#26 Every Thought Captive by Richard Pratt, 1979.

#27 The Renascence by Bob O’Rear, 2018.

The next two books are written by men I know. The first is a professor that I sat under for three classes. One for credit, and two as an auditor. When Richard Pratt speaks, I like to show up. He has a way of making the things of God explosive to my mind–going to places I’ve never thought of–often places I can’t get my head around fully. I can still remember the first class I was in of his–the one for credit. There were 14 of us. Two women and twelve men. I sat right in the middle, with one row of classmates in front of me and one row behind me. Often he would look straight at me and say, Yes? I nodded apprehensively–mostly just so he’d move on and not draw attention to my lack of getting it. He must have noticed my struggle.

I like Richard in a classroom setting. So as his book sat on my shelf all these years, I hoped that all these years of feeding my brain with the things of God and sitting under this brilliant scholar, perhaps I’d start to get it just a little bit better.

I enjoyed the book a lot. Quick. Intelligent. Biblical. Many of the Bible verses he references should be put to memory. And, of course, still over my head. It’s about defending the Christian Faith by using the Bible. I love that. Often we take our cues from non-Christians when defending our faith, and think we can’t use the Bible to defend the Bible. Who says? Human logic? I’ll take the wisdom of God over the logic of humans any day. I do wholeheartedly believe the Bible is true and reliable enough to attest to itself–yet still remains a mystery to me in many spots. Some apologists prefer to go to historical evidence, or encourage a blind leap of faith into Christendom, but Richard prefers to go to the Bible.

Here’s the thing that I love and remember most about what Richard says, we don’t want the God of the Bible to be true because we want to live independently. As C. S. Lewis said: we want to live apart from that Great Transcendent Interferer. There really are people who know the Gospel message but just prefer to reject it, and choose to live without Jesus.

I get it. I too am not a fan of most televangelists. Or the notion that if we only were to present the gospel in just the right fashion–questions like: if you were to die tonight, why should you be let into heaven?–that non-believers would embrace the Gospel of Jesus. I prefer the use of prayer and relationship to convince someone else to believe what I believe. And, of course, if the Holy Spirit is not illuminating their hearts, then all the wisdom in the world becomes foolishness to them. And for the record, I don’t think I’ve ever convinced anyone who was a non-believer to become a believer.

Most of the non-believers who I have a relationship with know what I believe. They know I trust Jesus for my eternal salvation, and seek to live in light of his holiness until I die. They know. And they could care less. They’re happy for me. And they’re especially happy that I don’t beat them in the head with my beliefs every time we are together. I’ll let Jesus take care of that part.

But anyway.

If I had a critical critique of this wonderful book, it would be that there is not the passion to persuade a lost soul to embrace the Faith that I love. Not so sure that if a non-believer reading it, would come away wanting what Christians possess. I could be wrong.

But my next book did have that passion thing I found missing in Richard’s book. It was written by my step-brother, Buddy. He wrote a book about his own personal and intimate walk with Jesus. He wrote about being turned on to Him especially after the Walk to Emmaus. I get this. I went on the Walk to Emmaus too about the same time Buddy did, some 24 years ago and I too was turned on more to the love and lavishness of Jesus. It was one of those mountain top experiences that you never want to come off of. But it was also one that can take you to new heights in Christ, and make you realize that God is able to do immeasurably more in your own life, when you completely surrender to Him.

I think what makes Emmaus work, is they do a beautiful job of combining dying to self and experiencing beautiful communion with God and others. There at the Walk to Emmaus, the love of God is so very attractive. For me, also, it was examining parts of my life that seemed to stop me up from experiencing the flow of grace. For Buddy it was this awakening in his own faith, with Jesus saying, it’s time to get your faith out of the pew and into the world. For Buddy it was falling in love with the things of God. He gives you a list of his favorite verses and his favorite songs–and I love his favorites. I think for Buddy, he knew God in his head all his life, but the Walk to Emmaus brought it down to heart. And ever since then, all that thrills Buddy’s soul is Jesus. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.

I love that Buddy is my brother in Christ as well as my step-brother. I love also that he married Kathy–not only my sister-in-law, but one of the loveliest saints I know up close. Her gift of mercy is a beautiful thing to witness.

Wonderful book. Wonderful brother and sister.