Tag Archives: God

Three Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading this Fall

I love to read and to learn and to share resources with others… and I’m really looking forward to reading these 3 books this fall by 3 of my favorite authors:

“We all pray . . . some. We pray to stay sober, centered, or solvent. When the lump is deemed malignant. When the money runs out before the month does. When the marriage is falling apart. We pray. But wouldn’t we like to pray more? Better? Stronger? With more fire, faith, and fervency? Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet. The calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit. And what about our checkered history with prayer? Uncertain words. Unmet expectations. Unanswered requests. We aren’t the first to struggle with prayer. The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance too. In fact, prayer is the only tutorial they ever requested. And Jesus gave them a prayer. Not a lecture on prayer. Not the doctrine of prayer. He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer. Couldn’t we use the same? In Before Amen best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts and confidence even for prayer wimps. Distilling prayers in the Bible down to one pocket-sized prayer, Max reminds readers that prayer is not a privilege for the pious nor the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. Let the conversation begin.”

“Despite the divorce statistics, people are still committing to each other, instinctively believing and hoping that theirs is a sacred union that will last forever. Yet when these couples encounter problems, they often lack the resources that keep them connected to this greater mystery surrounding marriage. Rob and Kristin Bell introduce a startling new way of looking at marriage, The Zimzum of Love. Zimzum is a Hebrew term where God, in order to have a relationship with the world, contracts, creating space for the creation to exist. In marriage, zimzum is the dynamic energy field between two partners, in which each person contracts to allow the other to flourish. Mastering this field, this give and take of energy, is the secret to what makes marriage flourish. Rob and Kristin Bell are brutally honest about their own struggles, their ups and downs, as together they pass along what matters most for couples. In this wise book, they explore the secret of what makes a happy union—probing the mystery at the heart of the extraordinary emotional connection that binds two people. With his down-to-earth charm, a dose of whimsy, and memorable stories, Rob, writing with his wife Kristen, changes how we consider marriage, providing insight that can help all of us create satisfying and sacred unions of our own.”

“Christians are taught that prayer is the main way to experience God. But aside from learning prayers by rote, few receive guidance in how to make the most of this essential Christian act. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller shows us how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. With his trademark insight and energy, Keller offers brilliant and inspirational biblical guidance, as well as prayers for specific situations, such as dealing with grief, love, and forgiveness. Using great model prayers from the Bible and great Christian teachers throughout history, he discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader.”

Your turn… What books are you looking forward to reading soon?

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Three Articles Via @Relevant Magazine

Here are 3 articles from Relevant Magazine I thought you would enjoy taking a look at:

Your turn… Share some articles you’ve read recently.

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Three Fundamental Qualities of God Revealed by the Empty Tomb

The other day I came across a powerful article by Paul Tripp that focuses on 3 qualities of God that are revealed by the empty tomb. Here is an excerpt from that article you might want to reflect on as we go into Easter Weekend… I’m deeply persuaded that the empty tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ reveals three fundamental character qualities about God.”

1. FAITHFUL

The empty tomb reveals that God is faithful. Centuries earlier, after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, God promised that He would crush wrong once and for all. He sent his Son to defeat sin and death by his crucifixion and resurrection.

For thousands of years, God neither forgot nor turned from His promise. He didn’t grow weary, nor would he be distracted. He made a promise, and he controlled the events of history (large and small) so that at just the right moment, Jesus Christ would come and fulfill what had been promised.

2. POWERFUL

The empty tomb also reveals that God is powerful – powerful in authority and powerful in strength.

Think of the authority you would have to have to control all the situations, locations, and relationships in order to guarantee that Jesus would come at the precise moment and do what he was appointed to do!

Also, could there be a more pointed demonstration of power than to have power over death? By God’s awesome power, Jesus took off his grave clothes and walked out of that tomb. Those guys in power-lifting competitions may be able to pull a bus with their teeth, but they’ll all die, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

3. WILLING

The empty tomb also reveals God’s willingness. Why would He go to such an extent to help us? Why would He care to notice us, let alone rescue us? Why would He ever sacrifice His own Son? Because He’s willing.

You and I need to recognize that His willingness was motivated not by what He saw in us but by what is inside of Him. He’s willing because He’s the definition of mercy. He’s willing because He’s the source of love. He’s willing because He’s full of amazing grace. He’s willing because He’s good, gentle, patient, and kind.

Even when we’re unwilling, full of ourselves, and wanting our own way, He’s still willing. He delights in transforming us by His grace. He delights in rescuing us by His powerful love.

Erich’s note: you can follow his blog here.

Your turn… What else can we learn about God from the empty tomb?

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Three Passages that Frame the Story of Noah

So, a lot has been written about Noah the past few days since the release of the movie. Today I thought I would simply share 3 passages that frame the story of Noah (spend some time reflecting on these today):

  • Genesis 6:5-7

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

  • Genesis 6:8-9

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LordThis is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

  • Genesis 8:1

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

Note: you can read the rest of the story in Genesis 6-9 and Hebrews 11:7 to learn about his obedience, his faith, God’s covenant, and Noah’s sinfulness in the end. Here are three other passages worth looking at relating to Noah and God’s love and His judgment: 1 Peter 3:19-212 Peter 2:4-6 and Matthew 24:37-39.

Your turn: What scriptures stand out to you the most from the life of Noah? What do you learn from these 3 passages?

 

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Three Books by Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning was a recovering alcoholic and former Franciscan priest who spent the last 40 years of his life helping others experience the reality of God’s love and grace. Here are 3 of his books you might want to read:

“Many Christians feel broken and angry but don’t think they can express these real feelings around others–or to God. So we put on a mask to hide our identity. Feelings of embarrassment and shame make us hide from the One who truly loves us. Author Brennan Manning encourages you to let go of this stressful, unreal impostor lifestyle and freely accept your identity as a child of God. Find the rest that you long for as you grow in character and accept His lordship.”

“Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment. In this newly repackaged edition—now with full appendix, study questions, and the author’s own epilogue, “RagamuffinTen Years Later,” Brennan Manning reminds us that nothing could be further from the truth. The Father beckons us to Himself with a “furious love” that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God’s grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the ‘ragamuffins'”.

“It has been over twenty years since the publication of The Ragamuffin Gospel, a book many claim as the shattering of God’s grace into their lives. Since that time, Brennan Manning has been dazzingly faithful in preaching and writing variations on that singular theme – “Yes, Abba is very fond of you!” But today the crowds are gone and the lights are dim, the patches on his knees have faded. If he ever was a ragamuffin, truly it is now. In this his final book, Brennan roves back his past, honoring the lives of the people closest to him, family and friends who’ve known the saint and the sinner, the boy and the man. Far from some chronological timeline, these memories are witness to the truth of life by one who has lived it – All Is Grace.”

Erich’s note: Brennan died on April 12, 2013.

Your turn… Have you read any of Brennan’s books? If so, share some of your thoughts here.

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Three Stunning Statements from the Bible

The Bible is full of amazing truths, great stories, and stunning statements. Perhaps none more stunning than these 3:

  • “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” Genesis 45:3

The first 3 words of this verse may be the 3 most stunning words in scripture, “I am Joseph!” Imagine the shock on the faces of his brothers when learning that the one they sold into slavery and presumed to be dead for years was now the second most powerful person in Egypt.
Note: for a great book focusing on the life of Joseph, check out You’ll Get Through This by @MaxLucado

  • “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” John 1:14 (The Message)
Amazing, God became one of us in order to save all of us. The creator of the universe became one of the created to bridge the great divide.
Note: take a look at these 3 books focusing on the life of Jesus.

  • “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:6

The women went to the tomb that morning to anoint his dead body with spices NOT to see if he was ALIVE! Try to fathom their emotions when they discovered the truth of the resurrection (“they didn’t see that coming!”).
Note: take a moment to watch this short video by Rob Bell called Resurrection.

Your turn… What are some other stunning statements found in Scripture?

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Three Books I’m Currently Reading

Here are 3 totally unrelated books I’m currently reading:

“What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.”

Erich’s note: I saw this one in the recommended reading section on Bob Goff’s website. The subtitle is Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.

“Most Christians want to experience spiritual transformation. But many are frustrated by the limited progress of our spiritual self-improvement efforts. We find our praying burdened by a sense of obligation and failure. But prayer is not merely something we do; prayer is what God does in us. Prayer is not just communication with God; it is communion with God. As we open ourselves to him, God does the spiritual work of transformation in us. Spiritual director David Benner invites us to discover openness to God as the essence of prayer, spirituality and the Christian life. Prayer is far more than saying words to God; all of life can be prayer when offered to God in faith and with openness. Using the four movements of lectio divina, Benner explores prayer as attending, pondering, responding and being. Along the way he opens us to a world of possibilities for communion with God: praying with our senses, with imagination, with music and creativity, in contemplation, in service and much more. Learn how prayer can be a way of living your life. Move beyond words to become not merely someone who prays, but someone whose entire life is prayer in union with God.”

Erich’s note: one of my former professors, Jim Martin, mentioned this one via Twitter last week (I came across it at the right time). The subtitle is Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer.

“Most of us look at our days in the wrong way: We exaggerate yesterday. We overestimate tomorrow. We underestimate today. The truth is that the most important day you will ever experience is today. Today is the key to your success. Maxwell offers 12 decisions and disciplines-he calls it his daily dozen-that can be learned and mastered by any person to achieve success.”

Erich’s note: this one was mentioned to me by Todd McIntyre, Men’s Pastor at Gateway Church. Very practical book. The subtitle is 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success.

Your turn… What are you currently reading?

 

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Three Books That Focus On Social Justice

Here are 3 books that provide some good thoughts and practical application on the topic of social justice:

“It is commonly thought in secular society that the Bible is one of the greatest hindrances to doing justice. Isn’t it full of regressive views? Didn’t it condone slavery? Why look to the Bible for guidance on how to have a more just society? But Timothy Keller sees it another way. In Generous Justice, Keller explores a life of justice empowered by an experience of grace: a generous, gracious justice. Here is a book for believers who find the Bible a trustworthy guide as well as those who suspect that Christianity is a regressive influence in the world.”

“During college, a professor remarked, “Being a Christian is about choosing Jesus and deciding to do something incredibly daring with your life.” Taking up that challenge, Shane’s faith led him to dress the wounds of lepers with Mother Teresa, visit families in Iraq amidst bombings, and dump $10,000 on Wall Street to redistribute wealth. In The Irresistible Revolution, you’ll be challenged by a radical Christianity passionate for peace, social justice, and alleviating the suffering found in the local neighborhood and distant reaches of the world. Live out your faith with little acts of radical love as you join the movement of God’s Spirit into a broken world.”

“Is something missing from our understanding of the gospel? In The Hole in Our Gospel, Rich Stearns urges reader to ask What if? What if all followers of Jesus looked beyond the walls of their churches and worked together to claim the world for Christ’s kingdom? This is a story about how a CEO faced his own struggle to obey God, whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to truly change the world by actively living out their faith. Believing that the “good news” is more than a private transaction between God and us, Stearns challenges readers to consider the question “what does God really expect of us?” This fresh look at the gospel will lead you toward a deeper understanding of your own faith and inspire you to do your part to demonstrate God’s love for a hurting world. Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world. Rich Stearns believes it can happen again.”

Your turn… What are some other good books that focus on social justice?

 

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Three Books by Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson is the founding pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC and a great writer. I’m currently reading his most recent book, All In. So, today’s post will feature it along with 2 other books he’s written that you should check out:

“The Gospel costs nothing. You can’t earn it or buy it. It can only be received as a free gift compliments of God’s grace. It doesn’t cost anything, but it demands everything. It demands that we go ‘all in,’ a term that simply means placing all that you have into God’s hands. Pushing it all in. And that’s where we get stuck—spiritual no man’s land. We’re afraid that if we go all in that we might miss out on what this life has to offer. It’s not true. The only thing you’ll miss out on is everything God has to offer. And the good news is this: if you don’t hold out on God, God won’t hold out on you. Readers will find Batterson’s writing filled with his customary vivid, contemporary illustrations as well as biblical characters like Shamgar and Elisha and Jonathan and . . . Judas.”

“According to Pastor Mark Batterson in his book, The Circle Maker, ‘Drawing prayer circles around our dreams isn’t just a mechanism whereby we accomplish great things for God. It’s a mechanism whereby God accomplishes great things in us.’ Do you ever sense that there’s far more to prayer, and to God’s vision for your life, than what you’re experiencing? It’s time you learned from the legend of Honi the Circle Maker—a man bold enough to draw a circle in the sand and not budge from inside it until God answered his prayers for his people. What impossibly big dream is God calling you to draw a prayer circle around? Sharing inspiring stories from his own experiences as a circle maker, Mark Batterson will help you uncover your heart’s deepest desires and God-given dreams and unleash them through the kind of audacious prayer that God delights to answer.

“Your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn’t chase. You will look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, a blessed and audacious act that left no regrets: “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it” (2 Samuel 23:20 -21). Unleash the lion chaser within!” 

Erich’s note: If you haven’t read any books by Batterson, I think you’ll enjoy these 3. You can also listen to his weekly podcasts here and find series and resources on each of these books too. He is currently doing a series on All In.

Your turn… Take a moment to share some thoughts about these books or other books by Mark you’ve read.

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Three Books by Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller is another author I really enjoy reading. His most recent book came out earlier this month, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. With that in mind, I thought I would highlight 3 of his earlier books so you can check them out too:

“Why does God allow suffering in the world? How could a loving God send people to Hell? Why isn’t Christianity more inclusive? How can one religion be “right” and the others “wrong”? Why have so many wars been fought in the name of God? These are just a few of the questions and doubts even ardent believers wrestle with today. As the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Timothy Keller has compiled a list of the most frequently voiced “doubts” skeptics bring to his church as well as the most important reasons for faith. And in the New York Times bestselling The Reason for God, he addresses each doubt and explains each reason. Keller uses literature, philosophy, real-life conversations, and reasoning to explain how faith in a Christian God is a soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly want to know the truth.” (Publisher’s Description)

“Taking his trademark intellectual approach to understanding Christianity, Timothy Keller uncovers the essential message of Jesus, locked inside his most familiar parable. Within that parable, Jesus reveals God’s prodigal grace toward both the irreligious and the moralistic. This book will challenge both the devout and skeptics to see Christianity in a whole new way.” (Publisher’s Description)

“Success, true love, and the life you’ve always wanted. Many of us placed our faith in these things, believing they held the key to happiness, but with a sneaking suspicion they might not deliver. The recent economic meltdown has cast a harsh new light on these pursuits. In a matter of months, fortunes, marriages, careers, and a secure retirement have disappeared for millions of people. No wonder so many of us feel lost, alone, disenchanted, and resentful. But the truth is that we made lesser gods of these good things – gods that can’t give us what we really need. There is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings – and now is the perfect time to meet him again, or for the first time. The Bible tells us that the human heart is an “idol-factory,” taking good things and making them into idols that drive us. In Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller applies his trademark approach to show us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the unvarnished truth about societal ideals and our own hearts. This powerful message will cement Keller’s reputation as a critical thinker and pastor, and comes at a crucial time–for both the faithful and the skeptical.” (Publisher’s Description)

Erich’s note: if you haven’t ready anything by Keller I believe he will quickly become one of your favorites. You can find other titles here.  Make sure you check his sermon podcast and other resources out at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

Your turn… Take a moment to share some thoughts on these books are others by Keller you’ve enjoyed.

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