Category Archives: Resources

Books I Enjoyed this Year

The Best Books I Read This Year

Some of these were read, others a combination of listening and reading. I’ve become a big fan of audiobooks (I am an auditory / visual learner.)

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, by E. Randolph Richards, Brandon J. O’Brian

Excellent book to remind us that not only must we read Scripture conscious of the culture into which it was first written (original audience). But we must understand are own cultural preunderstandings and the things we take for granted or assume to be universally true because we understand them to be–the things “that go without being said”.

While there was some application of the principles, particularly in a few passages, where I believe there are other explanations and applications than the ones provided, the questions they caused me to ask and concepts I had to review were helpful for my ongoing study of Scripture.

Pilgrim Theology:The Core Doctrines of Christian Discipleship, by Michael Horton

While I’m not Reformed (though I share many affinities with my Reformed brothers and sister), I thoroughly enjoyed this well written basic but not simplistic systematic theology by Michael Horton. He has a more comprehensive volume entitled, “The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way” (also now part of my digital library).

Prayer by Timothy Keller

Theologically and pastorally enjoyable.  Key reminder and challenge that the better we know God, the more purposeful and passionate our prayer life.

I also enjoyed chapter 7 on learning from three giants of the faith, Augustine, Luther and Calvin.

And the simply overview of 3 kinds of prayer:

  • Upward–God focused praise and thanksgiving
  • Inward–Encounter with God and confession
  • Outward–Supplication and intercession

You can read a short interview about Tim Keller’s book.

How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis Schaeffer

Great review of the development of cultural and the forming of the dominant philosophical world views. While the end of the book is fairly tied to the time period it was written in, most of the book is helpful in providing perspective on the world we live in today.

Honorable Mention

Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, by Timothy Keller

Particularly chapters 11 and 12 related to “reaching the people.”

Theology: The Basics by Alister E. McGrath

Choosing to See

This past week two of our friends experienced what must be one of the most painful experience I can imaging–the death of a child.

I learned about both deaths through social media.  Though we were very good friends with one couple years ago, distance and time have separated us.  The other couple is a friendly acquaintances who live closer and with whom we have many mutual friend.

Many have stated that for a parent to bury a child is unnatural–it is.  And I can’t imagine the pain. And while my mind has frequently returned to these two couples prompting me to pray for them more than daily.  Any words of comfort I could offer sound so shallow.  (I wrote a reflection year ago reflecting on the shallowness of my word when trying to comfort someone at a funerals–I’ll share that tomorrow.)

In the midst of think and praying for these two couple, Mary Anne had a quick two-day trip that involved 15 hours of driving.  That gave us the opportunity to listen to the abridged version of Mary Beth Chapman’s book, Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope.

I highly recommend this book:
to anyone going through struggle and lose
to anyone who has struggle with depression
to anyone who struggles to minister comfort to those who are experiencing lose.

You will find the book honest and real,
it will make you cry and laugh,
and hopefully it will help you as you navigate struggle
or help you understand those who are wading through deep waters.

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

Free Audio Book for May from ChristianAudio.comEvangelism and the Sovereignty of God

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer is the free audiobook of the month for May. God is sovereign, can Christians sit back and not bother to evangelize? Or does active evangelism imply that God is not really sovereign at all? What is an antinomy? This classic audiobook by J.I. Packer clarifies the sovereignty of God, the responsibility of man, and the heart of God to seek and save the lost.

Preparing for Easter

Many of us have been in the habit of preparing for Christmas.  We do Advent readings, we plan, we shop, we get excited and we celebrate.

But when it comes to Easter, it seems like it sneaks up on us.

Well, maybe not all of us–but at least those of us who did not grow up in a church that followed a regular church calendar or common lectionary.  I have talked to some who did not grow up observing Lent, then began observing Lent because they needed a means to get ready for Easter.  But for me, the idea of “giving something up” in preparation for remembering the cross-event of Christ, feels like I am trying to earn or pay back the cost of Christ’s sacrifice. (I know that is not true for all.)  And I know I did not deserve it–that’s why it’s called grace…and I could not earn it or pay it back.

But, the Lent Season does give a structure for preparing both to remember and celebrate the life-giving, world-transforming, substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Today, I purchased a resource to help me do just that.

The Final Days of JesusStudy Guide for "The Final Days of Jesus"

Get it in paper or Kindle (just $5.99)

Two free resources: a study guide and a Bible reading plan.

Description and additional resource–see Justin Taylor’s blog.

Walk With Jesus During His Last Week on Earth

On March 29, AD 33, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem and boldly predicted that he would soon be put to death—executed on a cross, like a common criminal. So began the most important week of the most important person who ever lived.

Nearly 2,000 years later, the events that took place during Jesus’s last days still reverberate through the ages. Designed as a day-by-day guide to Passion Week, The Final Days of Jesus leads us to reexamine and meditate on the history-making, earth-shaking significance of Jesus’s arrest, trial, crucifixion, and empty tomb.

Combining a chronological arrangement of the Gospel accounts with insightful commentary, charts, and maps, this book will help you better understand what actually happened all those years ago—and why it matters today.

Reading the Bible in 2014

Of all the New Year resolutions that people make and quickly break is often, “I will read through the Bible this year.”

I find that I need both the context that reading through the whole Bible provides, plus the depth that studying an individual book provides.  My natural tendency is to do the study not the rapid read.  (I’ll be posting later this week on the technology I use for study.)  So this year I am going to try to accomplish both, but in a different way.

I have the goal of running at least 2-3 times a week (along with other exercise routines–minor strength training and playing basketball). If I have done my math right (should have had my wife, the math tutor, check it)–I should be able to listen to the whole Bible by running 500 miles.  At my current pace (which is more of plodding than running) that should take me about 42 weeks.  (I can hear my son snickering, Nathan would have the miles done in about 10 weeks.)

For those who would enjoy a more traditional approach, here are a couple of sites that provide recommendations for Bible reading plans for the year.

First a set of resources I organized for our church–Bible Reading Plans.

Included are simple and short plans to get you started if you have never read through the whole Bible or if you have felt guilty for not finishing once you started.

Second, one of the most complete resources provided a variety of recommendations–Justin Taylor, from Crossway Publishing.

Several to recommend

May we not just read or listen to the Bible but may the thought of God in His majesty and grace dominate our thoughts.