Justin Taylor over at TheGospelCoalition.org asked me and the other women who spoke at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference last month what we would recommend to conference attendees for further reading. Here’s what I suggested. You can also read book recommendations by Nancy Guthrie, Jenny Salt, Carrie Sandom, and Kathleen Nielson here. Enjoy!
With a different audience, I might offer suggestions that would stimulate women to love the Lord with more of their mind. However, my observation of the TGCW audience is that many of these women are already engaged in that pursuit. Hence, my encouragement would be to read books that help them love the Lord with more of their heart. Of course, there is value in reading books to stimulate both the heart and the mind. However, as this young-ish crowd ages (particularly those who will have multiple children), their available time for reading will likely be curtailed for a season and they will have to be highly selective. That being the case, I would encourage them to be sure to include:
Reading, meditation, and memorization of Scripture
I do not assume this is a given. I asked 500-600 women in a breakout session at TGCW how many would say they do not currently have a consistent devotional habit. As is the case anywhere/everywhere I have ever asked this question (including groups of Bible study leaders, pastors’ wives, etc.), some 90% of the women in the room raised a hand in response. I don’t think we can stress this enough. It is His Word that gives life, and far too many believers, even those in vocational ministry, are malnourished from want of sufficient intake of Scripture. If you don’t have time to read anything else, read this Book!
Quality devotional literature
Some of my favorites:
- Spurgeon’s Chequebook of the Bank of Faith
- The Valley of Vision
- Elisabeth Elliot has several devotional books
- Fenelon, The Seeking Heart, Letters to Women
- Cowman, Streams in the Desert
- Thomas Watson
- William Gurnall
- Oswald Chambers
- John Piper’s The Godward Life, Vol I & II.
These provide fuel to keep my heart warm; they make me more receptive and responsive to the Word and the Spirit.
Biographies of (mostly dead) people who loved and served Jesus with all their heart
- Hudson Taylor
- George Mueller
- Gladys Aylward
- Isobel Kuhn
- Lilias Trotter
- Mary Slessor
- Helen Roseveare
- Amy Carmichael
. . . to name a few. These have had (and continue to have) a huge impact on my life.
Note: Noel Piper's Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God is a great introduction to a number of these women.
Sermons of anointed preachers/pastors who proclaim(ed) the Word with hearts aflame
These help me meditate on and better understand Scripture, while “taking it home” to the heart and life. Recently, I have been blessed by reading many of Spurgeon’s collected sermons on the Song of Solomon (The Most Holy Place).
As I said in my message at TGCW, “Sound theology should always lead to doxology and transformation.” I try to have a steady diet of books that help cultivate sound, biblical thinking and press me to worship and life transformation.
What books have helped you love the Lord with more of your heart (or mind)?