My Current Reading List

I have the habit of reading several books at once. I don’t know if this is good for me or not. On the positive side, it keeps me thinking about a wide variety of topics all at the same time. On the other hand, it takes me forever to finish a book, and when I’m finished, I sometimes have a hard time keeping everything straight.

I thought I’d take the opportunity with this Midweek Message to share the books that I’m currently reading, with a brief synopsis and an encouragement for you to keep reading.

kingThe King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Baker Academic) by Thomas Schreiner.  Biblical Theology studies the unifying themes of the Bible in their own historical setting, in its own terms, and forms; learning who God is and what God is doing through the ongoing story of Scripture. I have just started The King In His Beauty, but already I am loving the study of Scripture and the emerging themes that will unfold through the rest of the book. It’s almost ike reading a commentary that was written in story form.

baxterWalking with God (GLH Publishing) by Richard Baxter. I try to always have an old pastoral book on my reading list to keep me well rounded, and Baxter is one of my favorites. Baxter was an English Puritan of the 17th century (i.e., Presbyterian), a theologian and pastor most noted for his book, The Reformed Pastor. Reading the Puritans is not always easy, they love to make lists (and lists within lists), and they exhaust a topic before moving on to the next, so you really have to commit to ploughing through the reading. But the treasure is worth he work. “Walking with God” studies what it means to be in communion with God and to love him above everything else. Baxter’s work is challenging, but encouraging all the while.

elderFinding Faithful Elders and Deacons (Crossway), by Thabiti Anyabwile. It’s that time of the year again when we as a church prayerfully consider nominating men to serve as Deacons and Elders. This is not light work, and I’ve been studying and praying, not just about who should serve, but how I can work to develop discipling relationships to help identify and train future leaders in the church. Anyabwile’s book is a quick read, but incredibly informative and practical.

The Wholwholee Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (Crossway), by Sinclair Ferguson. Admittedly, when I bought this book for a reading group I’m in, I had never heard of the Marrow Controversy, but I love Sinclair Ferguson, and I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve read of his. The Whole Christ included. Recounting the Marrow Controversy of the 8th Century Church of Scotland which was essentially a divide over Legalism, Antinomianism, and the proper relationship between God’s grace and our works, Ferguson shows us that the antidote to the poison of legalism on the one hand and antinomianism on the other is one and the same: the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ, in whom we are simultaneously justified by faith, freed for good works, and assured of salvation.

nameName above all Names (Crossway), by Sinclair Ferguson and Alistair Begg. I picked this one up because I wanted to read something that wasn’t necessarily a theological study of Christ, but a biblical study on who Christ is and what He has one. Name above all Names is a reflection on 7 key qualities of Jesus’ identity and ministry, offering a meditation on the character of Christ. In case you didn’t notice, it’s another book by Sinclair Ferguson, with my second favorite scotsman preacher, Alistair Begg as well.

Studies on Daniel – As I am preaching through the book of Daniel for the next couple of months, I’m also reading a couple of commentaries on Daniel which I thought I’d mention here:

daneilPreaching Christ from Daniel (Eerdmans) by Sidney Greidanus. – In Preaching Christ from Daniel Sidney Greidanus shows preachers and teachers how to prepare expository messages from the six narratives and four visions in the book of Daniel. Using the most up-to-date biblical scholarship, Greidanus addresses foundational issues such as the date of composition, the author(s) and original audience of the book, its overall message and goal, and various ways of preaching Christ from Daniel. Throughout his book Greidanus puts front and center God’s sovereignty, providence, and coming kingdom. (from the website)

chapellThe Gospel According to Daniel (Baker) by Bryan Chapell. (From the cover) Often we read the book of Daniel in one of two ways – either as a book about a heroic man whose righteousness should inspire us to keep the faith, or as a roadmap to the end times that can, through careful study, tell us the day and hour (or nearly so) of Christ’s return. Both, says Bryan Chapell, are sadly missing the bigger picture – that God is the hero of the story, and he is in the midst of his unrelenting plan to rescue his people from their sin and its consequences. Pastors, teachers, and any Christian who wants to learn how to faithfully understand the book of Daniel without getting derailed by hero worship or prophetic mystery will value this grace-centered approach.

boiceDaniel: An Expositional Commentary (Baker), by James Boice. Boice was the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Philadelphia, and his sermons were heard around the world on The Bible Hour. His commentaries give a verse by verse study of the text, and help apply the text to the readers experience. Reading Boice’s commentary is like reading his sermons, and it has been very encouraging as I approach the difficult task of preaching through Daniel.

More Thoughts From the Hospital Bed

I’m home from the hospital now,  off of bed-rest, and gradually getting back to work.  Praise the Lord!

Following up from my last blog entry, I was in the hospital for 8 days, having experienced what the Doctors are calling a Spontaneous Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak.  Essentially, for some unknown reason, I developed a lead in the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord, resulting in excruciating headaches whenever I was in an upright position.  The fix for the leak was a Blood Patch, which is a lot like putting goop in your tires to fix a leak.  It has been over a week now since I’ve had a headache, and I’m slowly returning to a semblance of normalcy.

In the moments of clarity while resting in the hospital (when the narcotics had worn off), I had some insights from the hospital bed I thought worth sharing regarding hospital visits.

1. I cannot overstate the Importance of a Hospital Visit.

If you’ve ever been in the hospital for any amount of time, you know how wonderful it is to have someone stop in for a visit.  Seeing a familiar face at the door, a friend stopping by to brighten the day, a brother visiting with a word of encouragement – that visit is crucial.  I’ve made it a habit to visit my church members when I know they’re in the hospital, now I understand just how important that visit really is.  You don’t have to stay long, there’s no need to linger.  Just a quick visit can make the world of difference.

Elders and Deacons have a special duty to visit those in need, to pray  for healing and encouragement, but this does not absolve all Christians from their responsibility for demonstrate compassion and care to those in need. You don’t have to be ordained or commissioned by the church to be an ambassador of the hope we share in Jesus Christ.  If you know of someone in the hospital, or someone who is home and alone, and you are able, call upon them and bring the joy and peace of the fellowship of the body of Christ.

2. Don’t worry about what you will say…

Jesus told his disciples not to worry about what they will say when they are under trial by the authorities, for the Spirit will give them the words to speak.  I think this also applies to our visits in the hospital.  Don’t worry about what you will say or do, God will give you the words.  You don’t have to have a speech prepared.  You especially don’t have to have any answers about what’s happening or why.  Come with words of care, and with a word of promise.

One of the best visits I had was with a friend who came to sit beside my hospital bed and just read scripture.  Because of the nature of my headaches, reading was rather painful, so I was unable to even take up Scripture to read for myself.  So my friend sat by the bed and read the Bible, a verse here or there, a whole chapter from the Psalm and Romans.  There was no sermon, no instruction, but there was tremendous blessing in hearing the Word of God.

Before you visit, bookmark a few psalms, or some of your favorite passages, and pick a few to read and share.  You may never know how God may work through His Word, but you know that His word is full of promise and hope.

3. Pray

James tells us that the “prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).  This doesn’t mean that you need to come with a rehearsed or well-polished prayer, or that your prayer will always be followed by a great working of power.  But when you offer a prayer from the heart, a prayer that comes from a praying heart, great things are already at work. You are entreating before God on behalf of someone else.  You are sharing your faith in God’s strong and sovereign care. You are trusting God for provision, for health, for hope, for peace.  These are mighty things, and can do more than you will ever know.

Visit, share the word of God, and pray.  One of the greatest acts of compassion is just that simple.  I cannot begin to express what it meant to have friends come by to visit and to pray with and for me while I was in the hospital, and I cannot thank you enough.  Let us endeavor to show one another our care and concern through these simple acts, that we might encourage one another in times of need.

SDG