Redeeming Reads

As people of the Word, we understand the power of language. Jesus Christ is the living Word (John 1:1), and since the beginning of time, God’s Word has defined and ordered His creation. In the same way, it is words that define and order our thoughts. This week, we’ve asked two of our elders to recommend some of their own favorite titles; if you’re interested in reading that is both edifying and engaging, be sure to take advantage of these valuable resources. More book recommendations

Yours, till Heaven: The Untold Love Story of Charles and Susie Spurgeon

by Ray Rhodes

Ray Rhodes wrote the definitive biography of Susannah Spurgeon, Susie. Yours, till Heaven serves as a kind of supplement to that work, but taking as its entire focus the Spurgeons’ extraordinary, lifelong devotion to one another.

Charles Spurgeon’s tender affection for Susannah and hers for him are well known to anyone who has studied Spurgeon’s sermons or read his autobiography. What is not as familiar to many readers are the extreme difficulties this couple contended with daily. Both of them had serious chronic health problems. Spurgeon himself was assaulted by endless bouts of depression. Most of all, the relentless demands of such a busy ministry usually kept him preoccupied with matters other than domestic duties.

Rhodes writes, “Charles was so intensely focused on ministry that he was sometimes inattentive toward Susie.” That is surely an understatement, as Spurgeon’s ministry often took priority over his care and attention to Susie. This fact is a theme that runs through the book. (Indeed, the Spurgeons are reminiscent of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, whose relationship is described in the aptly titled book: Marriage to a Difficult Man, by Elisabeth Dodds.)

Susie’s health problems, Charles’ chronic melancholy, the burden of such a busy workload, along with the task of raising twin boys may sound like a recipe for a miserable home life. Nevertheless, the marriage was a gloriously happy one, and the warmth of their love for one another lasted (in Spurgeon’s own words) “till heaven, and then.” Most of the credit for the success and blessedness of the Spurgeons’ romance goes chiefly to Susannah’s gracious, wholehearted embrace of the role providence had thrust her famous husband into. It is a remarkable story, and Ray Rhodes does a superb job of explaining how Charles and Susie bore all the complexities and inconveniences of his calling and still cultivated a healthy home life, full of deep affection for one another.

—Phil Johnson, GraceLife Fellowship Group

How to Read A Book: Advice for Christian Readers

By Andy Naselli

Tolle lege. Take up, and read. Those were the words that provoked Saint Augustine to take up the epistle to the Romans and God would change his life forever through reading.

Summer is a time when many of us take after our pastor, who is a voracious reader, and pick up a book or two in order to enrich our minds. While you may aspire to read more, have you ever thought about reading well? What strategy do you use when you read? Is it possible to read better?

This is why I am grateful for my friend Andy Naselli’s latest title, How to Read a Book. Dr. Naselli gives a masterclass in the art of reading. From instruction on engaging books deeply, to high-level intake, from surveying a book, to critically engaging with the text, Naselli passes on a variety of skills. I’m especially grateful for his sections on cultivating good habits like avoiding distraction, organizing your thoughts, and how to write in order to synthesize well.

While there are other books on the topic—Naselli’s is easily my favorite. How to Read a Book is essential reading for all readers at Grace Community Church.

Tolle lege.

—Austin Duncan, Crossroads Fellowship Group

If you’re looking for a redeeming read, our campus bookstore carries hundreds of edifying titles. Located south of the Worship Center, Grace Books is open after each Sunday service and on Monday through Friday during the week. More book recommendations.