Pastoral Reading Group

One of the things my brother and I have been doing for over twenty years is to meet together in a reading group with a couple of other pastor friends. We pick a book to read, set a time a few months away, reschedule at the last minute (not a requirement but a frequent occurrence), meet for lunch and discuss, then pray for one another’s ministries. It is a great blessing to us.

Over the years we have kept very spotty records, especially early on, but I think we have read well over 100 books together. I’m going to post the list in a table below. Some titles are missing, though we know that we met on the dates indicated. I thought the list might be of interest to some. You might not like some of the titles. Neither did we, after the fact! Others, some of us liked and others disliked. Nevertheless, edifying discussion has always been the fruit of this meeting.

My brother got the idea from Pastor Mark Minnick some time ago and we’ve kept it up.

Our list includes our next book, The Baptist Story, which is my pick. I reviewed it here.

Date

Title

Author

3/28/2017

The Baptist Story

Chute, Anthony, Nathan Finn, & Michael Haykin

1/12/2017

Between Pain & Grace

Peterman, Gerald & Andrew Schmutzer

9/13/2016

J. C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone

Murray, Iain

5/17/2016

All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes

Myers, Kenneth

2/2/2016

Biblical Worldview

ed. Mark Ward

10/27/2015

Far Above Rubies

Clark, Lynette

7/21/2015

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

Butterfield, Rosaria

7/21/2015

Christians and Alcohol

Jaeggli, Randy

2/26/2015

Love, Liberty, and Christian Conscience

Jaeggli, Randy

2/26/2015

The Law and the Christian

Casillas, Ken

10/23/2014

Apologetics to the Glory of God

Frame, John

7/17/2014

Matthew Henry: His Life and Influence

Harman, Allan

2/6/2014

The Servant of Jehovah

Baron, David

10/24/2013

Millennialism

Feinberg, Charles

8/1/2013

Fundamentalism and American Culture

Marsden, George

3/28/2013

A Passion for God (about Tozer)

Dorsett, Lyle

1/17/2013

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

Tripp, Paul

10/11/2012

Refuting Compromise

Sarfati, Jonathan

6/21/2012

The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fund.

Henry, Carl

1/26/2012

Theologians of the Baptist Tradition

George, Timothy and Dockery, David

9/15/2011

Through Jewish Eyes

Hartman, Craig

6/28/2011

Is God a Moral Monster?

Copan, Paul

3/31/2011

Whosoever Will

ed., Allen, David & S. Lemke

1/13/2011

The Word Became Fresh

Davis, Dale Ralph

7/29/2010

Cornelius Van Til

Muether, John

3/25/2010

Ten Books that Screwed Up the World

Wiker, B.

1/21/2010

Not by Chance

Talbert, Layton

9/24/2009

25 Surprising Marriages

Petersen, William

6/25/2009

Worship in Song

Aniol, Scott

3/19/2009

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

Carson, D. A.

3/19/2009

Model of Christian Maturity

Carson, D. A.

1/22/2009

The Company of the Preachers, Vol. 1

Larsen, David

9/25/2008

Faith that Endures

Boyd-MacMillan, Ronald

7/24/2008

The Greatness of the Kingdom, part 2

McClain, Alva

3/27/2008

The Greatness of the Kingdom, part 1

McClain, Alva

1/31/2008

Evangelical Hermeneutics

Thomas, Robert L.

11/15/2007

Understanding the Deeper Life

Towns, Elmer

9/13/2007

A Royal Destiny

Wisdom, Thurman

6/14/2007

A History of the Baptists, Vol. 1

John T. Christian

3/22/2007

Worship in the Early Church

Martin, Ralph

3/22/2007

Whatever Happened to Worship?

Tozer, A. W.

1/25/2007

Crowded to Christ

Maxwell, L. E.

10/12/2006

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith

Murray, Iain

6/15/2006

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First Forty Years

Murray, Iain

4/13/2006

Unveiling Islam

Caner & Caner

2/9/2006

Tell the Truth

Metzger, Will

10/13/2005

What Is an Evangelical?

Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn

8/23/2005

When People Are Big and God Is Small

Welch, Ed

4/28/2005

Putting the Truth to Work

Doriani, Daniel M.

12/2/2004

The Danger of Self-Love

Brownback, Paul

9/16/2004

Blame It On The Brain?

Welch, Ed

6/29/2004

xxx

xxx

4/1/2004

Set Apart

Hughes, R. Kent

1/22/2004

xxx

xxx

8/7/2003

xxx

xxx

8/7/2003

xxx

xxx

5/8/2003

Postmodern Times

Vieth, Gene

2/20/2003

Evangelicalism Divided

Murray, Iain

1/11/2003

Jonathan Edwards

Marsden, George

12/5/2002

Planting Churches Cross-Culturally

Hesselgrave, David

9/26/2002

From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya

Tucker, Ruth

6/13/2002

Desiring God

John Piper

4/4/2002

The Reformed Pastor

Baxter, Richard

1/31/2002

xxx

xxx

1/15/2002

Spurgeon

Dallimore, Arnold

11/29/2001

Why do Good People do Bad Things

Lutzer, Erwin

9/13/2001

xxx

xxx

6/28/2001

xxx

xxx

2/15/2001

xxx

xxx

1/9/2001

The Complete Husband

Priolo, Lou

1/2/2001

Christ-Centered Preaching

Chapell, Bryan

11/24/2000

Spiritual Depression

Lloyd-Jones

9/7/2000

xxx

xxx

5/2/2000

xxx

xxx

2/15/2000

xxx

xxx

11/29/1999

xxx

xxx

9/7/1999

xxx

xxx

6/29/1999

Lectures to My Students

Spurgeon, Charles

4/20/1999

xxx

xxx

1/19/1999

xxx

xxx

1/9/1999

Failure the Backdoor to Success

Lutzer, Erwin

1/4/1999

Key to the Missionary Problem

Murray, Andrew

10/29/1998

xxx

xxx

6/9/1998

xxx

xxx

2/10/1998

xxx

xxx

12/5/1997

xxx

xxx

10/21/1997

xxx

xxx

getting the history part of grammatical-historical

Just a thought that occurred to me while listening to Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds …It is extremely helpful to Bible interpreters to have an understanding of the culture and history in which the Bible was written. This particular “Great Courses” offering touches on some points of history that help us in understanding the culture the early Christians were saved from. I think that I am reading the New Testament with better understanding as a result.

Even better than this course are two other offerings: Herodotus: The Father of History, an excellent presentation by Elizabeth Vandiver and the actual work of Herodotus: The Histories.

These works are full of secular misconceptions and there are sometimes misrepresentations of Biblical information contained in them. However, one thing I’ve found fascinating is the Greek mindset on display. I suspect that many Greeks of the ancient world viewed their pagan superstitions cynically, yet they most likely “hedged their bets” and went along or adopted them as a “cultural practice.” Nevertheless, whether true believers or no, they had a culture to overcome in coming to Christ. “The Greeks look for wisdom.”

As we consider the preaching and teaching of the apostles in the context of the thinking of the day, we can gain insight to perhaps preaching and teaching the pagans of modernistic and post-modernistic society as well.

A refusal to vote for Trump is a vote for…

Hillary?

So say the rabid Trumpsters on social media. If you object to Trump and his excesses, his foolish statements and positions, you are pounced on and accused of supporting Hillary Clinton.

Well, I don’t think so. I don’t have a vote in the election (but many family members do). But like most in the world, I have an opinion.

The polls on the election fluctuate and will continue to fluctuate until the real poll, election day. However, I think the polls have consistently had Hillary ahead. As of today, the Real Clear Politics polling average has Clinton ahead by 2.7%. More important, though, is the state by state polling. Every prognostication based on state by state polling shows Hillary killing it in the Electoral College. Trump will have to get probably 10 points ahead of Hillary to overcome her advantage state by state.

I think that tells us that, barring some unforeseen miracle – a creditable third candidate, some unforeseen disaster that overtakes Hillary’s campaign, or some other unknown event – Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.

All my reading about this election suggest that even Democrats are not thoroughly enamored with Hillary. She has more negatives than most candidates in history and is thoroughly beatable. So why is she leading? Because she has a clown for an opponent.

Why does she have a clown for an opponent? Because the voters in primary season voted for him.

The reality is that “A non-vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary” is just a canard. Ridiculous. It was all those votes for Trump during primary season that are the actual votes for Hillary.

Thanks Trumpsters. You’ve just elected a president worse than Obama. Hard to believe.

No moral compass

That’s basically what this Abacus survey of Canadians on issues of morality seems to suggest, for the vast majority of Canadians. This presents a challenge for evangelism (so many false values to get past) and an opportunity (Christianity is clearly different). May we be bold and call men from darkness to light!

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee–a review

Clouds of Glory:  The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee
Michael Korda
New York: Harper, 2014.

On a recent vacation, our family happened to go to a Barnes & Noble store (bookstores are a trap for me!). While there, I noticed Michael Korda’s new work, Clouds of Glory:  The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee. Well, I am a sucker for books in general, and Civil War history and biographies in particular, so I picked this one up. (I did manage to limit myself to just one!)

Biographies can be easier to read than other non-fiction works because of the personal element. Well-written biographies are even easier, and this one is well written (though not entirely without flaws). I swept through the 693 pages in about a week and a half.1 For anyone who has read much Civil War history, a fair outline of those years will be in hand, so some of the material you will have read in other sources. Michael Korda’s approach seems to me to be fairly objective. He respects Lee, but does not worship at his shrine. He critiques decisions, argues with other writers on interpretation, and in the end presents a picture of an interesting Christian man.

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Notes:

  1. a four hour plane ride from Atlanta to Seattle helped! []

shutting down arguments

Online discussion is very predictable. There’s a meme out there about how such discussions go and the odds that Hitler will be mentioned as the discussion lengthens (It’s even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, apparently).

In Christian discussion boards odds are that as soon as someone is losing an argument, one of two strategems will come up:

  1. Have you spoken to X about this? (The Matthew 18 card)
  2. You can’t judge motives

What is the purpose of these strategems?

To shut you up, that’s what. It does get a little tiresome, but I encourage you to either take no notice of those who attempt to use them, or push back against them.

This does not mean that I advocate impolitic speech, or uncharitable communication. However, I think that we must insist that topics be discussed on their merits and refuse to be drawn into a side-tracking rabbit trail by allowing these tactics put us on the defensive.

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new blog

An old-timey friend of mine, Monty McCoy, has joined the blogosphere at leadinghorsestowater.net. I love the title, reminds me of a favorite quote from Murphy’s Law and Other Reasons Things Go Wrong, “You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get him to float on his back, you’ve got something!” I can’t remember who said that originally, but I think it is particularly applicable to most leadership situations.

Monty and I used to team teach a Sunday school class in our church’s bus ministry. With him, I used to visit some of the poorer sections of our town where most of our children came from. These homes were so broken, it was hard to see how they could be helped – only the grace of God could make a difference.

We had some professions of faith in our class – it was first grade. I don’t know how serious these little ones were, but I know that little children can make serious spiritual decisions. Regardless, I think the ministry to little ones (and all ages in that community) was a worthwhile effort. It was costly, eventually our church gave up that ministry (after I had moved away). It certainly isn’t the “in thing” among Christians these days, but what could be more important than teaching the Bible and the life changing message of the gospel to anyone who will listen?

Well, Monty and I reconnected last year after spending about thirty years incommunicado (hurrah for the internet!). Monty is a godly servant in a local church somewhere in Iowa (he really lives out in the sticks, a real country gentleman). I appreciate his faithfulness and ministry a great deal and recommend his blog to you. Hope you enjoy it.

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a very special guy

AM_knighthood

This is our dear friend Al, receiving a knighthood from the Republic of France for his role on the beaches of Normandy, June 6, 1944. He has been invited to a special ceremony there this year (all expenses paid), but at 92, he doesn’t want to chance it. He said to me today, “I made it off those beaches alive once, I’m not sure I can do it again!”

More importantly, Al testifies that he is depending on the work of Jesus Christ to save his soul from sin. He regularly attends our services with his wife and brings one of our other ladies along with them as well. Yes, he is still driving and is as sharp as a tack. He is actually kind of hard to keep up with, but he is a real blessing to us.

awkward!

I don’t know if my American friends can see this video, its an interview by a Canadian TV personality, George Stroumboulopoulos. I can’t stand George and I’m not a huge fan of the Prince, but I was a good deal put off by the beginning of the interview.

The way it appeared to me, Strombo, as they are sitting down, unexpectedly sticks out his hand to the Prince, expecting to shake hands. Prince Charles appears not to notice at first, then, to spare George embarrassment, reaches out and shakes his hand.

It might be just me, but I seem to recall that you just don’t do that… If you meet a royal and they initiate a handshake, it’s all good. But we commoners keep our hands to ourselves otherwise. At least … that’s the way I think it is supposed to be done.

I am sure on-air interviews aren’t easy, for interviewee or interviewer. But wouldn’t George have been briefed on protocol before he sat down with the Prince? Or is he just completely clueless? (I tend to think the latter.)

here’s a breathless announcement

It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world discovered so far, astronomers announced on Thursday.

This comes from Scientists Find an ‘Earth Twin,’ or Perhaps a Cousin in the New York Times.

Here is something that bothers me in this story, and in some of the pronouncements of astronomer’s in general. The way this is reported, it sounds like they know for sure that what they saw is 1) a planet; 2) of a certain size; 3) orbiting a Sol-like star; 4) orbiting in the ‘habitable zone’ of that star. All of these pronouncements are stated matter-of-fact-like.

Yet what do they really know?

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