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Book Review: “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund

Book Review: “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund

My friend Rich Crosby was the first one that told me about this book. We were talking at the local playground one morning and he told me how much it blessed him. He wanted me to read it.

Then, over the next few months it kept popping up in conversation, as different friends who were pastors had read it and had been moved and blessed by it.

Here’s the thing though, they were all Calvinists. And, this book was published by Crossway, which to my knowledge only publishes from that theological position. I’m not a Calvinist.

So, I don’t remember how I got a copy of this book. I may have grabbed it at the same time that I snatched “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas out of the lending library at Tennessee River Baptist Church a couple of months ago.

Anyway, I finished it a couple of days ago.

And…

Every Calvinist should read it! It provides a necessary correction to their view of God. I could see this being cold water to a heart that has been imbibing the neo-Calvinist idea of God.

If you don’t feel close to God, or have never experienced the love of God, or have listened to a lot of John MacArthur, John Piper and so forth (why are they all “Johns?”), may I encourage you to read this book?

A great way to do it, is to take a chapter a day, as a devotional and read it and meditate on it. Another idea would be to take a chapter a week, and read that chapter every day so you can meditate on it. There’s some wonderful truths about God, that God says of himself that have been neglected.

The title comes from Jesus’s autobiographical statement… “I am gentle and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your souls.

Sadly, this book didn’t strike me as profoundly as it did my Calvinist friends. I’m happy for them, don’t get me wrong. But, I find that these books by Calvinist authors are more difficult for me to connect with.

For this topic, I was much more blessed and encouraged by “Love – The More Excellent Way” by Chuck Smith. That book was excellent. It’s the distillation of his teaching and meditating on the love of God over fifty years. It’s far more accessible, far more practical and exponentially deeper.

Have you read either of those? What do you think? I want to know.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2022 in Book Review

 

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Book Review: “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas

Book Review: “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas

There’s always a story to how I get a book and why I read it in the first place. You might find this story interesting.

Earlier this year, I reconnected with my friend Don here in Tampa. He’s the one that introduced me to the people at “County Citizens Defending Freedom” and introduced me to “Kingstone Comics.” In all of my conversations with him, he’s been urging me to read this book. Because I currently don’t have an income, I wasn’t looking to purchase anything extra. It’s on hold at the local library with a bunch of people in line waiting for it.

Olivia had spring break a couple of weeks ago, and my friend Gary asked me if I would be willing to drive a car from Illinois down to Tampa for him. Olivia and I took a flight and drove his car down (and that’s a story for another time) stopping along the way to visit my family that I don’t get to see that often. We had a ball.

When we visited my cousin, Jeremy in Tennessee, he took us to his work and we got to see and sit in the fire trucks and visit the rescue squad equipment depot and also tour his church. They had a lending library and I took a couple of minutes to peruse their selection, and there near the top of a pile of books to be sorted, in this Baptist church, in a small town called Camden, was this book. They let me take it.

Mr. Metaxas is a great writer. A few years ago, I read his Bonhoeffer biography and “7 Men.” My first exposure to him, however, was a speech he gave in Ottawa at the National Prayer Breakfast. He talked about abortion. That was one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard in my life. I don’t know how Justin Trudeau survived it. He was sitting nearby. As a writer, he makes the rest of us look like we are in kindergarten. His use of a variety of words and interesting turns of phrase I find to be beautiful. His subject matter was engaging.

The basic premise is that the foundation of our country has been forgotten. He was Yale educated and never exposed to the wealth of the thoughts, ideas and even art that produced the United States. In this book, he takes the time to tell some stories that used to be told and haven’t been lately. He also exposes how the founders and their society thought about the US and why it was in their words… “exceptional.” He also gives some historical context that helps us to understand why the US was founded in the first place.

I know now why my friend Don was urging me to read it. It’s needed and necessary and very accessible.

Mr. Metaxas starts with a story of Benjamin Franklin in conversation with a citizen at the close of the Continental Congress. It’s where the line “if you can keep it” comes from. He closes with an incredible story about the Statue of Liberty from his own family’s experience. Within the book is the backstory of Paul Revere, told afresh in the midst of the backstory of Longfellow and his poem, cast in the meilleur of our educational and cultural moment. All of these stories propelled me along, causing me to finish the book faster than I anticipated.

I read the backstory of Squanto to the family over dinner. It’s too good not to tell.

But, the chapter that will leave a lasting impression on me was his recounting of the influence of George Whitfield. He argues that the US would not exist, and would have no national identity without him. I’ve read Whitefield’s biography, I’m familiar with the story. But, this was a story about the US and Whitefield was a character in that story, and to consider the impact he made is quite revelatory.

The other thing I’ll walk away with from this book is another viewing of “Amazing Grace” and the story of William Wilberforce. I haven’t read his biography yet.

Maybe, when I come across that one, I’ll have another interesting story to share. And, hopefully, by that time, my writing skills will improve!

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2022 in Book Review

 

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Book Review – “Why Liberalism Failed” by Patrick Deneen

Book Review – “Why Liberalism Failed” by Patrick Deneen

“Why Liberalism Failed” by Patrick Deneen
“Maranatha” is my one word reaction to this book.
This was a very illuminating yet troubling book.
Professor Deneen explains why there’s so much distrust by the right and anger among the left of our liberal democracies. It’s actually the fruit of the liberal democracy ideology, 500 years in the making. And there’s no fix.
It’s true, it’s been a more long lasting model than fascism and monarchy. But, it, and therefore we, are in trouble. The natural next steps are undoubtedly brutal.
Barack Obama wrote that this book “offers cogent insights into the loss of leaning and community that many in the West feel.”
Ross Douthat commented with one word: “bracing.”
I’d LOVE to talk with someone else in #Ottawa that has read this and would be willing to discuss it.
In the meantime, the road ahead is to continue to share the hope we as Christians have in the good news that sets people free. It’s also to invest in local culture making activities with households and families, encouraging self-control, industry and thick community ties and relationships.
Character always makes the biggest difference no matter the situation. We have to give that gift to the next generation, especially our children.
Mr. Deneen, if you happen to read this, thank you. It’s my first political science book. And I’m indebted to you for expanding my thinking.

(Originally posted a while ago on my recently deleted profile on an undesirable platform.)

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2021 in Book Review

 

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