Bonhoeffer* Life Together, The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer’s biography reflects one of the great stories of Christian perseverance and martyrdom in modern times. The book is a powerful study of the conflicting matrix of history, ethics, politics, and theology in Hitler’s Germany. Life Together brings front and center the privilege and necessity of Christian community that we often take for granted in the U.S. The term “cheap grace” comes from The Cost of Discipleship – once you understand and embrace it, it will change you.
Invitation to a Journey, The Deeper Journey, Shaped by the Word. Dr. M. Robert Mulholland is a brilliant Christian theologian and Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is also an accomplished writer who helps point the reader to Scripture for the difficult, but transformational journey to Christ-likeness (Invitation to a Journey). Shaped by the Word confronts the prevailing Bible reading culture that has been trained to read God’s Word cognitively for information, not personal formation. The two approaches are as far apart as east is from west! Here’s one of his key premises, “You are the victim of a lifelong, educationally enhanced learning mode that establishes you as the controlling power (reader) who seeks to master a body of information (text) that can be used by you (technique, method, model) to advance your own purposes (in this case spiritual formation).” Mulholland’s invitation to a new definition of journey is one of of release and transformation.
Abba’s Child, All is Grace, Ruthless Trust. By the standards of this world – and in the minds of many – Brennan Manning was a colossal failure. Alcoholism bested him for much of his life and he died a broken soul. But he lived in the unrelenting embrace of God’s unconditional love and grace, boldly declaring that through the Cross of Christ, “God loves us as we are, not as we should be.” On the surface, this statement is repulsive to many and seems to be missing something very essential!! But I encourage you to plumb the depths of its outward rudeness and discover its inherent truth. Manning was a gifted writer, putting deep theological truths into the simple language of the common Christian traveler. Read every word Manning says if you are struggling with the concept of God’s unconditional forgiveness, grace and love.
The Complete Green Letters. The emphasis of this work is our biblical and un-changeable Position in Christ versus our often sinful Condition in the world. When one reasons from their Condition – he/she is ripe for discouragement and the stigma of failure that can shut down spiritual growth. Christ’s work is forever finished! (John 19:30) so “we fight from victory, not for it,” as an old pastor friend reminded me. There may be a few theological bumps in this book for some readers, but it will unquestionably help you focus on the empowering side of life’s ledger … and live in the Spirit of the Risen Christ. Great and practical insights to the Bible are the harvest for the reader in Stanford’s “Letters” – to include a recurring emphasis on the great truths in Romans chapters 6-8.
A Man After God’s Own Heart. R. T. Kendall is a noted Christian author (Total Forgiveness is another of his books). This book focuses chapter by chapter on the events of David’s life (primarily through 1 & 2 Samuel). Knowing David’s trials and celebrated failures … and trusting that God Himself calls David “a man after His own heart” is incredibly freeing! The theology of grace was on display in David’s life and trials. The author helps one see God’s hand on the young shepherd, who defeated Goliath, yet fought larger giants in his personal life as a husband, father and king. David pours forth grace prophetically in the Psalms, reminding us that the solution to life’s ultimate dilemma comes to us from the Outside!
Surprised By Joy, The Problem of Pain, A Grief Observed, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, Miracles: Is it possible to enjoy the full riches of the Christian life without an infusion from the heart and mind of C. S. Lewis? The answer must be, “Yes,” but who wants to do that? This is just a sampling of the wisdom from Lewis’ pen. Every title takes us to a richer understanding of our faith in Christ as only C.S. Lewis can do. Read about Lewis’ faith journey (Surprised by Joy), fundamentals of our faith (The Great Divorce), the doubt, pain and agony he experienced in the death of his wife (A Grief Observed), and the wry and satirical battle Lewis describes in the fight with evil and temptation in The Screwtape Letters, to highlight just a few.
Knowing God*:This may be the second most influential book on my young Christian life (after the Bible). J.I. Packer delivers page after page of doctrinally sound wisdom and foundational truth, creating a comprehensive framework for the Christian life. Consider Knowing God for your small group, as the book has been updated with a Study Guide. Packer will ground you in God’s Truth, challenge your spiritual fundamentals and stimulate great dialog in your small group.
Morning by Morning, My Utmost For His Highest. The editor of these two devotionals was my good friend and spiritual coach, Jim Reimann. Jim died December 18, 2013 after a brief and harsh illness that did not squelch his love for God one iota! My Utmost for His Highest is a classic daily devotional full of the wisdom of Oswald Chambers. Morning by Morning is perhaps the finest devotional available today – chock full of the wisdom and heart of Charles Spurgeon – one of the great preachers of modern times. I could not recommend it more highly to start every day. Why? Because, “The Sovereign Lord awakens me morning by morning; he awakens my ears to listen, as one being taught,” (Isaiah 50:4)