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The End of Many Books

Knowledge and Power

I read this while prepping a message on economics, and Gilder didn’t disappoint. I won’t say that I understood everything he was talking about, but I definitely get that at this point in the life of our government’s overweening overreach we are threatening what little we have left of economic health.

It made me thankful for the generous and entrepreneurial men I know, and by God’s grace maybe we’ll return to more problem solving than regulation writing.

4 of 5 stars

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Lord's Day Liturgy

The Binding Agent

I know the following is a reminder, but the Lord’s Table is a supper of remembrance, so it fits.

The communion we have is in Christ. That prepositional phrase was one of the apostle Paul’s favorites. Our faith is “in Christ” (Acts 24:24; Galatians 2:16), meaning that we trust Him, but there is more to it.

Our redemption is in Christ (Romans 3:24), our eternal life is in Christ (Romans 6:23). There is no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1), so we are free from sin and death in Christ (Romans 8:2). We are sanctified in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2), we are established by God in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:21). We are sons of God in Christ (Galatians 3:26), all one in Christ (Galatians 3:28), and blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5).

Jesus Christ himself can be established as the binding agent of the fellowship of the church. He in fact must be the lively center of the whole organism of the church; he is like the hub of the wheel, by whose rotations and circular motions the entire effort of the church receives its impulse and is moved. He is that splendid sun, whose shining radiance glitteringly illuminates the whole church body, by whose glowing heat the heart of the whole church is warmed and inflamed.”

—Abraham Kuyper, On the Church, 23

He is the Great Shepherd who laid down His life for His flock, He is the Vine who holds and who gives strength to all the branches. The cup and the bread a participation in the body and blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). All this is God’s grace to us in Christ.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

More Than Ramping Up Smack Talk

The authors of inspired epistles sometimes addressed different groups in the church. The apostle John addressed little children, young men, and fathers, twice each in 1 John 2:12-14. The apostle Paul gave instructions to Titus for four groups: older men, older women, young women, and young men in Titus 2:1-6. I’d like to commend, and exhort, our young men directly, but in earshot of their parents and the rest of the body.

Many years ago Solomon wrote that “The glory of young men is their strength” (Proverbs 20:29). This is what John says, “I write to you, young men, because you are strong” (1 John 2:14). Solomon compared that in the second half of the proverb to “the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” It’s generally true; not all the young have brawn and not all the old have learned to use their brains. But again, generally, this is something to be recognized and something to be encouraged.

Strength is good. Strength is a gift of God to be used. Strength is also something that requires self-control. Paul said “sound doctrine” had six headings for old men, four for older women, and another six for young women, and he boiled it down to one for young men: “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6).

This has application for their bodies, for their minds, for their mouths, for their bedrooms, for their assignments, and for their relationships.

We can be very thankful to God for our young men. Overall they are using their strength for serving others, and some have even chosen new challenges to develop greater discipline. It is because of your growth that I offer this exhortation.

The development of strength and self-control is good, but the process has its own temptations. One temptation is a puffed up attitude toward others. You’re working it, then you let others know about it. Muscles are for more than mirrors, and strength is for more than ramping up smack-talk. A second temptation is to relax too far in other areas, either because of being fatigued or because of too narrow a focus in the first place. Years ago when I wanted to lose some weight, I would run for a few hours training for a marathon, and chased the run with an entire pizza. I deserved it, right? There are more damaging let downs as well. A 45 minute workout in the dark morning cold is good, but not if you wander into dark parts of YouTube later.

Young men, keep running to win the prize and lifting the weight of responsibility. It is your glory. Parents, encourage that glory, and help them see the glory of integrity and humility.

Categories
The End of Many Books

The Boys in the Boat

I had heard from so many of my reading friends that this was a great book. Now that I’ve listened to it, I can also say that it is a great book.

The numerous details definitely built anticipation, but I think I could have gotten the same goosebumps with a third less details. Whatever. Many of the races brought me to joyful tears. If you enjoy sports at all, this is a true and good story.

4 of 5 stars

Categories
The End of Many Books

Epitome of Copernican Astronomy & Harmonies of the World

I chose this as one of the textbooks for our college astronomy class. It was excellent, and touched all four parts of the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy), but more like an excellent workout rather than an excellent wrap up. Much of Kepler’s work was before his time, and above my head.

Published in 1618 Kepler didn’t even have the word “gravity” to work with as he tried to explain the movement of the planets. He did have theology, and the praise He gives to God throughout his work is a fantastic example of acknowledging the Creator while doing science.

Probably don’t read this one first in your astronomical aspirations.

3 of 5 stars

Categories
The End of Many Books

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution

If you know anyone who lives in the sexually immoral morass that is 2021, have them read this book. Read it for yourself, too. I recommend letting these ideas bounce around in your mental hopper, especially if you’re a pastor or teacher.

It is, however, highly repetitive. It is also proffered as a “surprise” that our cultural problems go back a couple centuries, as compared maybe with the 1960s. Trueman does a good job of demonstrating that our problems do go back that far, but it’s more surprising that he doesn’t mention the wayback of Genesis 6, or Genesis 18, or Romans 1. The absence of connection with Romans stands out because he recommends that the current church learn from the 2nd century church.

More than anything, I do not understand why Trueman never mentions the gospel. Like, no joke, there is not even one reference to the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no mention of the cross, either for sake of showing the judgment sinners deserve or showing the forgiveness that Christ offers to any who repent and believe. I know that Trueman knows the true, and only, solution, to sexual immorality, but he does not point to it anywhere in this book. He must have his reason(s), but without Jesus we are without hope.

Again, I appreciate how well Trueman shows the desperate and degenerating nature of a culture without transcendent truth, and how in fact that sort of culture, our culture, is more of an anticulture. But ironically there is a significant lack of the transcendent God’s Word in this book, both in terms of Bible and the Son.

4 of 5 stars

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Admonishment and Astonishment

Confession of sin is the second main heading of our liturgy every Lord’s Day service. We acknowledge our sins and seek forgiveness for sake of restored fellowship before we continue to meet with God in worship. If confession clears the way, why not do it first?

We could. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with confessing at the very beginning. But here are a couple other thoughts.

First, our service starts at the same time every Sunday, so, unless you sin on the walk in from the car—which is possible—you can confess personal sin before we start. You should wash your hands before grabbing your handle on the worship battering ram as we take a swing at the gates of hell. The more we are ready individually, the more we can confess corporately. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything before confession is warm-up worship until the signal can be unblocked.

Second, and this is more significant, confession comes after the call to worship and a couple songs of praise because it puts us in context of who we’re confessing to. Praise is not just what we have to do, but reminds us with whom we have to do.

A call to confession doesn’t always require explicit reference to the Lord’s holiness, though He is holy, holy, holy. Any man who encounters God is humbled by God’s glory. God’s righteousness and law convict us, but so does His power and grace.

Jacob was afraid after God met him and reassured him of protection and promised prosperity (Genesis 28:17). Peter asked Jesus to depart after Jesus made fishing nets overfull, not after a sermon on total depravity (Luke 5:8). Any attribute of God rightly considered, enough that we recognize due praise to Him for it, is sufficient to bring us to a place of submission. We confess not just when we’re admonished but when we’re astonished.

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Like a Threadbare Sweater

There are still limits of appropriateness for given situations for sake of truth, goodness, and beauty, as well as formality and majesty. We’re not bringing Lady Gaga before the Lord’s throne. But even in our own Christian heritage, we’ve made missteps. For example, the sing-songy way Psalm 42 is usually sung forsakes a style that fits the content.

Seriously. Watch/listen to this. Compare it to the desperation in the actual song. This isn’t the still waters of Psalm 23, this is almost dead from missing-worship dehydration.

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
(Psalm 42:1-4)

So much of contemporary singing is like a threadbare sweater, see-through and anything but flattering. In much of the Contemporary Christian Music industry, the only ones more girly than the women are the men. It’s not a good look. And it doesn’t fit.

What about the tone around the Lord’s Table? What fits?

There are many passages that proclaim the good news, but consider this declaration from Paul:

[David] says also in another psalm,

“‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:35–39)

Jesus is risen from the dead. Your sins are forgiven. You are free from the law. In Christ is salvation for the ends of the earth. What is the proper timbre for remembering those truths at the Table?

Though Solomon didn’t mean it about the Lord’s Supper, it applies: “Eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart” (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

Categories
The End of Many Books

The Pastor’s Wife

I’d heard about Tortured for Christ, but this was my introduction to both Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand. It is a brutal autobiographical account, similar in some ways to Unbroken, except the Wurmbrands suffered for and in the name of Christ rather than finding Christ after their sufferings. I do not share all the same doctrinal understandings as Sabina, but I hope by God’s grace to share her loyalty to loved-ones and perseverance for Christ’s sake.

4 of 5 stars

Categories
The End of Many Books

Ecochondriacs

My wife just finished listening to this and loved it. I liked it. I enjoyed the spy-like suspense, the climate-change jabs, and the idea of a Hummer running nonstop outside of an office building. I cared about the main characters, and it also seemed like there were a lot of characters to keep track of, especially since I read it in pieces as posted on Blog and Mablog over a couple months. The story could have been a lot longer, especially as the plot wrap-ups were finished like the ink was running out. Overall it was more good, hearty, fun fiction from Mr. Wilson.

3 of 5 stars