Summer Reading

Beloved,

I hope your Spring Break is giving you a break from everybody and everything from which you needed a break! It seems that the roller coaster of the school year is cresting and soon we will be on the downward acceleration towards summer so with that thought in mind I wanted to put a book recommendation before you to consider.

While politics are jamming up the airwaves, people are obsessing over Supreme Court nominees and I'm obsessing over the fact that they don't sell anything at the mall that I'd let my daughters wear; there is a beacon of theological richness that is slowly flickering away so I want to rise to my pastoral duty and point you towards him before the next twenty-something new kid on the block turns a sermon series into a "book" with the help of a ghost writer.

His name is J.I. Packer, he is eighty-nine years old and Bob Seger sang about him years ago when he wrote the song, Like A Rock. Packer has been a city on a hill long before most people even knew there was a hill much less that we should be willing to die on it if necessary. He has walked out of church services when his denomination adopted liberal views on sexuality, written more thought provoking books and articles than any ten people you could name and has managed to do it all without a personal website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. He writes books that will be read fifty years from now and then again fifty years from then because they are chocked full of God-centered, thought shaping doctrine made accessible. Think of your favorite internet preacher and then tell yourself, "That clown couldn't hold Packer's water."

It was announced this past year that Packer would no longer write because he is losing his vision. Yes, a man who has given his life to reading and writing can no longer do either and he isn't bitter. Read that last sentence again. Now, with this kind of life in mind I wanted to recommend a few books of J.I. Packer for your summer reading list. Some of these will be gifts I give to my daughters because I want them to think in the presence of big souls and there are few bigger than Packer. Here are some forests you should stand in before you die just to appreciate the shade of a redwood...

Knowing God: Someone handed me this book soon after I was converted. The simplicity of the title struck me but the content of the book slayed me and continues to do so. In 1992, when my girlfriend, Marcie, showed me her copy of this book and I saw how marked up it was I knew she was a keeper.

 

Seeing God In the Dark: Unraveling the Mysteries of Holy Living- pardon the play on words in a book written by a man who has known for years that he would eventually lose his vision. Practical, encouraging and worth the consideration. 

 

Finishing Our Course with Joy - Guidance from God for Engaging with Our Aging: In a discussion with a pastor friend a few months ago I said that the church doesn't age well, get sick well or die well. This book helps us think biblically about what it looks like to finish well. 

 

18 Words - The Most Important Words You Will Ever Know:  If I was discipling students and could pick one book to do it with I'd fight for this one to be on the list and then I'd fight even harder for it to be the choice. Rich, condensed, doctrinal and effective. If a Christians can grow in our understanding of these eighteen words then our evangelism will be a fruitful and engaging process instead of inconsequential muttering. Nuff said. 

 

Knowing Christianity: In a multi-cultural, pluralistic relativistic culture such as ours there is no substitute for actually knowing what you believe and abiding in simple mental and physical obedience to it. This book helps us to do just that. 

 

Okay, I said a book recommendation and I've rattled off five, my bad. However, I hope you get the idea. This man has lived for a long time with a deep connection to the Truth and I don't want you to miss the opportunity to stand in his shade.

Reading is fundamental,

Neil