What I'm Reading and Re-Reading
Reading good, solid Chrisitan books is a fantastic way to continue to grow in your faith. Please note the qualilfiers 'good' and 'solid' when it comes to books. Unfortunately there are many 'Christian' books out that are not theologically sound at all. Because I love to read, I thought it might be helpful to you, I pray it will at least, from time to time to share what I am reading (or re-reading as the case may be), so you might consider picking up a copy and reading the book yourself, or, if you listen to audio books, picking up the book on audio.
It's been some time since I first picked up The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan. Written in 1677, this book is definitely one of those Christian classics that every believer should at some point read. The story is an allegory of a man named 'Christian' who leaves his city 'The City of Destruction' to make his way toward 'The Celestial City'-and the story is about his journey. He carries a terrible, heavy burden on his back (the knowledge of his sin), and along the way on his journey, he encounters both helpful and unhelpful persons. The story is powerful and a great reminder and a vivid picture of what it means for us to be on the narrow path that leads to Christ. I don't want to get into an entire book report here, but as Christians in American culture, a culture that is increasingly hostile to our faith as well as seeking to 're-imagine' or 're-envision' or 'deconstruct' the faith, this book is a refreshing reminder of what it means to pursue Jesus and to follow Him.
Note: Because the book is older, you may want to look for a slightly modernized English translation. This book is great for adults or for parents to read to kids.
Related to this issue of following Jesus and hardships, I am also re-reading Foxes Book of Martyrs, but the edition I am reading is actually an updated one released by The Voice of the Martyrs ministry. It includes Foxe's original work but also expands to include short stories of martyrs up to the present.
I believe it is important for Christians in the West to have a greater understanding of church history, and, to know about the people through history, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who were martyred for their faith, people who refused to compromise, even though it cost them everything. The book reminds us time and time again of Jesus' words 'if they persecute Me, they will persecute you,' and Paul's promise that 'all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution.'
This persecution does not always mean martyrdom. It can be that we are hated, or disliked, or ostracized or criticized or suffer some kind of loss or 'penalty,' but it can also mean much more, and Foxes Book of Martyrs tells the stories of people who paid 'so much more,' as they followed Christ faithfully to the end. Some you will know, others you won't (but need to). As we look at what it means to boldly stand for Christ in a culture that is increasingly hostile towards Christ and Christianity, this book is another inspirational help.
I am also reading 'Another Gospel?' by Alisa Childers. Childers grew up in a great and solid Christian home, came to faith at a young age, and in her own words was 'that girl,' meaning 'she really did walk the straight and narrow. She loved Jesus and never really rebelled. She was always in church and knew all the Sunday school answers. She went on to be a member of the Contemporary Christian Music band, ZOEGirl. She toured and sang and was passionate for Jesus and to see the lost come to faith.
Then, as a young mother, her world was rocked. She and her husband moved and as they were looking for a church, they stumbled into a church that was not what it seemed to be. Without giving too much away, they had stumbled into a 'progressive church' (and many churches are sliding in this direction) and in that context, the pastor, who referred to himself in a small group study as a 'hopeful agnostic' (that's right, the pastor), and then that pastor went about subverting and casting great doubt on the major and foundational issues and doctrines of our faith.
Childers was shaken profoundly. She had never heard these arguments and objections, and certainly wasn't expecting them in a church. Ironically, many of these arguments are the same ones made by athiests today. Childers found herself at the point where her faith was shaken so terribly, she was wondering if anything she believed was even true.
She ended up encountering solid biblical teachers and writers who were able to help her think deeply about her faith and how to answer these objections in a logical and factual manner, and from that severe trial, she came out stronger and with a passion to help equip others to know what they believe and why.
I think this is a book every parent should own and read. Your kids (and grandkids) are going to be facing these objections and issues, if they have already not, and if they do not know what they believe or why, their stories might not turn out like Childers' has. This book is an important book for this time. It's not a matter of 'if' but 'when' your child or grandchild is faced with the exact same arguments, either from an athiest or someone who professes to be a Christian (often in the progressive and or social justice/woke 'stream') and the question you must ask is: 'are they ready for that time? Are you, ready?'
We are to always be prepared to give reason for the Hope that is within us. I commend this book to you.
Lastly, I am reading a wonderful, small book by John Lennox, entitled 'Have no Fear' -Being Salt and Light Even When It's Costly. Noticing a theme here...? Lennox is a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford, meaning: he's a rather smart fellow.
His writing stlye is highly accessible and very practical. This book is highly practical. Lennox gives great insight into defending the faith, sharing Jesus, witnessing, living out what you profess to believe and explaining salvation to others. He tells personal stories that are helpful as well. Being a bold follower of Jesus in the intellectual circles he lives and works in, is not an easy thing. He has faced ridicule and much pressure to 'tone it down' and to 'conform,' yet Lennox continues to be a winsome, humble, bold and gracious witness for Christ. This little book is a wonderful companion for the age we live in.
I hope you'll check out one or more of these books. I think you'll be blessed by them!
Grace to You,
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