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2019 in Reading, and Next Year (Reformed Theology Study)

December 19, 2019 4 comments

As 2019 comes to a close, here is a look back at my 2019 reading list, which included many books—yet with some updates (omissions and additions).  This previous post reviewed my 2018 reading and the 2019 plan.  The ending total for 2019 is 35 books, not the 37 originally listed; and that with several updates.  Still, I ended up reading 28 books on that list (one, Charles Spurgeon’s Life in Christ Vol 2: Lessons from Our Lord’s Miracles and Parables is still in progress, nearing the end).

Along the way, I discovered some great books, with interesting thoughts or facts, as well as a few disappointments, but overall good reading and studies.  Michael Horton’s Rediscovering the Holy Spirit was disappointing, as noted in this post   — the only book I did not complete.  Based on that finding I removed one additional Horton book from the list (A Book About Suffering, A Place for Weakness: Preparing Yourself for Suffering); I may get to it in a few years, but it’s a lower priority now.

Here are posts that reference several books from this year’s reading list:

As in previous years, I found that adding audio books, including new available selections from the Christian Audio monthly offerings, imcreased the quantity of books.  Among the Christian Audio selections added, I especially liked Fire Road Fire Road: the Napalm girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace, the free monthly offer for September of this year.

Next year, my reading and study plan is a little different.  Instead of trying to follow the Challies yearly plan with a large number and variety of books, I’ll continue reading from the books already on my to-read list, along with a focus on more classic and Reformed (Reformation and Puritan era) reading.  One major addition is a calendar year schedule to read through the Westminster Standards and the other major Reformed Confessions (Three Forms of Unity, the Savoy Confession, and the 1689 Confession and the Baptist Catechism).  Alongside the Confessions and Catechisms, the following commentaries, most with online text available (some from Monergism.com), should also prove helpful:

The above may take more than one year, and though the Westminster Confession reading follows a neat ‘calendar year reading’ which the related commentaries can fit to, I’m not yet sure where to fit the Three Forms of Unity reading – in some type of parallel with the Westminster Confession, or just sequentially reading through each of the documents along with the associated commentaries.

I’ve added a few other interesting Reformed works, and hope to get to at least several of these in 2020:

As 2019 nears the end, let us enjoy the Christmas holiday and have a Happy New Year.

A Merry Christmas quote, from Charles Spurgeon:

Celebrate your Savior’s birth. Do not be ashamed to be glad—you have a right to be happy. Solomon says, “Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God now accepts your works. Let your garments be always white and let your head lack no ointment.”—

“Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less.”

Remember that your Master ate butter and honey. Go your way, rejoice tomorrow, but, in your feasting, think of the Man in Bethlehem—let Him have a place in your hearts, give Him the glory, think of the virgin who conceived Him—but think, most of all, of the Man born, the Child given! I finish by again saying— “A HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!”

The Challies Reading Challenge: 2018 Recap and the 2019 Plan

December 27, 2018 Leave a comment

Another year is ending — and the 2018 Challies Reading Challenge.  Last year’s year-end post is available here.  The 2019 Challies Christian Reading Challenge is now available, so it’s also time to compile next year’s reading list.

As with last year, I picked from many of the categories but skipping around, and completed more than 26 but fewer than 52 books; the range of 35 to 40 books per year works well.  During the year my actual reading list changed, as new books became available (and other books postponed into next year). So for 2019, my current plan/list is tentative, based again on the availability of books in various formats — Kindle sale deals, free monthly audio books from ChristianAudio.com,  free books from Logos’ free monthly offers, plus several hard-copy books (paperback and hardback) from free used books as well as several I’ve won from ReformedResources (Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals) offers.  I’ve also searched online for possible free books to fit a few of the Challies’ plan reading categories, and included these in my tentative 2019 reading plan.

Here, the links to posts about the books I read in 2018, in chronological order:

The 2019 reading list (so far) does not have as many audio books (just four so far – from Sermon Audio, Librivox, and Christian Audio free monthly offers); I may add from classic titles available from Librivox, or any future monthly offers from ChristianAudio.com.  Here, from several categories of the 2019 Challies Christian Reading Challenge, is my 2019 reading plan:

Planned for 2019:

 

 

Spurgeon: Reading, and Bible Reading Importance

May 29, 2015 3 comments

In my ongoing chronological reading through Spurgeon sermons, near the end of 1863 comes a sermon  which includes a great quote I recognized – from its inclusion in some free audio recordings of classic Christian books:

Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted; he who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own! Brothers and Sisters, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritan writers, and expositions of the Bible.

The full sermon references Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:13, Bring the cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come—and the books, but especially the parchments.”  Spurgeon here notes some interesting points that I had not considered: we do not know what these books were (and books were few and rare in ancient times, unlike our world after the invention of the Printing Press), yet:

Even an apostle must read. He is Inspired, and yet he needs books! He has been preaching for at least 30 years, and yet he needs books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he needs books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he needs books! He had been caught up into the Third Heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he needs books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he needs books!

The apostle here is also not ashamed to confess that he reads books. He has no secrets to keep from young Timothy, and tells Timothy about his books. Paul needs books, and is not ashamed to tell Timothy that he does; and Timothy may go and tell Tychicus and Titus if he likes—Paul does not care.

Furthermore, Paul is in prison, yet here shows himself as industrious. He cannot work a trade, and he cannot preach – so he will read. He is in prison; he cannot preach—what will he do? As he can-not preach, he will read! As we read of the fishermen of old and their boats, the fishermen were out of them. What were they doing? Mending their nets! So if Providence has laid you upon a sick bed, and you cannot teach your class—if you cannot be working for God in public, mend your nets by reading! If one occupation is taken from you, take another, and let the books of the Apostle read you a lesson of industry.  

Especially the parchments: possibly these were scripture parchments, or even some of Paul’s own parchments, his epistles we know as part of the inspired canon of scripture. Here again, great words from Spurgeon affirming the importance of reading the Bible:

 Now, it must be, “Especially the parchments” with all our reading; let it be especially the Bible. Do you attach no weight to this advice? This advice is more needed in England now than almost at any other time, for the number of persons who read the Bible, I believe, is becoming smaller every day. … the Book, the good old Book, the Divine Fountainhead from which all Revelation wells up—this is too often left! You may go to human puddles until you forsake the clear crystal stream which flows from the Throne of God. Read the books, by all means, but especially the parchments! Search human literature, if you will, but especially stand fast by that Book which is Infallible, the Revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!