Books of 2009 thus far…

Posted: July 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

Here is an annotated list of books I’ve read this year.  Feel free to share anything you’ve read this year that has blown your skirt up.

1. The History of the World John M. Roberts (2003):  More than 1200 pages of history many focusing on agriculture…makes you want to snap up a copy this afternoon doesn’t it!

2. The Gospel According to John D.A. Carson (1991): I used this to help me teach through the Gospel of John this past Spring.  It is well worth your time regardless of where you are on the theological spectrum.

3. John: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament Andreas Kostenberger (2004): Used this as well.  Good but really an updated Carson.  Not too surprising as Dr. Kostenberger earned his Ph.D. at TEDS where Carson teaches.

4. Systematic Theology Wayne Grudem (1995) I began blogging through this massive work last Fall and finished in early Spring.  While I often disagree with Dr. Grudem, I was blessed to have worked through it and was pleased to meet him a few weeks ago. 

5. Finally Alive John Piper (2009).  If you check the footnotes to Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis, Bell recommends that we all read everything Piper has written and with good reason.  Whether you are reformed or not, Piper’s passion for God’s glory radiates from every page.  This is true for this work as well, which deals with the doctrine of rebirth.  One Piper thought I gleaned from the book that is worth wrestling with, good works not done in the name of Jesus are actually harmful because they convey the misleading message that “we can do this on our own.”  Thoughts?

6. Humility C.J. Mahaney (2005): The title tells you all you need to know.  How does C.J. recommend that we remain humble? Live in the constant shadow of the cross.  I certainly agree in theory but can he answer fellow Reformed pastor Matt Chandler’s question as to why so many Calvinists who claim to live in that shadow are still so arrogant?

7. Crazy Love Francis Chan (2008). Just go read it.  Read it right now!  Download every sermon by Francis, grab the audio version of this book for free over at and check out the small group material connected with the book.   Awesome stuff! The line that haunted me from Crazy Love is “Our lives should not make sense to unbelievers.”

8. Total Church Tim Chester and Steve Timmis (2008): In a nutshell, church is not a place you go to but a life and a mission.  Recommended.

9. James (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Craig Blomberg (2008): I used this to teach a short series on James to a men’s Bible study last Spring.  I also had commentaries by Moo and L.T. Johnson but this is the one I went through page-by-page.  While I personally think that James is a chiasm and Bloomberg doesn’t, I still highly recommend this work.

10. History of the American People Paul Johnson (1999): Read everything Johnson writes and begin here!  Its worth the 900 pages.

11. The Future of Justification John Piper (2007): Piper’s response to the work of N.T. Wright.  Important debate and not just for academics.

12. Justification N.T. Wright (2009): Wright’s response to Piper’s response! I have read nearly everything Wright has written and this may be his most clearly articulated work.  Both Piper and Wright are required reading for every pastor.

13-16. The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (1950) , Prince Caspian (1951) , The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952) and The Silver Chair  (1953) C.S. Lewis:  I’ve been reading through the Chronicles of Narnia with my 6-year old son and we are having a blast.  His favorite characters is Reepicheep the Mouse.

17. Made to Stick Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2007): What makes a story stick in the mind of a hearer? The Heaths believe it depends on: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories.  Notice it spells s-u-c-c-e-s.

18. All of Grace Charles Spurgeon (2009 edition): Spurgeon’s plea for the reader’s salvation.  As with Piper, one cannot help but to be moved by Spurgeon’s great passion for salvation to the glory of God.

19. Tactics: A Game plan for Discussing Your Christian ConvictionsGreg Koukl (2009):  A good (and short) read.  The subtitle says it all. Recommended.

20. The God Who Smokes Timothy Stoner (2008):  Somewhat autobiographical, Stoner is an attorney and former missionary who lives in Grand Rapids.  If there is A focus to the book it is that Stoner is attracted to many facets of the Christianity he sees at places like Mars Hill Bible Church (where Rob Bell teaches) but is also bothered by what he believes is an oversimplified view of the faith taught by many (but not all) emerging leaders.  Stoner stresses that the God who is “reconciling all things” and “is love” is also the one who paradoxically rains fire upon Sodom, goes before the Israelites into Canaan to fight and strikes members of the early church dead for their misdeeds.  Thus, a God who “smokes.”

21. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God J.I. Packer (2009 ed.): Why evangelize if “salvation belongs to the Lord”?  Packer unapologetically states that it is simply a mystery that is some how resolved in the mind of God. 

22. If God Already Knows, Why Pray?  Douglas Kelly (2005).  Disappointing. 

23. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Donald Whitney (1997 ed.):  Helpful but dated.

24. On Church Leadership Mark Driscoll (2008): Like all of Driscoll’s work it is beneficial but dry.

25. Two Views on Women in Leadership James Beck, Ed. (2005 ed.).  Very helpful.  It was a wonderful guide for Revolution during its study on where to end up on the issue. 

26. Beyond Reasonable Doubt T. Scott Wimble (2008).  A collection of arguments for the egalitarian position.  Some of the arguments are great, some are good and some are so-so.  Still worth looking at.

27. The Challenge of Jesus N.T. Wright (2000): After reading Justification I went back and re-read this Wright masterpiece.  A very good intro to his work.

28. The Blue Parakeet Scot McKnight (2008): Why are Bible believing Christians so divided over their “plain reading of Scripture”?  McKnight offers a few insightful thoughts on the subject.  Recommended.  In fact, I’ve given copies away.

29. Love is an Orientation Andrew Marin (2009):   Challenging work by an evangelical that has been working hard to build a bridge to the GLBT community.  Props to Scot McKnight for recommending it.

30. Rejesus Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch (2009): Read everything these two men have written and it wouldn’t hurt to start here.  These two missioligists call for the church to truly forsake all for the pearl of great price.  Great work.

31.  10 Books that Screwed up the World and 5 that didn’t Help Benjamin Wilker (2008): Good indictment of the secular left executed by analyzing one terrible book at a time.

32. The Mission of God Christopher Wright (2006): Brilliant!  As Rob Bell stated at Poets, Prophets and Preachers, how you begin the story and how you end the story determines the story you are telling.  Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read this book and find out.

33. Wall and Piece Banksy (2007):  Bell recommended this book of guerilla street art to demonstrate the radical nature of the prophets’ “sermons” (i.e., Ezekiel on his side cooking over dung?).  Interesting.

34. Elegy on a Toy Piano Dean Young (2005): Collection of poetry assigned for the Poets, Prophets and Preacher’s Conference.  I’m not a big poetry fan but it wasn’t all bad.

35. Skirmishes Dobby Gibson (2009): Another collection of poetry.  Not as high on this one.

36. Flickering Pixels Shane Hipps (2009):  Cameron Strang of Relevant Media said it best when he called this book “paradigm altering.”  Applies Marshal McLuhan’s “the media is the message” to practical theology.  Awesome.

37. How (Not) to Speak of God Peter Rollins (2006):  In many ways, this is just a hipper version of Barth’s argument in Word of God, Word of Man.  I don’t buy it but I enjoyed reading it.

38. The Orthodox Heretic Peter Rollins (2009):  A collection of Rollins’ parables with commentary.  Very interesting.

39. Drops Like Stars Rob Bell (2009): Comes out next month but they were selling copies at Poets, Prophets and Preachers.  A quick read (perused it over lunch) but is Bell’s best work yet.  I liked Velvet Elvis but disagreed with many key points, I thought his second book was boring and if his third book were a person then I would want to punch it in the throat (God bless all of you who are pacifists but the current empire comparisions are completely ineffectual guys!) but this book is truly worth an hour or so of your time.

I’m currently reading The ESV Study Bible, Day By Day with the English Puritans: A Devotional, The Story of Christianity Justo L. Gonzalez (I’m embarking on a serious church history kick) and Calvin’s Institutes along with the Reformation 21 blog. 

So if I had to pick a winner thus far? It would be a close race between Drops Like Stars, The Orthodox Heretic and Flickering Pixels.  None of the three fit comfortably within the parameters of my theological beliefs but all are well written and challenging.  However, Love is an Orientation is haunting.  Read them all.

Grace and peace.


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