Gospel Relevance

Book Blurbs (September-December 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 September-December of 2021 below. You can find all the Book Blurbs posts here.

For this edition of Book Blurbs, you’ll notice some overlap with My Top 10 Books of 2021.

1. .You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith

Wow. Every once in a while I’ll read a book by an author and think, “This person is such a good writer.” Or, “I’ll never be able to write this good.” Such were the thoughts that entered my mind as I read this well-received book by James K.A. (A.K.A. “Jamie”) Smith. It’s a book about the role of the heart in Christian discipleship. I’m glad Smith teaches that the local church is the heart of Christian discipleship because that’s true.

2. On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts by James K. A. Smith

I need to finish this one, but I read the chapter on ambition twice. Smith pulls no punches and, of course, neither does Augustine. If you like Augustine and want to know how Augustine’s theology is applicable in the Christian life, this is a book to consider.

3. The Unspoken Rules: Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right by Gorick NG

I heard Cal Newport talk about this book on his podcast. Intrigued, I decided to buy it. I’m glad I did. I now see why Newport gives this volume a great review. Although some of the content in this book is not transferable to pastoral ministry, there is a lot of great advice on working with people. If you are starting a new job or career, this may be a useful book for you to consider.

Allow me to present a strong endorsement: If you are just about to start a new job or career, you should get this book. It’s so, so helpful.

4. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

Sold out on Amazon quickly. Was glad to have purchased a copy before it sold out again. The writing is excellent, although this book is more of a theory of time management, rather than tips and tricks on how to more effectively manage your time.

5. How to Build a Healthy Church: A Practical Guide for Deliberate Leadership by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander

I don’t agree with every sentence in this book, but I appreciate the comprehensiveness of this volume. This is a church leadership book that informs the reader how the application of church ministry is done at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in D.C. So if you want to know how Mark Dever and the guys there do church, this is the book for you. It is difficult to think of an aspect of church life in which the authors do not cover. I’m grateful for 9 Marks and I hope to continue to learn from the resources they put out.

6. Gospel-Driven Ministry: An Introduction to the Calling and Work of a Pastor by Jared C. Wilson

Wilson and I have different temperaments, so it’s helpful for me to learn and be rebuked by guys who are wired differently. Lots of skillful sentences in this volume. Pastors who read it will feel seen and heard. Wilson gets it: pastoring is hard, but there is grace and joy available through Jesus. All things considered, I’m glad I read it, even without me seeing eye-to-eye on every jot and tittle.

7. The Grumbler’s Guide to Giving Thanks: Reclaiming the Gifts of a Lost Spiritual Discipline by Dustin Crowe

As I mentioned in my post 5 Christian Books on Thankfulness and Gratitude, I preached the Thanksgiving Eve sermon at our church for the third year in a row. As a result, I wanted to read a book on thankfulness to prepare my heart. I choose this one. I enjoyed it: simple, biblical, practical, and worshipful. I’m becoming more and more convinced that thankfulness is one of the most important disciplines in the Christian life.

8. Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ Is Essential by Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman

A good primer on the local church from two sharp thinkers. This is a good book to hand out to church members who want to understand the importance of the local church.

9. Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt

This is the best material on goal-setting I’ve seen (Fun fact: I was on the book launch team to help promote this volume). I read it for the book launch team, but just recently re-read it on Kindle. Once again, I left inspired to set big goals for myself.

Goal-setting is powerful. The way I see it, your calling determines your goals, and your goals determine your tasks. Calling, goals, and tasks are interconnected. Having goals gives you something to aim for, determines what you should do, and provides a guide to see if you are drifting or moving in the right direction.

10. Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray

This book is tailored toward men (But Murray’s wife, Shona, has written a similar book for women entitled Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands.) I recommend this book at the end of the year because it will help you reset, recover, and practice better self-care. It will make you more aware of the areas of your life where you are going too fast and need to slow down.

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