5 Quotes Worth Sharing from “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee


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In Go Set a Watchman, we return along with Jean Louise “Scout” Finch to Maycomb, Alabama. But we, like Scout, discover all is not as we left it when we last were there.

Mini-review:

Time has changed Maycomb, and Scout isn’t so sure she likes what she finds. The reader, too, will be challenged by the change and forced to wrestle with uncomfortable realities. To Kill A Mockingbird has become our culture’s parable of the evils of systemic racism and the honor, nobility, and goodness of one man’s quixotic stand against that system in the name of justice. But can we and can Scout still love the man who steps out of that parable and into our real, flawed, and broken world?

A heavy, heartbreaking, and raw read that asks us to take a look at ourselves and honestly assess what we see.

4 stars out of 5.

Here are five quotes to give you a taste of Scout’s return to Maycomb.

1. Scout wrestles with doubt

…How can they devoutly believe everything they hear in church and then say the things they do and listen to the things they hear without throwing up? I thought I was a Christian but I’m not. I’m something else and I don’t know what (167).

2. Blindness as a major theme for Scout.

Blind, that’s what I am. I never opened my eyes. I never thought to look into people’s hearts, I looked only in their faces (181).

3. Scout’s esoteric uncle on the perils of big government.

The only thing I’m afraid of about this country is that its government will someday become so monstrous that the smallest person in it will be trampled underfoot, and then it wouldn’t be worth living in (198).

4. Atticus and Jean Louise at odds.

JL: Don’t you give me any more double-talk! You’re a nice, sweet, old gentleman, and I’ll never believe a word you say to me again. I despise you and everything you stand for.
A: Well, I love you (253).

5. A man’s conscience is his watchman.

Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience (264-5).

 

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10 Quotes Worth Sharing from “Preaching” by Tim Keller


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Tim Keller’s Preaching is another home-run. While perhaps not as life-changing or spectacular as Prayer, this volume is filled with insights and wisdom from cover to cover. The chapter on “Preaching and the (Late) Modern Mind” and the bibliography of the best other books on preaching are each worth the price of the book alone! 

And you don’t need to be a preacher to read it. “This book,” says Keller in the introduction, “aims to be a resource for all those who communicate their Christian faith in any way” (p. 4).

Here are ten quotes to give you a taste of Keller’s manifesto on preaching.

1. The Holy Spirit is critical in preaching

…while the difference between a bad sermon and a good sermon is mainly the responsibility of the preacher, the difference between good preaching and great preaching lies mainly in the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the listener as well as the preacher (11).

2. True and effective preaching must center on Christ.

To preach the text truly and the gospel every time, to engage the culture and reach the heart, to cooperate with the Spirit’s mission in the world—we must preach Christ from all of Scripture (23).

3. To leave Christ out of a sermon is to not finish the task of preaching.

Every time you expound a Bible text, you are not finished unless you demonstrate how it shows us that we cannot save ourselves and that only Jesus can (48).

4. You cannot preach the gospel without preaching Christ.

To preach the gospel every time is to preach Christ every time, from every passage (57).

(sensing a theme, here?)

5. Culture shapes us more than we would care to admit.

It is a mistake to think that faithful believers in our time are not profoundly shaped by the narratives of modernity. We certainly are, and so when you unveil these narratives and interact with them in the ordinary course of preaching the Word, you help them see where they themselves may be more influenced by their society than by the Scripture, and you give them important ways of communicating their faith to others (118).

6. We find our true selves in Christ.

The process of sanctification, of growth into the likeness of Christ, is also, then, the process of becoming the true self God created us to be (139).

7. The gospel is “the right side of history.”

Such will always be the case. The philosophies of the world will come and go, rise and fall, but the wisdom we preach—The Word of God—will still be here (156).

8. Preaching must reach and capture the heart.

What the heart most wants the mind finds reasonable, the emotions find valuable, and the will finds doable. It is all-important, then, that preaching move the heart to stop trusting and loving other things more than God….People, therefore, change not by merely changing their thinking but by changing what they love most (159-emphasis added).

9. Preaching can do so much more than just convey information.

A sermon that just informs the mind can give people things to do after they go home, but a sermon that moves the heart from loving career or acclaim or one’s own independence to loving God and his Son changes listeners on the spot (165).

10. End every sermon pointing the listeners to worship Christ

Resist ending your sermon with “live like this,” and rather end with some form of “You can’t live like this. Oh, but there’s one who did! And through faith with him you can begin to live like this too.” The change in the room will be palpable as the sermon moves from primarily being about them to being about Jesus. They will have shifted from learning to worship (179).

Book Review: “Who Am I?” by Jerry Bridges


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“The vast majority of believers do not understand what it means to be ‘in Christ’ and to find their basic identity in him.” p. 95

“Who am I?” is one of the most important questions that we can ask ourselves, not just as believers but in general as humans. How we answer this question reveals how we view ourselves, the world, and our place in that world. While we ask this question (both explicitly and implicitly) all our lives, it’s an especially relevant question for college students and other young people who are making decisions that have the potential to affect the rest of their lives based on their answer to this question.

In this short book from Cruciform Press, Jerry Bridges gives an eight part answer to this question, answering from the perspective of what it means to our identity that we as Christians are “in Christ.” You could think of this book as “Identity in Christ 101”-what are the practical effects of identifying with God? What does that say about me and my place in the world that God made me, loves me, and purchased me with his blood to be adopted into his family?

Jerry distinguishes the eight facets of our identity in eight chapters:

  1. I am a Creature
  2. I am in Christ
  3. I am Justified
  4. I am an Adopted Son of God
  5. I am a New Creation
  6. I am a Saint
  7. I am a Servant of Christ
  8. I am Not Yet Perfect

While the whole book is excellent, of special note is his treatment of what it means to be justified. I can’t think of anyone who can more clearly explain both the realities and the practical ramifications of justification like Jerry Bridges can.

There are two plays on the word justified that may help us see this more clearly. You can think of it as meaning “just as if I had never sinned”…you can also think of justified as meaning “just as if I had always obeyed.” p. 36

My one issue with the book is his discussion of “calling” in chapter seven. Bridges (admirably) tries to combat the notion that those called to full-time vocational ministry have some sort of “higher” or “better” calling than those believers who are not called to such positions. However, immediately after saying that those not in active vocational ministry are just as called to their positions in the marketplace, he says that calling to a non-ministry vocation “typically…is mostly a matter of wise judgement” (p. 81). He distinguishes this situational judgement from the method of a minister’s calling, in which there “is often present to a more marked degree a subjective element involving the person’s perception of God’s will” (Ibid.). Perhaps he is simply observing rather than giving an imperative statement and perhaps it’s more the current view of calling that many seem to hold that I’m really at odds with. Either way, this is a relatively small quibble overall.

 

In summary, if you’ve never read any of Jerry Bridges’ books before, this is an excellent distillation of and introduction to his writings. And if you’ve already read some or most of them, you’ll recognize and appreciate his distinctive, simple, and deep communicative style.

This is a book that is an invaluable resource whether you’re reading these truths for the very first time or you need to be reminded in a fresh way what these truths really mean. Highly recommended.

What do you think of Bridges’ eight-part answer to the question “Who am I?” What would you add, what would you change/modify, and what would you take out?