Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Near the Cross

Posted: April 19, 2014 by philmartin4 in Book Recommendation, Book reviews, Gospel, Reading, Theology

“The whole value of the meditation of the suffering of Christ lies in this, that man should come to the knowledge of himself and sink and tremble.  If you are so hardened that you do not tremble, then you have reason to tremble.  Pray to God that he may soften your heart and make fruitful your meditation upon the suffering of Christ, for we of ourselves are incapable of proper reflection unless God instills it.” – Martin Luther, Adapted from his “Easter Book,” quoted from “Jesus, keep me near the Cross”


In the lead up to Easter, it is good to once again turn our gaze to the Cross and the empty tomb.  The whole event, however, has become so familiar that is easy to miss the richness, depth of beauty, and power of the cross.  I am thankful, therefore, for the small book edited by Nancy Guthrie.  “Jesus, Keep me near the Cross” is a collection of invaluable sermon and book excerpts written by 25 preachers from Saint Augustine to Tim Keller.  The short (max of 8 pages) messages each pack a powerful punch.  From the events leading to the Cross to the specific words Christ said while giving up his life, every aspect of this defining moment in history is dissected and preached piercingly right to the heart.

I am humbled to say that I’ve gone through many Easters since being a Christian without truly contemplating the Cross of Christ.  If there is any moment in our Savior’s life that we should seek to understand, it is this one moment.  I encourage you to buy this book and benefit from its boundless wisdom and insight.



Reading Music: Michael Gungor’s Doxology

Posted: September 17, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Leisure, Reading, Uncategorized
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I am hardly ever using spotify to listen to music. The reason is that I prefer covers, live songs, or just rare jam sessions you can’t buy. There is something about live acoustics or live renditions that just captures my attention a little more. I normally have to create a playlist on youtube of my favorite songs since I can’t really find them any where else. I am going to start posting some of them here so that others can listen to them too.

If you have ever wanted to play the guitar, this is going to make you pick up a Fender. If you know how to play the guitar, I would love to see you do this! If you know of any chill songs, leave a link in the comment section.

John Piper on Joy and Holiness

Posted: June 19, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Quotes, Reading
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I have recently been reading John Piper’s book, What Jesus Demands of the World, during my times with God in the morning to supplement my Bible reading. John Piper loves the gospels and makes connections that come from meditating on God’s Word and deep study. Here is a snippet of his chapter on joy.

“Jesus demand that we rejoice is the key that unlocks his demand for holiness. What chokes the purifying power of spiritual life and destroys Jesus’ would-be disciples is the ‘cares and riches and pleasures of life’ (Luke 8:14). And what severs theses strangling vines most decisively is the power of a superior pleasure. Jesus said that it is ‘in his joy’ that the believer sells everything. In other words, it is his joy that cuts the stranglehold of sin.

Many Christians think stoicism is a good antidote to sensuality. It isn’t. It is hopelessly weak and ineffective. Willpower religion usually fails, and even when it succeeds, it gets glory for the will, not for God. It produces legalist, not lovers. Jonathan Edwards says the powerlessness of this approach and said:

We come with double forces against the wicked, to persuade them to a godly life….The common argument is the profitableness of religion, but alas, the wicked man is not in pursuit of [moral] profit; tis’ pleasure he seeks. Now, then, we will fight with them with their own weapons.

In other words, the pursuit of pleasure in God is not a compromise with the sensual world but is in fact the only power that can defeat the lust of the age while producing lovers of God.”

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Posted: June 12, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Movies, Reading
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If you were not able to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I recommend you watch it. If you have not read The Hobbit by J.R Tolkien, I don’t know what you’re reading in the summer that can possibly beat such a classic. If you haven’t read fiction, or don’t like it, this is a great book to go to.

I don’t read fiction that often, and when my wife recommended The Hobbit, I wasn’t too excited. I hadn’t seen the Lord of The Rings trilogy either and when she introduced me to Middle Earth and all it had to offer, I was sold.

I read the Hobbit as fast as I could anticipating the movie…The only problem is, it’s coming out in three parts. Now, I don’t know how many of you are fans of the movie and how many of you have read the book and look forward to the visualization of what you’ve read. Six months isn’t a long time, but when you are waiting for a movie like this, it seems like a loooooong time.

I was waiting for 1 o’clock yesterday (for the preview release) as if I were waiting for the school bell to ring. Now, I wait the extended version of The Hobbit, the behind the scene vlog Peter Jackson makes, and Dec 13th like it’s nobodies business. Here is a preview to the Desolation of Smaug:



Simple Ways to be Missional

Posted: May 24, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Book Recommendation, Mission, Reading

Have you ever wanted ideas for how to reach your neighbors, your family, your city, your coworkers? Well, Tim Chester and Josh Reeves have put together an e-book filled with different ideas for you. I have found this resource helpful and very reproducible in creating platforms to share the gospel.

I hope you enjoy it and are fruitful because of it. Here is a link to get your free copy

Lit! on sale for $0.99 for Kindle users

Posted: February 26, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Book Recommendation, Reading

“I love to read.

I hate to read.

I don’t have time to read.

I only read Christian books

I’m not good at reading.

There’s too much to read.

Chances are, you’ve thought or said one of these exact phrases before because reading is important and in many ways unavoidable. Learn how to better read, what to read, when to read, and why you should read with this helpful guide from accomplished reader Tony Reinke. Offered here is a theology for reading and practical suggestions for reading widely, reading well, and for making it all worthwhile.” (Book Description)

If I could endorse and encourage everyone to buy Lit! I would. Tony Reinke writes about reading in a way that is inviting, encouraging, and envisioning. You won’t want to put this book down, or any other book for that matter. If you don’t like reading, or read a ton, this book will fuel a passion for literature. It can be yours for less than you pay for a fries, or a Mcdouble. This is a steal in my opinion.


Here are some endorsements:

“There is so much to commend about this book that it is hard to know where to start. The most obvious virtue of the book is its scope. On the subject of reading, Reinke covers every possible topic. Each topic, in turn, is broken into all of its important subpoints. With a lesser writer, this could produce a tedious book, but the opposite is true of this book. Reinke says just enough, but not too much. The effect is like seeing a prism turned in the light. There is never a dull moment in this book. Once I sensed that Reinke was going to cover all the important topics, and with unfailing good sense and Christian insight, I could hardly put the book down. What will Reinke say about THAT topic? I found myself asking. But to add yet another twist, Reinke has read so widely in scholarly and religious sources that I do not hesitate to call the book a triumph of scholarship. Reinke writes with an infectious and winsome enthusiasm. It is hard to imagine a reader of this book who would not catch the spark for reading after encountering Reinke’s excitement about reading and his carefully reasoned defense of it.”
Leland Ryken, author, The ESV and the English Bible Legacy

“If you don’t read books as both a discipline and a delight, then you should; and if you need help here, as in truth all of us do, more or less, then this is the book for you. Don’t miss it!”
J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College; author, Knowing God

“Christians are people of the Book, and books are a very important part of Christian culture and Christian life. One of the most important gifts God has given us is the ability to read and to communicate from one mind to another by means of the printed page. Throughout the history of the Christian church, books have become some of the most cherished friends, teachers, and companions along the way. But reading is a matter of spiritual discipline, not just a matter of literacy. Tony Reinke helps us to understand how to grow through disciplined reading, not only as readers but also as Christians.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“How to read, what to read, who to read, when to read, and why you should read—Tony Reinke answers all these questions and more in this very good and (surprisingly) brief book on reading. As he shows how reading can bring glory to God and growth to the church, Reinke encourages Christians to take up the discipline of reading widely and wisely.”
Trevin Waxeditor, LifeWay Christian Resources; author, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals

“This is the perfect book for someone who doesn’t like to read, or who likes to read but isn’t sure it’s a good use of their time, or who loves to read a little too much and needs to proceed with discernment. Tony Reinke has made a wise, theological, and edifying case for why words matter. I’ll mention Lit! every time someone asks me why in the world Christians should read fiction—a question that never fails to shock me. Now, instead of snapping, ‘Are you serious?’ and spouting opinions, I’ll just smile and slip them a copy of this book.”
Andrew Peterson, singer/songwriter; author, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

“Tony Reinke does not just read, but he reads well, and these are two very different things. If you are not much of a reader, consider Lit! a part of your education. Tony will teach you to read, to read widely, and to read well. If you are already an avid reader, consider Lit! an investment that will instruct you in how to read better.”

Tim Challies, Christian Blogger; Editor, Discerning Reader; Author The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment

“If you read one book a week for the next 50 years you’ll read about 2,600 books. Not a lot when you think of all the books you could read. So should you include this book in your list? Yes. Because Lit! will help you read the right books in the right way. Tony Reinke sets our reading in a biblical framework and provides practical tips to make the most of books. I warmly commend it.”
Tim Chester, Director, The Porterbrook Seminary; author, You Can Change and A Meal With Jesus

“Since God decided ideas are best expressed in words, and that The Idea—the revelation of his Son as Lord and Savior—is to be learned through his timeless and matchless Word, Christians must dare not to lose sight of the primacy of books amidst the torrent of fast-moving, visual images of our culture. Tony Reinke argues from Scripture and life experience that ‘reading is a way to preserve and cultivate the sustained linear concentration we need for life.’ As an educator, I couldn’t agree more! Sustained reading must remain the heartbeat of any worthy educational program that seeks to produce Christian thinkers, leaders, and apologists. Homeschooling parents who are trying to craft reading lists as they raise Christian children will find gracious and principled guidance here. Moreover, Tony offers great ideas for parents to foster a love for reading, beginning with their own example.”
Marcia Somerville, president, Lampstand Press; author, the Tapestry of Grace homeschool curriculum


Music and reading

Posted: February 25, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Reading, Thoughts

There are some people who would prefer to shut off all electronics as they read. Other people like the background noise of a coffee shop and conversation. I can’t really read or be productive with either of those. I catch myself feeling way too lonely if there is no noise, and if there is a conversation it is hard for me not to get distracted.

Another thing, I can’t seem to read unless I am drinking something. Coffee, tea, or something is usually near me so that as I stop and reflect…I take a sip and take it in.

So here is my routine. I normally get a drink ready, find my fine print sharpie, and put my head phones in. Depending on what I am reading I normally listen to different music. Some of my favorites are Coldplay’s Parachutes album. The chill acoustics helps me relax and take the book in. Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds album at Luther college gets the same feel.

If I am blogging around or I am reading something would require less mental activity, I listen to something jazzy like Sinatra, Joe Pass, and Buble.

But to be honest. I am in need of some new reading music. I am done with Mraz, Radiohead, and the other music I am currently listening to. Do you have any you would recommend? Do you read with music? Classical? Instrumental? What is your preference?

Here is one of my favorites