The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2008)

I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t struggle with some aspect (or more than one) of God. In this book, Christopher Wright reflects on the tough questions of faith. I appreciated the honesty, humility, and Biblical integrity with which Wright approaches these challenging topics.

He tackles subjects such as evil and suffering, the bloodshed associated with the settling of the Promised Land by the Israelites, and the wonderful, glorious mystery of the Cross. He even addresses the difficulties of the eschatalogical issues related to the return of Christ and the end of this world and the new beginning God has in store for creation.

This is a great book to have on your Bible Study bookshelf. It is not stuffy and academic, but rather practical, conversational, and extremely helpful. Even if you don’t come to the same conclusions as the author on these topics, I can almost guarantee this book will help you think through the sticky subject matter and come out the other side with a better understanding of what you believe and why.

The Noticer (Nashville, Tennessee: W Publishing Group, 2009)

I loved this book! It was a balm to my soul and a much needed dose of perspective. I downloaded it to read on our vacation and decided to sample it to make sure I would like it. I could not put the book down once I started and finished it before our trip. So, I downloaded the sequel!

You’ll get lost in the people and stories of Orange Beach, Alabama. And you’ll be intrigued and inspired by the mysterious man named Jones whose special gift is noticing things others miss. As he encounters people in the midst of crisis or despair, he offers “a little perspective” on their situation and lives. And that perspective is also true in most of our lives!

I tend to stick to non-fiction books and it takes a very special writer to get me to spend time on a novel. Andy Andrews is one of my new favorites! You’ll enjoy this book and it just might help you gain some much needed perspective.

At Home in Mitford (The Mitford Years Book 1) (New York: Penguin Books, 1994)

When I want to escape for a bit, I visit Mitford, North Carolina via Jan Karon’s delightful books. In these high, green hills, the air is pure, the village is charming, and the people are friendly. Yet, Father Tim, the bachelor rector, wants something more. Enter a dog the size of a sofa who moves in and won’t go away. Add an attractive neighbor who begins wearing a path through the hedge. Now, stir in a lovable but unloved boy, a mystifying jewel theft, and a secret that’s sixty years old. Suddenly, Father Tim gets more than he bargained for. And readers get a rich comedy about ordinary people and their ordinary lives.

Karon has a knack for drawing you into the story and making you believe these people are real. She also is adept at weaving the Gospel into the can’t-put-it-down storyline. I’ve read the entire series three times! And every time, I was sad to come to the last page and have to leave Mitford and the sweet, funny characters as I closed the book and slipped it back on my library shelf.

 

You can buy the books individually:

or purchase the entire series:

Mere Christianity (San Fransico: Harper, 2009)

There is a reason millions of people have bought C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. It is one of the best overviews of the Christian faith ever written. The contents were originally broadcast as radio programs during World War II and thus have a more conversational tone than some of Lewis’ other works.

Lewis explains and defends the Christian faith, setting aside the denominational issues that tend to divide the Body of Christ, and rather focusing on the essentials of our faith. Thus, what he presents is “mere” Christianity. Lewis likened his book to a hallway into which he wanted to invite those from outside the faith. Here they could experience the common area of the Christian faith, those beliefs shared by all the various rooms (denominations and divisions). From this point, visitors could try out the different rooms until they found the one in which they felt at home.

Peter urged believers to always be prepared to make a defense of your faith, to be able to give anyone who asks a reason for your hope (1 Peter 3:15).  Mere Christianity is the answer given by one of Christianity’s greatest minds. It will help you prepare to provide your answer with the gentleness and respect Peter advised.

To give you an idea of the scope of this incredible book, look at the titles of its four main sections:

  1. Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe
  2. What Christians Believe
  3. Christian Behavior
  4. Beyond Personality: or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity

If you’d like to read more, look inside the book at the complete Table of Contents, or read reviews by other readers, use the Amazon.com link.

 

My Utmost For His Highest (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 1992)

This is my “go to” devotional. I find Chambers’ words challenging and insightful. This is not a light and fluffy devotional. He digs into the Scripture and calls believers to put the words on the page into action in our lives.

For years, millions of Christians the world over have trusted the spiritual companionship of Oswald Chambers’ beloved daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. Now this timeless devotional is available in a beautifully designed edition that will be read and treasured through the years. The updated text makes Chambers’ meditations accessible to modern readers while carefully preserving their meaning and style. My Utmost for His Highest Quality Paperback Edition includes the complete updated text, helpful subject and Scripture indexes, and a brief, inspiring biography of Oswald Chambers and his beloved wife, Biddy.

 

Hidden in Plain Sight

Ever feel stuck? That no matter how much you wish otherwise, how hard you try and pray and regret and resolve, you can’t break certain habits? Old wounds keep reopening. Old fears keep resurfacing.

Don’t you want more than that? And doesn’t God want more for you? That’s what Hidden in Plain Sight is about: finding and having more–more purpose, more passion, more life, more of what God intended for you. Widely acclaimed author Mark Buchanan shares with readers a treasure from scripture that the vast majority of us overlook, a treasure that has been hidden in plain sight, that can finally move us beyond our old life and into a brand new life.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a wonderful story that shows what can happen when we go “off book” from the traditional script for celebrating Christmas. When we look at the Christmas story through fresh eyes we deepen our appreciation of Christ. I love reading this with my kids each year. It is hilarious, but also prompts some great discussions about the true meaning of Christmas and the importance of not just going through the motions of how we celebrate and worship. And if you think this is just for kids, think again!

Whether you read this to your kids, grandchildren, or just enjoy it for yourself, you will laugh til you cry and close the last page having been reminded why insisting we do things as we’ve always done them can cause us to miss some of the most powerful aspects of the Christmas story.

If you would like to see this book’s description and information on Amazon.com, just click the title or picture of the book.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Riverhead Trade, 2009)

The Reason for God:Belief in an Age of Skepticism is a fantastic book by Timothy Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. In this book he addresses the frequent doubts that skeptics and non-believers bring to religion. I found this to be a very compelling book. You won’t find simplistic “Sunday School” answers here. You will find thought-provoking, well reasoned, logical and compelling reasons to believe in Jesus Christ.

As deep as this book is, it is also refreshingly conversational. If you’re expecting a dry as chalk dust, egghead dissertation, you won’t find it in this book. Instead you’ll discover poignant, compelling arguments delivered in a simple, straight-forward, engaging style. Already a convinced believer? You will also enjoy the book and it will likely deepen your faith. You will certainly be better equipped to defend your faith upon reading this book.

 

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003)

This book is one every Bible reader should have in their library. The authors are biblical scholars who also preach and teach in a variety of church settings. Thus, they provide the best of both worlds: expertise of scholarship and practical, common sense, real life application of that expertise. They explain how to read the Bible and apply the teaching contained within it.

They begin by addressing interpretation. Everyone who reads the Bible interprets the Bible. It is not a question of whether one interprets but whether one will interpret responsibly and with good common sense or not. This book covers what goes into a good, sound interpretation and what leads to an interpretation that plays fast and loose with the inspired word of God.

They cover practical matters like how to choose a translation. They also provide guidelines for studying each genre of Scripture. One doesn’t read a Psalm the same way one reads Leviticus. They explain why, and they offer guidance for profitably reading each genre. Finally, where this book excels is in helping the reader apply the truth from the “then and there” of the original text to the “here and now” of our lives today. For each of the ten different genres, these authors teach us how to extract what the original text meant to the original recipients, and then apply that meaning to to the situations we face daily now. As believers, and not just academics, Fee and Stuart have as their goal that the reader would be empowered to read the living word of the Bible, understand it, and obey it.

 

 

The Call – Finding and fulfilling the central purpose of your life (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 1998)

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This inspiring and compelling book dramatically changed my walk with God for the better. It renewed the excitement and enthusiasm in my relationship with Christ. This is not some step-by-step formula for finding where to serve or what job to take. You won’t find inventories and game plans in this book. What you will find is something far more profound and significant: your calling. The book is filled with insight and inspiration that is both transcendent and practical. The Call helped me understand and begin to put into practice three key concepts:

  1. Our primary calling is to relationship with the Caller; the calling to do something for His kingdom is secondary. The order matters!
  2. Living for an Audience of One is much more fulfilling than living to please anyone or everyone else.
  3. There are times when our call requires us to take a stand and behave as our Lord would wish us to behave; even when the outcome is stacked against us.

There is so much more in The Call but those are the three truly life-changing concepts I took from my time in this book. This is a must read book for anyone who wants to:

  • know how to find and fulfill the central purpose of your life,
  • live a life of significance and passion
  • have a real, personal, and deeply satisfying relationship with God