I Like Books!

Actually, I love books, so this week I’m going to write about three of them that have interested me lately. I recently was given a book I’d never heard of by an author I’d never heard of. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan, a California pastor, is creating quite a buzz. At least it is in my church. Several people have seen me carrying the book around and stopped me to comment on how great it is. And they’re right. The author writes challenging stuff regarding how we think and how we should be thinking. He seems to really frown upon the whole “lukewarm Christian” thing. As another plus, Chan’s chapters move pretty fast, and I like their clever titles (my favorite is chapter seven “Your Best Life…Later”). I’m actually only about half way through this book, but I highly recommend it.

Martyrdom from Exegesis in Hippolytus: An Early Church Presbyter’s Commentary on Daniel by W. Brian Shelton is a nice book for several demographic groups. Pastors, theologians, ancient historians (note: I mean historians of ancient times, not historians who are really old), students of such pursuits, missionaries, and serious minded Sunday School teachers will find interesting stuff here. Hippolytus was a preacher during one of the Roman persecutions of Christians. He wrote the oldest biblical commentary we know of to help his people respond to their circumstances. Hippolytus drew parallels between what was happening to the Christians in his generation and the persecution of Daniel and other righteous Jews as described in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Dr. Shelton does a good job of making this ancient writer/preacher come alive for the modern scholar/teacher.

Finally, and most self-servingly, there’s Ask the Professor: Advice for Christmas Break by Timothy D. Holder and Jason R. Edwards. It’s the second in a series of books putting a humorous spin on legitimate, practical advice for college students from the points of view of two professors. Based on the feedback I’ve gotten so far, Dr. Edwards and I seem to be figuring out what we’re doing. People like the humor even better in the second book than they did in the first. My co-author was a little leery of this most recent project, trying to come up with a book’s worth of advice for a time in the student’s life that lasts just three to four weeks. But I figured that the books are kind of small anyways, and, hey, how often does a publisher actually ask me to write a book and not the other way around? For those of you keeping score, it has happened to me twice—and the number of pitches I’ve made to publishers that were unsuccessful could be described as really high.

So there you have it, dear reader, three good ideas for Christmas, or at least two good ideas for Christmas and one book that I was very happy to help write.