Tonight on Woodside Plymouth's online prayer event (embeded above) I mentioned some specific books to help you grow in your understanding and application of prayer. I have listed them here in one place to help you find them. I've separated them into two categories, "Books on Prayer" and "Praying Scripture." I have found each of these books instrumental in my own walk and growth in "answering God" and aligning better with him in prayer. Also be sure to check out the #PrayFirst Journal that Woodside produced to help you begin this year growing in prayer.
This year, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On Oct 31, 1517 the German monk, Martin Luther, nailed 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg as a way of publicly interacting with the Catholic Church, and the Pope, over various issues and abuses he noted in Church. With the invention of the printing press the writings of Luther began to spread quickly and mounted a challenge to the ecclesiastical and political structures of Luther's day. From those initial 95 Theses a movement began that has deeply shaped the world today.
I am a lover of history, and a lover of theology. While one of my earliest critiques of those who talked about Reformed theology was that they seemed to only go back to the sixteenth century, I am confident more than ever that the truths that Luther and Calvin and other "Reformers" spoke of went back directly to Jesus and Paul. They were, in fact, taking us to the intended meaning of the Scriptures themselves when they talked about justification by faith alone. The Reformers developed their teaching on the sovereignty of God, the depravity of humanity, the unmerited grace of God, and the security and perseverance of the saints to glory from a clear and sound method of Biblical interpretation. Reformed theology, is in my opinion, simply Biblical Christianity.
In light of that this year I am building into my reading life a few works on the Reformation that I would recommend to you. They are no more than 250 pages each and are written for the general public. I am going to read Luther on Galatians this year, probably in October, specifically so I get a primary source on the Reformation. I hope these will be of benefit to you, and challenge you in your own understanding of theology and history so that you will grow. Here's to a happy 500th anniversary!
I'm in the the middle of week 3 of the "Summer Tournament of Books" and I've completed 2 books already while working on a third one as well. Here's some reviews on what I have completed already.
Sea of Crises by Marty Steere
Marty's story is about a set of sons who lost their father to NASA's "Apollo 18" project. Except, it seems, that all the details of their father's death and the Apollo 18 mission don't quite match the research given. Someone is hiding something.
The story moves with a good pace and was an enjoyable, clever read. I think of this book as the "summer spy thriller." It's not Jason Borne, but it's a well told story. For me, and maybe this is because I've read stories like this before, there were a few things that I just saw coming. The romance was predictable, but was it necessary? Steere keeps the readers attention and continues to lead me in asking questions, but I don't feel like he shocked or surprised me in too many big ways. And actually, that's okay. It was a fun, entertaining, engaging story with some fun twists.
For a first book into the summer it was a fun story to engage. According to Goodreads it currently scores an average 4.02 rating by readers. I gave it three stars.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Technically this was the book I should be completing at the end of this week. Yet, it only took me two good evenings and a short third to read this book. The reason it was so quick of a read because it was so good. When I can enter into a story and feel what the character is feeling, laugh with the characters, cheer for them, hurt for them and be driven through the suspense of their crises then it's a well told story. The book itself is entering the theaters in November and I saw a trailer for it on Sunday night. The trailer was so good I figured this was "next" for me in the tournament. So a second "space" book.
The Martian is about a botanist who is part of a team of 6 on the third manned mission to Mars. After six days on Mars a storm hits the team, they have to abort the mission, and leave Mars. Unfortunately, the main character, Mark Watney, is left stranded on Mars. The book is mostly a first-person point of view story about what Mark does being stranded on Mars. I don't want to give this story away because it is too good but I laughed, I cheered, I cried, I felt with Mark Watney everything he went through.
If the tournament was done and over tonight I'd have an immediate and easy decision to make for the winner. The Martian was that good and that fun. One question the book danced around and at least philosophically caused me to ask is what is the value of saving a human life? Certainly a good question to ponder. Goodreads readers have given The Martian an average score of 4.35. I gave it five stars.
Week 2's Book
Week Two was pretty busy, so I am still working on reading Three Nights in August. I figure if I get behind in a book to a degree that it might be shelved I should pick up a new book each week and try and get through it. If I have enough time and the story riveted me enough to finish with space I can get caught up in the book(s) I might have left behind. If not, then like Left Behind, they too will be a abandoned. So I'll try and get this one finished this week. Keep reading!
Check out my original "2015 Summer Tournament of Books" for the full list of books (and how you can help out!).
If your high school education was like mine during the summer I was loaded up with 5-6 books that I had to read in advance of my literature class starting up the following fall. It wasn’t an exercise I ever loved and I can only tell you the title of one book that I read during the summer blitz (Hiroshima for ninth grade literature). However the changed rhythm of the summer opened up some opportunities to read things I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise.
Last Friday I posted on Twitter a request, “I want to read a biography and a novel this summer. So recommend a few…” And a “few” were recommended. Over twenty if I count right. Which led to a difficult decision. If I want to read one biography and one novel, I had better make a decision. As I started looking at the list I realized that many of the offerings were pretty decent looking suggestions. So I decided to be ambitious and work at reading one book a week for 15 weeks. That would take me through the entire summer to Labor Day.
So what’s on the list? I believe some worthy entries, and like every summer a few adventure “block-busters.” There are a couple that have won a Pulitzer prize (that’s like a heavy-weight title fight!) and a few that are relatively unknown. The list is embedded below and linked on my Goodreads account so you can join up with me. One book won a “Tournament of Books” earlier this year, so it was included to see if it really was any good.
One way you could help me is by purchasing one of these books off my Amazon Wish-list so I can actually read them all this summer. If you buy it, I’ll bump it to the top of my reading list right away.
As for now, I’ve completed the first book on the list, Joel Burdeaux’s recommendation of The Sea of Crises by Marty Steere. I’ll give it some blog time first thing next week. Thanks Joel for the recommendation, good start to a summer of reading!
What are you reading this summer?
R.C. Sproul has often recommended Moby-Dick as the one novel every Christian should read. Reading has been difficult for me as of late, but I felt like Moby-Dick might be a worthy investment, and help me get back into reading again. This particular paragraph stood out to me:
For the pulpit is ever this earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God’s quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.
Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick, (Penguin English Library), p. 47.