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20 of the best books I read in 2019

Here are twenty of my favorite books that I read in 2019. I think I only read three fiction books this year. I need to fix that. I plan to read quite a bit more fiction next year. Anyhow, here’s some of my favorites… (in no particular order)

  1. Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
    by Ravi Zacharias
  2. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
  3. Apologetics at the Cross: An Introduction to Christian Witness by Josh Chatraw and Mark D. Allen
  4. Them: Why We Hate Each Other–and How To Heal by Ben Sasse 
  5. How Long O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil by D.A. Carson
  6. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow
  7. Alienated American: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse
     by Timothy P. Carney
  8. Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God’s Grand Story by Christopher Yuan
  9. Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope by Matthew McCullough
  10. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr by Clayborne Carson
  11. Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success by John C. Maxwell
  12. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
  13. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller
  14. Preaching as Reminding: Stirring Memory in an Age of Forgetfulness by Jeffrey D. Arthurs
  15. An Unhurried Leader: The Lasting Fruit of Daily Influence by Alan Fadling
  16. Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
  17. Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles H. Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr. 
  18. To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson
  19. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
  20. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Out of all the books I read last year, Remember Death by Matthew McCullough, is the one I would suggest you read over all the rest.  

Read it. 

Esther and the Purim Party

I read the book of Esther last week and was struck again by what an amazing book it is. What a true work of literature. There is a heroine, suspense, irony, reversal, and surprising coincidences.
 
Chapters 1-2
Israel is in exile, under the reign of King Ahasuerus. Ahasuerus, as the King of Persia, has a ton of wealth. So he shows his wealth by having a party for 180 days (1:4).[1] With that much partying it is no wonder that he is somewhat of a drunk and pushover. However, it appears that he’s trying to combat his pushover persona (but not his alcoholism!) with the help of his friends and so he makes an example of his wife Vashti who did not obey his every whim.
 
He gets rid of his old wife and throws a lavish beauty pageant to find the most beautiful and pleasing bride in the kingdom (2:2-4). In somewhat of a Cinderella story, the king “fell in love” with Esther more than all the other women and so he put the royal crown on her head and made her queen (v. 17).

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8 Reasons we need to learn from the Old Testament

If we have the New Testament why do we need the Old Testament? 

  1. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable (2 Tim. 3:16), not just the texts we like to read.
  2. All the promises of God find their answer in Jesus so it is important that we understand what the promises are (2 Cor. 1:20). 
  3. When Paul preached to the Ephesian church he preached the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and the whole counsel of God points us to Jesus (Lk. 24:27). 
  4. When Stephen preached in Acts chapter seven he preached the Old Testament (see also the other sermons recorded in the New Testament) which demonstrates the vital importance of the Old Testament. 
  5. The things in the Old Testament serve to instruct us and set an example for us (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11).
  6. When Paul ministered to churches one of his ministries was proving that Jesus was the Promised One, the Christ (Acts 9:22). Paul demonstrated the amazing truth that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah by teaching the Old Testament. We see this all through Acts (Acts 9:22; 13:16ff; 16:13; 17:3, 17; 18:4-5, 19; 19:8ff; 24:25; 26:6, 22-26; 28:23, 31 cf. 18:28). We too must understand what it means that Jesus is the Messiah and that will require learning from the Old Testament. 
  7. Much of the New Testament assumes knowledge of the Old Testament. 
  8. Scripture is so good we need as much of it as we can get, Old Testament or New. Scripture is perfect (Ps. 19:7), true (Ps. 19:9), pure (Ps. 19:8), a light (Ps. 119:105,130), a sword (Eph. 6:17), a hammer (Jer. 23:29). It is better than gold (Ps. 19:10; 119:72) and we need it to live (Ps. 119:144). Scripture gives joy (Ps. 119:111; Jer. 15:16), makes wise (Ps. 19:7), guards (Ps. 119:9), guides (Ps. 73:24; 119:105), sanctifies (Ps. 119:9, 11). 

Read and study the Old Testament along with the New. 🙂 

How should Christian art be informed by the Christian worldview? (part 3)

In the last post, we considered that creation was once very good and we made some observations about how that impacts the way we look at certain forms of art. Now we are going to… 

Consider that we are Creative Creatures

Humans are made in the image of God. We see this teaching–the doctrine of the image of God,[1] the imago Dei–in various places in Scripture (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1-3; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7 Col. 3:10; James 3:9). The most prominent is Genesis 1:27: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”[2] “The ‘image (likeness) of God’ refers to a permanent aspect of our created nature, which was not affected by the fall. It is the special characteristic of the human race, which distinguishes us from other creatures.”[3]

So, “We are created in the likeness of the Creator… So we are, on a finite level, people who can create.”[4] We also see that humans–all humans–have great worth! We have worth beyond what we do, we have worth in who we are. But what we do is important. 

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Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 6)

“Why should I believe the Bible?” This might sound crazy to a lot of people but you should believe the Bible because it is…

Scientific

The Bible is not a scientific textbook. Yet it is accurate scientifically. The Bible concurs with all sorts of scientific discoveries. The Bible also lays the groundwork for scientific research to be carried out.

“Belief in the rationality of God not only led to the inductive method but also led to the conclusion that the universe is governed rationally by discoverable laws. This assumption is vitally important to scientific research, because in a pagan or polytheistic world, which saw its gods often engaged in jealous, irrational behavior in a world that was nonrational, any systematic investigation of such a world would seem futile. ”[1]

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