July 18, 2021

Having the Right Fear

Photo by Jessica Delp on Unsplash


An Exegetical Paper on Isaiah 8:11-22




Text

11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.” 

16 Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. 17 I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. 19 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. 21 They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.



Introduction

In this portion of Isaiah’s prophecy the prophet is spoken to by God. The message is one of encouragement to stiffen the spine, as it were, of the prophet. The prophet was not to fear what the people all around him feared, nor concern himself over the short-sighted things they were concerned over. Rather, he was to fear the eternal God, and listen to His word. 


Background

The setting of this text is the Syro-Ephraimite war of 734-732 B.C., in which the forces of Israel (Ephraim) and Syria (Aram) to the north of Judah ally against the increasing pressures of the Assyrian empire. Most of what we know about this war comes to us from the pages of Scripture, with the primary sources being 2 Kings 16, 2 Chronicles 28, and Isaiah 7. As Robert Vasholz summarizes, 


“The underlying cause was the awareness of the increasing strength of the Assyrian forces under a capable ruler, Tiglath-Pileser III. His rise and successful conquests northward and eastward proved him to be a potential menace to the independence of the small kingdoms to Assyria's west and south, particularly Syria (Aram) and Ephraim.”


However, because Judah under Jotham and then Ahaz refused to join forces with these two nations, the allied forces plundered the land of Judah. 2 Chronicles 28:5-8 informs us of an enormous amount of bloodshed and plundering which the people of Judah sufferers at the hands of Israel and Syria.


After having been a prosperous nation under Uzziah, the nation is now thrust into a state of chaos and worry, being shaken to the very core (see Isaiah 7:2). It is in this context that Ahaz seeks the help of the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III. However, rather than helping, Tiglath will himself end up afflicting the people of Judah (2 Chronicles 28:20). 


With this setting in mind, let us turn to the text in Isaiah 8:11-22. I think we can helpfully break it into four narrative movements. 


Don’t Fear What They Fear, v11-12

The LORD spoke to Isaiah with, “his strong hand upon me.” It is as if God is wanting to grab Isaiah by the shoulders or the arms and shake him: “this message is deadly serious - listen up!”


The people here seem to be gripped by conspiracy theories of some sort. Geoffrey W. Grogan argues in his commentary on Isaiah that these conspiracies were pertaining to the various political alliances Ahaz had in place. What is clear from the text is that these conspiracy theories are driving them to fear and dread. They are deeply concerned. This is how conspiracies often work, as conjectures about the unknown come to play a formative role not only in our thinking, but in our emotions as well. 


God is not impressed by this line of thinking, and offers the only suitable counter and remedy to such mental games in the following verses.


There is One You Shall Fear, v13-15

The counter which God offers to the fear of man is the fear of the Lord himself. Drawing upon the truth of texts such as Proverbs 1:9 and 9:10, God speaks to Isaiah this simple truth: the only One worthy of fear is God. Wisdom begins here, and confidence does as well. 


In verse fifteen, we encounter a familiar image of God as the sanctuary of his people. One’s mind is drawn to a text such as Psalm 46:1. However, what follows is a description of who this same Rock and Redeemer (Psalm 19:14) can be to those who fail to fear Him: a terrible and devastating foe. TO quote Old Testament scholar Geoffry W. Grogan, 


“It is impossible in English to convey the terrifying force of the seven Hebrew words that constitute v.15. All five of the verbs end with the same long vowel, and four of these open with the same letter and follow one another in unbroken sequence.”


It’s as if God pulls out not only the logical, but the rhetorical stops to emphasize to his people their solemn responsibility to fear Him and no other. But how does one find the spiritual sustenance and ability to fear God in a world full of political intrigue and instability, economic flux, and personal crises?


Head for the Book!, v16-20

In order to fear the Lord and stay faithful to him, the prophet is determined to bind up the testimony and seal the teaching among his disciples. While commentators sometimes argue that this means Isaiah has turned away from public ministry and is now focusing on his disciples, it seems to me far more likely that this use of seal or bind has in mind connotations similar to Psalm 119:11, wherein the Psalmist says he has hidden God’s word in his heart, or Deuteronomy 6 which speaks of metaphorically binding pieces of the law upon your forehead, as you also write it in your home and bind it to the minds and hearts of your children. 


This concept of binding as a tool for discipleship and keeping the people close to the Lord would be in line with verse 19 wherein the prophet contrasts consulting necromancers and mediums with inquiring of God, who is heard (v20) in and through the medium of His word. 


In verse 18, the prophet proclaims that he and his children are signs and portents for the people of what God has and will do. As noted in the Faithlife Study Bible, 


‘Isaiah refers to his sons who were given symbolic names foreshadowing the judgment, restoration, and redemption of Judah: Shear-jashub, “A remnant will return” (Isa 7:3); Immanuel, “God with us” (7:14); and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, “Spoil speeds, prey hastens” (vv. 3–4).’


One can build a narrative with these names, as the spoil speeds and prey hastens behind the oppressors who will carry off God's people. But they can be assured because a remnant will return. Best of all, they can know that one day God will be with them, and Isaiah's own name, “Yahweh is victorious” or “Yahweh is Salvation”, is fulfilled in the coming of another Immanuel, God with us. But first a warning. 


The Price of Disobedience, v20-22

Refusal to heed the word of God is an indication of deep and profound spiritual darkness, which, for the Old Testament people of God, carried with it certain consequences in this world (see Deuteronomy 28:15ff). 

The picture in these verses is of a famine with both spiritual and physical components, one in which the people fail to take any responsibility for their own actions and hearts, and instead blame both their king and their God. This has interesting parallels with the picture in Revelation 16 of people responding to the bowls of God’s wrath by not repenting, but rather cursing him.


Conclusion

This text ultimately is a warning. To follow the fears of the people will lead one down a road of spiritual destruction. To cry conspiracy or search out forbidden knowledge will lead you away from the only true source of wisdom and knowledge. Instead the people of God ought to fear him, trust him, and look to his word for their guidance. 


Finally, it should be noted for the Christian that this isn’t an abstract truth. Peter picks up this passage in 1 Peter 3:14-15 to encourage believers to face hardships with resolute hope. Not only should we not fear what others fear, but we should not fear those other people if they themselves are the cause of our hardship. Instead, we are to set Christ the Lord apart as holy. He is in a class all by Himself, and is the only one worthy of our fear.


References


Barry, John. et al. 2012. Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016).


Chisholm Jr., Robert B. 2002. Handbook on the Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic).


Grogan, Geoffrey W. 1986. “Isaiah,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House).


Jamieson, Robert, with A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. 1997. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 1 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).


Thomas, Robert L. 1998. New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.).

        
            Vasholz, Robert I. 1987. “Isaiah and Ahaz: A Brief History of Crisis in Isaiah 7 and 8.” Presbyterion 13 (2): 79-84. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000980799&site=ehost-live.

July 15, 2021

A Great Commandment Text




An Exegetical Paper on Malachi 2:10-16

Text

10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the LORD of hosts! 

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”


Introduction and Author

The book of Malachi is thought to have been written by a prophet of the same name. His name means “my messenger”, and because both prophets and priests were considered messengers of the Lord, some have suggested that this name is in fact a title. However, given the construction of 1:1, “The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.”, it seems best to consider this his proper name. In Malachi we meet someone very familiar with and unhappy about the religious state of Israel.


Background and Setting

That religious state is a mess, hence the prophet’s disgruntlement. The book features a set of six disputations in which the prophet confronts the people, hears a response, and brings the charge to a conclusion. The nature of the disputes parallel issues faced during the post-exilic time period of Ezra-Nehimiah, thus most believe the book was likely written circa the 5th century B.C.. The prophet calls out the people’s distrust of God’s love (1:2-5), their despisal of his name (1:6-2:9), their unfaithfulness (2:10-16), their denial of God’s justice (2:17-3:5), their theft from God (3:6-12), and finally their distrust of His character (3:13-4:3).


The Profaning of the Covenant, v10-12

The third of the prophet’s disputes with the people in Malachi begins in 2:10 where he charges them with being faithless to one another. The seriousness of this crime is highlighted by the implied contrast between this and what would be right. “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” The question the prophet seems to be asking is, “If we see ourselves as one people created by the one God, how could we ever treat one another in a treacherous fashion?” Yet they have, and he describes this behavior in the latter half of verse 10 as “profaning the covenant of our fathers.”


Who made this covenant with their fathers? Was it a merely human to human contract? Hadly. We see both in the land of Cannan with Abraham (see Genesis chapters 15 and 17), as well as with the nation at Mount Sinai (see Exodus 20), God is the one initiating this covenant with his people. Therefore to violate the covenant of the fathers by faithlessness toward a brother is a form of profaning the covenant God of Israel, Yahweh.  


The specific nature of the covenant unfaithfulness is spelled out in v11, where the prophet charges the people with marrying “the daughter of a foreign God”, which is to say, they were taking foreign wives. Again, this is pictured not merely as wrong on a human to human level, but as a distortion of worship as well, “Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD.” The punishment pronounced for this is found in v12, “May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob” any who are guilty of this crime. The picture here is of Yahweh Himself bringing judgement down on the faithless ones.


The Violence of Divorce, v13-16

In this section the LORD is pictured as a witness between the men of Israel and their wives, whom they have been unfaithful to via divorce. Taken together with the issue of intermarriage with foreign women in v11, some have taken this to mean that the men of Israel were leaving their first wives (of Israelite descent), and taking to themselves these foreign women.


This threatened the cohesive nature of Israel as a people devoted to the LORD. In a time when the people were returning from exile and seeking to rebuild the nation this was particularly egregious, and would make impossible (or at least very difficult) that which the LORD was seeking from these families: godly children (v15). Because of these offenses of abandoning their wives from their own people and taking to themselves foreign wives, God was refusing to acknowledge the prayers and sacrifices of his people (v13-14). He will not receive the prayers of those whom he describes as “covering their garments with violence” (v16).


Conclusion

The clear message of this passage is that God is displeased with the unfaithful dealings of Israel. In their failure to deal rightly with their wives at home, the men of Israel showed how truly distant their hearts were from God. While the traditional translation of v16, “the Lord hates divorce,” is perhaps not a justified way to bring the Hebrew into English, the divorce pictured in Malachi 2:10-16 certainly is hated by the LORD. He sees it as violence, not only against the innocent women and children involved, but against His own covenant with the people of Israel.





References


Barry, John. et al. 2012. Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016).

Cabal, Ted. et al., 2007. The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers).

Chisholm Jr., Robert B. 2002. Handbook on the Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic).

Jamieson, Robert, with A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. 1871. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 1 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

Robert C. Kashow, “Malachi the Prophet,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

Taylor, Justin, ed. The ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008).

Thomas, Robert L. 1998. New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.).


July 04, 2021

Is He A Mere Echo?


Photo by Nico Smit on Unsplash


A Response to “Isaiah 53 in the Pulpit”



Introduction

In his paper Isaiah 53 in the Pulpit (Goldingay, John, and John E Goldingay. “Isaiah 53 in the Pulpit.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 35, no. 2 (Sum 2008): 147–53) John Goldingay attempts to marry homiletical form with contemporary exegesis of Isaiah 53. Behind his quest is a question posed by G.A. Brame in a 2005 article (Brame, Grace Adolphsen. “The Cross: Payment or Gift?” Perspectives in Religious Studies 32, no. 2 (Sum 2005): 67–81), asking why this was not more readily being done. If so many modern exegetes have moved on from the idea of Isaiah 53 being a prophecy of Jesus’ penal substitution for sinners, why do people in the pulpits and the pews continue to cling to such archaic interpretations? 


What I will seek to do in this brief paper is to first interact with one of Goldingay’s interpretive assumptions, and secondly, to compare his exegesis with the text itself.


When Was Isaiah Written?

The gorilla in the room as you read Goldingay’s paper is that he does not believe Isaiah the prophet, who lived in the Eighth century BC (Donald E. Hartley, “Isaiah the Prophet,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016)), was the author of Isaiah’s servant songs. This is obvious from statements such as, ‘Inside that frame is “our” testimony; the passage does not identify who “we” are, though I take them to be most immediately the Judean people who are the prophet’s community in Babylon.” (Goldingay, 148. Emphasis added.)


This is problematic, for while, as Richard Hess notes in his introduction to Isaiah, “it has become common for Isaiah scholars to posit a number of authors for the book...there are strong reasons to maintain the traditional view.” (D. A. Carson, ed., NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 1159.) The traditional view being that Isaiah himself penned the book. If this is correct, then Goldingay’s argument falls like a house of cards, being built as it is on the unnamed and imagined prophet living during the exile. 


The Text Itself

The bigger problem with Goldingay’s dealing with Isaiah 53 is that it does not fit the text itself. In his frame, after the prophet “more or less died” (Goldingay, 152.), ‘He says to God, “You know the way you accept it if someone offers a lamb in sacrifice? How would it be if I offered my life as a sacrifice for my people? I really care about them […] Would that work?”’ (Goldingay, 152.)


How does this fit with verse 10, “It was the will of the LORD to crush him” (ESV)? Or moving backwards toward verse 6, “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The language in this passage is of intentionality on the side of God. The suffering servant isn’t coming to strike a deal, he is the lamb led to slaughter by YHWH. Finally, this bargaining prophet interpretation really has no way to account for 52:15, “so shall he sprinkle many nations.” 


Conclusion

In summary, I found Goldingay’s exegesis wanting. This also led to a sermon which was lacking in emotional force - the whole punch of the gospel had been removed. The good news was turned into a story about a nice guy who Jesus in turn looked to as a role model. In removing substitutionary atonement from Isaiah 53, you also remove the hope this passage contains for all who cling to Christ, the Suffering Servant of the Lord.







June 28, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "Simply telling people what to think in order to be orthodox, and then expecting them to be disciples, is like telling people what they should eat in order to be healthy and then expecting them to lose weight."


Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Hearers & Doers, pg 54

June 23, 2021

Review: We Were Soldiers Once...and Young by Moore and Galloway

We Were Soldiers Once... and Young: Ia Drang - The Battle that Changed the War in VietnamWe Were Soldiers Once... and Young: Ia Drang - The Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam by Harold G. Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moore and Galloway weave together an intense and fascinating narrative, taking the reader into some of the first major engagements of U.S. troops in the Vietnam war. But while the relation of the battles themselves is engaging and emotionally moving, that's not all there is in this book. There are no punches pulled when Moore speaks about the failures of the Johnson administration, and there is no heartstring left un-pulled he quotes from the individuals who lost loved ones in the battles in the Ia-Drang that fall of 65.



View all my reviews

 

June 16, 2021

Review: An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Dunbar-Ortiz

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (ReVisioning American History, #3)An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.25-3.5

This was not an enjoyable book-not due to the writing, Dunbar-Ortiz is perfectly capable in that department. But this history she records is unbelievably depressing.

Some of her analytical tools fail her (critical theory, Marxist theory) and cause her to at times over-state the case or impute ill (Colonialist and Racist) motives to those who were undoubtedly concerned more with self-preservation and opportunity than with the destruction of the Native Peoples of the United States. One needn't say all white settlers and government officials had ill motives in order to make clear the horrific impacts such motives had in influencing the culture.

But whether or not one agrees with all of her analysis, the plain facts recorded of the immense number of Indigenous people killed, displaced, and otherwise harmed, treaties re-written, broken, and ignored, and the many attempts by the U.S. government to erase from existence American Indians is a heartbreaking and under-told story.

View all my reviews

 

June 14, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "Why are you preaching this sermon? That obvious question draws many inadequate answers. [...] No matter how brilliant or biblical a sermon is, without definite purpose it will not be worth preaching."


Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching, pg 107

June 09, 2021

Review: Hearers & Doers by Kevin J. Vanhoozer

 

Hearers and Doers: A Pastor's Guide to Growing Disciples Through Scripture and DoctrineHearers and Doers: A Pastor's Guide to Growing Disciples Through Scripture and Doctrine by Kevin J. Vanhoozer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kevin J. Vanhoozer has written perhaps the most helpful book for pastors that I've ever read. His claim that "reading Scripture theologically is the royal road to discipleship" (pg xi) is both, in my estimation, exactly right and and woefully under embraced. I'm not sure a lot of Christians would even know what to do with a phrase such as, "reading Scripture theologically."

This is not a how-to book in the sense of "start this program and run it for 75 days, followed by a 43 day fast, and 12 consecutive 24 minute prayer meetings, and viola! disciples." But neither is it a book that flies around in the stratosphere of theory. Vanhoozer puts forward a compelling biblical vision for what a disciple is, and then argues -perhaps argue isn't even the right word here- that God really did give us the right equipment when he gave us the Bible and not a step-by-step guidebook.

The reason I wonder if argue is the right word is that Vanhoozer advances much of this through metaphor-which is a strikingly biblical way to communicate, if foreign to many books about the Bible. The metaphors which dominate are the idea of fitness -that a disciple is meant to be one fit for service- and the concept of disciples as actors of God's story, given a proverbial script by God in his word, but this script doesn't give us the precise lines to say in every situation, but instead teaches us what is fitting, in such a way that if we fully inhabit the biblical story, when we enter our world we will know how to act in such a way as it fitting. Again, fitness. If with a slightly different shade of meaning.

I cannot commend this book highly enough to pastors and laypeople alike.

View all my reviews

June 07, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "Neglecting the church is neglecting Jesus."


Sam Allberry, Why bother with church?, pg 31

June 02, 2021

Review: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

 

The Killer Angels (The Civil War Trilogy, #2)The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was amazed by how much I liked this book.

I enjoy history, though I don't read a ton of it anymore. Having listened to U.S. Grant's memoir earlier in the year, I decided to try a different part of the war, and a different style of book.

The writing is very good, and I felt like I was in the mind of each of the individual characters. The ability to essentially shift writing styles for chapters at a time and to somehow still feel like the book was cohesive is something I have seen poorly imitated, and so I was pretty skeptical. But Shaara nailed it. My heart broke with Longstreet, it thrilled with Chamberlain, and all in all I was left with that feeling I get anytime I read any good writing on war: what a hellish mess. There are beauties and glories, as with any part of human existence. But the sum total is not beauty. Men fighting for a million different personal or cultural reasons, many of which weren't the reasons that the war itself was being fought. Men being given authority because of their education or connections who have no business leading anything, let alone other men. Thousands of lives wasted in lost causes.

What a hellish mess. Bad situations with no good answers. How quintessential to the fallen human experience. How needed for people in our current chaos, to see these are struggles people have always dealt with.

View all my reviews

May 26, 2021

Review: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and LongerAnd Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novella takes you inside the mind of a man and his memories, and walks you through the painful experience of losing those memories, only slipping out from time to time to help you feel how devastating this experience is not only for the man himself, but for his grandson and son as well.

Backman’s prose is absolutely spot on. Delightful would be the wrong word given this subject matter, but the grace of his language is part of what makes the pain bearable.

I lost my grandfather (on my mom’s side) almost a year ago, following several years of noticeable cognitive decline, and my own father has severe memory impairment following a stroke several years back. The pain I felt for ever character in this story was palpable. Devastating. And yet this book is so suffused with beauty. I suppose to give it a two word summary I would combine those two. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is a Devastatingly Beautiful book.



View all my reviews

 

May 24, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "Pastors must remain vigilant, guarding not only the orthodoxy of statements of faith but also the imaginations of their congregants."


Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Hearers & Doers, pg 12

May 17, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "Doctrine is not a distraction but the church's main business: living each day, all day, to the glory of God."


Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Hearers & Doers, pg 134

May 12, 2021

Review: Weakness is the Way by J. I. Packer

Weakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our StrengthWeakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength by J.I. Packer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was not what I anticipated; I was anticipating a more extended meditation upon the topic of weakness, whereas this book is actually a meditation upon Paul's second letter to the Corinthian church, with particular application to weakness. Which is probably what I needed.

Packer is always lucid, incisive, and to the point, and this book is no different.

View all my reviews

 

May 10, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "There is no such thing as love or worship that is merely private."


Anthony Esolen, Life Under Compulsion, pg 212

May 05, 2021

Review: The Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan

The Pilgrim's ProgressThe Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had started to read this several years ago and put it down. I always had in my mind the idea that this was a simple, perhaps over-simple, book. As I listened to the audio book over the past couple of days and was struck both by Bunyan's quite complex and nuanced view of the Christian life-or pilgrimage, as it were-and by the beauty of his language. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

 

May 03, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 So next time you hear someone say, "The church is a people, not a place," you might respond: "Sort of. The people become a people by regularly assembling in a place. You can't call the team a team if they never play together."


Jonathan Leeman, One Assembly, pg 64

April 28, 2021

Review: Jack by Marilynne Robinson

 

JackJack by Marilynne Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robinson's prose is worth 5 stars. This book does take a while to get going, as it opens with a long conversation...I'm not sure if I was helped by having previous familiarity with Jack as a character, or if coming in cold would have benefited me.

Jack is the character in Robinson's novels whom I find most troubling. I have people in my life who have held to a similar trajectory of self-destruction, wrecking or at least hurting others in their wake. And the easy thing to do is mentally dehumanize them, categorize them as irredeemable screw ups, and move on. But Jack is so deeply human. He troubles me, because if a character in a novel can be this complex, how much more the people in my real life? I needed to read this book, and it makes me want to revisit Home. In more ways than one.

View all my reviews

April 21, 2021

Review: The Heidelberg Catechism

 

The Heidelberg CatechismThe Heidelberg Catechism by Zacharias Ursinus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful little catechism. Scriptural, devotional. Much warmer than other catechisms I’ve read. I’m not Reformed with the capital R, so I have some quibbles on the definition of the church and one of the questions on baptism, but I would heartily recommend this for devotional reading and study.

The Puritan paperback edition by Banner of Truth is very nicely put together, and easily slipped in and out of my cargo pocket while I was sitting in a tree stand.

View all my reviews

April 14, 2021

Review: The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

 

The Pilgrim's ProgressThe Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had started to read this several years ago and put it down. I always had in my mind the idea that this was a simple, perhaps over-simple, book. As I listened to the audio book over the past couple of days and was struck both by Bunyan's quite complex and nuanced view of the Christian life-or pilgrimage, as it were-and by the beauty of his language. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

April 12, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "If a preacher will not--or cannot--think himself clear so that he says what he means, he has no business in the pulpit."


Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching, pg 39

April 07, 2021

Review: Weakness is the Way by J.I. Packer

 

Weakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our StrengthWeakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength by J.I. Packer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was not what I anticipated; I was anticipating a more extended meditation upon the topic of weakness, whereas this book is actually a meditation upon Paul's second letter to the Corinthian church, with particular application to weakness. Which is probably what I needed.

Packer is always lucid, incisive, and to the point, and this book is no different.

View all my reviews

April 05, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "Change a church's structure and you change the moral shape of the church."


Jonathan Leeman, One Assembly, pg 21

March 31, 2021

Review: Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice by Scott David Allen

 

Why Social Justice Is Not Biblical Justice: An Urgent Appeal to Fellow Christians in a Time of Social CrisisWhy Social Justice Is Not Biblical Justice: An Urgent Appeal to Fellow Christians in a Time of Social Crisis by Scott David Allen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Read this book on the recommendation of a friend. I was severely underwhelmed.

Let me begin by saying that I have a lot of sympathy with his basic premise that social justice ideology as a totalizing worldview is incoherent, dangerous, and not what we want governing our society. As Christians we should want justice, and want it defined on God's terms, not the world's.

Having said that, this book doesn't have a lot to recommend it. The explanation of Biblical justice is very thin, and basically came to a classical liberal idea of negative rights without addressing the biblical concepts of corporate responsibility and the positive responsibility of the who have to those who don't. On the flip side, I don't think he did a great job of articulating the very Social Justice mindset he was seeking to critique. I wouldn't feel comfortable handing this book to someone and suggesting that they would understand this worldview-far better to just hand them to the link to vox.com and tell them to read a half dozen articles. They'll have a better grip on what's going on.

I also was frustrated by his distortion of historical events, for example, portraying the American and English revolutions as somehow unrelated to the French revolution. The tone through the middle/latter parts of the book was pop-level apology for America/the West rather than a Biblical interaction with the prevailing cultural ideology of our day.

In all, I just don't see enough substance here to warrant your time reading it.

View all my reviews

March 29, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "God wonderfully delivers his church from death by death."


John Calvin, Commentary on the Catholic Epistles, pg 22

March 24, 2021

Review: The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb by Goggin and Strobel

 

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned ItThe Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It by Jamin Goggin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a 5 star concept with 2.8-3 stars worth of execution. The essential premise is this: we can either embrace power from below (the way of the dragon), or we can embrace the power from Above (the way of the Lamb). Goggin and Strobel write from the conviction that not only has our culture embraced the way from below (which we should expect), but that the church has as well. We have swallowed the lies of the world concerning the true nature of power and promoted a form of leadership that has little resemblance to the Jesus who emptied himself and took the form of a servant.

And the way they go about exploring this idea, interacting with Scripture and by interviewing older believers whose lives exemplify this way from above, is super useful. The concept of simply sitting with and listening to wiser older believers is something so lost on many young Christians (including those of us in positions of leadership!) that sitting through a whole book where that is what the authors are doing is a useful corrective. So I wholeheartedly endorse the message of this book. I was challenged by it, and profoundly helped. I foresee drawing on it in he future.

My critiques lie mainly in the editing process. The constant cutting back and forth between "I (Kyle)" and "I (Jamin)" was distracting. I assume it was to make the book feel more personal but it made for a clunky reading experience. Some of the practical "how do we expose ourselves to God's formation?" advice toward the end was good-insofar as it went. It could have been developed more. As it was, I don't think the book would have lost much by simply cutting 20 pages or so. The practical help was so thin as to not really advance the usefulness of the book beyond the thought-provoking questions and challenges that had already been raised. I'd rather have no help and just be left with questions. But that could be a personal issue more than a reflection on the book itself-every book review is as much a review of the reviewer, I suppose.

All in all, I'll probably give this as a gift to a few of my friends in ministry. The issues raised by this book are incredibly important.

View all my reviews

March 22, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "To make hearers into doers, we need to appeal not only to the intellect but also to the imagination."


Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Hearers & Doers, pg 70

March 17, 2021

Review: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

 

Ordinary GraceOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish I could give it 3.5, or 3.75. The prose is 4, sometimes five. The story is a solid four, though the plot becomes pretty predictable and I saw the end coming with 12 chapters still to go. There were portions that I found wholly unnecessary. But there were enough interesting subplots to keep me interested.

Probably the most gripping thing about this book was the way he circled around this idea of the awful grace of God. It only receives brief mentions directly, but the concept pervades the feel of the book, and I found it...I'm struggling for how to explain the way I felt about it. Helpful isn't the right word, but neither is enjoyable. Moving conjures the wrong image. It'll stick with me.

A grace we can't understand. A grace beyond comprehension. A grace that penetrates the ordinary.

View all my reviews

March 15, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "A preacher must learn to listen to God before he speaks for Him."


Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching, pg 26

March 10, 2021

Review: The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant by Ulysses S. Grant

 

The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant (Volumes I and II)The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant by Ulysses S. Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grant is a fascinating individual, and a good writer. I listened on an audiobook, which made it at times difficult to follow everything he was describing, given that I was unfamiliar with the geography. I assume a good printed edition with battle maps would have alleviated that frustration.

Again, because of the audio form, the amount of detail was at times tedious. But Grant's attention to detail is amazing, and it was informative to hear his evaluation of other generals, North and South, as well as his assessments of political leaders. Whetted my appetite for more Civil War history.

View all my reviews

March 08, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "The society that promotes chastity promotes true wedded love. The land of marriage, despite all the troubles that sinful human beings bring upon themselves, is a paradise by comparison with the land of easy fornication and childlessness by choice."


Anthony Esolen, Life Under Compulsion, pg 123

March 05, 2021

An Important Linguistic Point

 


In an article that is very worth your time, Jared Wilson talks about the fact that pastors are paid to sit and stare out the window-or, in other words, to think, pray, and meditate on Scripture. This seems counterintuitive to many parishioners, and to many pastors as well. One of the reasons, Wilson argues, is because we have mislabeled the "pastor's study" as the "pastor's office." He then gives the following quote from Eugene Peterson to that effect:

“A misnaming replaces ‘pastor’s study’ with ‘office,’ thereby further secularizing perceptions of pastoral work. How many pastors no longer come to their desks as places for learning but as operation centers for organizing projects? The change of vocabulary is not harmless. Words have ways of shaping us. If we walk into a room labeled ‘office’ often enough we end up doing office work. First we change the word, then the word changes us.”

The whole article from Wilson is worth your time. What are you expecting from your pastor? Business-like production, or faithful reflection and labor in prayer and word ministry? 

March 03, 2021

Review: The Last of the Mountain Men by Harold Peterson

 

The Last of the Mountain Men: the True Story of an Idaho SolitaryThe Last of the Mountain Men: the True Story of an Idaho Solitary by Harold Peterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sylvan Hart was a fascinating man. I'd love to read a biography of him. This book is less biography, and more magazine style profile, interjected with the author's own nostalgia for a bygone era, some fascinating bits of Idaho (and other western) history, and a little travel log thrown in. Peterson pulled it off for the most part, though it would have been better if he had done a little more reporter stuff and a little less ametuer philosopher stuff.

Definitely worth a read if you want an interesting story, or are interested in Idaho history.

View all my reviews

March 01, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "Modern people, though they cherish great thoughts of themselves, have as a rule small thoughts about God."


J.I. Packer, Knowing God, pg 83

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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.


View all my reviews


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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

January 25, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "These days we have no true childhood, only a diseased precocity, introducing children to things that any decent man of Whittier's day, or of Armstrong's, would have considered unutterably vile. Therefore we have no true adulthood either, only a prolonged infantility, a curdled adolescence followed by old age and death."


Anthony Esolen, Life Under Compulsion, pg 70 

January 20, 2021

Review: 9 Mark of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever


Nine Marks of a Healthy ChurchNine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dever's book is helpful. I've listened to a lot of 9 Marks interviews and sermons/lectures and read extensively from their website, so not a lot of the content here was new to me. But because they were originally sermons, it was helpful to watch a skilled expositor teach topically. Homiletically helpful, one might say.

View all my reviews

January 18, 2021

Commonplace Monday

 "Lacking a church is not equivalent to lacking a decent supermarket or movie theatre; it is like lacking a hospital or a source of water. It is an utter necessity."


Sam Allberry, Why bother with church?, pg 19

January 14, 2021

My Top 16 Books of 2020

Longtime readers of this blog-and virtually anyone who has any idea that this blog even exists-are most likely aware of my habit of posting a top 10 list of my favorite reads from the previous year. Anyone who knows me in real life also knows that I can be somewhat indecisive, and narrowing this year's list down to 10 seemed like more decisions than I wanted to deal with. So I'm pleading a special case for a special year, and giving a top 16 list. 

Other differences from previous lists include my inclusion of re-reads (because I was hit so deeply by my re-reading of Till We Have Faces), allowing multiples from the same author (the Carson books deserve it), and how I've written (I normally stack these books up in front of myself, but I'm in the process of moving, and so they're pretty well all packed up).


1. Till We Have Faces- CS Lewis

I cannot communicate forcefully enough the impact of re-reading this book. I think the first
time I read Till We Have Faces was 4 or 5 years ago, and I remember spending a good portion of the time just trying to keep track of the story. I also remember being completely captivated by one phrase: the stench of holiness. 

This read through, my attention was drawn to what I think Lewis was trying to get at: our deep and subtle ability to deceive ourselves. 



2. Educated- Tara Westover

Tara Westover has a harrowing personal story. I deeply resonated with parts of it, and am deeply grateful that I couldn't relate to more. She writes beautifully, and her deepest question is one that many of us struggle with: how can I see and name something as wrong and still love the people involved?



3. Enjoying God- Tim Chester


Perhaps the most spiritually beneficial book I read the first half of the year. Chester draws on the work of John Owen in Communion with God, but this isn't just the re-hash of someone else's work. He spends chapter after chapter demonstrating how we can experience intimacy with God in our everyday moments in life. Not in a mystical, detached, or ethereal way, but in a manner that is God-centered, Bible saturated, and theologically informed. 



4. And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer- Fredrick Backman

I've heard rave reviews of Backman and decided to listen to this little book at work. Imagine my shame as the mailman is walking around town alternately laughing and crying. In a very brief story he grapples with death, love, friendship, and family in a way that puts most philosophers to shame. 



5. Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor- DA Carson


Wasn't sure which of the Carson books to put first, but this gets the nod. Carson takes a series of letters and journal entries from his father, and weaves them together with a mini biography of his dad and a history of Evangelicalism in mid 20th century Quebec. It's masterfully done, but more important than the accomplishment is the life being focused on: Tom Carson was indeed an ordinary pastor, a church planter and pastor who saw very little fruit during most of his ministry. And yet in spite of the difficulties and discouragements, he remained faithful. Which is all Jesus ultimately requires of his stewards. Thoroughly encouraging.

6. John- DA Carson

While the previous Carson book inspired me in ministry, this one helped me in the more normal sense. I both taught and preached through John (in different settings) from late 2017 through mid 2020. I don't think I picked up Carson's commentary until sometime in 2018, but from that point it has been a near and dear companion. Obviously it wasn't the only one on my desk (or Logos software) but it was the only one I made sure to read every week. Helpful on language and historical data, but shines when it comes to theology and practical implications of the doctrine for the believer's life. And if you want to dig deeper on anything, Carson's footnotes are a great place to start.

7. The Killer Angels- Michael Shaara

I grew up watching the movie Gettysburg which is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel. It's cliché to say, but the book is so much better it is not even funny. I felt like I was in the shoes of Longstreet and Chamberlain (the other depictions are good, but you get the feeling that Shaara has more sympathy with these characters than the others). This book reinvigorated my appetite for history in general, and military history in particular.

8. Heidelberg Catechism

I'm not Reformed with a capital R, so there a few quibbles I'd have...but overall, this is a beautiful summation of Christian truth in a Question and Answer format. 

Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?          

A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

9. A Big Gospel in Small Places- Stephen Whitmer

Witmer takes on an issue of pressing importance for me personally: given the bigness of the Gospel need in this world, should Christians bother with small places? His answer: depends on on the Christian. Some are called to the global cities, the culturally strategic places, the places of worldly influence. And some of us are called to Nazareth. The Gospel is for all kinds of people in all kinds of places-or perhaps more accurately, every person in every place. Important or insignificant. Big or small.

10. American Buffalo- Steven Rinella

I'll admit to being a bit of a MeatEater fanboy, and so I thought a family road trip would be a perfect time to listen to Rinella's book on an American Icon, the bison or buffalo. Well, the book is really good, but unless you want to explain his analogies explaining Bison bison sexual organs to your children, pass on the audiobook for the car ride. 

11. Zeal Without Burnout- Christopher Ash

This is a brief book. It's not groundbreaking in it's suggestions. But Ash is firm in reminding his readers that they are not God, and God does not expect them to be. So much of ministry burnout is based on our own idolatries of self, productivity, and pleasing people. But this book will call you back to simple obedience within the creaturely constraints which God himself has placed upon us. 

12. Jack- Marylinne Robinson

I love all of Marylinne Robinson's novels. To be honest, I think Jack is weaker than the previous body of work, but that says more about the quality of Robinson's previous work than this particular novel. The only quibble is how lost I imagined I'd be if I didn't already have Gilead and Home in my mental furniture. Not sure how the opening 50 pages (probably less than that in a normal copy, our librarian ordered it in large print) of dialog would have landed otherwise.

13. ConservatismRoger Scruton

In a time when the label conservative can carry an awful lot of baggage, much of which seems quite the opposite of conservative, it was refreshing to read an intellectual history and explanation of that term many hold so dear. A reminder that conservatives seek to conserve, not tear down or burn things. Timely. 

14. One Assembly- Jonathan Leeman

An argument that when the New Testament authors (and the Holy Spirit under whose inspiration they wrote) used the word ekklesia, "assembly", to describe the church, they actually meant for assembling to be a constitutive part of the definition of the church. While the church is more than a gathering of people, it cannot, in fact, be less. I found his argument persuasive.

15. No Quick Fix- Andy Naselli

A helpful look at the how sanctification actually takes place in the life of a believer, countering the "let go and let God" ideas which were/are articulated in Keswick theology, and carry popularly into much of modern evangelicalism.

16. Tess of the Deurbervilles- Thomas Hardy

I'd never read any Thomas Hardy...and while this is definitely not my "kind" of book, I did enjoy it. Thoroughly. Enough to give it some space in the top 16. Like all good fiction, it made me think.


Books I Enjoyed, But Not As Much as the Top Tier...roughly in order of enjoyment

Hank the Cowdog, John Erickson; If you have kids and aren't reading Hank the Cowdog to them, what are you doing with your life?

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb, Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel

Weakness is the Way, JI Packer

The Gospel of John, James Boice; Brilliant collection of sermons!

The Last of the Mountain Men, Harold Peterson

Mom Enough, Ed. Tony Reinke

The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan

Visit the Sick, Brian Croft

Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger

Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant

Forgotten Church, Glenn Daman

Right Color, Wrong Culture, Bryan Loritts

The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories, Ernest Hemingway

Church Elders, Jeramie Rinne

Comfort the Grieving, Paul Tautges

John, Carl Laney

The Trumpet of the Swan, EB White

Servant of All, Richard Enlow

Doubtless, Shelby Abbott

Poirot and Me, David Suchet

Many Colors, Soong-Chan Rah

The Fellowship of the Ring, JRR Tolkien

What Did You Expect? Paul Tripp

Coronavirus and Christ, John Piper

Spirits in Bondage, CS Lewis

Charlotte's Webb, EB White

Alexander Hamilton, Charles Conant

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald


Books I also read:

The Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

Take My Heart and Make it Break, Steve Shanks

Hokahey!, Richard Hardoff

Why Social Justice is not Biblical Justice, Scott David Allen


About Me

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