By Bob Myers
I’ve always got at least seven books going between Kindle, Hard Copy, and Audible Books that are not related to sermon research or teaching. But here are three in my “stack” that are feeding my mind and soul these days. They are worth reading and studying. By that I mean they are worth active interaction, note taking, and review.
1. Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund
This book explores the disposition of Christ towards us. Do we sometimes think that God is socially distancing Himself from us because of our failures, relapses, and inattention to Him? This book is a great remedy and will sweeten our sense of fellowship with God.
Quote: "Letting Jesus set the terms, his surprising claim is that he is “gentle and lowly in heart." "the most vivid and arresting element of the portrait, is the way the Holy Son of God moves toward, touches, heals, embraces, and forgives those who least deserve it yet truly desire it. No prerequisites. No hoops to jump through.""
2. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters by Sinclair B. Ferguson
This controversy among Scottish Presbyterians in 1719 resolves some of the questions individuals ask me today. The central question was whether forsaking sin was necessary on the way to salvation. Ferguson shows the wisdom and depth of insight into this question by Thomas Boston and a lay leader author called Edward Fisher who wrote a book, ‘The Marrow of Divinity’. Here is sweet gospel truth. Our repentance is not the cause or the condition for the Father’s kindness but our repentance is the consequence of the Father’s kindness. Even the Cross is not some mechanical way that Jesus overcame the Father’s reluctance to forgive us, but it was the Father’s love that sent and gave His Son, who went there gladly for our sakes.
Quote: “The subtle danger here should be obvious: if we speak of the cross of Christ as the cause of the love of the Father, we imply that behind the cross and apart from it he may not actually love us at all. He needs to be “paid” a ransom price in order to love us.”
3. The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone
An earnest recommendation from one of our brilliant young adults pushed me over the edge to start reading this painful tracing out of the lynching of black men in America. James Cone connects lynching to the Cross, and the gospel message of liberation to the reality of black oppression. The book is meticulously documented with public advertisements of lynchings that took place within the sound and sometimes the sight of church bells. The cruelty and injustice was attended by professing Christians.
Quotes: "In the “lynching era,” between 1880 to 1940, white Christians lynched nearly five thousand black men and women in a manner with obvious echoes of the Roman crucifixion of Jesus. Yet these “Christians” did not see the irony or contradiction in their actions."
"The cross can heal and hurt; it can be empowering and liberating but also enslaving and oppressive. There is no one way in which the cross can be interpreted. I offer my reflections because I believe that the cross placed alongside the lynching tree can help us to see Jesus in America in a new light, and thereby empower people who claim to follow him to take a stand against white supremacy and every kind of injustice."
I’m also reading some non-fiction, some books on character and self-discipline, and some books by people who I strongly disagree with but find valuable and thought stirring.