Matt Smethurst's Bookshelf

Books . Movies . Music . More
Matt Smethurst's Bookshelf
Matt Smethurst's Bookshelf
Books . Movies . Music . More

Matt Smethurst

Managing Editor

My Current Favorites

Five books, movies, or songs influencing me now
3 2 1: The Story of God, the World and You
3 2 1: The Story of God, the World and You
by Glen Scrivener
WHY I LIKE IT
The best street-level introduction to the Christian story I've ever encountered in book form. Scrivener has a remarkable way with words. If you want the good news of grace to land on you in a fresh and compelling way, read this book. Then buy a copy for a non-Christian friend. Here are my favorite 20 quotes: http://bit.ly/2sm15ra
The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation
The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation
by Michael Reeves
WHY I LIKE IT
If I could only recommend one book on the Reformation to read during this 500th anniversary year, this would be it.
Hellhound on His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History
Hellhound on His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History
by Hampton Sides
WHY I LIKE IT
April 4, 2018 will mark 50 years since James Earl Ray shot and killed Dr. King at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. 'Hellhound on His Trail' recounts King's final weeks, his assassination, and the ensuing manhunt—the largest in U.S. history—in a spellbinding manner. I learned a lot. Couldn't put it down. The Gospel Coalition invites you to a one-night anniversary event celebrating King's legacy next April. Details here: http://mlk50conference.com
Hammer of God
Hammer of God
by Bo Giertz
WHY I LIKE IT
Ever since reading this article (http://bit.ly/2sma3pv), I've wanted to read this novel. I'm glad I did. It is an insightful, well-written exploration of the human condition and the radicalness of grace.
Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
by Neal Bascomb
WHY I LIKE IT
The Nazi architect of the "Final Solution" to exterminate Jews evaded justice for 15 years before being hunted down in Argentina. A sobering and fascinating read.

My Essentials

My all-time favorite books, movies and music
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
by Candice Millard
WHY I LIKE IT
I didn't know any of this history. Our 20th president, James Garfield, was an exceptional man.
None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing)
None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing)
by Jen Wilkin
WHY I LIKE IT
Practically insightful and beautifully written, this book often moved me to worship.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
by Isabel Wilkerson
WHY I LIKE IT
When Andy Crouch tweets, “The best book I’ve read so far this year: essential for understanding race in America—or America, full stop,” I pay attention. Sure enough, Wilkerson’s historical journalism proved haunting, illuminating, and deserving of the word “masterpiece.”
The Cross of Christ
The Cross of Christ
by John Stott
Knowing God
Knowing God
by J. I. Packer
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
 
Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus (9Marks: Building Healthy Churches)
Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus (9Marks: Building Healthy Churches)
by Jonathan Leeman
WHY I LIKE IT
Church membership can feel boring, secondary, extrabiblical, and unimportant. Aren't there plenty of more pressing things to talk about? Not really, Leeman demonstrates. In just 132 pages, he unfolds a clear and compelling case for submitting our lives to King Jesus by submitting to his earthly bride. This book is a concise goldmine.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
by Jonathan Haidt
WHY I LIKE IT
Deeply illuminating and helpful for understanding our cultural moment, this book is basically about what the subtitle says. Haidt is exploring the motivations and reasons behind our ideological disagreements. Haidt is a secular liberal who taught moral psychology at UVA and now teaches in Manhattan. Years ago he set out to determine why conservatives are so irrational and, in the process, came to realize they are actually operating out of a far "thicker" moral foundation. Whereas liberals tend to view morality through only two lenses (harm and fairness), conservatives tend to assess morality through these and other lenses (like loyalty, authority, and sanctity). A two-foundation morality versus a five- or six-foundation morality, in other words. Haidt also offers trenchant insight into how to persuade those who don't already agree with you. Channeling Hume, he contends that our moral reasoning serves our intuitions, not the reverse. Our moral reasoning acts less like an impartial judge and more like a press secretary employed to justify what we're already inclined to believe. To persuade, then, we have to learn to appeal to and capture people's imaginations. I finally read the book since (1) I'd heard Tim Keller reference it for years, (2) Collin Hansen swears by it, and (3) I saw Russell Moore call it "the most important book in years." It is indeed worth your time. Haidt is a refreshingly fair-minded secular liberal who, in some ways, seems not far from the kingdom.
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West
by Blaine Harden
WHY I LIKE IT
It was 2005. No one born and raised in a North Korean prison camp had ever escaped. That was about to change. In this New York Times bestseller, journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk's ghastly experiences in bondage and miraculous escape to freedom. The book opened my eyes to many dehumanizing horrors occurring even as I type these words, and it impelled me to cry out to the God of astounding mercy and unflinching justice.
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
The Compelling Community: Where God's Power Makes a Church Attractive (9Marks)
The Compelling Community: Where God's Power Makes a Church Attractive (9Marks)
by Mark Dever,Jamie Dunlop
WHY I LIKE IT
As a former member of Dever and Dunlop’s church, I can testify that the “body life” there is unique. It is thick and vibrant, laced with life and joy. I learned so much from these seasoned pastors in this book.
Letters of John Newton
Letters of John Newton
by John Newton

My Bookshelf Archive

my archived books, movies, music, and more
Jonah
Jonah
by O. Palmer Robertson
WHY I LIKE IT
I picked up this little book since I'm preparing to preach four sermons on Jonah in August. I wasn't disappointed. Robertson is a masterful teacher with a particular knack for application.
Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles: A Case for Gender Roles in Ministry (Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry)
Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles: A Case for Gender Roles in Ministry (Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry)
by Kathy Keller
WHY I LIKE IT
Complementarianism is not just true; it's also, when lived out rightly, beautiful and good. In this booklet Tim Keller's wife, Kathy, makes this case. Can be read in one sitting.
The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World's Most Notorious Atheist
The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World's Most Notorious Atheist
by Larry Alex Taunton
WHY I LIKE IT
I'm not sure the last time I remember a book so widely gushed about.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J. D. Vance
WHY I LIKE IT
A personal and deeply illuminating window into poor white America. This is a good book to read in conjunction with Barbara Ehrenreich's 'Nickel and Dimed.'
Don't Fire Your Church Members: The Case for Congregationalism
Don't Fire Your Church Members: The Case for Congregationalism
by Jonathan Leeman
WHY I LIKE IT
Rather than merely citing an array of prooftexts, Leeman does biblical theology to answer the eminently practical question: To whom has King Jesus given final authority over a local church? (Hint: it's neither a bishop, a denomination, a presbytery, nor an elder board.)
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson
WHY I LIKE IT
Eye-opening and moving.
Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
by Michael O. Emerson,Christian Smith
WHY I LIKE IT
A friend I trust encouraged me to read this a couple months ago. Obviously relevant to life in 2016 America.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
by Erik Larson
For the Glory: Eric Liddell's Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr
For the Glory: Eric Liddell's Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr
by Duncan Hamilton
WHY I LIKE IT
I'm excited to learn about the life and faith of Eric Liddell, the Olympic athlete of 'Chariots of Fire' fame.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larson
WHY I LIKE IT
Larson's historical journalism is an exercise in page-turning mastery.
Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism
Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism
by Timothy Keller
Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life
Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life
by Robert N. Bellah,Richard Madsen,William M. Sulliva
WHY I LIKE IT
A fascinating analysis of how "expressive individualism" in America was birthed and has gained such cultural sway.
All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
WHY I LIKE IT
Beautifully written historical fiction. I don't think I've encountered chapters this short since Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code.' So even though it's 531 pages, the book reads far more quickly than it looks.
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
WHY I LIKE IT
This is the most challenging book I've ever read on pastoral ministry.
Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel
Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel
by Russell D. Moore
Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ
Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ
by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
by Jon Krakauer
Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Laura Hillenbrand
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers: The Story of Success
Outliers: The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich
WHY I LIKE IT
A fascinating and eye-opening look at the lives of the working poor. I've never looked at a hotel maid or grocery clerk the same.
Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity
by C. S. Lewis
What's Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions
What's Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions
by James N. Anderson
Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me
Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me
by Kevin DeYoung
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
by J. I. Packer
Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds
Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds
by Jen Wilkin
40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible (40 Questions & Answers Series)
40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible (40 Questions & Answers Series)
by Robert Plummer
Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)
Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)
by J. K. Rowling
WHY I LIKE IT
I'm not ashamed.
A Pastor's Sketches - Two Volumes in One: Conversations with anxious inquirers respecting the way of Salvation
A Pastor's Sketches - Two Volumes in One: Conversations with anxious inquirers respecting the way of Salvation
by Mr Ichabod S Spencer
WHY I LIKE IT
A vastly underrated manual for evangelistic engagement, pastoral counseling, and Christian ministry.
The Bruised Reed (Puritan Paperbacks)
The Bruised Reed (Puritan Paperbacks)
by Richard Sibbes
WHY I LIKE IT
"There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us." This book is saturated with such gems.
Christian Ministry
Christian Ministry
by Charles Bridges
WHY I LIKE IT
Perhaps the most stirring and challenging book on pastoral ministry I've ever read.
From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology
From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology
by T. Desmond Alexander
WHY I LIKE IT
An underrated introduction to the entire storyline of Scripture.
A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life
A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life
by Joel R. Beeke,Mark Jones
WHY I LIKE IT
Beeke and Jones have given us a substantial gift. Covering more than 50 areas of doctrine, highlighting the work of numerous theologians, and concluding with an exploration of Puritan “theology in practice,” this inaugural Puritan systematic theology is a truly remarkable achievement.
God's Kingdom through God's Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology
God's Kingdom through God's Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology
by Peter J. Gentry,Stephen J. Wellum
WHY I LIKE IT
Gentry and Wellum carve a new path between dispensational and covenant theology, having concluded that neither hermeneutical approach is sufficiently informed by biblical theology. Regardless of where you land, this is a groundbreaking contribution to discussions about the intersection of exegesis, biblical theology, and systematic theology.
Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon
by Tom J. Nettles
WHY I LIKE IT
Spurgeon is history's most widely read preacher outside of Scripture. It's estimated he preached to more than 10 million people during his lifetime. A 15-year project in the making, this book distills in 700 pages the Prince of Preacher's life, ministry, and theology. According to one decent preacher, it'll be the “standard for a long time.”
The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments
The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments
by Thomas R. Schreiner
WHY I LIKE IT
Schreiner, who's already written a Pauline theology and a New Testament theology, has recently gifted us with a whole-Bible theology. With scholarly care and pastoral clarity, he traces the storyline of Scripture through all 66 books, demonstrating that the goal of God's kingdom is to see the king in his beauty and be enraptured in his glory.
How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor
How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor
by James K. A. Smith
Is God anti-gay? (Questions Christians Ask)
Is God anti-gay? (Questions Christians Ask)
by Sam Allberry
WHY I LIKE IT
This is a sensitive, careful, brave book. Allberry, who himself struggles with same-sex attraction, has done us all a service by writing a brief and accessible primer on a contentious topic. His engagement with commonly debated texts and street-level objections is a model of exegetical clarity and pastoral warmth.
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
by Timothy Keller
WHY I LIKE IT
A vibrant prayer life is often grueling and rarely convenient. It’s hard-won. And it’s absolutely worth it. In his latest book, Keller distills decades of experience and biblical wisdom into a theologically informed, practically shaped guide for life on our knees. Blending sociological, theological, devotional, and methodological insights, the TGC co-founder has produced a gift for anyone desiring to “gaze upon the beauty of the LORD” (Ps. 27:4), petition him with humble boldness, and watch him respond with infinitely wise love.
Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics
Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics
by Ross Douthat
WHY I LIKE IT
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat is one of my favorite public thinkers. In this book he argues that “America's problem isn't too much religion, or too little of it. It's bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional Christianity and the rise of a variety of destructive pseudo-Christianities in its place.” This is a uniquely perceptive work for understanding our nation's current cultural and religious climate.
Michael Jordan: The Life
Michael Jordan: The Life
by Roland Lazenby
WHY I LIKE IT
The most definitive MJ biography to date, Lazenby’s 700-page masterpiece reveals stories and insights even long-time fans have never heard. He reflects on the superstar’s life and legacy, revealing the tragic union of professional greatness with profound emptiness. 'Michael Jordan: The Life' fills out that sobering paradox in far greater detail. May God interrupt my childhood hero’s life with grace.
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World
by James Davison Hunter
The Great Divorce
The Great Divorce
by C. S. Lewis