By: John Piper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.
John Piper writes a collection of devotions in “A Godward Heart” meant to stir the reader—maybe once, twice, or as many times as his sundry topics strike a chord. Even though there is no central theme unifying the book, many readers will find the variety refreshing. This book is much like scanning a radio dial and landing on the right song or interview that was just what you needed, even though you were not looking for it.
To understand Piper’s message, it is important to read “A Word to the Reader” at the beginning. He describes the intent of his book in the following section:
Perhaps some evening your soul is hungry. Not for anything in particular, just a soul-hunger. A longing. Something is needed beyond what television is going to give. Something about God, or about the meaning of your life, or about eternity. You’re tired and you know you probably can’t stay awake to read twenty pages. So you pick up a book that you know focuses on eternal things, a Godward book. And three minutes later you have seen something, and you will never be the same again.
This book could be best described as an “evening devotional” book as he alludes to above. Each of the topics is thoughtful and relevant, yet each one is not easily coupled with a corresponding passage of Scripture. Piper quotes Scripture in most of the meditations, yet each meditation is not necessarily about a specific passage. As a result, this book may be best read when winding down in the evening, rather than as a morning springboard for Bible reading.
Readers who are unfamiliar with John Piper may benefit from a simple web search about his background. He represents his theologically background well and writes from a distinct point of view. Any minor theological differences should not keep readers from benefiting from the nuggets of wisdom Piper gives his readers; he has plenty to share with those willing to listen.
I encourage readers to feel free to pick and choose the meditations they want to read. Do not feel the need to read the book in any particular order. Peruse the topics and choose any one that sounds interesting, and feel free to skip any meditations that do not seem pertinent at the time. However, be prepared to be surprised that some of the topics are more instructive than they appear at first glance. The most surprising topic in the book is “Why and How I Tweet” and it caused me to take a slightly different look at Twitter!
Finding a nugget of wisdom at just the right time can change hearts and minds. Piper has experienced this and hopes to share the same with his readers. He summarizes this well in the following, “Books on one topic are valuable. They let the author explore all the angles of an insight. But where do the insights themselves come from? Usually they come from paragraphs. Even sentences. For reasons not entirely explainable, God can make a single paragraph life changing.”
Thank you to the people at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for a copy of this book for review.