Jackson, The Last Season

If you want to blame someone for the current NBA stars loading up on each other’s teams in hopes of winning championships, you’ve got to look at the 2003/04 Lakers who signed up Gary Payton and Karl Malone for a championship run with their already superstar tandem of Shaq O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, coached by the greatest manager of superstars that we’ve ever seen!

Phil Jackson’s book The Last Season: A Team in Search of its Soul is a diary sort of story telling that he recorded during the season. It’s really interesting because it gives you a look behind the scenes and shows you the back story behind the whole season.

The most boring parts of the book are the playoffs where Jackson goes over every single game in detail. If you read this, it means you saw those games. And if we wanted to re-live them, we could -we don’t need to read about it.

For the most part, though, it was a super fun Kobe bashing session. If only he had been willing to run the triangle offense and feed it into Shaq…they’d have 9 rings by now and Lebron would have taken his talents to Huntington Beach.

Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

Read this classic by Lesslie Newbigin for a few reasons. Many of the authors I like to read quote him, I was going to be preaching on the topic and, I made a book club with some friends to read it together.

It’s a stellar book, but it is really really wordy. It’s not an easy read, or a quick read. To recover afterwards I have only been reading the back side of cereal boxes.

Here’s a few earth shattering lines:

  • p.8/9 “Reason does not operate in a vacuum. The power of a human mind to think rationally is only developed in a tradition which itself depends on the experience of previous generations.”
  • p.10, “When coercion of any kind is used in the interests of the Christian message, the message itself is corrupted…We must affirm the gospel as truth, universal truth…but we negate the gospel if we deny the freedom in which alone it can be truly believed.”
  • p.47, “innovation can only be responsibly accepted from those who are already masters of the tradition, skilled practitioners of whom it could be said both that the tradition dwells fully in them and that they dwell fully in the tradition; and …that one alleged new fact, or even a number of new facts, does not suffice to discredit an established paradigm. That can only happen when a new and more compelling paradigm is offered, a vision of reality which commends itself by its beauty, rationality, and comprehensiveness.”
  • p.87, “God’s purpose of salvation is not that we should be taken out of history and related to him in some way which bypasses the specificities and particularities of history. His purpose is that in and through history there should be brought into being that which is symbolized in the vision with which the Bible ends – the Holy City into which all the glory of the nations will finally be gathered.”
  • p.155, “The famous watchword ‘The Evangelization of the World in This Generation’ was a typical example of this aggressive imperialism. It is inappropriate for today’s world.”
  • p.199, quoting Alasdair MacIntyre’s  After Virtue, “So the questions ‘How shall I behave?’ is only to be answered by asking the more basic question, ‘What kind of a community do I want to share in?'”
  • p.224, “The question of power is inescapable. Whatever their pretensions, schools teach children to believe something and not something else. There is no ‘secular’ neutrality. Christians cannot evade the responsibility which a democratic society gives to every citizen to seek access to the levers of power. But the issue has never confronted the Church in this way before; we are in a radically new situation and cannot dream either of a Constantinian authority or of a pre-Constantinian innocence.”
  • p.225, “‘No one,’ [Jesus] said, ‘takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord'”

There’s also some full sections which I just loved, but I couldn’t spend all night typing these up, so, if you like reading really difficult books, pick it up for yourself!

Younger, Judges/Ruth

Over the past two months I gave teachings at The Grove on the book of Ruth. I like to share what books and commentaries helped me and might help someone else someday in the future.

K. Lawson Younger Jr. is a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and contributed the volume on Judges and Ruth for the NIV Application Commentary Series. This is always a favorite series of mine because of it’s practical focus and applications to contemporary life. It may not be the most academic of commentaries, but it is really useful for people who preach or teach. I was really happy that the book treated Ruth well and didn’t just see it as an add-on after the book of Judges. Yet, there wasn’t much that I didn’t find in other texts and I didn’t find the application sections particularly inspirational. So this was an acceptable book, but not as helpful as other volumes in the series.

Hubbard, The Book of Ruth

Over the past two months I gave teachings at The Grove on the book of Ruth. I like to share what books and commentaries helped me and might help someone else someday in the future.

The actual book of Ruth takes up about 3 pages in your Bible.  Robert L. Hubbard Jr’s New International Commentary on the Old Testament on The Book of Ruth is over 300. That should give you some idea as to the depth and detail found in this book. It’s almost like you need a little bit of Hebrew in order to understand it, as Hubbard just throws Hebrew words into the text as if everyone gets it. It’s a great commentary for details and exegeting the actual text. There’s not much that will make it into a sermon, but it will help you to know that your sermon is true to the text.