Sunday, April 4, 2010

What's on our minds, end tables, and bedside stands

There are times when our minds aren't ENTIRELY focused on the dearest little guy in the world (Graham :-) See posts below)... or on snowboarding (that would be Connor...), or on the endearing-yet-exasperating puppy, Polly. We do manage to have other thoughts, many of them related to books we're reading. So, I thought I'd share some of them below.

I was drawn to this book (above) when I saw it recommended at the Westminster Bookstore online.

Lately, I've been concerned about encounters I've had with folks dissatisfied with church. I hadn't been aware of the many "disgruntled-with-church-as-we-know-it" books that are circulating these days (this book called them to my attention). I'd just come across the sentiments in facebook conversations ("I've found more Christian fellowship here on facebook in the past couple of months than I ever did in all my years at church..." ??!!) and in snippets from conversations ("We don't go to church. We are the church..." , which had a certain clever ring to it, but left me uneasy.)

So I was interested to read J.I. Packer's thoughts on this book: "Two young men, a pastor and a layman, here critique the criticisms of the institutional church that are fashionable today. Bible-centered, God-centered, and demonstrably mature, they win the argument hands down. As I read, I wanted to stand up and cheer."

It's good to know, too, that the authors, under a section entitled, "The Church Has Issues," write, "How should we handle these criticisms? Well, it's always a good idea to start by listening."

This is a really engaging book - not difficult. (And who can resist guys who refer to P.G. Wodehouse: "You may not be disgruntled, but you are certainly far from gruntled." :-) For lots more info. on this book (and even a sample chapter, I think) go to Read the "About" section - and the reviews - and the sample chapter - (and then the book!) -- and let's all talk. (Hmmm, don't know who "all" is -- but we're thinking this is a really important book, so share it around and let's chew on it together!)
These are the same guys (above). A group of young people at church have been reading and discussing this book for the past several months. (
And tho' we've been at this one *forever* (how do so many things crowd out read-aloud time?), we're coming right up on the climax and end of Safely Home.
Tim and Connor just started "Stand Fast" together (tried reading aloud at La Boulangerie, over a bear claw and coffee. The snacks were great, as were the distractions. Maybe Eddie's bakery. Everything's more memorable with a tasty pastry).

Kaylee and I have been reading this one. Very helpful. Very challenging. A good approach, I think. There's a good summary of the book here: And then take yourself on a worthwhile reading journey, following the links connected to "The Fruit of Immaturity" at the bottom of the summary page. (Chediak is an intern at Bethlehem Baptist, where John Piper is the pastor.)

After seeing an excellent live performance of Ballet Magnificat's rendition of The Hiding Place, Kaylee and Connor took up these books again. It's good to be reminded of and challenged by such vibrant Christianity. (Kaylee did have a "cautious" thought about the Tramp for the Lord book. She felt that perhaps the stories that are told don't give a complete picture of how to follow the Lord on a day-to-day basis, with a prominence instead given to "miraculous leading" as compared to the more mundane, but none-the-less rigorous and Spirit-enabled daily obedience.) And, by the way, if you ever get the chance to see Ballet Magnificat, GO! Our good friend, Samantha Harikian, has just been accepted into their training program in Jackson, MS and we're SO excited for her. God-honoring and masterfully executed ballet. Amazing! We were deeply moved by the performance (which seems a shallow word - "performance" - for what we witnessed).

[I also just picked up a copy of Elie Wiesel's "Night." Wow. From the back cover: "The terrifying record of Elie Wiesel's memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair as a deeply observant Jew confronting the absolute evil of man." I took a break from it for a night or two to shake the heavy weight of also having read Safely Home (persecution of Chinese Christians), and watching the movies The End of the Spear (martyrdom of missionaries to the Wadani people) and Awakenings (the story of the "awakening" and later regression of institutionalized catatonic survivors of an earlier encephalitis outbreak - and the doctor who fought for their recovery and their personhood).]

Kaylee's been enjoying Miniatures and Morals, The Christian Novels of Jane Austen... along with a bit of a re-read of Pride and Prejudice. She says that there's a "new" Northanger Abbey (BBC maybe? or A&E?) that Jenny enjoyed. (I remember an old one that weirded me out...) So, with her new understanding of its nuances, we may have to watch it (purely educational, of course :-). Oh, and check this out - a pdf file from the publishers that lets you read the first 29 pages, I think!

I got this devotional book for Kaylee at Christmas, and she's really appreciated it. She's had a go at Burrough's "Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment" (ah, gotta love the Puritans who wrangle every ounce of meaning out of every word, including the conjunctions!). This Contentment book was a little less tedious :-) yet rich and refreshing. (Again, a recommendation from the Westminster bookstore

Had to add this, too - cuz it's so pretty sitting next to Kaylee's bed. From Grandma and Grandpa McCracken for her birthday. The newest edition of the Book of Psalms (which we sing from at our church) in mini-form, making it easy to take along anywhere (in case you want to break into song at Winco :-) Available at

[By the way, TIM reads on his own, too :-) I just didn't get photos of the stuff he pours over (he pours coffee over some of his stuff - unintentionally - costly when it poured over his laptop awhile back. But I digress...). He's been preaching a wonderfully helpful series on the book of Revelation for many weeks now, with lots of research going into it. Along with side studies on inspiration of scripture and canon (not "cannon" - that would be for the civil war reenactors among us). Oh, and he leads a study every-other-Monday night on John Piper's book, "Future Grace." And Connor's been reading Julius Caesar for a literature/composition class, reminding Jenny on a day that she visited: "Beware the Ides of March!"]


1 comment:

The Parish Clan said...

Ooo . . . so many goodies! Thanks for sharing!