Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spring Book Log (Project Peter Reader)

The last time I posted a book log I said my aim for the new year was to begin reading less books. I hoped to spend more time digesting what I was reading and likely re-read some books that I thought would prove beneficial a second time around. Then I went to the Together for the Gospel conference with my dad-in-law. We got 22 books(!) at the conference...for free! Of course we payed to be at the conference, but this was quite the add-on. Anyway, my dad-in-law (Peter) and I decided to start what I have called Projet Peter Reader. Because we both got the identical set of 22 books(!) we decided to read them together and compare thoughts/notes. It has been helpful and fun to read together. All that said I have been reading a lot more books because we are on a one-book-a-week schedule.

The Basis of Christian Unity by Martyn Lloyd-Jones: This tract (Apparently a tract back in the day was 70 pages or so) seeks to respond to what has been called the ecumenical movement that began in the second half of 20th century. MLJ passionately expounds upon John 17 and Ephesians 4 as they are key texts concerning the unity of the Church. Also, there is a run through rest of the NT as to what it says of unity amongst Christians. His main point is that Christians don’t make the unity of the Church. Christ made the unity of the Church through His work of redemption on the cross and through the power of the Holy Spirit regenerating believers into the people of God. (March ’10)

Room at the Table by E. Baily Marks: This book is the first I’ve read that is specifically about a particular social justice issue. Marks writes with a passion to see the church rise up against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The editing is bad. Some of the insights are really good. There are a lot of cool testimonials of whole villages being turned upside down by the work he and others have been a part of. On the other hand, he often caricatures the church as the ridiculously bad side fundamentalism (Fundi-to-the-undis as Tom Nelson says.). I fear he creates confusion because his solution to these self-righteous, hateful church members is that they need to be more educated about the AIDS epidemic rather than repenting of their foolishness and trusting in Jesus. (March – April ’10)

Judges: Such a Great Salvation by Dale Ralph Davis: Never has a commentary had me turning the pages like Davis’ work on Judges. Davis is clear that his is an expository commentary, so he is focused on the text and focused on the main points of the text. He does not completely neglect the original text, referring to it often. His footnotes hit on textual issues as well. The humor that runs throughout the book is matched by some of the most striking rebukes aimed at the church that I’ve ever read. (April ’10)

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul: With such a focus on this crucial characteristic of God this book is quite powerful. Sproul’s study helps stomp out the "me-centered" theology that creeps into my life. Understanding God’s holiness seems to draw a lot of his other attributes together; that is, understanding His holiness helps us understand His love, His justice, His sovereignty, etc. He had some really good teaching on Romans 5 and 12, and also some really good stuff on Job. (April ’10)

The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves: This short book is reads quickly. His style keeps pulling you forward until you're done before you know it. Reeves wants to get to the bare essentials for understanding the Reformation. The chapter that talks about the state of the church before the Reformation was particularly helpful. His focus on Luther’s post-conversion life was unique in that most writers focus on his almost hysterical pre-conversion state and end with his dramatic conversion. Reeves gives some good insight into the transforming work that Christ did in Luther’s life after He saved him. The two main lessons from the book: (1) The Bible must remain central and authoritative to our life, ministry, and theologizing, and (2) External behavior modification brings no real reformation. The heart must be reached by the Word of God, and then change happens! (April ’10)

The Plight of Man and the Power of God by Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Five gripping sermons on the second half of Romans chapter 1. These may actually be lectures, but they have too much fire not be close to being sermons. MLJ takes on the romantic idea that Man is improving over time. He exposes the folly of this way of thought from all angles. In the process we convincingly see mankind’s need for redemption and how it has been accomplished in Christ. (May ’10)

Finally Alive by John Piper: This book reminded me why John Piper is my favorite author. Two reasons: (1) Crystal-clear exposition of the Bible. (2) Exposition done not for the sake of being clear, but that God would be glorified as we grow in our love for Him and communion with Him. God used this book to do two major works for me: (1) It helped me in my pursuit to never get over the fact that I have been born again. Me! Nuts! Grace! (2) It helped me think about evangelism in light of the sovereignty of God in our salvation. (There is rich spiritual drink on this topic from 1 Peter, 2 Cor, and others.) I was not only helped in thinking about evangelism but encouraged to take part. (May ’10)

Fear Not!: Death and the Afterlife from a Christian Perspective by Ligon Duncan with J. Nicholas Reid: This book was designed to be able to be read quickly but still have some depth. It is one that could be given away to someone facing death in whatever way that would have full answers but not be too intimidating or long to read. I would certainly feel confident giving this one away to a wonderer. To me the two opening chapters were the best, but throughout the book there were highlights. His instruction in chapter 1 concerning the relationship between sin and death was most helpful. (May ’10)

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson: It seems Carson picked five of his favorite passages of Scripture and preached on them and then Crossway published it. They were beneficial meditations with some really good illustrations. Carson’s style is witty, sharp, culturally insightful, and, most importantly, cross/resurrection centered. His breakdown of basing our religion on “how good of a day I had vs. the blood of the Lamb” was piercing. (May ’10)

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