A very busy couple of months of reading, during which I finished a lot of really good books
Does the Future have a Church (Terry Virgo) 4/5
This book basically contains a series of expositions of Ephesians 2-4, describing what church life is supposed to be like. It addresses head on the problem that large parts of the church are declining in the West. Having heard Terry preach a number of messages on this subject, reading the book is like hearing him speak. He talks about our salvation, grace, being the people of God, unity and apostolic giftings.
The Message of Eccelsiastes – Bible Speaks Today (Derek Kidner) 3/5
Ecclesiastes is a refreshing and fascinating book of the Bible, and this commentary really helps bring it alive. Particularly good is the way Kidner helps us to get a feel for Qoheleth, the author of the book, and the unique outlook on life that he offers.
James – Pillar New Testament Commentary (Douglas Moo) 4/5
The Pillar commentaries are excellent for people who want to go into a bit more depth than your typical paperback commentary, but not to get bogged down in too many technicalities. This volume contains the full text of James and is full of insightful comments and interesting findings from historical studies. Relevant cross-references to other ancient wisdom literature are discussed where appropriate. He deals clearly and calmly with the controversy concerning “salvation by works” ably demonstrating that the text does not in fact contradict salvation by faith.
Pursuit of God (A W Towser) 4/5
There are numerous places where you can read this book online – in PDF or HTML format, so launch google, and have a read. Its not too long, but deeply challenging. Simply put, this is a call to radical discipleship and total devotion to God. It will drive you to your knees in prayer. Its the type of book that you should come back to every now again and re-read one or more of the chapters. If you are going through a “dry period” spiritually, then this book can ignite a fresh passion for following after God.
The Discipline of Intimacy (Charlie Cleverley) 4/5
This is a great book on prayer, full of practical suggestions. Cleverley uses a number of examples of prayer in the Bible to teach on different aspects of prayer. I found I often had to stop reading and schedule some time for prayer. Rather than necessarily giving profound new teachings, often we just need reminding of what we already know – we should be giving more time to prayer, and the down to earth advice on what to say.
Seductions Exposed (Gary L Greenwald) 2/5
While this book has many good and practical pieces of advice concerning demonic influences that can come into your lives through occult practises, sexual immorality and so on, I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly. Firstly, he has some very highly developed theories concerning the supernatural realm that rest solely on one or two verses. Secondly, the approach can tend to legalism – rather than encouraging believers to exercise discernment he lists various objects and activities that are not permitted. But the book does at least bring up some issues that are often left undiscussed, so it may be worth reading just to inspire you to come to your own conclusions on these matters.
The Glory of Christ (John Owen) 4/5
This volume in the “Puritan Paperbacks” series is focused on helping believers set their eyes on Jesus, to appreciate his glory and respond in adoration. It has been abridged and slightly modernised, although it still can feel a bit archaic in places. Not quite as inspiring as “Communion with God” by the same author, but a must read for anyone who is interested in the Puritans. Owen works his way through the many different ways we can behold the glory of Christ, before directly challenging us as to our attitude towards him.
The Passion of Jesus Christ (John Piper) 4/5
Timed to coincide with the similarly named film, this book contains 50 reasons why Christ suffered and died. It is ideally laid out to read one page a day as part of your daily devotions. As you would expect from Piper, each reason is clearly justified from Scripture, and he doesn’t shy away from the more ‘difficult’ verses. The net effect is to leave you with a well rounded Scriptural understanding of the reason for the cross which will do more than improve your theology – it will inspire you to worship.