14 Dec 2016

Book Review: The Songs of Jesus, by Tim Keller, with Kathy Keller

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Joel is a member of CTPC and is currently serving as deacon of spiritual growth.

Stocking Stuffer for 2016

2016 was not a big reading year for me. But I did want to give a shout-out to one book that might make a great stocking stuffer for someone you know. The Songs of Jesus, by Tim Keller, with Kathy Keller

In the past, I have not been a big fan of daily devotionals, partly because:

  1. It can be difficult to get any depth out of a short bible reading each day
  2. Often you’re getting more of the author’s thoughts than the bible
  3. Using them can lead to “check-the-boxism”; making our bible study like taking our morning vitamins or any other task that we do once and then don’t have to worry about for the rest of the day.

But lately, I have changed my mind! In reading through The Songs of Jesus, I discovered that

  1. I need to work on meditation more, and reading small amounts of scripture each day has given me new insights into God’s heart that I wouldn’t have ordinarily gained
  2. A well-written devotional points the reader back to scripture, leaving you in awe and wonder of God’s word, not the author’s comments
  3. There is an opposite, but also dangerous phenomenon associated with bible study: the “wow-i-haven’t-opened-a-bible-in-a-monthism”. Daily devotionals can be a tool to help build good study habits and make spiritual time a regular part of your schedule.

My favorite part of this book is how Dr. Keller takes even rather abstruse passages and still shows how these psalms point to the Gospel and can move our hearts to know God’s love. For instance, take a quick trip through Psalm 131 and see if you feel God’s love for you more. Of that Psalm, Keller says:

There can be an inordinate desire for greatness and accomplishment (verse 1). (…) This self-seeking creates great restlessness and discontent — but the psalmist has left all that behind. A nursing child, held by its mother, is highly aware of the milk she can offer and will squirm and cry if denied. A child who has been “weaned” (verse 2), however, and no longer nurses, is content just to be with its mother, enjoying her closeness and love without wanting anything else. We so often approach God only for what he can give, rather than simply to rest in his presence. Do that now, through the Word and prayer, in Jesus’s name.

There can be a lot of difficulties in reading through the psalms, and this book addresses many of them. Often the psalms can seem repetitive; the Kellers’ book finds profound nuances in each psalm, and then each entry ends with a prayer, expanding upon the themes of the passage. Parts of the Psalms can also seem contradictory to God’s love or even offensive, but these issues are addressed in this book as well. I hope this book can be as valuable for others in our church community as it has been for myself.

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