What Pastor Blair Has Been Reading (January 2023 through March 2023)
Chin, Richard. Captivated by Christ: Seeing Jesus Clearly in the Book of Colossians. Matthias Media: Sydney, 2019.
Next month I am leading a men’s retreat at another church. We will be working through the book of Colossians and I was looking for helpful resources to assist me in my preparation. I had this one on a shelf and read through it quickly. This is probably a good book for a newer believer who desires to work through one of Paul’s letters. I delighted in Chin’s illustrations. They were appropriate for the material. Chin did an adequate job covering the book without bogging down in too many details. I would have preferred more emphasis on Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-10 as that is the theme of the letter- ‘walking in a manner worthy of Christ.’ I also felt marriage was emphasized probably too much and out of balance with the rest of the material. But Chin is sound. And this book would be helpful in a small group setting introducing Paul’s letter.
Emlet, Michael. Chronic Pain: Living by Faith When Your Body Hurts. New Growth Press: Greensboro, 2010.
I have many friends and family that suffer from chronic pain: some related to injuries, others coping with disease, some from mental anguish, and some just related to the aging process. The truth for most is that discomfort will most likely not dissipate unless a cure or miracle becomes available. Biblical counselor Mike Emlet (who is also an M.D.) assists the reader with coping through the suffering from a Biblical perspective. He teaches the reader how to transform one’s mindset from hopelessness to one of hope that God is working through your pain. This is a wonderful little booklet and one I highly recommend.
Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17 (NICOT). Eerdmans Publishing: Grand Rapids, 1990.
This is the first of two volumes on Genesis from the New International Commentary on the Old Testament. It would be classified as a technical commentary as it deals with Hebrew and alternative viewpoints from other authors. It is massive in its scope. And at times, the author can lose the reader on a rabbit trail of prevailing ideas. Despite its age (over thirty years old), it still holds up well. I am not sure a thorough study of Genesis in the English language could be done without it. Tremper Longman gave it 4.5 stars in his commentary survey. There are two theological issues that I would caution the reader. One is that Hamilton posits the possibility of a changing God (p. 275). And second, he also proposes that the earth’s sinful contamination caught [God} by surprise (p.278). I would heartily disagree with both statements. While I found this commentary very helpful, it is left best to the discerning scholar.
Hedges, Brian G. Christ All Sufficient: An Exposition of the Book of Colossians. Shepherd Press: Wapwalloen, PA, 2016.
This is an expositional commentary on Colossians. I am leading a men’s retreat on this book, and I picked up Hedges to help. I found this volume to be very useful. Hedges captures the key idea of holiness in Paul’s letter. I found his handling of Colossians chapters 3 and 4 to be superior over Chin. I think he handles the personalizations in the letter very cleverly to show how we all have gifts to serve the church. This would be an excellent book to work through devotionally.
Hillman, Chris. Time Between: My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother, and Beyond. BMG publishing, 2020.
I have mentioned before one of my all-time favorite bands was the Byrds. Chris Hillman was the bass player and founding member of the group. This is his autobiography. While maybe not a household name, Hillman is considered a pioneer in the Californian Country Rock movement. After leaving the Byrds, he formed the band the Flying Burrito Brothers with fellow Byrds, Gram Parsons, and Michael Clarke, along with Bernie Leadon (founder of the Eagles), Chris Etheridge, and Pete Klien. Later the band included other notables such as Al Perkins and Kenny Wertz. In the 1980’s he formed the Desert Rose Band. Hillman returned to his bluegrass roots and played with the Rice Brothers late in his career. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has earned an AMA Lifetime Achievement Award. His memorabilia are currently on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Hillman found Christ late in his life and his faith is on display in his writing. Sadly, he is confused by the influence of the Eastern Orthodox Church. But he definitely speaks of a born again experience where his dependence is on Jesus alone for his salvation. The book is well written and very entertaining.
Kuper, Simon. Soccer Men: Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics Who Dominate the World’s Most Popular Sport. Nation Books: New York, 2011.
Simon Kuper is one of the greatest sports writers of our era. He is Dutch, so naturally, he primarily writes about soccer. This book is a collection of interviews he did with some of the legends in the football world between 1997 to 2011. For a fan like myself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The articles were brief and gave authentic insight into those he interviewed. It was very entertaining. If you are not an enthusiast of the game, you likely will not gravitate to this title. But for those that are, I can highly recommend this one.
Light, Alfred W. Bunhill Fields. C.J. Farncombe & Sons Ltd: London, 1915.
In the middle of London, across from the house where the Wesley brothers grew up, is a nonconformist cemetery called Bunhill Fields (formerly Bone Hill). Nonconformists are those denominations that refused to conform to the Church of England. Many of our Baptist forebearers are buried here along with Puritan heroes. John Bunyan, John Owen, John Rippon, Thomas Goodwin, Daniel De Foe, and the hymn writer Isaac Watts are all interned in this graveyard. Sadly, time has taken its toll on the cemetery. Many of the stones are broken and faded. I am grateful that Alfred Light took on the task a century ago to begin recording who is buried in the cemetery and recording their epitaphs. Light includes a brief biography of each figure (as was available to him at the time). As I have visited Bunhill Fields many times (my most recent was last November), I truly enjoyed reading about the remains of this crowd of witnesses all assembled in one place.
Moreland, J.P., Stephen Meyer, Christopher Shaw, Ann Gauger, & Wayne Grudem (eds). Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical and Theological Critique. Crossway: Wheaton, 2017.
This is a massive volume that I used to prepare preaching through Genesis 1-5. It is composed of 31 chapters of almost 1000 pages. The goal of the book is to demonstrate that theistic evolutionary theory (that God guided evolution of long periods of time) is untenable. The book is divided into three sections which are identified in the subtitle: Scientific, Philosophical and Theological. I confess, I did not read the entire book. I am neither a scientist nor philosopher and do not feel qualified to assess those particular sections. I primarily focused on the theological treatment of the subject. The authors of the chapters come from a wide variety of positions. Not everyone is young earth, and some would adhere to a micro-evolutionary theory (meaning evolving diversity of a species, but not one species evolving into another) but they would all identify as special creationists. I think they present their argument well. Theistic evolution is an untenable position from the Bible. As a bonus, Fred Zaspel dispels the myth that B.B. Warfield was a theistic evolutionist. I will say that the authors have a tendency to oversimplify the arguments of their opponents. But that does not lessen their own positions.
Piper, John. When the Darkness Will Not Lift. Crossway: Wheaton, 2006.
It is always a good thing to find resources that can help a loved one battle depression. I think John Piper has written a helpful little book that you could place in the hands of the right person suffering from melancholy. First, the book is a good length- only 80 pages. This work is a couple of chapters out of Piper’s larger book When I Don’t Desire God. It’s good that he produced this as a stand-alone book. People who battle depression struggle to keep focused in reading. The brevity of the volume is just right. Second, while assuring the reader that medication is not the solution to depression, Piper does not dismiss it as a tool to aid in solving the problem. The third chapter is marvelous. Drawing from the Puritans, the author gives some practical aids to the sufferer while enduring (this alone is worth the price of the book). And finally, he offers some advice for those caring for a loved one who is depressed. I would offer a caveat in this recommendation. Make sure the reader does not suffer from the anxiety of inadequacy. Some of Piper’s instructions could feel like a burden on those who feel they are trying but not measuring up. This is an area that would require discernment by the counselor.
Twomey, Chris. Chalkhills and Children: XTC The Definitive Biography. London: Omnibus Press, 1992.
I have been on a bit of a music kick lately. XTC was a band to whom I listened as a teenager. They had a very unique sound from the others that influenced groups like R.E.M. and INXS. They also have the distinction of being a band that does not tour. The lead singer/songwriter, Andy Partridge, acquired performance anxiety about five years into their career. Chris Twomey chronicled the group from its early formation around 1972 to 1992 when their album, Nonsuch, was about to be released. They went on after that to produce two more albums before disbanding. Partridge and Colin Moulding are considered musical geniuses. But as with most creative types, Partridge was especially difficult in collaboration. Twomey pictures him as a sort of whiney bully in the recording studio. I was fascinated with Partridge’s stage fright and anxiety as I have experienced similar. Most likely this book is for a niche audience.
White, Alex. The Fulham FC Miscellany. The History Press: Stroud, 2012.
I am a huge supporter of the London side, Fulham Football Club. (This is a soccer team for my American friends). A ‘miscellany’ is a book of facts about a subject. And this miscellany is on the history of the club. Sadly, it was poorly done. I am grateful I am somewhat familiar with the team’s history otherwise, I would have no context for the vast majority of the information in the book. Alex White writes badly, even though all he had to do was write individual paragraphs of bullet points. The book is disorganized and probably not worth publishing. Save your money on this one. I am glad I picked it up at a used bookstore.
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