July 30, 2009

Books I've Read & Recommend

I get handed quite a few books to read - recommendations of books that others have read and found worthy of the time. As of right now, I have a pile (maybe a more organized-sounding word is "stack") behind my desk, waiting in the queue for my attention.

The other day someone asked me, "What are a few of the best books you've ever read?" This made me think. So I took a few minutes and tried to retrace my steps and remember some of the important or impacting books in my life. If you're interested, here's the shortlist in approximate order of when I read them:

Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges.
This is one of the most foundational works I think a new believer can read - specifically to aid you as you begin to walk through scripture and gain an understanding of God's desire for how you should live.

Passion & Purity, by Elisabeth Elliot.
The wife of martyred missionary Jim Elliot shares her journal and thoughts from the time period where she met, was "courted by", and eventually married her husband. NEVER have I been more challenged to walk with purity with the opposite sex.

The Complete Green Letters, by Miles Stanford.
At a time when I was really beginning to hunger to go deeper in my walk & my understanding of scripture, Stanford's book (a compilation of several of his works) illuminated for me the difference between the "condition" of my heart and my "position" in Christ as a believer. A great devotional work!

Hinds Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard.
If you don't have an imagination, don't read this book. Hinds Feet is an allegory - a story about a girl named Much Afraid and her journey away from her Fearing family to the Great Shepherd, accompanied by her companions, Sorrow & Suffering. Inspired by Habakkuk 3:19.

Spiritual Leadership, by Oswald Sanders.
No pastor, minister, or Christian leader of any kind should go without reading this book. A timeless challenge to "character, passion, and godliness", as John MacArthur puts it.

Next Generation Leader, by Andy Stanley.
If you have the courage to truly "equip the saints for the work of the Kingdom" - to release others in ministry - and to passionately focus in on the one thing God has set your heart on fire to do for him...this book is for you!

Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller.
At a time in my life when I least expected it, Miller reminded me that, while I am a Christian, I'm a human as well - and that loving others is more than frivolous words - it requires action and hard work. Faith and following Christ - "working out our salvation" - is often not as easy as we'd like it to be!

The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard.
After about the 15th time I read someone quoting Dallas Willard, I decided I should probably pay attention. I have read no other book that so powerfully & clearly calls us back to the genuine holiness that Christ beckons us to. While this book is no "easy read", it will take you back to the words of the Savior to rediscover what "life in Christ" was intended to look like in the life of the believer.

Love & Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs.
Inspired by the simple, yet somehow overlooked principle given by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:33, L & R literally changed the way I viewed my wife and my marriage. I wish I had been given this book before my wedding day! If you're dating, engaged, married, or ever hope to be - read this book!

Communicating For a Change, by Andy Stanley.
As a communicator of the Word of God - someone called to "rightly handle the Word of Truth" - Andy Stanley once again kicked me out of my box and caused me to truly examine HOW I approached, studied, prepared, and preached the Word. Every preacher & communicator should read this book!

Again, this is the shortlist. There are many, many other books that have drastically impacted and affected me. But let me conclude by pointing out what is hopefully the most painfully obvious truth for all of us: the Word of God is LIFE! As followers of Christ we have no greater tool or gift than to be constantly "hiding God's Word in our hearts", discovering that we find life in "every Word that comes from God". For every moment I spend reading these great works and others, I should be spending countless hours feasting on the "Bread of Life". If you're not reading the Bible, don't waste your time with anything else! Open the Word, read it, meditate on it, hide it in your heart. These are the words of life!

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