On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scences glimpse into their lives as readers. I talked with Trillia Newbell, author and director of community outreach at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), about what’s on her nightstand, books she re-reads, biographies that have shaped her, and more.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
I laughed as I read this question. I have several books on my nightstand at the moment (well, on the floor and in a basket). I’m currently doing research for a writing project that has me exploring a wide range of topics from church history to the canon to work. Here are a few: Knowing God by J. I. Packer, Canon Revisited by Michael Kruger [review], Christianity Through the Centuries by Earle Cairns, In Light of Eternity by Randy Alcorn, The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper, and Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller [review].
For leisure (not study or research), I’m currently reading Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke.
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
Future Grace by John Piper is one of my all-time favorites and one I return to often. It reminds me that right now as I fight temptation, grace is truly available to me. I don’t fight alone. It’s not a lonely battle when we remember God’s promises.
Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones is another wonderfully helpful book. The Christian life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. There are times of great desperation. At some point, everyone will probably experience a dryness they didn’t anticipate. This book is helpful for identifying the cause and for sharing solutions from God’s Word. It’s just good to know you’re not alone.
What books have most profoundly shaped how you serve and lead others for the sake of the gospel?
The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Tim Keller [review] leads the way on this stack. There is so much grace and freedom when I am more aware of God (and those I’m seeking to serve!) than myself. This little book has greatly served me as I’ve stepped out in faith to lovingly serve others. I’m grateful Keller reminds me it’s not that I need to think less of myself, but that I need to think of myself less.
I’m surprised by how much I love Peter Greer’s The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good. I was especially served by his chapter “When Ministry Becomes Your Mistress.” His transparency refreshes me and his warnings help me assess the times I prioritize ministry or service over my family. When I can evaluate effectively and say no in faith, I’m much more productive than when I’m running myself thin and juggling too much. I enjoy the entire book.
What books have most helped you teach others about Jesus?
I used to do college ministry and one of the books that helped me best prepare for sharing the gospel was Tell the Truth by Will Metzger. I did old-school evangelism (knock on the door, invite them to a Bible study, share the gospel) and this book simply helped give me faith for sharing. I think I need to re-read this book!
What are you learning about life and following Jesus?
Lately, I’ve been learning what it means to delight in the Lord and how this delight affects not only my own heart, but also my view and response to others. I desire to know him, savor him, and enjoy him. I believe that as I learn to love him, then—and only then—I can truly love my neighbor as myself. (Of course, all of this is completely and utterly imperfect.) I want to love others well, so I’m exploring what it means to be loved by and to love the Lord. Piper, in The Dangerous Duty of Delight, writes: “Love is the overflow and expansion of joy in God, which gladly meets the needs of others.” (44). I want this joy and I want it to spill over onto those near me.