Sunday, August 29, 2010

What is the Bible Basically About?

I enjoyed this video that was put together from one of Tim Keller's talks on the metanarrative of the Bible.  His teaching on a Christo-centric view of the Bible has made the Bible come alive to me all over again.  I pray that this blesses you...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Notes: What I've Read Lately

Book #1: Humility, True Greatness by CJ Mahaney.  I picked up this little read after deciding in my spiritual assessment this year that I needed to work on pride.  Pride is one of those root issues that is hard to nail down, but is apparent in everything we do.  I love Mahaney's definition of pride - when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him.  His shortened definition is one that will stay with me for years - contending with God for supremacy.  I see that in my own life and how God constantly is at work to break me of my pride.  Mahaney has some great, practical tips on growing humility in our hearts - all rooted in the gospel.  I personally appreciated his section on using encouraging, edifying words toward others as a way to cultivate humility.  Also helpful were his encouragements to focus on the doctrines of grace as essential to a heart full of humility.  If everything I have is truly a gift of God's grace, what room do I have to boast?  A great, easy read.

 Book #2: George Whitefield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century.  Arnold Dallimore was a Baptist preacher who wrote biographies of great figures in the recent history of the church.  George Whitefield was definitely one of those figures.  Originally from England, Whitefield split his ministry time between England and the American colonies.  He was a powerful preacher of the gospel, known for his ability to captivate thousands of people in the days before public broadcast systems.  God apparently gave him a voice that could carry and the physical stamina to preach and teach all the time.  I was stunned as I read through this biography how many times a week Whitefield would preach - sometimes three or four times a day.  I also didn't understand the relationship between Whitefield and the Wesleys before reading Dallimore's biography.  They had a close friendship and ministry partnership even though Whitefield was more Calvinistic in his theology than Wesley.  One of the stranger parts of the book is Dallimore's description of Whitefield's marriage, which almost seemed like a business arrangement.  Whitefield and his wife were apart from each other for very long periods of time as he was traveling for his ministry.  Amazing story - very interesting life - fast read.

Book #3: Patton: The Pursuit of Destiny.  General George Patton was one of the most successful and colorful generals that the US Army ever produced.  From a long line of military heroes, Patton almost seemed destined to make his career in the armed forces.  He was one of the first American generals to see the possibility of mechanized warfare and many of the strategies and training programs that he devised are still used by the military today.  His personal life was a mess, and his military career almost imploded several times because of his lack of self-control.  His career was made into the famous movie with George C Scott in 1970, and the authors spend considerable time talking about how the Hollywood version of Patton compared to the real life Patton.  This book, which is a very recent biography of Patton, is one of many Patton biographies out there.  While I haven't read the others, I would think this one would fit in the introductory category.  Under 200 pages, this book is a quick overview of the life and career of General Patton.  I enjoyed it as an introduction to a very interesting and consequential life.

Book #4: Spurgeon: A New Biography.  Another biography by Arnold Dallimore, this work studies the life of the most famous pastor/preacher of the 19th century.  Charles Spurgeon pastored the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London for forty years in the second half of the 19th century.  His ministry was expansive, covering everything from books to training pastors and teachers to caring for the poor to helping orphans to providing for the elderly.  God definitely gifted Spurgeon as a preacher of the gospel and a trainer of other pastors and leaders.  I pray that God will allow me to persevere in serving Him as Spurgeon did, even in the midst of bad health and the poor health of his wife.  Dallimore's biography keeps the pace moving and covers the amazing breadth of Spurgeon's ministry with ease.  Spurgeon, like Whitefield before him, did an amazing amount of work for the Lord.  I don't think these men would appreciate our modern emphasis on balance and rest, but then again their poor health severely limited their ministry in later years.  A great read - very encouraging and faith building overall for me.