Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Free Books for Me!

Hey, yesterday, I was given a packet of nine free books. I've been told that they come from the Southern Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Apparently, all us SBCNM pastors are getting the same packet.

I'm torn, though. On the one hand, I love free stuff, and free books are really cool.

On the other hand, the titles I have been given cause me to sigh deeply and long for heaven. Because, for one, I'm convinced that heaven will not resemble your average Christian all.

I understand that laymen have donated these books, and/or paid for them, and that is a big part of what depresses me. I mean, ask yourself: If I could put one book in the hand of every SBC pastor in my state, what would that book be?

You would likely choose a book that you thought was really important. Maybe something that you hoped would really help the men of God in the pulpit to do their job in a manner more pleasing to God. You might even take a dive off the deep end and get them a weighty tome filled with good, meaty theology.

Well, here is the list of books I got. Someone somewhere thought that the average SBC pastor would really be blessed by reading each of these. Keep that in mind. Their hearts are in the right place. Their heads...? we go:

Antology: Lessons from the ant for our own financial future by O.S. Hawkins. It's a little, mini-book of 90 pages. It looks to be an extended "object lesson" focused on observing how ants behave.

The Character of Leadership: Nine Qualities that Define Great Leaders by Jeff Iorg. I haven't dived into this yet, but I note on the back cover that the headlining "famous endorser" of this book is none other than that elder statesman of Christianity, Rick Warren. Makes me want to just charge into it.

Eternal Life Vital Signs by Calvin Partain. This one actually looks like it could be profitable. It is focused on the topic of how to discern true from false conversion, and its very first line is a quote from 2 Corinthians 13:5 ("test yourselves...") Which all makes me want to jump and shout. But the above verse is quoted from The Message "bible." So my enthusiasm takes a little hit, but I plan to read it and give it a go.

3:16 by Max Lucado. I read a Max Lucado book once, three times. Oops, no wait. I read three Max Lucado books. Wait, no, that can't be right. Well, they had three different titles, anyway, and so I was at least momentarily tricked into thinking that they were different books. I'm sure this one will be different.

The New Guidebook for Pastors by James W. Bryant and Mac Brunson. Some of the chapter titles look helpful. This seems to be something like a manual for training yourself on the job. Merely the chapter heading of "The Pastor and Finances" makes me pleasantly sleepy. I could be proved wrong, but I'm guessing there won't be a movie made about this one. And I really hope that I am proven wrong about this suspicion: but I fear the book is about how to function as the head of a non-profit religious organization, and is probably pretty light on what it means to be the sort of shepherd God approves.

The Unfinished Soul by Calvin Miller. If my loathing for modern "devotionals" is not already bad enough, here's a blurb from the back cover. The amazing thing is that this is apparently supposed to make me want to read the book: "This collection of writings...will tickle you, tease you, and teach you as you become a companion on a journey--observing the shaping of faithfulness in an unfinshed soul." Yippee!

Are You Committed? Connecting God's People to Meaningful Ministry by Jay McSwain. My examination of this tome is quite cursory, I'll admit. But I see that it is filled with many charts and diagrams and illustrations, as well as what looks like very many evaluation forms, for you to fill out and score. (Sort of like all those quizzes in the women's magazines: "Is Your Man a Romantic Hero? Have Him take our Quiz!") I confess that my initial impression is that this book is a program that you can institute at your church, very similar to the 40 Days of Purpose or the Building a Contagious Church programs. Maybe I'm wrong. I won't write it off yet.

Start Strong, Finish Strong: Prescriptions for a Lifetime of Great Health by Cooper and Cooper, M.D.s. Oh, joy! My very own book that will explain to me why health concerns demand that my taste buds never actually take pleasure in another morsel of food, ever again. And I'm certain that if I follow all their instructions to the letter, God will postpone the day of my death until He and I can come to some mutual agreement on the matter. Yippee again!!

And, last but not realize that's just a colloquialism.....

The Second Edition of Trouble With the Tulip by Frank S. Page, Ph.D. Here, at last, is a book I know I will read carefully, and the bonus is it's a book that I would never have spent my own money on, so I'm praising God's Providence!

The wise man observed that, of the making of books there is no end. I'm thinking he must've been mournfully massaging his temples when he groaned that proverb.


Rhett said...


I have a theory that the guys from Tominthebox wrote Trouble With The Tulip and tricked Page into signing his name to it.


Because there's no way man with doctorate could write something like that and be serious while doing it. It's probably the best Christian comedy ever written. Like a Monty Python version of a theological critique.

Get ready for the greatest laughs of your life!

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

I have to agree with Rhett...I found my self baffled that any man could seriously write the words he did...and mean them. O.S. Hawkins isn't that bad...I'd give his a shot...the whole Ant thing probably isn't as bad as you think. Its' probably actually really good. Dr. Russell Moore, the dean of the school of theology, has done a sermon called, "What we can learn from Ants?" Based on a particular proverb and it was really good., and biblical, and theological. Don't give up on Hawkins just bc the title is stupid.

C.T. Lillies said...

So whats the replacement list? If these titles are so bad (and it appears that they are) which nine books would you give to every pastor in a particular state?

Reformed Renegade said...

I only recognized one of those authors and that's only cuz his name appeared on a blog I was reading the other day. I looked him up on the 'net - I wasn't impressed.
You could use these to prop up your bookcase that's full of good stuff, no?

Gordan Runyan said...

CT Lillies, I didn't say they were bad books: I gave my first impressions of them, without having read them. I think I made that clear.

But from the titles and authors, can you see any that you think would provide the battle-weary pastor with spiritual weapons? Do you see bountiful meals of meat and wine, milk and honey? Any that would inspire the man of God to thunder from the pulpit, or to pray ferociously for revival?

I honestly don't.

You asked for a replacement list, one that I would send if I could. Here is what immediately springs to mind:

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

"The Holy Spirit" by John Owen

Anything by AW Tozer, but especially The Pursuit of God and The Holiness of God

Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

Maybe a single-volume systematic theology by someone generally respected in whatever denomination. I'm thinking in particular of Grudem's. (Thanks again, Rhett, by the way.)

"The Law, the Gospel, and the Modern Christian" edited by W. Strickland

"Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching" featuring Piper, Mohler, Sproul, Duncan, MacArthur, et al.

"Morning and Evening" by CH Spurgeon, if you MUST send a devotional...

The latest edition of "The Kingdom of the Cults"

"How Shall We Then Live" by F. Schaeffer

Anything from James R. White, but especially his books on Catholicism, KJV Onlyism, and "The God Who Justifies" and "The Potter's Freedom"

That's eleven, not nine, but for my money, any one of those I've listed would immediately lay more coals on the pastor's fire than all the ones I got put together. (Not that I'm not thankful...)

C.T. Lillies said...

Good list.

I see Mama taught you good manners. Smile and be thankful. Its kind of like that time you got a box of underwear for Christmas...

Gordan Runyan said...

I'm well-practiced...still get underwear for Christmas, but usually with a Dallas Cowboys star, so I'm okay with it.