Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Books I Read in June

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan – Last year when I learned that Pastor Chan was writing a book about the Holy Spirit, it did not get me very excited. I had absolutely no interest in reading or listening to the book. That is pretty sad, however, earlier in the month I received a free audio version of this book from The audio version of Forgotten God was a little less than four hours - almost the same length of Chan's popular first release, Crazy Love. I am so glad that I received Forgotten God. Had I not, I do not think I would have ever given it a chance. I enjoyed Forgotten God a great deal more than I thought I would. I enjoyed Crazy Love, but I found Forgotten God to be even better. It made me really think. Because I have placed my faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit resides in me. I have known that for many years, but I often fail to remember how amazing it is that I have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. I so often fail to tap into the Spirit's power. I am thankful that Pastor Chan has reminded me of the power of the Holy Spirit and what a relationship with the Holy Spirit can be like. Unlike An Introduction to the New Testament by Carson and Moo, Forgotten God is a small book that can be understood and enjoyed by many. Each chapter ends with a short biography of someone who is driven by the Holy Spirit. These accounts are encouraging and help us see the glory of God. I definitely give Forgotten God my endorsement.

An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo – I purchased this book last summer for a New Testament Introduction course I took at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Another book that was required for that class was The New Testament: Its Background and Message by Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black. Both books are excellent books designed for seminarians, but Carson and Moo’s book is much more scholarly. Carson and Moo’s book is divided into 26 chapters and includes some special chapters such as Thinking about the Study of the New Testament, Paul: Apostle and Theologian and The New Testament Canon. Some New Testament books are combined into one chapter. This includes the Pastoral Epistles and 1, 2 and 3 John. The contents, author (s), origin, date, destination, purpose, text, adoption into the Canon, recent studies, theme, and contribution of the New Testament books are examined. A Scripture Index, Name Index, and Subject Index are found in the back of the book. This is a great resource to help you accurately understand the New Testament message within its historical setting.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Books I Read in May

Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally About God with Your Children by John A. Younts - I purchased this 150-page book several months ago, but I read most of it over the course of a couple of days earlier this month. I should have read the book sooner. Everyday Talk is divided into 14 chapters and provides Biblical principles for conversing with your children in the normal routine of life, every day. Younts believes that everyday talk is the most powerful personal influence in your child's life - more powerful than Sunday School, friends, and parental discipline. Younts makes this conclusion using Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and backs up his argument using Scripture throughout the book. Some of the themes of Younts' book include...

1. How much is your appreciation of the gospel a part of your day-to-day conversation with
those around you?
2. What kind of listener are you?
3. Do you use pleasant words in your everyday talk with others?
4. Are you ordinary or holy in the way you react when others hurt you?
5. Do you have your own list of big sins that really set you off when you see them in others?

Although this book is geared for parents, the practical applications can be used by anyone who desires to communicate with others in a God-honoring manner. I particularly like the chapter on music. The application questions at the end of each chapter could greatly aid a book study.

Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting by William P. Farley - This was another book I purchased several months ago that I thought Megan and I would benefit from and enjoy. Initially, I misunderstood a couple of Farley's statements in his introduction. They sounded as if the spiritual depth and sincerity of parents, particularly that of fathers, determined whether children became vibrant Christians or people who lacked faith. I got the impression that if you just followed Pastor Farley's parenting methods, all would be good with your kids. However, this is not what Pastor Farley is saying at all. He clearly states that it is God who opens our eyes. Farley is merely stating that parents who keep the gospel message of Jesus Christ at the center of their lives have the answer to all parenting situations. We must proclaim this message to our children at all times.

Gospel-Powered Parenting was not what I expected. I thought I was purchasing a how-to book that would give me lots of practical advice, but what I received was much better - a 230-page book with not only lots of practical advice but a theology book on parenting. Like the Book of Ephesians, the first half of Gospel-Powered Parenting is more doctrinal and the second half is more practical. We must first have a clear understanding of who God is, who we are and what our roles are as parents before we can be effective fathers and mothers. This is what the book provides, not worldly counseling, but the gospel of grace and truth.

Gospel-Powered Parenting is written from a conservative perspective grounded on the Word of God so if you are not a Christian or you possess some liberal views, you will probably not like this book. If you believe spanking children is child abuse, that submission is a curse word, that babies are little angels who do not sin, and that we are all going to Heaven, this book might flat out bother you. Be that as it may, I would still highly recommend that you read Farley's book. Pastor Farley is a humble man who admits that he is far from perfect. I really appreciated his openness and his focus on fatherhood. Although I do not agree with everything I read in Gospel-Powered Parenting, I feel it is the best book I have ever read on building the right kind of families. I highly recommend it.

A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper - A Sweet and Bitter Providence is Pastor Piper's newest release and is a short book that examines the Book of Ruth. Like the Book of Ruth, Piper's book consists of only four chapters - Sweet and Bitter Providence, Under the Wings of God, Strategic Righteousness and May My Redeemer Be Renowned. I chose to read this book because I wanted to read an examination of a specific book of the Bible, but not a volume as heavy as the recent commentary of Ephesians I finished. I do not want to give the impression that this book does not discuss deep matters. It does, but you do not need to be an academic to understand Dr. Piper's interpretation of what the Book of Ruth communicates. Pastor Piper introduces A Sweet and Bitter Providence with seven reasons why you might want to read the book. He concludes the book by turning the reasons into seven appeals.

1. The Word of God/Study the Scriptures
2. A Love Story/Pursue Sexual Purity.
3. (Pursue Mature) Manhood and Womanhood.
4. Ethnocentrism/Embrace Ethnic Diversity.
5. (Trust) the Sovereignty of God.
6. Risk-Taking Love/Take the Risks of Love.
7. (Live and Sing to) the Glory of Christ.

If these reasons and appeals matter to you in the least bit, you might want to read the book.