Recently Read: January 2019

Here are some books I’ve read or listened to over the summer. And for what it’s worth there are some brief comments about them too.

1. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield

This is the incredible story of Rosaria herself. At one point she was a tenured professor, thought of with high regard for her LGBT and feminist views. After conversion to the Christian faith she understood herself differently; giving up her lesbian lifestyle and in time marrying a Presbyterian minister. This is a great book and well worth the read. I listened to it with Rosaria narrating. An astounding and excellent memoir.

2. Why The Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves

Again, I listened to this via audio book. The final three chapters move the book up in any sort of rating. However, because the first nine chapters aren’t particularly practical, which I expected they would be, then I didn’t find this book appealing or interesting. Not really worth the read.

3. Wisdom in Leadership by Craig Hamilton

It may have taken me 2.5 years from opening to closing this book but it was still a good one. There is something like 78 chapters, each about five pages long. It provides great practical advice for Christian leaders. Anything from how to lead a team to how to lead a meeting to how to build trust to how to deal with conflict. There are good chapters for those who are main leaders or those who volunteer under other leadership. Again, worth the read but don’t expect to read it through in one hit. It’s also worth noting that the author is Australian.

4. Without Warning by David Rosenfelt

A novel based around a murderer and his son seeking to get revenge on the Chief of Police. It moves quickly, involves a good amount of mystery, and is a fun read/listen.

5. Martin Luther by Eric Metaxas

There are plenty of Martin Luther biographies to read. Some are dry and academic but Metaxas’ one certainly isn’t. Like all good Metaxas books it is reasonably fast-paced and with great little side stories about what is going on in wider culture. I tend to read quickly to the halfway point and then slow down when reading Metaxas and this happened here too. It could have been shorter but is still a valuable and fun read on the life of one of the more significant people in world history and church history. You’re in for a humorous treat on page 334 too.

6. Reset: Living a Grace-paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray

Easily the best book on this list. It may have been because of the time of year I read this one, or because I was feeling tired after 2018. Whatever it was, this book gives great theology that moves into great practice for rest, sleep, work, identity, sin and temptation, eating, exercise, and numerous other factors that can cause us to deplete our energy and lead us to burnout. Again, focused on Christian leaders but really gives good wisdom for a grace-paced life for all believers. I listened by audio, I’ll make sure I pick up a hard copy in due course. I think it’ll be useful for a small group study or course too.

7. Act of Treason by Vince Flynn

A fast-paced novel (ironic given the last book mentioned) about the attempt to take down the President and the US government. A typical thriller involving the CIA, the Russians, terrorists, and sleazy politicians.

8. How To Be A Christian: Your Comprehensive Growth to Flawless Spiritual Living by The Babylon Bee

The Babylon Bee. Enough said.

The whole book is satire. It’s mostly amusing but perhaps they do their best work in short blog posts, rather than 150-page books.

9. The Hand of Justice by Susanna Gregory

This is volume 10 in the Matthew Bartholomew series. I’ve grown to love the main characters of this series and the setting of medieval Cambridge is fascinating. There are always far too many murders to be anything realistic but it’s great fun when you’re into it. It is a holiday read as the writing is slow, nothing happens quickly. But, I liked this volume more than some of the recent ones I’d read.

10. The Prophet by Gibran Kahlil

A famous spiritualistic work by the admired Lebanese poet and writer Kahlil Gibran. I’ve known of this book since I lived in Lebanon over 10 years ago, he’s very famous and well regarded. The Prophet is about a prophet (obviously) who gives wisdom on the human condition and what it means to be human in relation to love, marriage, work, death, beauty, and other such topics. I was happy to have read this for the first time.

I hope you’ve had a good time reading so far in 2019 too.

On ‘Missional Posture’

A lifetime ago I was a personal trainer and gym manager and part of my role grew into what is known as corporate health. Part of this role was to perform ‘ergonomic assessments’ on people working in factories and offices. Take an office setting for example, I’d come in and have a look at how you’re sitting at your desk and give tips and advice on how to better sit and perform your duties. This was in order to help improve or maintain your posture and ultimately your long-term health.

posture

One particular aspect of the book, Sentness: Six Postures Of Missional Christians, I’ve found helpful is the idea of ‘posture’ and the Christian life.

I’m in the fortunate position of being able to speak at different churches on a regular basis and this month is the busiest one of the year. After reading Sentness by Hammond and Cronshaw I’ve been illustrating the way we are to view the Christian life with this term ‘missional posture’. It’s been helpful in explaining part of the Christian worldview.

The posture we should have as Christians is one centred on mission.

This will affect lifestyles and choices and decisions we make as we live life.

Matthew 28:16-20 is a great example of the posture we should have as Christians. Matthew describes the scene of the disciples coming to Jesus after he’s been resurrected and then tells us Jesus’ final words before he leaves earth.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This passage is fairly clear isn’t it? It’s a pretty simple directive from Jesus about how we’re to view the Christian life, particularly his words about making disciples.

It’s clear, it’s simple.

And this is where the term ‘missional posture’ is helpful.

The Christian life is to be lived with a posture of mission at the core.

The posture one has can show many things about a person. So too the missional posture of a Christian will show the attitude they have to their faith.

The Christian faith isn’t simply a slice in the pie of life. It encompasses all.

The posture we have as Christians can’t really be anything else. Can it?

Living the Resurrection by Eugene H. Peterson

Eugene H. Peterson, Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life (Colorado Springs, USA: NavPress), 2006.

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the central foundations which give the Christian hope and assurance in life. In this little volume Peterson tries to explain what living the resurrection is, how to go about it and strategies to cultivate it in everyday life. There is a threefold aim to the book (pg. 14):

What i want to do is recover our resurrection center and embrace the formation traditions that develop out of it. I’m going to deal in turn with threes aspects of Jesus’ resurrection that define and energise us as we enter the practice of resurrection lives. I will then set this resurrection life lived out of reality and conditions of Jesus’ resurrection in contrast to what i consider the common cultura habits about assumptions that are either oblivious to or make detours around resurrection. I will name this “the deconstruction of resurrection”. Finally, i will suggest something of what is involved in cultivating the practice of resurrection: living appropriately and responsively in a world in which Christ is risen.

With this beginning Peterson sets out on his task and by the end of the book i don’t think he got there. In many instances the book is rather confusing and talks in generalities and broad terms about life and “living the resurrection”. While the book may try to define what “living the resurrection” is I myself didn’t find the answer or found it awfully odd. What i got out of it was that “living the resurrection” involved keeping a Sabbath, witnessing, getting baptised and having meals with friends. In the final chapter i sensed that the summary of “living the resurrection” was simply to live a life that isn’t over-run by busyness.

The book left me confused as to what actually “living the resurrection” is. I don’t think it achieved its aims, however, if it did then it wasn’t clear enough for me. It does have some good things to say about those four or five topics mentioned above but for what it says its going to do i don’t think it does.

2/5.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”