The title above, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…And Day,” refers to the days, like today, that follow Christmas. The thing most wanted during the holiday rush, from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, is a time of rest and reflection. There are moments and hints of rest and reflection along the way, but they are usually just that, moments. We have Christmas concerts and programs to prepare for and attend, Advent sermons and worship services, gift buying, decorating, and many other things to rush about taking care of. All that would be fine if the rest of life could come to a halt, but December is also the time for semester tests. So the pace accelerates, with only occasional slow-ups. To a large degree, at least for a school teacher, the whole frantic pace comes to a sudden stop on the evening of Christmas day. Evenings and mornings on the days ahead will be, I hope, a time of slow, quiet, unrushed enjoyment.
Last night, I enjoyed watching “The Homecoming.” It is a yearly event for me. I not only watch the movie, but I read the book. (This was the subject of my last post on my former blog, and it can be read here.)
This morning, I resumed reading two books, complemented with coffee. As I have often said and blogged, I need a book that is primarily prying into my soul and another that works the mind. In the best of books, each pattern occurs. I am given information and knowledge, but am also stirred and convicted.
Here are the two current reads:
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Peterson was originally written in 1980. I recently picked up a copy of the 20th Anniversary Edition, which came out 20 years and a hundred thousand copies later. This book is a series of studies, probably originally sermons, on the Psalms of Ascent. This means Psalms 120-134. They were usually recited by pilgrims on their way up, hence ascent, to Jerusalem. These Psalms are short, memorizable, varied as to content, and immensely connected to all the joys, troubles, travails, encouragements, and steps along the way of faith. We are all on spiritual journeys. Hopefully, we are all on journeys of ascent. These Psalms are much needed by the church and are needed by individual Christians for praying, meditating, and applying. This book is what I use to start my morning reading.
Preaching: A Biblical Theology is by Jason C. Meyer and is published by Crossway Books. I should certainly hope Pastor Meyer has a Biblical theology of preaching because he is occupying the pulpit of Bethlehem Baptist Church which was formerly held by John Piper. Piper wrote the foreword to this book, so he approves the man. This is a serious and weighty study of preaching. The man needing some easy numbered steps to facilitate sermon prep will find little here to help. Meyer devotes a large portion of the book to a survey of the role of God’s servants and ministers of the Word in the Bible. Meyer makes, repeats, and applies three points throughout the book. He states, “My thesis is that the ministry of the word in Scripture is stewarding and heralding God’s word in such a way that people encounter God through his word.” Note the three points: Stewardship, Heralding, and Encountering. This book is both mind-provoking and heart-convicting. I will be reviewing it in more detail later, but for now, I will have to be content with reeling in conviction. I should also point out that a large section of the book focuses upon expository preaching.
Any Christian could profit from reading Eugene Peterson’s book. Meyer’s book is directed toward preachers in the pulpit and in training (and those of the former category should also be in the latter. The strong coffee that accelerates the mental processes is your choice.