And in the midst of this project, I discovered this gem by Moreland. I had never read anything from him before, and now I try to get my hands on everything he publishes. The Christian life is a thinking life. Everything we do is reasoned from our mind. When we want to change our behavior, it starts by informing the mind. And what better resource to inform the mind than God’s mind? Moreland does an outstanding job in this short book demonstrating how our minds inform our hearts and how our hearts show our dedication to God.
Quotation – “Once people stop believing in God, the problem is not that they will believe nothing; rather, the problem is that they will believe anything.”
Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon. This is my “go to” book on pastoral ministry. One page after another includes practical tips and wisdom from “the Prince of Preachers.” Topics such as discerning your call to the ministry, the prayer life of the pastor, how the Holy Spirit is involved in the church, selecting a text to preach, and using illustrations in sermons are just some of the 28 chapters in this book.
Quotation – “It will be in vain for me to stock my library, or organize societies, or project schemes, if I neglect the culture of myself; for books, and agencies, and systems, are only remotely the instruments of my holy calling; my own spirit, soul, and body, are my nearest machinery for sacred service; my spiritual faculties, and my inner life, are my battle axe and weapons of war.”
The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. The most important paragraph outside of Scripture is the 1st paragraph of this book, in my opinion and it is contained in the quotation below. This book completed changed by view of God and gave me loftier thoughts of the Creator than I ever thought possible. Tozer convinced me that our view of God is at the heart of every decision – good and bad – that we ever make.
Quotation – “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most important fact about any man is not what he at any given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing think about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence if often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.”