October 8, 2012

A New Post ~For Granddaddy

Posted in Blogging, Book Reviews, Books, Just Life, Theology/Christian life, Together for the Gospel at 10:14 pm by catsinboxes

Yes, Granddaddy, I did take your rebuke to heart.  It has been almost a month since I have posted, so now that I have done my school, the garlic knots are on their first rise, and I have a hot cup of chai tea, I shall write a post.

Since my last post praising all the poetic beauties of fall, the season has moved on.  It’s cold, gray and windy.  In the past week, I watched the colors on the hills fade from bright shades of red and yellow to a muted russet.  Now even the birch, which survived till the weekend with golden yellow, have lost their leaves.  The wind is blustery, and the sky more often gray and foreboding than blue.  And yes, there have even been snow flurries, but it won’t stay.  It’s October, but it seems much more like November.  It’s a season of waiting: waiting for the final leaves to fall, waiting for the snow to come, waiting for the temperature to drop enough that the snow will stay.  With that bleakness outside, I’m enjoying the coziness of a warm house, warm socks, hot cups of tea and coffee, and good books.

You might notice that I didn’t add blogging to the above list of enjoyments.  That still needs to be fitted into the schedule.  I have thought of it, usually just as I’m trying to go to sleep.  Then I have the most wonderful ideas for blogging, but the timing just isn’t conducive!   I did decide one thing though during a late night brainstorming session.  I decided that my next post would be a book review.  So now that I’ve talked about the weather and my blogging or lack thereof . . . Here is my promised book review of Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore.

Russell Moore has, in the past year, become one of my favorite theological authors.  After reading Adopted for Life, I knew that I would like to read another of his books.  I had heard of Tempted and Tried, and I thought it sounded good.  So, it was on my radar when I went to the Together for the Gospel conference.  My desire to buy it was cemented by a conversation we had over dinner during the conference.  The meal plan pioneered this year allowed for fellowship over meals, and on one such occasion, I noticed that our fellow attendee had been reading Tempted and Tried.  I asked if he was enjoying it, and he highly recommended it.  That decided it; I definitely wanted to buy the book.

So it was bought, and I started reading it on the drive home.  Then life imposed, followed quickly by summer at camp.  Still, I persevered.  I brought it to camp.  I read it in moments during counselor training, I read it in quarter-hour segments sitting in the ministry center, I read it at the slingshot range despite the ministrations of MANY mosquitoes, and -my personal favorite- I read it sitting on the ground, my back against a massive oak tree, keeping one eye on the vacant slip n’slide.  (The slip n’slide and slingshot, though popular with some loyal campers, often suffered periods of neglect when other things such as the waterfront, archery or air rifles beckoned.  Thus a faithful book was very appreciated!)  My book does show some signs of this summer, the edges on the cover are slightly dividing, no doubt in protest after coming in contact with mist from the slip n’slide hose.

Within its pages, another thing marks this particular book as special.  While I had annotated before, it was with this book that I discovered the joy of highlighters.  And so, flipping through the book, you will find many phrases marked with highlighting in addition to pen and pencil marks, underlines, and notes jotted in the margins.

This was a wonderful book to read and to read slowly.  It is a book that I will certainly read again.  Moore is extremely readable yet deeply theological in his examination of temptation in Christian life and how Christ encountered and triumphed over temptation in the wilderness.  He begins by defining temptation and highlighting the significance of Christ’s temptation.  Throughout the book, Moore points to how Christ was fulfilling the Old Testament and shows how the strands of Old Testament history are evident and crucially important to understanding the wilderness temptations.  Here’s a sample of what I mean:

Jesus as the new humanity went to the same testing ground as his and our ancestors. . . . As he stood where Adam stood, he reclaimed what Adam lost.  The first Adam was tested in the God-blessed garden and fell.  The second Adam was tested in the God-cursed desert, and won.  (pg. 41)

Not only is this book theological though, it is intensely practical in making Christians aware that temptation isn’t something out there, something that might come along.  Rather, as Christians:

The issue isn’t whether you’re tempted, but whether you’re aware of it and striking back. (pg. 59)

Russell Moore is very aware of the spiritual warfare that is involved in living the Christian life.  His book is a wake up call, a call to courage, a call to be ready for battle.  There is so much depth to this book.  As Moore examines each of the ways Satan tempted Christ, he goes to the root of ‘why’ each temptation mattered and what the significance was in the temptation.  Not only that, he points to the fact that such temptations are still used today against God’s people.

This was an excellent read and one that I have found myself referring back to throughout the summer and into the fall.  You may have heard someone lament their sadness once a book is finished.  I enjoy books, but I don’t often feel that sense of loss.  Yet I did upon finishing this book.  It was so good, so solid, so perceptive, and so rooted in the truth.  If you have not read Tempted and Tried, I highly recommend it.  This is one book that you will not regret reading.

Postscript:  The garlic knots which were rising are now sitting next to me, the three survivors of dinner that is, and the cup of chai tea is long gone.  I do love to write, but I write over a period of time.  I do wish I could have fit this post into the time it took some garlic knots to rise!