The pagan's bookshelf

Clear the decks, weekend reading is ON!

We are getting clipped by the icy rain that is more to our north. Our school let out an hour early, and we all scurried home.

I stopped at the Post Office and wonder of wonders, my large book order from Amazon (thanks to a reader) had come in! Is there anyone happier than a geek on a Friday afternoon, ready to hunker down for the weekend with tea and blankets and good books? By herself? Nope!

So what did I get?

1. Twelve Ordinary Men, John MacArthur. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to be perfect to do God's work. Look no further than the twelve disciples whose many weaknesses are forever preserved throughout the pages of the New Testament. Jesus chose ordinary men - fisherman, tax collectors, political zealots - and turned their weakness into strength, producing greatness from utter uselessness. MacArthur draws principles from Christ's careful, hands-on training of the original twelve disciples for today's modern disciple - you.

2. Twelve Unlikely Heroes, John MacArthur. What kind of people does God use to accomplish His work? Far from the children’s tales depicted in picture books and nursery rhymes, the men and women highlighted in the Bible were unnervingly real. They faltered. They struggled. And at times, they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes. Scripture does not hide their weaknesses, caricature their strengths, or spin their stories as a display of human nobility. Instead, it describes these heroes of the faith with unflinching honesty and delivers an unexpected ending: “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Hebrews 11:16).

3. Foxe's Book of Martyrs: For nearly two - thousand years courageous men and women have been tortured and killed because of their confessions of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This updated edition of Foxes Book of Martyrs contains stories of persecution up to 2001. Stories of heroic courage and overcoming faith. Stories of love of God and Christ. Stories of the amazing grace of God that enabled men women and children to endure persecutions and often horrible deaths.

4. God's Wisdom in Proverbs, Dan Phillips. God’s Wisdom in Proverbs is written brilliantly at a level that will challenge anyone who is interested enough in gaining wisdom and understanding to be serious in that quest. Readers will range from serious students of Scripture to casual lay readers on their way to a more serious approach to Scripture. It explains the wisdom of Proverbs (and the biblical nature of wisdom per se) in a clear, readable fashion that will be extremely helpful to everyone from students entering the academic world for the first time, to new parents seeking biblical insight into the process of child-rearing, to anyone in a position of responsibility or leadership. I recommend it for all who are tired of the superficial, self-centered themes that have filled evangelical pulpits and bookshelves for the past three decades (or more). If you are hungry for biblical material, God’s Wisdom in Proverbs will feed your appetite.”—PHIL JOHNSON, executive director, Grace to You

5. Drive By Pneumatology. Todd Friel, et al. 42 lectures. Pneumatology is the theological study of the Holy Spirit which seeks to answer who the Holy Spirit is and what His function is in the world. Drive By Pneumatology will provide a thorough, thoughtful and Biblical presentation on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. But Drive By Pneumatology goes beyond the who, what, where, when and why of the Holy Spirit and is very practical: • How do I get more of the Holy Spirit? • How can I be led by Him? • How do I get more fruit of the Holy Spirit?

6. When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin. In a small town square of a sleepy Georgia town, seven-year-old Annie sits at her lemonade stand, raising money for her own heart transplant. At a nearby store, Reese flips through the newspaper, thinking about the latest boat hes restoring. As a beat-up bread truck careens around the corner, a strong wind blows Annie's money into the road. Reese looks up in time to see Annie's yellow dress fluttering in the wind as she runs into the road. What happens next will change both of their lives forever. Richly atmospheric and evocative, with the kind of characters that move into your heart and take up residence, Charles Martins new novel will resonate with fans of God-haunted southern fiction, and with anyone who enjoys a solidly crafted, heart-touching story.

7. The Racketeer, John Grisham. Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five. Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise?

I love to read. It was my first, best, and is my most enduring joy. I learned to read early, and dove head first into books, all the time, every day. I read Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy and The Saturdays. A Wrinkle in Time and The Secret Garden. I read Little House on the Prairie books tucked inside my algebra text. It didn't fool the teacher. I read under the trees in the next door cemetery (so quiet there). I read on the school bus, in my bedroom under the eaves of the small Cape Cod house we lived in, I read at pep rallies. I read.

Even as an adult I was never without a book. I felt naked without one tucked into my purse or backpack. Heavens to Betsy, what if I was stuck at a doctor's office waiting room for a long time, with nothing to read?! That was a fate worse than death. Not something even to consider.

Even as an adult, my tastes gravitated to historical fiction but usually more often toward the non-fiction of the topic I was involved in at the time. When I ran for office and got involved in civics in my community, I read civics books. When I ran the newspaper as editor/publisher, I read journalism books. When I was getting my Master's in education, I read literacy books. (The ultimate egghead? Reading literacy books about literacy?)

When I was saved by the grace of God at age 43, my sanctifying walk took up quickly. Fiction books fast became unpalatable, due to language, themes, or immorality. Christian fiction, especially for women, is often too sentimental and badly written. Sorry to say that, but it is.

So mostly I read essays online or doctrinal books. I was excited when a friend recommended the Charles Martin books. Martin is a Christian author and his books are apparently well-written. Also, I love books by John Grisham! I enjoy stories of legal beagles and as an author he is consistent, the books are well written, and wonder of wonders, the tale is always absorbing. I thought his last book, The Litigators, was one of his best in years. But I've read all of Grisham's books and I was bereft for a long time with no good books on the horizon. So now I am excitedly I'm looking forward to a just plain good reading session this weekend.

What a great Savior, who knew that the intersection of my love to read and the inevitable disappointment at having devoured and finished a book would eventually collide. In reading the bible, God the author is consistent, the books are well written, and wonder of wonders, the tale is always absorbing. The difference here is that I can never devour and dispense with the Good Book! It always has something to say and there is always more to digest!

I haven't read these books yet, obviously, but they are by well-known credible authors and they have good reviews. I'll review them after I read them but if you're looking for some good reads, and some good texts to fill our your library bookshelf, I can say with fair amount of certainty that in these, I don't think you will be disappointed.

I plan to wrap up in a blanket, keep the teapot endlessly warmed, and crack open the Grisham right after supper. My weekend is about to begin, and as ole Si Robertson says, it's on like Donkey Kong!


  1. What a neat post. Thanks for the book suggestions. I too love to read and was graciously saved by the Lord later in life (age 38). My current favorite reads are missionary biographies. I have trouble finishing fiction books but might have to try John Grisham. I do not like profanity and most current books seem to have it on every page. Anyways, enjoy your weekend. It sounds lovely!

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I have trouble finishing fiction too but I like Grisham because there is no profanity and things are modest. Secular books are soooo trashy these days. I've read 118 pages of this new Grisham so far and it is just a plain ole good yarn. I would read more right now but my eyes are tiring every so quickly!

      I hope you have a chance to try out some of the books I mentioned. I haven't read these MacArthur books but I've read many of his others and I can vouch for his authorship and treatment of the bible. Foxe's books of Martyrs is a classic. Dan Phillips is a newcomer but credible elder Phil Johnson's review was really good. Phillips wrote one previously called The World Tilting Gospel. Enjoy your weekend as well :)

  2. Thank you for the book list. What a delightful gift!
    The giver has given to us!

  3. Gosh Elizabeth, we must be related somehow!! I have had the same experience. I've always been a reader. My husband says that my hobbies consist of reading and......Can't help it. I had a rocking chair in my room as a child and I spent many days there reading the classics and lots of Agatha Christie.
    When I was born from above(at 40) my reading choices changed as well. Now, I mostly enjoy certain authors Bible commentaries(I'm picky)and I also am a fan of Grisham. I watched an interview once and I think he is a Christian. I'm from the South so I appreciate his Southerness(is that a word??). I'm with you on Christian fiction but I will say that the Thoene's series titled " The Lion of Judah" is really good. I tend to read more things that will help me in my study of Scripture now, though. I'm working my way thru Charles Lee Feinberg's commentaries on The Minor Prophets and Ezekiel. But I am going to pick up The Litigators.
    I hate that bookstores are closing because I don't just love to read books, I really like having books. I can totally relate to your new books arriving. I want to read books not an Ipad. Their great but I'm old school. There is just something about opening a book. I even read the intro's and the preface.
    Of course, the Bible stands as my main love and my books mainly consist of the ones that will lead me into more knowledge of my merciful Saviour. And that study will never be exhausted!
    Anyway, I could go on but I know that you have a lot to read sooo.... Enjoy!!!


  4. I used to hate to read as I was growing up. When I was saved, I fell in love with God's word. This was the first time and first book I loved reading-I imbibed it.
    I realized all the years I missed out on just reading and how enjoyable it actually is(when it's a good book). Now, I can so relate to you when the weather turns inclement and look forwards to just cuddling up with my coffee and with my favorite Christian books in my warm, dry home.


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