April 2020 Books

God brought me several books in April that I hope you’ll enjoy. Leave a comment with one you plan to read, or one that you think I should read!

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Gender Ideology

Sharon James

The national attention to gender conversations makes this an intriguing title. Christians who write on the topic must balance a winsome, gracious delivery while not backing down from the truth. This is an admittedly challenging task. From my perspective, Gender Ideology felt heavy on truth and light on charity.

Because of this, I’d recommend God and the Transgender Debate as a more appropriate introduction to the topic. I did learn from quite a bit from the chapters on the history of the gender ideology movement, so take note if that is of interest to you.

My Favorite Quote: “In 2017, the National Union of Teachers in the United Kingdom called for toddlers as young as two to be taught about transgender issues.”

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Digital Minimalism

Cal Newport

We all know technology is impacting our brains, social interactions, and society at large … but what do we do about it? If you are serious about breaking free from the bondage and addiction of your smartphone, you need this book. Many books are helpful in this regard – Digital Minimalism is by far the best I’ve seen.

A word of warning: read this with a buddy (I read it with my wife). It will “kick your but” and you’ll need a friend to help you implement what Newport suggests. It’s that radical. It’s also worth it. My wife and I are currently in the middle of a 30-day digital declutter. I hope you’ll join us.

My Favorite Quote: “We eagerly signed up for what Silicon Valley was selling, but soon realized that in doing so we were accidentally degrading our humanity.”

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Finding the Right Hills to Die On

Gavin Ortlund

The premise is simple: some parts of theology are more important than others and wise Christians will work towards discernment (he calls this “theological triage”). It may sound nerdy, but consider the following practical dilemmas:

  • You are dating someone with a different view of baptism – is it a deal breaker?
  • You discover your favorite TV preacher wouldn’t be allowed to join your church. Should you continue supporting him?
  • Several churches from your area want to do an evangelistic night. Two of the churches teach you can lose your salvation. Should you participate in the event?

I loved this book. Dr. Ortlund writes with incredible charity towards other viewpoints and makes the content highly practical. I strongly recommend this book to all Christians.

My Favorite Quote: “We should eagerly pursue the kind of theological conviction and strength that is willing not only to fight for the truth, but also to avoid fighting in order to promote the gospel. This is the best kind of strength.”

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Expository Exultation

John Piper

Can preaching be emotional and Biblical? Can we have truth and joy? Spirit-led worship and exegesis … in the same sermon? Piper answers with a definitive yes!

Expository Exultation covers a ton of ground, so you may not want to read every chapter. That said, Piper has a lot to offer, especially on how we preach the Gospel from every passage. He significantly clarified my understanding on this point and I trust it will benefit you as a preacher as well.

My Favorite Quote: “The preacher simultaneously explains the meaning of Scripture and exults over the God-glorifying reality in it. Exultation without explanation is not preaching. Explanation without exultation is not preaching.”

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When Pain Is Real and God Seems Silent

Ligon Duncan

This little book (52 pages) was awesome. If you aren’t familiar with Ligon Duncan, you should be, and perhaps this will be your introduction. Given our global pandemic, the topic couldn’t be more relevant. Pick up your copy from Amazon today.

My Favorite Quote: “People must process pain and sorrow, not simply “let go” of it.”

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One Assembly

Jonathan Leeman

Leeman argues the Bible speaks on how the church should function. Specifically, he believes a church with multiple sites or even multiple services is opposed to the Bible. Most pastors haven’t even considered this, but they should.

You may end up disagreeing with Leeman on various points (as I do). You should still read him. To avoid getting bogged down, focus on the introduction and chapter three.

My Favorite Quote: “To oppose multiple sites and services can feel like opposing the Internet. Good luck.”

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Meditations on Preaching

Francis James Grimke

Full transparency: I wouldn’t have read this book had (1) it not been highly recommended by Mark Dever and (2) it not been given to me. Nevertheless I did read and enjoy it.

Grimke, the son of a slave owner and a slave, pastored a Presbyterian church in Washington DC for about 50 years. I found two main benefits: (1) Grimke reminds us that God grows a church, not a man and (2) Church growth and entertainment fads are nothing new. In other words, trust God and stay the course. Certainly a needed word.

My Favorite Quote: The church “is not a place for entertainment or amusement, where we go to while away the time, to get away from the serious things of life. Unfortunately, that is what some ministers seem to think it is for and so arrange their services with that end in view … I have very little sympathy with the craze that is now taking hold of so many churches: merely to increase in numbers.”