Sorry for the title of this post; sounds like a 4th grade school assignment. I was recently shamed when I read how much Mark Dever read on vacation. Being a MUCH slower reader, I set a goal to read three books during my recent beach trip. By God’s grace, I finished 3 ¾ books! (OK, one of them was only 78 pages and had lots of pictures, but still…) I thought I would briefly review each one, in case they pique the interest of anyone looking for a good (late) summer read.
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, by Mark Dever—This is a short but really good book on personal evangelism. Dever exudes a passion for evangelism while recognizing God’s sovereignty in the salvation of sinners. His chapter “What is the Gospel?” provides clarity to a sea of confusion about what the gospel actually is. His chapter entitled “What Isn’t Evangelism” was also helpful to clarify what evangelism is and what it should look like. Finally, the last chapter, “Closing the Sale ”, provides assurance that we can entrust God with the results of our evangelism, and relieves us from the pressure of believing that the person’s response to the gospel lies solely in our power to persuade them.
In a Far Country, by John Taliaferro—I found this book fascinating. While I don’t know whether the author is a Christian or not (he is a former editor for Newsweek), the story of Tom Lopp, 19th-Century missionary to the Alaskan Eskimos, is compelling. The first part of the book reads like a good missionary biography, and the second half like a good adventure novel. The subtitle is The True Story of a Mission , a Marriage, a Murder, and the RemarkableReindeer Rescue of 1898. Lopp, a former schoolteacher, became burdened for the Eskimos—not only for their salvation, but for their preservation. Caribou had become scarce, and the Chuchki people in northern Russia had great success with herding reindeer. Lopp obtained a herd and was training Eskimo herders when he heard that hundreds of whalers had become shipwrecked by the sudden ice at Point Barrow , Alaska ( Alaska ’s northernmost point). At the request of the US government, Lopp agreed to drive the reindeer herd from Cape Prince of Wales to Point Barrow—a 700-mile journey over land!—to save the whalers from starvation. Especially fascinating is the contrast between Lopp’s humility and love for the natives and the condescending superiority of his co-worker, Harrison Thornton. Those who are interested in missional evangelism will enjoy seeing how Lopp cared for the natives by teaching them how to read and write while preserving and adapting to their culture.
Portrait of Calvin, by THL Parker— Since this year marks the 500th birthday of the reformer John Calvin, I set a goal earlier in the year to read a biography about him. Portrait of Calvin was a great choice. It’s short, online, and free! (You can download it at desiringGod.org, or purchase the paperback version for about $5.) Every morning I read the book with my laptop while enjoying a smooth cup of Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee! I really enjoyed learning more about the French reformer. Though this book, like all good biographies, is honest about Calvin’s faults, I was nevertheless impressed with Calvin’s stalwart adherence to the Scriptures in the face of opposition. I suppose never realized the extent to which he faced opposition in Geneva . John Piper’s comments in the introduction also point to something about Calvin which is worth emulating: ““I am eager for people to know Calvin… because he took the Bible so seriously, and because what he saw on every page was the majesty of God and the glory of Christ.”
The Twits, by Roald Dahl—This was a short book I found at the beach house, written by the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. It’s the story of Mr. and Mrs. Twit, two old grumps who get great enjoyment from cruelly antagonizing others—and each other—until they finally get their come-uppance in a hilarious way. (By the way, I think that makes me the first Crew blogger to use the phrase “come-uppance”.) The story is really a parable, instructing us about antagonizing structures and systems that suppress the goals and ambitions of the little man, and how determination ultimately prevails. I’m kidding. It’s just a goofy story, and I enjoyed it like I was 10 again.
Anyone want to recommend any books they read this summer? It would be great to fill the comments section with these.