June has been a good month for a number of reasons, but it's been an especially good month in the book department. I’ve been thoroughly and robustly turning pages all month long. Here’s what I’ve been reading in June…
-A few years back I came across a group called The Center for Pastor-Theologians. Their mission and vision is to see Pastors who love theology and take it seriously doing the work of theology in the context of local Churches. Too often the work of theology gets confined to the Academy (the Seminaries and Universities) and it never makes its way to the local Church setting.
But, throughout history, a large portion of scholarly theology has come from Pastors on the ground, leading and shepherding their Churches, teaching the Bible to normal people. This group, and this book, are geared at resurrecting that vision.
Also, as I noted last month, I am getting ready to preach a series on the ministry of Elders in the life of the Church, and I am currently revisiting this wonderful book on the topic by Dr. Benjamin Merkle.
-This month, I had the chance to be in Anaheim, California, which is the home of the former Crystal Cathedral (Now a Catholic Church called Christ Cathedral).
If you know anything about American Christian religion in the 20th century, then you know about the Crystal Cathedral, the Hour of Power, and Robert Schuller. It is my own opinion that Schuller was a false teacher and did much to prepare the way for the prosperity gospel that has now taken hold in America. But the Crystal Cathedral is a fascinating piece of American religious history nonetheless, and I would highly commend this wonderful history/study of Schuller's influence on American religion: The Glass Church by scholars Mark Mulder and Gerardo Marti.
-I recently heard about a book called From Strength to Strength while listening to a podcast, and found the conversation compelling. So, I ordered the book and read it pretty quickly…just a few days, actually. The book is an easy read, and contains some hard hitting realities and compelling concepts. Not everything the authors put forward can be accepted inside a Christian worldview, but there are lots of helpful things and it is a worthy read.
My wife was concerned I was entering a mid-life crisis when she saw the subtitle; but no worries, no crisis…yet.
-This month, I’ve picked up an autobiography by David Goggins. Goggins is an incredible athlete with an incredible life story. His life began in difficulty, and that followed him into his adult years. Eventually, he found himself in BUD/S training to become a Navy Seal, an elite Special Warfare operator in the United States Navy (I love reading about those guys!). Anyhow, Goggins was not only a successful Navy Seal, but went on to become one of the world’s most accomplished ultra-marathon runners (100+ miles), and held the Guinness World Record for most pull-ups in 17 hours (4,030!).
A word of Caution: Goggins is not a Christian, and does not claim to be. It is a compelling story, but the book is full of vulgar language. Just an FYI before you read it.
-This month, as I noted, I had the privilege of traveling to California and was able to visit both the Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.
These Parks are, no doubt, some of the most stunning natural landscapes our Country has to offer. While I was certainly taken with the visual beauty of the Parks, there is a man who puts the beauty of these landscapes into words like no other. His name was John Muir, and he is considered to be the father of the U.S. National Park system. This book is a selection of his writings in which he discusses the beauty of both Sequoia and Yosemite, among other things.