It's back to school month! Life changes with the shifting of the seasons, and as we prepare for the fade of summer into fall, so too life adjusts along with it. Students are preparing to head back into the classroom; teachers are preparing to receive them. Farmers are getting ready for harvest time. And retail stores are already getting Halloween and Christmas decor out and on the shelves (Thanksgiving doesn’t matter anymore…unless you’re at Hobby Lobby).
Seasons change. But books remain the same! Or, reading I should say.
Here are some things I’ve been reading this month…
Theology and Doctrine
While I am continuing to preach through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I am already looking ahead to what's next. When I finish Ephesians in a few more weeks, I plan to turn my attention (and that of our church) to the Gospel of John. In preparation for this study, I am reading Andreas Köstenberger’s, A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters.
The Gospel of John differs significantly from what we find in Mark, Matthew and Luke. As the great divine John Calvin notes, “Since [the four biblical Gospels] all had the same object, to show Christ, the first three exhibit His body, if I may be permitted to put it like that, but John shows His soul.”
I'm really looking forward to getting into this Preaching series.
Into the Silent Land
Prayer is difficult. Many people struggle with prayer because of the sheer amount of restlessness that comes along with it. When we close our eyes and attempt to focus our attention, it seems as though someone cranks up the volume on the thoughts in our heads. It can seem nearly impossible to pray earnestly for an extended period of time just because of how active our brains can be. As R.S. Thomas notes, “Too fidgety the mind’s compass.” Thoughts of tasks, people, emotions, temptations, worries, etc…they all come rushing in when we try to quiet ourselves and pray.
In his book, Into the Silent Land, Martin Laird guides readers on a journey into contemplation and quiet prayer. Laird is a Catholic monk in the Order of Saint Augustine, so he is outside of my theological tradition. And that proved to be a challenge. At first, I wanted to set the book aside because of how differently Laird and I approach and understand Scripture; but I decided to return and press through. And I am glad I did. I’m not a Catholic now, nor do I plan to be, but I do feel stretched in the area of prayer and I have enjoyed some of the practices Laird puts forward. I would recommend this book for more mature believers.
There are two more of these books in this series that I look forward to digesting soon.
An Unhurried Life
I often feel BUSY—and hurried, and rushed. Sometimes, it feels like my days have more of a hold on me than I do on them. Busyness sometimes feels like being caught in the current of a powerful river…just being swept along at its mercy. And I am far less busy than many other people that I know!
Busyness, nonetheless, is a real struggle; and it is an assault on our personal holiness and time. In the sermon yesterday, we covered Eph. 5:16 where Paul instructs us to, “make the best use of time…”
And busyness does not always mean “I'm using time wisely.” If we’re honest, we tend to abuse time and pack it too full.
In his book, An Unhurried Life, Alan Fadling holds up the rhythms of Jesus’ life for Christians to consider. Jesus wasn’t busy, and He wasn’t hurried. He prioritized long nights of uninterrupted prayer, slow conversations with His disciples, and an overall unhurried pace of life. And yet, His life was the most meaningful human life ever lived. If you’re feeling busy and overwhelmed, I would encourage you to pick up this book…
P.S. - I've read this book a few times and find it helpful to come back to its truth.
One of my favorite historians died this month: David McCullough. Since my introduction to McCullough some years ago, I have been a fan of his writing and approach to history. He died on Sunday, August the 7th, 2022 at the age of 89. One of my favorite things about Mr. McCullough is that he wrote all of his books on a 1960’s second-hand typewriter.
In honor of his death, I thought I would recommend his collected works. They occupy a prominent place in my personal library. They are all worthy reads!
2022 has already proven to be a tumultuous year in many ways, but especially so in the culture. The Cultural Revolution is in full swing everywhere we look. In early Summer, the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh released a Documentary/Book entitled, "What is A Woman?" The documentary and book (which closely resemble one another) attempt to poke holes in the cultural narrative of Transgenderism by asking the painfully simple question, “What is A Women?”
While there is nothing ground-breaking or intellectually challenging, it is, and will prove to be, an important piece of cultural history. There are certainly some interesting historical and contemporary facts and stories to note. The documentary/book follows Walsh as he tours the world asking the question, “What is A Woman?” And to no one’s surprise, the Cultural Revolutionaries have no answer to this painfully obvious question…
Health and Fitness
The summer has proven tough for me with diet and exercise, and with my fitness reading. Trips, schedule interruptions, and more make routines difficult. And for me, routines are important when it comes to health and fitness! I am looking forward to Fall for many reasons (it's my favorite time of year), but a big reason is a return to a more stable schedule.
Nature and the World
Peter Wohlleben is a German Forrester and naturalist. He has written a number of books on the natural world and how nature interacts with itself and with the human world. In this book, The Secret Wisdom of Nature, Wohlleben takes his readers into the natural world of fish, trees, bugs, and more showing just how interconnected the natural world really is.
The Northwestern Salmon runs does affect the greenness of tree leaves, and the wolf population in Yellowstone greatly affects the riverside plant population, and the density of the tree canopy in central European countries does affect the population of the European Roe Deer.
If you are interested in the natural world, and just how intricate and well-balanced God’s designs are, Wohlleben’s book is a worthy read.
As always, I’m usually pursuing a Wendell Berry book of some sort. The Peace of Wild Things, a collection of his poems, is always a trustworthy place to go…especially as the seasons begin to change.
I hope your reading is going well!
Also - This my 100th post on the blog!