While I have been on Sabbatical, I have had the great privilege of reading. A lot. Being away from my family and from work and TV has given me more time than I have ever had, so I have caught up on reading some good books. Here are a few I heartily recommend to you. They are all easy to read and not too technical.
‘Honest Evangelism’ by Rico Tice
Rico Tice is an evangelist on staff at All Souls Church, Langham Place, London. I had the privilege of hearing him preach while in London. He is a passionate guy who is clear speaking and direct. This is probably the best book on evangelism I have read in terms of being helpful, encouraging, and readable. It is only about 100 pages long and encourages everyday Christians of the gospel, the logic of evangelism, and gives useful tips for actually speaking about Jesus. Highly recommended.
‘Living without worry’ by Timothy Lane
I had never heard of this author before reading this book but the subject matter caught my eye. To be honest, I am usually not a real worrier, having been given a somewhat optimistic outlook on life from my Creator. But the issue is such a big one and the Biblical teaching is so direct: don’t worry. Jesus himself says it. What I appreciated about this book is that it wasn’t overly simplistic just urging you not to worry, so that you worry more about the fact that you are worrying! It is straightforward and easy to read, but it deals with some pretty deep issues like problems from your past. The author is clearly an experienced and godly counsellor. The answers he gives are very helpful, very gospel focussed, and soundly Biblical. Read it yourself and pass on the copy to the person in your life who is always worrying about something.
‘Eternity Changes Everything’ by Stephen Witmer
There is nothing like some impending event in the future that focusses the mind. When that exam is coming next week, or that project for work is due at 9am tomorrow, or the wedding is only a month away, you find yourself focussed and motivated. And all Christians know that Jesus is coming back, and it could be today, or next week, or next year. And we know that this should change what we do somehow. But how? Should we all quit jobs and just evangelize? Can we be certain of all this? Again, short and easy to read, helpful topic. Did I learn anything I didn’t know? No, I did not. But did I get reminded of things I know but don’t think about? Oh yes, over and over.
‘The best kept secret of Christian Mission’ by John Dickson
This book is a few years old now, but it is a thorough treatment of the Bible’s teaching on evangelism. It digs deep into the Bible and is more comprehensive than the other books reviewed here. It is full of stories and case studies that make you think. The author helpfully draws a distinction between what specially gifted evangelists do and what everyday Christians are to do according to the Bible. And it is not all about learning a gospel outline and trying to force it into a conversation that has nothing to do with God at all.
What did I find helpful from this book? I liked the focus on how you live not just what you say, though he was careful to explain that saying the gospel is necessary. I also appreciated his focus on the church, how we together are a witness to the truth of the gospel. Every church service on a Sunday is a great opportunity for people to look at what we do and find Jesus, and an opportunity for us to introduce people to Jesus. This one is a little longer but not all that intense.
‘Battles Christians Face’ by Vaughan Roberts
We sing such great songs in church about joy and love and peace and hope, and how wonderful it is to be one of the people of God. And yes, that is all true. I hope and pray that you do find great joy in being a follower of Jesus. But this book does something I have not seen many Christian books do: realistically deal with some struggles ordinary Christians face. A brief glance at the contents page will reveal that it covers lust, and pride, and doubt, and depression, and same sex attraction. Not all of the things here will be issues for you, but some will. And the answers Vaughan gives are honest, firmly rooted in the Bible, and Jesus-shaped. He reminds us of things we knew were true but could not see in the midst of these troubles. The Christian life can be really hard work, and this book honestly comes to grips with this.
I also heard Vaughan speak in the UK, and was greatly encouraged by his preaching. He will be in Perth in August for a few events including a Perth Gospel Partnership conference, the Perth Men’s Convention, and some more public talks. Plan to come along if you can, and you will be challenged and encouraged.