Sunday, January 20, 2008

Buy 'em Books and Buy 'em Books...

I just ordered another bunch of books to add to my library. It's been about six months so it was time to make another mass purchase. So here's the latest additions to the shelves in my office, that should arrive in the next couple of weeks.

  • The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther - This is a seven-volume set that includes all the sermons the reformer ever preached along with some of his other writings. I am enjoying my set of Spurgeon's sermons, I am sure I will also enjoy reading Luther's messages.
  • The Portable Seminary - This is a one-volume summary of a masters-level seminary education. It includes "courses" on a variety of seminary topics, like surveys of the Old and New Testaments, systematic theology, church history, apologetics, missions, ethics, Christian education, and more. "Taught" by authors like Norman Geisler, Carl F. H. Henry, Mark Noll, John R. W. Stott, Alistair McGrath, Ravi Zacharias and many others. It looked interesting.
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion - This classic work by John Calvin was written and added to over much of his life in ministry. It formed a standard of reformed doctrine and practice in the early Calvinist traditions and is still a solid reference work today. I have it on my computer already, but there's nothing like having a work like this in an 1100-page volume to sit down and ponder.
  • The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World - This is a recent work that is a compilation of essays by a variety of theologians and pastors, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. It includes works by D. A. Carson, David Wells, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll and others. Providing varying perspectives on the truth of the Gospel of Christ and its relevance to the postmodern worldview that surrounds us.
  • And finally three books by David Wells, the first three in his series that has spanned many years. The titles are: No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?, God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams, and Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision. I already have and have read the last work in this series, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World. This series, which started with the first release in 1993, gives a great critique of the challenges of our contemporary church and evangelicalism, from a master of theology, philosophy and culture. In fact, my son Mike got to hear Wells lecture several times last week during the Truth & Life Conference at The Master's College. Yes, I again am jealous. But I've got the books!

So, I think these should keep me in reading material until the spring thaw. Or a little beyond. I'm currently re-reading a book on church history by Bruce Shelley. I am not a historian by any stretch, but I find that so many of us modern Christians are completely ignorant of the history of the development of our faith, the struggles and battles and heresies and corruptions and reforms that took place over the 2000 years between our Savior walking on this earth, dying and being resurrected, and where we are now. A key to understanding the church of today is knowing where it came from. And as I read this history I find that there are no new and unique challenges to the church of Jesus Christ in these postmodern times, only new versions of old challenges, old heresies, old adversaries.

So what are you reading these days? Comments, please.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Thoughts on 2008

So it's finally occurred to me that it is now 2008. I know it sounds cliche, but 2007 seems to have vanished as quickly as a morning fog. Here and gone before I even got over writing 2006 on checks. So I was thinking today about what the coming year might hold for me and for my family. For sure there will be changes, many that we can't even conceive of today. Here's some thoughts.

  • For my beautiful bride and I, 2008 will see us pass the 29 years together in marriage mark. Lord willing. I am of all men on earth the most blessed, to be with this woman for this many years and to love her more today than when we first started. And to be tolerated for this many years by her. What will 2008 bring to us? Hopefully, more of God's grace on our relationship, more adventures together, more of His wisdom in parenting our kids and in planning for our futures together.
  • What will 2008 hold for me personally? In ministry, I see new and exciting challenges and opportunities ahead. This past year has been a great growth spurt for me in being able to gain experience and confidence in proclaiming the Word through preaching, not just teaching. And with the start of the new paradigm at HP moving towards two distinct worshipping communities and I being part of the "First Community" shepherding team, I'm looking forward to seeing where God will take me in that. Work wise, the coming year is a bit of a blank slate. No major new projects are firmed up at this point for me to lead, and with the major reorganization that my company just announced last week there will be many ripple effects for months, possibly even providing some new opportunities. But I have to say that all those things are pretty much secondary to me, I'm more focused on serving Christ in ministry than on career advancement. I've reached the stage where I see my job as a God-given blessing, a place to do what He's equipped me to do as a means to provide for my family and our future and to glorify Him. And not much more than that.
  • This year will be a big one for oldest son Mike. 2008 will see him entering his senior year at The Master's College, probably spend the summer here in Columbus doing internship at HP, and then spending the fall semester studying in Israel. A year like that can't help but leave a mark on a young man prepping for a life of ministry. God-speed to you Mike.
  • Middle son Matt will face some big changes this year too. He'll turn 15 and get a learner's permit. He'll finish middle school and begin his freshman year at Columbus High. He'll continue to grow and mature, physically, mentally and spiritually. He'll start to think about things like college and relationships and the like. Matt, here's praying for God's grace on you in 2008 as the trajectory of your life is being set.
  • The princess Hannah will not quite make it to the teenage years in 2008, but she may as well be there now. She's a lovely young girl, full of so much energy and thriving on friendships and just enjoying life. What will she see in the new year? Probably more of the transition from little girl-hood to young lady-hood. Not sure mom and dad are quite prepared for that, but praying for God's continued grace on you, Hannah, to grow you in His ways and protect your sweet and innocent heart.

Wow, I got kind of reflective here tonite, didn't I? I guess that's where my head is right now, had to sit down and start typing to get it out and express it. I seem to be getting to the stage of life where I think more about these kind of things, looking to the future, anticipating and considering planning for things like retirement, etc. What a great sense of joy and peace to consider the future knowing the God who is in sovereign control of that future, knowing His goodness and mercy, knowing His purposes and eternal plans are always good and right, knowing that regardless of whether I live to double my current age or take my last breath as I type this, my future with Him is assured. My encouragement to you is to stop, consider, and rest in the future He has for you, that He has already written.