Cliff’s Top Ten Books of 2009

Rev. Cliff WarnerCliffNotes

  • The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. . . a simple, clear, compelling and beautiful explanation of the gospel, as told in the narrative of the Two Lost Sons (Luke 15).
  • The Gospel According to John by D. A. Carson . . . If I could have only one commentary on the gospel of John, this is it. It’s fairly technical, but thorough, fair and faithful. I have to give a nod here to Lesslie Newbigin’s commentary also, The Light Has Come.
  • The Baronet’s Song by George MacDonald . . . a novel about an orphan named “Sir Gibbie,” by the 19th century man who inspired C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien to write some of the greatest fiction of the 20th century. This story just makes you want to be good. It calls out of you beauty, truth and goodness; it inspires faith, hope and love.
  • Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris. . . this is the second and final volume of the fascinating life of Theodore Roosevelt. I was absolutely riveted. I don’t re-read many books, but I suspect I’ll be going back for another round of this one someday.
  • The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero. . . this book was born of Pastor Scazzero’s discovery that he and his congregation were shaped by a Christian spirituality based entirely upon knowing and doing, but not “being.” The result was a community stuck in the morass of hang-ups and burnout.
  • Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton . . . despite the title, this book is more about the soul of leaders than leadership. It might better be titled Strengthening the Leadership of Your Soul. It’s written specifically for people in roles of spiritual leadership, addressing the unique dangers to the soul of such roles. Bottom line: the best thing a shepherd can do for the sheep is have a strong and vibrant and relationship with Jesus.
  • Why We Love the Church by Kevin Young and Ted Kluck . . . it’s not surprising that our culture might disparage the church, but recently many Christians and even pastors have done so as well. This book is a timely and winsome, if a little cheeky, defense of “the bride of Christ.”
  • A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden . . . though he pastored and wrote in the 18th century, Edwards remains unsurpassed as America’s greatest theologian. I was most impacted by the fact that Edwards, celebrated for a razor-sharp intellect and philosophical precision, spoke often of being “moved” by the Lord’s “beauty.” This was a man who indeed worshipped in both spirit and truth.
  • Axiom by Bill Hybels . . . this is the kind of book that can only come from decades of experience in the trenches of congregational development. It’s full of short practical “proverbs,” some of which only apply to very large churches. For the most part, however, Hybels shares with all pastors the wisdom of lessons learned the hard way.
  • Any of the spy novels by Daniel Silva . . . you gotta have some page turners on the bedside table. My father-in-law got me into this guy. Great fun!