I love reading. I read a few books deeply and slowly (#1 and #3 below). I read others quickly (#9 and #10). Regardless, I seek to remain open for God to speak to me in unexpected ways. The following are my top 10 picks for the second half of 2017 that you may want to add to your list for the coming year: 1. Matthew: A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28 – Frederick Dale Bruner. On most days, as part of my Morning Office, I set apart an extended time to meditate on the Gospel of Matthew. I do inductive Bible study with a double-spaced manuscript of Matthew, marking it up with different colored pens. I then study each text by slowly reading Bruner’s commentary. I have been in Matthew now for almost two years. Bruner is, in my opinion, one of the most insightful, scholarly and devotional theologians alive today. I can’t recommend this. Read more.
I love listing my top 10 books every six months for two reasons. First, it gives me an opportunity to reflect more deeply on how God might be speaking to me through what I have been reading. And secondly, I believe good books can serve as midwives to new ideas, fresh perspectives, and even the voice of God to us. So here are my top 10 books from the last six months that you may want to consider adding to your reading list this summer: 1. The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classic Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded – Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major This book, now in its fourth edition, sits on a table in our living room. I love picking it up and reading sections on different authors and their books. From Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, to George Orwell, to Dostoyevsky, to William Blake, to Pascal, to Augustine, to Plato, to. Read more.
The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, by Rod Dreher is an important book. It serves as a prophetic wake up call to the church, challenging us to take a fresh look at what is happening around us: We must “make a decisive leap into a truly countercultural way of living Christianity, or we doom our children and our children’s children to assimilation.” “The spiritual crisis overtaking the West is the most serious since the fall of the Roman Empire near the end of the fifth century. The light of Christianity is flickering out all over the West.” “If believers don’t come out of Babylon and be separate, their faith will not survive for another generation or two in this culture of death.” “Too many of our churches function as secular entertainment centers with religious morals slapped on top, when they should be functioning as the living, breathing Body of. Read more.
Geri complained this past week that I had books all around the house – from the living room to the bedroom to the car – reading three to four books at a time. That has been my rhythm for years. If you are like me, you look for a variety of material to peruse during the summer. The following are a few recommendations: 1. The Gospel of John by Frederick Dale Bruner I have been studying and reading John’s gospel for the last 9 months as part of my morning time with God. As part of that process, I prayerfully read this wonderful commentary. Bruner is one of the best commentators I know, combining both great scholarship and devotional passion that leads me to Jesus. I also recommend his 2 volume commentary on Matthew as a must resource in every pastor’s library before preaching on any passage from the synoptic gospels. 2. The Art. Read more.
Differentiation is hard. Not differentiating is even harder. Differentiation involves remaining connected to people and yet not having your reaction or behavior determined by them. Our primary task, like Jesus, is to calmly differentiate our “true self” from the demands and voices around us, discerning the vision, pace, and mission the Father has uniquely given us. Jesus, of course, models for us a 100% differentiated person. Engaging this challenging, interior work with God is great. The price for not doing so is even greater. The following are my top ten costs: Our church, ministry, or organization slowly declines. Our resistance to make unpopular decisions with ineffective people and programs limits our ability to do the mission God has called us to. We damage the community. A lack of clarity around expectations and roles permeates the community. Disappointments and frustrations are not talked about honestly and respectfully. The wrong people exercise power and leadership. In. Read more.
I love reading 4-5 books at a time. This summer was no different. The following are my recommended top 10 picks from this summer: 1. The Gospel of John: A Commentary by Frederick Dale Bruner Bruner is my favorite scholar/writer of commentaries in my thirty plus years of preaching. I have been in John 6 for the last three months, meditating on the Greek text, English text, and Bruner’s keep insights. He offers a rare combination of devotion and scholarship. 2. Spider in a Tree by Susan Stinson This is a well-written and well-researched, historical novel about Jonathan Edwards around the time of the First Great Awakening in New England. It gives a brilliant insight on our need for a broad view of church history. We all have flaws. Here is a story of how a great theologian like Edwards can bring you to heaven and, at the same time,. Read more.