Close Menu X

What Pastor Blair Has Been Reading (January 2016-March 2016)



Blumhofer, Eidth. Aimee Semple McPherson: Everybody’s Sister. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1993.

Semple McPherson (1890-1944) was the premier Pentecostal evangelist of the 1920s. She was a national and international celebrity. Her methodology was self-promotion for the sale of sharing the gospel. Semple McPherson was so succeful she even established her own denomination (Foursquare Gospel). Her life is truly fascinating. Blumhofer presents the female evangelist in a sympathetic light. She is fair in the treatment of the lady preacher’s work- that it was obvious she had great flaws in addition to her accomplishments (though she avoids the well told story of her dalliance with Milton Berle and other suggested liaisons). McPherson was a larger than life personality. She was a woman that desired to do the right thing, but never quite discovered what that was. She was considered successful by numbers she attracted more than for the lives she changed. There are a great many lessons to be learned from her example.

Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1995.

F.F. Bruce first published this work in 1943. He then revised it in 1960. His purpose was to produce a primer to understanding how the New Testament came into being and to discuss the relevant points of manuscript transmission for the new student in Biblical studies. I reread this little book (only 124 pages) for the New Testament I class I teach at BTS. After fifty six years in print, I am still amazed at how accurate Bruce’s work remains after all this time. It is faithful to the text and gives one an appreciation for the accuracy of our modern text. It might seem a little academic upon first reading, but there is a wealth of information here.  

Calvin, John. A Guide to Christian Living. (Translated by Robert White). Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2013.

This is a reprint of this work republished by the Banner in a small faux leather edition that can be easily carried around as a devotional. The book is an abridgment of part III of Calvin’s Institutes. I found it to be wonderfully helpful. It reminded me once again of the beauty of thought that the reformer of Geneva could produce. This is an excellent work to cut your teeth if you have never read Calvin. It is also one that can be used over and over again in devotional thought. The translation is well done from the French edition. I highly recommend this work. Commentary  

Davis, Dale Ralph. A Study Commentary on Micah. Carlisle, PA: EP Books, 2010.

This is a wonderful devotional commentary on the book of Micah. Micah is one of the most difficult Minor Prophets to interpret because so much is lost as it is translated from its poetic form in Hebrew. But with his incredible literary skills and knowledge of the Old Testament, David is able to use dynamic equivalents in his running commentary on the text. I found his 21st century application of truth from the Prophet to be sound. I was convicted and encouraged as I worked through the text. I highly recommend this work for personal study.

Deyoung, Kevin. Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, And What That Means for You and Me. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014.

This is a great introduction to the doctrine of the Bible. Deyoung uses his typical light hearted approach to teach the importance of scripture. He argues for the sufficiency, authority, clarity and necessity of the Bible. The book generally follows that outline with a demonstration of how Jesus thought about the Word in the closing chapters. Well-written and well-paced. I highly recommend this book.

Howard, Tim (with Ali Benjamin). The Keeper: A Life of Saving Goals and Achieving Them. New York: Harper Collins, 2014.

This is the autobiography of the U.S. International Goal Keeper, Tim Howard. Howard is known for his spectacular performance in the 2014 World Cup, stopping 15 shots on Goal. He is also the starting keeper for Everton. I was fascinated to learn that he also suffers from Tourette Syndrome. One of the reasons I wanted to read his story is that Howard is a professing Christian. I was interested in hearing his testimony. Sadly, that portion of the book is not present though he does describe a little of his faith beliefs. He was very candid about how he fell out of love with his wife and that led to his subsequent divorce. He was placed in the position in choosing his career or his wife. He chose the former without repentance viewing it as an eventuality for those in professional sports. It is a sad episode for the goalie and one that probably could have been rectified with good discipleship. But there is a lesson here for those in the same position. Warning- there is some adult language used in telling his story. In most cases it could have been avoided.

Ming- Dao, Wong. A Stone Made Smooth. Southampton: Mayflower Christian Books, 1984.

Wang Ming Dao was a house church leader in China. Not only did he stand up courageously to the Japanese during their occupation of China, but he was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution for nearly 30 years. This book is the first part of his story leading up to the Japanese occupation. It chronicles his coming to faith, his calling as a pastor, his understanding of the church and church discipline and his itinerate preaching. He tells his story with frank honesty sharing his weaknesses as well as his strengths. The premise of the book is to show how God used each trial in his life to smooth away the rough edges of his life.

Moo, Douglas. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1996.

I had been told by a friend that this was the best overall commentary on Romans available. D.A. Carson still considers it the best in his Commentary Survey. So eighteen months ago I began to work my way through Romans devotionally using this 1012 page volume, exegeting just a few verses each day. I found it a rewarding experience. The footnotes are amazing and demonstrate the author’s command of the text and what has been written about the epistle beforehand. Moo also deals critically with the New Perspective movement. I do, however, disagree with his conclusions on Romans chapter seven whether or not Paul is speaking of his pre-salvific experience or post-salvific (Moo take the position of the former). But at least the author is fair and honest in his evaluation that there is no way to know for certain. For the teacher, the counselor, and the preacher I would say this should be your ‘go-to’ commentary on Romans.

Packer, J.I., Affirming the Apostles’ Creed. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.

This was a perfect book for me to work through when I preached the series on the Creed’s teaching on Christ. It is set up more as a daily devotional as Packer explains the theology behind each statement. Then there are a series of study (or discussion) questions at the end of each chapter. I found the material very helpful, but I do disagree with Packer’s position on the clause ‘descended into hell’. He takes the view that Jesus went to a place called hades to preach to the Old Testament saints. I have already explained my position that this position attempts to explain scripture beginning with the creed first rather than allowing the text of the Bible to instruct the reader on the creed. Never-the-less, a worthy overview of the Apostles’ Creed.

Piper, John. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014.

For many years at Bethlehem Baptist John Piper had placed a strong emphasis on the greatest historical event to ever occur: Christ Jesus’ coming into the world. This is a collection of three-page readings to be done during the advent season. It is well done. There is depth here and may not be applicable to young children, but it will be a blessing for you. Order a copy now and have it ready for next December.

Piper, John. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2011.

This is a new revised edition of this book that was first produced in 1986. I had the pleasure of rereading this book with my men’s devotional group. The books sums up Piper’s philosophy for life and ministry- God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Piper challenges the reader that it is right that we seek pleasure, but only as it is found in God the giver and maker of pleasure. Ultimate joy and satisfaction is to be found in God alone. The author works out the details in topics such as evangelism, worship, missions ad suffering. For those familiar with Pipers ministry, the book might seem pretty basic compared to some of his other books. But my men’s group had a great time discussing the topics (I would say that one of us found the discussion guide to be very helpful- we preferred to use our own questions). For introduction to Piper’s thought this book is perfect.

Wilson, Neil. Pocket Edinburgh. London: Lonely Planet Publications, 2014.

Amelia and I used this little guide on our recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. We found it immensely helpful even thought I had made many trips to the city previously. Each chapter covers a section of the city prioritizing the highlights that you would want to see in that neighborhood. It also provides you with restaurant suggestions. It was nice to know how much things cost before we arrived. I know people like to use their smart phones, but I found this much easier. It even has an accurate pull-out map. If you plan on journeying to Scotland, a guide like this is a must.