Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Read Any Good Books Lately?

“The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” 2 Tim. 4:13
         I’m never in the company of my older son or his oldest son very long before one or both of them will ask, “What are you reading?” And I sometimes joke that by the time my husband has finished a book, I don’t have to read it, since he’s shared so much of it with me. J It’s safe to say, books are an important part of our lives..
         For the last few years, I’ve kept a tally of the books read each year. For one reason, I’ve been known to forget after a few years, especially when it comes to fiction. I thought it might be of interest to you to hear about some of these books, along with what benefit, if any, they were to me. I’ll share a tidbit or two from them, just to whet your appetite.
         This year, I re-read three books. Two by Elizabeth Elliot and one by Arthur Matthews, who along with his wife and baby, spent four years under house arrest in China, during WWII. His book, Born For Battle: 31 Studies on Spiritual Battle, is a classic on what is involved in our warfare against Satan. I cannot recommend it too highly. Here’s an excerpt: “There are no safe battles—but there are no safe compromises either.”
Elizabeth Elliot is perhaps my favorite female author. Somehow, to me, the modern ones can’t quite equal her depth of probing and spiritual discernment. Begin with her classic Let Me Be a Woman, where you’ll read things like, “Refuse absolutely to compile a list of offenses which you can dump on your husband someday when he complains about something you’ve done. Love keeps a clean slate.”
         For doctrine, I spent time with Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J.I. Packer, and A.W. Pink, while at the same time savoring devotional books by J.H. Jowett, George H. Morrison, Warren Wiersbe, and George McDonald. Here’s Morrison: “The Son of God dwelt in a human body, and that has clothed it forever with nobility. If human flesh and sin were indistinguishable, do you think the Word would have become flesh?” And from the mystical McDonald: “Thou art my life—I the brook, thou the spring. Because thine eyes are open, I can see; because thou art thyself, ‘tis therefore I am me.”
         One of my favorite contemporary authors is a comparatively young Reformed pastor in Michigan, named Kevin DeYoung. I was helped by two more of his books this year: The Hole in Our Holiness and Taking God at His Word. He lays out old biblical truths in today’s vernacular, always penetrating and sometimes profound. “Regret feels bad about past sins. Repentance turns away from past sins. Regret looks to our own circumstances. Repentance looks to God. Most of us are content with regret. We just want to feel bad for awhile, have a good cry, enjoy the cathartic experience, bewail our sin, and talk about how sorry we are. But we don’t want to change. We don’t want to deal with God.”
         I read two biographical works this year. Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Patton, and Alister McGrath’s biography of C.S. Lewis. McGrath is another favorite. I also read his“Mere Apologetics.” Not an easy read, but in the end, satisfying.“Faith elicits and invites rational consent, but does not compel it. Faith reaches out to where reason points and does not limit itself the where reason stops.”
         I made use of two yearly devotionals: A Year With C.S. Lewis and My Daily Pursuit,by A.W. Tozer, taken from audio sermons. Tozer: “Man has fallen, but not so far that God can’t restore and redeem us. It’s easy for God to do that because God has material to work with that was once made in His image.”
         Several books of fiction were part of my reading, as well, and as usual,  mysteries.J My favorite is spy novels and perhaps the one I most enjoyed was The Perfect Assassin, by Ward Larsen. I’m reading the sequel right now. For now, his style and stories are the most reminiscent of Vince Flynn, my favorite, who died this past year.
         Finally, in our text, Paul, in prison, reminds young Timothy to bring to him when he comes, his much-needed cloak, his books, but “especially the parchments.” I’m not sure what books Paul read, but I do know what the parchments were. They were the Old Testament scriptures. Books—good books—are capable of being a boon, a buoy, and a blessing in our lives to cheer, strengthen, and edify us. We need them. I need them. But, oh, the parchments…the Scriptures! They’re light for my path, food for my soul, and eternal Truth for my mind. I have read the Bible through many times, but this past year, I did something I’ve never done before. I put Romans 10:17 to the test. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  I listened to the entire Bible, as read by Alexander Scourby. What a joy and blessing to my soul. Try it.
         Now, I’ll repeat my question, “Read any good books lately.” I hope so. If not, now’s a good time to get started. These books are not all I read, but I think one or more of them would be a blessing and help to you. Try Amazon first.
         Have a wonderful, blessed New Year, filled with the joy of the Lord, the Word of God…and books!

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