A Few Quick Reads

This blog hasn’t been very active these days, but I haven’t quit altogether. I’ve just been otherwise engaged. I hope to get back to it more consistently. Here are a few quick reads I’ve enjoyed recently and thought you might enjoy as well:

Gifted Hands — This autobiography of neurosurgeon Ben Carson is an easy an inspiring read. Carson was a kid from Detroit who faced obstacles (including poverty, learning challenges, and a single mom) to eventually become one of the premier neurologists in the world. The book is filled with allusions to Carson’s faith (he’s a Seventh Day Adventist and apparently born again). I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you haven’t read it, you should.

J. C. Ryle — I read this accessible biography in preparation for a lecture I gave on Ryle’s life, the beginning of TCBC’s summer study of his classic book Holiness. (I hope to convert the notes to a blog post soon.) I’ve long been an admirer of Ryle as a writer, but I didn’t know him as a person. This book changed that, and he’s become one of my favorite Christian leaders of the past. He was so normalSpurgeon overwhelms me (as I mention here); but Ryle inspires me. He was a small church pastor, a writer of small pamphlets and books (who certainly would blog today), and eventually a church-planting Bishop. I love the man. If you enjoy Ryle’s writings (and you should), you really need to read this.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People — I mark the day’s date at the beginning of every chapter I read, at least of non-fiction books. So this book has mocked me for years. I’ve read the first chapter multiple times, but then petered out over the next few chapters. “Quick” it is not. However, I’m finally getting through it, in part because I’m hedging against the possibility that finishing books on effectiveness might be the hidden 8th habit of highly effective people. I’ve profited from Covey’s insights on leadership and management. Plus, it’s just a book a reasonably informed person in the 21st century should probably know. And now I do. Time will tell if it makes me more effective…

Something happens when churches praySomething Happens When Christians Pray — This is a book that’s been on my shelf for years, but I’ve never read. It’s an extremely easy read (140 small pages, which I read in a couple hours Saturday), but it’s really insightful and inspiring. It’s not sensational, like many books on prayer. It’s just practical, pastoral exposition and application of passages that relate to prayer. I commend it to you. You’ll have to buy it used, and the cover is an 80’s atrocity, but you can find it here.

The Life and Diary of David Brainerd — This classic by Jonathan Edwards is another that doesn’t fit the “quick read” category. But it’s in my reading queue, for the most part because my friend and co-worker Joe Tyrpak is studying Brainerd as part of his doctoral work (he’s working on a D. Min. from SBTS) and I’d like to be able to fellowship with him on the topic. Looking forward to it!


6 Responses

  1. Covey’s “7 Habits” is hardly a book for Christians. There have been some good critical reviews in the past. By the way, he wrote a book called “The 8th Habit,” so you will have to opt for Habit #9. :>D

  2. It’s certainly accurate that 7H isn’t a Christian book. But I wouldn’t make a blanket statement that it’s not for Christians. There’s some common grace and common sense in the book. I’d just encourage people to read it (and everything) with their biblical filter in place.

  3. FWIW, Covey is a Mormon. I haven’t read the book, but read some comments by secular critics when the book was all the rage in the business world. As I recall, some thought they discerned Covey’s Mormon ideas in the book. But that could just be them…

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  4. Covey’s entire premise, by itself, is wholly unchristian. Begin with the end in mind as you decide what it is. It is post-modernism (as in you are your own truth determiner) in practice. Can you pick ideas up? Sure. I just believe that no book can tell you how to live your life better than the Bible, and no book built on premises other than the Bible can improve on it. You have to begin with the Word. Covey does not.

  5. Kevin, most of the book deals with simple business and relationship strategies. Covey doesn’t need me to defend him, and I’m not interested in doing so. I’m aware that any non-inspired book has problems. But it is what it is: an influential book on personal management with some helpful tips on being intentional about your schedule, balancing relationships and productivity, setting goals (which is the gist of the end from the beginning), etc. It’s not a theology book, nor am I endorsing it as such. It’s not a ministry how-to book. It’s a book on leadership, with both meat and bones. Read with discernment. Or don’t, if you choose, which is fine. Grace to you.

  6. If you enjoyed Gifted Hands, you might also like to look for The Gift of Pain, a book written by a doctor who worked with leprosy patients (one of the effects of leprosy is the loss of the sensation of pain). This book was significant in my life in that the author helped me articulate how pain is not something to be despised in a Christian’s life. It is very thought provoking in light of the trials of this world.

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