The Blog of Pastor Jude St. John

In The Trenches

One of the things I love about football is its applicability to life. So much of what happens on the football field corresponds to our experience of living. And in particular, one can draw many parallels between the game of football and our life of faith in Jesus Christ. Most of my years playing football were played “in the trenches.” That is, I was an offensive lineman who plied my trade on the line of scrimmage. That no-man’s-land of much physical violence between opposing forces which derives its name from the battle situations of the World Wars. That place which seems, as often as not, to be an experience much like our lives. I hope to communicate with you a few things that will hopefully be of some help as you fight the good fight of faith. And since I am in this battle too, you might consider that I write these thoughts as I live my life for God in the trenches. 

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    A Year of Reading - 2018

    January 3, 2019 by Jude St. John
    A Year of Reading - 2018

    At the beginning of each year for 9 years I have blogged about the reading I did the previous year. You can read those other posts here: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. And now I am at it again.


    My reading this past year was a bit frustrating. I managed to read plenty, but my reading always seemed rushed and haphazard. I need to do a better job of carving out time—quality time—to read and reflect and hopefully respond, reform, and be revived. Busyness doesn’t help, but neither does Netflix or Words with Friends. I intend to be more disciplined in 2019, but more on that in a subsequent post.


    If you’re wondering why I write about what I have read, let me be so bold (and lazy) as to quote myself from an earlier “A Year of Reading” post:

    "First, it is a means of holding myself accountable. I value reading and intend to make it an integral part of my life. By making my reading life public, I can allow people a glimpse into one of the disciplines of my life.

    Second, I hope for my reading history to be an encouragement to others. Though I know many others who read much more than I do, nevertheless, my year-long record of reading often surprises people in terms of what is possible if reading is a priority. I think that if I can share some of my successes with reading, that other busy people will be encouraged to read more. And that, in my estimation, would be a good thing.

    Third, to give glory to God. It is by grace that we read, desire to read, learn from our reading. The fact that my life allows me time to read, and that I have the faculties to do so, are nothing more than gifts from God to a person who has done nothing to deserve such favour."

     


    Here is my list of books I have read in the past 12 months:

    1. ESV Bible by God via various authors
    2. Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
    3. The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing by Jonathan T. Pennington
    4. Preach Well by Darryl Dash
    5. Prayer by John Onwuchekwa
    6. Defining Deception by Costi Hinn and Anthony Wood
    7. How to Grow by Darryl Dash
    8. How to Understand and Apply the New Testament by Andrew Naselli
    9. Christ from Beginning to End by Trent Hunter
    10. The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges
    11. God and Politics by Mark Dever
    12. When Harry Became Sally by Ryan T. Anderson
    13. Expository Exultation by John Piper
    14. Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
    15. Spiritual Gifts by Thomas Schreiner
    16. Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael R. Emlet
    17. The End of the Law by Jason Meyer
    18. Four Forty-Four by Mike Wilkins
    19. Practicing the Power by Sam Storms
    20. Learning Evangelism from Jesus by Jerram Barrs
    21. Conscience by Andrew Naselli and J. D. Crowley
    22. No Quick Fix by Andrew Naselli
    23. Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage by Jim Newheiser
    24. Missions by Andy Johnson
    25. Work and Our Labor in the Lord by Jim Hamilton
    26. The Cross of Christ by John Stott
    27. The Death of Christ by James Denney
    28. True Worshippers by Bob Kauflin
    29. Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson
    30. The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor by D. A. Carson and John Piper
    31. Am I Really a Christian? by Mike McKinley
    32. Conversion by Michael Lawrence
    33. God's Glory Alone by David VanDrunen
    34. Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
    35. Revitalize by Andrew M. Davis
    36. The Imperfect Disciple by Jared Wilson
    37. The Story of Everything by Jared Wilson
    38. God the Son Incarnate by Stephen J. Wellum
    39. The Lost Letters of Pergamum by Bruce W. Longnecker
    40. The Barnabas Factors by J. D. Payne
    41. On Revival by Jonathan Edwards

     

    As I reflect on my reading, a few things occur to me:


    Dead guys
    – there probably aren’t as many dead authors on this list as there should be. Edwards, Denney, Stott, Bridges, and Lloyd-Jones represent some excellent books that have passed the test of time. A few more classics at the expense of a few less new books would be an improvement.


    New authors
    – this year I read numerous authors I had not read before: Wilson, Davis, VanDrunen, Johnson, Newheiser, Naselli, Barrs, Emlet, Wilbourne, Anderson, Bridges, Hunter, Pennington, Dash, Onwuchekwa, Hinn, and Wood are all authors I read for the first time in 2018.


    Newbie necessity
    – Being relatively new to this pastoring thing, I found myself reading books for the very practical reason of needing to know things about certain topics to perform my job faithfully. I would include in the list of books I chose for very pragmatic reasons related to ministry the following: God and Politics; When Harry Became Sally; Descriptions and Prescriptions; No Quick Fix; Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage; Missions; Revitalize; and The Barnabas Factors.


    Small books
    – I continue to be edified by clear, concise books on various topics. The Building Healthy Churches series from 9marks and published by Crossway are excellent. These include Conversion, Mission, and Prayer. Another outstanding small book was Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael R. Emlet. I recommend it for anyone wanting to learn about psychiatric diagnoses and medications from a biblical perspective. Preach Well by Darryl Dash in another shorty that I found helpful for those interested in preaching.


    Sentimental
    – There is one book by a dead author on the list I didn’t mention earlier: Four Forty-Four by Mike Wilkins. I received a copy of Four Forty-Four from Mike’s family—his wife Deb and children Jessica, Ben, and Joanne—after he went to sleep in the Lord. I treasure this book from my mentor and the man who entrusted his flock to me.


    Forsaken Fiction
    – I am a little embarrassed there are no works of fiction on my list; another misstep I hope to remedy this year. At the very least, a guy can find time to read a Shakespeare play or two!


    I intend to follow up this blog post with another on my top books of the year as well as my reading plans for 2019. Until then, I’d love to hear what you read this past year; let me know in the comments.

    Comment

    On Monday, January 7, 2019, Barbara said:

    I would re-read The Whole Christ because it was a bit of a doozy in the first half and I wasn't sure I was smart enough to keep up. :-) I would recommend Identity Theft and In His Image to anyone/everyone. All of Grace makes me weep because of the urgent passion Spurgeon has for the lost. It is the best example of "Beseeching" I've ever read. Every Day Church ought to be required reading for every believer. I'm with you in that I wouldn't not recommend any of them, but these stood out as tops for me this year.

     

    On Monday, January 7, 2019, Judy Korten said:

    OH man...which were my favourite? That's a tough question. I guess I have a few that I would reread. The first is It's Not Suppose to Be this Way by Lysa Terkeurst. Wow, this book was amazing!! Lysa has gone through many many trials in life yet clings to the Lord through it all, trusting that He knows best and He has her good in mind. This book was so compelling and very insightful on how to deal with the trials and struggles we all face. I have and will continue to recommend this book to anyone that I can...especially women. In fact, I have the study guide and dvd set and hope to set up a small group to study this book together. My next favourite would have to be Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Really it's three books in one. Nancy doesn't beat around the bush. She does a great comparison between being broken before God or being prideful. Very convicting!! God has gifted her with amazing insight into human nature and she readily shares scripture to point the reader to living lives of holy reverence to God. Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands and The Peace Maker are both very practical resources with great insight in how to be used by God to counsel others and gently restore those that have lost their way. Both really good reads. I tend to enjoy books that have great theology but also show how to live out that theology in the day to day. Trusting God and The Christian Life were both good at reminding me about what I believe and why I believe it. A bit heavier on the theology side but great reminders of the nuts and bolts of the Christian faith.

     

    On Friday, January 4, 2019, Jude St. John said:

    Those are both great lists Barb and Judy!


    So what are your favourites from your lists? Which ones will you read again in the future?

     

    On Friday, January 4, 2019, Judy said:

    In 2018 I decided to start reading again after not picking up a book (besides the Bible) in years!! and I mean lots of years. I ended up reading a total of 20 books. Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness and Choosing Gratitude both by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Instruments In the Redeemer's Hands, What did You Expect?, and Awe all three by Paul Tripp, The Imperfect Disciple by J. Wilson, All of Grace by C.H. Spurgeon, Why Does it Have to Hurt? by Dan McCartney, The Upside of Down by Joseph Stowell, The Christian Life by Sinclair Ferguson, In the Aftermath: Past the Pain of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Pam Gannon and Beverly Moore, The secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield, Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, When People are Big and God is Small and Running Scared both by Ed Welsh, Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Uprooting Anger by Robert Jones, It's Not Supposed to be this Way by Lysa Terkeurst, The Peace Maker by Ken Sande, and Christian's Get Depressed Too by David Murray. Many of these books are on my reading list for the counseling course I am doing, but a number are not. I have found much joy in getting back into reading. Now my prayer is that I can recall what I have read when situations call for the wisdom that many of these authors have shared with me:) My son was my accountability partner for my reading goals. Every time I finished a book I sent him the title and if he hadn't heard from me in a bit he would check in to see what I was reading.

     

    On Thursday, January 3, 2019, Barbara said:

    I go through fits and starts with obsessive reading. Usually it means I stop doing laundry.... but I digress. Since June I've tried to get back into the habit of having books with me at all times so that I can squeeze a chapter in here and there. So, in 2018 I've read (not in order): Imperfect Disciple, Jared Wilson In His Image, Jen Wilkin Identity Theft, ed. Melissa Kruger The Man Christ Jesus, Bruce Ware The Whole Christ, Sinclair Ferguson (hello.) Gospel Comes with a House Key, Rosaria Butterfield All of Grace, CHSpurgeon (HELLO!) Every Day Church, Steve Timmis Seasons of Waiting, Betsy Childs Howard Gay Girl, Good God, Jackie Hill Perry It's Not Supposed to be This Way, Lysa Teurkerst Growing in Gratitude, Mary Mohler The Pastor's Wife, Gloria Furman 4:44, of course All Things New, Jeremy Johnston (my good friend!) and I'm just starting Disciplines of Grace, Jerry Bridges I don't have a lot of dead guys on my list. You don't have any women. Maybe we need to find dead women authors? Hm.... :-)

     

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