Friday, April 9, 2010

Books I Read in March

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose - This is not the typical book I read, but because I took an online class through Liberty last year, I found Kevin Roose's story extremely intriguing. Kevin Roose transferred from the very liberal Brown University to the very conservative Liberty University three years ago and wrote about his one-semester experience at Liberty. What is unique about this story is that Kevin is not a Christian, but he presented himself as a Christian in an attempt to truly learn what it is like to be a student in a conservative Christian environment.

You can see from my reviews that most of the books I read are Christian and cover deep topics, many from a reformed perspective. The Unlikely Disciple was a nice little break from the weightier material that I usually digest. It was also good for me to read from an author who has a totally different outlook on life.

I first noticed that The Unlikely Disciple is endorsed by a couple of guys that I strongly disagree with on a number of important theological matters, but despite that, I found this book to be interesting for the most part. I do want to emphasize that I find Kevin Roose's decision to lie about his identity to be morally wrong, but I am glad he was able to learn that the overwhelming majority of the people at Liberty are not the crazy fundamentalists he thought they would be. It should also be noted that Kevin and his friends are crude at times, much like the typical male who attends a secular college in America (which was me).

It is obvious that Kevin, who started writing the book when he was 19 years old, is a talented writer with a great deal of support. This book will make some ultraconservatives upset, but I am sadder than anything. Yes, I smiled and laughed at times and felt great to see Kevin grow in many ways, but Kevin failed to see that life is more than just trying to be good and having fun. I'm sure there are some reading this review and rolling their eyes, but I cannot help but feel sad. I hope one day Kevin writes a book where he tells us how his time at Liberty was a time when a seed was planted that God grew.

Faith of Our Fathers: God in Ancient China by Chan Kei Thong - I was gifted with this 330-page book a few years ago. I made it a goal to finish it this school year and wish I had done it sooner. If you have an interest in Chinese culture and religion, I think you will find this book to be an intriguing read. Mr. Thong sets to prove that the earliest form of worship in China was of a monotheistic God (Shang Di), a Supreme Being that parallels our one true God. Faith of our Fathers is divided into nine chapters ranging from the Chinese language and sacrifices performed at the Temple of Heaven to the Mandate of Heaven and dragons. Faith of Our Fathers is thought-provoking and will provide you a fresh perspective. It is a beautiful book that is endorsed by some big names like David Aikman, Os Guinness, and Marvin Olasky. I too recommend it.

The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving by Randy Alcorn - This is the third Alcorn book I have completed and one that takes no time to read. Recently a colleague of mine gave away a dozen or so of The Treasure Principle, and I became interested in reading these 100 pages about giving. I do own Alcorn's Money, Possessions, and Eternity's, a much larger layman's theology of stewardship, but I have had difficulty getting motivated to complete the 500 pages of mouse print. The Treasure Principle is divided into six chapters and contains six treasure principle keys...

Principle #1: God owns everything. I'm his money manager - We are merely taking care of the possessions God has leant us.

Principle #2: My heart always goes where I put God's money - Put the money you earn into eternal things like missions.

Principle #3: Heaven, not Earth is my home - Our true homeland is a home that God is preparing for us.

Principle #4: I should live not for the dot, but for the line - The dot is our present life on Earth, but there is a line that extends from that dot that does not stop. This is eternity in Heaven and that is what we should set our minds on.

Principle #5: Giving is the antidote to materialism - Giving reminds us that we are to not to be living for the world or ourselves. We were created to give God all the glory.

Principle #6: God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving - God blesses us so we can bless others.

Fans of prosperity gospel preachers like T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen will not like this book. On the other hand, if you crave Scripture passages and illustrations told with life-changing joy, The Treasure Principle is for you. Reading this book will make you evaluate the financial decisions you are making.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-20

Finally Alive by John Piper - I did not plan on reading this book until Tim Challies, my favorite Christian blogger, listed it as one of his top nine books of 09 and said it was possibly his favorite book by Pastor Piper. The book is a 200 pager that is divided into fifteen chapters. The chapters are organized into five sections: I. What is the new birth? II. Why must we be born again? III. How does the new birth come about? IV. What are the effects of the new birth? V. How can we help others be born again? Although Finally Alive is not one of my favorite Piper books, it is a great book covering a topic that we all need to understand. There are many people calling themselves Christians who have not experienced a spiritual transformation. For many years I was one of these unregenerated cultural Christians who simply wanted a ticket into Heaven. True Christians are born again and do not exalt the world and the things of the world above the gospel of Christ. Our problems and the problems of this world are a heart problem. Jesus is the only way to fix this problem and the solution is to be born again. If you want to make sure you understand what it means to be awakened to new birth, I highly recommend this simple to read but deep book.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3