My Summer 2012 Reading List

I'm planning to read, and in some cases, reread, several books this summer.

Below is the first batch (with the publisher's description included). I'm going to work on these before adding others to the list.

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

James L. Swanson's Manhunt is a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal. A gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters, this is history as you've never read it before.

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment With the Wisdom of God

The Meaning of Marriage

Based on the sermon series by Timothy Keller, this book shows everyone—Christians, skeptics, singles, long-time married couples, and those about to be engaged—the vision of what marriage should be according to the Bible.

Modern culture would make you believe that everyone has a soul-mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that your spouse is there to help you realize your potential; that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. All those modern-day assumptions are, in a word, wrong.

Using the Bible as his guide, coupled with insightful commentary from his wife of thirty-six years, Kathy, Timothy Keller shows that God created marriage to bring us closer to him and to bring us more joy in our lives. It is a glorious relationship that is also the most misunderstood and mysterious. With a clear-eyed understanding of the Bible, and meaningful instruction on how to have a successful marriage, The Meaning of Marriage is essential reading for anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life.

The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict

The Peacemaker

Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." But it often seems like conflict and disagreement are unavoidable. Serious, divisive conflict is everywhere-within families, in the church, and out in the world. And it can seem impossible to overcome its negative force in our lives.

In The Peacemaker, Ken Sande presents a comprehensive and practical theology for conflict resolution designed to bring about not only a cease-fire but also unity and harmony. Sande takes readers beyond resolving conflicts to true, life-changing reconciliation with family members, coworkers, and fellow believers.

Biblically based, The Peacemaker is full of godly wisdom and useful suggestions that are easily applied to any relationship needing reconciliation. Sande's years of experience as an attorney and as president of Peacemaker Ministries will strengthen readers' confidence as they stand in the gap as peacemakers.

Communion With God

Communion With God

In 1657, John Owen produced one of his finest devotional treatises: probably originating from the substance of a series of sermons. He examines the Christian's communion with God as it relates to all three members of the trinity. He assures that every Christian does have communion with God, no-one is excluded and that this communion takes place distinctly with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This was a controversial work in ecclesiastical circles of the 17th century. Twenty years after its publication, the rational ecclesiastical elite were scoffing at it's contents. Owen strongly defended the ideas within this book, and history has shown him to be right! It is a classic of Christian devotional thought that still influences the church today.

Preaching and Preachers

Preaching and Preachers

For over 30 years, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones ministered at Westminster Chapel in London. Today, he is widely considered one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century. Based on a series of lectures originally given by Lloyd-Jones to the students of Westminster Theological Seminary in 1969, this collection of essays on the essence of powerful preaching has become a modern classic.

Lloyd-Jones defends the primacy of preaching, showing that there is no substitute, and he challenges preachers to take their calling seriously: 'The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching.' He also provides practical direction on the task of preparing a sermon, sharing insights on the shape and form of a message, as well as covering such topics as the use of humor, giving invitations in a message, and the preacher's relationship to the congregation. If you can own only one book on preaching, make this the one.

Is Theology Boring?

During my lunch break last week a coworker asked me what I was reading. After I explained that it was a book on theology written in the early 20th century by a Dutch theologian, he replied, with unrestrained sarcasm, "that sounds really interesting."

I'll admit that many theological works are written in such a way that an insomniac could find some relief by reading them. It's a shame that this is the case because theology is far from boring. I'll let the Dutch theologian I mentioned above explain.

Herman BavinckDogmatics is the system of the knowledge of God as he has revealed himself in Christ; it is the system of the Christian religion. And the essence of the Christian religion consists in the reality that the creation of the Father, ruined by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God and re-created by the grace of the Holy Spirit into a kingdom of God. Dogmatics shows us how God, who is all-sufficient in himself, nevertheless glorifies himself in his creation, which, even when it is torn apart by sin, is gathered up again in Christ (Eph. 1:10). It describes for us God, always God, from beginning to end—God in his being, God in his creation, God against sin, God in Christ, God breaking down all resistance through the Holy Spirit and guiding the whole of creation back to the objective he decreed for it: the glory of his name. Dogmatics, therefore, is not a dull and arid science. It is a theodicy, a doxology to all God's virtues and perfections, a hymn of adoration and thanksgiving, a "glory to God in the highest" (Luke 2:14).

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1, Prolegomena, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003) 112.

Source of image: This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

John Piper - "I Am a Debtor"

From the preface to Let the Nations Be Glad (1st edition):

This book is a partial payment of a debt I owe to the nations. The apostle Paul is not alone in saying, "I am a debtor to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, to the wise and to the foolish" (Romans 1:14). To those culturally near me and those culturally far I am a debtor. Not because they gave me anything that I must pay back, but because God gave me what can't be paid back. He gave me the all-satisfying pleasure of knowing him and being loved by him through his Son Jesus Christ.

What makes a debt a debt is that if you don't pay it, you lose a possession. They take back your house or your car. And the more precious the possession, the more urgent the payment of the debt. If I don't do my utmost to show the nations "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ," I will in effect be saying, "It is not infinitely valuable. It is not absolutely necessary for eternal life. It is not great enough to satisfy the deepest needs in every culture on earth. And it's beauty has not freed me to be a man for others." But if I say this, then I do not believe in "the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." And if I do not believe, I lose everything. Therefore I am a debtor. For I would rather lose anything and anyone on earth, than to lose Christ.