Happy New Year!!!! As I looked back over the past year I have read a total of 41 books! (Plus I read the whole Bible through in the month of March.) This past month I read some great books – on some of these it was like discovering a treasure mine with not only gold, but some rubies and diamonds thrown in too! I’ve been greatly challenged this month with a number of things – and actually they were very timely for where I’m at right now.
Finished this month:
Robert Chapman: Apostle of Love by Robert Peterson
This was a really inspiring biography of a man who truly sought to live his life for Christ. (Shout-out to my friend Pam who gave me this book – I finally got around to reading it!) Robert C. Chapman was known throughout
(and in many parts of the world) as a man of Christian love. Spurgeon said of
him that he was the “saintliest man” he ever knew! Originally from a wealthy English
family he gave it all up to be a simple pastor and evangelist. He traveled
almost entirely by foot around the country of Ireland
preaching and sharing the Gospel, took missionary trips to Spain; he was a
good friend, advisor and supporter of George Muller, Hudson Taylor, C.H. Spurgeon
and other well-known Christians. He had the gift of encouragement and from his
earnest study of the Scripture was also a great teacher and preacher. The
genuine love he was able to show and give to even those who despised him was
really amazing and it led to many of those scoffers or wayward brethren to
repentance and reconciliation.
“Love is first and foremost humble and in the very few writings he left behind he defined love this way: ‘The love we speak of is meek and lowly; behaves itself wisely and edifies; bearing with the foolish and self-conceited, while it shuns their folly’.” (p. 189)
If You Bite & Devour One Another by Alexander Strauch
This book I’m putting on my “Every Christian Must Read” list! Like, really, READ THIS BOOK! Seriously, I really think if more Christians read this book (which is just applying Scripture principles to how we respond and deal with conflict and disagreement) we’d have less conflict, drama and more peace and unity in the church today! I started reading this partway through the above book which was providential because these two books go with each other very well. This book is about handling conflict and having a Biblical and godly attitude and speech and Robert C. Chapman literally lived this (hence his reputation as “Apostle of Love”).
Strauch talks about what it means to handle conflict, how to respond, how act in the Spirit and act in love, gives Scripture and counsel for controlling the tongue, anger and criticism. He gives Biblical text and practical steps for pursuing reconciliation and pursuing peace; he discusses the need to face false teachers and face controversy (doctrinal disagreements between Christians) but emphasizes the need to do so in a manner that is gentle, kind and loving. He reminds us that we are one body with those Christians we disagree with and ought to be pursuing peace and not sowing discord. He gives the classic, but beautiful example of the relationship between George Whitefield and John Wesley – two Christians who strongly disagreed doctrinally, yet they had a great admiration and love for the other. They did manage to work together some and John Wesley preached at George Whitefield’s funeral. What would the universal Church be like if we could learn to live and love like these two men? Ephesians 4:2-3 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
P.S. For a bonus there’s REALLY great appendix on what it means to be in Christ and thus fight sin from a position of victory! Very encouraging!
It was really hard to pick just one quote from this book, but I settled on this one which is the theme of the book: “When conflict arises, our attitudes and behaviors should reflect our new life in Christ given by the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We are to display the fruit of the Spirit and not the works of the flesh. We are to walk in step with the Spirit’s leading. We are to be Spirit-controlled and not flesh-controlled or out-of-control.” (p. 8-9)
Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne
This book goes off the former two very well. Sorry to repeat myself, but you also need to READ THIS BOOK! I’m telling you, this month has been a treasure mine – and here’s the diamonds! Most of us would like to think there’s no way we could be like the Pharisees, but it’s actually a lot easier than we think! In this tremendous book Larry Osborne discusses the attitude that makes us “accidental Pharisees” – we have good intentions, we want to please God, but our understanding of what Scripture teaches, our opinions, our lines for what’s pleasing to God and what’s not (even though it’s not explicitly in Scripture) get in the way. We very easily become proud, look down on others, sometimes even others putting down and separating ourselves from those who “compromise”. What is legalism really? Are you sure you’re not guilty of it? Do you think of yourself as a better Christian than someone else because you know more about the Bible than they do? Is your church exclusive, have boundary markers that qualify you as the “right kind” of Christian? These are challenging questions, but one’s we need to face. While it was convicting, it was also encouraging! So I really encourage you to read this book!
3 quotes from this one: (seriously, aren’t you glad I didn’t just pick one?)
“If we fail to understand how spiritually impressive the Pharisees were, we will remain blind to the danger of becoming like them.” (p. 27)
“How is it possible for the Scriptures and obedience to produce Pharisees instead of disciples? It all has to do with how we use the Bible and how we interpret our obedience. Let me explain….” (p. 57, emphasis his)
“Ironically, the more fervently we pursue theological uniformity, the more the Bible takes a back seat, even among people who pride themselves in having the Bible in the navigator’s seat. That’s because the lens of uniformity insists that everyone interpret difficult or controversial Scripture passages exactly the same way. There’s no room for differing opinions, blind spots, or simply being wrong. Those who don’t toe the company line are cast aside.” (p. 146)
Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung
At first this book didn’t seem to relevant to me since I don’t think I struggle very much with doing things (my personality is fairly pro-active), however, as I was more honest with myself I had to admit that there are still times I am fearful or hesitant to do things because really, as he points out in this book, I don’t really believe God’s got everything under control. I believe that you cannot “miss” God’s plan/best for your life, but sometimes it’s hard to trust Him when you can’t see ahead. And I do at times struggle with trusting God so this book was really good re-enforcement. While God is sovereign we are responsible to more forward in faith and obedience. Kevin writes, “Yes, God has a specific plan for our lives. And yes, we can be assured that He works thinks for our good in Christ Jesus. And yes, looking back we will often be able to trace God’s hand in bringing us to where we are. But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of discerning His will of direction for our lives ahead of time.” (p. 24) This is SO freeing! Kevin also discusses how to acquire wisdom and how to grow in making God-honoring decisions without agonizing over them. Great read and I highly recommend it!
“Therefore we should be humble in looking to the future because we don’t control it, God does. And we should be hopeful in looking to the future because God controls it, not us.” (p. 47-48)
Think by John Piper (kindle)
This was a really good book about how we as Christians should view the mind and thinking and the pursuit of knowledge. Some view the pursuit of knowledge dangerous as it can lead to pride. But as John Piper says, “We are not safe from pride if we neglect serious thinking and turn away from knowledge. ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hos 4:6)’.” This book is “a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of knowing and loving God and people. It is a plea to reject either-or thinking when it comes to head and heart, thinking and feeling, reason and faith, theology and doxology, mental labor and the ministry of love.” Right thinking matters, and we must thinking rightly about God and know Him in order to love Him. If you want to love God more the solution is to get to know Him more. And that means study His Word! Do not think you can grow in your love for God if you do not read more in your Bible. He says repeatedly, “our thinking should be wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.”
“…to see reality in the fullness of truth, we must see it in relation to God, who created it, and sustains it, and gives it all it’s properties, relations, and designs. Therefore, we cannot do Christian scholarship if we have no spiritual sense or taste for God – no capacity to apprehend his glory in the things he has made.”
She is Mine by Stephanie Fast (autobiography of a Korean War orphan)
Additional books I want to read this month:
Killing Calvinism by Greg Dutcher
Tempted & Tried by Russell Moore
*I’ve also been convicted that I really need to be immersing myself more in Scripture so I’ve made a commitment to be reading my Bible more this year. The goal I’ve set is to read through the Bible chronologically 2 times this year. Hope you are reminded to make THE Book, the first book. J
My Bible reading plan (only I will double up on my days and try to do it twice this year): http://www.esv.org/assets/pdfs/rp.chronological.pdf