Books I Read in June 2018
The summer months are good for reading, or at least some people say. I find it harder. Vacations with three small boys doesn't offer much down time, so my beach reading was made up of three pages. I preached twice this month, more than my normal once a month. All that to say, my number of pages read in June was smaller than a typical month. But it was still a good one.
Here's what I read in June 2018.
I’ve read Lewis’s classic book a number of times now. If you haven’t read it, I really don’t know what you’re waiting for.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
The Heart of the Church: The Gospel's History, Message, and Meaning by Joe Thorn
Joe Thorn released a three-volume work on the church. The Heart of the Church is the first volume, and it’s all about the gospel. If you’re looking for a good refresher on the gospel—one that doesn’t feel lifeless—this one could scratch your itch. Thorn clearly loves the gospel and communicates it winsomely. You can read a review of it from 9 Mark here: https://www.9marks.org/review/book-review-the-heart-character-and-life-of-the-church-by-joe-thorn/
“The gospel is not something we do. The gospel is historical truth. The gospel is something that happened—something God did for us.”
The Character of the Church: The Marks of God's Obedient People by Joe Thorn
Joe Thorn’s second volume focuses on the character of the church. Thorn is a Reformed Baptist. So his description of the church flows from that theological conviction. But I believe his views are biblcial. Whenever we get into conversations about sacraments and church governance, it can be sticky. Thorn avoids the thorns by sticking close to the Bible and letting what it says (or doesn’t say) determine his path.
“What the church is determines what the church does.”
The Life of the Church: The Table, Pulpit, and Square by Joe Thorn
Joe Thorn’s third volume focuses on the life of the church. I love the spheres in which he describes it: the table, pulpit, and square. The table is the small group fellowship—your Bible studies and community group-type environments. The pulpit is the Sunday worship gathering. The square is the church’s interaction with the world. The Church should make disciples, and disciples follow Jesus in all three areas.
“Disciples are made when the people of God following the Son of God are instructed and transformed by the Word of God.”
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Patti Smith won a National Book Award for this memoir about her days coming up in the art/music world. It’s so well written. She seemed to be in the right place at the right time for so many big events in the world of art and music during the 60s and 70s. Her storytelling is gripping. Her words are elegant and draw out the beauty of every memory. It’s not a “happy” story, but as artists stories typically go, it’s an interesting story to the end.
“I understood that what matters is the work: the string of words propelled by God becoming a poem, the weave of color and graphite scrawled upon the sheet that magnifies His motion. To achieve within the work a perfect balance of faith and execution. From this state of mind comes a light, life-changed.”
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
Until this book, the only book I had read in the Chronicles of Narnia series was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I hear almost nothing about this volume in the series, and I wonder why? It’s fantastic. The story of the journey to Narnia and the Lion’s timely help is enthralling and encouraging.
The hillside path which they were following became narrower all the time and the drop on their right hand became steeper. At last they were going in single file along the edge of the precipice and Shasta shuddered to think that he had done the same last night without knowing it. “But of course,” he thought, “I was quite safe. That is why the Lion kept on my left. He was between me and the edge all the time.”
Christian Reflections by C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis could write about anything, and everything he wrote was good. Christian Reflections is a book of essays ranging from Christianity and Culture to Church Music. Each essay is a converted speech Lewis gave to various audiences. But his thinking crosses the boundary of speech to the written word very well. His thinking was clear, and though you might not come to the same conclusions on each issue, you have to respect how he arrived at his.
“A man is never so proud as when striking an attitude of humility.”
Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis wrote his reflections on the Psalms from the standpoint of one student to another. He does not write as an expert, and he believes that makes him able to communicate the truth of the Psalms in a way a teacher often can’t. It takes other students to see the way at times, so Lewis comes alongside to help us see the wonder of the Psalms. He does this well, even if theologically he leaves something to be desired. The fact that Lewis understood literature only makes this book more valuable.
“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”
The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It by Lawrence S. Ritter
I love baseball, and no sport has better stories. Here, the stories of the old-timey baseball players are told, in their own words. The stories from the early 1900s are fascinating to me. Baseball was a different game back then, played in a different style. Even though some some would say baseball was “better” back then, I won’t go that far. The athletes are better today. The game is more intense, with greater pressure and more skill. But the way they played back then was whole-hearted. They loved the game, and would have played for free. Compared to today’s players, they did. If you enjoy baseball, you’ll enjoy this book.