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Book Blurbs (January – April 2021)

Book Blurbs is a segment on the blog where I list books I’m reading along with a brief blurb about each book. The aim is to help you identify new authors and potential books of interest. Maybe I didn’t read every word of every page, but I read enough to mention them. I don’t list every book I read. You can find some of the books I read in January – April of 2021 below. You can find all the Book Blurbs posts here.

For some of these books, they arrived in 2020. I looked at the table of contents and read a few sentences, but I didn’t seriously start reading them until 2021.

1. Church Planting Is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-Up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things by Mike Mckinley

One of the best examples of humor I’ve seen in writing. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions. Although “Church Planting” made the title, McKinley ended up more in a church revitalization situation, or maybe a hybrid between planting and revitalizing. Either way, how his church grew is a sign of God’s faithfulness and power. I think the discouraged pastor will find this book energizing whether you are planting or not.

2. Proverbs by Derek Kidner

As opposed to using a Bible reading plan for my private devotions in 2021, I’m doing an extended study in the book of Proverbs. I’m reading the text slowly, utilizing my study Bible, and taking notes. I’m also using Bruce Waltke’s commentary on Proverbs, and Tim and Kathy Keller’s devotional on Proverbs. Similar to F.F. Bruce, for those into the commentary world, Kidner is an economical writer. Pound for pound, though, I think Waltke’s commentary is better and more thorough, although Kidner’s is much shorter. The devotional book by Tim and Kathy Keller is excellent. Switching my quiet time to this method has proved fruitful.

3. Church in the Making: What Makes or Breaks a New Church Before it Starts by Ben Arment

A sobering, honest, and realistic look at why some church plants fail before they start — even among godly, well-intentioned men. Turns out, spiritual receptivity in a community is an indicator of success, although God can, of course, supernaturally move in historically spiritually dark areas. Lots of common sense in this book.

4. Why Do We Baptize Infants? by Bryan Chapell

I’m a credobaptist, but I am intrigued by Presbyterianism. I suspect in many ways I am a Baptisterian (Baptist + Presbyterian). Chappell puts forth a solid argument for covenantal, infant baptism, as does Guy M. Richard in his volume on baptism (although I’ve heard The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism is the best book on the subject). I enjoy reading books that disagree with me on my thinking. Even if I remain unconvinced of a theological argument, reading a book with a different view usually increases my appreciation for the other side.

5. The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived  by Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor

A helpful book that examines the last days of Christ. Great to use this volume during Easter or if you are preaching through a Gospel. I plan on getting the companion volume, The First Days of Jesus.

6.Covenants Made Simple: Understanding God’s Unfolding Promises to His People by Jonty Rhodes

I’m not a dispensationalist. Those who are credobaptists need to figure out where we stand on the relationship between Israel and the church, on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments (or covenants; that’s what “testament” means). This is an accessible introductory look at covenant theology, although it is written from a distinctively presbyterian perspective.

8. Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by D. A. Carson

This is a book that centers around Tom Carson’s (Don’s dad) pastoral ministry experience and journal entries. An encouraging read for pastors, especially discouraged ones.

9. The Christ-Centered Expositor: A Field Guide for Word-Driven Disciple Makers by Tony Merida

Much of what Merida says in this book can be found in the classic preaching texts. But the strength of this volume, however, is that Merida writes in a clear, accessible, and humble way, making it a useful introductory preaching book to someone who hasn’t read much on the subject, like a pastoral intern or a lay elder.

10. How Sermons Work by David Murray

Murray provides some even-keeled advice on how to put together sermons. You’ll find lots of examples and good practical advice in this book.

11. A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin

If asked what one book you wish every Christian would read, this book would be a good contender. A classic book on the Christian life.

12. On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons by John A. Broadus

Just started this homiletics text this morning and I love it so far. Broadus is the father of modern expository preaching and this book is one of the most highly respected books on preaching.

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