Books I have read 2009


God is the Gospel – John Piper

“Gospel” means good news—but what makes the good news good? What is the goal of the gospel, without which it is no longer good? It is that Christ’s death brings sinners to God! Were it to bring us anywhere else we would be left hopeless. But the gospel is that God gives us himself—Christ died to give us Christ—, and this self-giving is his highest mercy to us and the best news for us! The most profound, most exceedingly gracious, final and decisive good of the good news is Christ himself as the glorious image of God revealed for our endless satisfaction.

Don’t forget you can download most John Piper books as PDF files from

The Discipline of Grace – Jerry Bridges

The Discipline of Grace is a continuation of the teaching in two of Bridge’s previous titles, The Pursuit of Holiness and Transforming Grace. “As I sought to relate the biblical principal of living by grace to the equally biblical principle of personal discipline, I realized that it would be helpful to bring these two truths together in one book. That is the purpose of this volume.” The product of much meditation upon Scripture and much self-examination, this book challenges the Christian with the simple but profound truth that “your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”

Dead Line – Stella Rimington

Dead Line is the fourth Stella Rimington novel centred on MI5 intelligence officer Liz Carlyle. It’s a harmless read for a holiday weekend!

Do Polar Bears Get Lonely – New Scientist

And 101 Other Intriguing Science Questions by New Scientist, from the “Last Word” column. Do spiders get thirsty? How long would it take a cow to fill the Grand Canyon with milk? How do they get the stripes on toothpaste? Plus 94 other questions answered.

Invading Secular Space – Martin Robinson

When I Don’t Desire God – John Piper

The Associate – John Grisham

The Shack – William Paul Young


Winning Hearts, Changing Minds – Martin Robinson

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive – Alexander McCall Smith

Battling Unbelief – John Piper

The Queen’s Sorrow – Suzannah Dunn

would not recommend this one!

The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Beautiful written novella

Finally Alive – John Piper

What does the Bible teach about the miracle of rebirth? In this book, John Piper explores Jesus’ peculiar command, “You must be born again.”  I read this on a healing week earlier in the year and also listened the same week to John Piper’s message: The Son of Man must be lifted up – like the Serpent. Was reminded of the wonderful story of Spurgeon’s conversion and how simple the gospel is… All we need to do is look and look and look again, and keep looking!

I Found my Horn – Jasper Rees

One Man’s Struggle with the Orchestra’s Most Difficult Instrument

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God – D A Carson

Gilead – Marilynne Robinson

A Call to Spiritual Reformation – D A Carson

Shining Like Stars – Lyndsay Brown

The inspiring stories behind the International Fellowship of International Students.

Deep – Frog and Amy Orr-Ewing

Don’t Waste Your Life – John Piper

…Look at my shells!

The Reason for God – Tim Keller

New Life in Serbia – Vera and Dani Kuranji

The Prodigal God – Tim Keller

Integrity – Jonathan Lamb

“Integrity matters. We expect it, naively perhaps, of leaders in all walks of life. We trust people whose words, character and actions are consistent. One of the most pertinent and positive examples of integrity in Scripture is that of the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians his passions and frustrations are clear as he offers us an extraordinary insight into the joys and pressures of Christian leadership. His model is no less counter-cultural today than it was in the first century: leading with God watching. There are lessons for all Christians here, not just for formally recognized leaders. Jonathan Lamb examines key passages and interweaves them with examples from everyday life. Whether in responding to criticism, exercising authority, coping with failure, handling money or struggling with personal weakness, this book is a call to live consistently in the light of gospel priorities. Only then will our lives speak authentically to a sceptical world.”

Getting Things Done – David Allen

A detailed description of how to organise your work, keeping your mind clear with a simple system of filing, to-do lists and the like. I have adopted his filing system ideas and I have to say it is working very well. Haven’t managed so well with the Inbox processing concepts…

Gone Tomorrow – Lee Child

“When Jack Reacher witnesses a suicide on a Manhattan subway, he knows that there is more than meets the eye. Soon he’s in deep, trying to unearth a dark secret for which both the feds and Al-Queda are willing to kill to keep from being revealed. Even in a city of eight million, a lone wolf like Reacher tends to stand out, and before long he is being hunted from all sides—which is exactly what Reacher wants.”#

The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass (On Tour) – Adrian Plass

The Call (Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life) – Os Guinness

From the blurb: “In the tradition of C.S. Lewis and Oswald Chambers…Os Guinness has penned a classic reflective work on life’s purpose…Guinness…goes to the very heart of what calling means. Far bigger than our jobs, deeper than our personal accomplishments, higher than our wildest ideas of self-fulfillment, calling addresses the very essence of our existence”

Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

Makes me wish I had spent those 10,000 hours practising the piano instead of watching TV.

Home – Marilynne Robinson

Worthy successor to Gilead and winner of the Orange prize for fiction. Some have said they found it depressing, and I suppose it is in a way, but the story of how the prodigal returns to seek forgiveness is moving.

The Power of Words and the Wonder of God – John Piper and others

Summary of the talks from this year’s Desiring God conference including Sinclair Ferguson, Mark Driscoll, worship pastor Bob Kauflin, counsellor Paul Tripp, and literature professor Daniel Taylor. The article by Bob Kauflin Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing is excellent.  You can watch the talks, of which the book is an edited transcript here.

Worship by the Book – D A Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Ashton, R Kent Hughes

I enjoyed this book, although parts of it were slightly outdated (from 2002, you would have thought it would have kept pace, but I don’t think so, quite). There is an introduction by Don Carson (typically thoughtful) and then three chapters describing worship at the Round Church Cambridge, College Church Wheaton IL, and Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in downtown Manhattan, New York.   Tim Keller’s chapter is worth the price of the book alone and I loved his thoughts about Postmodernism and Calvin’s ideas of how worship should be conducted. Worth quoting:

Calvin’s corporate worship tradition resonates with many of the concerns of postmodern people. They have a hunger for ancient roots and a common history; Calvin emphasises this through liturgy in a way that neither traditional Free Church worship nor contemporary praise worship does. They have a hunger for transcendence and experience; Calvin provides awe and wonder better than the cognition-heavy Free Church services in the Zwinglian-Puritan tradition and better than the informal and breezy “seeker services.” Postmodern people are much more ignorant of basic Christian truth than their forebears and need a place to come and learn it, yet they are also more distrustful of “hype” and sentimentality than older generations. Calvin’s worship tradition avoids the emotional manipulation that so frightens secular people about charismatic services, even though they desire the transcendence that contemporary-praise appears to offer.

Thank goodness too, that Keller finally puts paid to the notion that musical form and style are completely neutral – some music is simply inappropriate for worship. However he also shows that style boundaries are much more elastic than traditionalists would have you believe. You can read the book on Google books, here.

The Lord’s Prayer – Peter Lewis

Peter Lewis is the pastor of Cornerstone Church which my son Jonathan has been attending while studying in Nottingham. We visited once and despite the fact that is it a large church of 500 or more on a Sunday morning, he came up to us before the service and said “Jonathan, please introduce me?”  The fact that he bothered, and that he remembered Jonathan’s name, made me want to read what he had to say all the more.

The book is an expanded version of a previous edition, and takes the form of 47 short chapters (which can be read in just 7 weeks at a chapter a day, which is how I did it) exploring the Lord’s Prayer, with many anecdotes from Peter Lewis’ life, which make you warm to him all the more. He talks about the Fatherhood of God, worship, discipleship, forgiveness – the whole Christian life. Just writing this makes me think I need to read it again already.  Highly recommended.

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