February 24, 2021

Review: Doubtless by Shelby Abbott


Doubtless: Because Faith Is HardDoubtless: Because Faith Is Hard by Shelby Abbott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Helpful little book. It's aimed at students, but that only comes through explicitly at a few points, and I would feel comfortable handing it to someone of any age struggling with doubts over the truth of Christianity.

The main point he makes it that doubt, in and of itself, is not the enemy. Lingering over those doubts in a morbid way, being a lazy doubter who won't bother to actually seek answers, or we might say being the wrong kind of doubter, is the issue. Doubts used as motivation to lean into our search for truth, doubts used to push us further into the arms of the loving Father, these can actually become His tools for our joy.

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February 22, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "We do not rise up to God; he descends to us."

Michael Horton, Pilgrim Theology, pg 31

February 17, 2021

Review: Poirot and Me by David Suchet


Poirot and MePoirot and Me by David Suchet
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book. But I don't think I'll go passing it around to random people. As someone who grew up watching the Poirot movies, hearing Suchet go through almost every single episode brought back all kinds of memories for me and provided a fascinating glimpse inside the life of a character and stage actor. That said, it made for a rather tedious pace, and if you didn't come already interested in hearing all of this stuff, it wasn't necessarily written in a way that would pull you in. Honestly, I would probably give this book two stars, except I listened to the audio book, which is read by Suchet, and if phone books still exited it would be worth listening to him read one. One of the best voices in the business.

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February 15, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "The final purpose of God's communicative action is to form a people for his treasured possession: not simply a group of holy individuals but a 'holy nation' (1 Peter 2:9)."

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Hearers & Doers, pg 138

February 10, 2021

Review: The Gospel According to John by D.A. Carson

I previously posted some interaction with a particular part of this commentary here. 

The Gospel According to JohnThe Gospel According to John by D.A. Carson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

DA Carson has been my go-to for the past two years of studying John's gospel. The combination of wise and scholarly interaction with commentators both contemporary and historical, the rich exegetical insights, and the commitment to applying the text as the word of God to the people of God set this commentary apart from the others that I used.

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February 08, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "Baptism is not necessary for salvation, but it is necessary for obedience."

Sam Allberry, Why bother with church?, pg 51

February 03, 2021

Review: John, Moody Gospel Commentary by J. Carl Laney

John- Moody Gospel CommentaryJohn- Moody Gospel Commentary by J. Carl L. Laney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Useful cultural and background data; exegesis was pretty thin. Homiletical helps at the end of each chapter were of varying helpfulness. I didn't dislike it, but I probably wouldn't pass it around to friends looking to preach from John's gospel.

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February 01, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 The use of images in worship "begin to corrupt the devotion they trigger."

J.I. Packer, Knowing God, pg 51

January 28, 2021

The Next Right Thing

One of the most important tasks given to every one of us is very simple : do what's in front of you to do. 

How much of my life had been spent wondering who I'm supposed to be? How many hours spent pondering what's next? How many days wasted pondering hypothetical futures? All the while, neglecting what's right in front of me. Have you ever found yourself in a similar position?

I'm thinking about this in light of 1 Samuel 17:11. This chapter is famous for the one on one battle between David and Goliath, in which the boyish underdog marches out to meet the seasoned warrior of imposing resume and incredible size. Any first time reader expects the young idealist to be slaughtered, but instead he is delivered. God gives him the victory, and the legendary career of Israel's greatest king begins.

But if you're paying attention earlier in the narrative, it shouldn't ever come to David being a hero. His heroism, born of his firm confidence in the ability of God to save him out of any circumstance, is preceded by his dismay that the people of the living God are cowering in fear (v26). 

This responsibility lies upon the whole people, who ought to have the same faith David is displaying. But particularly responsible is Saul. This is the king who stands head and shoulders above all of his subjects (9:2), and who was selected for the very purpose of fighting Israel's battles for her (8:20). Now an enemy had come and defied the people of God. The role of the king, the role of the champion and military leader, is to defend the honor of the people and meet the challenge. And instead he cowers in fear. Just like everyone else.

What does this have to do with you and me, in 21st century America? I wonder how much of my time daydreaming or scheming about the future is just so much time spent ignoring what's right before me to do. I can spend time online researching my next career instead of pouring myself out where I'm at, and then investing in my family when I'm home. I can spend time hoping for tomorrow, and in the meantime I'm cowering from today. "Planning" becomes simple escapism of that old giant: real life. The life God has graciously given.

It's not a direct application of the text. It may not ring home for you. But it's got me thinking.

January 27, 2021

Review: The Reason For Sports by Ted Kluck

The Reason For Sports: A Christian FanifestoThe Reason For Sports: A Christian Fanifesto by Ted Kluck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up while walking through a Christian book store (back when those existed). The timing in my life could not have been more critical. I was just coming to the point in life where my relationship with God started to seem really central and I was diving hard into "discipleship." Which was good. But as in most good things, excess was near at hand.

I was questioning whether Christians who were "serious" about their faith should waste time on make believe. Fiction books and sports being the two most pertinent examples in my own life. Ted took my hand and walked me off the ledge, by skillfully showing

1) fun is actually a God-given gift. The enjoyment of athletics is a gift from above. Or to borrow from Dr. Suess, sports are fun and fun is good.

2) More importantly, through his portraits of people, especially Tyson and Williams, Kluck helped me to see what my own sports experience should have: sports are about people. And God values people. So insofar as sports are an avenue to connecting with other human beings and learning about them, sports have a value even beyond the fun.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

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About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (remsenbible.com).