Monday, December 13, 2010

Best reads of 2010

1. Crazy love: There is a chapter in this book that is still challenging me with a question. Here is the question "Am I lukewarm?" If you are bothered at all by this question then this might be a book for you.  This is a book that stirs you not to take grace for granted. It reminds you of the call of Jesus to speak of the gospel and to act and to be the gospel. The former is seemingly in Western Christianity more prevalent than the latter. Chan offers the church a passionate wake-up call. He makes number 1 because a year ago I had never heard of him but this year he has managed to stir and trouble me probably more than anyone else.

2. The Radical Disciple: John Stott is a man who has influenced so many followers of Jesus. This book is his farewell and it is rich in content and truly moving in sentiment. He is a man who has been focussed on the preaching of the gospel to the world since his conversion at the age of 16 at school (As it happens, we actually attended the same school, although I suspect Stott spent rather less time than me looking out of the window) I read Basic Christianity when I was in a desperate state many years ago and since then I have been indebted from a distance to his wisdom, resilience and passion for Christ.

3. The Pursuit of the Holy:  Simon writes books about doctrines that have so often caused Christians to get themselves into a pickle and that still do. That is why he has written books on the Spirit, the End Times and now he tackles Holiness. The call on the church and on individual Christians is to be a holy beacon of light for the nations but sadly we are not that are we? If you want to better understand why not and how perhaps we might be then this will be a satisfying read.

4. Generous Justice: Keller makes a great case for justice and irons out the debate about grace and works. Which is paramount? Receive mercy and grace and do works is the message- they are meant to go together. He has some very theologically rich overviews of both the OT and NT passages on justice and some very helpful ways to apply them. A goto book on this complex subject.

5. Raised with Christ: I think I enjoyed this book because it contains references to so many people who have influenced me and at the same time deals with the much neglected subject of resurrection. Adrian has I think been shaped by Lloyd-Jones which is no bad thing. Jesus is risen from the dead and believing this is crucial to the Christian life and the sooner we all get a grip on this the better. Reading this might be a great place to start.

6. The Rage against God: Recently I watched Paxman interview with Christopher Hitchens and his stoic resilience that there is no God seems to be showing little change in the face of his cancer. Peter, his brother, has written this book as a polemic against the new atheists and also as his spiritual autobiography telling the story of his own conversion. I will remember this book mainly for its last chapter- a shared meal the brothers had in New York.

7. The Journals of John Fowles Volume 2: Fowles was a genius rogue and I have had such pleasure reading both sets of his diaries. He is ruthlessly honest which is what makes reading him so refreshing and he writes so so well. He lays bear all his sin, his self-preoccupation and his desire to be noticed. He tell of his affairs and his creative agony. He also seems to have enjoyed long lingering lunches which I have found to be a fine and deeply pleasurable thing down the years.

8. Rework: This is a business book or perhaps it is better termed a productivity book. These guys run a tech firm and they have woken up faster than most others to the fact that the world has changed and this means the way we all need to work must and will change. The trouble is most of us haven't noticed this so are still sitting in congested traffic jams, packed in crowded tube trains and slaving in unpleasant work environments trying to carve out a living. This is very readable and helpful take on the new dawn that has already dawned but seems to have passed so many of us by.

9. A Praying Life:  Miller has written a very helpful book on prayer. Most of us have read a few books on this subject or at least have them unread on our shelves because there is always more to know about prayer. It may be obvious, but reading a book by someone who has clearly prayed more than me and thought more than me about it I found truly helpful. It's not a definitive book on prayer, there is no such thing, but it is one man's journey in relationship with God and I recommend going on it with him if you desire to enjoy more, pray more and hope to pray more effectively.  

10. Linchpin: Seth Godin is the Gandalf of the blog-o-sphere. If you don't dabble in blog land you will never have heard of him. His daily musings are invariably profound and his understanding that what we have been given is meant to be given away makes him a true champion of the good of the internet (he is also sanguine about the bad). His book contains a string of observations centred around the topic of creativity and innovation and there is probably a bit of wisdom somewhere in its pages for everyone.

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