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The “Book Table” at Providence is a place for one-on-one discipleship to happen.  The intent is to grow our faith through time spent reading interesting, relevant, & truth-based books, in relationship with one another.  Follow the 3-steps listed below.

Choose a BOOK

  • Read the book summaries (see below)
  • Select a book of interest
  • Four new books will be added on the 1st week of each month
  • Variety of subject areas, book types, reading levels, etc.
  • Books will be rotated off after 3 months to go into Providence Library

Choose a PARTNER

  • Find a reading partner (in or outside of the church)

  • If married, consider reading with your husband or wife
  • Goal: get everyone involved
  • Discuss interests and desired reading level
  • Take books & fill out entry on the checkout clipboard (leave the book summary)
  • Return books when finished

Choose a TIME

  • Agree upon a regular meeting time (weekly is usually best)

  • Free option - meet over coffee in the Providence “meeting room” (new Keurig…)

  • Discuss a chapter at a time
  • Finish by swapping prayer requests, pray for each other

NOVEMBER 2019 Books  

  1. "The Heart of Christ in Heaven Toward Sinners on Earth" by Thomas Goodwin
    Length:  102 pages, 7 chapters
    Difficulty:  moderate 
    Synopsis:  In this book, Thomas Goodwin gives a moving account of the love of our glorified Messiah for his people on earth.
    Review:  As Goodwin says in the introduction, in this book he “lays open the heart of Christ, as now he is in heaven, sitting at God’s right hand and interceding for us; how it is affected and graciously disposed towards sinners on earth that do come to him; how willing to receive them; how ready to entertain them; how tender to pity them in all their infirmities, both sins and miseries.” Goodwin’s main purpose in doing so is “to hearten and encourage believers to come more boldly unto the throne of grace, unto such a Saviour and High Priest, when they shall know how sweetly and tenderly his heart, though he is now in his glory, is inclined towards them.” To this end, Goodwin focuses on Christ’s Farewell Discourse, and also several other passages which speak about the glorified Christ’s loving care and compassion for his people. Though some of the English in this book is antiquated, it is worth the effort to read it, as Goodwin encourages us by helping us to lift our eyes to our gracious Savior.

  2. "Eighteenth Century Christian Leaders" by J.C. Ryle
    Length:  192 pages, 15 chapters
    Difficulty:  384 pages, 24 chaptersrelatively easy
    Synopsis:  J.C. Ryle gives brief biographies of eleven preachers the Lord was pleased to use in a mighty way to bring multitudes in eighteenth-century England to embrace the true Gospel, and to know the true power of godliness.
    Review:  J.C. Ryle gives brief biographies of George Whitefield, John Wesley, William Grimshaw, William Romaine, Daniel Rowlands, John Berridge, Henry Venn, Walker of Truro, James Herbey, Augustus Toplady, and Fletcher of Madeley. Some of these men were converted at an early age while others were converted after they had already entered the ministry, and some were well known internationally while others labored in relative obscurity, but all of them were united in their love for Christ and in their love for the Lord’s people and also for those who were perishing. These biographies are well-written and Ryle’s insightful comments are a blessing. Apart from a few antiquated words, this book is relatively easy to read.

  3. "Why I Am a Christian" by John Stott
    Length:  140 pages, 7 chapters
    Difficulty: easy
    Synopsis:  In Why I Am a Christian, John Stott explains why he is a Christian: because God has saved him, and because the wonderful Gospel of Christ is true!
    Review:  John Stott wrote this book in reaction to a speech given by Bertrand Russell in 1927 which was titled “Why I Am Not a Christian.” In response, Stott explains why he is a Christian: he is a Christian because God pursued and saved him and because the promises of God are true. Stott focuses on Christ’s claims, the Cross, what it means to be human, the freedom we have in Christ, and the genuine fulfillment we have in Christ. This is a helpful book in many ways and a good spur to discuss important issues. Stott would probably have done better to have focused more on the glory of Christ as a (the) primary reason he is a Christian, and perhaps to have been more careful in some places. This book requires discernment but is an edifying read.

  4. "The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant" by Guy Prentiss Waters 
    Length:  127 pages, 5 chapters
    Difficulty:  moderate
    Synopsis: Guy Prentiss Waters gives his readers a deeper understanding of the Lord’s Supper that this covenant sign may be a greater blessing to them, as one of the means God has ordained to commune with Jesus Christ.
    Review:  Guy Prentiss Waters has written this book to help all Christians, including those who do not have prior theological training, to understand what the Lord’s Supper is. His goal is that the faith of his readers may be supported and strengthened when they partake of this sacrament. Since the Lord’s Supper is a covenant sign, Waters goes to the Old Testament and then to the New Testament to give us a better understanding of what God’s covenant with his people is, and also how God uses covenant signs to strengthen the faith of people and to draw them to himself. This book is excellent and quite readable, and, the Lord helping you, will help you to enjoy greater communion with our blessed Lord and Savior, lifting your heart all the more into heaven when you partake of the Lord’s Supper.

NOVEMBER 2018 Books  

  1. "The Shepherd Leader At Home" by Timothy Witmer
    Length:  176 pages, 10 chapters
    Difficulty:  fairly easy 
    Synopsis:  For those of us who are Husbands & Dads, if we're at all honest...we need help in order to lead our families well, and Timothy Witmer's wise, pastoral, biblical and practical instruction is the right place to turn.
    Review:  Ask yourself these questions: "Do I really know my wife?  Have we discussed the goals for our family, and do we both share them?  Do those goals reflect the Lord's priorities?   Do I really know and understand my children?"  The book is not a long or hard read, but it gives exactly the guidance needed.  This book is a follow-on to Witmer's tremendously helpful book, "The Shepherd Leader," which we've been using to help with our leadership at Providence.  In this book, he applies the same basic principles (Knowing, Feeding, Leading, Protecting) to leadership within the home.  The book gives both the practical application and the biblical truth we need. There are study questions at the end of each chapter, making it a great resource to work through alongside another person.  A number of people made the point that, although written for men, it can be tremendously helpful and rewarding to read as a couple.

  2. "The Soul Winner" by Charles Spurgeon
    Length:  192 pages, 15 chapters
    Difficulty: fairly easy
    Synopsis:  From one reader:  "A book that reminds and teaches us how to be soul winners for Christ, and how to bring others to him by his Word, and by being a good example among other things. It is insightful and forces a degree of introspection."
    Review:  At the heart of our Mission Statement for Providence you'll find these words:  " go into Cherokee County and beyond with the news of Jesus Christ, reaching the lost for the glory of God."  Our mission, held by each member, is to serve Christ as "soul winners."  Paul said, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us."  This was the very heartbeat of Spurgeon's ministry, and it is what he writes about in this book.  It's a book that aims to serve as an encouragement (and even, a rebuke, at times) to win souls for Christ, but it's particular aim is to instruct.  At one point he says, "What is the real winning of a soul for God? ...I take it that one of the main actions consists in instructing a man that he may know the truth of God (2 Timothy 2:25). Instruction in the gospel is the beginning of all real work upon men’s minds."  In this book, he instructs believers in how to give instruction in the gospel, thereby allowing God to work through us in His "soul winning work."   Although the book was written more than a hundred years ago, it brings an encouragement and a focus that is greatly needed today, and even with its age, it's an easy read. It may seem his audience is pastors, but do not be fooled...this book is to the whole flock.

  3. "What is a Healthy Church" by Mark Dever 
    Length:  128 pages, 13 chapters
    Difficulty:  fairly easy
    Synopsis:  How can you tell, when looking at a given local church, whether it is healthy or not.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, so this is a question with which we should ALL be concerned, and it's the question this little book addresses - concisely and forthrightly.
    Review:  Have you ever read a book about "Church Health" before?  If not, let this be your first!  Simply read the three-page Preface to the book, and you will immediately see its value and applicability.  It's really about melding together, and bringing focus in two important areas: " What are you looking for in a church?", and "What does the Bible say a church should be?"  The book deals directly with the second question, but all the way through Dever addresses the expectations that we bring, and helps us to see them in an objective way.  His style is direct, and even provocative in areas in which we (the general "we") have fallen asleep.  Example:  At one point (p.21), he says, "If you call yourself a Christian but you are not a member of the church you regularly attend, I worry that you might be going to hell."  Dever adds caveats to his statement, but he makes it in order to emphasize how many today fail to see the urgent "need for a healthy local church in the Christian's life," AND because he wants us "to begin sharing the passion for the church that characterizes both Christ and his followers."  The book is short, & divided into three parts, the FIRST answering the question, "What is a healthy church?",  the SECOND outlining "three essential marks" of a healthy church, and the THIRD giving "six important marks."  It's a very valuable read (worth, I think, reading multiple times)!

  4. "In the Year of Our Lord" by Sinclair Ferguson 
    Length:  229 pages, 20 chapters
    Difficulty:  moderate
    Synopsis: Sinclair Ferguson gives this description:  "In the Year of Our Lord" is intended to be a very simple, but (I hope) informative, encouraging, and enjoyable introduction to some members of "the Christian family" – the worldwide, history-deep, eternity-long church of Jesus Christ."
    Review:  Should it matter to us that 2,000 years have transpired since the beginning of the Christian Church?  Should we look to those 2,000 years, and all that has occurred in the Church, as having any impact upon where we are today?  The answer (in contradiction to today's Christian subculture) must be a resounding "YES" and "YES."  Ferguson says that Christians, by definition, "have an interest in history...because we understand the deep significance of the past for the present...," and "we believe that history has a pattern and a goal."  Church history SHOULD be very important to us.  If you are convicted of that, feeling you should know more, yet you aren't sure where to start - read this book!  Just published two months ago, it gives a tour through church history, dedicating one chapter to each century, highlighting certain major themes.  It's an OUTSTANDING way to "get the lay of the land" in Church history, and then you can follow up later with areas you've marked for more study.


  1. "The Creedal Imperative" by Carl Trueman
    Length:  208 pages, 6 chapters
    Difficulty:  moderate 
    Synopsis:  Why creeds & confessions?  Isn't the Bible all we need?  Have you ever wondered that?  Trueman's book dispels the myths, and he demonstrates the fundamental purposes they serve in the Church, and how important they should be for each of us.
    Review:  "Doctrinal aversion, radical individualism, unexamined subjectivism" - these are terms that one reviewer uses to describe problems that afflict (and tear down) today's evangelical church.  Many of us have probably experienced this - some in places that uphold experience, while failing to be anchored doctrinally, and others in places that say something like, "No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible."   The truth is that the vast majority of evangelical Christians today are not what we would call "confessional" (use a particular confession, such as the Westminster Confession, to establish what they hold to be inviolable truths).  The author states, "The burden that motivates the writing of this book is my belief that creeds and confessions are vital to the present and future well-being of the church."  Maybe you've wondered about this - "Creeds and confessions, are they really that important" and "If so...why?"  At Providence, we are "confessional," and it's important for us to understand why and how we should be making use of them.  This book helps greatly to that end.

  2. "Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age" by Alan Noble
    Length:  192 pages, 6 chapters
    Difficulty: fairly easy to moderate
    Synopsis:  There's no question - TRUTH is under attack today, and we are impacted as we live out our daily lives.  We must have eyes to see what is going on, and a zeal to serve as a bold and faithful witness, knowing that only the Church is "a pillar and buttress of the Truth." 
    Review:  As we go through "The Truth Project" seminar/class together, we are being reminded (or more accurately, 'warned') about how all of us are surrounded by messages that dismiss the Christian worldview, and which are largely in direct opposition to it.  These messages are subtle, and they usually come through habits, activities, and devices that often capture our hearts (and our time).  This, sort of like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water, can (and HAS) slowly shaped our thinking, so that we avoid deep reflection and we live lives that mirror the world's thinking, rather than God's Truth.  What are we to do about it?  Recognize it....and look for the gospel to disrupt it, and to refocus us.  From the back of the book:  "But the gospel of Jesus is inherently disruptive:  like a plow, it breaks up the hardened surface to expose the fertile earth below.  In this book Noble lays out individual, ecclesial, and cultural practices that disrupt our society's deep-rooted assumptions and point beyond them to the transcendent grace and beauty of Jesus."

  3. "Christianity Considered" by John Frame 
    Length:  128 pages, 29 chapters
    Difficulty:  easy
    Synopsis:  What IS the Christian worldview?  In this book, John Frame provides a concise guide for Christians who want to bring the gospel to friends who are skeptical and seeking, and for skeptical readers to better understand the Christian faith and the truth claims it makes.
    Review:  In the book, Frame doesn't only deal with presenting "the facts" about Christianity, but he helps us examine the way we think about the facts.  He tries to address the reader just as the Bible addresses us - as those who need to have "a new mind" (Romans 12:2).  Frame uses this necessity of possessing a new mind (chap. 1) as the foundation for everything else he covers, which sets this book apart from most other books on Christian apologetics.  He then moves on to a wide variety of subjects, briefly covered in 29 chapters, but all the while emphasizing the importance of the way we think about it.  His approach rightly emphasizes that all of the Christian worldview is fundamentally founded upon the presence of the Holy Spirit working within a person, and if this is not taken into account...a faulty understanding will result.

  4. "Scientism and Secularism" by J.P. Moreland 
    Length:  224 pages, 15 chapters
    Difficulty:  moderate to fairly difficult
    Synopsis: A prevailing assumption in the world today, is that science is the only means we have that can explain the reality we experience - it is the only valid source of truth.  On this basis, the media and the academic world relegates ethical and religious conclusions to the realm of private opinion.  J.P. Moreland exposes this view as being a purely philosophical's not actual science at all, and in the process he helps us with recognition and discernment in this important area.
    Review:  In reaching out to the world around us with the Truth of the Gospel (a truth which is universally needed, because "there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" - Acts 4:12), and in raising our younger generation with that same Truth, it is vitally important that we seek to understand the barrier that stands in the way of this Truth even being heard.  The barrier that is being used to such great effect today, is labeled as "Scientism" - the "view that the hard sciences provide the only genuine knowledge of reality."  As Moreland states in outlining the problem, "Ethics and religion may be acceptable, but only if they are understood to be inherently subjective and regarded as private matters of opinion."  While I would say that it's MOST important that we understand (and proclaim) the Truth, we also have the responsibility of understanding, and being prepared to respond to, the barriers to that Truth as well.  This book should help us to do just that. 


  1. "The Gospel Comes with a House Key" by Rosaria Butterfield
    Length:  240 pages, 10 chapters
    Difficulty:  easy 
    Synopsis:  Simply put, this book addresses the question, "How do I love my neighbors (yes, especially those right next door), in a way in which they hear and experience the welcome of the gospel?"  In the words of one commentator, "Rosaria Butterfield demonstrates how living a life of radically ordinary hospitality can allow strangers to become neighbors, and, by God’s power, those neighbors can become part of God’s family."
    Review:  Most of us have difficulties with simply reaching out to others.  We may have the desire that God has placed inside of us, but there are certain fears that creep in, or we hesitate to become involved in other's lives, perhaps thinking that we lack the time or we don't possess the right knowledge or skill.  And so we content ourselves with living in our own enclaves, even though we know that God calls us to reach out with the gospel to those whom he has placed around us, and on the periphery of our lives.  In this book, we're given a vision of how a simple invitation to dinner, or a knock on the door, can lead to the opportunity to show true, gospel hospitality to those who were essentially strangers to us.  In the book, Butterfield is honest, humble, and gospel-driven, which models an authentic love for others that is exactly what is needed for true hospitality.  The subtitle of the book speaks of "Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality," by which she means the type of hospitality that Christ engaged in, practiced in an ordinary way, within our ordinary lives.  It's certainly radical to the world, because that's the nature of the gospel (Gal 2:20).

  2. "Beginnings: Understanding How We Experience the New Birth" by Stephen Smallman
    Length:  208 pages, 14 chapters
    Difficulty: fairly easy 
    Synopsis:  In a book that's valuable for understanding your own process of coming to faith, as well as an excellent tool for discipling others, Stephen Smallman biblically walks us through the amazing work of the Holy Spirit, as He brings new life to a person.
    Review:  Have you ever wondered how "conversion" takes place...or what conversion really is?  Does it happen at a moment in time, or is it a process?  What is our involvement in it?  Smallman engages these questions, working them through biblically (primarily via John's gospel), as well as experientially by using several stories depicting God bringing new life.  In the book, Smallman encourages believers to recall the ways the Spirit worked to point them to Christ, equipping them to be better prepared to share God's work in their lives with others.  He introduces a useful "Spiritual lifeline tool," which draws a visual comparison between the spiritual birth and natural birth (as we see in John 3), to help us to understand God's amazing work in all aspects of salvation.  It is the misunderstanding of this process that often leads the Church (and individuals) into practices that are unhelpful, and often detrimental, to the bearing of fruit, and to the building of the Church.  The book is broken down into two sections - the first for understanding the Spirit's work in conversion, and the second is dedicated to being used by God as an instrument in other's lives (serving, as Smallman has termed it, as a "spiritual midwife").

  3. "Taking GOD At His WORD" by Kevin DeYoung 
    Length:  144 pages, 8 chapters
    Difficulty:  easy
    Synopsis:  Are you convinced that "the Bible makes no mistakes, cannot be overturned, is the most important word in your life, and the most relevant thing you can read every day?"  This is the goal that DeYoung states up front for the book, and the conviction to which he desires the reader to come to.
    Review:  It almost goes without saying (yet it still needs to be said) that the Bible is foundational to everything that we do.  Apart from it, we can't truly know God, nor can we know ourselves and the truth about our own situation, and we are completely blind to the one way of salvation.  With that said, how important is it that we are convicted of the Truth of the Bible, of its sufficiency, its authority in our lives, to know that we can depend upon it, and to recognize its clarity on the things that really matter?  And how important is it that we come to love it, and want to spend time in it? This book is clearly and forthrightly articulated, and it's designed to answers the big questions that we need to have answered.  It's one of those books that you want to buy a few copies of it, and spread them around.  

  4. "No Little Women" by Aimee Byrd 
    Length:  288 pages, 10 chapters
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate
    Synopsis: As the subtitle states, this book focuses upon "Equipping All Women in the Household of God." Amy Byrd has written with the purpose of helping "the whole church by examining church initiatives for a group that makes up over half of our congregations—the women."
    Review:  Given that God's Word is provided for the understanding and equipping of men and women alike, that His gifting is for both men and women, and that He clearly intends for all to be engaged in the work of ministry, it is incumbent upon us (leadership and laypersons) to strive to ensure this occurs.  Byrd begins by highlighting a dangerous trend - that of wrong teaching making its way into doctrinally sound churches through women's ministry.  She does not advocate ditching women's ministry, however, but she identifies specific problems commonly encountered, suggests how to remain alert, and recommends the involvement of pastors and elders.  It is apparent that her intent throughout is, within a biblical context, to encourage the equipping of women for the work of ministry...recognizing the need to deal with certain problems and issues, in order to accomplish this.

MARCH Books  

  1. "The Mystery of the Holy Spirit" by R.C. Sproul
    Length:  160 pages, 10 chapters
    Difficulty:  moderate 
    Synopsis:  We are called to “know God.” This means (at least in part), knowing the Holy Spirit. Sproul’s goal in this book, which he fully accomplishes, is guide us in knowing & understanding the person and works of the Holy Spirit.
    Review:  Sproul’s story in the opening pages of the first chapter, is worth the price of the book. It also serves to set the stage for the remainder of the book, which is that a true knowledge of the Holy Spirit begins with a personal relationship. And it’s on the basis of this personal relationship, that Sproul teaches how the Holy Spirit relates to us (roles): “He teaches us. He comforts us. He guides us. He encourages us.” The book does a good job of explaining difficult concepts in an easy-to-understand manner (although you should expect a couple of spots that will require deeper thinking). He also, helpfully, delves into some of today’s controversies surrounding the work and activity of the Holy Spirit. In particular, pay attention to chapter 8 on the “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” in which he directly (but sensitively) evaluates Charismatic views of this doctrine from Scripture. Far from being a “dry” treatise on the Holy Spirit, this book is very helpful in giving a deeper, personal understanding of the Holy Spirit.

  2. "Keep in Step with the Spirit" by J.I. Packer
    Length:  256 pages, 8 chapters
    Difficulty: somewhat challenging 
    Synopsis:  More than just helping us to know WHO the Spirit is (the primary goal of Sproul’s book), this is intended to be “a rousing call to encourage believers to implement the Spirit's directives in their lives.” Packer’s concern is that we keep in step with the Spirit in daily living.
    Review:  This is NOT a “beginner’s guide to the Holy Spirit,” but it DOES provide us with a very needed focus - he brings out HOW the Holy Spirit empowers, guides, and facilitates growth in the daily life of the believer. In doing this, he deals with “the ongoing conflict with sin and temptation that is at the heart of the biblical account of the sanctifying process. He also, in a very helpful and even-handed way, assesses the charismatic movement and its claims, bringing out the biblically troubling areas, while showing the value of the movement. As one commentator said, “The major strength of the book is Packer's attempt to give a balanced presentation while still coming down firmly on a particular side of the debate. He does this winsomely, looking for the positives of the charismatic movement and expressing throughout his thankfulness for what God is doing in the charismatic movement.”  This book is pastoral, rather than academic, although he does not hold back on explaining concepts and movements, and providing biblical rational. The sense that you have, as you read the book, is of a man who is walking closely with the Lord, and one who longs to see the same in his readers.

  3. "God’s Grace in Your Suffering" by David Powlison 
    Length:  128 pages, 8 chapters
    Difficulty:  easy
    Synopsis:  Powlison uses the words of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” to point us to Scriptural assurances of God’s goodness & grace, even in moments of our greatest suffering.
    Review:  The premise for this book can be found in the first words of the intro: “Job, his wife, and his three friends agreed on two things. Our lives are ‘few of days and full of trouble’ (Job 14:1), and God’s hand is intimately mixed up in our troubles. But strife and perplexity set in among them when they tried to explain exactly how God and troubles connect.” Powlison’s goal is to help believers with that process of finding meaning in the midst of pain and suffering. He does this in two ways: 1) by providing God’s words of assurance and comfort from Scripture, and 2) by sharing his own personal experiences and inviting the reader to express theirs as well. He approaches the process as a “workshop” - asking helpful questions along the way, to lead the reader to directly engage, and to apply the contents to their lives. This makes it especially well suited to read along with another person or two. Powlison makes a couple of points that are especially helpful - how isolating suffering can be, and how people often try to help by unhelpfully focusing on a solution to the sufferING…rather than focusing upon the sufferER. This is a short, easy book to read, and can be good if you know someone in need of true comfort.   

  4. "Spurgeon on the Christian Life" by Michael Reeves 
    Length:  192 pages, 12 chapters
    Difficulty:  fairly easy
    Synopsis: It is important for us to read about those, in whose lives and ministries we can see reflected “the life to be found and enjoyed in Christ.” This book sets out to help us to know Charles Spurgeon, and his Christ-centered motivation for life and ministry.
    Review:  The Apostle Paul said, of his ministry among the believers in Corinth: “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  This is exactly what marked the preaching of Charles Spurgeon. The author will describe Spurgeon’s goal in preaching in this way: “Preachers are called to make Christ known in all his goodness, beauty, and truth, that people might yield themselves to him, delight in him, and be one with him.”  If you don’t already know a lot about Charles Spurgeon, then this book is a solid, engaging introduction to the man and his ministry, although you should not expect a true biography. While the first chapter is dedicated to Spurgeon himself, the rest of the book looks at the main beliefs which undergirded his ministry, including his Christ-centered teaching & preaching, his emphasis upon and understanding of the new birth, and his view of the Christian life. Throughout the book, Reeves allows Spurgeon to do most of the talking himself.


  1. "To a Thousand Generations" by Douglas Wilson
    Length:  123 pages, 11 chapters
    Difficulty:  moderate 
    Synopsis:  In just a few chapters, Douglas Wilson provides the straightforward, biblical rational for infant baptism. If you’d like to have clarity on a difficult topic, an understanding of BOTH sides of the issues, and faithfulness to Scripture, this is a book worth your time reading (and it won’t take a LOT of your time, either).
    Review:  Why infant baptism? Are we really able to see clearly and conclusively from Scripture that this is God’s instruction? Are we able to understand the purpose behind infant baptism, and what it means practically? In the adult class on Covenant Theology, we have taken a look at baptism by seeing it’s clear connection to the covenant sign of circumcision. Douglas Wilson points out that this is exactly where we need to begin if we want to understand baptism - that the instruction to baptize, as with the Lord’s Supper, has an intimate connection to the OT covenant sign, and cannot therefore be rightly understood independently of that sign. This is a clear, concise book on baptism, and I highly recommend it if you are at all unclear on the biblical purpose, meaning, and practical use/value behind infant baptism.

  2. "The Trellis and the Vine" by Colin Marshall & Tony Payne
    Length:  196 pages, 12 chapters.
    Difficulty: easy to moderate 
    Synopsis:  If discipleship isn’t happening within a church, that church will wither and die, at least in terms of its effectiveness. It’s THAT important! This book uses the metaphor of a vine (discipleship growth) and a trellis (supporting structures), in a powerful way, to help us assess where we are in this critical area, and to assist us with fulfilling the Great Commission mandate.
    Review:   How are we to determine what is of greatest importance here at Providence, and how do we make sure we focus the majority of our time, energy, gifts, finances on that (disciples of Christ, making disciples)? How do we separate those things out from everything else that is necessary, yet should not be our primary focus? To use a well-worn phrase: “How do we make sure we keep the main thing, the main thing?” Here is what Mark Dever (9 Marks) has to say of this book: “What Col and Tony have described here is exactly what I have been trying to do in my own life and in our congregation for years. According to this book, Christians are to be disciple-making disciples and pastors are to be trainers. Superb! This is the best book I've read on the nature of church ministry.” Coming from Mark Dever, this is quite an endorsement, and rightly so. This book takes an absolutely foundational topic for the church, reveals our sinful tendencies, and sets us in the right direction. Although this book is especially directed towards leadership within the church, it would be a valuable read for anyone who has a heart for discipleship w/in the local church.

  3. "The Radical Book (for Kids)" by Champ Thornton 
    Length:  272 pages, 67 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate
    Synopsis: Who said that “good” can’t be “FUN.” It’s a “fun-filled explorer’s guide to the Bible, church history, and life for children 8 and up” (although we ALL would be greatly enriched by reading this book - even so…try to leave it for the kids).
    Review:  Not much needs to be written about this book in order to grab the interest of its audience - flipping through a couple of pages will do the job! It covers a LOT of territory (yes, it really does have 67 chapters), and does it all in an engaging way. Not only that, but it’s biblically solid, which is rare in a kids book like this. It goes from “Learn the Greek Alphabet,” to “Grasping the Gospels,” to “How to Make a Sundial.” Especially helpful are the short biographies of men and women of the faith. Stephen Smallman, PCA Pastor & author, gives the following recommendation: “Champ Thornton's The Radical Book for Kids is a wonderful presentation of core Christian truth and practice that stands out in both style and substance. I can immediately see many possible uses for this book, but I particularly commend it to parents as a fun way to talk about the faith with their kids. There is a feel of randomness in the selections of the topics, but I think that adds to the attractiveness of the book. Highly recommended.”   


  1. "A Little Book on the Christian Life" by John Calvin
    Length:  132 pages, 5 chapters.
    Difficulty:  moderate 
    Synopsis:  Calvin's emphasis mirror's Christ's emphasis, when it comes to living the Christian life.  In a thoroughly biblical way, Calvin communicates what it means to pick up your Cross and follow Jesus Christ, day-in and day-out.  This "Little Book" is made up from excerpts taken from Calvin's main life's work, "Institutes of the Christian Religion," and it offers a great reward for both the heart and the mind of the reader.
    Review:  One reviewer said of Calvin, that he "is a theologian who does not merely fill the head, but one who also warms the heart and informs the hands." This is true of Calvin in all his writings, but it especially comes across in A Little Book on the Christian Life.  It's this desire that people would know what it means to live life united to Christ that is the central focus in virtually all of Calvin's writing, and that's what this book is all about.  He writes that "the goal of God’s work in us is to bring our lives into harmony and agreement with His own righteousness, and so to manifest to ourselves and others our identity as His adopted children."  It's a short book, but it's packed full with wise counsel for living life, so you may want to spend time meditating through it as you read.  Even though the writing was done in the 1500's, this is not at all a difficult book to read, although you will find yourself needing to re-read portions, because Calvin makes you think.  Note:  Feel free to write in this book, and keep it for yourself or even give a copy away.  More copies are available in Pastor David's office.

  2. "The Explicit Gospel" by Matt Chandler
    Length:  240 pages, 11 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy 
    Synopsis:  The word "gospel" is used in many different ways, and very often it's use brings with it a wrong, man-centered view.  Sometimes we just need to hear what the gospel IS, and what the gospel ISN'T.  That's what this book sets out to do.
    Review:   This book is all about what must be of FIRST importance to us (1 Cor 15:3) - the gospel.  Chandler begins by pointing out the (painful) point that often, within the Church today, the gospel is just "assumed" - it's there in the background, but by simply assuming it, we really turn it into something else.  He spends the rest of the book showing how just "assuming the gospel" leads to significant error, and then he proceeds to help us to "explicitly" see and know the gospel.  The two perspectives by which he views the gospel and divides the entire book ("Gospel on the Ground," and "Gospel in the Air") are especially helpful.  Chandler's approach throughout is "edgy" and even confrontational, in a way that we need to hear, although (warning...) his style may also be troubling to some.  The book is insightful (especially in dealing with modern corruptions of the gospel), applicational (he hits us where we need to be hit), and it's an easy read.

  3. "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God" by J. I. Packer 
    Length:  122 pages, 4 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate
    Synopsis: God is sovereign over all things, yet .
    Review:  God calls us to share the gospel with those around us - to evangelize.  Matthew 28:19 tells us very directly, "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations."  Is this an area that you've struggled with?  Have you felt fearful, or maybe felt you lack in the knowledge needed to share Christ with those around you, so that you've resisted doing it?  One thing that we ALL need is a more solid grasp of why we NEED to evangelize, and we need to understand that in light of who God IS.  This book deals particularly with the question of our responsibility, in light of God's sovereignty.  These are often pitted against each other, in our minds.  Packer shows that that is biblically inaccurate.  The Foreword to the book asks the question, "If God is in control, why should we do anything at all?  Why should we work?  Why should we pray?  And especially, why should we evangelize?"  These are questions that we might not ask, but they are often eating at us underneath.  This is NOT a book of methods, but it IS a book that helps greatly with understanding and motivation.  It's as we develop a greater understanding and conviction regarding this question of both God's sovereignty and our responsibility, that we will become more faithful in seeking out opportunities to evangelize.   

  4. "The Gospel in Genesis:  From Fig Leaves to Faith" by Martyn Lloyd-Jones 
    Length:  160 pages, 9 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate
    Synopsis: Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows how absolutely fundamental the early chapters of Genesis (3-12) are for understanding the entirety of the Bible, and for understanding our life situation, and the world in which we live.  The book is thoroughly practical, providing background for the "whys" behind daily trials and tribulations, while pointing us to the One Solution.
    Review:  Martyn Lloyd-Jones is known as "the doctor," and with good reason, because just prior to entering into ministry he was headed toward a position as one of Great Britain's top physicians.  Even so, the nickname has been applied to him primarily, not so much because of this, but because of the way he is able to minister to the soul of a person.  With a physician's care, he diagnoses the problems that we face, and he applies the remedy that God gives through His Word.  This is especially true in this book (made up of nine Lloyd-Jones' sermons), as he draws upon the first few chapters of Genesis (1-12) to open our eyes to the root of each of the problems that we face in this life, and to lead us to the solution that God gives, by His grace.  Don't expect a Bible study through the early chapters of Genesis, but DO expect a digging into, and an understanding of, the deep questions of life....applied directly, and in a practical way.  As a "side benefit," note that it is an understanding of these chapters that really open up an understanding of the rest of the Bible.


  1. "Prayer" by Tim Keller 
    Length:  262 pages (336 total), 15 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy
    Synopsis:  It’s hard to overstate the importance of prayer!  Born out of his own shortcomings with prayer, Keller wrote to address the needed essentials for learning to really pray. He thoroughly covers prayer, by looking at theology, experience, and method. 
    Review:  Is your prayer life weak? Do you need guidance & encouragement in prayer? Read this book! God has given prayer to serve as a foundation to the Christian life, yet in practice, it often ends up being largely set to the side. Keller helps us to change this. On the importance of prayer, he says, “Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It’s also the main way we experience deep change – the reordering of our loves…. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.”  The book is divided into five parts: Desiring Prayer, Understanding Prayer, Learning Prayer, Deepening Prayer, and Doing Prayer. In writing it, Keller doesn’t just draw from his own thoughts & ideas, but he relies heavily upon both Scripture and the writings of both past (Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards) & present (Clowney) theologians. This would be an outstanding book to read together as a couple.

  2. "The Bruised Reed" by Richard Sibbes 
    Length:  152 pages, 16 chapters.
    Difficulty:  fairly difficult
    Synopsis: One of the most read and loved fo all the Puritan classics, this book has long been a source of spiritual help and comfort. In it, Sibbes takes the weary sinner and turns both eyes and heart to the place of comfort: mercy and love that can only be found in Christ. 
    Review:  Are you struggling with your own sin, and in your walk with the Lord? Do you want to know and experience true rest in Christ? In bringing to light Isaiah’s prophecy about Christ from Isaiah 42:1-3, Sibbes writes of how God mercifully bruises believers, with the goal of softening their hardheartedness while awakening their love for Christ. He says, from Scripture, that there is a goal and purpose behind the things God takes us through, and it’s motivated by His own mercy and love for us….that we would finally rest in Christ. At one point, Sibbes writes, “This bruising makes us set a high price upon Christ. Then the gospel becomes the gospel indeed; then the fig-leaves of morality will do us no good.” This book can be a somewhat difficult read, because of the older English and Puritan writing style (although Sibbes style is easier than most Puritan works), but the reward is great. The book was written with pastors in mind, but it has much to give to all believers. Martyn-Lloyd Jones spoke of a time when he was “subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil,” and he said that “The Bruised Reed quieted, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me.” Read this book carefully and read it prayerfully.

  3. "Rejoicing in Christ" by Michael Reeves 
    Length:  137 pages, 5 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate
    Synopsis:  In the introduction, Reeves says: “This book then, aims for something deeper than a new technique or a call to action: to consider Christ, that he might become more central for you, that you might know him better, treasure him more, and enter into his joy.”
    Review:  What is living life really all about? Where should we find our source of life, our joy, our comfort? The Apostle Paul answers those questions by saying, “For to me, to live is Christ…. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ my Lord” (Phil 1:21;3:8). You and I stand the possibility of hearing those words, yet missing their truth, lived out in our lives. Michael Reeves points out how EASILY we gravitate toward so many other things, even GOOD things, while failing to see, and to know, and to desire, Jesus Christ…THE author and source of life.  One reviewer says, “Reeves makes theology accessible for everyone.” Another says, “get this book and read it: slowly, meditatively, worshiping as you go…. It is a book that does what all good theology should do: it leads you to a clearer vision of God and thus to a greater worship of and joy in Him. A powerful book.” Grab someone else, and together spend time, prayerfully and worshipfully, focusing your attention upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

  4. "Chasing Contentment" by Erik Raymond 
    Length:  176 pages, 9 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy
    Synopsis:  The premise for this book is that, in the “discontented age” in which we find ourselves (“characterized by impatience, overspending, grumbling, and unhappiness”) we easily lose a sense of what true contentment really looks like. In this book, Raymond shows us that it is possible to pursue contentment, and to “anchor our joy in God himself rather than our changing circumstances.”
    Review:  Have you ever read Philippians 4, in which Paul says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances,” and in which he gives the command, “Do not be anxious about anything,” and wondered whether that really could be possible? Can I REALLY live a life of contentment? Raymond notes that, not only is it possible, but it is commanded of the Christian. He also notes that contentment must be learned (see above, where Paul said, “I have learned…”). The book is broken up into two sections - “Defining Contentment” (2 chap’s), and “Learning Contentment” (7 chap’s). As you read with someone else, make sure to use the study questions at the end of each chapter.


  1. "The Grace of Repentance" by Sinclair Ferguson 
    Length:  64 pages, 6 chapters.
    Difficulty:  moderate
    Synopsis:  Do you find yourself knowing that repentance is important, but failing to understand what it should look like in your life? Or worse, do you not see it as being important? This book will help you to understand “the grace of repentance,” why it’s important, and why, as Luther said, it should be “characteristic of the whole life.” 
    Review:  This is a SHORT, but extremely IMPORTANT read. Five hundred years ago, the church lost it’s way because of its lack of understanding and application of biblical repentance. The church stands to be in the same danger today. Repentance is foundational to the gospel, yet it is not taught or modeled in much of the church today. This book helps to bring us back to a right understanding. As one reviewer said, “The Grace of Repentance is a thorough, clear, and concise primer on the biblical doctrine and application of the doctrine of repentance that is so neglected in our day. Ferguson does a wonderful job of showing how ongoing repentance changes our hearts, attitudes, and purposes as we seek to be formed and conformed to the image of Christ by the God who has begun a good work in us. Belief and ongoing repentance in Christ are essential habits for believers who are promised that ‘He who began a good work in us, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ’ by His mercy and grace in the power of the Holy Spirit (see Philippians 1:6).”

  2. "A Sweet & Bitter Providence" by John Piper 
    Length:  160 pages, 4 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate
    Synopsis:  It changes everything when we can begin to recognize all the ways that the “secret hand of God’s providence” is at work in our lives.  Piper opens this up to us through this short, relevant study through the book of Ruth. 
    Review:  The question many people have in the back of their minds today, and that often shows itself in different forms, is this: “Can I trust and love the God who has dealt me this painful hand in life?” Piper helps us to see and understand how the book of Ruth answers that question in a way that turns the heart to trust in the Lord through all the circumstances of life. This would be a great study to do with someone with whom you’ve wanted to open up, or continue, a spiritual conversation. The book deals with the big question of God’s Sovereignty, but also deals with other relevant questions of our day, such as matters of racial and ethnic diversity and sexuality. It deals more generally with God’s providence early in the book, but in a surprising turn at the end, it provides a direct connection to Jesus Christ and the Gospel.  If you think it would be helpful to have study questions to help in your discussions, check with Pastor David for a good study booklet on the book of Ruth.

  3. "Enjoying God" by R. C. Sproul  
    Length:  240 pages, 12 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy
    Synopsis:  Sproul says, “It is not enough for the Christian to know that God is; we must be driven by a holy passion to know who God is.”  The purpose of this book is to answer the questions, largely through Sproul’s own life experiences, “Who are you God? And why do you do the things you do?”
    Review:  You might think of this topic, the character of God, as being somewhat abstract and theoretical. In this book, however, Sproul brings it right down to earth, as his intent is not merely to teach information, but to increase our pleasure in the Lord. If you are participating in either the Men’s or Women’s Bible studies on Wed. evening, this book would be an excellent companion to the study (maybe as husband & wife together!). It approaches the attributes of God from a very different, more personal angle, which would complement the other study. This is an easy to read book, understandable for almost all ages and backgrounds, it is thoroughly practical, AND it is on the attributes of God.

  4. "Delighting in the Trinity" by Michael Reeves  
    Length:  135 pages, 5 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate
    Synopsis:  The title says is all - this book really is about “Delighting in the Trinity,”as it takes “God as Trinity” as the starting point for exploring various aspects of creation, salvation, and the living the Christian life.
    Review:  Being honest, have you ever thought much about the Trinity? What’s the first thing you usually hear or think of when the topic of “the Trinity” comes up? Isnt it usually something along the lines of, “You can’t really understand the Trinity,” followed by some object illustration (egg & yolk; candle, wick, flame; etc.) that attempts to explain the Trinity anyway? This is all largely unhelpful and unbiblical. In this book, Michael Reeves begins at the other end of the scale, by saying that you can’t really know and delight in God, unless you know Him as Trinity (as he really IS) - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This book helps us to truly embrace the God of the Bible, rather than thinking of Him as unknowable. He shows that God as Trinity truly and wonderfully separates Him from all the religions of the world, and how His Trinitarian nature is absolutely necessary in order to explain who He is in all of His glory and grace. Throughout the book, Reeves style of writing is interesting, infectious, and it aids understanding. We’ve got 3 books available, so feel free to do this book study as a group of either two OR three!


  1. "Side By Side" by Edward Welch  
    Length:  176 pages, 17 chapters.
    Difficulty:  easy
    Synopsis:  God has equipped us to help one another…primarily because we ourselves are needy. This book was written to help believers to help one another by sharing burdens and caring.
    Review:  Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one.” This is God’s intent. As the Intro says, “We were meant to walk side by side, an interdependent body of weak people.” The PROBLEM most of us have, though, is that we are so often afraid to become engaged in one another’s lives. Pride also stands in the way: we think we have to be strong, and that we cannot ask for help from others. God wants us to overcome this, and to bear the burdens of one another, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to each other.  The church is the only place in which this type of community really happens.  It is helpful that the book is divided into two parts - "We are Needy" and "We are Needed."  Both of these must be realized to truly live in unity with one another, although many of us often struggle with one more than the other.  Welch says he has written this book “for people like me, who are willing to move toward other struggling people but are not confident that they can say or do anything very helpful.” Does that describe you at all? If so, you need to join with someone and read this book! It is both very practical and very biblical. The book is an easy read - plan to cover 2 or 3 chapters per meeting, each week.  Answer the study questions at the end of each chapter together.

  2. "Just Do Something" by Kevin DeYoung  
    Length:  144 pages, 10 chapters  
    Difficulty:  easy  
    Synopsis:  Today, the way we think and the way we talk is often full of unbiblical ways to discern God’s will for our lives. This book gives direction in understanding God’s will directly from Scripture, and then doing it in our lives.  
    Review:  This book is crafted for, although it’s not at all limited to, young adults. Here’s the problem: because of the way we often think about God, and how He works in our lives, we often “get stuck” when it comes to living our lives. We become concerned that if we don’t do X or Y or Z, then we will fail to follow God’s will for us, so we fail to move forward. In Kevin DeYoung’s own words, “The gist of the book is that too many of us spend too much time trying to divine God’s will and too little time striving to obey the plain commands of Scripture…. Too many of us are prone to passivity and indecision, because doing nothing feels more spiritual (and less risky) than doing something.”  This is a great book for two people to do a 5-week study (2 chapters per wk). It has a “study guide” in the back to help you work through the chapters.

  3. "Courage to Stand" by Philip Graham Ryken  
    Length:  208 pages, 13 chapters  
    Difficulty:  moderate  
    Synopsis:  In today’s world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand up and to speak the truth…to follow God, when it’s not popular. This book teaches us, from the life & ministry of the prophet Jeremiah, how to be an influence in our culture for Christ.  
    Review:  We have a great need today to hear from the Old Testament prophets. They have much to teach us as we live in a culture, and often in a Church, that has gone its own way. The book Jeremiah is a wonderful place to turn, because it brings clarity throughout to BOTH the problem of humanity AND the one solution…found in a covenant relationship with the Lord God. The book of Jeremiah can be a difficult book to read, but Ryken opens it up and helps us to see its truths, and best of all, he constantly provides direction in making practical application to our lives today.  I’d suggest you begin with an outline of the book of Jeremiah (perhaps from a study Bible), and read once through Jeremiah. Then, after meeting to discuss, proceed one chapter at a time through “Courage to Stand,” also reading the portion of Jeremiah as you go. For each meeting, make use of the discussion questions beginning on pg. 197. When you finish, discuss what you’ve learned about how to stand strong for Christ in our world today.

  4. "The Unquenchable Flame" by Michael Reeves  
    Length:  208 pages, 7 chapters  
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate  
    Synopsis:  Why was the Reformation important? What motivated the Reformers? This book is an easy to understand introduction to the Protestant Reformation, it examines the lives & ideas of the Reformers who stood out the most, and shows their relevance today.  
    Review:  Every believer needs to understand the history of the Church - and the most important place for us to start is with the Reformation. October (this month) is Reformation month, and not only that, but it is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation - we celebrate the fact that exactly 500 years ago the gospel returned to the Church and the Church returned to the gospel. Michael Reeves has an interesting style of communication that draws you in, while simultaneously making the complex simple. If you don’t know a whole lot about the Reformation, then this is a good introduction to read (although, keep in mind it covers a lot of territory without going into a whole lot of depth).  For each chapter talk about: 1) the problem that was being addressed by the Reformers, 2) how God used them for the good of the church and the good of the gospel, and 3) why and how this remains important and is applicable today. At the end, try to articulate what the heart of the Reformation was all about.


  1. "The Dangerous Duty of Delight" by John Piper
    Length:  112 pages, 11 chapters.  
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate  
    Synopsis:  Piper summarizes our whole reason for existence - to find our ultimate satisfaction in God.  He says that although "we are hard-wired to pursue our happiness," we try to satisfy that longing with things that don't satisfy.  
    Review:  This is really a condensed version of Piper's classic book, "Desiring God."  If you haven't read that, then start with this one.  The chapters are short, so it would not require much reading time outside of the weekly meeting time.  According to the first question in our Shorter Catechism (Man's chief end is to glorify God and ENJOY Him forever!), every person is truly designed to live daily delighting in the Lord.  It is this (God-glorifying joy) that is absent from many people's faith.  This book provides a great way to spend time discussing with someone the gap between what our experience should be (ENJOYING the Lord), and the reality that exists in our own lives (something less than that), and why that difference is there.  One reviewer said that this book showed them "that the Christian life wasn’t just about knowledge or being purpose-driven, but rather about delighting in the goodness and sovereignty of God."  Piper discusses what it looks like to "delight in the Lord," and what it means for worship, for marriage, for money, and for missions

  2. "Covenants Made Simple" by Jonty Rhodes
    Length:  176 pages, 9 chapters.  
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate  
    Synopsis:  "An engaging study of covenant theology and why it matters."  Begins in the garden with man’s sin and fall, traces God’s covenantal plan of salvation through the Scriptures, and concludes with several chapters of application.  
    Review:  Provides an introduction and overview to covenant theology.  Written in a simple and witty style, Rhodes uses engaging illustrations throughout to help with understanding.  He does away with much of the terminology that can make understanding the Bible's covenantal story more difficult, and helps in several places with exploring the relevance of the covenant to our lives.  Part of his intent in the book is to show how Covenant Theology and the doctrines of the Reformed Faith are simply the theology and teaching of the Bible.  My only critique is that, in his desire to make things simple and interesting, he can have a tendency to treat some aspects of the covenant in a light manner, rather than with the gravity they should be approached.  Apart from this, the book is a good introduction to Covenant Theology, easy to understand, solidly Reformed, and relevant to life today.

  3. "The Crook in the Lot" by Thomas Boston  
    Length:  168 pages, 3 chapters.  
    Difficulty:  difficult  
    Synopsis:  How do you view and deal with suffering that comes into your life and that of others?  In this book Thomas Boston helps us to see how God ordains and uses suffering, its benefits, and the rewards for endurance (as well as the consequences of trying to avoid it).  
    Review:  This book may be a difficult read for some, because it is written in the traditional Puritan style, but it's worth the effort!  It was written by Scottish theologian and pastor Thomas Boston (1676-1732).  It is very timely for us, as we go through a sermon series on Ecclesiastes. It's primarily focused upon the words of Ecclesiastes 7:13, 'Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which He has made crooked?' By 'lot', Boston means our 'lot in life', the shape of our lives as they are styled by God's many providences. By 'crook', he means those unforeseen troubles that afflict, unsettle, or disturb us in any way. Boston sets out to minister pastoral wisdom and help to God's people experiencing what Paul calls 'the sufferings of this present time' (Rom. 8:18) (from Amazon).  Note that while only 3 "chapters" are listed, the book is really like 3 essays on 3 different verses of Scripture, and is divided into several sections that can be the division points as you meet together.

  4. "When People are Big and God is Small" by Edward Welch  
    Length:  256 pages, 13 chapters.  
    Difficulty:  easy  
    Synopsis:  One of the biggest problems many of us struggle with is that we're controlled by what other people think about us (called "the fear of man").  God calls for us to recognize this problem for what it is, and to apply his antidote to it.  This outstanding book is designed to help with doing just that.
    Review:  "Need people less.  Love people more."  That's what this book helps us to do, and it's hard to emphasize enough the importance of this for many of us who are gripped by the fear of man.  The book is both solidly biblical and practical.  One Amazon reviewer had this to say:  "Information is presented in an easy to understand way. Clear explanations and warning signs we can all relate to. The flow of the book is great... I had many "yes yes! That's me," type experiences while reading this book. It's hard to not see yourself in this book."  This book is highly recommended.


  1. "The Hole in Our Holiness" by Kevin DeYoung  
    Length:  160 pages, 10 chapters.  
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate
    Synopsis:  What does it mean to be holy? Why should we care? And how can we change?  The hole in our holiness is that we don’t care much about holiness.  This is a book about God’s power to help us grow in personal holiness and to enjoy the process of transformation (Amazon review).
    Review:  Called by one reviewer "a wake-up call to God's people," this book deals with a critically important topic within the Church today - that "holiness" is seen and taught as being either unneeded, or optional, or even (in some circles) undesirable.  This flies in the face of what the Bible calls us to (1 Peter 1:16 - "You shall be holy, for I am holy!").  This book helps us to understand how God's grace in the Gospel itself leads us to long for a life lived by holiness.  This is a topic that we desperately need to read upon and discuss.  The end of the book has study questions for each chapter that can help with discussion.

  2. "The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert" by Rosaria Butterfield  
    Length:  208 pages, 5 chapters (plus extras).  
    Difficulty:  easy
    Synopsis:  This is a story about a life transformed by the power of Christ.  In it, we see a woman whose life was defined by a strong devotion and commitment to the lesbian lifestyle and it's accompanying worldview, and her transformation to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Review:  This is an excellent book for discussion, because of how it brings out important and relevant topics we need to be grappling with, but topics that we are prone to set aside as too difficult or too messy.  Throughout the book, Butterfield is honest and direct.  What is especially helpful, is how Butterfield brings us to think deeply about what salvation really is, and the difficult (and often messy) process by which the gospel brings us to fully submit our thoughts and lifestyle in obedience to Christ and His Word.  It's fascinating to see how this takes place in this woman's life, and to consider it's working in our own lives. In the book, Butterfield also helps us to struggle with many of the failures of today's Church to love and to minister the Gospel to people living certain "unsavory" lifestyles.  One Amazon reviewer interesting wrote:  "I struggled at times with this book. I got more of an education into Reformed Presbyterianism than I anticipated! In the end, however, I came to love the honesty and openness of the author as she embraced her new relationship with Christ and his church."

  3. "Unshakable" by Scott Oliphint & Rod Mays  
    Length:  154 pages, 5 chapters.  
    Difficulty:  moderate
    Synopsis:  How do we explain "the reason for the hope that is within us" (1 Peter 3:15) to a culture in which all truth claims are considered suspect?  The book helps us to understand the "unstable" culture within which we live, and to know how to bring the rock-solid truth of the gospel to it.
    Review:  We need to know how to take THE "Truth" to a world that has a difficult time understanding the concept of Truth.  Oliphint & Mays use John Newton's Hymn "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" to point to the firm ground upon which we stand as we live our lives in an ever-shifting culture.  This book helps us to know how to bring this unchanging message to the world that surrounds us today. The book is full of Scripture throughout, and it includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which can be helpful when meeting together to discuss the book.

  4. "AWE" by Paul David Tripp  
    Length:  208 pages, 13 chapters.  
    Difficulty:  easy to moderate
    Synopsis:  As those made in the Image of God, we have the capacity to experience Awe, yet our sin draws us away from the glory of our Creator to find "awe" in everything else.  This book was written to help us to spend more time gazing upon the Glory of the Lord in all areas of our lives.
    Review:  A good book for fairly light reading together.  This book is helpful for getting to the root of spiritual issues in our lives.  The subtitle is - "Awe:  Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say, & Do."  One of the very helpful things Tripp does, is he takes a look at areas in our lives in which we often struggle (e.g. marriage, various temptations, boredom, anger, fear, etc.) and shows how they relate to a failure to see & know God's glory.