Ivan Mesa's Bookshelf

Books . Movies . Music . More
Ivan Mesa's Bookshelf
Ivan Mesa's Bookshelf
Books . Movies . Music . More

Ivan Mesa

Editor

My Current Favorites

Five books, movies, or songs influencing me now
The Work of the Pastor
The Work of the Pastor
by William Still
WHY I LIKE IT
William Still (1911-1997) faithfully pastored at Gilconston South Church of Scotland, Aberdeen, for over fifty years. Remarkable! This is a short but powerful little book filled with time-tested convictions of a faithful man of God. His purpose is clear: "The thesis is that the pastor, being the shepherd of the flock, feeds the flock upon God's Word; the bulk of pastoral work is therefore through the ministry of the Word" (11). I can't recommend this book enough! It'll renew your commitment to the preaching of the Word.
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
by Timothy Keller
WHY I LIKE IT
This is the kind of book that invites multiple re-readings since we never master prayer. Keller showed me how cold I often am before the Lord (seen in an impoverished and anemic prayer life), but he also pastorally pointed to a better way to truly experience "awe and intimacy" with God. Frequently I was compelled to close the book, apply its rich truths, and seek the Lord in secret—and with God’s people. If it has the same effect on others, I think Keller—and the Lord—will be pleased.
A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir
A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir
by Thomas C. Oden
WHY I LIKE IT
I honestly thought this book would be a bore—some garden-variety, poorly written, and sentimental autobiography—but it instead captivated me. Aside from a certain ecumenical flair (he was one of the original signatories of ECT), I love everything about this book and this man's heart. It's not uncommon, but I finished it with tears in my eyes. A moving and beautiful book.

My Essentials

My all-time favorite books, movies and music
A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
by John Piper
WHY I LIKE IT
Not one of Piper's most known books but definitely one that underscored the role of prayer (and fasting) in the Christian life.
Memoir and Remains of R.M. M'Cheyne
Memoir and Remains of R.M. M'Cheyne
by Andrew Bonar
WHY I LIKE IT
However much the word "holiness" is derided or misunderstood in our day, it is no understatement to claim that Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a man of holiness. Although he only lived to about the age of 28, his years were full as he sought above all else to please and live for Christ. Written three years after his death by his good friend Andrew Bonar, these memoirs (largely based on M'Cheyne's journals and sermons) are deeply encouraging and provide a glimpse at an imperfect, yet faithful, man of God. And how desperately the Church needs more men and women like him: men and women who tremble before God, aware of their own inadequacy, yet at the same time aware of Christ and his perfect righteousness that comes by faith.
The Hobbit
The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien
WHY I LIKE IT
My biography—or the Hobbit I'd like to be.
Jayber Crow
Jayber Crow
by Wendell Berry
Hannah Coulter
Hannah Coulter
by Wendell Berry
Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 Volume Set)
Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 Volume Set)
by John Calvin
The Christian Ministry: With an Inquiry Into the Causes of Its Inefficiency (Classic Reprint)
The Christian Ministry: With an Inquiry Into the Causes of Its Inefficiency (Classic Reprint)
by Charles Bridges
The Gospel According to the Apostles
The Gospel According to the Apostles
by John F. MacArthur
WHY I LIKE IT
One of the first books I read as a Christian. Crystallized in my mind the biblical teaching on faith and sanctification.
The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life
The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life
by A. W. Tozer
Preaching and Preachers
Preaching and Preachers
by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
WHY I LIKE IT
Classic.
A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life
A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life
by J. I. Packer
WHY I LIKE IT
A vision that still resonates deep in my soul.
On the Incarnation: Saint Athanasius (Popular Patristics)
On the Incarnation: Saint Athanasius (Popular Patristics)
by Saint Athanasius
Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)
Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)
by Saint Augustine
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
WHY I LIKE IT
Slim but powerful book.
George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival - Volume I
George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival - Volume I
by Arnold A. Dallimore
WHY I LIKE IT
I frequently wept reading this book. Like Don Carson, I remember thinking, "Oh God, do it again!"
The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings
The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien
WHY I LIKE IT
Yes, yes, yes!
Knowing God
Knowing God
by J. I. Packer
WHY I LIKE IT
One of the most formative books in my life.
By J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
By J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
by -Arthur A. Levine Books-
WHY I LIKE IT
My favorite of the HP series.
East of Eden (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)
East of Eden (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)
by John Steinbeck
WHY I LIKE IT
Began this in 2011, finished two years later. What a book! Steinback considered it his greatest work: "I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this." This saga is semi-biographical in nature and it is also an extended meditation on the story of Cain and Abel, taking the title from Genesis 4:16: "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the Land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (KJV). A key theme that pervades the story revolves moral ability and choice between good and evil — "timshel"! Loved, loved this novel.
A Heart for Missions: Memoir of Samuel Pearce
A Heart for Missions: Memoir of Samuel Pearce
by Andrew Fuller
WHY I LIKE IT
God greatly used this book to awaken and renew my affections for the Lord. There is so much good in this book. I was strengthened in my resolve to wholeheartedly give of myself do His Kingdom work in this short, vaporous life of mine.
Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Redesign)
Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Redesign)
by John Owen
WHY I LIKE IT
One of the few theology books that I routinely read. "Be killing sin or it will be killing you."
The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
by Timothy Keller
WHY I LIKE IT
One of the best books on marriage I've read. Packed with wisdom.
The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982
The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982
by Wendell Berry
WHY I LIKE IT
Love Berry's poems.
What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done
What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done
by Matthew Perman
WHY I LIKE IT
Easily one of the best books I've read on productivity, connecting theology with getting things done. There are so many take-aways, sections I plan on reviewing again, and acronyms that are both memorable and useful: D.A.R.E. (Define, Architect, Reduce, Execute) and D.E.A.D. (Delegate, Eliminate, Automate, Defer). I cannot commend this book highly enough!
The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
by Albert Mohler
WHY I LIKE IT
A must read for anyone involved in leadership of any kind. Mohler blends the best of the leadership genre (and there's a lot!) with solid Christian underpinnings. More than honing administrative skills, Mohler wants to develop leaders with "convictional intelligence," leaders with deep-seated Christian conviction that comes only by mastery of Bible and mature Christian doctrine: “For the Christian leaders, those convictions must be drawn from the Bible and must take the shape of the gospel."
The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)
The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)
by Peter F. Drucker
WHY I LIKE IT
Classic leadership book.
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
 
WHY I LIKE IT
A book that just keeps on giving, guiding me in prayer when I have none to utter.
Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy
Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy
by Carlos Eire
WHY I LIKE IT
One of my all-time favorite books! I cried, laughed, and longed for a Cuba I've always loved yet never known. (Disclaimer: it does contain a share of crude humor and language.)
Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith
Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith
by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
WHY I LIKE IT
Here's a story of a tenured-lesbian-English-professor turned Reformed-Presbyterian-pastor's-wife. It is a fascinating book, and it tells a fascinating story of grace, grace in the life of an "unlikely convert."
Gilead: A Novel
Gilead: A Novel
by Marilynne Robinson
WHY I LIKE IT
A deeply moving piece of fiction! I read this book once a year, if not more.
Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life
Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life
by D. A. Carson,John D. Woodbridge
WHY I LIKE IT
One book I read in college was neither assigned nor recommended, but I came across it 'randomly' in the library and it changed my life. D.A. Carson and John Woodbridge wrote a novel which presents a fictional series of letters spanning a few decades from a older seminary professor ("Paul Woodson") to a young new believer ("Timothy Journeyman"). I cannot say enough good things about this book. While it's not one of Carson's best known works, I have found it to be one of his most helpful and encouraging, covering issues as wide-ranging as inerrancy, building a library, pastoral time management, academia, prayer, and pluralism. Every seminary student should read this!
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand
WHY I LIKE IT
This is the kind of book you begin reading and can’t put down. Louie Zamperini’s story, retold here, is an epic story you’ll probably never forget. All at once you see the depravity of man and the beauty and wonder of conversion. Hillenbrand has the amazing ability of taking a story and weaving it into such a powerful, forward-moving prose. I wrote about his conversion here: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/broken-louie-zamperini

My Bookshelf Archive

my archived books, movies, music, and more
Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
by N. D. Wilson
WHY I LIKE IT
N.D. Wilson writes with Chestertonian joy. I'm devouring this book with rapturous exultation. Highly, highly recommend it! Few books have so moved me as this one.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by J.K. Rowling
The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith
The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith
by Matthew Lee Anderson
WHY I LIKE IT
Important book on an often ignored reality.
The Pastor: A Memoir
The Pastor: A Memoir
by Eugene H. Peterson
WHY I LIKE IT
Eugene Peterson's blend of ecumenism and mysticism is problematic and often irritating. He has no problem associating in his "company of pastors" with Christian and Jew and from conservative to liberal. He praises Reformers like Luther and Calvin while then embracing the dangerous, experience-based mysticism of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. That said, his insights into Scripture and pastoral ministry are refreshing and spot on as he counters the commercialization of American Christianity. In this, his words are prophetic and needed in today's church culture.
The Future of History
The Future of History
by John Lukacs
WHY I LIKE IT
Recently Dr. Michael Haykin introduced our Church History class to author and historian, John Lukacs. I'm glad he did. I've yet to read any of his actual books of history (Five Days in London, The Legacy of the Second War, and thirty others!), but I thoroughly enjoyed this little volume where he reflects on his profession, both its past and future, and especially on the need to see the teaching and writing of history as literature. It's a great book that captures the wisdom of a seasoned scholar.
Unfriend Yourself: Three Days to Detox, Discern, and Decide About Social Media
Unfriend Yourself: Three Days to Detox, Discern, and Decide About Social Media
by Kyle Tennant
WHY I LIKE IT
"[T]his is not a book about how Facebook is evil; it is a book about thinking." This little book has made me reevaluate my use of social media, recognize the inherent dangers, guard my heart against sinful self-promotion, and cultivate the real relationships that matter face-to-face.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
WHY I LIKE IT
Learned a lot by reading this book, especially about the inner workings of Lincoln's cabinet.
A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies)
A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies)
by Calvin R. Stapert
WHY I LIKE IT
Love this book.
Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fullness of Life with God
Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fullness of Life with God
by J. I. Packer
WHY I LIKE IT
Aside from a few ecumenical-leaning portions (e.g., holding up Teresa of Avila and Mother Teresa as paragons of Christian experience), this is an important work on sanctification for the modern evangelical church. I would also commend Packer's work on J.C. Ryle's "Holiness"; the first half of the book is Packer's intro on Ryle and the latter half is Ryle's classic written over a hundred years ago in his battle with the Keswick movement in England (the "let go and let God" approach to holiness).
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga)
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga)
by Andrew Peterson
Thoughts for Young Men
Thoughts for Young Men
by J. C. Ryle
WHY I LIKE IT
This book is a short yet passionate plea of a man in the latter years of life to young men. Though written about a hundred years ago, this booklet is full of truths that are no less relevant today.
My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer
My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer
by Christian Wiman
WHY I LIKE IT
I don't know what to do with Christian Wiman's "My Bright Abyss." So much poetic beauty, so much religious confusion.
Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace
Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace
by Heath Lambert
WHY I LIKE IT
First book I'd use for a men's Bible study or accountability group.
Luthers Theology of Music (Theologische Bibliothek Topelmann)
Luthers Theology of Music (Theologische Bibliothek Topelmann)
by Miikka E. Anttila
WHY I LIKE IT
For Luther, "Music is a gift of God and not human beings. It makes souls happy, it drives away the devil, and it creates an innocent joy."
Studies in Matthew: Interpretation Past and Present
Studies in Matthew: Interpretation Past and Present
by Dale C. Jr. Allison
WHY I LIKE IT
One of my favorite books read in seminary. Insofar Allison stays close to the text, his observations are brilliant. His writing is clear, even beautiful. His mastery of secondary literature is impressive but not overwhelming or off-putting. And his exegetical insights are eye-opening. Read with a tinge of healthy discernment, this book will change how you read Matthew and the Gospels in general.
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
by D. A. Carson
WHY I LIKE IT
I cannot say enough good about this book. Read it!
Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions
Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions
by John Piper
Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Resources for Changing Lives)
Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Resources for Changing Lives)
by Paul David Tripp
WHY I LIKE IT
As I read Tripp’s book, I could not help but pick up on the pastoral tone with which he communicates. There’s an evident love for the Word of God and for people as one reads, which is instructive for me as I seek to minister to others.
Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts
Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts
by Jerry Bridges
WHY I LIKE IT
Everything Bridges writes is full of pastoral warmth and practical encouragement for living the Christian life.
Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies) by Stapert, Calvin R. [01 November 2010]
Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies) by Stapert, Calvin R. [01 November 2010]
 
WHY I LIKE IT
No better guide than Calvin Stapert to walk through this famous oratorio.
Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan
Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan
by Del Quentin Wilber
WHY I LIKE IT
A minute-by-minute account of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. I could not put it down.
Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy
Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy
by Paul C. Gutjahr
WHY I LIKE IT
Excellent read! Concise chapters, engaging style, meticulous research, edifying subject, and powerful life. "Posterity might remember Hodge for his magnificent mind, but for those who knew him best, what set him apart was his even-more-magnificent heart."
Trinity, Revelation, and Reading: A Theological Introduction to the Bible and its Interpretation
Trinity, Revelation, and Reading: A Theological Introduction to the Bible and its Interpretation
by Scott R. Swain
WHY I LIKE IT
This slim academic book is gold. It is well written and conversant with a wide-ranging collection of ancient and contemporary theologians (Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Owen, Barth, Bavinck, Vanhoozer, Webster, Gentry, Peterson, et al.). His discussion on the inspiration, clarity, and sufficiency of Scripture is grounded and precise.
Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life
Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life
by Douglas Wilson
WHY I LIKE IT
Yes.
Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything
Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything
by Steve DeWitt
WHY I LIKE IT
This book deserves all the praise it has received. The final line sums the book: "Like a bread-crumb trail, earthly beauty chaperones us on a path to 'see' the beauty of Christ, for His beauty to lead to wonder, and for wonder to lead us to a life of worship." Amen and amen!
On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis
On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis
by Louis Markos
WHY I LIKE IT
I love everything about this book.
The Writer Who Stayed
The Writer Who Stayed
by William Zinsser
WHY I LIKE IT
I began reading William Zinsser's "The Writer Who Stayed" (a collection of essays published in the American Scholar) to pick up some writing tips; but I picked up infinitely more. I strongly recommend anyone interested in good and powerful writing to read this book.
The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith?
The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith?
by John MacArthur
WHY I LIKE IT
Classic on the Lordship salvation debate that raged in the 80s and 90s. The debate has morphed today and so it is still a timely and needed book.
Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction
Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction
by Jonathan T. Pennington
WHY I LIKE IT
The marks of a good book: it's well-written, thought-provoking, and a conversation-starter long after you finish the last page. I don't agree with everything in this book but I have been challenged and encouraged to look at the Gospels anew and, especially, to approach them with a posture of humility and a desire for Christlikeness — in short, then, to read the Gospels wisely.
Dangerous Calling (Paperback Edition): Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry
Dangerous Calling (Paperback Edition): Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry
by Paul David Tripp
WHY I LIKE IT
A 'must-read' for anyone in ministry and a reminder that pastors are in desperate need of the same gospel grace they offer to others. This is the kind of book that was both written in tears and read in tears. Extremely convicting and exposing, yet at the same time an assuring balm.
Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church (Foundations of Evangelical Theology)
Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church (Foundations of Evangelical Theology)
by Gregg R. Allison
WHY I LIKE IT
The church, Allison argues, is (1) doxological, (2) logocentric, (3) pneumadynamic, (4) covenantal, (5) confessional, (6) missional, (7) spatio-temporal/eschatological. He unpacks each these in a helpful and logical manner.
Calvin's Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology)
Calvin's Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology)
by Scott M. Manetsch
WHY I LIKE IT
I think every pastor, at whatever stage, will find great encouragement from this academic work. Every pastor should be well grounded in his knowledge of history, and what better era than Calvin's Geneva. This is one of my favorite books I've read this year.
Is God anti-gay? (Questions Christians Ask)
Is God anti-gay? (Questions Christians Ask)
by Sam Allberry
WHY I LIKE IT
This is a pastorally wise, clear, and timely book. "It sounds clunky to describe myself as 'someone who experiences same-sex attraction'. But describing myself like this is a way for me to recognize that the kind of sexual attractions I experience are not fundamental to my identity. They are part of *what I feel* but are not *who I am* in a fundamental sense. I am far more than my sexuality" (10-11).
Bonhoeffer's Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together
Bonhoeffer's Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together
by Paul R. House
WHY I LIKE IT
What a breath of fresh air.
What Did You Expect? (Redesign): Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
What Did You Expect? (Redesign): Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
by Paul David Tripp
WHY I LIKE IT
Extremely practical, convicting, and helpful!
Written in Tears: A Grieving Father's Journey Through Psalm 103
Written in Tears: A Grieving Father's Journey Through Psalm 103
by Luke Veldt
WHY I LIKE IT
Written in tears. And I read it in tears.
Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
by John Piper
WHY I LIKE IT
Refusing an either-or separation of intellect and feeling, of passion and knowledge, this book calls on Christians to engage their minds in the pursuit of loving God. A challenging book that has required me to think, this has become one of my favorite books by Piper.
How Google Works
How Google Works
by Eric Schmidt,Jonathan Rosenberg
WHY I LIKE IT
Tolerate a little Google braggadocio and you'll read a book brimming with insight on leadership, technology, productivity, management, and overall good life lessons.