Tag Archives: Tim Keller

More Books for the Soul

-“When Jesus comes back everything sad will become untrue.”  From Tim Keller’s book, The King’s Cross

Books that Fed my Soul

I tried to read a book per week last year. I didn’t quite make it. But along the way I discovered some real gems. In fact, I didn’t want to finish some of them. I wanted to make them a friend, a steady companion… and I’m sure that I’ll get back to a couple of them for a re-read.

Last week I submitted three books that touched my soul. And I promised to tell you about three more books that fed my soul.

Actually, there were several. So I will make this a contest that I will refer to as “The Caldys.” The Caldy goes to my favorite book of a genre.

The second runner up is…  The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything by Fred Sanders

Have you ever known something, I mean really understood it in your heart, but found yourself unable to explain it or put it into words? That’s how I felt about the doctrine of the Trinity after I read the Bible the first few times. That is to say, I got it, but I couldn’t explain what it was that I got.

How the Trinity Changes Everything is “readable,” and by that I mean it’s not so heavy that you have labor in order to soak in a “deep thing of God.” I liked this book because Sanders strips away all that might be intimidating or theologically technical. He brought my focus to the triune God, and he inspired my wonder and awe in who God is. Reading this book I experienced the beauty of the Trinity.

As stated in the introduction, “this book shows us why we ought to embrace the doctrine of the Trinity wholeheartedly…”  Sanders notes that, “The good news of the gospel is that God has opened up the dynamics of the triune life and given us a share in that fellowship”. You will see in this book how the harmony of the trinity is the harmony of the gospel. There is community, tranquility, and relationship.

My first runner up is …The King’s Cross – The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus  by Tim Keller

Too often I read books that are targeted at the Christian audience and find that after the first two or three chapters, the thesis and best parts of the book are well in hand. From there I can read the last couple of paragraphs in each chapter and be good-to-go. What I love about this offering from Keller (and his other books) is that chapters remain salient to the purpose of the book, and every bit as valuable, and fresh, as the first chapters.

In King’s Cross Keller takes the life of Christ, as told by Mark in the Gospel of Mark and walks us through its major themes. In a clear and simple exegesis, Tim Keller unpacks the Gospel of Mark and offers the reader both a valuable lite-commentary and a hefty devotional work (it’s two, two, two things at once).  That’s it! It’s a devotional commentary.
This is Tim Keller doing what he does best, he is reasoning with skeptics and teaching the faithful. I loved this book because it just made so much sense. Here’s a guy that will make you want to be a better Christian for all of the right reasons. Here is a sample: Continue reading More Books for the Soul

Barbershop Theology – a lesson from a hot check

Barbershop Theology

I have attended college. I have attended four of them. I learned a lot at college. I have degrees that suggest, “Hey, this guy learned.” But I can never replace the lessons I learned as the shoe-shine boy in my dad’s barbershop.

Hundreds of people came through Caldwell’s Barber Shop over the years.  Between public school and the barber shop I received an education in Apache, Oklahoma. Here’s another story that has helped me understand a little more about the world, myself, and the truth to live by.

Salesmen and “Simpletons”

A unique sub-set of folks that came through Apache viewed us locals as rubes or hayseeds. I was always entertained when some of the locals would oblige the stereotype. They did it purposefully. Most of the people that visited our fair small town were gracious, winsome, and very kind. A few of them were condescending (a few salesmen) they “shore was high themselves.”

As a boy, I was maybe ten or eleven years old, I could be easily impressed by a smooth presentation and a new gizmo with an interesting name. The old timers who loitered in Dad’s barbershop weren’t so easily moved. My job was to observe from the sideline as the pitchman worked the crowd and then watch as one of the locals morphed into Gomer Pyle. Continue reading Barbershop Theology – a lesson from a hot check

Stories Written in Blood

by Josh Bottomly

Not long ago my wife, Amy, posted a picture of my night stand on her blog.

It was a picture of the books propped up on my stand.

From left to right.

Tim Keller’s The Reason for God.

Abraham Heschel’s God in Search of Man.

C.S. Lewis’s Quotables.

Eugene Petersons translation of the Bible, The Message.

And, N.T. Wright’s Matthew for Everyone.

An anonymous blogger saw this picture and posed this question directly to me (and indirectly to all Christians):

Why do so many Christians just read Christian books?

My first mental response was of course immature, arrogant, condescending, and reactionary:

How dare you try and pigeonhole!  I peruse the Fiction and Literature section at Barnes and Noble more frequently than I do the Spiritual Devotion section.

I have a undergraduate and graduate degree in English literature.

You name a classic or contemporary author, and I’ll bet I have studied him or her.  Shakespeare.  Check.  O’ Connor.  Check.  Camus.  Check.  Kerouac.  Check.

But later, after I had calmed down, I sat down to think a bit about that anonymous person’s question.  It’s an appropriate question, really.  And it was probably not meant to stir up conflict. But conversation.

So after some reflection, this is how I responded to this blogger.

Simply put: I’m interested in reading any story that is written in blood.

Take East of Eden by John Steinbeck, for example. Now that’s a book written in blood. Who of us hasn’t felt an acute sense of displacement? It’s not that we are living in the wrong place; just the wrong way. Or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.  I’ve got a son now and the thought of dying for Silas – not a iota of fear. But the thought of Silas having to live beyond my dying love – nothing but fear.

Any story then that struggles with what it means to be human, what it means to walk upright in a bent world, what it means to live within tensions and questions and doubts – that’s a story I want to read and participate in because it is written in the author’s blood. Whether it is written by a Christian. Or agnostic. Or atheist. Or Buddhist. Or Muslim.  Because all truth is God’s truth.  And part of the theology of common grace includes the animating belief that when we tell the truth about our experience of being human, regardless of our “worldview” or religious belief system, somehow, in some mysterious way, a “gleam of the evengelium”, as J.R.R. Tolkien argued, shines through.

J.R.R. Tolkein, smoking his famous pipe.

So I pose this contagion of questions for you to ponder – Christian or not:

What books have you read that are written in blood?

What stories have spoken and resonated with your deepest humanity?

What narratives have shaped the way you understand the narrative we live in?

No doubt, I’m always looking for a good read. And by good, I mean a story where the author simply has the courage as Fredrick Buechner puts it,  to “open a vein.”