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Pastor's Reading Log | Jan-March 2010

People are always asking me what I've been reading, so here's what I've read so far in 2010.  Links are to longer reviews on my other blog.

Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2001), 94 pages + endnotes. Best short book I know on stewardship. Motivates generously living not on the basis of guilt but rather by having an eternal perspective. Highly recommended for individuals or groups. *****

John Stott, Basic Christianity (London: Intervarsity Press, 1958; 1994 reprint), 142 pages. Fantastic short introduction to Christianity. Excellent to use with someone investigating Christianity or to ground the new believer. It’s also an excellent refresher for the mature Christian. *****

Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, Let the Children Come Along the Infant Way (Growing Families International: 2002), 224 pages. I suppose the proof is in the pudding, so we’ll see how our kid does in response to these parenting methods. Of anything we’ve read, this seems to mesh most with our philosophy of parenting (and life in general). The basic principle – your family needs a routine, but it also needs to be flexible. Parents need to make decisions on how to lead and disciple their children – neither the child nor a clock should run the home. Good, principle-based counsel on feeding infants, getting them to sleep through the night, and how to handle crying, etc. I’m a fan (at least at this point). /// I wrote all that BEFORE Lucy was born. Now, I’m much more measured in my praise for the book, not because there is anything I strongly disagree with in the book, but because I am more convinced than ever in the need for flexibility. Life is messy. Every situation is different. And there is no silver bullet to parenting. My advice: pick a parenting philosophy that seems to square both with Scripture and with your family style, and then parent with principles and flexibility. In other words, treat the principles as a framework rather than a rigid formula. But what do I know? My daughter is all of 9 weeks old. ****

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, Why We Love The Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion (Chicago: Moody, 2009) 234 pages. Less of a general book on ecclesiology and more of a point by point refutation of the “church sucks” crowd. DeYoung and Kluck both are good writers and the book works with them trading chapters. DeYoung treats the topic biblically and theologically. Kluck writes more from his own experience as a layperson and lifelong church-goer. A little snarky, but worth reading. ****

Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009), 254 pages. Miller uses the narrative arc of telling a story to talk about living a good story. “A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story.” A good story is about the change that happens in the principal character. A good life is about our personal transformation. Really engaging and easy to read. Wished for a little more mention of God not only acting as the Writer, but stepping into the story Himself. ****

Dave Eggers, You Shall Know Our Velocity! (Vintage: 2003), 368 pages. I like Eggers’ writing an awful lot. But this, in my opinion, was not his best work. Still, it’s a quick and entertaining read of 2 immature travelers gallivanting around the world in the hopes of ridding themselves of $38,000 and their grief for a dead friend. ***

Joshua Harris, Stop Dating the Church (Sisters, Orgeon: Multnomah), 2004; 129 pages. A different book for Harris – his previous books were written for teenagers and warned about the perils of casual dating. This is a book for a different audience (adults) and on a different topic (the church). Harris believes that many in our culture "date the church" rather than make a commitment to a local body. He believes (correctly) that this noncommittal attitude cheats individual believers, cheats the church, and ultimately cheats the world. He labors in this book to show that the church is not an optional "add-on" to the Christian life, but is essential to growth as a Christian, and to pleasing the Lord. There’s nothing in this book that’s not in other books on ecclesiology, but Harris’ book is more accessible (short) and winsome. ***

Sean Michael Lucas, On Being Presbyterian: Our Beliefs, Practices, and Stories (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2006), 251 pages. This is a book designed to help those not from Presbyterian backgrounds make the transition into an evangelical Presbyterian church (especially the PCA). Much more helpful for those leaving a fundamentalist Baptist background than for those coming in to the PCA as a new believer, from the parachurch, or from a non-denom background. ***