Monday, December 7, 2009

Christian Book Recommendations

Barb Harwood, photo

Some books are truly a gift that keeps on giving, and this is especially true of books that rightly handle the Word of God. I’ve put together an informal list of books that impacted me in my walk with God and that I refer back to often, if not daily. Perhaps there is a book here that would make a nice gift for the Christian or lost soul in your life.

I must begin this list with the Bible. I can’t stress enough that the Bible must be read first and daily. Other books are great, but if they replace Bible reading, they come between God and us. Books on Christian living and theology must never take the place of Scripture, and everything in a book must always be tested against what the Bible says. The Bible is our authority, written by the Author of all Creation.

With that, here goes:

For Daily Devotions:

+My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. If I skip my time in this book for even one day, I regret it. There isn’t one book other than the Bible that has had as much of an impact on my spiritual maturity as this book. I know I’m not alone in saying this.

+Morning and Evening, the classic devotional by Charles Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Another daily read of mine, Spurgeon is poetic, passionate, encouraging and convicting. He’s the only theologian I’ve read who can write a sentence like this: “Sweet is the cool twilight, when every star seems like the eye of heaven and the cool wind is as the breath of celestial love” and yet in the next breath reveal a truth such as this: “Satan can climb housetops and enter closets, and even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless grace prevents it.”

For the high school and college set:

+Stand Strong in College by Alex McFarland. I heard Mr. McFarland speak at the 2007 Southern Evangelical Seminary Apologetics conference. McFarland is a young, perhaps 40-ish-something who would be a great next-door neighbor. He’s funny and down to earth, but serious about his commitment to the Lord and about encouraging our young people to be equally committed to standing firm in their faith while in college. This is a really excellent book and I wish someone had given me a book like this when I was in high school.

+The Naked Truth by Lakita Garth. When I heard Garth speak at Judson University in February of 2008, I wanted to hug her for her abstinence message! She is the only—I repeat only—Christian woman that I know of who is an unashamedly confident advocate for the liberation of women from giving themselves away sexually. (I say women here because I’ve always said that true “women’s lib” is to say “no” to sex before marriage and all the physical and emotional baggage that comes with premarital sex). Every girl and guy on the planet needs to read this book and hear Garth speak. She is a committed and joyful Christian who walked the abstinence path herself before marriage and who is wonderfully exuberant about conveying that awesome freedom in Christ to young women and men.

For Christian Growth:

+The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith: I will have to write a complete blog post on this book. Suffice it to say that it was the first book I read (sheepishly, I might add) when God began tugging at my heart and mind to seek Him. Let’s just say I credit this book and the Bible for the beginning of my becoming a Christian.

+The All-Sufficient Christ, studies in Paul’s letter to the Colossians by William Barclay

+The Extraordinariness of the Christian Life by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

+The Letters of John Newton (author of Amazing Grace)

+Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

+Real Christianity by William Wilberforce (abolished the British slave trade in 1807)

+The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This book should be on the syllabus of every college psychology course.

+The Apologetics of Jesus: A Caring Approach to Dealing with Doubters by Norman L. Geisler and Patrick Zukeran. Loaded with Scriptural references to support Jesus’ use of testimony, miracles, reason, parables, prophecy, etc.

+The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series by John MacArthur. I love anything and everything by John MacArthur. Along with Oswald Chambers, the work of MacArthur has been indispensable in my, and many other folks, daily Christian life. I currently am reading his commentary on 2 Timothy.

+Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. This is a must-read for any church, pastor or congregant who is dabbling in the emergent church movement.

+Man in White by Johnny Cash. This is Cash’s first-person fictional account that brings to life the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Cash was a devout Christian, a man who knew what it was to be forgiven much. I once heard Larry King ask Cash, towards the end of his life, if Cash was mad at God (Cash had just lost his wife June and was now struggling with his own health issues.) I’ll never forget the look on Cash’s face as he answered the question, saying, “No, No, I’m not mad at God. Why would I be mad at God?” He went on to say how humbled and grateful he was for all that God had done in his life. It was a true and exceedingly rare reverence for God that I saw in Cash that day. That reverence comes through in Man in White. (Unfortunately this book may be out of print. Check online used bookstores).

I’m sure I’ve left off a book or two. And I have many waiting in the wings to be picked up and explored. I’ll have to write about those next time.

May God richly bless you with His Word this Christmas~

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

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