As promised previously, I had planned on writing reviews for every book I read this year. Obviously, since I have only posted one so far, I got a little behind on this goal. So here’s a quick catch-up post. I won’t be going as in-depth as I normally would (since these are going to be capsule reviews from memory), but I want to at least work on getting up to speed.
(Random fun-fact: All but the ESV volume and the unnamed final entry were books I had started before the year began but hadn’t yet finished. [Okay, “fun” was maybe overselling it.])
The ESV Reader’s Bible: Historical Books — Volume 2 of the 6-volume ESV Reader’s Bible covers Joshua-Esther. A few varied comments on this section of the Old Testament:
- Leviticus gets a bad rap. For my money, I Chronicles is the hardest slog in the OT–and I say that will full respect and appropriate honor to the divinely-inspired Scriptures. Every word of the Bible is God-breathed and profitable, but when it’s your first time through, 15 or so chapters of lists of names is CHALLENGING. That said, having read straight-through to that point, it was exciting to start recognizing names and family lines.
- My recurring thought throughout Samuel-Kings-Chronicles: even the very best human kings are fallible and frustrating, which only emphasizes what a good king Jesus is. He will never fail us.
- Another recurring thought: how easily we fall into idolatry and sin, letting our fear and greed and pride choke out all good sense and memory of what God has commanded us and accomplished for us. As tempting as it would be to read these stories of Israel’s unfaithfulness and shake my head in disbelief, I have to be honest and say, “This is me. This is all me.”
A Little Book about the Christian Life, by John Calvin — This selection of newly-translated essays was a giveaway from Ligonier Ministries. The book design was really nice–minimalist, compact, clean. Burk Parsons translated and updated these 5 chapters of Calvin’s Institutes, and as you can imagine, they were dense, edifying, and thought-provoking. I read this one really slowly, maybe a paragraph or two at a time. It stayed on my bedside table and became a source of meditation and contemplation just before bed, most nights. I have to admit, I can’t recall a specific quote or point that was particularly meaningful. But on the whole, I benefited from this small volume precisely because it helped me focus my thoughts on the Lord as I ended each day–and that’s something of value.
The World-Tilting Gospel, by Dan Phillips — Okay, confession time: I started this book…4 years ago. In my defense, it was right before I got married, and in the chaos of merging two households and lives, the book got shuffled around and eventually recirculated into the TBR shelf. I kept meaning to get back to it, and finally (finally!) did. This book examines the core truths o the Gospel, and then addresses how they force us to look at the world differently. The chapters in which Pastor Phillips details the implications of the Gospel on justification and sanctification are particularly fine. However, my favorite bits are where he addresses false understandings of the Christian life, such as the “muzzy mysticism” of those who abstract the truths of the Scriptures in the attempt to be “spiritual.” Phillips is a clear thinker, and his writing is bracing and direct.
The Gospel According to Jesus, by Dr.John MacArthur — John MacArthur is often associated with what’s called the “lordship controversy,” and this book is his full-throated response to those accusations. What was the controversy? MacArthur had the audacity to preach and teach that if Jesus is your Savior, He is also your de facto Lord, and there is no such thing as “making” Jesus the Lord of your life. MacArthur insists on and thoroughly demonstrates from Scripture that Christian faith without a recognition of and submission to Jesus’ authority as Lord is no Christian faith whatsoever. While opponents of this view claim that it suggests a salvation by works, MacArthur dismantles this notion by using the Scriptures themselves to demonstrate that the call of salvation is a call to discipleship and allegiance to a new Master. This book is excellent and incredibly profitable, no matter where you are in your Christian walk.
There was one more book I read (technically, listened to) at the end of March, but it’s part of a larger series and it would only do to review the entire series together. I read the first volume in March, and Books 2 and 3 in April (the only books I completed that month, sadly). Once I finish Book 4 and the supplemental stories, I’ll provide a full review at that point.
You may be saying, “Good grief, tell us what book, man!” Nah, I’ll keep that a surprise. But I’ll say this–depending on how the last volume goes, this series may just overtake The Chronicles of Narnia as my favorite children’s series of all time. And that’s saying something.
Anyway, ‘ere we are.
Have you read anything fun lately? Comment below and let me know what should go on my reading list!