Some Recent Additions to My Reading List

Over the past year, a number of books have come to my attention and piqued my interest in a variety of ways, and it seems good to share at least some of those titles with others, as well. I’m always interested in new and worthwhile books, although I don’t get as much reading done now as I would like. Most of the books below I’ve only had an opportunity to peruse and dabble in so far, but they have found a place on my ever-growing stack of “books-to-read.” Perhaps some of them will also commend themselves to you and your reading interests, as your time permits.

Esget, Christopher S. (Dis)ordered: Lies about Human Nature and the Truth That Sets Us Free. Concordia Publishing House, 2023. Written by one of our Synod Vice Presidents – who has also been a personal friend of mine for many years – we spent some time discussing (Dis)ordered at the most recent COP meetings, and I am all the more eager to read the book in its entirety. Like Dr. Kleinig’s Wonderfully Made, Pr. Esget offers not only a critique of the deceptions plaguing our modern word, but also the beautiful truth and wholeness that are found in Christ Jesus.

Hardy, Jamison J. Pastoral Leadership: Shepherding and Caring for God’s People. Concordia Publishing House, 2023. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Bishop Hardy (the English District DP), who sits next to me at our COP meetings, and I appreciate what he has provided in his book on pastoral leadership. He deals with many of the practical and pragmatic matters of parish life, but always with a view toward the spiritual and theological foundations and purposes of the pastoral office. In doing so, he provides both guidance and encouragement for his brothers in ministry.

Hetherington, Dale. Parables of a 21st-Century Shepherd and Other Farm Stories. Christian Faith Publishing, 2023. I had the opportunity to visit with Pr. Hetherington over breakfast at our District Pastors Conference this past October, and he told me then about his recent little book on shepherding – both actual sheep and the people of God who are the lambs & sheep of our great Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. My own family growing up had a few sheep during our years in Australia, and many of our neighbors were in the sheep raising business, so the comparisons that Pr. Hetherington makes between shepherding sheep and pastoring people resonate close to home.

Preus, Peter. I Will Grieve for the Suicide: Gospel Comfort for Loved Ones Left Behind. Edited by Rachel Bomberger. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 2021. I have intended for some time now to recommend this little book to the pastors of our District, and to the laity as well. It is written by a faithful Lutheran pastor whose wife, Jean, took her own life after a lengthy battle with severe depression. It was first brought to my attention by another pastor, a brother in Christ who suffered the same confusing and complicated heartache, who has found Pr. Preus’ book to be very helpful. It does not condone or justify suicide in any way, but clearly identifies it for the sin that it is; yet, the book brings the comfort of the Gospel to bear upon that harsh reality for the sake of those who grieve, who are troubled by such a paradox vis-à-vis faith and life in Christ.

Rigdon, Philip J. Jesus, Cover to Cover. Seeing Jesus throughout the Old Testament: Daily devotions highlighting Jesus Christ from Genesis to Malachi. Gazelle Press, 2018. Written by another of our Indiana District pastors, I remember when Pr. Rigdon was working on this book – already some years ago – but it’s just been within the past year that I acquired a copy of my own. It is a collection of brief daily devotions, each one taking up a passage or a story from the Old Testament and gently “unpacking it” for the reader in the light of Christ Jesus and His Gospel.

Schults, Julianna; and Mark Kiessling. Seven Practices of Healthy Youth Ministry. Concordia Publishing House, 2023. This is a very recent publication from LCMS Youth Ministry, which I discovered at the recent gathering of leaders from across the Synod with the Office of National Mission. Based upon pragmatic research, practical experience, and sound theological insights, the book investigates positive and healthy ways of caring for young people with the Word of God and involving them in the life of the Church. As one pastor recently observed, although the book is specifically aimed at youth ministry, the points it makes and the practices it describes are appropriate and beneficial to the activities, rhythms, and work of congregations in general.

Stone, Jeffrey A. Psalms for the Suffering Church. Resource Publications, 2022. By another one of our Indiana District pastors, this slender volume is a collection of poignant modern “Psalms,” which express heartfelt laments and cries for help and assistance from our dear Lord Jesus Christ and our gracious God and Father in heaven. Clearly influenced by the canonical Psalter, yet also timely to this modern age, Pr. Stone has crafted some rich poems of faith for the dark places of life in this fallen and perishing world. I have been genuinely blessed by his words in this book.

Trueman, Carl R. Crisis of Confidence: Reclaiming the Historic Faith in a Culture Consumed with Individualism and Identity. Crossway, 2024. (Revised and expanded edition of The Creedal Imperative, published in 2012.) Many of you are probably familiar with some of Carl Trueman’s other books, and some of you may already be acquainted with the earlier edition of this book. It is entirely new to me (I had it pre-ordered on Amazon, and it arrived within the past two weeks), but I am eager to read it. Trueman here deals with the significance and benefits of the Church’s historic Creeds and Confessions and their persistent relevance in this present day and age.

Wolfmueller, Bryan. A Martyr’s Faith in a Faithless World. Concordia Publishing House, 2019. I discovered this gem this past summer, when I was preparing to speak on the conscience at the ACELC conference in Zionsville. I remembered Pr. Wolfmueller addressing the topic in a paper he gave some years ago, so I reached out to him for conversation and discussion. He mentioned this book and suggested it to me, especially because it includes a chapter on the conscience as the “field of battle” within us. As I understand it, Pr. Wolfmueller wrote the book when one of his children was heading off to college, to provide encouragement, good guidance, and support against the assaults and accusation of the devil. After getting a copy and reading it for myself, I quickly ordered a copy for my son Frederick as he was heading off to Amsterdam this past fall. It is excellent and worthwhile, and I recommend it highly. Along with that, I am so pleased that Pr. Wolfmueller will be speaking on this very topic – at Lakeview Villages, here within our Indiana District – at a men’s gathering in April. More information on that event is available here: https://in.lcms.org/2024-mens-gathering-a-martyrs-death-the-heros-life/