Let’s start out by telling our readers a little about you. (Current ministry context, family, joys in life, etc.)
My name is Matthew Adams, and I live in the little town of Dillon, SC. If you have ever traveled on Interstate 95 on the east coast, I’m sure you have seen billboards for South of the Border, which is in Dillon. I am the Director of Student and Family Ministries at First Presbyterian Church (a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America) in my hometown. I’m also wrapping up my Master’s of Divinity degree from Erskine Theological Seminary.
I am married to a wonderful woman, Beth, who is an elementary school teacher. My greatest joys are keeping up with Clemson athletics (especially football), fishing, golfing, playing music, and reading throughout the day. I am really starting to love to write, and find myself jotting down ideas throughout the day. So, I’m hoping to get into that a little more in the future.
What are you reading right now?
Currently, I am reading through the Judges narrative during my quiet times, and also teaching through it in my student ministry. So, with that I am reading a commentary, Right in Their Own Eyes: The Gospel According to Judges by Dr. George Schwab. In addition to Judges, in my quiet times, I am reading The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung. This is a journey through the Heidelberg Catechism.
In addition to these, I always try to tackle a large work or two throughout the year. Right now, for my larger work, I am reading John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings. Also sitting on my desk, coffee table, and bedside table (yes, I have books everywhere), are:
- Preachers with Power by Dr. Douglas Kelly
- Preaching and Preachers by D. Martin Lloyd Jones
- Jesus Outside the Lines by Scott Sauls
- The Unfolding Mystery by Edmund Clowney
- Family Driven Faith by Voddie Bauchman
- Foundations of the Christian Faith by James Montgomery Boice
- Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray
These books are one’s that I am working my way through, some slowly and some quickly. Nevertheless, you can see that there is a wide-range of interest. These books range from theology to preaching to Christian living to family worship.
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
Looking at my above list, this is actually my sixth time working through John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied. I read it for a Christian Leadership class in seminary and fell in love. The way Murray writes fascinates me and his wording brings my heart joy. As he talks about how our redemption should make our heart blow “jubilee trumpet,” I cannot help but to smile and really grasp the joy that he is referring.
I also find myself re-reading John Frame’s Theology of Lordship series. This is a thick four-volume set that covers the doctrine of God, the Knowledge of God, the Christian Life, and the Word of God. Frame is a favorite theologian of mine and this series has been instrumental in my Christian life and ministry.
Other than that, I continually go back to D.G. Hart’s Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship, R.C. Sproul’s Chosen by God, J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, Jerry Bridges’ Respectable Sins, and James Montgomery Boice’s The Christ of the Empty Tomb.
What biographies or autobiographies have you read recently?
Back in May, I finished Leland Ryken’s biography on J.I. Packer. I thought it was great! I really enjoyed going through Packer’s childhood. I also enjoyed a thorough look into his evangelical and influential life.
I just wrapped up for the second time a biography on John Knox by one of my professors, Dr. Dale Johnson. This is an introduction to Knox’s life and works. It’s a great way to become familiar with the Reformer’s heart and actions.
Speaking of biographies and such, is there any particular one that has influenced you a great deal in your faith?
I really enjoyed R.A. Sheats’ biography of Pierre Viret. Many people do not know who Viret is, but in fact, he is a giant in the Reformation! He was a great friend of Calvin and truly instrumental in standing against the Roman Catholic Church. Viret’s strong convictions of grace, faith, and the Word of God grabs at my own zeal every time I hear his name mentioned. Sheats’ biography is one that I recommend to every person interested in the Reformation.
Another great biography that has influenced my faith is Daws by Betty Skinner. This biography really helped me trust in the promises of God. It was great for my faith and definitely worth grabbing if you have not read it.
If you were sitting down with a fellow believer and they asked for your top five book recommendations on Christian living, what would they be?
I would start them off with a favorite of mine! Jerry Bridges’ Pursuit of Holiness is a go-to in my mind in regards to Christian living. No other book “gets it” quite like this one.
I would also include these 4:
- Knowing Christ by Mark Jones
- The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
- Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung
- Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
You will notice that there are two books here by the same author, Kevin DeYoung. I think that DeYoung communicates so many great truths in his books with the ultimate goal of being an easier read for the laymen and deep enough for the greatest theologian. I truly appreciate the way that he articulates things like holiness, the Church, salvation, etc.
What books have molded how you serve and lead others in the gospel?
A book on ministry that has left me full of humility, fear, and joy (yes, all at the same time) is Paul David Tripp’s Dangerous Calling. I buy probably ten copies of this book a year and give them away to pastors and ministry leaders who have never read it. It is that good!
In my Presbyterian context, Sean Michael Lucas wrote a book called On Being Presbyterian that highlights the theological, practical, and historical staples of the Presbyterian faith. It is a great read for Presbyterian pastors, ministry leaders, and laymen. It has truly shaped the way I explain Presbyterian distinctives in my own ministry.
Lastly, Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church and Kevin DeYoung’s Mission of the Church have really shaped my views of the universal Church and the local church. My love for Christ’s bride has grown tremendously through these two books and I cannot recommend them enough.
Finally, let’s conclude with this question. What are you learning about life and daily following Jesus?
I have really been studying, reading, and falling more in love with the old reformed creeds and confessions throughout church history. Mathew Sims’ book We Believe has been instrumental in my studying and personal worship. Alongside this, my current read, The Good News We Almost Forgot (DeYoung) has been amazing while digging through these catechisms.
Seeing how these confessions and catechisms walk us through our faith is humbling and a great means of comfort for me. Also, it reminds me of the great historicity of our faith – being encouraged by the forefathers of my faith.
Also, I have been learning that the Means of Grace – preaching, prayer, and fellowship – is instrumental to my faith. Finding joys in these gifts from God has changed my life and changed the way I do ministry. We can truly rely on the work of God, which takes great pressure off of me as a shepherd of God’s flock. I will constantly fail, but God and his work never fails.