Crazy Love by Francis Chan – Rarely do you find a book by a leader within the American Church that is so open and honest; so raw. Francis starts off with a fast walk, confronting us with our tendency to not approach God properly in prayer as well as sharing where he has been and come through. However, that walk busts into an all out sprint for the heart of God within just a few chapters. The journey through this book doesn’t make it feel like Francis is just hitting you over the head with the truth of the Bible (although truth has a way of doing that at times), it seems as though he is letting you in on a very personal journey of his own. His journey out of passive, timid, luke-warm response to the all powerful, all holy God’s love for him and us, to a full on deep intimacy that is more of a beautiful dance rather than a task-master to student relationship.
This book isn’t perfect, but it is excellent. I have found it to be one of my favorites of the summer, especially when limited to just thinking of books of the last 10 years or so. If I could encourage any Christian to read only 2 books to think differently about Christianity, God, Christ, and all that it implies; I’d definitely recommend Crazy Love (along with Radical by David Platt). This book should challenge you many times and spur you on to a deeper, more passionate seeking of the face of God. Gut check after gut check makes this book not for the faint of heart.
My dad likes to quote an Asbury professor (I believe) that when suggested a good book said “There are far too many great books for me to spend time in just good books.” This is a great book and well worth your time.
The Saving Life of Christ by Maj. Ian Thomas – Wow, what a great little book. Although I’ve recently heard sermons going over how the Exodus through to the Promise Land aligned with our own journey out of sin into fullness and victory in Christ, Maj. Thomas’s work digs down deep into each aspect of that journey.
From the idea that Moses’ killing of a Egyptian caused him to be unusable for 40 years, on to the idea that manna was only supposed to be temporary, finishing with the proposal that Moses was the last thing keeping the people out of the promised land, you are taken through a very compelling thought process about Israel and their sin keeping them from the plan. Beyond that, though, Thomas goes on to relate that to our own journeys as Christians. The desert wasn’t supposed to be more than a short journey to demonstrate our need to let God have control and trust fully in him. However, many of us, like the Israelites 40 years, spend so much time in the desert that we think that the promise of the Promise Land is something that is just lofty and not really for us or not tangible. There is promised victory by God and we have to take Him at His Word instead of being afraid of the giants in the land.
So much more truth unearthed in this book, that I whole-heartedly recommend that you spend some time picking it up. Another great book I would have probably never heard of without the great resource that is Nathan Johnson and his book suggestions (HERE).
Helps to Holiness by Samuel L. Brengle – Although I had spent some time in books on Holiness, especially biographies as of late, this little book seems to tackle it from all sorts of different angles like I’ve not seen before. Brengle takes the time to take you through some of his own experiences and even gives some practical steps in our own Christian walk as we seek to be holy as God is holy.
Overall this is a pretty good book. There are times when I was left scratching my head or just not really agreeing whole heartedly, but those were few and far between. One aspect that I felt Brengle nailed it was on the who idea of seeking the blessing of holiness or sanctification.
He talked about people who thought they had it and no longer spent time seeking it from God. How they left themselves to fall far short of the journey that led to sanctification as well as the moment the witness was confirmed by the Spirit, by no longer seeking God in that area. This is something I have been noticing in our own denomination. People that have grown up or spent considerable time in the idea of sanctification, assume they have it and seek it no longer. Meanwhile, their lives are largely lived devoid of the presence, the fruits, and the blessings of the Spirit. They live in defeat and all the while say they are sanctified. Brengle does a great job of addressing this.
If you are interested in knowing more about holiness and the Spirit and how an old Salvation Army leader from years long past views it, I would definitely suggest you spend time in this book! (Again, thanks to Nathan Johnson for the suggestion.)