Books Read In 2010

Below are the books I read this year.

Second in this series of crime novel based in the Tudor period. Again, lawyer Matthew Shardlake is sent to investigate a mystery by the powerful Thomas Cromwell. However this time the results of his mission may determine whether Cromwell remains Chancellor or is toppled from power. A really entertaining read and highly recommended.

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A new series from Philippa Gregory. This time, the novel is set pre-Tudor – in the times of the war between York and Lancaster Houses as they fight for the throne of England. Gregory bases the novel in much fact although her reading of what actually happened, especially to the princes in the tower, is conjecture.  This is the first of a series of novels which will follow. This was really hugely enjoyable to read.

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The Hole In Our Gospel. What Does God Expect of Us? Written by the CEO of World Vision. Here he challenges us to be both believers and doers of the word – to be active in the world showing the gospel through our money, and involvement with those in need. Much of the book revolves around his personal testimony in how God called him to World Vision.

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Gospel Powered Parenting by William Farley. Godly parenting is about modeling the gospel in the home with the goal of leading your child to Christ. See my review HERE.

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A published poet has been commissioned to create an Anthology of Poetry. He must write the introduction to the anthology. This book revolves around his inability to finish the introduction. He is procrastinating. And the author illustrates his procrastination and his wondering attention so well. There will be a section of wonderful dialogue as he explains the benefits or progress of some aspect of poetry when all of a sudden he writes “I think the dog needs a wash.”

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Second book by young and Kluck. Why We Love The Church is a useful defense of the traditional model of Church (and by traditional I mean – regular services, in a building, with programs etc.) (see larger review HERE)

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In this study of the atonement, Cole examines why there was the need for the atonement, the effects of Christ’s death and the aftermath of living post-atonement. In all of this, Cole’s underlying point is that atonement (should) bring us shalom – peace. There is no shalom with God without sacrifice. Peace is made through the blood of the cross. And ultimately the goal is God’s glory. Why did God create? Why salvation history? Why the Cross? Why a new heaven and a new earth? So that we might glorify God.

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden

A great intro to Jonathan Edwards, his life, work, ministry and writings. Marsden has a fuller biography of Edwards (Johnathan Edwards – A Life; 640 pages) but tghlyhis at 152 pages, will wet your appetite to pursue further reading of this remarkable man and theolgian.

Marsden’s writing style is easy and flowing and so wonderful for just getting immersed into the story. Highly recommended.

Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John And The praying Imagination by Eugene Petersen

I have to say that I expected more from this book. We used this as our recent men’s book club group which meets at 7am at a local cafe for breakfast. I learnt that 7am may be too early to read this book. Eugene is obviously a master with language but at times he left me in a wake of his poetic language and imagery. It was hard to follow – and when revelation is hard to follow, and the commentary commenting ON revelation is tough to follow then we are struggling.

If you are steeped in english literature, poetry and some philosophy then you might enjoy this, but otherwise I would not recommend this book.

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry by John Piper

This is really a great little book. For me this is like a personal treatise to ministers from someone who cares (that is how it reads). You can sense the passion and heart-felt conviction of Piper leap from the page as he writes on topic after topic exhorting those in the ministry to stop being ‘professional’ and start to be men of God – called ministers to the gospel of Christ and to the glorification of God. Professionalism is killing the church. Piper opens the book with “the mentality of professionalism is not the mentality of the prophet. The more professional we are the more spiritual death we leave in our wake.” Piper writes one of the best chapters on prayer I have ever read – convicting, powerful and challenging. It is a rare writer who can write such a chapter and still leave you wanting to go and pray and develop a deeper prayer life. Each chapter is short enough that this might be an excellent devotional book. Highly recommended.

The Message Of Ephesians by John Stott

Our Adult Education program this past year has studied a number of books of the Bible. One was Ephesians. We had four groups meeting each week to discuss and work through a chapter of Epheisans. It was a real blessing and a wonderful book to study. Stott’s commentary is really outstanding. It is understandable but also very thorough. Most of all, it is filled with spiritual insight and great exegesis.

I would highly recommend this commentary as both a scholarly work for preparing sermons and talks but also for devotional reading. That is the gift Stott has – reaching the scholarly level and yet readable for the layman.

God’s Passion For His Glory by John Piper

This book works on two levels. Firstly, it gives us an introduction to the life, work, passion and theology of Edwards by one of his biggest fans and advocates, John Piper. Secondly it provides us the text of Edwards great work – The End for Which God Created the World.

This is a delightful book, with much information and snippets of gold about Edwards. Highly recommended.

The Unwavering of Resolve by Steven Lawson

This is a great little book on the 70 Resolutions which Edwards began to write during his first, brief, pastorate in New York in 1722. The book examines Edward’s and the topics of holiness and spiritual disciplines from the perspective of the resolutions. Highly recommended.

There is a lot of information in the 168 pages of this book. A sweeping view of Anglican history, its development, the issues both in the past and today are all covered.

A great book for those who are interested in finding out about Anglicanism and   an excellent resource for those wanting to join an Anglican congregation. I plan to recommend it and probably use some of it for our New Members Class.

Recommended.

A great book – thorough and in-depth (800 pages). Witherington argues that we must not separate theology and ethics. He examines what he calls the individual witness in this volume, discussing Jesus, Paul, the author Hebrews, Peter and the Johannine Literature.

This book is not for the faint hearted or the impatient. While it is eminently readable, it will take some time.

Read my review HERE . Highly recommended!

A great book which highlights that need to have a theology and doctrine of church membership and discipline – and that this has to be linked to the Doctrine of God and specifically to God’s love.

This is a must read for pastors, although for some folk in the church they may struggle with it. This book blows out of the water the issue of ‘inclusive, affirming, non-confrontational love’ which is so prevalent in the church today.

Check out my review HERE

Both a fascinating and sad book. A ‘tell’ all behind the scenes of the Presidential Campaign. The authors recount stories and meetings which, if accurate, came from the staffers of the candidates. Of course, the book has no footnotes or references – but if a third of what is reported is accurate then this is a sad tale. They say there are somethings you should never reveal how they are made – maybe presidential campaigns should be added to that list! I know that no campaign for such a high office is pleasant – but having read this book, I find it sad that the democratic process of a country like the USA is so ‘primitive’.

Would not recommend this book.

McLaren’s new kind of Christianity is not Christianity. The problem with this book is that many will read it and love it, because they have locked into the notion that to even concieve of a God who demands that we change our entire life to conform to HIM is simply unreasonable. McLaren talks of a loving God; a God who accepts us as we are; who has mercy; who desires the best for us (yes, all true), all without any talk of judgment, wrath, repentance and consequences for sin.

Old, tired and inadequate liberalism dressed up for the 21st century! Sigh!

David Jackman’s little commentary series on Judges and Ruth is a great resource for preachers. Great comment on the text, and good exposition which allows the reader to think about applying the passage in biblical and practical ways. I used this recently for our adult education series on Ruth, and Jackman’s insights were very helpful.

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This is a follow up to James Bryan Smith’s book ‘The Good and Beautiful God’ (which I have not read.) In fact, these books make up a curriculum which Smith developed at the encouragement of Dallas Willard. This particular book is a spiritual formation / disciplines book. This is a tough market to compete in when you have Richard Foster and Don Whitney’s books as established classics. But this is a book which can be used as a group (with discussion questions and activities to be done during the week) or individually. There is much wisdom in this book. I found his insights in the chapter about lying particularly helpful and I will be using some of that chapter in our church. Recommended.

For Beckwith we need to hold a balance in respect to politics. Politics is not everything, but neither is it nothing. It has its place. That is why Christians need to be informed of the laws and statutes of our land and discerning as to when they need to or should get involved.

I think this is a valuable book for those seriously interested in politics. It has some wonderful insights, simply lays out the various areas of study in politics and succinctly discusses the major issues. Finally, it points you to further study.

Recommended.

Evangelism requires words, but as the authors point out, words can be cheap. No, evangelism, interaction with people, requires more than words – it requires a commitment to get involved. It requires an investment of time, energy and compassion. It requires the willingness not just to open a can of worms, but to help be involved in its clearing up. It involves learning to get into friendships with people for the long haul.

If the church exhibited more of the characteristic of friendship at the margins we would have a revolution on our hands. It will also shake up our schedules. Recommended.

Cordeiro has produced a book that should be on the book shelf of every seminary student and pastor. Knowing how to manage yourself and the demands of ministry is so important. Knowing what God has called you to do and to live intentionally in that calling; willing to delegate and assign tasks that others can do and when to take time out, and away, to be with the God and to seek him. What are your priorities in the limited hours of a day and how you must make time for family and yourself.

Wayne Cordeiro knows first hand what happens when you lead on empty!

Highly Recommended.

Stott is a scholar of the highest order and his commentaries are first class. Yet what makes them different is that all of Stott’s commentaries can be used as devotional tools, and this is very useful. Technical Commentaries are great and needed (and I have many) but when preparing for Bible Studies where there is lots of engagement, Stott’s commentaries are invaluable. Mixed in with the scholarship is the heart of a preacher / evangelist and this gives the commentary real practical teeth. To spend a month or so going through Acts with this commentary by your side would be a wonderful devotional study.

Highly Recommended.

The first serious biography of John Stott since Timothy Dudley-Smith’s comprehensive two volume work. Roger Steer has done a good job in revealing to us Stott.  Of course, this is one volume and so the events are truncated and the major events of Stott’s life and ministry and not developed as fully as they might have been if there was more space. One of the draw backs of the size of the book is that some of the transitions are a little too abrupt, causing you to reluctantly move on, but leaving you wishing for some more inofrmation.

Over all a good biography which I enjoyed.

This is a wonderful biography of Churchill. It is well written, full of information and brings out Churchill the man and Politian very well. At only 160 pages it is a great way to get into this giant of a man.

This is a great little book. At only 85 pages this should take you an hour to read – but it will be a profitable hour. Despite it’s size, this packs a heavy punch theologically, giving the reader a straight forward, and yet in-depth, biblical understanding, of death, what happens when we die, what happens at the resurrection, what happens at the final judgement and what happens in heaven.

This book should be bought in bulk by pastors so that they can always have a copy handy to give to parishioners who are facing illness, or have family facing illness. We need to be confronted with a biblical theology of death and this does it. Highly Recommended.

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Very basic, biblical theology encased with stories and illustrations. Maybe too simple for some.

A must read and a great asset for teaching doctrine. This is also a wonderful gift for the lay person in Church who wants to have a substantial understanding of the major doctrines of Christianity. Highly Recommended.

Packer and Parrett argue for the benefits of using a catechism. Having layed out the Bible foundations for catechism they go on to describe the why’s and the benefits of catechism, as well as resources for churches. I did not think the book lived up to the expectation.

Reflections on the church and ministry by a true patriarch of the Church. With 60 or so years of faithful service to Christ and ministry within the Church of England, we should really be listening to what John Stott says.

For me this book throws down a challenge to the scientific and academic world. The challenge is – “Please – engage with New Atheism, and it’s claims vigorously. Make Dawkin, Harris and Hitchin’s defend their position. Compare it with scientists who accept intelligent design as well as the claims and teachings of Christianity and then make your mind up. Please, let’s have an open, fair, deep and impartial examination.”

As the authors suggest, if this were to happen, this will mean that for the first time new atheists will have to defend their position rather than merely taking skeptical shots at christianity.

This book is a wonderful resource on Spiritual Formation and should be used by Pastors and Church Leaders as a foundation for building their own theology of Spiritual Formation and then as a launch pad for teaching their congregations to do likewise.

A challenge to the church to start thinking about unity, especially on a personal and local level.

The work of the Church is not possible with JUST a resurrected Christ – the Church, we, NEED the Ascended Christ to minister, for without the ascended Christ we would not have the Spirit. His unpacking of this is excellent.

This is more than a biography of Lewis – it analysis his work in relation to his life. If you are Lewis fan, of course it is a must read.

This is Stott’s last book and it is classic Stott!

This is really one of the best introductions to the what scripture is and how we are to interpret it. It does a wonderful job of giving you the tools to do exegesis and hermeneutics in laymens language. Should be used by churches for lay ministry training.

Solid expositions on Penal Substitution.

A wonderful novel. The author builds a complex, fascinating world of angelology and fallen angels (Nephilim) and the continued battle. Well worth reading, IMHO! My fuller review is HERE

Quite simply a brilliant book. All Christians need to read this. See my fuller review HERE

I am reading a lot of Catholic Theology / Material at the moment. This was the first I picked up. An interesting and basic defense of catholic theology and practice from the scriptures. This gives you a good basics in catholic belief.

This is Tom Rachman’s first novel. And it’s quite a debut! Set around the lives of those who work for an International Newspaper based in Rome, Italy, every other chapter tackles the life of one of the main characters. The other chapters tell the story of how the newspaper begin back in the 60′s. Rachman’s characters are complex and largely very well written. Each character faces challenges, issues, problems in their personal and professional life – issues and problems which are not resolved. The writing is good and fun. Towards the end of the book I was a little jaded. You had just got into a character when the chapter ends and a new one begins. The final chapter does draw the pieces together somewhat with a ‘what happened to them..’ outline. Overall this was a great vacation read.

A great book – read my  review HERE

Semi biographical / examination of the contemplative pilgrimage. The book revolves around a sabbatical she and her husband took which involved a pilgrimage through Spain on the Camino, walking 20 miles a day. Read larger review HERE

Meyers book is filled with valuable advice for ministers to find the brakes of their train and regain perspective, perspective about God and the real things of ministry. Recommended.

This is also an important book. The study of Christian Spirituality in Church History in one volume is a great resource. Tracing the various forms and practices of spiritual life in the major epochs of the Christian Church is eye opening

A surprisingly good novel. A catholic, Chinese bishop has been in jail in China for decades. His life is one of regular torture and solitary confinement. In Rome, the Pope wants the Chinese bishop released covertly. Using a former Naval Seal and other former CIA people an operation is planned to go in and get the chinese bishop out. But the Pope dies before the operation begins. They have only the time it takes for a new Pope to be chosen to complete the operation. A fun, well written novel.

Another ‘church’ book by Thom Rainer (and co-authored by Ed Stetzer). Very disappointing. Lots of old material in this book. Nothing new. Nothing that has not already been analyzed and published by Mike Riddell, Gerard Kelly and others. My church in London was following these practices in the early 90′s in the UK.

As a minister, read this book. The hardest part of this book will be the conflict between the freedom you will experience as you read and the realization that you MUST, MUST put it into practice, NOW.

Highly Recommended.

This was my night-time reading with my 7 year old son. Although just beginning 2nd grade, Sam has a reading level of a 4th grader and we read through this wonderful. short biography of John Newton.

We must not confuse busyness with spiritual growth. Far from it. Busyness may be preventing us from growing and leading us to a place where our identity is consumed with what we do, not with who we are. Fil Anderson has written a book which should be a warning to ministers not to immerse themselves into their work but to immerse themselves into Christ and prayer. Two many confuse the two with disastrous consequences.

Another book which my 7 year old and I read together. This is a good book, if not a little biased. I need to do some correction while reading it with Sam. It says it has a reading age of 9 years old. Sam is two or three grades ahead with his reading but even so, I think it was still a little older than that. But an enjoyable read still.

See my review HERE

The third time I have read this book. We studied for our Men’s Breakfast Book Club. As powerful as ever and a great reminder about the power of grace!

See my review HERE

See me review HERE

See my review HERE

A fascinating look at the history and theology of the Catholic Mass.

This was September’s bed time reading for my 7-year-old son. While there are a number of (minor) inaccuracies and some poetic license the over all life and impact of Charles Spurgeon is clearly stated in this book. Fun.

Inspiring book. Read my review HERE

Read review HERE

Read my review HERE

C.S. Lewis says that you have not read a book, or begun to understand it until you have read it twice at least. This is true with this book. First time round I thought OK. This time round it’s a WOW book. Massively challenging. Read it!!

Great book on prayer – read review HERE

Read my review HERE

 

Read my review HERE
Read my review HERE
See my review HERE

Read my review HERE
A great book to read – check out my review HERE

Great book!

A fantastic and accessible study in Romans.

Read my review HERE

I have become fascinated with Winston Churchill and the Second World War. The more you read the more you realize just how perilously close we were to losing the war. Max Hastings has written a great book on Churchill. It’s large, but easy to read, well put together and simply fascinating. Worth the time!!

This is the book I have been reading my son at bed time. It’s part of the Christian Heroes series. It is a great intro to William Booth and how the Salvation Army started – it is also inspiring how Booth combined gospel evangelism with practical help for the poor.

Books Read In December

Great book!

A fantastic and accessible study in Romans.
Read my review HERE

I have become fascinated with Winston Churchill and the Second World War. The more you read the more you realize just how perilously close we were to losing the war. Max Hastings has written a great book on Churchill. It’s large, but easy to read, well put together and simply fascinating. Worth the time!!

This is the book I have been reading my son at bed time. It’s part of the Christian Heroes series. It is a great intro to William Booth and how the Salvation Army started – it is also inspiring how Booth combined gospel evangelism with practical help for the poor.

The Accidental Anglican: The Surprising Appeal of the Liturgical Church by Todd D. Hunter

Todd Hunter has been on an unlikely journey. From being an apprentice of John Wimber and the Vineyard Movement to heading up USA Alpha, it would appear somewhat strange that Todd is now an Anglican Bishop. This book is how that journey happened. I resonated with Todd Hunter’s journey into Anglicanism and ordained ministry. While I am not a bishop, I come from a free evangelical charismatic church background and now I am an ordained Anglican Priest in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

Todd shares how he began to move into a more liturgical setting and the process by which he came to be ‘ordained’ within the anglican episcopacy. He writes in an easy, relaxed, humorous and honest manner. He shares about those anglicans who have impacted and shaped him such as J I Packer, John Stott and Tom Wright as well as sharing what he likes about anglicanism .

At a 140 pages this is a short book, and to be honest I pondered what purpose it might have other than being a very short biographical snap shot of Todd’s life. However, as I thought about it I came to realize that this book serves as a valuable introduction to Anglicanism for those from strong ‘non’ liturgical backgrounds. Todd has not become ‘Anglican’ or left behind his roots, or repudiated his past – he is who God has matured him to be and as a servant of God, God has led him into a place of ministry with anglicanism and this has grown in him an appreciation of the anglican tradition.

This will give many who are unfamiliar with the anglican church a wonderful and accessible introduction.

Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) by Douglas Moo

The past eight months in our Men’s Bible Study group has been spent in the book of Romans. Tomorrow we tackle chp 16 and we will then move onto 1 Corinthians. There are countless commentaries on Romans. In the process of preparing I have found Douglas Moo’s book Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey so helpful. While this is not a verse by verse commentary on the epistle it is as good as a lot of commentaries out there. Of course Moo has written one of the best commentaries on Roman’s in the New International Commentary series. However, while Moo’s commentary may be too technical for some, this book (still weighing in at 214 pages) is a fine and accessible treatment of this epistle. It balances textual information with cultural historical background all in an easy and straight forward way.

Highly recommended.

Defending Constantine: The Twilight Of An Empire and the Dawn Of Christendom by Peter Leithart

Constantine, his ‘alleged’ conversion to Christianity and his rule as a Christian, or at least pro-Christian emperor has been a source of debate for a long time. There are many who see Constantine as a shrewd political operator who used Christianity as a way of solidifying his support and rule of the empire. There are others who think that he had a real experience of God and that he straddled the Christian faith, holding onto much of his paganism but also adopting some Christian practices. Still others (of which I am one) see the question of whether Constantine was a convert to Christianity as up for debate, but that the effects of Constantine’s rule – the legalization of Christianity, and it’s elevation to the State religion of Rome as having a negative effect on the Church both in the 4th century and continuing to today.

Peter Leithart’s book Defending Constantine is a superb addition to this debate. Leithart vigorously defends (maybe too much) Constantine, answering the critics and at the same time seeking to show that Constantine was a positive and indeed vital addition to the history and development of the Church. Leithart reminds the critics of Constantine that they must assess him in light of the fact that lived in the fourth century and the decisions and actions he took have to be seen in light of that context. The bottom line is that for Leithart, the Church fared well under Constantine and that those critics who have attacked Constantine have simply got it wrong and have misread major church figures like Eusebius and Augustine.

Leithart does not engage with some important scholars, such as Alistair Kee (Constantine Verses Christ) who argues that Constantine’s intervention in the church was not because of his Christian commitment but because the unity of the empire was at risk and John Eadie (The Conversion of Constantine), who argues that Constantine was trying to appease the Christian God and not necessarily worship him, which can be seen in the dualism that Constantine showed by banning private divination (punishable by death) and yet public divination was encouraged in the temples.

However, this book is a wonderful read – informative, challenging, well argued and very enjoyable.

Highly recommended.

The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God by Timothy G. Gombis

People tend to think that verse-by-verse expositional commentaries are always the best type of commentaries. However most commentaries are about scholars speaking to other scholars and while they have a place, they are not always accessible to everyone.

Some of the very best ‘commentaries’ are ones that deal with the broad brush strokes and themes of a book – giving you the whole picture. Timothy Gombis’ book The Drama of Ephesians does just that which makes it a very valuable commentary on Ephesians.

What Gombis does so well is to broaden our perspective to include both the earthly and spiritual message of Ephesians. He looks at the cosmic battle and the role of the Christian / Church as we live both in the here and now and yet also in the light of what is yet to come, the eternal kingdom of Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not some wild charismatic polemic about the demonic world but solid biblical insight about the realities of what the church in Ephesus faced and what the church is faced with today. This book does a GREAT job of bringing this book into the present and how it relates to us today. Although very accessible, make no mistake – this is high scholarship presented in a very readable way. It is obvious Gombis spent much time immersed in this letter.

I wish more books like this are being written on the biblical books – we need them.

Very Highly recommended.