A while ago someone asked me what five books i would always recommend to people no matter the occasion or circumstance would be. After a bit of thought, and in no particular order, here they are:
A Call to Spiritual Reformation. (Don Cason)
This book more of less reformed my prayer life. If the title is too wordy, think of it as 'praying with Paul', because thats exactly what this book is. Carson takes us, in his own style though the content, heart and vision of Paul's prayers as recorded in his letters. I read this in September 2006 and what i learnt from it still impacts me today. I think we all need help praying from time to time, and this is the book i'd recommend for that.
The Reason for God. (Tim Keller)
I don't do much apologetics reading, but this was excellent. I reviewed it when i first read it and i can only reiterate what i said then really. A few months on i can say that is has helped me think more clearly about the way i present the Gospel, engage with people, think about objections to faith, answer objections to faith. Also, it's as well designed as any book i've read for a while!
Desiring God/Don't Waste Your Life (John Piper)
Well obviously! I've chosen two together because i'm not sure they really work without each other. I don't think that was the way they were meant to be written, but i know a lot of people that really didn't get along with dwyl, and i think that may well be because Desiring God lays such a firm foundation for the application that appears in Don't Waste Your Life. Desiring God was the first Christian book i ever read back in spring 2005. I really think that the seeds planted by these two books are why i'm sitting in North Carolina right now, and why Bulgaria seems to be seared onto my heart.
The Mortification of Sin (John Owen)
Why does no one write like this about sin any more? I have never ever read a book that made me despair about my sin, that drove me to real self abasement before the Lord as this one. WE really need to do this. It's not without encouragement, it changed the way i looked at sin, helped me to see why it is to be hated and made me want to hate it more. We need to the Puritans, we need to read Owen. He's hard but he's so worth it. I think it's best summed up by when i asked a close friend how he was getting on with the book.
'oh man (sits down heavily) urgghh'
Pierced for our Transgression (Jeffrey, Ovey, Sach)
There were a couple of contenders for this, but since i'm an evangelical, and since it's 2008, it has to be this. Do you want to understand the controversy around penal substitution? Do you want to know why this doctrine is 'pure gold'? Do you want to know why New Word Alive exists? Do you want to understand why what Steve Chalke etc are doing and writing and believing isn't new and breathlessly exciting but rather old and deadly? Get hold of this, and soak in Biblical, bloody, glory.
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