Book Review: Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom

Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to FreedomSteal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom by Matt Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book focuses on Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson. Spurgeon was the well known pastor in London and Johnson was an African-American born into slavery in Virginia and lived as a slave for 28 years until finding freedom at the end of the Civil War. Johnson was saved when Jesus found him on the plantation. He went on to become a preacher and pastor. He longed to go to Africa as a missionary and ended up studying at Spurgeon’s Pastors College before he went to Cameroon.

The book focuses on these two men leading up to their eventual meeting and the friendship between them thereafter. Johnson was a friend and counselor whose experience as a slave helped Spurgeon in facing his own bondage of physical sickness and paralyzing depression. It’s a side of Spurgeon you probably knew existed, but it’s not typically the focus of any treatment of his life.

I found the book fascinating and appreciated the authors’ work in producing it. It is a work of narrative non-fiction. The authors took the various pieces of history of these two men and put them together in a narrative rather than an academic listing of names, places, and dates. Such an approach requires creativity to connect the dots at times. Every small detail may not be exactly right, but the work produced is readable and informative.

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Book Review: Ten P’s in a Pod: The Million-Mile Journal of a Homeschool Family

Ten P's in a Pod: The Million-Mile Journal of a Home School FamilyTen P’s in a Pod: The Million-Mile Journal of a Home School Family by Arnold Pent III
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We did this as a read aloud. It is a fun read with various stories about the Pent family. The theology is not always the best.

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Review: Newton on the Christian Life: To Live is Christ

Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Theologians on the Christian Life)Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ by Tony Reinke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tony Reinke has combed through the letters of John Newton and sifted out many of his words pertaining to the Christian life. Newton excelled at distilling practical wisdom for daily living. His counsels are personal and helpful. Reinke does point out a couple of areas of deficiency in his writings. I think those deficiencies and Newton’s advice in a couple of other areas show he was somewhat affected with pietism, though he also denounced and warned against legalism. None of that should hinder anyone from benefiting from this book.

The author has arranged Newton’s counsels in different chapters that touch on various aspects of Christian life on earth. He gives us much on overcoming sin and temptation, viewing trials, and battling self, which Newton viewed as the greatest enemy. Reinke also acknowledges different aspects of life he didn’t have space to deal with, but the book is a real blessing.

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Review: Education of a Wandering Man

Education of a Wandering ManEducation of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fascinating read. This is L’Amour’s autobiographical memoir of his life. He focuses on his wandering travels and the books he read all along the way. I have never read anything by L’Amour, nor did I know much about him. If you’re a reader or a writer, you will enjoy and learn from this book. You will probably like it also if you are a fan of L’Amour’s novels.

By many ways of measuring, he had a full life. He would argue that his life was richer still for the books he read and the people he met that told of him people, places, and events he could never know otherwise. Some books he names only. Some books he comments on. He also scattered nuggets about living life, reading, writing, and learning throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and picked up some good recommendations.

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Preacher Biography

The life of Arthur W. Pink is a most interesting study. Ian Murray’s book is probably the definitive work on Pink though a few other books exist that have merit.

You might call his life a rise and fall. Through his preaching and writing, his popularity grew, but so did his opposition and detractors. When the door of public preaching finally closed to him, he poured all of his energies into his writing. Ironically, his writing is why we know who he was today. He also has more recognition and fame after his death than he did during his life.

Pink was exemplary in his discipline and study. He felt it was his job and that he should go about it as the farmer or banker to their tasks. His long hours and much study did cost him in the terms of fits of illness that sidelined him for periods of time. Once recovered, he would be right back at his work.

The last chapter of his life is a rather dark one. He sought seclusion in Scotland and seems to have had little personal interaction, fellowship, or relationships. His writing in those years is often characterized by a harsh tone and cynicism. This is especially seen in his correspondence of those later years.

This is a new edition of Murray’s biography that is expanded to include new material he did not have when he wrote the first one. It is certainly worth reading. Pink is a model in some ways and a warning in some others. I am thankful though, for I have certainly profited from his writing.

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