Here’s a rundown of the 9 books I read in February. This brings my 2023 total to 19 books. Happy reading!
(I must always clarify that I read many books with which I disagree. I learn the most by reading things that do not represent my position.)
Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ by John Piper
I really appreciated this work from Piper. His book stems from 2 Timothy 4:6-8 stating that “all who have loved his appearing” will be rewarded. He builds the book around anticipated questions and provides answers which are centered on Scripture, not speculation, and leads one to anticipate the Lord’s return and live in light of the return of the King. Piper argues against an “any-moment rapture.” He says, “I don’t believe in a two-part second coming, with the first part snatching Christians (living and dead) out of the world and taking them back to heaven during a ‘great tribulation,’ followed by the second part when Christ comes in fiery judgment.” That might be shocking to some.
The Devil’s Triangle: Ben Bickerstaff, Northeast Texans, and the War of Reconstruction in Texas by James Smallwood, Kenneth Howell, and Carol Taylor
I have jumped head first into a rabbit hole of research regarding Reconstruction Era Texas. My interest stems from certain events that took place right here in Sulphur Springs. Perhaps down the road you’ll see a published work on my research on the topic. This book mainly focuses on a desperado named Ben Bickerstaff who terrorized Union supporters and freed slaves in North East Texas. In months to come you’ll see other related books appear on this log. If you’ve got questions – I’ve got hours of answers!
What Is Saving Faith?: Reflections on Receiving Christ as a Treasure by John Piper
Another Piper title and another appreciated work. The subtitle gives away the key insight in this book. Piper equates saving faith with receiving Christ as treasure. For those unfamiliar with Piper, this might raise an eyebrow. For those familiar with Piper’s preaching and writing, it should come as no surprise. The book is filled with Biblical references and discussion. Piper’s case is well-documented.
The Truth and Beauty: How the Lives and Works of England’s Greatest Poets Point the Way to a Deeper Understanding of the Words of Jesus by Andrew Klavan
I loved this one. It’s not a book for all – but those who love literature and the interplay between literature and faith will devour it. The book centers on a cold Sunday in 1817 when Benjamin Robert Haydon invited friends to his house for dinner – to include William Wordsworth and John Keats. From there Klavan tells of a collection of writers and poets attempting to capture truth and beauty with strokes of the pen. Klavan moves from the truth and beauty captured by the pens of Lord Byron, Keats, Wordsworht, Milton Blake and Shelley to the beauty, truth, and power of the gospel.
A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie updated and revised by Susanna Wright
This is a devotional classic built around morning and evening prayers. First published in 1936, Ballie offers personal prayers blending praise and theological reflections. Editor Susanna Wright provides updated language which makes this volume much more accessible. I have recently been blessed by using written prayers to aide my devotional life. It has led me to the holy habit of daily turning a verse of Scripture into a prayer. I have done the entire book of Colossians and I working my way through 1 John.
Endless Grace: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms by Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt
Endless Grace, covering Psalms 76-150, is the companion volume to Sheltering Mercy, covering Psalms 1-75. I read Sheltering Mercy near the end of last year. These volumes are prayers based on the Psalms. They are gorgeous volumes in both content and design. I read a handful of the prayers each day to the blessing of my soul. Pick these up!
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
I should like this book. I really should like it. But I don’t. There I said it. I find it meandering and clumsy. I like poetry. But I don’t like this one. I’m sure it has to do with my literary shortcomings and has nothing to do with Whitman.
Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks
Hawks woke up after a night of drinking to find a note: “I hereby bet Tony Hawks the sum of one hundred pounds that he cannot hitchhike round the circumference of Ireland, with a fridge, within one calendar month.” He was up to the challenge. This book documents a hilarious trip around the circumference of Ireland with – you guessed it – a fridge. It can be mildly crude at moments, but it is a delightful read.
One Divine Moment: The Account of the Asbury Revival of 1970 edited by Robert Coleman and David Gyertson
I’m sure you heard news regarding the recent events on the campus of Asbury University. This thin volume tells the story of a revival which took place on the campus in 1970. It includes a student’s diary of the revival and many essay written by professors on the campus in those days. I was most moved by the included diary which provides sparse comments on the events of February 3 through February 8 of 1970. Lord, do it again.