Books

A List of Underrated Books

I have 1,820 books on my shelves. I have read probably 75% of them, which was much higher a few years ago…but I keep buying books! Anyway, I have listed my “top 10 book” lists in the past and even given recommendations for building a library – both for a church or personal use.

Today, I want to give you my “Top 10 List of the Most Underrated Books.” In other words, here are books that don’t get the “press” they deserve – whether by reviews, sales, or references.

#1 – Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach by Paul Benware. There are as many views in eschatology as there are years in the Millennium – assuming you believe in a literal 1,000 years. This book covers all the views and gives pro’s and con’s for each view. If you needed a book on the last days that gave you all the interpretive options so you can pick for yourself, buy and read this book.

#2 – Stop Dating the Church: Fall in Love with the Family of God by Joshua Harris. Every teenager and college student should be given this book when they graduate. Church is not about consumption but about commitment. Don’t date around; settle down and invest yourself to the local church.

#3 – The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin by Kris Lundgaard. This is a synopsis of John Owen’s writing about the mortification of sin and the flesh, but written in plain, modern language. If you don’t read Owen (even though you should), read this.

#4 – Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J.P. Moreland. I discovered this book about 10 years ago when I was working on reading all books in my library I had never read. I had never touched a work by Moreland, but since then I read anything I can from this careful Christian thinker. This book builds a case for the Christian mind and its use in our sanctification. The mind gets the process of holiness going. The mind informs the heart, and the heart informs our behavior.

#5 – Expository Listening: A Practical Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey. This book would be one of those books I would give to every Christian I know, if I had that much money. The connection between listening and obedience is rarely explained biblically. And listening includes far more than hearing someone talk, as Ramey so helpfully explains.

#6 – Killing Sin Habits: Conquering Sin with Radical Faith by Stuart Scott. I had this man as a professor in college, and I can testify that he “practices what he preaches.” You will find this to be a tool for defeating sin over and over again. Its brevity is a strength and its biblical equipping in the battle of mortifying sin is unmatched.

#7 – New Testament Deacon by Alexander Strauch. This author rightly shows the pastoral tone of the deacon ministry and encourages churches not to relegate their deacons to building maintenance and financial questions. We need this book in our churches and we need our deacons to help shepherd the flock of God.

#8 – Caring for Widows: You and Your Church Can Make a Difference by Wesley M. Teterud. We have found this to be a very practical book for our church (Wichita Bible Church). If you are looking for a biblical call to care for the “senior saints” in your church and tangible ways to help serve them in these difficult years of their life, read this book. You can write an entire philosophy of ministry for ministering to the elderly from this one resource.

#9 – The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ by Bruce A. Ware. This is the only book I would recommend on the reality that Jesus was both God and man. Ware excels in illustrating difficult concepts and what is more challenging to understand than how Jesus could be 100% man and 100% God? Ware makes it sound so simple!

#10 – Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally about God with Your Children by John A. Younts. If you need a resource to help you be more spiritually intentional in your conversations with your children, this is your book. By reading this book, you will be given tips on how to transform normal conversation into spiritual conversation. And many of the principles learned in this book could apply to any conversation with a non-Christian.

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Book Blurbs: September 2017

Here are some books I had the privilege of reading this past month and some brief thoughts about each one.

 

#1 – Why We’re Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation by Nate Pickowicz (published by Entreating Favor, 2017). Not the lengthiest book you can read on the 5 solas of the Reformation, but the most readable and accessible. Each sola is explained biblically. Each sola is treated with an implication in church history. If you are looking for a brief introduction to the 5 solas, as the title reads, buy and read this book. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#2 – Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Harold H. Bainton (published by Hendrickson Publishers, 1950). Still my favorite Luther biography. Detailed, informative, inspiring. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#3 – God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture by Matthew Barrett (published by Zondervan, 2016). I read this book in preparation for teaching a series on the 5 solas, and boy am I glad I did. When (not if) you read this book, you will learn about the qualities of Scripture (e.g., clarity, necessity, inerrancy, truthfulness), the views some have held on Scriptural authority throughout church history, and the current challenges to its authority. This is now my #1 book in bibliology. The author is very readable, very biblical, and his collections of quotes throughout the book inspires, convicts and edifies. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#4 – Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification by Thomas Schreiner (published by Zondervan, 2015). There is no better defense of justification by faith alone that I am aware of. The author does a tremendous job giving biblical insight into the reality that our faith is based on the righteousness of Christ and not our works but that our faith will produce works. In this book, you find this teaching throughout church history, you will gain help on contemporary debates, and see the teaching of justification in both the O.T. and N.T. Buy this book and read it! BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#5 – The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever (published by Crossway Books, 2007). What you will find in this book are answers to questions like, “Why don’t we evangelize?”, “What is the Gospel?”, “Who should evangelize?”, “How should we evangelize?”, “What isn’t evangelism?”, “What should we do after we evangelize?”, and “Why should we evangelize?” The answers will often provoke you to good meditation or conversation if you are using this book in a small group. Dever does a good job “thinking outside the box” and yet remaining biblical in his topic. This is not a book meant to equip you to evangelize but to encourage or motivate you to evangelize. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

#6 – The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven J. Lawson (published by Reformation Trust, 2013). There are better books on Luther than this one (Bainton’s Here I Stand or Sproul and Nichols’ Legacy of Luther), but if you want a book focusing primarily on the preaching style and preaching philosophy of this Reformer, this book is for you. BOOK RATING: 8 out of 10 stars.

#7 – Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Jesus as Savior by Stephen Wellum (published by Zondervan, 2017). There has been great profit in reading these books in the 5 Solas Series, edited by Matthew Barrett. This book is helpful in defining the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the ONLY Savior and how the Bible supports such a claim. There is also much writing on the subject of the work and ministry of Christ and why that matters. You will also find a selection of views on the person and work of Christ throughout church history, with a special emphasis on the Reformation period. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

Book Blurbs: August 2017

#1 – Adventuring Through the Bible: A Comprehensive Guide to the Entire Bible by Ray C. Stedman (published by Discovery House Publishers, 1997). This is an adequate survey of the entire Bible. Where Stedman is strong in this book is painting with a broad brush of historical background of each book in the Bible, but sometimes you are left with too many questions after reading a chapter. He is not particularly helpful in weaving themes of the book through each chapter. BOOK RATING: 6 out of 10 stars.

#2 – Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines by David Mathis (published by Crossways Books, 2016). This book addresses topics like communication, Bible study, meditation, memorization, learning, prayer, fasting, journaling, resting, fellowship, corporate worship, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, listening to preaching, rebuke, using money and time, etc. While the topics are broad and the writing is good, there are other books on spiritual disciplines that are better…in my opinion (e.g., Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life). At times, I found myself wanting him to say more and give more practical help than he does. At times, his conclusions were more theoretical than helpful. BOOK RATING: 7 out of 10 stars.

#3 – Who Am I? New Testament Pictures of the Christian Life by Warren W. Wiersbe (published by Discovery House Publishers, 2007). This is the 3rd book I have read in the last year on the Christian’s identity in Christ, and I would rank it before the other 2. This is vintage Wiersbe: concise, biblical, clear and convicting. Every chapter addresses a term that Christians are referred to in the Scripture (e.g., child, sheep, pilgrim, member, priest, stone, debtor, soldier, runner, ambassador, bread, seeds, and new creation), and each chapter is well developed. I can see this being an encouraging resource to give a new believer needed to be grounded in what it means to be “in Christ” or an individual struggling with finding sufficiency or pleasure in worldly things. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#4 – Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life by Eric Mason (published by B&H Publishing Group, 2014). You can read my thoughts about this book here. BOOK RATING: 8 out of 10 stars.

#5 – Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976). In all fairness, I did not read this book in the month of August but completed its reading, which began in January. Everyone who has preached through the Gospel of Matthew told me, “Buy Lloyd-Jones” and I am glad I did. The author rightly captures the concern Jesus preached about – inward hypocrisy and the importance of addressing the heart. I would read this book even if I weren’t preaching or studying the Gospel of Matthew. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

Resources for Reading on the Reformation

This fall during the month of October and early November, I will be preaching a series on the “5 Solas of the Reformation.” As some of you may know, October 31 will be the 500-year anniversary of when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. These 95 Theses were a protest against the corruption of the Gospel and the selling of indulgences that was being propagated by the Roman Catholic Church.

As I have begun my own study in preparation for this preaching series, I wanted to direct you to some resources that you might find helpful if you are looking to educate yourself further on the significance of the Reformation.

Resources on Martin Luther

  • Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Ronald H. Bainton. For many years this has been the “go-to” book for a biography of Martin Luther. I have read the book at least 5x in my life and have always gleaned more appreciation for this Augustinian monk who God used to turn the church inside-out. If there is only one book to read about Luther or the Reformation, it is this one.
  • The Legacy of Luther edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen J. Nichols. While I have not read this book, I have seen it recommended over and over again by many people I respect and trust. Of all the books I will be reading to prepare to preach this series, I am looking forward to this one the most.
  • The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven J. Lawson. I have not read this book yet, but the other biographies I have read from Lawson (e.g., William Tyndale and John Calvin) were very stirring. I expect this one to be as good, if not better than the others.
  • Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha. The focus of this resource is on the union of Martin and Katharina. You will laugh, cry, and scratch your head at these two opposites that God brought together.

Theology

  • Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. I purchased this book for a class in college that I took on the Reformation era. In it, you will find quick bios of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and Menno Simons. You will also get a good overview of their doctrinal emphasis and the need for theological reform during the 16th century.

5 Solas

  • The Five Solas Series pack, edited by Thomas Schreiner. There are 5 books in this series, 1 for each sola: Christ Alone by Stephen Wellum, Faith Alone by Thomas Schreiner, God’s Glory Alone by David VanDrunen, God’s Word Alone by Matthew Barrett, and Grace Alone by Carl Trueman.
  • Why We Are Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation by Nate Pickowicz. I know the young man who designed this cover and he said, “Buy this book.” So, I did! Haven’t read it just yet!
  • The Courage to Be Protestant: Reformation Faith in Today’s World by David F. Wells. Looking forward to reading again from one of the most important thinkers of our day.
  • Echoes of the Reformation. This is a DVD set (6 lessons) hosted by Trevin Wax, as he interviews both Kevin DeYoung and R. Albert Mohler Jr. This resource is mostly helpful for those looking for help on the implications of the Reformation and the 5 solas and why they still matter today. There is a study guide edited by Brandon D. Smith that accompanies this DVD set.

 

Book Blurbs: July 2017

#1 – The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship That Invented America by Randy Petersen (published by Nelson Books, 2015). Not many know of or forget that Franklin and Whitefield were contemporaries of one another and good friends. This book, while not the most engaging of an historical book, is helpful in sketching the culture in America that helped shape two of the most significant thinkers in our nation’s past. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

#2 – Promises Made: The Message of the Old Testament by Mark Dever (published by Crossway Books, 2006). What Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology accomplishes as a doctrinal resource, this book by Dever does the same for O.T. book backgrounds resources. What I mean is that you get great information in each chapter and encouraging devotional material. Dever paints pictures of each O.T. book, and makes them practical, with each chapter ending with about 10 discussion questions. It would be a great resource for your personal library, or a Sunday school class or small group wanting to pursue a survey of the O.T., or as a preaching reference. I can’t wait to read the companion book surveying the books of the N.T. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

Book Review Blurb: The Message of the Old Testament

Image result for the message of the old testament deverBook Review Score – 10 out of 10

As I have been preparing to teach a Old Testament survey class for Sunday School (sometime in the future), I have discovered a rich resource you need to consider purchasing and reading.

There are many good Old Testament surveys and Old Testament introduction resources available: Gleason Archer’s A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Walter Kaiser’s Toward an Exegetical Theology, R.K. Harrison’s An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books, Andrew Hill and John Walton’s A Survey of the Old Testament – to name a few.

Another textbook I would highly recommend is Mark Dever’s The Message of the Old Testament. This book is a collection of sermons he preached 15-20 years ago, when he took up a single Old Testament book in a single sermon. The book is subtitled “Promises Made,” and he has a New Testament equivalent also available subtitled “Promises Kept.”

While you won’t find much writing regarding technical issues or background material of the Old Testament books, Dever’s strength is the devotional style of each chapter. One of Dever’s goals certainly seems to be is to encourage and inspire worship of God as you read each chapter. Every chapter ends with a prayer and discussion questions.

Dever is consistent in re-telling each Old Testament book’s story, discussing the main theme(s) of that book, informing you o the book’s place in Old Testament chronology, and inspiring a deeper affection and appreciation for the Old Testament.

This book would be a great resource for any Christian starting to build his library and looking or Old Testament helps.