We Are Far Too Easily Pleased

“If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” -C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

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The First Real Day of Spring

A wonderful look at Good Friday by N.D. Wilson. Excerpt from his book, Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl (Which by the way is one of the most artful books about theology I have ever read. Easily rivals C.S. Lewis, and I don’t say that lightly):

There is water in the world that once flew out of the mouths of guards and flecked the face of the Word Himself. There is iron that once tore at His back and iron that once coursed in His blood before it fell to the stones, left for the small animals to feed on in the night. Animals were born and spent a lifetime before being slaughtered, having their hides tanned and cut into strips, interwoven with stone and glass and lashing the skin off the One Poet’s back, baring ribs full of calcium. There are proteins still, somewhere in this world, that were used in His beard before soldiers clutched, not knowing how close their fingers came to the Infinite, and tore hard.

But there is nothing now made from His flesh decomposed. That seed sprouted long ago, the firstborn, sprung from the womb of death on the first real day of Spring.

Photo Credit: “Spring” by morning_rumtea on Flickr under CC by 3.0

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).

Study
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.

Leadership
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.

Biography
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.

Novels
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.