The Don: The Lion Pulled the Whole Story Together

 

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“One thing I am sure of. All seven of my Narnia books, and my three science fiction books, began with seeing pictures in my head. At first they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion [meaning The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe] all began with a picture of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my head since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: ‘Lets try to make a story about it.’

At first I had very little idea how the story would go. But then suddenly Aslan came bounding into it. I think I had been having a good many dreams of lions about that time. Apart from that, I don’t know where the Lion came from or why he came. But once He was there He pulled the whole story together, and soon He pulled the six other Narnian stories in after him.” —C.S. Lewis, “It All Began with a Picture” in C.S. Lewis Essay Collection & Other Short Pieces (HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), p. 529

The Don: Read Children’s Books to Grow into, not out of

“It is usual to speak in a playfully apologetic tone about one’s adult enjoyment of what are called ‘children’s books’. I think the convention a silly one. No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty—except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would probably have been better not to have read at all. A mature palate will probably not care much for crème de menthe: but it ought still to enjoy bread and butter and honey.”

—C.S. Lewis, “On Stories” in C.S. Lewis Essay Collection & Other Short Pieces (HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), p. 500

The Don: Doctrinal Books are the Best Devotional Books

caleb-woods-i6pKVDldgVA-unsplash.jpg“Now the layman or amateur needs to be instructed as well as to be exhorted. In this age his need for knowledge is particularly pressing. Nor would I admit any sharp division between the two kinds of book. For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” —C.S. Lewis, “On the Reading of Old Books” in C.S. Lewis Essay Collection & Other Short Pieces (HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), pp. 149

The Don: WARNING: “Second-hand” Books Often Impoverish Your Learning

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“There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about ‘isms’ and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modem commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that first-hand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than second-hand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.” —C.S. Lewis, “On the Reading of Old Books” in C.S. Lewis Essay Collection & Other Short Pieces (HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), pp. 149

Turn off the Phone and Turn a Page

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“Our upbringing and the whole atmosphere of the world we live in make it certain that our main temptation will be that of yielding to winds of doctrine, not that of ignoring them. We are not at all likely to be hidebound: we are very likely indeed to be the slaves of fashion. If one has to choose between reading the new books and reading the old, one must choose the old: not because they are necessarily better but because they contain precisely those truths of which our own age is neglectful. The standard of permanent Christianity must be kept clear in our minds and it is against that standard that we must test all contemporary thought. In fact, we must at all costs not move with the times. We serve One who said, ‘Heaven and Earth shall move with the times, but my words shall not move with the times’ (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).” ——C.S. Lewis, “Christian Apologetics” in C.S. Lewis Essay Collection & Other Short Pieces (HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), pp. 149

Tolle Lege: Evangelism

Readability: 1Evangelism

Length: 114 pp

Author: Mack Stiles

Here is an excellent book on evangelism for the whole church, which is the only kind of evangelism that should be. The church is God’s program for evangelism and the gospel is the power of God to salvation. In Evangelism you’ll find simplicity and sanity concerning what has too often, unnecessarily,  been complicated and done insanely.

Evangelism is teaching the gospel (the message from God that leads us to salvation) with the aim to persuade. If a church does not understand biblical evangelism, over time that church will be subverted. If we don’t practice healthy evangelism, the dominoes start to fall:

  • The focus of preaching and teaching turns to living a moral life, not a gospel-centered life.
  • Non-Christians are lulled into thinking that they are okay in their lost state.
  • Christians think that non-Christians are believers because they made a superficial outward commitment.
  • The church baptizes those who are not believers.
  • The church allows non-Christians into membership.
  • Eventually, non-Christians become leaders in the church.
  • A church becomes a subculture of nominalism.

Unbiblical evangelism is a method of assisted suicide for a church, so there is much at stake in getting evangelism right.

WTS Books: $11.16               Amazon: $11.73

 

Tolle Lege: What’s Best Next

What's Best NextReadability: 1

Length: 325 pp

Author: Matt Perman

What’s Best Next is by far the best book on productivity I’ve read, and this isn’t because it has some clumsy obligatory gospel focus. The gospel, rightly understood and well applied, makes all things better. Matt Perman demonstrates this in the area of productivity. When a man dies and is resurrected he is resurrected a better man. Perman baptizes productivity, and he isn’t “Presbyterian”. This isn’t productivity sprinkled with some Christianity. It is dunked, drowned and resurrected.

The only way to be productive is to realize you don’t have to be.

Productive things, then, are things that do good. Productivity always has to be understood in relation to a goal, and God’s goal is that we do good works. Hence, we can redefine productivity this way: to be productive is to be fruitful in good works.

But the Bible has a very different view of good works. According to the Scriptures, good works are not simply the rare, special, extraordinary, or super spiritual things we do. Rather, they are anything we do in faith.

Good character is not an excuse for not knowing what you are doing. Trustworthiness is based not on character alone, but on character and competence.

[The core principle of productivity] Here it is: know what’s most important and put it first.

WTS Books: $13.99               Amazon: $15.92

Tolle Lege: Every Good Endeavor

Readability: 2

Every Good EndeavorLength: 253 pp

Author: Tim Keller

Because of sin, work is hard. Because of God, work is good. Because of God’s work, sin is being undone. God worked. We’re supposed to. It’s a way we image Him. Because God in flesh worked like none of us ever have, because he sweat drops of blood and bore the heaviest of burdens, we can again worship God in our work. Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor looks at work as it was meant to be, as it is because of sin, and how the gospel changes things. If you work, you should read this book. If you don’t work, you should work, and this book will help you to do so in a God glorifying way.

Work is our design and our dignity; it also a way to serve God through creativity, particularly in the creation of culture.

Work has dignity because it is something that God does and because we do it in God’s place, as his representatives. We learn not only that work has dignity in itself, but also that all kinds of work have dignity. God’s own work in Genesis 1 and 2 is “manual” labor, as he shapes us out of the dust of the earth, deliberately putting a spirit in a physical body, and as he plants a garden (Genesis 2:8). It is hard for us today to realize how revolutionary this idea has been in the history of human thinking. Minister and author Phillip Jensen puts it this way: ‘If God came into the world, what would he be like? For the ancient Greeks, he might have been a philosopher-king. The ancient Romans might have looked for a just and noble statesman. But how does the God of the Hebrews come into the world? As a carpenter.’

The applications of this dictum—that competent work is a form of love—are many. Those who grasp this understanding of work will still desire to succeed but will not be nearly as driven to overwork or made as despondent by poor results. If it is true, then if you have to choose between work that benefits more people and work that pays you more, you should seriously consider the job that pays less and helps more particularly if you can be great at it. It means that all jobs—not merely so-called helping professions—are fundamentally ways of loving your neighbor. Christians do not have to do direct ministry or nonprofit charitable work in order to love others through their jobs.

WTS Books: $16.84               Amazon: $15.52

 

Tolle Lege: Fear Not!

Fear Not!Readability: 1

Length: 94 pp

Author: Ligon Duncan

When we ignore death, we ignore God. God is the doer of death. When we ignore death, we ignore Jesus. Jesus is the defeater of death. Death is an enemy, and death is defeated. To ignore death is to ignore the sinfulness of sin, and the greatness of salvation. If you are afraid to think about death, Ligon Duncan will help you in Fear Not! by answering five simple questions.

  1. What is death?
  2. What happens after death?
  3. What happens when Christ returns?
  4. What is heaven?

There is also a chapter on the final judgment. If you are looking for a deep treatment of these topics look elsewhere. But if you are fearful of death and need some pastoral help that is mercifully brief, this is an excellent book.

Death is too deadly for us. But when Jesus Christ conquered death and robbed it of its sting, He enabled every believer to pass through death—the last enemy—into glory.

In my sinful moments—and I stress my sinful moments, because every true believer knows that God is good—there is no doctrine that I want to be untrue more than the reality of hell. I wish I could say that this doctrine is not true. But hell is the fairest reality in this world.

If you want unfairness, if you want discrimination, I can give you that.That is called heaven by grace. Heaven by grace is the most unfair doctrine imaginable. Sinners deserving condemnation get heaven forever because the One who was without sin became sin for their reconciliation.That is unfair, but hell is the fairest doctrine in the world.

WTS Books: $9.89               Amazon:$9.81

Tolle Lege: Lit

Lit!Readability: 1

Length: 188 pp

Author: Tony Reinke

Erasmus whiffed on the Reformation, but he hit this one out of the park, “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” Seem more like a foul ball? Baseball, America’s pastime is said to be past its time, declining in popularity for faster paced balls of baskets and foots. Today books are perhaps looked upon as even more ancient and boring than baseball.

A nostalgia for baseball before performance enhancing drugs can be easily kindled by a good documentary or watching the Sandlot, but a comeback seems unlikely. For the people of God, a nostalgic stance toward books won’t cut it. The ratings must go up.

Tony Reinke’s Lit! will not only help you to read books, and warm you to them, it will set forth a theology of books to impel you to read. Consider this, at Sinai God wrote. As Christians we must be readers. No exceptions.

God has acted in history. He has put His glory on display. It is on display incessantly in creation. But how has God chosen to make His most glorious deeds known to most of mankind? Not in their actually seeing them. Not by drama or film. He chose words, and He placed those words in a book. This sets the trajectory for our attitude toward books, and it sets the bar by which they are judged.

If you’re not a reader I’m glad you’ve read this much. I hope you will buy this book and read why you should read more, and how you can read better.

Since Moses descended from the mountain with two loose-leaf stones under his arms, all literature can be divided into two genres:

Genre A: The Bible. The Bible was written by God through human authors, but it is fully inspired in all its parts. It is the only book that is inspired, inerrant, authoritative, sufficient, and wholly consistent in its worldview.

Genre B: All other books. However “inspired” all other literature may be, no matter how “lit” it is with truth, goodness, and beauty, no other book is infallible. All man-made books are hindered to some degree by errors, inconsistencies, and insufficiencies.

These two categories were shaped when God broke into history and ran his finger across a stone tablet. All literature is now divided into two genres—and one soars above the other in importance.

WTS Books: $11.42               Amazon:$13.37