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Book Briefs (Summer 2010)

Here's a very brief log of books I that came across my desk this summer.  At the bottom I list the top 3 books of the summer for me.

Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 233 pages. Classical book on Biblical Christology in contemporary language. Aimed at twenty and thirtysomethings. Good, funny, and a little over the top at times (which can be annoying). Pop culture references will be out of date in 5 years, but read it now, or give it away to someone interested in learning more about Jesus. ****

Marylinne Robinson, Gilead (2006). One of the best novels I have ever read (other people agree, it won the Pulitzer Prize). Gilead is written from the perspective of an elderly pastor writing his “begats” to his young son. So much packed into every paragraph. Found myself wondering how a woman could write a male character so well. *****

Marylinne Robinson, Home (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2008), 325 pages. In some sense a sequel to Gilead, though the events take place at the same time, though told from a different character’s perspective. I was all ready to say this wasn’t as good as Gilead, and then the last 100 pages were nothing short of brilliant. Read these two books!!! *****

Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything (Kingsford, Australia: Matthias Media, 2009), 196 pages. One of the best books I’ve read on church leadership. Reminds the leader that vine work (gospel proclamation and discipleship) is the heart of ministry. Trellis work (programs and organizational structure) exists only insomuch as to support vine work. And yet trellis work can so easily come to dominate church life. Great challenge for churches to grow the vine, not the trellis. *****

Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp, How People Change (Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2006), 233 pages. This is one of the best books I’ve read on sanctification. Theologically and biblically sound, very practical. It’s also very readable. ****

Tremper Longman, How to Read the Psalms (IVP Academic, 1988), 149 pages. Helpful intro to reading the psalms. It’s designed more for seminary students than for the average churchgoer, and it probably will appeal more to the student based on Longman’s attention to poetry, grammar, and genre. But very helpful in gaining a bird’s-eye view of the Psalms. ***

Paul Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting With God in a Distracting World (NavPress, 2009), 268 pages. The best recent book I’ve read on prayer. We’re using this in a 6 week class at New City, and people seem to be reacting well to it. ****

Joe Posnanski, The Machine (William Morrow, 2009), 285 pages. The story of the 1975 World Champion Cincinnati Reds. If you love the Reds, read this book. Entertaining, but repeats itself at times. I much preferred Game Six on same subject. ***

Mark Frost, Game Six (Hyperion, 2009), 390 pages. Exciting, well-written story of Game Six of the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. Frost walks you through the whole game with each at bat allowing for “flashbacks,” to discuss players individual stories, the history of baseball, and even politics and current events in the 1960’s and 70’s. Very well told. Highly recommended for baseball fans of any team. ****

Top 3 recommendations:

  1. Gilead and Home.  Not fast-moving, but stirring and rich novels.  I'm cheating and counting these as one.
  2.  The Trellis and the Vine - going to be required reading for officers at New City.
  3. A Praying Life - Narrowly edging out How People Change, mostly because I know how many of us struggle with prayer.

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