A Year Of Reading

As we move through Advent and into a New Year, I would like to highlight a few of the books I recommended through my monthly articles in my church’s newsletter this past year and look forward to another awesome year of reading, sharing books, and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.

Here it goes and in no particular order.

The Year of Living like Jesus, evangelical Ed Dobson inspired by A J Jacobs A Year of Living Biblically spends a year reading the gospels and trying live a Christ-like life. He has many adventures in this humorous and thought-provoking book, one of the better points Dobson makes is Christians don’t read the gospels enough. A good book to use for a Bible study, it could be read quickly or read like a devotional and used to explore the gospels at a deeper level. If you were to read only one Christian book this year, I would suggest it be this book.

Tony Campolo’s Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God an insightful book shows what following Jesus really looks like. In a series of essays Campolo tackles such topics as how to exhibit a Christian lifestyle without moving into a commune, have a devotional life without becoming a monk, figure out the will of God without hearing voices from heaven, looking forward to Jesus’ return without being a date-setter, how to care for people without being exploited, and getting ready to die without pretending it’s no problem. Campolo a passionate, intelligent and informed writer and speaker is one of my favorite preachers, and I enjoy watching his sermons on YouTube. This would be a good book to dive into the insights of this incredible Christian thinker if you have not yet done so.

Why I Am A Christian by John Stott, a short honest and concise introduction to the Christian faith and what it means to follow Jesus how it changes your life. A good book to handout to friends and family who are open to considering Christianity, but aren’t sure they want to commit. I wished someone had handed me this book when I was struggling with becoming a Christian. It could also be a good refresher for long-time Christians. Therefore, I say no matter where you are with your walk with Christ read it and if you have read it and it’s been a while read it again.

The opening chapter: The Hound of Heaven talks about how God pursues man and how God desires a relationship with each of us. He fleshes out the story of Francis Thompson (author of the poem The Hound of Heaven) then goes on to share the stories of Apostle Paul, St. Augustine, and C.S. Lewis. The second chapter is about the claims of Jesus. Then, He goes on to talk about the cross, man and sin, finding our truest fulfillment in Jesus and the invitation to “come and see” that Jesus is good.

Stott starts with God’s pursuit of man and ends with Jesus’ invitation to everyone to follow him.

At the end of the second chapter Stott writes, “Why am I a Christian? Intellectually speaking, it is because of the paradox of Jesus. It is because he who claimed to be his disciples’ Lord humbled himself to be their servant.”

The Cost of Discipleship; first, this is a tough book it is not for pew-sitters, but for those who are serious about their Christianity. As Bonheoffer writes, “If our Christianity has ceased to be serious about discipleship, If we have watered down the gospel into emotional uplift which makes no costly demands and which fails to distinguish between natural and Christian existence, then we cannot help regarding the cross as an ordinary everyday calamity, as one of the trials and tribulations of life. We have then forgotten that the cross means rejection and shame as well as suffering.”

The Cost of Discipleship is a classic exposition of what it means to follow Jesus in a modern world. It begins with a chapter called Costly Grace, “Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.” Four chapters on discipleship follow and then an interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount ends with a series of chapters on the meaning and life of church. This book speaks deeply about what Jesus demands of his followers—how the life of discipleship is to be continued in all ages.

This challenging book isn’t a comfortable read. As part of my bible study group, we wrestled with this powerful book over This past summer fall and I learned many valuable things through our study of this book. One of which is that if I am to be true to my commitment to following Jesus it should impact my life and change me into a better person. I should live my Christian faith and not just talk about it.

Don’t read this book if you want to a lead a safe life that demands nothing of you and don’t want to risk everything for your faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. On the other hand, if you want your life shaped by your faith and influence others by it, then read this book. This book is for anyone who is serious about Christianity.

Richard Foster’s Streams of Living Water is a book that celebrates the great traditions of the Christian faith and the role of spirituality. This excellent book examines the six dimensions (contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incartional traditions) of faith and practice that define the Christian tradition. It also speaks about how all these streams are found in the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. Foster lifts up the character of each tradition and shows how a variety of practices are essential for growth and maturity. This book brings a rich and enlightening invitation into the life of discipleship and a good way to learn how to practice your faith in a real life way.

As always, if you would like to discuss these books, any others or any other topic you can send me a message. I would love to hear from you and will respond to any questions or comments you may have.

Until next time, keep reading.

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