Looking Back: My Favorite Books of 2009, part two

Continuing from yesterday’s post, here are the second five books I’ve found to be the most helpful, meaningful and enjoyable, in no particular order (probably):

Agape Leadership
by Robert L. Peterson and Alexander Strauch

R.C. Chapman is relatively unknown today but a man all believers would do well to see a role model in our pursuit of holiness. In Agape Leadership: Lessons in Spiritual Leadership from the Life of R.C. Chapman, authors Robert L. Peterson and Alexander Strauch introduce us to Chapman and his commitment to not only preaching Christ, but living Christ. And live Christ he did. This short and convicting read is a must for all who wish to grow in Christlike leadership.

Read the review | Order a copy

“Fundamentalism” and the Word of God
by J.I. Packer

“Fundamentalism” and the Word of God was first published 51 years in the midst of the British ”Fundamentalism” controversy of the 1950s—a controversy centering around the authority of Scripture. In this work, Packer offers rebuttal and sharp rebuke to those who would unwisely seek to sit in judgement of Scripture, who have fallen prey to perennial error of subjectivism, and reminds readers that as Christians, we are not to stop thinking, but to stop thinking sinfully.

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The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment
by Tim Challies

We live in a culture where “anything goes” is the epitome of all wisdom, even in the church. That’s why author and blogger Tim Challies wrote The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment—a book for those who look at all that is said and done and ask the hard question, “how can this be right?”; for all who (rightly) believe it is “the duty of every Christian to think biblically about all areas of life so that they might act biblically in all areas of life.”

Read the review | Order a copy

Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions
by Mark Driscoll

Inspired by 1 Corinthians, Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church in Seattle began the “Ask Anything” campaign on their website. 893 questions and 343,203 votes later, the top nine questions were selected for the sermon series, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, which was then reformatted and expanded into this book. Driscoll handles an extremely diverse and difficult series of subjects, including dating, sexual sin, grace, predestination, the emerging church and humor, all the while trying to point readers to the risen, exalted Christ. The result is a book that ended up being his most mature to date and one that I believe most anyone would benefit from.

Read the review in five parts: intro, parts one, twothree, and conclusion| Order a copy

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor
by D.A. Carson

I first read Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor in February, 2009, and I was amazed by the story of this “ordinary” pastor who is truly anything but. Learning about this man who, ultimately, never realized how far his influence reached (and I suspect wouldn’t really care)… He is a true hero of mine. Without question, this book is my favorite of 2009 and I’m grateful that D.A. Carson chose to honor his father with this memoir.

Read the review | Order a copy

And that wraps up my top ten of 2009 and there were other books that might have made the list if I did it again. Heck, I’ll probably think of one or two that should switch out tomorrow.

But what about you? What were your favorite reads of this past year?

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson

“Ordinary” pastors don’t usually get press. They don’t speak at conferences. They don’t write books. Their ministries are on the whole fairly average. They work hard, they faithfully serve the flock God has entrusted to them, and generally go unnoticed.

Tom Carson was, by all accounts, an ordinary pastor. Yet, he was a most extraordinary man.

Tom worked in the most difficult missions field in Canada (Quebec), striving to make in-roads for the Gospel with its Francophone population. Roman Catholicism has long been entrenched in Quebec, and is at the heart of many of the great divides between the French and English in our country (this subject is far too long to get into here, but there is an excellent primer on many of the cultural issues in Chapter 1 of the book; Canadian History books at your local library or bookstore will also be helpful in fleshing out the conflict). Protestant Christians in the 1930s through the 1950s faced a great deal of persecution, including the possibility of imprisonment for being a Protestant minister. Missionaries often gave up because they saw so little fruit and so much opposition. Yet these were the people to whom God chose Tom Carson to minister.

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, working in large part from the elder Carson’s journals, describes a man who sought to faithfully teach the Scriptures with honesty and integrity. Tom Carson was a man who loved Jesus and loved the Bible. He understood the importance of teaching sound doctrine. He was a man who understood the meaning of toil and sacrifice, working hard to fulfill his calling and be a good husband and father. It also shows a man plagued by deep insecurities about his abilities as a pastor, and who, because of those same insecurities, could not truly see the fruit of his ministry.

There are two things that stand out most vividly about the portrait of Tom Carson presented in this book. First, his humility: He never appears to have thought of himself more highly than he ought, nor did he become embittered by the success of future ministers. Even his role in the formation of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, he downplayed, with his son Don not even learning the details of his involvement until he was in seminary. He simply served faithfully and loved people well.

The second, his prayer life: Tom Carson understood what it meant to rely on the Lord, especially the salvation of those to whom he ministered. A poignant example appears on page 80:

I [D.A. Carson] went looking for Dad after the morning service to entice him to come and play the piano while the rest of us sang or played instruments. He was not where he usually was. I found him in his study, the door not quite closed. He was on his knees in front of his big chair, tears streaming down his face, as he interceded with God for the handful of people to whom he had just preached. I remember some of their names to this day.

I don’t pray like this. I don’t think I know anyone who does. I am inspired by Tom Carson’s example, and ashamed because of my failure.  Even now, looking back on those few sentences, I’m on the verge of tears.

I want to be a man like Tom Carson.

I wonder how Tom would feel about this book having been written: Would he have felt embarrassed? Honored? I don’t know. Regardless, I’m grateful that D.A. Carson has written this memoir and for showing us that there is much to be learned from so-called ordinary pastors like Tom Carson.


Out of the archives

Sunday Shorts (08/09)

Plant a Church or a Campus?

Over at Evangelical Village (another blog I occasionally contribute to), Matt is asking a very important question: What are the benefits of planting a church versus planting a campus (ie multi-site)?

Weigh in on the discussion here (although ignore the second comment; it’s just weird).

35 Reasons Not to Sin

The Harris Brothers (founders of The Rebelution) stumbled across 35 reasons not to sin. They’re well worth thoroughly reading and meditating upon. Here’s one of that I found particularly revealing:

Because sin glorifies God only in His judgment of it and His turning of it to good use, never because it is worth anything on it’s own.

Read the entire list here.

The Gospel in 10 Words or Less

Trevin Wax, Kevin DeYoung and 10 others are attempting to summarize the gospel in 10 words or less. The approach each is taking is very interesting, with some summarizing the entire storyline, with others addressing specific doctrines that make the good news good news.

Read the responses here.

Out of the Archives: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

memoirs-carson“Ordinary” pastors don’t usually get press. They don’t speak at conferences. They don’t write books. Their ministries are on the whole fairly average. They work hard, they faithfully serve the flock God has entrusted to them, and generally go unnoticed.

Tom Carson was, by all accounts, an ordinary pastor. Yet, he was a most extraordinary man.

Tom worked in the most difficult missions field in Canada (Quebec), striving to make in-roads for the Gospel with its Francophone population… Read the rest of this review.

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Everyday Theology: “God wants your best life… Now!” God doesn’t want you to be happy, healthy and wealthy at the expense of your holiness.

Making Assumptions Exploring the dangers of making assumptions about the character of God.

Daniel Akin on Preaching Great questions you need to ask when preparing to preach from Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Up the (Willow) Creek: Bill Hybels The first post in a series reflecting on the recent Willow Creek Leadership Summit and the challenges made by the faculty