Posted in books, theology

Top 5 books I’d recommend (plus 5 more)

By Elizabeth Prata

quotes books

Yesterday a friend who is doing a project asked me to list top five books I would recommend every Christian to read. I asked, ‘modern or older’ and he said maybe make two lists, one for each. That’s great because I had a hard time excising my 6th book from the top 5 already, lol.

I spent some time pondering and then compiling, while browsing my own bookshelves to see what lifted my heart and mind as I scanned my titles. Continue reading “Top 5 books I’d recommend (plus 5 more)”

Posted in books, theology

Sale! Sale! Sale! All things Puritan

By Elizabeth Prata

Here are a couple of sales to alert you to right now. They are too good to pass up.

I love the Puritans. I grew up in Rhode Island, founded by exiled Puritan Roger Williams, and Anne Hutchinson, exiled Puritan woman who founded Portsmouth RI (next to Newport). Our 4th grade field trip was to Plymouth to visit the replica Mayflower, the ship that transported the Puritans to New England in 1620. Some of my friends lived in homes built in the 1600s. Others attended Harvard, founded by Puritans. You couldn’t get away from the Puritan shadow of these mysterious and incredible people (to me, growing up). I have long been interested in them!

Only God knew that He would save me from His wrath and bring me into the faith of these selfsame Puritans, and how great is the grace that He gives me to learn about them with Christ’s mind. And, someday to be with them in glory.

Here are some good, solid resources for you if you’re interested in learning about these particular forefathers and mothers.

The American Puritans, by Perry Miller (Editor). Published in 1956, this book was the standard until interest very recently revived and modern books and anthologies have been published looking at the Puritans again, at long last! (see below). Yet still recommended, it stands the test of time.

Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Arthur Bennett. One way to get to know the Puritans is to read their collected prayers and devotions, giving insight into their love and fervor for the Lord. They way they thought about Christ, their Christian Life, and others is amazing to read.

The Puritan Paperbacks Series at Banner of Truth includes some of the most classic Puritan works published by the Banner of Truth. These books are selections of larger works from the Puritans, published in small paperbacks to make them more accessible and affordable. Notable titles include The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes, The Mortification of Sin by John Owen, and The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. Other notable Puritan writers in this series include Thomas Goodwin, Thomas Watson, John Flavel, Richard Baxter, and John Bunyan, et al.

The Pocket Puritan Series is a collection of short, accessible writings from the Puritan, again offered by Banner of Truth. Small enough to fit in your pocket, these books cover topics ranging from sin, to heaven, to growing one’s love for Christ. These are great works of ‘spiritual theology,’ and can go with you as you travel. Some notable titles include a collection of Prayers on the Psalms and selections of the writings of John Flavel, titled None but Jesus.

The Pilgrim’s Progress (Penguin Classics), John Bunyan, Roger Pooley edition. In continuous print since first published in 1678, it is considered a masterpiece of the English Puritan tradition. After The Bible, Valley of Vision and The Pilgrim’s Progress are two most loved books by Christians and are definitely the top two Christian books in the English Language.

Sale! Sale! Sale!

If you were excited about the documentary Puritan, but sad at the price (I totally understand) then this is the sale for you! The deluxe edition of Puritan: All of Life to the Glory of God, is half off at Ligonier today (I don’t know for how long, it’s part of the Friday Sale).

This feature-length documentary (6 DVDs) and hours of accompanying teaching sessions feature several of our Teaching Fellows and other gifted scholars and leaders. The Deluxe Edition includes a special, decorative, exclusive hardback book by Dr. Joel Beeke and Dr. Michael Reeves and the Workbook. The DVDs, Book, and Workbook are offered for $75. That’s less than $10 per item in the bundle.

The Puritan Combo: Puritan Theology and Meet The Puritans is on sale at Reformation Heritage Books! These two hardcovers are bundled to include A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, a systematic theology by Dr. Joel Beeke a professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; and Meet the Puritans, a collection of mini-biographies and book reviews that also includes helps on which reprinted editions are best. The two together are on sale where you save $58. You can also buy either of them separately on sale too. I bought Meet the Puritans.

The American Puritans by Nate Pickowicz is a new book out by this Gilmanton NH pastor and writer of Why We’re Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation, Reviving New England: The Key to Revitalizing Post-Christian America, John Cotton: Patriarch of New England

(The American Puritans Book 1) and others, recently published The American Puritans with Dustin Benge. This book tells the story of the first hundred years of Reformed Protestantism in New England through the lives of nine key figures: William Bradford, John Winthrop, John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, Thomas Shepard, Anne Bradstreet, John Eliot, Samuel Willard, and Cotton Mather. It is on sale at Reformation Heritage Books.

The super saving sales are at Ligonier’s $5 Friday sale, Reformation Heritage Books. You can also find these items at Banner of Truth Books, and of course Amazon. Enjoy!

 

Posted in books, theology

It’s payday, so that means…buying books!

By Elizabeth Prata

The last day of the month is payday, so the first day of the month I scour the interwebs for good deals on books. They are not only for my consumption, but to have on hand to give away. I love a good book ministry, and I want to be active in offering credible and edifying resources to women, both online and in real life. Part of discernment is choosing good materials from which to study, and I enjoy helping women in this way. It’s a satisfying feeling when I put a good book into the hands of a sister.

I was listening to a clip from John MacArthur about “Dumbing Down the Message“, and in that short clip, he mentioned he was writing a book called “Why One Way?” (2002). I was not familiar with that one from him. Defending the exclusivity of Jesus as the one way to heaven was important in 2002 and even more so now. I became interested in the book, and wandered over to Amazon to browse it. It was $5, so I bit the bait and placed the order.

Ligonier has a Friday $5 sale. Several of their shorter, one-topic paperbacks are always inexpensive, but these were on sale today for $1.88. I bought:

Can I Have Joy in My Life? by RC Sproul
Are People Basically Good? by RC Sproul
Can I Lose My Salvation? by RC Sproul

We know that the Bible itself is the best material in the universe to study. But God raised up men to write commentaries and books and to develop teaching series. These things are perfectly OK to use in aiding your understanding of God. If you are reading your Bible and attending a good church, don’t listen to anyone who disparages good and edifying materials by saying “don’t study ‘man’s words'”. God raised up these men to write words that contribute to the body of information available to the saints.

So what do you do to help younger sisters in the faith access good ministries and materials? What materials have proven useful for you in your growth and education?

Posted in arminianism, books, challies, easy believism, flowers, macarthur

Prata’s Potpourri: Dominionism, 190 blogs, 300 books, decisonal easy-believism, wandering pastors, more

March in Georgia is a funny month. It begins the warm and stormy tornado/thunderstorm season. Yet it also brings us our best chance for snow days off from school. In the last five years, the most snow we’ve received has been in March. I guess you could call the month turbulent.

On the plus side, the forsythia and the daffodils are blooming, and those are two flowers that mean spring business. The days certainly are warmer and the birds have returned to adorn the trees with color and song.The best part is that IF snow falls, it’s always gone by the next day. The temperatures rebound.

I love flowers. Tremendously. If you look closely at a flower, its delicacy and beauty are a never ending marvel. In my yard there are tiger lilies, rhododendron, roses, forsythia, daffodils, magnolia blossoms, pear blossoms, morning glories, the usual southern wildflowers such as bluebells, crimson bee balm, white clover, asters, snowdrops, and there used to be a huge five-o’clock-flower bush. This photo is from the five o’clock flower bush. Its stripe is perfectly placed, and yet other blossoms on the same bush might have different colored stripes in different locations. The delicate stamens seem to be reaching for the sun, like we do when emerging from the house on a day after a long winter and we turn our faces to the sun for a moment and bask.

I started watching The Story of Maths, a documentary about how mathematics was developed and used throughout history. The title even states that it’s the ‘language of the universe’. The opening lines of the BBC Documentary-

Throughout history, humankind has struggled to understand the fundamental workings of the material world. We’ve endeavored to discover the rules and patterns that determine the qualities of the objects that surround us, and their complex relationship to us and each other. Over thousands of years, societies all over the world, have found that one discipline above all others yields certain knowledge about the underlying realities of the physical world.

We know that the Bible yields certain knowledge, but math is a language of God and He uses its pattern and order to beautiful and astounding effect in our world and the universe. It is an interesting documentary, even to me who seems very likely to have dyscalculia.

The first episode deals with the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Though the Bible is not mentioned, any person having a Biblical worldview will see immediately how unified the universe is and that it’s math that permeates it because God is orderly and so is His creation. Knowing the Egyptian and Babylonian cultures from reading the Bible, it makes for a fascinating documentary to see how, for example, the Egyptians dealt with the twice annual Nile floods and having as a result to re-organize the parcels of land and their attendant taxes. Up next will be the Greeks and then I hope Fibonacci when they cover medieval maths.

Flowers are mathematical. How? Watch the video! (On Netflix and all 4 parts free on Youtube)

——————————

Yesterday I was asked to research what “Dominionism” is, and today on the Berean Research Twitter stream, I saw this. Rather than duplicate their good work, which mine would not be as concise and well-written, I refer you to this essay which explains it so well. Included in the explanation is New Apostolic Reformation information, who the leaders of this movement are, and what they believe. There are also extra links.

Dominionism (NAR)

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a dominionist movement which asserts that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle.

——————————

Here are a couple of good photo memes I came across this week.

Have you experienced a sermon where the pastor does that? I have, in several different churches. It seems pandemic that the pastor is a roving storyteller on stage. In one case, the long anecdotes delivered from the wandering preacher were not even his own but were stories plagiarized from another pastor’s life and told as if they were his own.

God said of those kinds of pastors,

Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. (Jeremiah 23:30).

God said of worthless shepherds who do not feed the flock,

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1-2)

I am currently blessed with a pastor who stands, at a real pulpit, and explains the Bible, accurately and passionately. Too many people do not understand that is what a pastor does. Here is a blog series which explains what a pastor’s duties are. And are not.

The Absence of Shepherds
Why Does God Call them Shepherds?
Don’t Starve the Sheep
Abusive Shepherds
What To Look for in a Shepherd
How Do We Measure a Shepherd’s Success?

———————————–

Living in Georgia and being member of Southern Baptist Convention Churches means usually there is an invitation at the end of a sermon, to walk down the aisle and ‘accept Jesus’ and be written down in a log book and declared a Christian. This is done in children’s Sunday School classes and at VBS, too. Frequently the church’s pastor or an imported evangelism-revivalism type preacher would have us close our eyes at the end of the sermon and the seeker would parrot back a prayer the preacher said, and then sometimes even raise one’s hand to declare they have decided for Christ, no need to walk an aisle. Let’s make salvation easy. Hipster gatherings use glowsticks which are held up to indicate the seeker’s new allegiance to Jesus as a follower. The preachers would tell everyone to close their eyes while the music played, and the preacher says, “I see that hand, yes, I see that hand too.” Once a friend of mine who sat in the back said he peeked and there were no hands up.

What is the “invitation” or “altar call”?

An altar call is an appeal for an immediate public response to a sermon just preached. It is popularly called the invitation and as used in this context is an appeal for a public act of commitment and can involve hand raising, going to a counseling area or signing a commitment card. Most often it involves walking down the aisle to the front of a church auditorium. The altar call is tacked on to the end of a sermon and the invitation usually is to “come forward and accept Christ as your Savior.” Various emotional techniques such as telling sad, tear jerking stories and playing mood-creating music in the background are employed to encourage response to the altar call.  …

In Acts 2:36-37 we are told that at Pentecost 3,000 people were saved but no altar call was used. The saving of those 3,000 was the work of the Holy Spirit of God and not of clever emotional appeals to come to the front of the meeting place. Whatever reasons one may give for using the altar call, it is a fact that it cannot be supported from the word of God.

As we have already pointed out, some people believe and teach that if one does not give an invitation in connection with his sermon he is not evangelistic. But we cannot be more evangelistic than the New Testament and the altar call or invitation system is not to be found in the pages of the New Testament. Actually having an altar call is a departure from scriptural requirements and practice.

In the New Testament and in Christian history up until the year 1820 AD sinners were invited to Christ, not to decide at the end of a sermon whether to perform some physical action. You will search Christian history in vain for an altar call or invitation before about 1820. George Whitefield, the greatest evangelist perhaps of all time never used the altar call. Charles Spurgeon under whose preaching more people were saved than perhaps any other pastor over the centuries never gave an invitation.

Well, where did the altar call come from if God’s word doesn’t teach it? The answer is that the altar call is a human invention that is less than 200 years old.

Source: Why We Don’t Use the Altar Call. More at link.

I always resisted that kind of man-made decisionism and mourned those who were likely false converts, even before I knew what the Doctrines of Grace were. It just seemed manipulative to me. I prayed both for those who might have been prematurely declared a Christian and also prayed for the practice to stop. By God’s grace he opened my eyes and grew me to a better understanding of what justification is and God’s sovereignty over it, through illuminating His word. Here is a meme featuring Calvinist-Baptist Charles Spurgeon on man-made choosing God practices (Arminianism) and God’s sovereignty over His choice of the elect.

Yesterday I saw on Facebook a meme-photo titled “Things Peter Never Said” and I liked it but I can’t find it now. I re-created my own and it went something like this:

#Things Peter Never Said
——————————

If your blog roll is getting a little stale, here are 190 blogs for your consideration. Have you ever wondered how Tim Challies, popular blogger and book reviewer, manages to put out fresh content daily with all those wide-spread links? I have. Yesterday he answered the question and opened for public viewing his list of blogs from which he mines content. If you want to read some different perspectives than the blogs you always read, or just want to refresh your blog roll for others, here is a good resource.

190 Blogs I read

——————————

On Facebook, someone had posted 300 Books Everyone Should Read. I’ve been having a hard time lately with reading. I studied on my problem for a while and it boils down to two things, I think. I need new glasses, badly, and that means a trip into the city to see an ophthalmologist. It’s been 8 years since I last had an eye exam. I dislike the city and I dislike going to see doctors, hence the delay with proper eye-wear and my eyes feeling tired and blurry by the end of the day.

Secondly, in my ever present push to “be productive,” I’ve gravitated to reading only theological books, which is fine, but it also has sapped some of the fun out of reading. I haven’t read a good yarn since the Grisham book-before-last and the Will Thomas book-before-last. (Both of Grisham’s and Thomas’s most recent books were disappointing and I didn’t finish).

I decided to look at the list and see what someone considered “must-read literature.” I was not surprised by many of the titles on the list. Some of the titles were new to me, while others had long ago been on my own “must-read” list but had fallen by the wayside. I decided to look some of them up at Amazon.

If a book was a young adult book I wanted to read, like Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” or “Where the Red Fern Grows”, I decided to check them out from my school’s library. If the book was a movie, I decided to watch the movie. One such book was “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.

It is a book about high school, something that fascinates me because I still haven’t figured out what THAT was all about, 40 years ago. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Clueless (1995),  and Election (1999) are some of my favorite High School movies. FTARH and Election deal with one or two dark themes but those are handled well and the movie overall has a cinematic lightness to it. Literally, the movies are light. I found Perks online and began watching.

Perks was different. Though I did not know ahead of time what the themes were, apart from a shy boy negotiating the social miasma that is American high school, the movie was cinematically dark and somber in mood. After about fifteen minutes I became concerned with the direction the movie was taking. I decided to read the plot summary for the movie at Wikipedia instead of watch it. Themes dealt with in the movie were:

suicide by gun,
molestation of female minor,
molestation of male minor,
homosexuality,
bullying,
drugs, tobacco, alcohol,
fornication.
abortion

All righty then.

I was glad I didn’t pursue the movie and I sadly mourn the themes our youth are subjected to these days. What a different 20-30 years makes… In addition, that is one of the reasons I gravitated away from fiction. Sigh. I guess the search continues.

I did purchase three books at Amazon. The Book Thief, The Kite Runner, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I also have started Pilgrim’s Progress in conjunction with a free class I am taking, and a Jan Karon book, Home To Holly Springs. Spring Break is on the horizon and I will be ready (as long as my eyes are!)

——————————

Our new church plant begins small groups today, praise the Lord. I am so proud of our elders and the way they unroll each new aspect of our new church under submission to the leading of the Spirit and done in a manner of unity and mutual respect. The men are certainly good examples to someone like me. Because of the timing of the place we are renting, our services begin at 3:30pm (WHICH I LOVE!) and our first small groups begin afterwards in various homes today. If you can find the time to pray for our church once in a while, I would appreciate it.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day everyone.

Posted in blackaby, books, hybels, reading, spurgeon

(Updated) A pile of books, oldies and I hope goodies!

Update at bottom

A year ago, our pastor resigned/was fired for having discovered that he’d spent years in serial plagiarism. The deacons and staff were cleaning out his office this week (because it looks like God may just now have sent the man He wishes us to have lead us) and there was a stack of books left over on the old pastor’s shelves. The staff put them on the bench with a “free” sign. One of the men saved aside a book for me. I was bowled over with delight. Here it is:

This book was published in 1892 just after Charles Haddon Spurgeon, AKA “The Prince of Preachers” had died in Menton France.

I’ve read about 50 pages so far and it is charming, well-written, and of course, glowing (being in the height of grief over the loss of the word’s foremost preacher at the time).

Other books that were set aside for me include some I’m very much looking forward to reading, such as–

W. Eugene Sallee: Christ’s Ambassador, a biography written by Sallee’s wife. They both were missionaries in China in the very early 1900s. I have high hopes for this book- it should prove very interesting. I hope I’m not let down… It is the book I’ll read next.

Life and Sayings of Sam P. Jones: A Minister of the Gospel, a famous Georgia preacher of some note who preached in the late 1800s. Wikipedia says Jones “was one of the most celebrated revivalists of his day, at the close of the 19th century. Famous for his wry wit and masterful story-telling, he is credited as a principal influence on Will Rogers.

Home of the Bible: What I Saw and Heard in Palestine (1895), by Marion Harland, AKA Virginia Terhune, a prolific American writer. She lived from 1830 to 1922, and was still writing at age 90 even though she had gone blind. This book was her travelogue, having made an expedition to determine for herself to see what God was doing in the original Christian lands with the peoples there.

Up Among the Ice-floes (1890) by James MacDonald Oxley. I always love me a good old Arctic expedition book.

I also received biblical non-fiction and reference books-

The Second Coming of Christ by Len Broughton, (1902)

Jewish Tales by Leopold Von Sacher Masoch (1894)

The Revelation: Verse by verse study by Oliver B. Green (1963)

Exposition of Ecclesiastes by H. C. Leupold (1952)

Arnold’s Practical Sunday School Lesson Commentary (1926)

The Church of God at Corinth: verse by verse commentary on 1 & 2 by Corinthians John R. Rice (1973)

These three came together in a little case: they seem kind of elementary but will be useful as a quick guide, and also of course to give away to someone who needs something a little elementary when the time comes to give it away!

  • Who’s Who in the Bible by Dietrich Gruen (2011)
  • Bible Almanac Anna Trimiew
  • Bible Facts: People, Places, Events David M Howard Jr.

The Discipling Pastor beat me to the commentaries but I’m thrilled he got some good ones. He offered to let me see what he got, already tucked away in the back of his car, but I declined because I knew it would lead to the sin of me coveting!!

I was just saying to myself, “Self, you’ve given away a good many books lately, I wish I had some more. The shelves are looking mighty thin.” So thank you Lord, for your provision. I’m delighted to have been graciously re-stocked, and just in time for school ending next week. I will actually have time and energy to read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read….

Sometimes there are simple things that tell the story. For example, the old pastor had books like the life of Spurgeon and other solid books from AW Pink, John R. Rice, and the like, but also alongside those old venerable standards were Purpose Driven stuff from Rick Warren, Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, and Henry Blackaby on ‘how to hear God’s voice’. The solid and practical and expositional had over time, been relegated to the back of his book shelf and at the forefront were books illustrating his heart and his penchant for the mystical, emotional, purpose driven leaven that eventually clouded his judgment and polluted his heart. It was shortly after that his massive sin was uncovered: serial lies from the pulpit in the holy name of Christ. And his bookshelf was a graphic display of his sad decline into apostasy.

If a bookshelf told your story, what story would it tell?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A couple of days after this essay was published, Pastor John MacArthur tweeted out a link to a three minute chat called “The Christian Bokshelf”. In it, Pastor MacArthur mentions the kinds of books he likes to read (Commentaries, theology, biogrpahies, with occasional other historical books thrown in, like The Athenian Navy, Salt, and the Great Influenza).

He goes on to explain what publisher to look for (“Banner of Truth) and urges CHristians to buy books and fill their bookshelves with solid kinds of books like these. Enjoy

//player.vimeo.com/video/93187462
Truth for Today | The Christian Library from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

Posted in books, dan phillips, foxe's book of martyrs, todd friel

Clear the decks, weekend reading is ON!

We are getting clipped by the icy rain that is more to our north. Our school let out an hour early, and we all scurried home.

I stopped at the Post Office and wonder of wonders, my large book order from Amazon (thanks to a reader) had come in! Is there anyone happier than a geek on a Friday afternoon, ready to hunker down for the weekend with tea and blankets and good books? By herself? Nope!

So what did I get?

1. Twelve Ordinary Men, John MacArthur. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to be perfect to do God’s work. Look no further than the twelve disciples whose many weaknesses are forever preserved throughout the pages of the New Testament. Jesus chose ordinary men – fisherman, tax collectors, political zealots – and turned their weakness into strength, producing greatness from utter uselessness. MacArthur draws principles from Christ’s careful, hands-on training of the original twelve disciples for today’s modern disciple – you.

2. Twelve Unlikely Heroes, John MacArthur. What kind of people does God use to accomplish His work? Far from the children’s tales depicted in picture books and nursery rhymes, the men and women highlighted in the Bible were unnervingly real. They faltered. They struggled. And at times, they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes. Scripture does not hide their weaknesses, caricature their strengths, or spin their stories as a display of human nobility. Instead, it describes these heroes of the faith with unflinching honesty and delivers an unexpected ending: “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Hebrews 11:16).

3. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: For nearly two – thousand years courageous men and women have been tortured and killed because of their confessions of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This updated edition of Foxes Book of Martyrs contains stories of persecution up to 2001. Stories of heroic courage and overcoming faith. Stories of love of God and Christ. Stories of the amazing grace of God that enabled men women and children to endure persecutions and often horrible deaths.

4. God’s Wisdom in Proverbs, Dan Phillips. God’s Wisdom in Proverbs is written brilliantly at a level that will challenge anyone who is interested enough in gaining wisdom and understanding to be serious in that quest. Readers will range from serious students of Scripture to casual lay readers on their way to a more serious approach to Scripture. It explains the wisdom of Proverbs (and the biblical nature of wisdom per se) in a clear, readable fashion that will be extremely helpful to everyone from students entering the academic world for the first time, to new parents seeking biblical insight into the process of child-rearing, to anyone in a position of responsibility or leadership. I recommend it for all who are tired of the superficial, self-centered themes that have filled evangelical pulpits and bookshelves for the past three decades (or more). If you are hungry for biblical material, God’s Wisdom in Proverbs will feed your appetite.”—PHIL JOHNSON, executive director, Grace to You

5. Drive By Pneumatology. Todd Friel, et al. 42 lectures. Pneumatology is the theological study of the Holy Spirit which seeks to answer who the Holy Spirit is and what His function is in the world. Drive By Pneumatology will provide a thorough, thoughtful and Biblical presentation on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. But Drive By Pneumatology goes beyond the who, what, where, when and why of the Holy Spirit and is very practical: • How do I get more of the Holy Spirit? • How can I be led by Him? • How do I get more fruit of the Holy Spirit?

6. When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin. In a small town square of a sleepy Georgia town, seven-year-old Annie sits at her lemonade stand, raising money for her own heart transplant. At a nearby store, Reese flips through the newspaper, thinking about the latest boat hes restoring. As a beat-up bread truck careens around the corner, a strong wind blows Annie’s money into the road. Reese looks up in time to see Annie’s yellow dress fluttering in the wind as she runs into the road. What happens next will change both of their lives forever. Richly atmospheric and evocative, with the kind of characters that move into your heart and take up residence, Charles Martins new novel will resonate with fans of God-haunted southern fiction, and with anyone who enjoys a solidly crafted, heart-touching story.

7. The Racketeer, John Grisham. Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five. Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise?

I love to read. It was my first, best, and is my most enduring joy. I learned to read early, and dove head first into books, all the time, every day. I read Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy and The Saturdays. A Wrinkle in Time and The Secret Garden. I read Little House on the Prairie books tucked inside my algebra text. It didn’t fool the teacher. I read under the trees in the next door cemetery (so quiet there). I read on the school bus, in my bedroom under the eaves of the small Cape Cod house we lived in, I read at pep rallies. I read.

Even as an adult I was never without a book. I felt naked without one tucked into my purse or backpack. Heavens to Betsy, what if I was stuck at a doctor’s office waiting room for a long time, with nothing to read?! That was a fate worse than death. Not something even to consider.

Even as an adult, my tastes gravitated to historical fiction but usually more often toward the non-fiction of the topic I was involved in at the time. When I ran for office and got involved in civics in my community, I read civics books. When I ran the newspaper as editor/publisher, I read journalism books. When I was getting my Master’s in education, I read literacy books. (The ultimate egghead? Reading literacy books about literacy?)

When I was saved by the grace of God at age 43, my sanctifying walk took up quickly. Fiction books fast became unpalatable, due to language, themes, or immorality. Christian fiction, especially for women, is often too sentimental and badly written. Sorry to say that, but it is.

So mostly I read essays online or doctrinal books. I was excited when a friend recommended the Charles Martin books. Martin is a Christian author and his books are apparently well-written. Also, I love books by John Grisham! I enjoy stories of legal beagles and as an author he is consistent, the books are well written, and wonder of wonders, the tale is always absorbing. I thought his last book, The Litigators, was one of his best in years. But I’ve read all of Grisham’s books and I was bereft for a long time with no good books on the horizon. So now I am excitedly I’m looking forward to a just plain good reading session this weekend.

What a great Savior, who knew that the intersection of my love to read and the inevitable disappointment at having devoured and finished a book would eventually collide. In reading the bible, God the author is consistent, the books are well written, and wonder of wonders, the tale is always absorbing. The difference here is that I can never devour and dispense with the Good Book! It always has something to say and there is always more to digest!

I haven’t read these books yet, obviously, but they are by well-known credible authors and they have good reviews. I’ll review them after I read them but if you’re looking for some good reads, and some good texts to fill our your library bookshelf, I can say with fair amount of certainty that in these, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

I plan to wrap up in a blanket, keep the teapot endlessly warmed, and crack open the Grisham right after supper. My weekend is about to begin, and as ole Si Robertson says, it’s on like Donkey Kong!