Compelling Reads

Anything written by Anne Lamott

A Praying Life
by Paul E. Miller

I loved the very honest descriptions of the challenges of prayer with which I could easily identify.  That is is often “more challenging to our faith to pray than not to pray” is a reality that this book helped me to examine and ultimately move through to a more biblical understanding of prayer.

Eyes Wide Open by William Romanowski

Christians take widely varying approaches to pop culture.  What in the world does the old admonition to be “in the world but not of the world” mean anyway?  Romanowski does more than give new laws for the engagement in the world around us.  He provides the lense of the Gospel, the person and work of Jesus throughout redemptive history, by which to view and interpret and enjoy the wide spectrum of media and the arts.  I am grateful to be taken beyond the typical Christian moralistic movie review strategies and see the story of redemption being told in what might be the most unexpected places.

Holiness By Grace
by Bryan Chapell

Bryan Chapell was one of the first to put flesh on the application of the person and work of Jesus to my life as a Christian.  Grace does not mean that we are not required to meet every demand of the law anymore, because we are.  But grace means that it will be met fully in us as we stand in His accomplishment of it because we will never be able to it apart from Him.  We are called to be holy as He is holy, but He will provide the holiness He demands.  Chapell’s illustrations make what might be complicated theology incredibly accessible to every Christian.

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands
by Paul David Tripp

“In many ways, the church today has more consumers than committed participants. We see church merely as an event we attend or an organization we belong to, rather than as a calling that shapes our entire life. Many of us would be relieved if God had placed our sanctification in the hands of trained professionals, but that simply is not the biblical model. God’s plan is that through the faithful ministry of every part, the whole body will grow to maturity in Christ. All of his children are called into ministry, and each of them needs the daily intervention this ministry provides. God uses people, who need change themselves, as instruments of change in others. Tripp explains how his work follows an “all of my people, all of the time” model. If you followed the Lord for a thousand years, you would still need the ministry of the body of Christ as much as you did the day you first believed. This need will remain until our sanctification is complete in Glory.” (Amazon write up on this book)

Last Things First by J.V. Fesko

You cannot really understand the story of redemption without understanding how it is introduced and explained in the first three chapters of Genesis.  Likewise, we have the revelation of Jesus to help us understand what the first audience of Moses could not have fully grasped.  Fesko brilliantly shows the continuity of Scripture by pointing out the imagery of Genesis 1-3 as it is developed from Genesis to Revelation and helps the reader see the richness and intentionality of the story being told in all its pages.

Preaching Christ in All of Scripture
by Edmund Clowney

While this is a book about preaching sermons, it is easily read and appreciated by anyone who picks it up.  By looking at various stories often used in sermons and showing the necessity of interpreting through the person and work of Jesus, Clowney helps to combat our typical tendency to take Scripture and apply it by moralism or allegory as if Jesus was absent from most of its pages.

The Bondage of the Will
by Martin Luther

Because we typically understand free will to mean that we all can do whatever we want to do, Martin Luther’s writing is significant in shifting our paradigm on this crucial theological matter.  As Paul lamented that he does what he does not want to do and doesn’t do what he knows he should, Luther explains this bondage of the will to sin.  Our will wants only to be our own god so the “freedom” of our will is only to sin and never to choose freely to submit our wills to another.  Only His power at work in us releases us from this self-serving inclination.

The Emotionally Healthy Church
by Peter Scazzero

I have often been wary of emotions and their being talked about too much.  I don’t like it when they take grreater authority in decision making than Jesus.  However, that is not the nature of this book.  Instead, Scazzero helps us to uncover the great dishonesty and handicap in true spiritual growth, which is ignoring our emotions within the church.  While gnostism and stoicism are not biblical, we live as if the ultimate in holiness is pressing through and ignoring hurt feelings, depression, anger or even delights and celebrations.  Our emotions serve as lights on the dashboard telling us that there is something happening under the hood that needs to be examined and addressed by the person and work of Jesus.  This book helps us both to do that and to invite the person and work of Jesus more fully into our communities as a result.

When People are Big and God is Small
by Edward T. Welch

Need people less. Love people more. That’s the author’s challenge…. He’s talking about a tendency to hold other people in awe, to be controlled and mastered by them, to depend on them for what God alone can give. Mr. Welch proposes an antidote: the fear of God… the believer’s response to God’s power, majesty and not least His mercy.  (Amazon write up)