this year i have set a goal to read at least  36 books, this is part 4. (part 1, part 2, part 3) the current count of books read is at 18- halfway there at 6 months, so i am on pace so far to make 36. i have a secret goal of making it to 40, so we’ll see if i can pick up the pace a bit the 2nd half of the year.

i also wanted to say, that while i am doing this to better myself, spiritually, mentally, and!?)  i hope that reading these lists will encourage you to read some of these books, or some that you have been wanting to read.

counterfeit gods by tim keller
– in the last installment i had read keller’s “prodigal  god” and given a brief bio of who he is. i came into this book with high expectations and was not disappointed. his style is simple and straightforward yet he remains engaging. many people have said of many authors that their writing is “conversational”, but it is very much true of keller.

in this book he is writing on the reality of the idols we all have. we often think of ourselves as advanced and far removed from “idol worshipers”, but keller demonstrates with clarity and precision just how idolatrous we all are. but the best part is that he doesn’t leave us without hope, as he is constantly pointing to christ as the remedy.

the hidden smile of god – john piper (book two of five from the “the swans are not silent” biography series from piper)
i had been meaning to get to some biographies from the beginning of this venture, but hadn’t yet . so i made up for it with this one book that is made up up three relatively short but very full biographies. chronicling the lives of john bunyan (author of world-wide best selling book pilgrim’s progress), william cowper (author of such hymns as “god moves in mysterious ways” and “there is a fountain filled with blood”) and david brainerd (missionary to native americans in the 18th century whose diary has inspired countless missionaries throughout the centuries).

as any good biography will do, the major events and achievements of each subject’s life are recounted and given context, but pastor and author john piper goes a step further and ties together the lives of these men separated by time, geography, and culture, drawing out the common theme of their lives- faith in the midst of suffering. a very encouraging as well as informative read that left me feeling encouraged, blessed, and even challenged -having suffered so little in comparison with others whose faith dwarfs my own.

radical by david platt – as much as i want to say about this book- i cant agree more nor say it any better than this endorsement for the book by russell moore:

“Sometimes people will commend a book by saying, ‘You won’t want to put it down.’ I can’t say that about this book. You’ll want to put it down, many times. If you’re like me, as you read David Platt’s Radical, you’ll find yourself uncomfortably targeted by the Holy Spirit. You’ll see just how acclimated you are to the American dream. But you’ll find here another Way, one you know to be true, because you’ve heard it before in the words of the Lord Jesus, perhaps most forcefully in the simple call ‘Follow me.’ Read this book. Put it away for a time, if you need to, while your conscience is invaded by the Spirit driving you to repentance. And then pick it up again. After you’re done reading, I think you’ll know better how to pick up your cross and follow Christ for the advancement of the kingdom and the destruction of false dreams.”

there has been quite a bit of buzz about this book and has generated some (mostly) healthy discussion. at the end of teh day i must be honest and say, i wish i could force everyone i know to read this book prayerfully. i guarantee that our world would be different if every christian did.

speaking of jesus by j. mack stiles: i picked this book up only because i enjoyed marks of the messenger (see part 3 of “36 books” for comments) so much. it was different than i thought it would be. i don’t really know what i was expecting, but this wasn’t really it. that’s not to say that it was bad- i just think my expectations were for a different type of book. that being said, there were many helpful things in it that would do anyone some good who is looking for ways to better their evangelistic strategy. i wouldn’t call it a must read (like i would “marks…”) but i may find myself recommending it from time to time.

what does god want of us, anyway? by mark dever: the day after i finished this one, i told my administrative assistant “i wish i had had this book 10 years ago.” another one of the small “you can read this easily in a few hours” books from the IX marks series, this book is proof that judging a book by its cover (or size) can be a HUGE mistake.

this little volume shouldbe in the hands of every church member of every church- especially leaders and teachers, and new/ young believers, and… oh… just give it to everybody. it is a fantastic overview of the bible demonstrating, not just stating, that the whole bible is telling one grand story. doing and overview of the whole bible, then old testament, then new testament, you would never believe that you could glean so much of a paradigm shifting view in just a coupel of hours.  this should be the very next book you read.(besides the bible of course…)