On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scences glimpse into their lives as readers. I corresponded with Gloria Furman, author of the new book The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love (Crossway, 2015), about what’s on her nightstand, books she re-reads, and what she’s learning about life and following Jesus.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
Since I don’t have a nightstand, I’ll tell you about the books that are currently migrating from my bookshelf to my desk, to the couch, and back again.
- The Letter to the Ephesians by Peter O’Brien. I’ve been working on a book about Ephesians for the past year, and this volume has been immensely helpful to me.
- The King in His Beauty by Tom Schreiner. Reading for my writing has taken me back and forth all over these 646 pages. I think his 15-page epilogue is worth the price of the book. If I were a graphic designer I would try to create some art out of the last paragraph (though I know I’ll see the real deal in person someday soon).
- A New Testament Biblical Theology by G. K. Beale. This book is a handy guide for considering the big picture, which is something I need to remember every day.
- The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting by Bunmi Laditan. I’m thankful that this author managed to get inside the mind of a toddler and then wrote down everything she learned. My kids probably wish I would take this book seriously.
- Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life by Julia Rothman. “Country life” isn’t something we see in our urban/desert context, so this one seemed like a fun book to have on the coffee table. Who knew that Corriedale sheep have a gentle temperament?
- Redeemer Church of Dubai membership directory. I like how our friend Garrett Kell has described the importance of this book: “I believe it is the second-most important book you own, because it keeps before your eyes the brothers and sisters you’re responsible to help to heaven. God has called you to help specific brothers and sisters fight against sin. He’s called you to stir up particular people to love and good works. He’s called you to encourage certain people every day until it is no longer called today.”
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
- Let the Nations Be Glad and Desiring God by John Piper. These are the first two books I read as a new believer (in that order), along with a group of fellow college students. There’s nothing like learning to be an adult while you cut your teeth on the doctrines of God’s passion for his glory and his electing love.
- The Temple in the Church’s Mission by G. K. Beale. This one is among the most exciting books I’ve read on God’s purpose in saving for himself a people. The practical implications for everyday life rise out of the pages like steam off of an iron.
- According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy. I love the easily duplicable charts, helpful tables, thoughtful questions, and a bird’s eye view of Scripture’s grand narrative. I recommend it often as a primer for understanding the unity of the Bible, so I open it up over and over again when I talk with ladies.
- Glorious Freedom and The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. These works ministered to me in a dark time when my particular temptation was to rummage around for hope via navel-gazing (which is never productive). Sibbes points us explicitly Christward in everything: “You know that promise that begets all others, ‘the seed of the woman’ . . . . All [of Scripture’s promises] meet in Christ as in a center; all are made for him and in him; he is the sum of all the promises. All the good things we have are parcels of Christ.”
What are your favorite fiction books?
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis is the first title that comes to mind. My used copy came from the purple-painted recycled books store in Denton, Texas. A few years later in seminary I was assigned to write a Screwtape letter about myself (talk about unnerving), which turned out to be a creative discipleship tool that really affected me.
What are you learning about life and following Jesus?
If I had to pick a word to summarize what I’m learning about following Jesus I would say peace—not like a momentary iced coffee, but like an ancient stone fortress. This past month (and year) has seen stressful, frightening circumstances in our region. When I talk with the people around me—in the grocery store, on the school playground, at the gym—they are uncertain about the future, whether theirs or their relatives’ back home.
I’m learning more about the multi-dimensional, utterly unique peace of Jesus that surpasses understanding. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). The peace that Jesus gives us is eternal because he is making all things new. Based on what Jesus accomplished on the cross, “God can wrench the world and humanity out of the grip of sin and expand his kingdom” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:455). Christ is our peace.