Pastor’s Book Picks

Occasionally when Pastor Chris reads something that he thinks would be useful to Christians he will do a short write-up about it so you can decide if it’s a book for you.

Didn’t See It Coming: Reviewed

Didn’t See It Coming  By: Carey Nieuwhof. Carey Nieuwhof is fast becoming a powerful voice within North American Christianity, both as a preacher and as a leadership expert. He has books and podcasts, and a (by Canadian standards) extremely successful church. One of the aspects of Carey’s leadership that has been endearing is his love of other leaders and his willingness to be vulnerable in front of them. Carey continues this pattern in his newest book Didn’t See it Coming…

Running the Spiritual Path

Roger Joslin is an episcopal priest who happens to run a lot and who felt lead to write a book about mediation, running, and spirituality. I haven’t finished the book yet, I am reading it very slowly, trying practices out for days at a time before moving on to the next page, I am benefiting much. In this post I wanted to not only explain why you might get your hands on a copy, but a practice you might try…

What are people for? Essays by Wendell Berry

I just realized that while I may not be old, I am old enough to no longer remember when certain personally influential writers came into my life. Few are more important to me than Wendell Berry. His lucid prose, his tight poetry, and the insight and clarity of his essays mean that whenever I pick up one of his books I will not be disappointed. In fact, I regularly re-read many of his books, and I always find myself jealous…

The Unfinished Reformation: what unites and divides Catholics and Protestants after 500 years. By Gregg Allison and Christopher Castaldo.

In an adversarial culture where people are more often concerned with proving their points than hearing each other and where a faux-relativism is often employed as a trick to avoid conflict, The Unfinished Reformation is a breath of fresh air. The writers are clearly protestant but they also sincerely have a heart for Roman Catholics and anyone else seeking to know more about Jesus. “It is an infallible text that God gives us, not an infallible church,” they write in characteristic…

The weekend effect. The life-changing benefits of taking time off and challenging the cult of overwork. By Katrina Onstad.

This is the sort of book I always appreciate: a book in defense of something obviously good and true and needed (slow food, running, health, poetry, reading, relationships) and yet mostly ignored or overlooked. In this case, the book is a manifesto in defense of the weekend.  Onstad became interested in the topic of a “good weekend” when she realized how often her children asked her on Sunday night, “mommy, was that the weekend?” and she felt her heart sink,…

Embrace the Suck. Stephen Madden-reviewed

This book is about resilience, it’s about getting fit, it’s about loving ourselves and our families, it’s about facing pain in the face and punching it in the throat. It’s a book most of us could learn from. Surprisingly, it’s also a book about love.  Stephen Madden was the editor of Bicycling magazine, an industry leading rag that meant he had to be in shape. The magazine is part of the industry and while it reports on the news of…

A Resilient Life. Gordon Macdonald. Reviewed

  This is a masterful book and if you haven’t already discovered Macdonald for yourself (he has written a bunch of really helpful titles) then you should stop reading this and go learn more about him and pick up whichever of his titles looks most likely to scratch an itch of yours.  A Resilient Life is a wonderful depiction of how to set up one’s life to accomplish the sort of flourishing God intends for each of us. Right off…

The ability to endure by Michael Chitwood

It’s difficult to know if Michael Chitwood would have accomplished all that he has if his father hadn’t died when Michael was only 25. That’s part of what makes his memoir about setting up Team World Vision, a branch of the famous agency that seeks to solve two challenges at once by getting North Americans off the couch while raising money for children that can’t afford clean water or nutritious food, let alone couches, so readable. The other part is…

Kindles and Bibles

Those of you who read a lot of them will know about the problem of kindle books. They are also the strengths of kindle books. They are often cheap, so cheap that when someone suggests one in a compelling way you buy it immediately and think no more of it. Then one day you turn to read a book, you aren’t sure what to read and you tell yourself not to buy anything, you have plenty of books, many unread,…

Let God be God by Matthew Brough—reviewed

Full disclosure: I have met Matthew several times, I respect him as a pastor, and he gave me a free early copy of his newest book, Let God be God, which comes out this week. I am glad he did. Glad because I like him and I like free stuff. Also, glad because while this book is certainly worth reading (as I will discuss below) I think I have some helpful advice about how it ought to be read. Brough’s…

One Thousand Gifts. Ann Voskamp-Reviewed

I picked this book up after ignoring it for a long time. In my arrogance, I tend to ignore books that get a lot of hype and popularity. I know I should try to read more of them to know what the good folks of St. Andrew’s might be reading, but I often struggle to do so. Christianity Today had a nice write up about Voscamp and her graceful tone convinced me it was time to pick up her book.…

2 Books on Prayer & Writing

In his two highly readable books “The Contemplative Writer: loving God through Christian spirituality, meditation, daily prayer and writing” and “Eat, Write, Grow: Cultivating prayer and writing together” writer Ed Cyzewski offers loads of advice, is very pastoral and encouraging, and delves into intersections of life that many Christians will find familiar. I recently heard a podcast about how “bookish” Christians can be, and these two books might exemplify this truth in a beautiful way. I’ve known as many people…

You Should Read this Book Monthly?!?

While being on paternity leave I managed to sneak in the reading of a few books. I will share about several of them in the next few weeks and months, but the first one I want to write about is Timothy Keller’s little 46 pager The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness (kindle version is only $1.99). I want to start with it because I am literally going to read it once a month until Christmas if not longer (he actually has a…

Enough. Contentment in an Age of Excess – By Will Samson

I’m reading Enough partly for my own edification and partly in preparation of an advent series (maybe pre-advent?) on the art and joy of living simply. The courage and the empowerment of saying, “I have enough” amidst a world where everyone seems to be striving for more, seem worthy of seeking. The focus of the book, as Samson puts it is this, “this book is an invitation to reimagine the way we live.” For some people this will hold no…

I Used to like Writing Sermons

I used to love writing sermons. It was one of my favorite aspects of ministry and one that I very much looked forward to as I traveled my way through seminary. I suppose that’s because I have always loved books—loved ‘em so much I bought a whole bookstore and ran it for a few years—loved ‘em so much I even had a few poems published in some places—this lead me to think I would love crafting sermons, just so. It…

Fire Up Your Faith Life

“You may not know how badly you needed silence and solitude until you get to know them.” Quiet time has been among the most important keys to my health in ministry thus far. I begin my day either first thing in the morning, or first thing in the office, with bible reading, reflection, journaling and prayer. I use the SOAP method I wrote about it here. I am always looking to adjust my spiritual disciplines to the current needs of…

Michael Wittmer

Michael Wittmer’s 2015 book asks a question that is dear to my heart as a millennial pastor who grew up middle class with plenty of accouterments: Can you serve Jesus and still enjoy your life?  I may be a Calvinist but even I still think the answer not only needs to be but is YES. Here’s the thing, I spent a time outside the faith, a time when I snidely looked down on those foolish enough to believe the faith…

A Funny Book on Prayer

I struggle with prayer. I pray a lot, but never as much I would like to. I’m over the concept of guilt at not praying but I haven’t managed the art of prayerfully doing everything I do in a day. It’s something I would really like to learn over the years. And I think it takes years to learn much about prayer and I like to read books, old and new, about prayer. Jared Brock’s book “A Year of Living…

From Tablet to Table

“From Tablet to Table”  by Leonard Sweet didn’t exactly live up to my expectations. I am so on board with the topic I read it as a sort of fluffy read where I was going to just sit in the choir loft mumbling “preach on.” For the most part that is what I did, but the language was not as clear or poignant as I would have hoped, this isn;t Wendell Berry writing. I can’t identify exactly what is missing but…

H3 Leadership. Reviewed.

“Be Humble, Stay Hungry, and Always Hustle”, says Brad Lomenick in his new book. I received the book thanks to the Carey Neiuwhof leadership podcast that I listen to when I walk my dog and, man, I am happy I did.  This book contains loads of good advice, helpful questions, ideas and plans for changing not just the organization involved, but the leaders themselves. As someone constantly seeking to “do more better” as Tim Challies would put it, I appreciated…

Mark Buchanan, Things Unseen

Continuing to read my way through books left to me by my predecessor I recently read, former Duncan New Life Baptist Minister, Mark Buchanan’s Things Unseen (2002). It might be a little long in the tooth at this point but it’s no less relevant for that! Mark puts into words feelings that I have long felt but lacked the right vocabulary for. There you are, standing at a window watching oak leaves flutter down from dark boughs, and without warning…
  • 1
  • 2