Monday, June 20, 2016

Books Every Christian Should Read: Part 1.

This is part one of a series I'll be writing for a little while, titled "Books Every Christian Should Read." In each post in the series I'll recommend 5 books, with a brief little description and how it spoke me. I love a good nonfiction book. Books have formed and shaped my person-hood more than any other medium; so I am excited to share some of my favorites with you all.

BRIEF DISCLAIMER:  I will not be including the Bible on this list, because if you're a Christian who doesn't know you should be reading the Bible; stop reading this blog, go get your Bible, open it to one of the Gospels and start reading.

So, here we are with the first 5 books on my list of Books Every Christian Should Read:

Number 1 

Crazy Love
Author: Francis Chan.

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"People who are obsessed with Jesus aren't concerned about their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care about nothing more than seeing God's kingdom come to earth."

WARNING: THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THOSE COMMITTED TO COMFORTABLE CHRISTIANITY... OR MAYBE IT'S EXACTLY FOR YOU. Before I read Crazy Love, I had what you could call an adorable view of Christianity. It was my safe religion in which God was my vending machine and my prayers the coins that got me my snacks. There was no risk, and very little reward. It wasn't until reading Crazy Love that I realized how intense and, well, crazy, Gods love for me was; and that the only proper response to this crazy love is crazy surrender. Francis Chan has a deeply prophetic voice in the modern church, and it never speaks louder than in this book. This was the first book I read that I can say truly changed me. I've read it six times since, and I'm inspired to follow God harder every time.

Number 2

Mere Christianity 
Author: C.S. Lewis

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"Christianity, if false, is of no importance; if it is true, it is of infinite importance. One thing it can never be is moderately important."

Mere Christianity is probably the most beloved work of Christian nonfiction of the last 100 years. Lewis speaks prophetically about the ways he reasons his faith and the value it should hold in a Christian life. I've met many people on the edge of walking away from the faith until the comforting wisdom of C.S. Lewis lead them back. 

Number 3

Turn My Mourning Into Dancing
Author: Henri Nouwen

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“I am less likely to deny my suffering when I learn how God uses it to mold me and draw me closer to him. I will be less likely to see my pains as interruptions to my plans and more able to see them as the means for God to make me ready to receive him. I let Christ live near my hurts and distractions.”  

Henri Nouwen is probably my favorite author of all time; and this is the book he wrote that brought me more, hope, joy and freedom than any book I've ever read. This fell into my lap right after I had to resign from a pastoral position I had dedicated all of five years to; my life was a mess, I felt no hope, no purpose, until Henri Nouwen reminded me that our Father in Heaven has a way of turning our mourning to dancing. This book is an absolute must for anyone walking in the valley of the shadow of death.

Number 4

Blue Like Jazz
Author: Donald Miller

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"Believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is making a decision; love is something that happens to you, but it's also something you decide."

Blue Like Jazz, or, The Millennials Mere Christianity. Donald Miller writes about his faith journey in a way that is candid, engaging and true. This book has transformed many peoples, including mine, walk with God. No other book has opened my heart more towards people who don't hold the same beliefs as me. It was written in 2003 and 13 years later still holds up as one of the seminal books of the last 20 years.

Number 5

Water To Wine
Author: Brian Zahnd

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"The taste of good wine is the taste of struggle and suffering mellowed into beauty... Here is a deep truth that applies to more than wine making-it also applies to the formation of the human soul."

A little while after stepping down from ministry, I went through a deep reformation in my faith. The simplistic answers conservative evangelicalism had to offer seemed to rob humanity of a sacred, divine, mystery; not to mention they were more often than not unsatisfying or just plain wrong. I realized my Christianity was shallow and impoverished, and I longed for something deep and rich. Along came a man named Brian Zahnd and his memoir, Water to Wine, and it was my medicine. Much like Turn My Mourning To Dancing, Water To Wine came at a time when I needed it most, and my soul will never be the same again.

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