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Top 09 Books of ’09

December 22, 2009

Well, in a matter of days the first year of the Forerunner Book Contest comes to a close. I for one am very glad to have been held accountable by all of you who have reading along with me and I have been encouraged to see how broadly and how deeply you have been reading over this past year! I didn’t quite make my goal of 52 books this year – as of this post I am 35 books in, with two book more a little over half way read! But I know for sure: I read more faithfully and more broadly than I would have without this contest! So it was worth it and I am looking forward to jumping in again as 2010 begins!

To mark the close of this year, I give you my top 9 books of 2009. I’ll try to put them in some kind of order if you’ll promise to hold it loosely! Also note: not all of these books came out in 09, this is just the year I managed to get to them.

9. Biblical Church Growth: How You Can Work with God to Build a Faithful Church (Gary McIntosh). One of the books I am “in the process of finishing” is The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. As wonderfully helpful and biblically faithful as McIntosh’s book is, this new one may soon supplant it on the list!

8. Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape our Practice (Bryan Chapell). I’m quickly learning that I want to read anything by Chapell! His book on Christ-Centered Preaching is on the short list for the beginning of 2010.

7. Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Michael Horton). Ditto for Horton what I said about Chapell. Can’t wait for his Systematic Theology to come out in 2010!

6. The Gospel-Driven Church (Ian Stackhouse). There seems to be something of a theme developing over these last four picks! Throw Why We Love the Church into the mix and 2009 and become the year of revisioning the church through the Person of Christ and the pattern of His Gospel! This kind of work would always be good, but it is absolutely essential in my generation since we have grown up imbibing the seeker/corporate/emergent/blah/blah/blah models that have swept through the American church over the past 20 years or so.

5. There Is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Her Countries Children (Melissa Faye Greene). This is the book the Lord used to get my heart in touch with the reality of what He had called us to do in adopting from Ethiopia. There is much good here, and some ways of thinking that I would want to challenge. But the way the historical and cultural background of the country is wedded with the individual stories of these children makes this book uniquely powerful.

4. This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (John Piper). I read several marriage books this year, but this was far and away the best and the most helpful. I think the reason I was so helped is because Piper didn’t set out to be helpful, but to be faithful to the biblical vision of marriage as it reflects a mystery and a wonder far greater than itself. Human marriage is big, but not ultimate – so the only way to truly “fix” marriage is to take it all the way up to the function God has ordained it to have, namely, to testify to the eternal union between Christ and His Church.

3. Finally Alive (John Piper). This books smells of sweat and tears. Sweat from the thorough, faithful exegesis of Scripture’s message on why we need the new birth, what God does at the new birth, and how we walk as those who have been born again. The tears flow from a pastor’s pleading with his people to come to Jesus – to be born again. This is the most powerful and comprehensive treatments of the doctrine of regeneration I have read.

2. Polishing God’s Monuments: Pillars of Hope for Punishing Times (Jim Andrews). Randy Alcorn came out with a book treating this same question – If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. I plan to read it soon. I don’t think we can read too many solid, biblical, personal treatments of this issue, it is surely one of the most persistent and important we will face. What I found so piercing about Andrews’ book was the way he wove personal testimony into and around powerful theology. Watching his example helped me see how the truth of the sovereign goodness of God could be felt as a rock to stand on rather than a rock of offense.

1. Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches (Russell Moore). 2009 is the year our dream to adopt became reality – at least the paper part of it! This biblical vision of what adoption is and how to do it (physically) as we have experienced it (spiritually) was both comforting and compelling. Given the ethnic make-up of the church that I pastor (with little faces from all over the world!) I was delighting as I read in the way I experience the heart of the Father (for me!) everytime I am around His family!

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