not quite 36.. but more than 29!

(photo by leo reynolds: click for link)

well, this will be the final installment of “36 books”, a reading challenge i started for myself in january of last year to read 36 books in a year. you can look back in the archives for prior entries and books read, but here is the final list of books read in 2010. unfortunately i didn’t make it to 36. i hit a period in the fall where i just didn’t get much reading done. some of this was due to business, but a large part was i was just mentally tired. having said that, i enjoyed the challenge and if i were to do it again this year, i think i could pace myself to get 40 or more done, now that i have learned a bit more about my own tendencies. (see this post for my 2011 goal).

on to the final list of books read in 2010, books 25 – 30

respectable sins by jerry bridges i really can’t recommend this book highly enough. the sunday school class i teach went through it and most everyone was floored by it. we all to often chalk up as “personality defects” what scripture calls sin and this book is like a blazingly bright spotlight on the heart. bridges does an excellent job of pointing out these sins we often tolerate without a crushing or hateful spirit. rather he lovingly yet unwaveringly calls for recognition and repentance of these behaviors that are sin. the best recommendation i can give this book is to say you will be hard pressed to live your life the same way after you read this book as you did before you read it.

a god sized vision:revival stories that stretch and stir by collin hansen and john woodbridge
does god still move in mighty ways or was that only in “bible times”? maybe, like me, you have been to countless “revival services” but have never encountered entire communities transformed by the gospel with effects that last much longer than weeks or months. and so you wonder, “does that really happen?”. in this book hansen and woodbridge use sources including secular newspaper and eyewitness accounts of the life and community changing effects of a genuine work of the spirit of god. i rejoiced as i read stories of revival in america and other countries but also grew in my longing that the lord would see fit to move in such a mighty way here where i am. may he  be pleased to do so.

the priority of preaching by christopher ash

a small book on how preaching isn’t something that should be relegated to “something we get out of the way” or that is downplayed in favor of other aspects of corporate worship. ash makes an excellent (and thoroughly biblical) case that not only is the proclamation of god’s word important, but it is essential and not to be diminished in word, attitude or action (implicitly or explicitly) in our churches. god’s ordained way of speaking to people is primarily through his servants proclaiming his word. would be a great gift for your pastor to encourage him and remind him that while all preachers are just men, they have been called to a high and fearful task.

misquoting truth: a guide to the fallacies of  bart ehrman’s ‘misquoting jesus’ by timothy paul jones
bart ehrman and others have for years (centuries really) been churning out books over the years that seek to “prove” that the jesus and scriptures about him of christianity is nothing short of a case of simple and misguided peopel creating a religion around a man who never meant to be worshipped. one of ehrman’s more recent books received much attention not only in academic circles but also in pop culture (john stewart of the daily show) which widened teh audience to whom ehrman posits that the bible is a book written by men and anyone who will look will see that it is full of contradictions and impossibilities. jones writes a very readable and understandable refutation that is neither mean spirited nor inadequate. this book reads quickly, i read it all in less than 2 days- it really is that enjoyable and interesting. a perfect gift for those who have doubts about christianity or who have bought into the sound byte”atheism” and think that there are simply no answers to those who are critical of the history and origin of the bible. this book  provides scholarly yet easily accessible answers to those “unanswerable” objections

seeing and savoring jesus chris
t by john piper
written in a devotional style, this book provides reflection on the person of jesus christ and why he alone can quench the dry and parched soul. i am often guilty of reducing jesus to a character of the new testament whose lifeis a mixture of  bible stories, parables, and historical narrative. piper helps put divine flesh on our savior and seeks to cause us to not only “taste and see” that he is good, but to slow down, think- savor- who he is so that we may indeed know and feel that he is good indeed.

ashamed of the gospel: when the church becomes like the world by john macarthur
this updated 3rd edition is vintage macarthur. beginning each chapter with a quote from charles spurgeon’s comments on the “down grade” of the 19th century baptist churches in england, macarthur turns the lens of scripture to the 2oth/21st century church in america. demonstrating from biblical texts what true gospel faithfulness in a church will look like, he warns of and displays many of the anti-biblical thinking and methodology of so called “church growth” experts. macarthur makes it clear that he is no enemy of large churches (his own church could be considered a “mega church”) but rather he is an enemy of people watering down or substituting the gospel for something else just to get a larger attendance. after all, what good is it to have large numbers of people in a church if the mindset, methodology, and atmosphere of a church demands that the truth be toned down or avoided all together to keep them there. if i were teaching a class of pastors i would make this required reading- both as a warning of what not to fall in to, what to look out for, and maybe what to stop doing.

you may not call yourself a reader, and you very well may be a busy person. but you *can* read more books that will benefit your soul than you did last year. so whether you read 1 book a month or only 2 or 3 all year, i would encourage you to be intentional about sharpening your mind and encouraging and challenging your soul with good christ centered books such as (but not limited to) the ones i have read this year or the ones listed under the “resources” tab at the top of the page. i look forward to where my reading journey takes me this year- i’ll keep you updated!

*** yes, the bible is the most important book of all.. i assume you are already reading that regularly! if not… you can get started today with one of these plans to meet your needs!