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Tim Challies

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30 Minute Reviews

I receive far more books than I could ever read and review. Even when I toss the ones that are very obviously not worth anyone’s time, a lot remain that I would like to read but simply cannot; this is especially true now that I am preaching and teaching a fair bit, meaning that more of my reading must be directed in specific directions. What I have been trying to do lately is select the ones that look good and get as much as I can from them in just 30 minutes. And here is the result: a few 30-minute reviews:

Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History by Diana Lynn Severance. “From commoner to queen, the women in this book embraced the freedom and the power of the Gospel in making their unique contributions to the unfolding of history. Wherever possible, the women here speak for themselves, from their letters, diaries or published works. The true story of women in Christian history inspires, challenges and demonstrates the grace of God producing much fruit throughout time.” From Blandina and Perpetua all the way to Edith Schaeffer and Joni Eareckson Tada, this book spans the history of the church, showing how godly women have contributed to the Christian faith. Carolyn McCulley has a good overview of the book at her blog.

The Heavens: Intimate Moments With Your Majestic God by Kevin Hartnett. This is a devotional book written by NASA’s Deputy Science Operations Manager for the Hubble Space Telescope. According to the publisher, “The Heavens provides a unique and extraordinary opportunity to soar above the distractions and burdens of life as one meets with, and worships the Creator of the universe.  Over 100 fascinating devotions with stunning images, insightful and Biblical commentary, stirring poetry, and perfectly chosen scriptures are integrated around clearly presented topics in astronomy.  A toolbox and jewel box combined, The Heavens both equips and inspires the soul to know and love God.” I posted a sample devotional here: The Heavens Declare. This book makes a sound devotional for anyone who finds his eyes drawn to the night skies.

Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity and the Things We’ve Made Up by Francis Chan. This is Francis Chan’s book-length response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins. Though it weighs in at around 200 pages, it is actually not a very long book (there are quite a few pages of notes, excerpts from other books, and so on). Eminently readable, it does quite a good job of responding to Bell and it does so in a similar style of writing and with similar passion. It comes endorsed by Randy Alcorn, Joni Eareckson Tada and others. It is worth noting that while Francis Chan did the writing, Preston Sprinkle served as a co-author and he is the one largely responsible for the theology. You may like to read Randy Alcorn’s thoughts on the book.

Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith by Matthew Lee Anderson. This is a book about our bodies and why they matter. That’s rather a niche topic, but a surprisingly important one in our time and in our culture. Here is what the publisher says: “Our bodies matter. Christians today sometimes forget this, dangerously ignoring the importance of their physical selves when it comes to technology, sexuality, worship, and even death. Anderson’s book will help readers learn what the Bible says about our bodies and grow to appreciate the importance of embodiment in our spiritual lives. It will also explore generational differences when it comes to how we perceive and use our bodies. Just as Christ’s body was crucial to our salvation, our own bodies are an important part of the complete Christian life.” Anderson is a fantastic writer and makes the book a joy to read. Reading quickly I found myself struggling to keep up with a guy who is obviously really, really smart, and that’s why this is a 30-minute review instead of a full one. I had hoped to read the entire book, but in the end just didn’t have the time to read as slowly and deliberately as I would have needed to in order to really keep up with him.