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