Book Blurbs: Christmas List Edition

So, I know I always have a hard time figuring out what to give for Christmas or even what to ask for!  Here are some great book ideas for the reader in your life (even if that person is you).

The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, by Josh McDowell: A great reference book full of answers to challenging questions about Christianity.

ESV Study Bible: Perhaps one of the best study Bibles that I have seen out there. Available on Kindle.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament and New Testament: You don’t need to be an academic to appreciate this two-set commentary. It will give you a clear and concise explanation for each passage of Scripture. A great reference if you have a quick question about what a certain text means.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: This kids Bible takes most of the stories of the Bible and communicates them from a Christo-centric viewpoint.  It probably is the most effective kids Bible from a theological standpoint that I have ever seen.  Great for parents of young kids trying to figure out how to teach their kids about Jesus.

C.H. Spurgeon on Spiritual Leadership, by Steve Miller: One of the greatest Christian leaders ever speaking on leadership. This book is a distillation of everything Spurgeon had to say about leadership. Available on Kindle.

Spiritual Leadership, by J. Oswald Sanders: Outside of the Bible, of course, this has been one of the most impacting books I have ever read in my life.  I’ve read it three times now and fully plan on reading it many times in the future. There might not be a better book on leadership out there. Available on Kindle.

You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader, by Mark Sanborn : A great perspective on life for those who desire to make an impact in this world. It is not about the position or the title, it is about how you live. Available on Kindle.

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand: One of the most fascinating stories I have ever read…and it all really happened! Olympic caliber runner turned WWII soldier, turned POW in a Japanese prison, turned alcoholic survivor, turned broken repentant preacher.  A little graphic in parts (war often is) but this book will blow you away. Available on Kindle.

Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas: If Unbroken is the most fascinating story I have ever read…Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s story is a close second. World renown theologian and author turned anti-Nazi conspirator, turned secret agent, turned spy, turned martyr. Available on Kindle.

Christian Living
Lord, Change My Attitude, by James MacDonald: Don’t use this book as a hint to someone else that they’ve been whiny this last year.  Instead, ask for it yourself.  You could use the attitude change. Available on Kindle.

Don’t Waste Your Life, by John Piper: A great reminder that the purpose of our life is to live for the glory of God. Living for anything else is a waste. Available on Kindle.

Thought Provoking
God in the Dock, by C.S. Lewis: One of the more obscure C.S. Lewis books (outside of his science fiction space trilogy…ya, exactly).  A collection of essays defending the Christian faith.  I actually think a lot of these essays are more effective and better written than Mere Christianity…you can all stone me now. Available on Kindle.

Notes From The Tilt-a-Whirl, by N.D. Wilson: N.D. Wilson might be the C.S. Lewis of our day; he even abbreviates his first two initials!  He writes theology like poetry—nuff said.  If anyone has complained that all the orthodox theological books in the world are written dryly, they will be proven ignorant with this book. The DVD companion of the book is excellent too. Available on Kindle.

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson: For those who complain that there are no good Christian fiction authors out there, you are not looking hard enough. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and it is about a pastor!  I was edified by this novel the same way I would be by a John Piper book and convicted like I would from a John MacArthur sermon. Available on Kindle.

The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins: Now, I will not tolerate any comparisons of this series to the Twilight books. They don’t even compare.  Anyways, this trilogy displays human nature (especially fallen nature) in a very real way.  The books in no way glorify the fallen aspects of human nature but instead show them as reality and the effects of people trying to wrestle with their nature.  How do you balance the need to love and be loved with the need to survive?  The books are brutal and violent at times but they in no way relish in these aspects.  Word of warning: if you start reading them, you will not be able to stop. Available on Kindle.

Just For Fun
Stuff Christians Like, by Jonathan Acuff: Based off the blog with the same name (and the blog about white people), Jon Acuff pokes fun at all areas of Christian culture, from sparkly worship leaders to awkward side hugs.  Acuff doesn’t do this to bring down Christianity but to help us see some of the ridiculous things we do or focus on.  In doing so, Acuff hopes to reorient believers to what really matters…mainly, loving Jesus.  Careful when reading in a public place because you may find yourself laughing out loud and then people will think you are crazy. Available on Kindle.

Quelf: So this is actually not a book but a board game—but it will be the most fun board game you will ever play in your life.


Does the Virgin Birth Matter?

Yes, it has been a while since I have last written.

My excuses are part busyness of the Christmas season at Ekklesia and part laziness. But excuses are lame so I’m not going to make any.

Speaking of Christmas, earlier today I read an article by Albert Mohler (originally posted in 2006) defending the veracity of the Virgin Birth against The New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof, which argued that conservative Christian belief in the Virgin Birth is anti-intellectual.

In his article, Mohler skillfully defends the theological necessity for the Virgin Birth as it relates to the deity of Christ and the doctrine of incarnation. As Christians who claim to believe in the Bible, Mohler states, we should actually believe what it says.

Do Christians need to believe in the Virgin Birth? As one author put it, what would be the big deal if we found out Jesus was actually not born of a virgin? Would anything change?

Everything would change.

Think about it this way:

If Jesus was not born of a virgin, then his mother Mary either had premarital sex with her betrothed, Joseph (a serious offense in that culture) or Mary had an adulterous affair (an even more serious offense.)

While sinful, such acts are not outside God’s power to redeem (take a look at Jesus’s genealogy, Matthew 1:1-17, for a picture of sexual sinners that were redeemed). God can and still does do amazing things in spite of our sinful hearts.

The problem is that instead of admitting her misdeeds, Mary claims that an angel came to her and told her that she was going to birth the Son of God through the Holy Spirit’s conceiving.

So if Jesus was not born of a virgin, then Mary is not only promiscuous but a liar and/or crazy.

But wait, there’s more!

This lying, cheating woman then actually gets everyone to believe her outlandish story (although Joseph was most likely in on it because he saw an angel too). Most of all, she convinces her illegitimate son that he was born of God instead of Larry.

He believes he is the Son of God. He believes he is unique and special and powerful. He believes that he has come to save the world. He believes her so much that he takes on this identity and eventually is killed for a lie.

The problem is that if Mary concocted the idea of the Virgin Birth then he was never the Son of God in the first place.

You see, if Jesus was not born of a virgin then the basis of His whole ministry, life, and death was a lie and everything else that came after Him was just the blind following the blind.

Does the virgin birth matter? I think so.