“When you come, bring … the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13 ESV).
Here is an annotated bibliography of popularly written books for understanding Christian living, the church, prayer, the benefits of the cross and church membership. I urge you to pick up these books and read them for your personal growth. None of these books are academic in nature and all of them are written by pastors.
Kevin DeYoung, The Hole In Our Holiness. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2012).
This book has ten chapters in 146 pages with an additional study guide for each chapter tucked away at the end of the book. This study guide is useful for both individual and group study.
From the very first page, I knew I would love this book. The author, Kevin DeYoung, dislikes camping. He concludes his opening diatribe by asserting that he does not get camping nor know much about it. Then he likens these assertions to the average Christian’s view of holiness. However, not knowing about or getting camping will not prohibit you from eternal bliss; not knowing about or getting holiness (that is practicing it) will!
This book is a clear, readable presentation of the “doctrine of sanctification” or personal holiness. In a winsome and sometimes humorous manner, DeYoung teaches the reader what holiness is and what it is not. He avoids simplistic reductionism – even coming against it – when he says that holiness is not merely a matter of avoiding certain (church) cultural taboos (like card playing).
More than a work which asserts and criticizes wrong versions of holiness, DeYoung sets out to teach the reader what holiness looks like. Further, he deals with the more prominent sin of sexual immorality. Lastly, he drenches his instruction with Scripture. In a kind, pastoral tone, he teaches from the whole Bible that God has always required holiness, that God saves people to be holy, and that God empowers His people to live holy lives.
This book is more than instruction. It is an inspiration for living a holy life.
Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What Is A Healthy Church Member? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008).
This book is part of the IX Marks book series, a series of books about local churches and their members (sometimes their pastors as well). The original concept of IX Marks was designed by Mark Dever, the pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. This gift-book style manuscript has 120 pages in eleven chapters and an appendix.
Pastor Anyabwile is an African American who converted to Islam at a young age, even changing his name to what it is now. After getting married, he and his wife heard the gospel at Capitol Hill Baptist Church where they converted to Christianity. At one time a radical Muslim intent on converting Christians, he now pastors First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman Islands.
The ten marks (the author added one to the original nine) of a healthy church member are 1) an expositional listener 2) a Biblical theologian 3) Gospel-saturated 4) genuinely converted 5) a Biblical evangelist 6) a committed member 7) one who seeks discipline 8) a growing disciple 9) a humble follower and 10) a prayer warrior.
We believe in church membership which makes this little book worth your time and effort. According to Pastor Anyabwile in the Introduction, “This little book is written in the hope that you might discover or rediscover what it means to be a healthy member of a local church, and what it means to contribute to the overall health of the church” (14).
Notice the interaction between your health and the church’s health. Notice that this shared ‘healthiness’ is symbiotic – it feeds one into the other. Often members accuse churches of being unhealthy or churches accuse members of the same. It seems to a large extent both are to blame and both can become healthy once more.
While our aim here at Pilgrim is not merely to make this book our playbook for church membership, we would whole-heartedly agree with its basic assertions. Some of the marks seem obvious – committed, a prayer warrior – while others may be new to your thinking – expositional listener, biblical theologian. Some of these are actually scary – biblical evangelist, seeks discipline.
I hope that you will give this book a judicious and thorough reading and note: your health and the health of the church are dependent on one another.
Terry L. Johnson, When Grace Comes Home. (Ross-Shire, Great Britain, Christian Focus Publications, 2000).
This book is 173 pages divided into twelve chapters. Each chapter has a set of study questions which makes this book ideal for individual or group study. Terry Johnson is the pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, GA. He has written extensively on worship (e.g., Leading in Worship and The Family Worship Book) and in the area of practical Christian living (this book along with When Grace Comes Alive and When Grace Transforms).
In and around the church, one hears much about ‘grace’. Like the elderly, senile aunt in “A Christmas Vacation,” many respond with “Oh grace, she died thirty years ago.” Well when we talk about grace in the church, our referent is not usually to a person, but to an attribute of God that we are to have as well. Simply, grace is a gift – that is, something freely given that the receiver does not deserve on his own merit.
In When Grace Comes Home, Rev. Johnson seeks to tie a number of other concepts to grace so that one may see the connection between grace and the Christian life. The study questions at the end of each chapter help reader to get the connection also.
The opening chapter defines grace – Rev. Johnson calls it the theology of grace. From there, he shows the links between grace and worship, grace and humility, grace and adversity, grace and one’s outlook on life, grace and witness, grace and sanctification, grace and assurance, grace and law/liberty, grace and prayer, grace and guidance, grace and faith for living.
In addition to being biblically oriented – each chapter begins with a suggested Scripture reading and each one is saturated with Scripture – this book will also introduce the reader to basic Reformed teaching. Rev. Johnson does this with the authority of a pastor and the winsomeness of a friend.
I hope that you will make this book a part of your devotional reading in order that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).