Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recent Reads

As mentioned in a previous post, I really enjoy reading. Some of the topics/areas I enjoy reading include history, leadership, sports (especially biographies), theology, the church, and other cultures. I am not a big fan of fiction, although I try to force myself to occasionally read it because I know I need it. You know, kind of like eating broccoli and carrots...never overly enjoyable for me, but I know my body needs them! I have listed below a few of my alltime favorite books, and I have also started a new section on my blog entitled, Recent Reads. If you are ever in need of something fresh to read, maybe something from my list can get you headed in the right direction.

Truman by David McCullough
Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough

Joe Dimaggio by Richard Ben Cramer
The Majors by John Feinstein
To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever by Will Blythe

The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Good to Great by Jim Collins
Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley

Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards
Indwelling Sin by John Owen

Christian Life
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
What's So Amazing About Grace by Phillip Yancey

Teen Culture/Teen Parenting
Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp
The Disconnected Generation by Josh McDowell

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dead or Alive?

I really enjoy reading books. I often find myself perusing the local bookstore and surfing on Amazon and other sites for the latest read. I quickly find myself wanting to read the newest books by some of my favorite authors, or books on the latest trends. For me, it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to read whatever is new, has a catchy title, and a hip, fashionable cover. However, more times than not I come away disappointed with my purchase.

One of my mentors in seminary was Jeff Bingham. He was my professor for a number of classes, and I spent two years as his TA (teacher's assistant). Dr B is about 6 feet 7 inches tall, skinny, and has hands that are so big they seem to take minutes to open. As a lecturer, he had an amazing gift of using simple illustrations and phrases to explain some of the most difficult and complex theological doctrines (I needed him!). Within minutes of sitting under him it became obvious to all that he had the gift of teaching and a passion for Jesus and the church.

One of the many things I remember Dr. Bingham saying was, "You need to read dead people." His reasoning for this was that dead people can no longer be influenced by the current trends and forces of culture. Additionally, if they still have an impact generations later, we should probably listen to what they have to say.

For the past 10 years I have tried to take those words to heart and have made myself regularly read books written by people who never knew cell phones, TV, or even indoor plumbing. Although the illustrations are dated and writing styles are awkward and hard to follow, I usually come away refreshed and challenged. They are the books I end up recommending the most frequently to others.

So as I recently finished reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to my kids, I was reminded of Dr. Bingham's words. In light of that, I thought I would mention some of my favorite dead people to read.

John Owen - His work, Indwelling Sin, really changed my life. His writing is technical and hard to follow at times, but well worth the effort.

Charles Spurgeon - Whether devotional, pastoral or technical, all of his works are timeless and relevant.

CS Lewis - Fiction or non, a gifted writer who blends creativity with solid biblical/theological truth that can stimulate the minds of all.

John Calvin - A pastor who loved Jesus, the Bible, the church, and all of God's people. His insights on the Bible are like few others

Martin Luther - His book, Bondage of the Will, really helped shape the way I think about my neediness for Jesus.

A few others:

Richard Baxter
Jonathan Edwards

Enjoy and help me add to my list!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Witch, The Lion and The Wardrobe

OK, before any of you purists correct my title, I realize that it is not accurate, but that is the way Harper says it and so that is the way it is going to be.

Of all the exciting Christmas gifts my kids unwrapped this year, the one I least expected to have any kind of lasting impact was this book. When I first saw it, I thought, "Oh, CS, maybe in four or five years our kids can begin to enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia."

I could not have been more wrong. Over the past month or so the characters and stories within this book have been the centerpiece of conversation within our home. Dreams about the witch, fantasies of Aslan's strength, and pictures of Mr. Tumnus have been the currency of life for the Keever kids.

All of this has me thinking, well actually baffled. I mean how in the world does he (CS Lewis) do it? How could an old dead Irish/Britt captivate the minds and imaginations of two American suburuban kids in 2009? I wracked my mind to think about what he could possibly have in common with my kids that would allow him a window into their soul. An intellectual whose closest friends were professors and scholars! He liked to hang out in bars and smoke pipes. Born in the 1800's in Ireland, he spent most of his adult life in England. He married late in life and never had children of his own. So what is it? How could it be? What could he possibly have in common with my kids?

Then it hit me.....JESUS! They have the gospel in common. The metanarrative that shapes all of our lives. The story of creation, fall, and redemption. The battle between good and evil. A superhero that makes all things right in the end. That is what they have in common. And as a skilled (maybe I should say gifted) writer, he disciplined himself enough to write in such a way that kids hundreds of years later would hear and understand the gospel. Wow! Thanks Clive! You are amazing. How cool to know that long after you are gone people's lives are being shaped by your faithfulness! I think all of us would like to leave such a legacy!