A Self-Confessed Bibliophile
I love books. My first job was for a bookshop. In fact, my wife and I (before we were married) spent five weeks one summer working for the bookshop at two of the biggest Christian festivals in the UK. This might sound great, until you realize that it required us to spend the whole time camping! After the first night we realized Rachel’s tent wasn’t up to much when she woke up in a puddle of rainwater and then two days later I dug a trench around my tent big enough to bury someone in! How I miss those wonderful British summers…
Nonetheless, I am a true bibliophile and following in Pastor Larry’s footsteps, I wanted to share with you a few books I’ve read recently that I couldn’t recommend more highly.
Hold Fast the Faith: A Devotional Commentary on the Westminster Confession of 1647 by Matthew Everhard
If you’ve ever wanted to know in greater detail what Chapel Hill and our denomination (the Evangelical Presbyterian Church) believes, then the Westminster Confession of Faith is the place to look. However, it can be a little tricky to understand, and that’s where an EPC Pastor named Matthew Everhard comes in. He’s written a brilliant commentary on the Westminster Confession that helps the reader understand the context in which it was written, the importance of the things it says and their consequence for our lives. It’s the last of those three things that I think is the best about this book. Everhard has an MA in Spiritual Formation and uses this to show how the Westminster Confession can lead us to spiritual practices such as journaling, fasting, and Sabbath.
Leading Missional Communities by Mike Breen
Do you remember Frog and Amy Orr-Ewing who visited us for a month last summer? Well, Mike Breen is one of Frog’s mentors and he has written a book all about Missional Communities. Missional Communities are groups of 20-40 people seeking to reach a particular neighborhood or relational network with the good news of Jesus. If you want to know where we got the idea for UP-IN-OUT, and where a lot of the thinking for a future re-visioning for LifeGroups is coming from, this would be a great place to start!
What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matthew Perman et al.
We often think the key to being productive is being more efficient. But by considering why God calls us to be productive, Matt Perman shows that what we need is not greater efficiency, but greater effectiveness. The question is not: How can I get things done? But rather: What’s Best Next? Perman has helped me to understand how by defining my purpose and roles, architecting my life so I can achieve them, reducing my commitments so I have more time, I can execute the things I need to do with greater effectiveness. If you are struggling to get things done: Read this. Now.
The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch
I had to read this for a seminary class, but I enjoyed it so much I couldn’t help but recommend it to you all. Diarmaid MacCulloch was one of Rachel’s professors at Oxford and he is one of the best historians in the world today. Although I do not share his (openly confessed) religious views, his ability to tell the story of history is undeniable. If you read this book, be prepared to be at it for a while (it’s over 700 pages) but also be prepared to have a vastly greater understanding of the context in which the Protestant faith was birthed.
ESV Reader’s Bible
I know it might seem like cheating to recommend a Bible, but this is unlike any other Bible you have ever read. When the books of the Bible were written, there were no chapter or verse numbers included, and they weren’t added for hundreds of years! They are very useful, but when was the last time you read a historical book or biography or a letter outside of the Bible that had verse numbers in it? The ESV Readers Bible removes all the verse numbers and discreetly places chapter numbers in the margin, as well as presenting the text in a single column. It’s beautiful! I bought this Bible last week and already I have found myself reading far longer passages than I am used to in my devotions because it is so much easier to read!
So that’s it from this self-confessed bibliophile. I hope you are enjoying your summer reading as much as I have been and I look forward to seeing you at our Sunday worship services this Sunday as our Pastoral Team continues preaching through the book of Daniel, showing us what God’s Upside-Down Kingdom looks like.