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Book Blurbs (May-August 2020)

I got stung by a wasp on my right index finger. My finger and hand, as a result, swelled up noticeably. It was painful. Add that to some unexplained technical WordPress blog issues and hence, that’s why you didn’t hear from me last week.

But I’m back today with another segment of Book Blurbs. This is where I list out some of the books I’m reading (or listening to) along with a brief blurb on each book. I don’t mention every book I read, only the ones I feel like writing about. You can find the books that made this edition of Book Blurbs below.

1. Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortulnd

Incredibly refreshing. It’s been cool to see this book get a significant amount of attention.

Prediction: at the end of the year when authors of Christian websites list their top books of the year, this book will get more #1 votes than any other Christian book published in 2020.

2. After 50 Years of Ministry: 7 Things I’d Do Differently and 7 Things I’d Do the Same by Bob Russell

Endorsed by Al Mohler and several others, this is a book by a megachurch pastor who talks about his success and shortcomings in Christian ministry. I’m a sucker for those “lessons learned in ministry” books and articles. Although I doubt that me and the author will see eye-to-eye on every aspect of philosophy of ministry, there are tons of gold in this book for young and older pastors alike.

3. How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority by Clay Scroggins

Some of the humor was off-putting to me. That said, there are helpful practical tips here and there on Christian leadership, especially if the amount of power you hold at your job is limited. This may be a good pick-up for those of you who want to exercise more influence in your organization but you’re not quite sure how.

4. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

The writing is spectacular. And the story is profoundly interesting. What a riveting book. You’ll resonate with the content of this book if you love being alone or if you desire escapism from time-to-time. I was looking for a different kind of book to read from my normal Christian reading and I certainly was refreshed by this one.

5. The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges

I’m surprised this book hasn’t received more attention than it has, although it is highly touted by John Piper. This book will provoke a deep sense of awe that God would call you to be a pastor.

6. The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment  by Susan Thurman and Larry Shea

The title is a bit misleading because I don’t think it’s the only grammar book you’ll ever need. In fact, I think it would be good to pair this one with an English grammar book that goes more in-depth on certain issues. Still, this is a helpful little resource for writers to have if you’re writing something and quickly have a grammar question. I continue to make too many grammatical errors despite trying not to. I suspect that is one of many realities of living in a fallen world.

7. Knowing God by J. I. Packer

This is a re-read. My wife and I are reading it together — the first time we’ve ever tried reading a book together, and it’s been edifying to our marriage. No, we did not decide to read this book after Packer went home with the Lord. Instead, we bought copies at the end of last year with the intention of reading it together. We didn’t feel like we had to read a marriage book together just because we’re married.

This book is a classic for a reason. I suggest that you read it if you haven’t.

8. Write Better by Andrew T. Le Peau

I keep a list in Evernote called “Books I want to Buy.” Whenever I see a book I want to buy, even if I can’t at the moment, I write it down on the list. This list is long. Very long. This book was on the list for a while, but it was a book review by Tim Challies that prompted me to purchase the book earlier than anticipated. Although On Writing Well will always have a special place in my heart, Le Pau’s book is a helpful companion to Zinsser’s classic. I’m becoming better at arguing my points because of Le Peau’s book.

9. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell 

My, oh, my. Well, I guess I’m late to the party because I’m just now jumping on the Malcolm Gladwell bandwagon. After listening to one of his interviews, I became intrigued by him and finished reading The Tipping Point which I started but never finished, and quickly bought and devoured this book. Loved it. Gladwell’s writing is excellent — he is the classic page-turner, always keeping you engaged and making it hard to put the book down. I hope to read all his books.

In this volume, he talks about why some people are uncommonly successful and others aren’t. The reason why some people make it big and others don’t is not because of the traditional reasons we use: ambition, unusual giftedness, because they’re a prodigy, etc.

The reason why, instead, that some people are significantly more successful than others, is because of their cultural legacies, where they’re from, how much money their parents made, hidden advantages acquired, and the opportunities they were given. The book helped me see the world differently. And it is also personally helping me to rest in the Lord’s providence, knowing that there is so much out of my control, and instead of being a bozo about trying to create opportunities for myself, I can happily rest in his sovereignty knowing that he orchestrates all success and failure alike.

10. The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry   by R. Kent Huges and Sean O’Donnell

A helpful resource for pastors. In this book, you’ll learn about putting together the Sunday worship service, annual services, hymns and songs, hospital visitations, and many other aspects of pastoral ministry. It’s a great reference book to have — not the kind of book you read all the way through, but the kind of book you utilize when you have a question about a certain aspect of ministry in which the book covers. 


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