Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Log: January 2010

1.  Born To Run:  A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, And the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall.  4 out of 5 Stars.  Great read about a lost tribe of ultramarathoners that the author discovered after asking the question, Why does my foot hurt when I run.  Riveting with unforgettable characters; humorous (in the sad sort of way) chapter on evolution, & great incentive to run!

2.  The Lotus & the Cross:  Jesus Talks With Buddha, Ravi Zacharius. 3.5 out of 5 Stars.  Fun little read of an imaginative conversation that highlights well what Jesus has to offer & why Buddhism is ultimately bankrupt.  Left me wanting more, but the design of the book is for a short conversation.

3.  The One Thing You Can't Do In Heaven, Mark Cahill. 3 out of 5 Stars.  A book mostly about the author's experiences in sharing the Gospel with others--some amazing like with his former teammate Charles Barkley & Michael Jordan, along with an attempt to teach along the way.  Not very well written, IMHO, but a rah-rah book nevertheless. 

4.  Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell.  4.5 stars out of 5.  Fascinating read written by the lone survivor of a group of Navy Seals in Afghanistan.  Fun to read about Navy Seal training, sad to read about the doom sealed by their fear of crucifixion by the liberal media in the USA, & riveting to hear about their gunfight with Taliban being outnumbered by at least 35-1.

5.  Questioning Evangelism, by Randy Newman.  4.5 stars out of 5.  Great read about the art of asking questions when engaging people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   Newman insists that Christians need three skills:  declaring, defending & dialoguing the Gospel. 

6.  The Gospel of Matthew, by Matthew.  5 stars out of 5.  Eyewitness account of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and the inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven that He proclaimed and ushered in with His life, death, & resurrection. 

7.  Romans, by Paul the Apostle.  5 stars out of 5.  This is Paul's great work detailing for us the revelation of the righteousness of God in how through the work of Christ, God is able to demonstrate His Justice while at the same time being able to justify those who place their trust in Christ. 

8.  1 Timothy, by Paul the Apostle.  5 stars out of 5.  Paul's pastoral letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, in which he calls Timothy to fight the good fight of the faith entrusting to him the teachings that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 

9.   The Externally-Focused Church, by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson.  4 stars out of 5.  The title sums up the book in which they stress that we are not social workers but kingdom builders.  They insist that Christians cannot really grow if they are not involved in service & mission to the communities in which God has placed them.

10.  Heaven is a Place on Earth:  Why Everything You Do Matters To God, by Michael Wittmer.  4 stars out of 5.  Good worldview book about Creation, Fall, Redemption & Restoration of all things in Christ.  The part on Redemption emphasized the cosmic scope of Christ's work almost to the neglect of the personal aspects of redemption (~ 2 pgs.).  Other than that, it is a great read with many memorable quotes.  


Jacob Haynes said...

Hey John. I am a friend of Brian Franklin’s.

Number 9 and 10 look interesting, might pick them up soon.

I got a chuckle with you including your rating system on the books of the New Testament. I am curious whether they received 5 out of 5 solely on the basis that they were scriptural or whether you picked books from the Bible to read that were already highly rated to you (as in you might of rated Jude as 3 or 4 out of 5 because that book doesn’t speak to you) (don’t know why I am picking on Jude).

John said...

Hey Jacob,

Thanks for stopping by. Any friend of Brian's is a friend of mine. I love that guy.

Scriptural ratings of 5 out of 5 are simply b/c they are Scripture.

But you do raise a great question. I finding that almost any book of the Bible I am reading at the time becomes my favorite. That doesn't mean that some of them aren't still difficult plodding (Leviticus, 2 Chronicles, e.g.). Some I find more immediately relevant by the nature of them (e.g., James, or Colossians) b/c of the nature of them and commands, applications, etc.

Still, other historical books are becoming more and more meaningful b/c I'm getting more and more wrapped up in the story that God is telling of his redemption of the world.

Good question, Jacob.

Joshua Butcher said...

I see Jacob beat me to the punch(line) of ribbing you for rating Scripture.

I wonder if you considered that some of your books are only one rank below Scripture. Also, aren't you pretty much making it impossible to ever rank a book other than Scripture at a 5 out of 5, since that would make the book as good as God's own Word?

And, as a final ribbing, I think you should take C.S. Lewis's advice and read some old books (in addition to Scripture) for next month.

Ok, I'm done pontificating now.

John said...

Hey Joshua,

Very funny, though I did think that I can't really rank anything a 5. And ancient books? Hello! Matthew, Romans, 1 Timothy? They don't count?

I actually have a ton of books that I'm half way through & trying to finish them up.

John said...

You certainly are a busy reader!! Wish I could read a fourth as much as you do. I know, I know, my choice. But now so fast there. Well maybe we should chat about this off line so as not to bore other people to tears.


Joshua Butcher said...

Now John, I did say "old books" and I did say "in addition to" Scripture. Perhaps I'm just jealous that you read more books than I did this month.

Speaking of ranking books, do you have a specific criteria that you follow?

And, to end on something tangential: I've recently become a big fan of Richard Muller.

John said...

@ Dad, well, really, some of these were started in another month and finished in January. BTW, good call on "Lone Survivor." Great read.

@ Joshua, well, your book log for January had more substantive stuff than mine did. Next month will probably have more again b/c I'm trying to work through a stack of books (about 35 that I've only read partially).

How'd you get into Muller? I've only read one book by him on Scripture & hermeneutics back in my seminary days....

Joshua Butcher said...

I'm reading Muller for my dissertation on the Rhetorics of Calvinisms. Muller has a great book called The Unaccommodated Calvin that puts to rest some bad scholarship and opens up some insightful background to Calvin's thought and writings.

For example, I didn't know that Melanchthon's Loci Communes followed the pattern of topics he found in Romans, and that Calvin's 1539 Institutes was restructured from the 1536 Institutes. The 1536 was a catechism, whereas the 1539 drew largely upon Melanchthon's common topics approach.