Books for Exiles

March 20, 2020 matt
We can’t do much, but we can read. Here is the first list of books I want to recommend while we are temporarily in exile. Throughout my life, books have been a comfort and joy for me. This can especially be the case during this season.
Some may ask, “Preacher, what do you plan to read?” Well, first of all, I have a stack of 8 books on preaching to read for a doctoral seminar coming up this summer. So, I will be fighting the temptation to catch up on the books I want to read when I should be catching up on school work! However, as time goes on, I will try to get through some other books as well.
I am putting these recommendations in some basic categories. If there’s a category you want more recommendations in, just let me know!
Also, we do not have an independent, local bookstore in Gadsden. However, Whitney and I love to go to Thank You Books in Birmingham. In a time where we are all anxious over supporting small businesses, let’s do our part to try to help out. If you click most of the book covers here, you will be taken to a website where your purchases will go to help support Thank You Books. I receive nothing in return from linking there except the hope that I’ll be able to browse our favorite bookstore again in the near future!

Christian Classics

Knowing God by JI Packer
Knowing God changed my life. It helped lead to my conversion. It helped give me an excuse to keep contacting my future wife. It has been a near companion in my walk with Christ. I commend this book to you! What an anchoring experience it will be to drink deeply of the knowledge of God during an uncertain season.
The Cross of Christ by John Stott
“Line by line, word by word, The Cross of Christ is changing my life.” -my wife, Whitney, who is currently reading this book for the first time. This book revolutionized my understanding of the atonement. Don’t miss out on this classic work.

For Your Spiritual Life

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
 This book, paired with Knowing God, was instrumental in leading to my conversion. I began to long to actually know God, rather than to know about God. Eventually God made it clear I did not know Him at all and, in His mercy, saved me.
This is a good time to grow in your spiritual disciplines, or those things you do to help you walk with and grow in Christ. This book is, in my estimation, the classic treatment of spiritual disciplines. Read it, learn, and grow!
Valley of Vision
I love this book. It’s a collection of prayers edited from the prayers and writings of the Puritans. It has been a balm for my soul more than once, and it often helps me to pray when I don’t know what to pray. Seems good for right now, don’t you think?

For Pastors

The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine
Ok, ok. You are a pastor and you have a stack of books on every surface in your home and office waiting to be read. However, hear me out on this one. God has hit the reset button for us. Now would be a good time to evaluate where we find our identity, how we minister, and more. Eswine will be a faithful guide as you evaluate your ministry. This book wrecked me. I hope it will wreck you too.

For the Skeptic

Making Sense of God by Tim Keller
I love Keller, and I really loved The Reason for God, but wow. This book is his best. First, as I read this, I would think, “Every person who struggles with faith needs this. Wow.” But then, as I continued reading, I began thinking, “Wow. I need this.” Skeptics, believers, and anyone else would benefit greatly from this book.
Can We Trust the Gospels? by Peter Williams
My belief in the trustworthiness of the whole Bible rises and falls with the trustworthiness of the Gospels. This succinct, lucid book strengthened my faith in the truth of the Gospels and presented me with information I had never considered before. If you struggle with the truthfulness and historical reliability of the Bible, pick this one up.

For Pleasure

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

Voodoo preachers? Alabama locales? Deep South politics? HARPER LEE!? This book is absolutely in my wheelhouse and it is probably in yours too. While the subject of this book is obviously inside baseball for me, the truth remains that I will read anything Cep writes in the future. Her writing is wonderful and made the book better than it might have been.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
This book is a slow-burn, gut punch, beautiful novel. There is also a sweetness and a beauty to it. I read it years ago, but still think about it a lot. I will read it again one day. It will not take you long to know why I love it, but by the end I am sure you will love it too.

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