Unshelved ~ What I Read in June, 2017

Reading anchors the soul. By it perspectives are generated, views are shifted, and appreciation is forged because books can teach us. They can teach us about our Lord, our Lord’s people, and our Lord’s desire for people. So as we read, doing so by reading all imperfect books in light of the perfect book, we start to understand the world and people around us. Therefore, we should read because it causes us to value those around us more with a Christlike love. As an advocate of reading, I try to model it for my family, friends, and others hoping that my reading will motivate others to do so as well. In addition to my routine Bible reading here is a look at what I read this past month.
Perspectives of Grace
The Lord’s work is an incredible one. As he deals with our heart issues, believers often find it fascinating to see how he orchestrates teachings, readings, and conversations that while independent, come together to function as one. My reading this month did just that, consistently drawing my thoughts to reflect upon the grace of God. Charles Spurgeon’s All of Grace, a profound excursus upon God’s grace causes us to be in awe of God. Spurgeon writes
Are you not surprised that there should be such an expression as that in the Bible, “That justifies the ungodly?” I have heard that men that hate the doctrines of the cross bring it as a charge against God, that He saves wicked men and receives to Himself the vilest of the vile.
Spurgeon reminds us of the depths of God’s grace.
Dr. John MacArthur highlights the same subject in his deeply theological book, The Gospel According to Paul (you can read my review of the book here). A summary of Paul’s writings, MacArthur highlights essential aspects of the gospel. Like any of his writings, he highlights some important doctrinal aspects and why they matter to us, thus highlighting the impact of God’s grace in our lives.
One of those impacts is our ability to read Scripture. We often fail to realize how dependent upon God we are. This point is underscored in reading Scripture, a task that, if it were not for God’s revelation both through the physical book we possess to read from and God’s work in our heart, we would be unable to do so. Reading the Bible Supernaturally walks readers through the beauty of Scripture by outlining God’s work in the process of reading (you can read my review of the book here). John Piper’s insights, thoughts, and connections are more than informative, but impactive also.
Perspectives of Character
Words capture history, they capture the culture and capture character. Whether it be an exposition of the virtues of Christian character or the enshrining of the virtues of cultural character, we can be certain that books are influential. Hillbilly Elegy creates an opportunity to think about the different cultures that are prevalent even within our own nation’s boundaries. Sometimes cultures cross geographical lines, as in the early 1900’s in the midst of two world wars that saw nations unite with some will dividing with others. Such cooperation meant influence between cultures while needing to understand those around us.  No doubt one of the most influential figures in England was Winston Churchill, but because of his leadership at key times, his influence also carried over into the United States. William Manchester’s massive three-volume biography, The Last Lion, has much to teach about the influence. For those wanting to know more about Winston Churchill this is the book (or rather books) to read (be warned though, I’ve only completed volume one and by itself comes in at over 900 pages).
While reading teaches us much about the world around us, both past and present, ultimately the effect should cause us to grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord. As we see those around us and ourselves, we recognize what the Lord rescued us from. Not only do secular books compel this, but there are distinctly Christian books that are able to do this as well. Parables by John MacArthur and Broadman & Holman’s recent release of Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray (as part of their Read & Reflect Series) teach the Bible and do so in order that we may grow from it. Dr. John MacArthur works his way through a number of parables in order to demonstrate the character of the apostles, the character of the religious leaders, and true Christlike character. The work is deep and profound. Andrew Murray, on the other hand, calls readers to an absolute surrender of their lives in light of what God has done through Christ. Both are telling about the high calling of godly character (to read my review of Andrew Murray’s book Absolute Surrender click here).
Perspectives of Drama
Finally, for some light reading, I find it important to include some easy-to-read fiction. Continuing on my trend through the Harry Potter series, I completed book three, The Prisoner of Azkaban. My favorite genre of fiction include mysteries, something that I started to enjoy through The Hardy Boys. There are several authors I often follow in this genre and try to read. One of those is Daniel Silva and his Gabriel Allon series. I obtained a copy of The Black Widow at a deep discount and so decided to tackle it this month. Furthermore, John Grisham released a new book that catered even more to my interests. Not only was it a mystery, but Camino Island also dove into the world of bookstores, first editions, and manuscripts, and so my interest was piqued. Grisham offers a unique style, however, his books definitely do not fall into Christian reading, especially this particular book which promoted adultery and promiscuity. Nevertheless, these fanciful worlds and made-up stories can also cause us to look at our world from a biblical worldview also. Through them, we can see how others think and where their interests are found.
As we look forward to a new month, take some time to read as well. Fifteen minutes a day can yield about 2.5 books a month for the average reader. The investment of time is not much, and the rewards are profound. Therefore, as any business person would say, the cost-benefit analysis would tell us this is a good investment.
To purchase any of the books referenced, click here:

Photo ‘Stack of Books’ courtesy of user Karthik R and Flickr.