C.S. Lewis was able to craft stories which captured hearts, minds, imaginations, and framed our desire for stories in the theological context of the greatest story. Lewis, who was a voracious reader himself once said, "We read to know we are not alone." For the Narnian books were a doorway into times of old, distant universes, plot lines and people who ignite our heart with drama and intellect.
As Christians we should be readers. To delight yourself in God's word is to submerge yourself in God's word. When David spoke of the Law of the Lord in Psalm 19, he said the content of it is "sweeter than honey." Certainly these emotions don't come from a cursory reading to check off devotions, this descriptive language comes from a man who consumed the word, the context, the wisdom of the book of the Lord.
For Christians our thoughtful and engaged reading of scripture should be a spring board into reading of other kinds. Readings, which as Lewis mentioned, opens our minds and forces us to think. Books which stretch our imagination and apply our theological framework to people and places we have never experienced.
Sometimes it can be a daunting task when it comes to picking from the millions of books available. So some of our staff has decided to recommend and share some of the books that they are reading, and some commentary on what made them good. Hopefully they will help pique your interest or provide a starting point for a new journey of your own.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas
Ever since I first picked up a copy of The Cost of Discipleship over 20 years ago, the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has inspired me. His life was focused around one goal: full, wholehearted discipleship to Jesus Christ. When the Nazis came to power in his native Germany, his faith would be tested and challenged in profound ways. His discipleship and faithfulness to the Lord propelled him to become involved in the German resistance movement and its attempts to assassinate Hitler, which would ultimately lead to his execution. This biography came out several years ago and provides an engaging and thought-provoking presentation of this extraordinary life.
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Dostoyevsky is a remarkably perceptive describer of the human condition, and he writes from a deeply Christian framework. Reading him will help you understand yourself and others better. Crime and Punishment tells the story of sin committed and the resultant guilt, justifications, and isolation. But it also points to the freedom of repentance.
Delighting in the Trinity, Michael Reeves
Rarely have I stumbled upon a theological book that has been so interesting, faith-shaping, and, yes, delightful. Too often I have thought about the Trinity as true but a bit dull, but this book paints a very different, yet robustly biblical, picture of the Trinity. The Trinity is at the core of who God is and what he does. And this nature of God is what makes him beautiful, loving, giving, and praise-worthy.
Christ Formed In You, Brian Hedges
Far and away the most enjoyable book I've read in the past nine months. Thinking systematically is natural to me but it's not beneficial if you have a random starting point. Thinking (as opposed to feeling) about God is the one aspect of my faith that has changed in the last ten years. The title of the book Christ Formed In You is what caught my attention but its content and bedrock approach is what held me. CFIY started out rightly for anyone who wants personal change: Restoring God's Broken Image: The Goal. It begins there and ends with my life in community (the Church). A final quote from the author is in this last chapter. "As believers we hunger for both greater Christlikeness (to be less selfish) and for deeper relationships (to feel less isolated). These two desires work in tandem." I highly recommend this book for all Christians
Biblical Theology In the Life of the Church, Michael Lawrence
I have read a lot on Biblical theology in the last year and a half and this book was probably the best when it came to giving an introduction to what Biblical Theology is, and a great practical exposition of why it is important in the life of the church. Lawrence's light writing and realistic edge make this book a great read for a community group leader, elder or deacon looking for new insights in how to apply the Bible to your daily ministry.
Unceasing Worship, Harold Best
I was actually reading another book in which Harold Best wrote a contributing chapter. After reading Best's insight on worship and his Biblical backing for what worship is, I immediately went out and bought Unceasing Worship to get his full thoughts on the matter. This book is worth the price for just the first two chapters alone. In these two chapters Best does his greatest work as he ties worship first and foremost to faith rather than experience (church, music...etc). It is only when you have a faith fueled worship that you can properly continue in "unceasing worship." This book consists of two parts, the first is for all Christians, the second part is for Christian artists (musician, painter, author...etc). I highly recommend this book.
Thoughts for Young Men, J.C. Ryle
I recommended this same book around the same time last year. Next year I will probably recommend it again. I cannot begin to emphasis the weight of the matter Ryle attacks in so few pages in this little book. While the book is titled, Thoughts for Young Men, I hope to read it each year until I am far beyond the time of my youth. Men, please read this book. Young Men, treasure this book.