It’s that time of year again: three and a half months of Summer Holiday alternatively both a joy and a trail. A joy because, hey, it may actually be sunny this year and a trail because three and a half months is a long time and a lot of it appears to be covered with the mindless drudgery of minimum wage jobs. And possibly, just possibly, a trip to Russia.
Anyway, I’m not here to bore you with my holiday plans instead I’m going to recommend some reading to you. I think a wise use of our holiday time is to read solid spiritual books that challenge us and help us to grow as Christians. But such books can be difficult to find; just because a book is ‘Christian’ does not make it worth reading.
So here are some good Christian books I whole heartedly recommend to you. I can’t claim any credit for finding them as in every case they were recommended to me by another Christian. (Bonus points awarded if you can find them for a cheaper price)
If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat
By John Ortberg, £5.99
Read this book! Seriously, this is currently top of my non Bible Christian book list. It’s challenging and well written, humorous but never to the point where the humour becomes more important that the message. It’s easy to pick up and impossible to put down. I read this on a train journey and kept scaring fellow passengers by laughing both with humour and sheer joy.
At the heart of this book is a simple message: if we want to grow spiritually we need to step outside our comfort zone (our ‘boat’). Then John goes on to expand on what stops us making that step out the boat and the promises of God in relation to ‘water walking’. So whether you’re firmly in your boat or about to step out it please read this book.
The Disciplines of a Godly Man (only 1 left on Amazon, order quick!)
By R Kent Hughes, £7.93
Are you a man? Do you want to be a godly man? If so then you can make no better start than reading this book. The author discusses seventeen disciplines a godly man should have. I know, seventeen! But Hughes’ advice and biblical based wisdom shines through in each chapter. My only criticism of it is that the chapters sometimes seem a little short and I often wanted him to go into more detail. What I love about this book is the emphasis the author places on the fact that developing these seventeen disciplines is hard work and we shouldn’t shrink from putting blood, sweat and tears into growing spiritually. One of the author’s opening quotes is from Timothy:
“Rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
1 Timothy 4 v 7 - 8
There is also a version for women that, funnily enough, I haven’t read. It’s by R Hughes’ wife and costs £7.53 (40p cheaper than the man’s version – talk about sexism!) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Disciplines-Godly-Woman-Barbara-Hughes/dp/1581347596/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274017060&sr=8-1
The Screwtape Letters
By C.S. Lewis, £4.97
This is a work of fiction by C.S. Lewis and it imagines a series of letters between a senior demon and his junior counterpart. It’s a simple allegory but very effective in getting over the duplicity and cunning of the Devil in tempting Christians and causing them to stray in the faith. It’s a short read but well worth it and provides good insights into the way our own sinful minds work. To quote Luther:
“The best way to drive out the Devil, if he will not yield to the texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.”
By J.I. Packer, £8.99
How is your theology? How is your own personal knowledge of the Lord God Almighty? Ever feel like you should know God better? Well, start here. Even if you think you’ve already got all the answers read this just to be sure you have. What this book provides is a readable introduction to the very basics of our faith: the character of God.
As such it is a must read. For as the author writes in the preface: “Christian minds have conformed to the modern spirit: the spirit, that is, that spawns great thoughts of man and leaves room for only small thoughts of God.”
Our thoughts of God are never has BIG as they should be. Reading this book goes a long way to making them bigger. I would recommend this as a necessity in the age we live where shoddy thinking is sadly all too common especially when it comes to God. It is more ‘technical’ than other books I’ve recommended but still easy to read and anyway it’s well worth the effort.
Boy Meets Girl
By Joshua Harris, £6.26
This is Harris’ second book on the Biblical way to date (i.e. don’t). I recommend it because it basically goes over what he said in his first book (I kissed dating goodbye) and then goes further to talk about Courtship – the Biblical way to go from being single to being married. As is to be expected it goes totally against the current ‘play the field’ dating mentality of our modern culture.
It is infinitely readable and uses lots of examples many of which are a nice mix between ‘awwww’ and ‘ha ha ha!’ Or maybe that was just me…Regardless, it sets the record straight on how Christians should pursue relationships with the opposite sex but more than that I really felt when I was reading this that I was undergoing a spiritual refreshing such is the enthusiasm Joshua displays for the Word of God and the glory of how God’s plans for Christians, courtship and marriage work out. Again, I have just the slightest of criticisms and that is that the book is very ‘American’ and a few minor parts do not translate well into British culture. However, the basics of the book and its cornerstone verses remain applicable. The importance of patience, wisdom and holiness are reinforced throughout.
Do you want to know what’s the amazing thing about the above books? First is the fact that you can get them all for the price of £34.14! The cost of two DVDs, ten beers or 3414 one penny sweets. So what are you waiting for? Buy!
The second amazing fact is that I only read these over the past year! And these books were used by God to wake me up from the spiritual stupor I was in. I can quite honestly say that if I hadn’t read these books and if God had blessed my reading of them then this blog wouldn’t exist and worse I’d still be bumping along the bottom spiritually speaking.
Of course, these books don’t replace the Bible but they will fire you up, they’ll reignite your soul for Christ and they’ll challenge you to totally re-think your life in the best way possible.
As for what I’m going to read over the Summer Holidays, well, I’m going to finally get round to reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis; a book on the end of the world which I’ve forgotten the name of; Predestination which will hopefully be about exactly what it says on its cover and various books on Christian Economics.
I’d encourage you to leave suggestions for other excellent Christian books in the comment section below.