books

WHO IS IN CONTROL, YOU OR YOUR PHONE?

We love our smart phones!

The convenience,  the connectedness, the amazing apps!

I no longer wear a watch, have a camera or use an alarm clock. My smart phone keeps me connected to friends around the world, it provides many forms of entertainment, and it allows me to answer virtual any question that comes up.

So go ahead and celebrate the genius of your smart phone. However, along the way, we should be aware that these phones have side affects. Some of these are good and others are subtly unhealthy.

Tony Reinke helps us to think through the effects of our smart phones with his new book “12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You”. Reinke’s purpose is to help us maximize the benefits and carefully minimize the costs that come with using one of the most amazing and powerful gadgets ever invented.

 

HELP FOR EXCESSIVE SELF-EXAMINATION

A few weeks ago, I attended a book launch for my good friend, Jared Mellinger, who was celebrating the release of his first book, “Think Again: Relief from the Burden of Introspection”. Jared is Senior Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA

I was eager to read my copy right away. I knew that anything written by Jared would be biblically sound and Christ exalting. What I didn’t know is whether he is a good writer.

It turns out that Jared is an excellent writer. His book is honest, insightful and gets to the point quickly without getting bogged down. There is plenty of practical wisdom to go along with his clear analysis of where we lose perspective.

“Think again” is written for those who are overly introspective. If you spend a lot of time focusing on self-examination, self-pity, or self judgement, this book is a must read! Jared also confronts some of the fear of man and people pleasing issues that are common to us.

Virtually anyone would benefit by reading “Think Again”. Jared’s insights will help you understand how to help those who struggle with introspection as well as serving your own soul.

 

HOW DO YOU WALK INTO CHURCH?

What Christian needs to read a book entitled, “How to Walk Into Church”?

Tony Payne, who wrote just that book, thinks all of us need to reflect on the topic.

I heartily agree!

I did miss church my first Sunday on this earth, but after that, my track record is pretty good. I estimate that I have attended nearly 5000 Sunday morning services. If the math doesn’t seem to add up, it’s because I have attended multiple services for decades.

Even after my immersion in Sunday church life, I found “How to Walk Into Church” to be helpful.

Payne’s purpose is to help us to approach church life and specifically church attendance, thoughtfully. And at less than 50 pages, “How to Walk Into Church” is a packed book!

Among the stimulating thoughts:

We should walk into church praying about where to sit.

When does church start?

When does church actually finish?

Whether you have attended 6 church services or 6000, “How to Walk Into Church” will not only help you, it will equip you to encourage other Christians in an age when church attendance is increasingly thoughtless and sporadic.

 

HELP FOR THE OFFENDED

unoffendable

 

I read books in heaps.

But it is not often that a book impacts me as strongly as the one I am recommending to you this month.

After a few pages, it was hard to concentrate on the book, because I was so excited about reading and recommending it.

Let’s get right to it.

Beg, buy, borrow (please don’t steal), “Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better” by Brant Hansen.

Here are some reasons you should make reading “Unoffendable” an immediate priority:

 1.  Being offended is a common occurrence. We are all regularly touched by offendable stuff, and we need help in maintaining a godly attitude.

 2.  Being offended has become a profession. There are people who appear to get offended as their main purpose in life.

 3.  Being offended is seen as a right. It’s not.

 4.  Christians polish their ‘offendability’ by telling themselves it is righteous anger. Brant does an excellent job clarifying what the Bible says in this area.

 5.  Brant writes well, with a sense of humor – which always helps. Unless that offends you.

 6.  Your life will be challenged in good ways, because you will be encouraged to live with a focus on serving Christ rather than your own sensibilities.

MESSY GRACE

messy-grace-cover

“Messy Grace” is an unusual story

The author, Caleb Kaltenbach was raised by a militantly lesbian mother and a homosexual father.

“Messy Grace” is an unusually helpful story

Caleb helps us to think about how Christians come across to those who are outside the church community. You will be challenged in how God uses you in the lives of those who are broken.

“Messy Grace” is an unusually powerful book

If you have a heart to reach people with abundant grace and uncompromising truth, this book will help you. And if you are not interested in those things, then you probably should read it twice!

I benefited by reading “Messy Grace” and I have been recommending it ever since. One of my small groups found that this book stimulated wonderful and needed conversations.

Buy it

Read it

Use it

MY FAVORITE READS OF 2016

reading

I can still remember how exciting it was for me when I learned to read. Ever since, reading has been a central part of my life and a major use of my time. Here are some of my favorite books from 2016

 

CHRISTIAN LIFE

Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke

Reinke draws from Newton’s bountiful writings (primarily his letters) to present Newton’s theology of the Christian life

One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm

A short book that presents the use of one to one Bible reading as an outreach tool

Habits of Grace by David Mathis

There are many books on the disciplines of the Christian life. This may be my favorite.

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

A top book of the year.  Kaltenbach was raised by a militant lesbian mother and a homosexual father.  His book helps us understand how Christians come across to those outside the church community, and how to touch lives that are broken.

Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine

Eswine uses the writings of Charles Spurgeon and the Psalms to bring help to those who suffer from depression

Everyday Church by Tim Chester

Helping churches become Gospel communities on mission

Awe by Paul Tripp

Another excellent book by Tripp on living with a Biblical perspective through remaining in awe of God

 

BIBLICAL STUDIES

Child in the Manger by Sinclair Ferguson

Thoughtful messages on the birth of Christ

The Christ of the Empty Tomb by James Boice

Thoughtful messages on the resurrection of Christ

Knowing Christ by Mark Jones

This is an exceptional collection of writings on the person of Christ.  One of my favorite books of the year, which I have given to my children.

A Peculiar Glory by John Piper

I highly recommend this book on Piper which helps the Christian understand how the Bible was put together and how it reveals its glory and truthfulness

 

BIOGRAPHIES & MEMOIRS

Not Forgotten by Kenneth Eae

The powerful story of a Korean American believer who was imprisoned in North Korea

God Took Me by the Hand by Jerry ‘Bridges

Jerry Bridges uses his life story to teach truths on the sovereignty of God

 J. C. Ryle by Iain Murray

An excellent biography on an influential pastor and writer of the 19th century

The Man Who Moved a Mountain by Richard Davids

The story of Bob Childress, who was a pastor in the rough and wild mountain communities of Virginia.

 J. I. Packer by Leland Ryken

A biography on one of the most influential Christians of the last fifty years.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Christopher Catherwood

This book is part biography and part description of the impact of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ life written by his grandson.

The Diary of a Forty-Niner by Chauncey Canfield

A description of what life was like during the California gold rush in the 1850’s

A Pastor in New York by John Thornbury

A biography on Spencer Houghton Cone.  Cone was not someone I had heard of, but I love biographies on pastors

Darkness Visible:  A Memoir of Madness by William Styron

An accomplished author gives us an inside view of his struggle with mental illness.

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuel Sson

The memoirs of a world-famous chef born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and cooking in America.

 

HISTORY

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

The fascinating story of the brothers who invented the first airplane that worked.

Dinner With Churchill by Cita Stelzer

An interesting look at how Winston Churchill used dinners to conduct policy, particularly during World War II

The Greatest Knight  by Thomas Asbridge

The true story of William Marshal, the most famous and powerful knight of the Middle Ages

 

NON-FICTION

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Gaffigan captures the humorous idiosyncrasies of parenting, especially with multiple children.  It’s a book best listened too.

The History of Diners in New Jersey by Michael Gabriele

Diners and history in one book, what more needs to be said?

 

FICTION

The Scarlett Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

A classic that was fast paced and enjoyable. What I never knew is that this is the first in a series on that character.

One Man’s War by P. M. Kippert

An accurate description of what it was like to be a rifleman on the front line during World War II.  Be warned:  foul language abounds.

KNOWING CHRIST

knowing-christ

This month I am strongly

vigorously

heartily

robustly

stoutly

decidedly

and joyfully recommending the book “Knowing Christ” by Mark Jones.

I first heard about the book through watching a conversation between the author and J.I. Packer on the importance of this book and its topic.

After that I saw many recommendations of “Knowing Christ” by highly respected church leaders. It became a ‘must read’ for me.

After reading the first chapter, I bought more copies to give away.

I like that Mark Jones combines challenging depth with approachable clarity. Mark wants to honor Christ by having the reader think more deeply about Christ.

However, the book does not overwhelm the reader. The 27 chapters are short (under 10 pages), so the book can be read as a daily devotional. In fact, I recommend that you not read more than one chapter at a time. These are rich truths that deserve careful attention.

No subject will reward us more richly than to learn more about Christ. The Apostle Paul has this to say about Christ in Colossians 1:15-19

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell

Every one of us has the need to love and honor Jesus more. A necessary part of doing so, is to know more about him.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON THE GOSPELS

exp_web

Earlier this week I presented JC Ryle’s “5 leading features of evangelical Christianity”.

I mentioned that Ryle was a faithful pastor and bishop in the Anglican Church during the second half of the 19th century.

However, Ryle is best known today for his writings. Even though he was widely read during his lifetime, Ryle and his books were quickly forgotten, because the church quickly lost its taste for gospel rich theology.

Thankfully and to our benefit, Ryle has been rediscovered and his books are once again strengthening God’s people.

I highly recommend his “Expository Thoughts on the Gospels”. These volumes are theological rich, but not too technical or heavy for the general reader. I highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for deeper insight into Scripture and particularly the four gospels.

These books are available in various editions. They were originally published as Ryle finished them in 7 volumes: 1 volume on Matthew, 1 on Mark, 2 on Luke, and 3 on John. You can also buy them in one volume for your e-reader.

Even better, you can download the eBook set for free here at Monergism.com. Take your time at the Monergism site and look over their many books included this hard to beat list of 300 free eBooks!

For those who love biographies, Iain Murray has just released “JC Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone”.

IT’S GOOD TO BE IN AWE!

Paul Tripp writes helpful books, and his new book “Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do” does not disappoint.

There are two things Tripp does exceptionally well in his writing

1.  He gets to the biblical heart of the matters we face

2.  He applies and illustrates the truths he shares with examples from everyday life which connect to all of us

The thrust of Tripp’s latest book is that the core reason for messiness and breakdowns in our lives is because we don’t have our “awe” in proper alignment.

In addition to addressing this issue for life in general, Tripp specifically helps us look at how this applies to the two areas that dominate our life – our family and our job.

I highly recommend “Awe” and anything else by Paul Tripp you can read

A MEAL WITH JESUS

Every once in a while I hear or read an observation I had never noticed in the Bible that is so obvious; I wonder “How did I miss that?”

“A Meal with Jesus” by Tim Chester did this to me.

According to Tim, “Food matters. Meals matter. Meals are full of significance”.

Well, that part I already knew and give it my hearty amen!

But what I had not noticed was his observation of how frequently the gospels portray Jesus in the midst of a meal. Immediately I realized, “Wow that’s right!”

Tim adds that even when the gospels don’t portray Jesus at a meal, he is speaking about food and meals. In fact the Bible actually describes Jesus by saying, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking” (Luke 7:24).

The book focuses on the gospel of Luke in which meals and Jesus are given a prominent role.

Since we all understand the dynamics of meals, Tim Chester’s book is approachable, interesting and beneficial to any reader who wants to apply biblical truth to their lives.

With meals being so prominent in the Bible and in our human experience, “A Meal with Jesus” is an intriguing read.

As Tim Chester points out, “We need a theology of leftovers”.