BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

How do you build your life?  That’s a question that the writer of Ecclesiastes relentlessly works through as he works through our frustrating experience and our frustrated intuitions.  Our culture has many competing ideas on pursuing the good life.  Some tell you to look inside for your truest, most authentic self, making authenticity outweigh love, wisdom, and self-sacrifice, or perhaps presuming, against the evidence, that authenticity inevitably leads to those things.  We also have a utilitarian approach offered to us—make your life like a business by figuring out your specialty, building your brand, and outsourcing non-core work.  Some go for long shots, hoping to literally or figuratively win the lottery although lottery winners have less satisfaction in life than those who have become paraplegics.  Some embrace skepticism to avoid the disappointment of trusting and being betrayed, even though a trustless life is a profoundly empty and meaningless one.  Perhaps the default position is to hope to make a lot of money, while acknowledging that money can’t make us happy.  I recommend two books from our blue library cart that give a real idea on how to live.

 

- The Gospel According to Jesus, by John MacArthur –MacArthur has pastored the church he leads for almost 50 years, submitting himself to God’s words.  He holds out clearly the Gospel in the way Jesus did, with warnings, rebuke to our self-righteousness, coming judgement, the power of God and the helplessness of man.  Like a Puritan, but with greater brevity, he reflects on the facets of repentance, ways we can rest in Christ, and Jesus’ many-sided illustrations of the salvation he brings.  If someone wise, patient, and loving wanted everyone to look at Jesus with clarity, love, and obedience, he’d write this book.

 

- Robert Chapman, by Robert L. Peterson.  – Bob has written about a man important in the history of the Brethren church, but often less remembered than others, such as John Darby, Jim Eliot, or George Müller.  He lived out both zeal for the Gospel and love for people, because as the introduction to MacArthur’s book points out man should not separate what God has joined .  I’m tempted to want dramatic results and creative ideas, and those have their place, but the work of a lifetime is only seen in a lifetime.  Chapman was used to change many lives through humility and patience across decades.  As was pointed out to me, Christian patience is not passive, but faithful and outgoing.  It’s helpful to learn about a life illustrating this.