Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, an Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. (NavPress,2004)—As I prepared to read this book, I noticed the warning on the rear cover, “Overload is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice.” Ouch. Well, it did hurt to read, but it felt good to embrace these Biblical and sensible truths from this medical doctor who knows his subject from personal experience. From diagnosis and treatment of the problem, to practical helps for overloaded people, I found this book to be one of the most valuable I have read this year. In fact, I have incorporated many of his thoughts into my own life, recognizing that I have suffered from the disease of overload and now tasting the joys of margin. I have not arrived. But I have read the book through, without interruption, and at least scanned it again for this review. Next goal: read it again. That will be the measure of margin indeed. Get the book before vacation. Come back truly refreshed.
Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan by Del Quentin Wilber (Henry Holt and Company, 2011)—If you like the fast-paced, gripping way that the television show “24” unfolds, you will like this book. I could not put it down. This takes you behind the scenes with one who was there and whose actions and quick thinking likely saved the life of the 40th president of the United States. This book also reveals the courage and character of President Reagan in a new way. It is no wonder that Americans embraced this son of the Midwest the way we did. It is no wonder we grieved and honored him in such a remarkable way when he passed from this life. I have personally read many Reagan books. This one is different. This one moves—on many levels. Get it, find a comfortable chair, some good coffee or iced tea, settle in for the morning or afternoon and hop on a historical ride you won’t soon forget.
Faith on Trial: Psalm 73 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, with an Introduction by Kevin DeYoung (Christian Focus, 2011)—While I was ill, during the spring, and forced to take medical leave to focus on healing with prayer, rest, and doctors’ help (and the loving care of my wife and son), I had the happy opportunity to spend time with “the Doctor.” As all Welsh Christians know, and now a great number of the Christian world that has read this former surgeon who descended to a small village pastorate and was raised to the great pulpit of Westminster Chapel, London, “the Doctor” is Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). This particular series of expositions on Psalm 73 at Westminster Chapel has brought help and healing to many. Dr. Lloyd-Jones uses this divinely inspired text, the experience of a believing man who has gone through faith and doubt (not unbelieving doubt, but the doubt that comes from theodicy, and the great questions of God’s goodness, His sovereignty, and yet the pain and heartache of the faithful and the seeming blessing on the ungodly) and back to faith again, but now an informed faith, a renewed faith. I found that as I journeyed through this Psalm and I clung to these words “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” At the end of all my questions and in the midst of all of my trials in this life, I can only do what Lloyd-Jones said of these verses in Psalm 73:25-26:
“Here, in view of all his experience, he can do nothing but give himself to the worship and adoration of God.”
To come to this place is do what my son told me, as we talked about these things, “Dad, I don’t have answers, but I do have peace.” That is where the Psalmist ended up too. That is where we all want to go.