Published during: May 2012

Catherine the Great

Robert K. Massie’s massive one-volume life of the greatest empress of Russia took me the better part of a month to work my way through, coming at it as I did: in small chunks each evening. I came at it nearly every evening, though, because the story and the characters in it were fascinating – often larger than life in their dramas and dalliances and decisions. Read on, intrepid explorer →

Firebrand Preaching: A Call for Exultation and Exhortation

Martyn Lloyd-Jones once famously defined preaching as “logic on fire.” I am afraid that in most churches, the preaching is more like logic in tepid bathwater, or emotional claptrap on fire. Neither is particularly helpful.

In the church circles I frequent, preachers have the logic part down. I might have a quibble here or there with an interpretive point, but these are quibbles and matters of personal taste. These pastors recognize the importance of truth and labor to communicate that truth to the congregation. Praise God for pastors who care that their congregations apprehend the truths of Scripture, and who care that the men and women in the seats walk away with some idea of how to put God’s commands into practice.

In my experience, though, the other half of Lloyd-Jones’ equation often goes missing. Read on, intrepid explorer →

I’ve been reading a lot of books. I’ve been posting not so many book reviews. This, I hope, will change in the near(ish) future. My changed schedule will make an enormous difference on that front.

Our faces bear the marks of the way we have lived – a point made well by Matt Anderson in Earthen Vessels, and which even Wordsworth knew. Something worth keeping in mind as we live: even our faces will show (or not) our love of God and man.

But we are often pressed by heavy laws, And often, glad no more, We wear a face of joy, because We have been glad of yore

—”The Fountain: A Conversation,” William Wordsworth, Selected Poems

Church Behind the Wire

Barnabas Mam knows the love of God. That’s it, plain and simple.

Of course, there is more to it: the story of the Cambodian church in the years of the Killing Fields and the refugee era that followed is complex and sometimes horrifying. Nonetheless, that single theme comes through: Barnabas Mam knew the love of God in the most frightening, dangerous situations imaginable. That love in turn empowered him to pour out his life for his fellow Cambodians, that they, too, might know the power of the gospel. Read on, intrepid explorer →

Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, Vol. VI

A few weeks ago, I finished up Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, Vol. VI, which includes The Club of Queer Trades, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, an early and unfinished manuscript of The Ball and the Cross, and The Man Who Was Thursday.

The four novels could hardly be more different in terms of content, but they each bear the distinctly Chestertonian stamps of wit, social commentary, and religious reflection. But more on that after an overview of the wild variations this collection contains. Read on, intrepid explorer →

The central point of this drama is the God who shows favor, the God who walked with many of my brothers and sisters through the valley of the shadow of death and led them to a different destination from mine. They are now in His presence. They do not need the hope or the faith of which my story speaks. That’s because, when all is gone, God remains—and what we’ll see of Him most clearly in that day is His love.

—Barnabas Mam with Kitty Murray, Church Behind the Wire