As you know, I love a good book. I enjoy reading all kinds of books from deep theology to general Christian living, and from spiritual warfare to stories of people’s lives. I enjoy reading stories about people’s lives because often they are a mixture of exerting. There’s normally deep theological truths, experiences of the Lord’s work and wonderful insights into how the Holy Spirit can change a person. Reading stories of other saints is a wonderful use of your time. So, I thought that I would highlight a few of the recent books that I’ve read which ere the series of other saints. Each of these resources is different, written for a different audience and yet each one will have something for everyone…
This book is unusual, it is both difficult to read (because of the topic of sever mental health, rather than the writing style) but also an encouraging read. This book was written to help the church have a greater understanding of sever mental health. Sharon has done this by telling her own story, and including snippets of insights she has gleaned over the years from other people’s experiences. I like this book because it is raw. Sharon doesn’t hold back. She doesn’t hide from the hard questions, but gets stuck right in with a desire to help you, the reader, grow and be challenged to consider how you (or someone struggling with mental illness) can find hope and strength. Each chapter considers a different thing that Sharon wrestled with, here are a few to whet your appetite; wrestling with loss of freedom, identity, God, rejection, despair, mania, psychosis and suicidal thoughts. This is definitely a book that I would recommend.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843) is still very influential today. He is known for powerful preaching, a vibrant prayer life and a zeal for personal holiness. The focus of M’Cheyne’s ministry was Christ. His preaching was saturated with Jesus, always pointing people to see Jesus rather than the preacher. His desire was for his listeners to grow in their love for Christ with every day that went past. This book on the life and ministry of M’Cheyne is slightly different than most. Sure, it goes through key points in his life and it explains the world that he lived in. But the focus of the book is Jesus. This book is part of the mentor imprint of Christian Focus, meaning that it is written for seminary students, pastors and avid readers. It is written well, it is not overly complicated or in-depth, but it will provide you a solid introduction to M’Cheyne, his thought and most importantly his Saviour. This one is probably more suited to those interested in Scottish Church history (and who isn’t?!?!) or for those in ministry looking for wisdom from years gone by. Whilst it may not be the go-to read for everyone, it is a good book.
If you thought that the previous book was niche, well here’s one that’s even more so. Cornelius Washington Grafton (1846-1934) was a Presbyterian minister in Mississippi for 61 years. I’m highlighting this booklet to you because it highlights the importance and benefits of serving one congregation for a long time. Today pastors leave churches regularly, whilst this is somewhat understandable, I’m not sure it’s the best thing for both the pastor or the church. In this short booklet you’ll find reflections on all areas of church life which were effected by such a long term ministry. This is a booklet that could serve you well if you’re a pastor and wondering how long to stay where you are. It will both challenge and encourage you.
Hang around Christian circles for a little while and you’ll probably hear the name Spurgeon (or ‘The Spurge’). Spurgeon was a baptist pastor, author, evangelist, theologian and thinker in London. He is well-known for some of the many books that he wrote and for his gift of preaching which has given him the nickname ‘the Prince of Preachers’. This book is a little different from the previous ones mentioned so far. Tom Nettles walks the reader through 10 convictions that Spurgeon had and helps see how these developed and shaped his life and ministry. This not only takes you through his life, in terms of some key events, but it also gets you inside Spurgeon’s mind (as much as we can almost 130 years after his death). Tom does a great job as helping the reader see how these 10 convictions carried Spurgeon through some of the toughest times of his life, whilst also giving him great hope and a deep love for the Lord, the church that he served and the gospel that he so boldly proclaimed.
Confession time; I had not heard of William Borden (1887-1913) before reading this book! Borden was born into privilege and wealth and yet he decided to leave that in order to train for medical missionary work in China. What was it that changed this young man’s life so much that he wanted to drop every and go to China to share the gospel and show the love of Christ? The gospel. In this book, Kevin Belmonte, draws on Borden’s own letters, photos and other resources to bring to life this story of a saint from the past. This book will be an encouragement to see a young man so passionate for the gospel, it will challenge you to consider how you’re serving and hopefully it will inspire some to go and serve the Lord oversees. This book is good, but due to the nature of personal letters, at points it can seem a bit ‘jumpy’ (this is a very subjective point).
Talk about a rollercoaster. This book the story of David and Adèle Ellis who served the Lord for years. David was a minister in the Church of Scotland and the Director of OMF international UK. In this book David speaks of the times of joy and happiness he shared with his family and times of sorrow and loss. This book is very much about David and his life, but it is jam packed with insights from Scripture, personal experiences of the Lord’s goodness, resilient faith in the storms of life that throw David and his family around and a consistent hope in the Lord despite all the difficulties. David is very open about the joys and the sorrows, the smiles and the pain. This book will be a good resource that will help you see a life well lived for the glory of God.
*** I received these books from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This does not change the way I rate the books, my views are my own. ***