So, I enjoy reading. It wasn't always that way. When we were kids, my brother loved to read and I loved to play. As I saw it, his reading kept him from playing with me: a problem to which I didn't always respond well. If you know my parents, you can check with them. Somewhere in elementary school a reading contest got me going on reading (pretty sure it was 2nd grade with Mrs. Sowles - thanks!).
There are so many blessings that come with reading. Some are a bit cliche, but true - you can go places and times you've never been and could never go. You can learn tons about life, history, food, culture, hobbies, hobbits, architecture, theology, sports, relationships, wardrobes, finances, scripture, and on and on we could go. And one other thing...a picture is worth 1000 words? Not always. The words of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as my dad read them to me years ago and as I have re-read them created images in my mind that were better than anything the (very fine and enjoyable) big screen adaptation has managed. Two plus hours of images fail to fully capture what the words of the book portray.
These days I'm on a bit of a reading kick, so I thought I'd write about it. I'll tell you something about my reading, but I want to hear from you. What are you reading and give me one or two of your favorite or most influential books you've ever read. I've been reading a small stack of commentaries on Matthew's gospel, since that's what I'm preaching through. Besides that Planting, Watering, Growing: Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century is proving helpful for this church planter. I've just finished up Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones which helpfully applies biblical truth whether you're facing depression or not. I'm about to begin The Trellis and the Vine regarding how we do ministry in the church. I'm in the early stages of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, where I've learned that one of the passions (and gifts!) of a deeply thinking man was teaching children! On the secular side, two books about baseball. This summer I read 3 Nights in August and am now enjoying Moneyball by Michael Lewis. The two books offer two different approaches to the game of baseball. I'm thinking the reality lies somewhere in between. [DISCLAIMER: Reading these books and mentioning them here does not mean I recommend everything in them or about them. If you want to know more about why, ask me before you pick one of them up to read.]
Okay. A few on the all-time list. How People Change by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp. If you've ever been discouraged with your growth in grace (sanctification) this book should be on your must read list. Rightly applying the principles laid out here can be life changing. More than Conquerors is a commentary on Revelation that opened my eyes to understand a book of the Bible that had been very confusing. And one from my childhood: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. There are so many I am leaving off this list. But now, really. I want to know what you're reading and some all time favorites. Share away.
That's how long it's been since the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil. I bet you remember where you were on the morning of September 11, 2001. I sure do. The radio alarm clock that woke us up that day wasn't pouring out music, but rather talk of an airplane hitting the World Trade Center in New York City. I didn't realize they were talking about a jet and not a Cessna; a terrorist attack and not an accident. You might wonder why we were sleeping so late, but in our defense, we lived on the west coast at the time. As the day wore on, the magnitude of what was taking place became clear. This was a coordinated attack, not an accident. The toll? On board American Airlines flight 11 that hit the north tower of the World Trade Center: 92 souls, all killed instantly. On board United Airlines flight 175 that hit the south tower: 65 souls, all killed instantly. On board American Airlines flight 77 that hit the Pentagon: 64 souls, all killed instantly. On board United Airlines flight 93 that was courageously brought down in Shanksville, PA, by a band of brave passengers: 44 souls, all killed instantly. At the World Trade Center, 2606 killed. At the Pentagon, another 125 killed. All told, 2996 people died that day in the terrorist attacks. Sobering, isn't it? It should be. Not sure that 10 years later is any more significant than 9 years last year or 11 next, but as a nation pauses to remember, what should we think? Here are a few thoughts on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The words, 'killed instantly' jump out. With the exception of the terrorists, not what those who died were planning on that day. Not typically what any of us are ever planning on when we get out of bed and head off to whatever it is we do. But it iis appointed to man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Are you ready?
Evil men will do evil things. The magnitude of 9/11 was shocking; the ability to carry out such an attack, disturbing; the brazenness of the attack, chilling; but the fact of such a thing should not be surprising. Those who reject the God of the Bible as the one true and living God and embrace false gods, left to themselves, will care nothing for his creation, people made in his image, or his special people. Some will act in accordance with the depth of their depravity. The more amazing thing is the restraining grace of God at work in the world.
Whether seeing the disturbing image of iconic buildings in our nation collapsing or uprisings in the Middle East, I love the comfort of Psalm 2. "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed...He who sits in the heavens laughs." God is not troubled by the raging of terrorists or tyrants; he laughs at it. If our refuge is that Lord and his Anointed, we need not fear.
Give thanks for freedom and those who defend it. I went to bed last night knowing that if my house caught on fire, within minutes there would be men I have never met putting that fire out. I drove to church today without a thought of fear that I might be perrsecuted or arrested for worshiping publicly. We don't even think about those things very often because we assume them. It's not like that everywhere in the world. Since we are to render honor to whom it is due (Romans 13:7), let's remember to honor and thank those who run into burning buildings and not away from them; those who go towards the battle instead of fleeing from it so that the battle doesn't come to us. Thank you. At the same time, remember that those people are instruments in the hands of God. Our help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
The only way to live is trusting in Christ. You know how Psalm 2 ends? "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." Come what may if your refuge is Christ, you will
be safe in the storm and he will bring you home to heaven whether you're killed instantly in a terrorist attack or die of old age.
So may we remember. Remember what happened that day; remember the pain and pride we felt; remember the hurt that family and friends still feel; remember our great privilege; but most importantly remember our Creator and his Son, Jesus.
No theme today; just some miscellaneous thoughts.
Many Words. This picture - along with the caption, "Can you do this? (In other news, this is the effect of my preaching on my children.)"- got more feedback on Facebook than anything I have posted in a long time. It happened while I was preaching on Proverbs 10:19, "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." Not sure what the significance of that is, but the comments received ranged from the virtue of flexibility to comparisons to Eutychus (check Acts 20). Maybe he was just being a 3 year old (with a rubber skeleton) at the end of a long day. But that Proverb is interesting when thinking about sermons and blogs. Lots of words there, which doesn't inherently indicate the presence of sin (the Bible has many words; God ordains the preaching of the word as the means he will bless). But wow. Let's be careful with what we say and write.
Redeeming the time. I was talking with my brother-in-law recently, and he gave me a good idea. I don't spend too much time reading blogs, although there's a lot of good stuff out there. His idea was bookmarking some good blogs on my phone so that when I am stuck somewhere (like waiting for a haircut), I can easily pull them up and read something with profit instead of just launching birds or matching jewels. What blogs do I read when I take the opportunity? Among others, I enjoy Kevin DeYoung and Tim Challies. (Disclaimer: just because I've linked to them doesn't mean I agree with everything they write.) So if you've got a phone that can access the internet and ever have a little down time, there's one idea.
Promises. God keeps his. 2 Peter 1:3-4. "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." That is nothing short of amazing. For more thoughts, head over to the "Messages" page and check out the morning and evening message from September 4, 2011. Thanks, Dad.
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.
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