Books

Thinking Ahead for Father’s Day

Classic gifts for Father’s day include tools, grilling utensils, and maybe some socks. If you are thinking of doing something different this year, consider buying your husband a book. Yes, I realize that for some guys that doesn’t sound like a gift but more like a flashback to their days doing ninth grade reading reports. So you might want to include those socks after all. But if you think your husband or dad may appreciate a book, give these five books some consideration.

Knowing God41KdLW3GkCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ by J. I. Packer should be on everyone’s shelf. It is a modern classic and has been rewarding diligent readers since 1993. In this popular level book Packer lays out a feast for hungry souls who are tired with the fast-food meals of surface Christianity. But at about 300 pages, it is a feast that will require some perseverance. There are not too many books that I would recommend for believers before this one.

9780310513971mThe Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning To Our Jobs by Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Treager is an excellent book that will challenge and encourage your husband or dad where he spends the vast majority of his time and effort. Work is often hard, unrewarding, and full of frustration. Yet it is a gift of God.  From the back cover: “Many Christian fall victim to one of two main problems when it comes to work: either they are idle in their work, or they have made an idol of it. Both of these mind-sets are deadly misunderstandings of how God intends for us to think about our employment. In The Gospel at Work, Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert unpack the powerful ways in which the gospel can transform how we do what we do, releasing us from the cultural pressures of both an all-consuming devotion and a punch-in, punch-out mentality—in order to find the freedom of a work ethic rooted in serving Christ.”

downloadThe God Who is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story by D. A. Carson. This has been one of my favorite books to read again and again over the past five years since it was written. This book is a guided tour of the entire story of the Bible by one of the world’s best (and I do not exaggerate) biblical theologians. Every time I read this book I come away humbled and rejoicing before my great God and all that He has done for sinful people. His incredible wisdom, sovereignty, mercy and grace are evident throughout. This is also one of those rare books that I enjoy giving to thoughtful non-Christians who are interested in understanding at what the Bible is all about. It has provoked wonderful conversations and gospel opportunities. Know your God and His Word better through this book.

41wuY0fnYtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Dude’s Guide to Manhood: Finding True Manliness in a World of Counterfeits by Darrin Patrick is the book for the man’s man. It is punchy and fun in all the right places. Besides, the cover is awesome. Eye glasses and some serious facial hair may not make you a man but it is a pretty good place to start….right? “It is filled with timeless wisdom, accessible insights and practical guidance, The Dude’s Guide to Manhood issues an encouraging and doable call to all men, whatever their age or stage. It challenges men to not settle for wandering aimlessly through our days, wounded, weak, and passive.” But instead, encourages us “to get back on the trail, embrace our gifts while facing our imperfections, and trust the God of new beginnings to lead us into all that we are destined to become: forgiven, connected, determined, teachable, content, heroic, and so much more.” This is a great book to get the men in your life. And besides, that cover is great. But I digress.

81R38l1RarL._SL1500_Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand is a fantastic read. This is a well written biography of the life of World War II Veteran Louis Zamperini. I haven’t seen the movie, I am not sure if I will, but the book was amazing! You can’t help but appreciate the sacrifice of so many for the sake of their country. Zamperini displayed true grit and determination when all seemed lost. His is a powerful story that ends with a clear and powerful witness to the work of Christ in his life. Skip the movie and read the book this summer. It will be well worth your time.

The Unobstructed Jesus

I have recently begun a Bible study through the Gospel of John. I have entitled this series The Unobstructed Jesus because at the heart of all that John seeks to show us is who Jesus is. Indeed, John is workmanlike in his removal of the obstructions that so easily cloud our sight of the true Christ. John labors to peel back the thin veneer of cheap ideas that would prevent us from knowing who Jesus really is and falling on our knees  with Thomas to cry out “My Lord and my God!”

While this might seem obvious, I have come across many sermons, talks, and articles on John’s gospel that have fallen far short of this. So much so that while many see Christ as the main character, he exists merely to illuminate us  or at least about some steps to a better version of us. Our preoccupation with ourselves is stifling indeed.

But listen to how D. A. Carson speaks about the heart of this blessed Gospel in his commentary The Gospel According to John.

John’s presentation of who Jesus is lies at the heart of all that is distinctive in this Gospel. It is not just a question of some titles being ascribed to Jesus that are not found outside the Johannine corpus (e.g. ‘Lamb of God’, ‘Word’, ‘I am’). Rather, fundamental to all else that is said of him, Jesus is peculiarly the Son of God, or simply the Son. Although ‘Son of God’ can serve as a rough synonym for ‘Messiah’, it is enriched by the unique manner in which Jesus as God’s Son relates to his Father. He is functionally subordinate to him, and does only those things that the Father gives him to say and do, but he does everything that the Father does, since the Father shows him everything that he himself does. The perfection of Jesus’ obedience and the unqualified nature of his dependence thereby become the loci in which Jesus discloses nothing less than the words and deeds of God. Although ‘Son of God’ could be used in extraordinarily diverse ways in the ancient world, this distinctive emphasis in John casts back its glow on many of the other Christological titles. ‘Son of God’, as we have seen, can be parallel to ‘Messiah’; but so powerfully is it constrained by this relation between the Father and the Son that ‘Messiah’ itself becomes not merely a prophetic category bound up with the line of David and the expectation of the prophets, but also a title that connotes the profoundly revelatory work of God’s promised servant.
Similarly, although ‘Son of Man’ can bear something of the shadings it enjoys in the Synoptics, where it characteristically falls into one of three categories (the Son of Man ministering on earth, suffering in humiliation and death, and coming in apocalyptic glory to inaugurate the consummated kingdom), the configuration of sayings in John is quite independent. Typically, the Son of Man is ‘lifted up’ in death, glorified through death, so that those who believe in him will have eternal life. But this title, too, has overtones of revelation: only the Son of Man has been to heaven, and therefore can speak what no other human being knows; only he is the link between heaven and earth (1:51; 3:11–13).
Small wonder, then, that John’s summarizing title for Jesus is the ‘Word’. It is a brilliant choice. In the beginning was the Word; in the beginning God expressed himself, if you will. And that Self-Expression, God’s own Word, identified with God yet distinguishable from him, has now become flesh, the culmination of the prophetic hope. (p. 95-96)

Carson’s Commentary on The Gospel According to John in The Pillar New Testament Commentary series is by far my favorite of the commentaries that I am using. Here are some others that I have enjoyed using so far in my study:

  • The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris in The New International Commentary on the New Testament series.
  • John by Andreas J. Kostenberger in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series.
  • The Message of John by Bruce Milne in the Bible Speaks Today series. While not really a “great commentary,” Milne helpfully synthesizes much of the text. This would probably be a great resource for churches to provide lay leaders with for a study through John’s Gospel. One severe limitation of this commentary is the size of the chapters (chapter 2 covers 2:1-12:19 – more than a hundred pages of material!).

There are other commentaries and resources that I have and am utilizing but these are the ones I thought most helpful.

What are some resources on this Gospel that have proven helpful to you?