On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.
I asked Costi Hinn—a pastor at Redeemer Bible Church in Gilbert, Arizona, and the author of God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel—about what’s on his nightstand, books he re-reads, books that have most influenced his thinking about ministry, and more.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
What are your favorite fiction books?
I haven’t read fiction in years but really need to mix it up. One that sticks out, of course, is Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.
What biographies or autobiographies have most influenced you and why?
I love missionary biographies but don’t want to write too much here, so I will pick one. Adoniram Judson’s sacrifice as a missionary to the Burmese affected my life and our home deeply. It sparked numerous conversations and triggered my heart to pray something I had never prayed before: that if it be the Lord’s will, my children would be called to the mission field for the glory of God. As painful and sacrificial as the life of a missionary may be, the eternal effect is far beyond anything this world can offer.
To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson is a powerful biography of Judson’s life, along with his three wives, Ann, Sarah, and Emily. Ann died, then he married Sarah who also died, before he married Emily just a short time before his own death. Each of his wives played an integral role in furthering the mission of God to the Burmese and beyond. His life was one of immense sacrifice, but the Judsons are the reason the Burmese people were reached with the gospel and provided with biblical texts in their own language. Judson’s biography is also available on Amazon Prime Video. I highly recommend it.
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp is a parenting lifeline for us. With three young children, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and start to go through the motions as a parent. Tripp’s book is a splash of cold water to the face when I need it most. The book highlights the importance of heart transformation through the gospel, not merely behavior modification by getting kids to follow the rules. Tripp’s book is a sobering reminder of how tempting it is to simply “hang fruit on trees,” so to speak, with our kids and manufacture their obedience. But are their hearts being won to Christ and do they know why we live the way we do? Parenting never takes a day off.
Pastoral Ministry by John MacArthur serves as a constant “heart check” for me when it comes to pastoral ministry. Again, it’s easy (and human nature) to go through the motions and lose perspective on what it means to be a pastor. This book covers numerous areas that exhort and encourage pastors in their ministry role. I’ll dig into various chapters or sections from time to time and it feels like getting a good pep talk from a coach, then being told, “Now get out there and give it all you got!”
Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones brings me back to the foundational elements of preaching time and time again. Lloyd-Jones is from another era and will come across as narrow-minded to many in our world today, but I strongly believe we need to wrestle with his dogmatic views on preaching and let them blow the fluff off some of our methods. Of course, much of what is in this book is biblical and essential.
Discipling by Mark Dever is a short and easy read that, if put into practice, will affect anyone’s discipleship efforts. It’s loaded with application and covers the vital theological foundation of why we make disciples. I have more tabs and markings in this little book than most others on my shelf.
If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn was a gift from my friend and first pastor, Anthony Wood. He gave it to us after our son Timothy was diagnosed with cancer at 3 months old. For obvious reasons, this book has become a “life textbook” for us in the school of suffering and trial. Many others have it far tougher than we do, but we’re thankful for this book being a constant resource of wisdom on tough days.
What books have most profoundly shaped how you serve and lead others for the sake of the gospel?
What’s one book you wish every pastor read?
Obviously, the Bible. But aside from that, in today’s world we could all benefit from Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp.
What are you learning about life and following Jesus?
Three lessons come to mind.
First, I’m constantly learning and re-learning about just how incapable I am of doing anything without Christ. Like a loving Father, God is so patient with me when I try to accomplish things by relying on my own strength, then he graciously allows me to realize that I can’t carry the weight on my own. I don’t ever want to stop learning this lesson.
A second lesson is a constant mantra in the Hinn home that goes like this: “There is no ‘there’ there.” This plays off the idea of “arrival.” In other words, there are things in life and ministry that are always tempting us to feel like we’ve arrived, as if there was some special thing awaiting us if we just do “this” or get “there.” The only “there” that matters is eternity with Christ and him being pleased with our motives and efforts for his glory, not our own. It doesn’t matter how many books you write, how many people hear you preach, or how many good things you do. There is no “there” there.
A third lesson is that so much rises and falls within the church because of leadership. It’s really important to be a healthy and humble leader—which is really hard without relying on Christ. Christ entrusts his bride to leaders who must serve as stewards. I’m often convicted regarding how important it is to be a humble servant to the people of God. It’s not our agenda we move people on to; it’s God’s agenda. My church is mine in the sense that I’m part of it, but it’s not mine in the sense that it belongs to me. Jesus is the head of the church. I answer to him, and must point his people to him in every way, shape, and form possible. The minute we treat the church like a baby that is ours to never let go of, we begin to act like the controlling parent who needs to lighten their grip. Worse still, when we treat the church like a corporate business and ourselves as the CEO, we’re on a dangerous path toward autocratic rule.