A Ministry of First Baptist Church Elyria OH

     First Baptist Church - Elyria, Ohio
Tap To Call


The Value of Books

The following is information has been shared to this site by: Maynard H. Belt


Let’s Talk About Books!

“Bring…the books!”(II Timothy 4:13).  These were some of Paul’s last words to Timothy. If books were not important they would not have been on his “wish” list.  Someone said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”  Solomon wisely said, “Of making many books there is no end and much study is wearisome to the flesh”(Eccl. 12:12). 



Inspirational Writings


1.     Walking with the Giants; Listening to the Giants, Giant Steps,Warren W. Wiersbe, Baker Publishers – (the first two are out of print but available through Abebooks.com.  The in print edition, Living with the Giants, is a combination of the first two titles covering only the lives of great men of faith, not the very helpful books recommended in the first two volumes).


2.     The Valley of Vision, a Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust. You will keep this small volume right next to your Bible.  These are men who walked tall with God and revealed it in their communion with Him.  The leather-bound edition is a keepsake and once read, you will want to share it with others.


3.     Series by S.D. Gordon on “Quiet Talks.”  Quiet Talks on Service, Prayer, Power, About Jesus.   May find as free app on Nook/Kindle/I-Pad.  The writings of S.D. Gordon are little known today but will take you time and again into the quiet presence of God and His desire that we be holy and separated unto Him.


4.     Read the Hymnbook!  Gadsby’s Hymns (Gospel Standard Societies); Worship in Song Pocket Hymnal (Lillenas Publishing Company).  There is something about reading the hymns in quietness without the accompaniment of music that draws you into heavenly solitude, and often renewed repentance.


5.     One Year Book of Christian History, a Daily Glimpse into God’s Powerful Work, Michael & Sharon Rusten, Tyndale Publishers.  All believers should acquaint themselves with God’s workings in the lives of His saints and His church throughout the centuries.  This volume will give you daily glimpses of God’s powerful works in the lives of such people as John Harper who shared the gospel message with passengers on the sinking Titanic; Jonathan Edwards and the day he rocked New England with his famous sermon on “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.;” Martin Luther and how God destined him to change the course of history through the posting of his 95 theses leading to the Protestant revolt from Roman Catholicism.


6.     Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers,Hendrickson Publishers.  Acts 1:8 states that “You will be my witnesses.”  Following the days of the apostles, God raised up another group of men to proclaim and protest the “faith” from the constant winds of errant doctrines.  These men faced opposition, persecution and sometimes death for their defense of the Gospel.  But through their witness the church extended its roots into the entire world.  If men like Luther, Calvin, Wesley and others profited from their writings, certainly we also should welcome them into our lives giving praise for their boldness and faithfulness to truth.  In the back of the book you will find brief biographies of each of the thirty-nine church fathers featured.


7.     This Day in Baptist History, Thompson & Cummins, BJU Press, highlights great events in Baptist history (one for each day of the year) which have been conspicuously tucked away in the annals of time.  It speaks of changed lives, unshakeable faith in adverse circumstances and the bold stand many took, some at the cost of their lives, for biblical truth.  Not only devotional, theological and historical in content, but also a strong defense of Baptist doctrine.


8.     The Pursuit of God,A.W. Tozer, Christian Publications – a modest attempt to aid God’s hungry children so to find Him.  Truly a treatise on Psalm 42:1: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”


9.     Profiles in Reformed Spirituality:  Christ is All, the Piety of Horatius Bonar; A Consuming Fire, the Piety of Alexander Whyte; Trading and Thriving in Godliness, The Piety of George Swinnock.  Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapids, MI.    These brief devotional writings are excerpts from expanded works on submission and holiness before God by Bonar); Whyte (noted author of Whyte’s Bible Characters and an illegitimate child who became a pulpit prince); and Swinnock (swallowed up in life studying and living in the presence of God and swallowed up in death at his peak in writing and preaching @ age 46).   


10.  On Being a Servant of God, Warren W. Wiersbe, Baker Books – a Classic on the biblical pattern of true ministry following the example of Jesus.  Wiersbe in his introduction states that these 30 chats are for ministers spelled with a small “m,” as well as all who should be involved in “full-time Christian living.”  In other words, every believer should be a servant and every servant should read this book.


11.  On Being a Leader for God, Warren W. Wiersbe, a “must” to be read by any who are in any type of spiritual leadership ministry.  Wiersbe states that every generation needs to discover and train new leaders.  Why?  Because the future isn’t what it used to be!  A companion volume to “On Being a Servant of God,” and seeks to present a practical “theology of leadership” based upon biblical principles.



Devotional Readings


1.     My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, Discovery House Publishers.  Born in Scotland, ministered in Japan, America, England and died at age 43 while a chaplain serving British Commonwealth troops in Egypt.  You must go through it at least once, and if you do, you will always keep this devotional nearby. This volume will help you to grow downward in humility and upward in adoration and praise of the Savior.


2.     Awake My heart,J. Sidlow Baxter, Kregel Publishers.  Each page is a Bible study in itself.  This volume will not only inspire but give a fountain of ideas for preaching and teaching.  Very unlike other daily devotionals.  Born in Australia, Baxter attended Spurgeon’s Theological College in London; pastored in England and Scotland and traveled worldwide as a conference speaker.  His “Explore the Book” is one of best on synopsis of all 66 books of the Bible.  A “must have” for the serious student of Scripture.


3.     Day by Day with J.C. Ryle,Christian Heritage Publisher, devotionals taken from a number of his writings which have stayed in print over 100 years.  Endowed with gifted intelligence, his doctrinal teachings were even understandable to the person on the street.   If your heart is warmed by these devotionals you will want to purchase his 4 volume set on “Expository Thoughts on the Gospels.”  Available on Nook/Kindle for just pennies of its bookstore price!


4.     One Year Book of Poetry,Tyndale Publishers, 365 classic poems reflecting God’s majesty for everyday life.  These poems are complemented by selected Scriptures, devotional insights and introduction of their authors and their experiences with God.  John Keble and Christina Rossetti have become favorites.  Helpful index of poems, poets and topics.


5.     Take Heart,Daily Devotionals with the Church’s Great Preachers, Kregel Books, contains daily devotions from some of history’s greatest preachers and insights from their most thought-provoking sermons.  Soul searching, soul-stirring and many insightful helps for further study.


6.     Amazing Grace, 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Books, excellent for family devotions as well as information about authors of some of the greatest hymns ever written.  Includes Scripture texts also.  Osbeck’s earlier writings included volumes on “101 Hymn Stories,” and “101 More Hymn Stories.”


7.     Until He Comes, Daily Inspirations for Those Who Await the Savior, Calvin Miller, Broadman & Holman Publishers. One of the more gifted communicators of our day, Miller writes this devotional to encourage us by sharing thoughts from all four Gospels.  A treasury of assurance for all believers as we await the Lord’s return.  Many sermon ideas can be gleaned from this volume as it focuses on the life and ministry of Christ in the Gospels.


8.     The Red Sea Rules, the Same God Who Led You In Will Lead You Out!  Robert J. Morgan, Thomas Nelson.  This small but poignant volume gives 10 God-given strategies for difficult times.  Given to me by a friend knowing we had both been through “Red Sea” experiences, I cannot recommend it highly enough to encourage you during the boisterous billows of life and ministry.


9.     Beside Still Waters, Words of Comfort for the Soulby C. H. Spurgeon, Nelson Publishers.  Arranged in biblical order with texts from nearly every book of the Bible, Spurgeon carries us along the path of life with encouraging perspectives on God’s mercy, provision, projection and compassion.   Known as the prince of preachers, there was a dark side to Spurgeon’s life that often led him through deep depression and physical limitations while at the same time attempting (quite successfully I might add) to encourage his flock through a devastating plague of cholera, numerous deaths, and orphan life in his community.  What he preached to others was simply God’s Word for his own sorrows and struggles.  Spurgeon died at 58 years of age.  This is a must read, but you may not be able to read it on a regular basis.  Especially good for those going through difficult times and in need of a balm for their souls.  Includes a very helpful topical index.



Christian Biographies


1.     BONHOEFFER, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,Eric Metaxas. Thomas Nelson Publishers – The author said, “Who better to face the greatest evil of the 20th century than a humble man of faith?”  And that is exactly what Dietrich Bonhoeffer did until executed in 1945 (at age 39) for his attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  Well known for his classic book entitled, “The Cost of Discipleship,” this is a riveting account of a young life dedicated to Christ and the demise of Nazism.  A long, but worthwhile read.


2.     OSWALD CHAMBERS, Abandoned to God,The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest, David McCasland, Discovery House Publishers. Almost unbelievable that one can make such an impact and leave behind so much in writing and living only to be 43 years of age. This is more than a “once read.”  His mind was the mind of Christ and so are all of his writings.  I gave a copy of Chamber’s “Utmost” to a non-believing doctor who commented, “this is one of a very few books that has captured my attention.”  Readable, revealing and reprimanding.



3.     The Pursuit of God, the Life of A.W. Tozer, James Synder, Christian Publications.  Biographies of great writes and preachers need to be read and absorbed.  Noted revivalist Leonard Ravenhill stated that Tozer had an intimacy with God beyond any other man he had ever met.  Need more be said to entice you to read about the man just known as “Tozer?”


4.   Heavenly Springs, Andrew A. Bonar, paperback, Banner of Truth Trust.  Andrew Bonar was to devotional writing what his brother, Horatius, was to hymn-writing.  This volume gives devotional extracts of sermons and writings which will draw you into the presence of the Lord, just as it did Bonar.  A second paperback by daughter, Marjory Bonar, entitled “Andrew Bonar, the Good Pastor,” (Ambassador Press), relates more of the history and ministry of his life. His closest friend was Robert Murray M’Cheyne. Both books are inspirational reads.



5.     Matthew Henry, His Life and Influence, Allan Harman, Christian Focus.  Of course we know him as the author of Matthew Henry’s Commentary, but we don’t know the story of how much he accomplished for God’s glory despite suffering from ill-health and intense sorrow in his family life.  Take a stroll back in time and you will be humbled, challenged, inspired and motivated to “press on toward the goal,” in your walk with God.


6.     Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ,the Ministry Adventures of Tyndale, Judson and Paton, John Piper, Crossway Books.  Piper has written a series of biographies entitled,
The Swans Are Not Silent.”  This is volume five.  The entire series, preached at Pastors’ Conferences, are available on Olivetree.com.  Look for books by John Piper.  These three men had this in common: they endured a thousand momentary afflictions and daily deaths so that others could reap an eternity in heaven!  You need to read all of these brief accounts of great men of God.


7.     An All-Surpassing Fellowship, Learning from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Communion with God, DavidBeaty, Reformation Heritage Books.  I have admired M’Cheyne for years, even giving my youngest son “M’Cheyne” for a middle name. That is also my grandson’s middle name! For one called home to glory at age twenty-nine, it is almost unimaginable the spiritual impact he made throughout Scotland and beyond. You will learn of his early years and call into ministry as well as his holy communion with God.  It will challenge you to seek that same sweet fellowship with the Lord.


8.     King of the Cannibals, The Story of John G. Paton,Jim Cromarty, Evangelical Press.  Missionary to the New Hebrides, John MacArthur highly praises Paton as one of those nearly-forgotten missionary saints that needs to be remembered by those of a new generation.  An excellent read for young people and adults alike.


9.     D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First Forty Years(1899-1939; D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith (1939-1981); Iain H. Murray, Banner Of Truth Trust (Nearly 1200 pages in 2 volumes but well worth the read as you will see British spirituality repeating itself here in America).  Actually it is now available in paperback in condensed form from the same publisher.



Meet the Puritans


1.     MEET THE PURITANS, Joel Beeke & Randall Pederson, Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapids.  If you want to become a serious student of the lives of the Puritans this is where you must start.  Rather lengthy at nearly 900 pages, but containing nearly 150 brief Puritan biographies including theological introductions, most noted books written and insightful summaries which will make you want to grow tall spiritually.  Forget about their idiosyncrasies, peculiar behavior and not always acceptable theology even though their careful biblical exposition leaves much to be desired today.   Let them become your friends and grow from their intimacy with Christ and passion for the unregenerate.  This is a volume that will rest comfortably by your armchair and will cause you to search your heart constantly to rid it of any sinfulness to the Savior and willfulness to the flesh.



2.     Voices from the Past,Puritan Devotional Readings(365), The Banner of Truth Trust.  This volume will familiarize you with the depth, passion and knowledge of Puritan preaching.  Herein you will find their thoughts on the glory and attributes of God, divine providence, fellowship with God, holiness of life and the mortification of indwelling sin, heavenly mindedness, prayer, evangelistic zeal and trust in the Lord during times of affliction.  If you add daily devotionals to your Bible reading, put this one at the top of your list!



3.     The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts, Douglas Bond, Reformation Trust.  If you like such hymns as “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed;” “I Sing the Almighty Power of God;” “Joy to the World;” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past;” “When I survey the Wondrous Cross;” you  need to read the story of the hymn writer behind them.  It was a delightful read of a man captured by the presence of God.


4.     GLORIFYING GOD, a Yearlong Collection of Classic Devotional Writings from the Pen of Thomas Watson, Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Thomas Watson is the Puritan pastor who inspired Charles Spurgeon and a nation.    This 17th-century minister is my favorite of all the Puritans because of his understanding of the sovereignty of God, his ability in making Bible truths simple, his vast knowledge of the Scriptures and skillfulness in communicating truth in a systematic manner.  In his preaching and teaching Watson always had the flock in mind in cheering them on to trust in an all-knowing God.


5.     The Christian on the Mount, a Treatise on Meditation,Thomas Watson, The Northampton Press.  For the Puritans, meditation was the discipline of thinking deeply about God and His Word.  Different from Bible reading and different from Scripture memorization.  This volume will challenge you to holy exercise of the mind in order to bring the truths of God to remembrance through serious pondering, followed by instruction on applying such truths to personal living.


6.     All Things for Good,Thomas Watson, Banner of Truth Trust.  A careful and thought provoking exposition of Romans 8:28.  A classic that should be in the library of every believer. Watson carefully examines each phrase and provides a biblical answer to why do bad things happen to good people.


7.     The Art of Divine Contentment, Thomas Watson, Soli Deo Gloria Publications.  An exposition of Philippians 4:11, Watson describes discontentment as a disease to the soul.  Believers are bent towards discontentment in many areas of life and must come to grips with the understanding that our contentment, under any circumstance, must be in Christ and what He has done for us. 


8.     The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs, Banner of Truth Trust, has been considered the classic on contentment so must also be read if you have struggles in your life in this area.


9.     The Precious Things of God, Octavius Winslow, Northampton Press.  John MacArthur states that “this book is a profound study of twelve things Scripture calls ‘Precious,’ a handbook for faithful Christian living.”   Winslow is not one of the more well-known Puritans, but his writings reveal an intimate walk with God.


10.  To give you a good taste of which Puritans enrich your life, you should purchase Voices From the Past, a daily devotional mentioned above.  Two Bookstores and websites where you can obtain these writings: www.heritagebooks.orgwww.banneroftruth.org;  Soli Deo Gloria is now under Heritage Books.


Rest & Relaxation Reading


Sometimes we need to read outside of our field.  It may be face-paced fiction, particular magazines, secular biographies or maybe light-hearted Christian novels.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the Christian “page turner” novels based on biblical prophecy by Joel Rosenberg.  Nearly all of them have been on the New York Times bestselling list.  Rosenberg is a Jewish believer who writes with great insight into last day events.  He has been a political columnist with World Magazine,  worked with some of the world’s most influential and provocative leaders, and has been called “a force in the capital”  by leading journalists.  Here is the sequence of his writings:  The Last Jihad (2002); The Last Days (2003); The Ezekiel Option (2005); The Copper Scroll (2006); Dead Heat (2008); the Twelfth Imam (2010); The Tehran Initiative (2011); Damascus Countdown (2013).






No man can be called friendless when he has God and the

Companionshipof good books.







Seminar Notes by Maynard H. Belt

mhbelt@sbcglobal.net– www.barnabasfile.com