Categories
bible art Book Review Christian Books Christianity faith God Goodreads Jesus Religion

Book Recommendations

When I first came to faith, I filled bookcase upon bookcase with Christian Literature.  I just could not get enough!  I was about 38 years old and I felt as though I had 38 years of not being a Christian to make up for!!! I began reading the Good News Bible, then I read about Paul the Apostle before discovering John Stott who I found most helpful.  Below, I have made a list of books that I have rated 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads.  Some I read a long time ago, some very recently.  I have tried to divide them into different categories, however, it is sometimes the case that a book could have slid into a few categories or that a book is probably on the outer edge of that particular category but that is where I found it rested best.  For anyone living close to me, you would be so welcome to borrow any of my books, for others, you could try a local library, or there are some charity shops which stock Christian material.  Another option is looking at second-hand versions online.  Many of mine are preloved and still in great condition! Some may be reasonably priced new and others slightly more expensive. 

I pray that you uncover the same enthusiasm for Christian Literature that I did.  Please do not be put off if you read the occasional book that does not resonate with you at all or that you find to be doctrinally wrong.  This is inevitable if you are going through books like I did!  Just read carefully, always checking Scripture references and reading your Bible alongside.  If a book does not feel right, just put it down and start another one.  There is such a wealth of Christian Literature that it is inevitable some will be doctrinally unsound, so just use your God given wisdom to seek out the truth from the lies.

Happy Reading!!  

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Teaching on Doctrine

AuthorTitleStars
ATB McGowanThe New Birth: What Born Again Really Means5
J I PackerKnowing God5
 A Passion for Holiness5
Bruce MilneKnow the Truth5
C. S. LewisMere Christianity5

Teaching on History

AuthorTitleStars
Robert HuberThe One Stop Guide to the History of the Bible5
The New Lion HandbookThe History of Christianity4
Jenny RobertsonStrength of the Hills5
Bruce FiskA Hitchhikers Guide to Jesus4
Bernhard AndersonThe Living World of the Old Testament4
Terry Glaspey75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music and Film4

Understanding Scripture

AuthorTitleStars
John StottThrough the Bible Through the Year5
 Understanding the Bible5
Mark StaussFour Portraits: One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels5
David PawsonUnlocking the Bible5

Practical Help

AuthorTitleStars
Craig GroeschelDivine Direction: 7 Decisions that will Change your Life4
R T KendallWhen God Shows Up: Expecting the Unexpected5
Max LucadoOutlive your Life: You were Made to Make a Difference5
 In the Eye of the Storm5
 Come Thirsty: No Heart too Dry for His Touch4
John OrtbergIf you want to Walk on Water, you’ve got to get out of the Boat5
Rod ParsleyAncient Wells, Living Water: God Invites you to Come and Drink5
Nicky GumbelChallenging Lifestyle5
 A Life Worth Living5
Justin EarleyThe Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction5
Christina VinsonGod’s Peace When You Can’t Sleep5
Tony EvansDiscover Your Destiny: Let God Use You Like He Made You5
Robert J MorganReclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in Jesus4
Jennie AllenGet Out of Your Head4
Angus BuchanFaith Like Potatoes5
 A Rushing Mighty Wind5
 The Secret Place: Finding Quiet Time in the Presence of God5
 Come of Age: The Road to Spiritual Maturity5
Celia MarieGod Given Food: A Bible Study & Beyond4
Lee StrobelThe Case for Christ5
 The Case for A Creator4
 The Case for Faith4

Church and Revival

AuthorTitleStars
Richard TaylorHow to Read a Church5
Jim WilkinsonMiracle Valley: The Story of Hollybush Farm5

Missionaries

AuthorTitleStars
Paul HattawayThe Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun5
Brother AndrewGod’s Smuggler4
Max MyersEyes Turned Skywards4

Autobiographies/Biographies

AuthorTitleStars
Don Piper90 Minutes in Heaven5
Heroes of the FaithWilliam Carey5
 David Livingstone5
Oswald ChambersHis Life and Work5
Corrie Ten BoomIn My Father’s House5
 The Hiding Place5
 Tramp for the Lord4
John PollockPaul the Apostle4
Alexander WhyteApostle Paul5
John FoxeFoxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World5
Jock PurvesFair Sunshine4

Devotionals

AuthorTitleStars
Angus BuchanNow Is the Time Daily Devotional5
Alistair BeggRuth: 30 Day Devotional4
Oswald ChambersMy Utmost Devotional Bible5
 My Utmost for His Highest5
Selwyn Hughes & Trevor J PartridgeCharacter by Character, 365 Daily Readings5

Lastly, just a few extras.

Recently I have found the book of Common Order to be useful for prayers.  When you just do not know what to say, you can have a look at this book and there are prayers for morning, evening etc.

Also, an interesting way to the read Scripture is The Books of the Bible (NIV).  Here the chapters and verses have been stripped away leaving the text more like the original Scriptures.  The headings and verses were added in the 1600s so they may lead us to interpretations that are not helpful.  Here, you can read, for instance, the letters of Paul as a complete letter which would have been received by the addressee!!

Categories
Christianity faith God Jesus Love racism Religion

Church and Faith: Dead or Alive

I understand only too well what faith looks like both dead and alive as I have experienced both.  I have experienced a complete lack of trust in God, I have experienced anger with God, I have ignored God completely and rested on my own strength and I have doubted the very existence of God.  I have fooled myself by believing I was alive in faith when, in reality, my faith was dead.

Recently, thanks be to God, I have discovered what faith looks like when it is alive!!  Lockdown has literally saved my husband and I.  While, before our faith was dead, we are now truly alive in Christ!  We live for Jesus.  Previously, my husband, like many others, whiled away his days staring at his phone, now, he wakes at 5am for prayer and study before work at 9am.  He had intended to sleep until 7 or 8 at the weekend but he has been unable to, he is too excited to spend time with God!  He is reading an impossible number of books in order that he can write a book for new Christians exploring who Jesus is!  I have spent lockdown making lots of new Christian friends, I have undertaken various studies and summits which have inspired me greatly, without them I would not be writing this blog! Our plans are no longer our own and we are happier than we have ever been!  I woke this morning after a very disturbed night’s sleep and I thought I will just have a relaxing day, finish the book I am reading entitled “God’s Smuggler”, catch up on some housework and do some craft.  God had other ideas!  As I began to get ready and look forward to my lazy day, my mind became inundated with thoughts.  This has happened a lot since I became “alive” especially since I started writing my blog!  This told me that God had other plans for my day!  So here I am trying to assemble my racing thoughts into coherent English once again.  You may ask, how do you know this is of God?  The answer is simple, because despite my idea of a relaxing day being turned on its head and my plans being totally disrupted, I am happy, I am excited, I am eager.  At the drop of a hat, my plans changed, and I delighted in it.  I delight in it because I know that this is God’s will, that by writing this I please God and that by writing this I may help even one person who is struggling with their faith. 

Coming to faith or indeed recognizing your faith is dead can be torturous, it can be mentally exhausting, you can be confused about who you are!  For years I was at war with myself, I was a soldier in a silent battle between God’s will and my own.  When I was defeated and accepted God’s victory, I then became swamped with questions, far more than I could find answers to!  By my own selfishness I had kept Jesus at arm’s length and, inevitably, this is why my personal journey was so difficult.  I did not want to let go of “my life”.  I liked my life just the way it was, or at least I thought I did.  It took far too long but, finally, I realised that the very things I thought made me happy were having the opposite effect.  Life will never go the way we want it to all the time and therefore, focussing on oneself is unlikely to lead to happiness.  This is a difficult concept to understand as it contradicts our modern thinking which advises “Be who you want to be!”, “Do what makes you happy!”” etc. etc.  This may work when you are employed, healthy, in love etc.  What happens when you are sick, you lose your job, your partner leaves, how do we just make ourselves happy then?  The reality is true happiness and contentment is found only in Jesus.  The peace and happiness that rests in your heart when you finally ditch your sense of self and accept God’s will in your life is unlike anything else one can experience. 

So how can you achieve this?  Well, for me, it was learning to trust God, to completely trust that everything that is happening in my life right now is God’s will and that it is for the good.  I may not see the good in this lifetime, but I trust at some point, I will!  It is surrounding yourself with faithful believers.  Lockdown has provided so many opportunities for me to join in different church services, bible studies, summits, conferences etc. that I otherwise would have been unable to attend.  This has literally changed my life, from the Cheerfully Given Creative Christianity Summit which turned me from an adamant uncreative whose biggest artistic achievement would be the sun, grass, bird, house picture of a four year old child to a buzzing creative with her own craft trolley, who is so full of ideas that she carries a notebook around with her at all times so that her head does not explode! The Aberdeen Christian Fellowship Big Church Weekend which brought my husband and I into the community of believers in Christ who welcomed us warmly.  The Alpha Course where we met fabulous new friends who we keep in touch with regularly, we chat, we laugh, we pray for each other and, God willing, we will soon meet each other face to face for a time of fellowship.  Watching Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men’s Conferences which due to Covid are broadcast online!  Seeing the faithful heart of Angus Buchan inspires us so much to follow in his footsteps, to live our lives for Christ.  Watching an African Church Service where praise is paramount, little is spoken without “Amen” or “Halleluiah”.  This is the faith I strive for, the faith to praise Jesus without fear or embarrassment.  A “Get Out Of Your Head Bible Study” where as a group of women we come together to discuss our struggles and our faith, we pray for each other and we learn from each other and I see Jesus in each and every one of these woman.  Scripture tells us how important it is to fellowship with one another, Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I fully understand the fears that you may have as new Christians reaching out to believers.  It can be difficult; I understand that churches can be cliquey, and some church goers may not be approachable.  I want to say to you that this is your time!!  Coronavirus may have been meant for bad, but God is using it for good.  I would not have had the confidence to attend the above in person and though I was still apprehensive, sitting in my own house, in my chilling clothes made things much easier!  I did not have to worry about my appearance, I did not have to worry about whether I could escape if I were uncomfortable and anxious because all I needed to do was press the Leave Meeting button!  Luckily, I have never felt the need to do this!  So, I urge you, give it a go!  Sign up for Alpha, watch a church service, sign up to Bible Studies or small groups.  Just have a peek and see!!    

For the church, this is the time to rise to the challenge.  Statistics show a huge rise in church attendance during this pandemic, people are interested, people want to know more, people need Jesus.  Acts 2:46-47 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Like Martin Luther King Jr I too have a dream and mine is this … that we will see the Church of God come alive.  That the church will unite throughout the world focussing on union and not division.  That this church will exist for the glory of God and that the living Word of God will be preached with joy and love and without errancy.  That this church will welcome each and every soul as their brother or sister, that they will be welcomed with open arms and encouraged each step of their journey and that those who arrive as strangers, leave as family.  I dream that this church will heal the sick and save the lost.  That testimonies will be shared with joy and fervour.  That the praise will be resounding and powerful that those outside of the building may know that God is alive.  That the walls of this church will tremble from the vociferous preaching held in its midst and that this good news will flow to the ends of the earth and not be silenced.  That no brother or sister is left in any need, but is provided for financially, practically, and emotionally and that this church stands together, shoulder to shoulder with each other living out the graceful love of God.

Ephesians 2:19-20 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” 

Romans 12:4-5 “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

1 Corinthians 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

Let this season of tragedy emerge a season of triumph!  Let the people come!!

Love and Blessings

Louise xx