Friday, November 18, 2016

3 Books

Here are three books I'm reading right now. I recommend them.

Going from right to left, the first is Martin Luther's Christmas Book, a compilation/distillation of sermons for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany by the Great Reformer.

Luther was a genius and part of his genius was in his ability to impart his life-giving insights in ways accessible to those who aren't full-time theologians.

He was also totally dialed into how God operates, not as the God Who bowls us over with His power or intimidates us with His deity, but woos and wins us with His love that deigns to enter our world as a human being who leads a sinless life and erases the power of sin and death over us by bearing our sin and death on the cross.

Luther shows the connection between Jesus' crib and Jesus' cross.

I've read these sermons many times, have distilled them even more, and used them on many Christmas Eves.

Starting next Sunday, we'll be using Martin Luther's Christmas Book in adult Sunday School class at Living Water.

Standing Firm: A Christian Response to Hostility and Persecution by Jesse Yow seeks to help Christians as they deal with the reality of increasing hostility (in the northern and western hemispheres) toward Christian faith and Christianity.

Some of this hostility, to be sure, has been incited by Christian leaders behaving in unchristian ways, engaging in politics, claiming that Jesus agrees with their political philosophies, and attempting to impose their version of Christian morality on non-Christians, when they should have instead been proclaiming the good news of new and everlasting life for all who repent and surrender to Jesus.

But, as Scripture (and solid Lutheran theology) teaches, human beings are born with a hostility toward God and His authority over us. Yow includes Biblical and contemporary case studies and offers suggestions on how Christians can faithfully witness for Christ even in the face of hostility. He also draws a helpful distinction between hostility and persecution.

Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides is a beautifully written and sprawling account of the opening of the West to the United States. This is a no-holds-barred narrative that gives incredible insights into diverse Native American cultures and the many colorful characters on all sides of the story. Sides has done extensive research, but he is also an incredibly descriptive, evocative writer. (I got my copy at Costco for only $10.99.)

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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