Wow. Basically only 2 posts to this blog in 2010 (besides the recap book and sermon posts). I guess Facebook has become the default mode for sharing thoughts. That’s been both good and bad. I’ve shared more small-form thoughts than I ever would have had I felt like they had to get a full write-up in a blog post. I’ve probably been more communicative with friends than I normally would be on a blog (especially since no one reads it unless you post all the time). And yet there’s been the distinct lack of larger, more tangled ideas getting their long-form treatment. My writing has, almost assuredly, suffered.
So in an effort to keep all things long form alive, I’m keeping up the tradition of posting about all the quintessentially long-form things I’ve read this year: books. So here they are, in the order I read them. Bolded ones are the ones that made the strongest impression on me, not necessarily what I’d consider great reading or even recommendations, necessarily.
- Total Church by Tim Chester & Steve Timmis
This has been a really formative book in my thinking about what church is supposed to be. Chester and Timmis give a very convicting and thoroughly orthodox view of the radical nature of a true church. I’ve already passed it along to several people and I would recommend it very highly.
- The Mark of the Christian by Francis Schaeffer
This is pretty much a yearly read for me. A lot of the material in Total Church is based on Schaeffer’s ideas in this book. Schaeffer spells out, from the words of Scripture what the one, authenticating Mark of the Christian is. This is one of the best books you can read. Highly recommended.
- Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley
I was actually expecting a little more from this book since it came fairly highly recommended on Challies.com and Desiring God. But in the end it was a solid, basic book without being very fresh. Except in its poor writing style. I found the worst metaphor I’ve yet encountered in this book: “Affection is the hammer that drives the nail of truth deep into our children’s hearts.” Affection is a hammer? Why would we drive nails into our children’s hearts? Are our children vampires?
- Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff
This was a free download from ChristianAudio.com and it was generally a fun listen. But Jonathan is pretty snarky, so the book can come off as just a long, semi-depressing, snide disparaging of the American Christian church. If your personality is already fairly critical, skip this one. If you’re a bit more light-hearted, you might find some laughs in here.
- The Raw Milk Revolution by David E. Gumpert
I’ve been more and more interested in food issues since doing a lot of reading/studying about organics, sustainability, etc. One issue I came across is that of raw milk. Gumpert’s book is an unshrinking look at both the good and bad of raw milk. While raw milk has been consumed by humans since Adam, in the last 100 years it’s become contraband so feared that selling it will get FDA agents and police storming your farm and confiscating your livelihood. It’s really bizarre. Thank you FDA for yet again protecting us from the wrong people. I don’t need protection from raw milk. I need protection from Monsanto. You know, that company in your bed. No, no, not Merck. The other one.
- Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan
This was probably my favorite read of the year. Chan’s books and messages are always convicting to me, but this one was extremely so. Chan rightly points up that our church has a dearth of Holy Spirit power and it’s due to the fact that so many of us think that living life is something we can handle with only occasional God-intervention. Highly, highly recommended.
- A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer by Lyle Dorsett
The spiritual giant that I thought had no flaws… That was A.W. Tozer until I read this biography. Turns out that Tozer was human, too. It’s a very sympathetic biography, but there’s just no masking the fact that Tozer didn’t have a very happy marriage. It turns out that he could be so “heavenly minded that he was no earthly good.” It seems like he and his wife (read: him, not her) had a problem with communication. One that plagued Tozer throughout his life as he devoted himself to deep spiritual pursuits while his wife felt abandoned. Very interesting book.
- Crazy Love by Francis Chan
If I hadn’t already read and recommended Forgotten God, I’d probably be recommending this book as my favorite read of the year. Chan hits the nail on the head (and drives it deep into our children’s hearts!) when he approaches the Christian life from the assumption that we’re to have a kind of crazy love for God and others, and if we don’t, there’s not a lot of evidence that we’re believers.
- Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
This is a good book by Keller. I prefer The Prodigal God, but like Crazy Love, if I hadn’t read Prodigal God I’d probably be recommending this much more highly. Keller goes through some of the most common ways people try to make life work (sex, money, power) and shows how they’re all counterfeit gods that can’t, in the end, give us what we want.
- Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels by Tullian Tchividjian
I was honestly a little disappointed by this one. Maybe Tullian just built up the shocking nature of the book of Jonah so much that when he revealed it’s shockingness, I was underwhelmed by what I already knew…? In any case, it’s a good book, just not great. Although the last chapter was really, really good. So if there’s some way to find that last chapter online…
- Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders
This was good, especially since it was free from ChristianAudio.com. Nothing amazing. Just standard Christian leadership without much that was memorable. Here I am writing a few months after reading it and I can’t remember anything about it. Which is probably my fault.
- The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Like Mark of the Christian, this is a book I come back to over and over again. It reminds me of the passionate pursuit of God that I almost always slack away from. I always get that same fresh, floral breeze of reminiscence of times with God that were awakened on reading this book the first (and second, and third) time. I think this’ll be one of those books I have on my nightstand in the hospital when I die.
- Famine in the Land by Steven Lawson
This book was given to me by Pastor Ty Blackburn at Providence Church in Duluth. The book (and Pastor Blackburn) is concerned that the American church is losing all its authority because it’s not preaching exegetically. If a preacher gets in the pulpit and does homily after homily, or does a quasi-exegetical sermon where the point of his message clearly doesn’t arise from the text, then whose words is that preacher speaking? It’s difficult to say they’re God’s words. As Mark Dever has said, a church that is fed a diet of topical messages will be a church conformed to the mind of its pastor. A church that is fed a diet of expositional preaching will be a church conformed to the mind of God. This book reminded me of the more colorful, no-holds-barred Why Johnny Can’t Preach, which I would also recommend.
- Love is a Verb by Gary Chapman
This was an unusual book in that it was entirely a series of stories of people learning how to love or showing love to others. The stories were interesting and there was a lot to think about in each of the stories. Somewhat recommended.