On My Shelf, at the Gospel Coalition

I was recently invited by the Gospel Coalition to contribute to their series of posts called “On My Shelf.” Numerous individuals have also been asked to share what they are currently reading and what they’ve read in the past that has had a significant impact on their lives. Here is my list. Continue reading . . . 

I was recently invited by the Gospel Coalition to contribute to their series of posts called “On My Shelf.” Numerous individuals have also been asked to share what they are currently reading and what they’ve read in the past that has had a significant impact on their lives. Here is my list.

(1) What books are on your nightstand right now?

The stack on my nightstand grows by the day. Currently it consists of:

John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally (Crossway)
Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option (Sentinel)
Lyndal Roper, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (Random House)
Iain H. Murray, J. C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone (Banner of Truth)
Andrew Lownie, Stalin’s Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring (St. Martin’s Press)
Frances Fitzgerald, The Evangelicals: the Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Shuster)
Alec Ryrie, Protestants: The Faith that Made the Modern World (Viking)
And because of my love for baseball, I’m reading Keith Law’s new book, Smart Baseball: The Story behind the old stats that are ruining the game, the new ones that are running it, and the right way to think about baseball (William Morrow).

[After I sent my initial article to the Gospel Coalition, I added one more book that currently sits on my nightstand (actually, on my desk). This year, 2017, is the anniversary of two world-changing events. One is the Protestant Reformation. It was on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg. But it was also in the year 1917 that most historians mark the Russian Revolution. I’m digging in to Sean McMeekin’s new book: The Russian Revolution: A New History (Basic Books, 445 pages). It looks to be great.]

(2) What are your favorite fiction books?

I’ve never been a huge fan of fiction, but when I get around to it I love all the novels of John Le Carre (such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, Smiley’s People, The Russia House, etc.). I’m also a huge fan of the many works by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (which might be classified as historical fiction), especially One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, (Alfred A. Knopf).

(3) What books, other than the Bible, make you most happy in Jesus?

Anything by or about Jonathan Edwards (particularly, Religious Affections and his Personal Narrative); anything by or about J. I. Packer (such as Rediscovering Holiness). The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper is also high on my list.

(4) What books have most profoundly shaped how you view gospel ministry?

Several books by John Piper: Desiring God, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, and God is the Gospel. I would also include Gerald Hawthorne’s, The Presence and the Power: The significance of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus (Word Publishing and Wipf & Stock).

(5) What are some books you regularly re-read and why?

At least once a year I read Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird (Grand Central Publishing). I also listen to it on audio book at least once or twice a year. Its greatest impact on me has to be the lead character, Atticus Finch. When people ask me: What is integrity? What does it mean to be a man of honor? How should I raise and educate my children? What is humility? In whom do you see the most exemplary combination of gentleness and strength? . . . I simply point them to Atticus Finch.

I read Edwards’s Religious Affections at least annually. And when I can, I go back frequently to his Dissertation Concerning the End for which God Created the World.

(5) What biographies have you most enjoyed?

Two biographies of Alexander Solzhenitsyn have had a huge impact on my life. The first one I read was D. M. Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life. I also greatly enjoyed Michael Scammell, Solzhenitsyn: A Biography. Two biographies of Charles Spurgeon have been a blessing, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers by Lewis Drummond, and Living by Revealed Truth by Tom Nettles. George Marsden’s bio of Jonathan Edwards will always be near the top of my list. One biography that is somewhat sad to read (but highly instructive), is John A. D’Ella’s, A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America. And of course there is Leland Ryken’s recent bio of J. I. Packer (Crossway). Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer by Scott Hendrix is superb.

(6) What are you learning about life and following Jesus?

As a pastor I’m increasingly persuaded that the one thing that will motivate and energize people to forsake sin and idolatry is having our hearts captivated by the beauty and majesty of Jesus. Angry warnings, more rules, and threats of divine judgment do little to stir our hearts to walk in conformity with the Word of God. To use the words of John Piper, I find this true in my life as well, that “seeing and savoring Jesus Christ” in all his splendor and power and glory and honor is the only lasting and ultimately successful way to wage war against the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

Psalm 16:11 has long been my life’s verse, and I’m increasingly convinced that it holds the key to walking faithfully with Jesus. If I can consistently communicate that to myself and to the people in my church I think I will have succeeded in the calling God placed on my life.

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About Sam Storms

Sam Storms is the Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sam is on the Board of Directors of both Desiring God and Bethlehem College & Seminary, and also serves as a member of the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Sam is President of the Evangelical Theological Society. Visit http://www.samstorms.com