"The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." – Genesis 17:8
So, on the car ride to Louisiana I finished reading ‘The Imitation of Christ’, ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, and ‘The Practice of the Presence of God.’ I’m trying very hard to hit my ’52 books in a year’ mark before January 1 which means I don’t really have time to write full reviews like I normally do. Instead, I’m just going to give you some brief thoughts on each book. So here goes!
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
According to the Imitation of Christ’s Wikipedia entry (that bastion of truthfulness and infallibility), it is “the most widely read devotional work next to the Bible. Apart from the Bible no book has been translated into more languages than the Imitation of Christ.” There’s a reason for that. It is phenomenal. I’ve tried (and succeeded might I add) to read this book each year for the past 3 or 4 years and I am always encouraged/exhorted/rebuked/convicted by it. It’s a book that calls the reader back to a place of humility and full reliance on/in Christ. Much of what comes out of Christian publishing houses today is spiritual cotton candy. This is a 12 oz filet mignon. It may be written by a Catholic but it’s a book that belongs on every serious Christian’s shelf.
Who Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll
Mark Driscoll is probably one of the most polarizing figures within conservative evangelicalism today. There’s no doubt that his methods can seem a little outlandish and he’s definitely said things that I would never dream of saying (much less from the pulpit); but, I’ll be honest. There’s something about him that I like. I like the fact that he’s willing to boldly speak truth in the opposition’s face (even if I don’t always agree with him). I also admire the fact that he’s doing ministry and preaching from a conservative theological perspective while living in one of the most unchurched, liberal cities in America. I’ve read a couple of his books and while I do find myself disagreeing on some issues (primarily Calvinist/Arminian ones), I find his writing enjoyable and many of his points valid. This book was no different. It’s basically a broad exposition of Ephesians with a special emphasis on the Christian’s identity in Christ. It’s an encouraging book for a Christian and I’d recommend it with a minor caveat. Like all Calvinists, Driscoll denies our ability in Christ to live holy, free from conscious sin. But the thing that I don’t understand is how he makes the statement several times that we are called to be holy. He just follows every mention of that call with a parenthetical statement that reminds us how sinful we still are. So… are we holy or sinful? How can we be both? Anyway, he only does it two or three times in the whole book so I’d still consider it worth a read.
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
This is another of those books like ‘The Imitation of Christ’ that I try to read once a year. It consists of several letters that Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth century Catholic monk, wrote about his method of abiding in Christ. The gist of his thought lies in keeping God ever before our eyes. Brother Lawrence calls the Christian to think of Christ as always walking with him. In so doing, we will develop a more conversational prayer-life with God, telling him our every problem, frustration, and joy. This will also keep us focused on God and pleasing Him. This is a short book that can easily be read in a single sitting but is best enjoyed in short, devotional chunks that you can meditate on and then experiment with. It’s a definite must-read.
You can find ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ on Amazon at the following link:
Who Do You Think You Are?
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