A Reading List for Pastors/Ministers by E. E. Jolley

I have just received a letter from Pastor Brooks Coburn from Louisiana. In this letter he mentioned a man’s name that is probably quite familiar to a lot of UPCI ministers. Pastor Coburn’s letter has stimulated this list that I am going to share with you.

I graduated from Texas Bible College in 1992 and moved back to Dothan in May of that year. I had a burning desire to be a “great” preacher whatever that entailed. I can remember very early in my ministry days hearing J. T. Pugh say “If you are going to be a great preacher, you will have to be a great reader!” The difficulty with that is that often rookies have no idea where they should begin to read.

In the summer of 1995, I was working a Junior Camp in Alabama. I had been elected as the Alabama District UPCI Sunday School secretary and one of the responsibilities was to be at the camp. Late one night, I was having a conversation with our district superintendent, Roger Lewis. As always, when I was around an older minister, I would always try to get them talking about preaching and books. Bro. Lewis talked to me for probably an hour or so about some of the best messages that he had heard in his life. So when the conversation turned to books, he recommended a few and then he told me that I needed to go to Bessemer and spend some time with E. E. Jolley.

Bro. Jolley was a prolific reader and student of the Word but he also was a great student of books. He was the only man who did not own a publishing company but did have keys to two of the biggest book houses in the country at the time (’70-90’s). He had keys to Kregel Publications and Baker Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He could go in anytime that he wanted and if he chose he would take guests with him. He gave me a personal invitation but sadly I could not make it.

Several times Bro. Jolley would take men with him and they would have the entire run of the book house in the after hours. Bro. Lewis related to me that several times that he went with Bro. Jolley to Grand Rapids. Bro. Jolley told me that what he would do is take men with him and they would sleep all day and then once the place closed, they would go in and “work” all night long. Several times he took Roger Lewis and Paul Mooney with him and they would pull a “night shift.” Bro. Jolley told me that Paul Mooney’s mind and David Fuller’s mind were two of the greatest among Pentecost.

Anyway back to my story, Bro. Lewis’ directions to contact Bro. Jolley proved to be very fruitful. Bro. Jolley had taught me in youth camps when I was a kid and so he remembered me. I called him and told him that I had to preach a Save Our Children rally in Bessemer and that I wanted him to come and hear me preach. I told him that I wanted him to help me to improve with preaching and whatever he thought were some tips that could help me. . . I wanted his input. I also told him that I would like to take him to a restaurant of his choice and I would pay for his meal if he would just tell me some books that I needed to add to my personal library.

After service was over that night, little did I know but that the church in Bessemer was serving chili, so it was there that our conversation started. We were the last ones to leave the fellowship hall that night and much of the conversation had been about Bro. Jolley and his friendship with Kenneth Reeves, whom I did not know. So when the Bessemer folks decided that it was time for the church to be locked up, they ran us out. But Bro. Jolley was not to be put off. He asked me where I was staying and I told him. He then made a deal with me. He told me that if I would go and buy him a 2 liter Diet Pepsi that he would talk with me about books. Since my wife was at home with our children and I was alone I thought this would be a great idea. Little did I know how much that night would pay rich dividends into my very young ministry.

I got the Diet Pepsi and filled the bucket of ice and we got started. The first thing that Bro. Jolley did was pull off his shoes. Then he got a cup fill of Diet Pepsi and he started pacing (slowly) back and forth at the foot of the beds at the Comfort Inn in Bessemer. I sat over in a chair at the table by the window with a legal pad and filled up page after page of book titles and authors. Bro. Jolley’s mind was amazing. He would prompt me to certain books and then he would ask me if I had ever heard so-and-so preach (I am going to leave the names anonymous) and I would either answer in the affirmative or negative and soon I caught the drift. These books helped to serve as priming agents that prompted the seed for the sermon.

He noticed that I looked a little alarmed by this. So this sent him on another path for a little while. The library or personal study is the place where thoughts are born and dreams move into the realm of a vision. A revival could be born in your study long before God allows it to settle into a church where you serve. Be careful how you treat your library/study!!! J. H. Jowett had this to say, “If the study becomes a lounge, the pulpit becomes impertinence.” Without a time clock to punch, the man of God must be honest as he labors in his library before God.

Charles Spurgeon, wrote very directly to his students in this manner: In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the divines and learned men who have labored before you in the field of exposition. If you are not of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what has been revealed to others.

As for arguments against reading, then what of Paul’s request to Timothy for the parchments and books? The passion for books can be encouraged and fanned into a flame. The fire of inquiry need not die but can continue to blaze upon the roadway of our Christian service for years to come.

Bro. Jolley really homed in on this idea: some are of the opinion that reading is a waste of time. Their philosophy is: Open your mouth and God will fill it!!! And He very well can. . . in an emergency. Bro. Jolley told me that there is another maxim worth incorporating: Fill your mind and God will set it on FIRE!!! Bro. Jolley told me that this came directly from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Preparation is the key to power. Reading is not to be a side-thought nor of when you can find time to read. Make time to read. Start going to bed guilty every night if you aren’t reading. It is amazing how guilt and discipline seem to work with each other. Let your guilt produce discipline and your discipline will annihilate your guilt.

Then as he paced back and forth, time began to race. However, I think that he and I were both quite unaware of the time. Soon it was 3:00 AM and I had filled up several pages of a legal pad and had a box of books that he had given to me.

Many ministers have told me that Bro. Jolley worked the book tables for the Pentecostal Publishing House for years at General Conference. He would take a book and wave it at you and open up a page and underline a single sentence or a few sentences and say that the price of the book was worth what you had just read. Bro. Jolley also told me that if I purchased a book and something in that book stimulated a message then I had gotten my money back for whatever I paid for the book.

I am going to give you the book list that he gave to me back on that night as follows:

Sidlow Baxter

  • Explore the Book -- This book has some fantastic messages about the lambs of sacrifice and the Lamb of God. It progressively flows through the Bible and pulls out key doctrines of importance.
  • Mark These Men -- Very good sermon titles: The Man Who Defied Baal; The Man Who Played the Fool; The Man Who Came Back From Beyond; and others.

E. W. Bullinger

  • Great Cloud of Witnesses -- This book is a roll call of Hebrews 11. Some great biographical material on these major characters.

Martyn Lloyd Jones (Bro. Jolley’s favorite)

  • Revival (chapters 1, 12, 13, 14)
  • The Miracle of Grace
  • Evangelistic Sermons from the Old Testament
  • Romans (commentary)
  • Ephesians (commentary) -- This commentary is full of good material especially the material on Ephesians 6 and the warfare of a Christian.
  • Philippians (commentary)
  • I Am Not Ashamed (ll Timothy)
  • The Sermon on the Mount -- One of the most outstanding books on the SOM that I personally have. One other equivalent might be Arthur Pink on the SOM.
  • Commentary from 1, 11, and 111 John (sermons)

G. H. Morrison (Bro. Jolley keyed me into Morrison’s books and I have almost everything that he has written.)

  • The Wind on the Heath
  • The Wings of the Morning
  • The Weaving of the Glory
  • Highways of the Heart
  • Sun Rise
  • Flood Tide
  • Morning Sermons
  • The Unlighted Lustre

Clarence Macartney

  • Salute Thy Soul
  • Great Women of the Bible
  • Bible Epitaphs
  • The Greatest Texts of the Bible
  • Paul the Man
  • Parallel Lives of the Old and New Testaments
  • The Wisest Fool
  • 12 Great Questions About Christ
  • Great Interviews of Jesus
  • Strange Texts But Grand Truths
  • The Greatest Questions of the Bible and of Life
  • The Greatest Men of the Bible
  • The Trials of Great Bible Characters
  • The Prayers of the Old Testament
  • Great Nights of the Bible

Ivor Powell

  • Bible Oases
  • Bible Cameos
  • Bible Highways
  • Bible Nuggets
  • David: His Life and Times

Alexander Whyte

  • Bible Characters from the Old and New Testaments -- Bro. Jolley told me that the price of the book was worth the chapter on Ahithophel. It is an incredible study of bitterness.

I took Bro. Jolley’s lead on Whyte and have bought everything that I can find that he has written. He has some classic books but hard to find on the characters of Pilgrim’s Progress.


  • The Classic Sermon Series -- This is a fantastic work because what it does is open you up to a host of preachers. Wiersbe pulls what he considers “classic sermons” on different subjects and puts them in a single book.
  • The Strategy of Satan -- Very good book on spiritual warfare.

Alan Redpath (Very Good!!!)

  • The Making of a Man of God (David)
  • The Blessings of the Buffetings (ll Corinthians)
  • The Royal Road to Heaven (l Corinthians)
  • Victorious Christian Service (Nehemiah)
  • Victorious Christian Living (Joshua)

George Waggoner

  • Practical Truth's from Israel's Wanderings -- This book is loaded with sermons that come from the time Israel spent in the wilderness. I have taken inspiration from this book numerous times.

M. R. DeHaan

  • The Tabernacle

J. Vernon McGee (I know, I know. . . but JVM will surprise you with his books.)

  • From Romance to Redemption

T. Stanley Soltaur (Hard to find!)

  • The God-Pointed Life (about David)

Charles Vince (Hard to find!)

  • Lights and Shadows in the Life of King David

John Phillips

  • Exploring the Psalms -- Bro. Jolley felt this one was his best work.
  • All of the "Exploring" Series

Charles Spurgeon

  • Lectures To My Students
  • Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Series (63 Volumes)
  • 12 Sermons on . . . . (There are numerous volumes of Spurgeons sermons that are arranged in topical nature.)

Finally, one last tip that Bro. Jolley helped me with and it has helped me in a major way. I have even gone to libraries when I am on vacation. This really excites my kids. They love for me to find a library when we go out of town. However, any library that you go into that is set up on the Dewey Decimal System, the number 252 will always be the sermons. The next time you are in Houston, you owe it to yourself to go to that library and find section 252. You will have to camp out for days!


Anonymous said…
What an awesome post! I will begin to fill this reading list.

As a side, a pastor, nurse, and former Sunday School guy. We really need to meet. There is WAY too much in common to not get together.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for the recommendations. I was at the used book store today hunting.
Unknown said…
Brother Phillip

Only an American can celebrate the englishman.

Great blog, cool man, Incredible God.

Ill place a link on my site to yours www.apostolicblog.com

God bless,

Brother Paul
Anonymous said…
Brother Barnabas,

You are a real breath of fresh air. I love your blog and this one was just great. Thank you so much for sharing your encounters with some of the great preachers and teachers in the apostolic movement. I love to read and I love those who affirm the absolute necessity of a reading clergy/ministry.
Anonymous said…
By the way, Martyn Lloyd-Jones is on this list but I don't see his book on preaching. For me, MLJ's book on preaching is one of the best. It is called "Preaching and Preachers" and it is still in print. You can even find tapes of the original lectures which form the substance of "Preaching and Preachers." This is where MLJ defines preaching as "Logic on fire" and talks a great deal about the need for anointed preaching. Also, the bio of MLJ by Iain Murray (2 vols!) is very good and I highly recommend it. If you ever want to read a bio of someone completely consumed with preaching the Bible then read it!
Tim McNeily said…
I am greatly enjoying your writings and plan to look for some of the books that you have recommended. Keep up the great work!
God bless,
Rev. Tim McNeily
Sylacauga, Al
Paul Suggs said…
If you would like to know more about Rev Jolley. You should really Talk to Eric Jolley (his son). I met Pastor Jolley years ago while living in Alabama and attending the Anniston UPCI 1987-1988. Pastor Francis Mckenzie. I spent some time with Pastor Jolley as his son and I became great friends 1987-present. In 1988 I left for Gateway College of Evangelism only to find that Pastor Jolley had literally donated the library, (wow it was huge). Over the years the Jolley's have been a great influence to my family. He even came to visit my father in the hospital after a Quadruple bi pass surgery. My father told me that he actually saw an angel walk in with Pastor Jolley. I had to take this time to honor a man who truly knew God. I have been blessed to have been mentored by the best. People like. Rev. Edward Lucas, James W. Pound, Jacob Paul Nelson. Stanley Chambers, Anne Wilkins, Evelyn Barnhill. These men and others invested in me! I am eternally grateful that each of them not only gave me advice, but LOVED me and Spent an unbelievable amount of time with....well me! Why? God had a purpose and I am sure He will show me!

Greatest Respect and Honor to the GOD, Savior and Sanctifier of these precious men and women.

Popular posts from this blog


Characters from Pilgrim's Progress -- Valiant for Truth

Why You Should Have a Prayer Journal