Friday, December 30, 2016

Ten Favorite Books of 2016


I READ NUMEROUS books this year, but here are my favorites. I trust you might read at least some of these.  

Reform and Conflict, Rudolph Heinze. Oct 17 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation. Here is a very well written, accessible, one-volume history of the Reformation. If you have always wanted to understand the Reformation, but don't, this is the book to read.

How Christianity Changed the World, by Alvin Schmidt. The author asks the question, what would the world have been like if Jesus had never come to earth? The author then traces the effect of Christianity on politics, sexual morality, literature, science, and a host of other disciplines. You will be amazed at the impact of Christ and his kingdom. You will finish knowing why the Christian West has dominated world history for 2,000 years.

Brand Luther, by Andrew Pettegree is a fun look at Martin Luther’s impact on the world of printing and books. Sounds boring, but it isn’t. A stimulating read.
 
God and Guinness, by Stephen Mansfield recounts the 300 year legacy of the amazing Guinness brewing family who sent platoons of Calvinist missionaries throughout the world and have greatly impacted English and Irish society. If you love beer and history, this book is for you…

The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Ian Murray is a treasure. Although I read his longer two volume bio twenty years ago, I wept as I finished this book. It is hard to understand the history of the 20th century evangelical church without a thorough understanding of the life of MLJ, and this is the best place to get it.

Truman by David McCullough is a first-class read. It doesn’t hurt that he won the Pulitzer prize for this volume. Although Harry Truman was a farmer into his mid-thirties, had little formal education, and never wanted to be president, but he was one of the best in modern history. There are some election similarities with Donald Trump.

The Last Lion by William Manchester is another wonderful read. All of Manchester’s bios are wonderful reads. Although long, this one is worth the investment. In the process of covering Churchill’s life, Manchester also gives the reader a tour de ’force of WWII. Churchill was the man of the century, and these three volumes explains why. You will love it.

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas is as good, maybe better, than his bio of Bonhoeffer. What higher praise is there? 

God’s Greater Glory by Bruce Ware discusses the importance of balancing the immanence and transcendence of God. It sounds heady. The ideas are deep, but Dr. Ware writes in a down to earth, engaging way. If you want to savor the greatness of God this is the book to read.
 
Jonathan Edwards on the Christian Life by Dane Ortland is one volume  in a series about different Christians leaders and their approach to the Christian life, but in my view this is the best. Ortland loves Edwards and his writing communicates it. I love this book, I love its subject, I love the depth of piety articulated,  and I love the author’s own passion for Jonathan Edwards on the Christian Life.

The Forgotten Fear by A. N. Martin is a good book on a neglected subject, the fear of God. If the fear of God is an enigma to you give this volume a try. 

Subverted by Sue Browder is the personal testimony of a feminist author who worked directly for Helen Girly Brown, wrote salacious articles for Cosmopolitan in the 1960s, and witnessed the founding of modern feminism. It is her memoir and confession after a  late-life conversion to Christianity. The book contains a lot of information on the
early feminists, and what motivated them. It is a fascinating history of the early days of the feminist movement and helps the reader understand how we got where we are.  

Killing The Rising Sun, by Bill O’Reilly is a must read. It is not for no reason that it is number one on the NY Times best seller list for hardback non-fiction. The 71 years that have separated us from the end of WWII has produced cultural amnesia. We have forgotten the horrors of war, what our forefathers suffered to preserve our freedoms, and why Harry Truman’s decision to use the Atomic bomb against Japan was the only logical choice at the time. O’Reilly and Dugard take us back. They help us remember. They drop us into the last year of WWII providing must-needed historical context. Can’t recommend this book enough!


Monday, December 5, 2016


HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED what dying to self means? Here is the best definition that I have seen. I am not sure who wrote it, but based on the content, he or she probably wouldn't want us to know. It would not be "dying to self."

1. When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely ignored and you don’t sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy being counted worthy to suffer with Christ; that is dying to self.
2. When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed and you refused to let  anger rise in your heart or even to defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence; that is dying to self.
3. When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity and unpunctuality or any annoyance and you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, and spiritual insensibility and endure it as Jesus endured it; that is dying to self.
4. When you are content with any food, any offering and raiment, any climate and society, any solitude, any interruption, by the will of God; that is dying to self.”
5. When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or to record your own good words or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self.
6. When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances; that is dying to self.
7. When you receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly aw well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment, wise enough within your heart; that is dying to self.”