Other Books!

creative_wallpaper_stack_of_books_on_the_bench_082401_The list of books we provided blurbs for was by no means extensive. If you read a Christian book and want to share what was most meaningful or impactful from the book, please leave a 2-3 sentence (or more) comment.

Be sure to include the title & author so we all know what great books everyone is reading!

102 thoughts on “Other Books!

  1. “Amazing Grace” by Eric Metaxes is the biography of William Wilberforce. William Wilberforce used his position in Parliament to advocate for abolition of slavery, persevering in this fight and achieving it just days before his death. He would later go on to be a source of inspiration to Lincoln, so his impact extends to Western society as well.

    One thing that struck me was Wilberforce’s courage and perseverance for this cause. Despite his failures and the opposition he faced, he continued to fight for what he knew was right, seeing his position in Parliament as the opportunity to serve God. It took decades, but fighting for this cause transformed society as we know it today.

    I would recommend this book especially to history buffs. Eric Metaxes is a good author, and also wrote Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, which Mike Chen commented on above.

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  2. “Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-sex Relationships,” by James V. Brownson, was a book recommended to me by my youth pastor along with another book I read this break that presents the contrary conclusion on same-sex marriage. Though it was long and very dense I found this book extremely refreshing because of how Brownson considered and dissected not only the typical “seven verses” mentioned most often in this debate but also broader contextualizing themes that pervade the verses in question and influence how they are applied in ancient and modern contexts.
    He leans towards a revisionist (pro) opinion on same-sex marriage but is clear to admit that his work is only a contribution to a discussion the church must have to address the seeming split over this issue in a way that is true to the Word and the message of the Gospel.
    I myself am still trying to comprehend the full scope of all his conclusions and interpretations and hold some reservations with some of his conclusions when I try to compare Brownson’s work with anti points made in the other book I read by Sam Allberry. Overall though I valued Brownson’s thorough approach beyond simply reading his own conclusion into the text. This involved working to find the “why’s” behind commandments and seeking to apply these “why’s” in the modern context, addressing existing traditionalist and revisionist arguments and exploring the worlds of Exodus and Paul to reach his conclusions. I would definitely recommend this book to others (namely because I need someone else to talk about this with), cautioning that it is rather lengthy and is not a quick read, but one that I feel is worthwhile.

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  3. I read Making All Things New by Henri Nouwen. Henri’s book was a very simple and to the point way of giving information on the spiritual life. He talks at first about how in our lives we tend to find ourselves filled yet unfilled. We make sure that we have busy schedules but then feel lonely. After further description and recognition of this being a problem he talks about how we can grow in our spiritual lives through solitude and community. Solitude giving us the opportunity to be with God and simply sit in his presence and be ready for what he has for us. As for community, growing with others and encouraging others on their walk with God and grwoing together as we begin or continue our journey is encouraged.

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  4. I just read Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner. I’ve never read a Christian book quite like this, but it is well-written and I really enjoyed it. There is the tragic truth of the gospel about who we are, the comic truth of God’s presence despite our sin and failures, and the fairy tale of what happens in our lives through the love of God. Buechner is an amazing story-teller. I recommend!

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  5. I read Case for Christmas at the very beginning of Winter Break because I wanted to give copies of it to my extended family in SoCal. I was so grateful that Lee Strobel wrote this book specifically for Christmas, because it was an opportunity that I usually don’t have to share the gospel with my family, and it’s a way for them to see that Christianity has some reason behind it. Case for Christmas is a quick read, only 100 pages, and great to give to friends and family and open up conversation!

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  6. Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd Jones

    I listened to this as an audiobook in my car and thought the narration was really good. I love how each chapter ends with connecting that specific bible story back to Jesus. The bible stories are told so simply that even a child could understand, but in such a poignant way that even the most familiar passages really convict me of what Jesus is like (which leads me to be very thankful) or what I’m like (which leads me to have a repentant heart).

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  7. I read “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A. W. Tozer upon an adult in my church giving me this book before going off to college (and I am just now reading it :/). Every chapter focused on a different aspect of God and emphasized how unfathomable and indefinable God truly is within human limitations of understanding. Tozer was sure to point out and challenge the common descriptions of God held by individuals and even preached from the pulpit such as the all-love God or the God of profit. This book was a reminder for me that there is no excuse for a lukewarm awe in the presence of God, for everything about Him is beyond the collective human imagination. Yet amidst this is the amazing love shown to individuals, to sinners undeserving of grace, but invited to approach Him through Christ! This book helped me to rekindle and rediscover that awe of the unfathomable that is God.

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  8. “The Case For Christmas” is the last book in the giant stack of books on my desk this break, mostly because I had already read this last Christmas within my home church. Reading this again in light of the other books I’ve read this break only builds my confidence in the testimony of the Apostles, the promises of Christ and my ability to defend and explain both for nonbelievers. I am always amazed by the story of Lapides and how deep exploration amidst his strong doubts resulted in his acceptance of Christ and hope that I too can engage with friends and floormates this upcoming semester in honest discussion about the truth of the gospel.

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  9. Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel was a book that I read at the very beginning of winter break. I wanted to read it before giving it to my family so that I was prepared to give a short blurb on what it was about. This is a book I would give to people who are already inquisitive and spiritually open to Christianity or who have some general understanding of how Jesus and Christmas are related. Somehow Strobel is able to condense a lot of information from interviews with scholars into a thin book, so it packs quite a punch!

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  10. GOSPEL by JD Greear is filled with stories (personal, of others, and Bible), insights, and application that gives the reader a clear picture of what the gospel is and how to live it out. He describes in realistic, honest, and humorous ways to live gospel-centered lives and the importance of diving deeper and deeper into the gospel.

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  11. Humilitas by John Dickson is an interesting book that is not an overtly Christian book. He starts by giving us historical context and view of humility, settling on the definition: the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself. There is no 3-step plan to become humble, but it is a CHOICE that we can daily make. Dickson uses many examples of humble and proud figures to portray the importance and beauty of humility and the effects it can have in one’s leadership. Don’t worry, he does use Jesus as an example of someone who is humble!

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  12. The Autobiography of George Muller

    This book gave me a striking picture of what it means to live by faith, to believe simply what the Bible says and act on it, to pray with confidence that God answers. His faith revealed to me my self-dependence as I read about how he prayed for every need, big or small, whether for money for his next meal or for money to build and fund an orphan house for hundreds of orphans. I’m thankful for this account of his prayers to God for all things and the answers he received, how he sought God’s direction in all areas of his life, and his peace in all situations.

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  13. Just One More Child: The Faith, Love and Compassion of Reverend Verent Mills by Dr. Chun-Wai Chan details the life of a surrendered man who faithfully served God throughout the Sino-Japanese War. Whenever he doubted whether he should continue, he was reminded of Joshua 1:9 and was given courage and strength to cross into a war-torn nation. Behind every surrendered man, is a surrendered woman! Verent’s wife, Alma, made it clear their order of priority from the beginning of their marriage “God first, His work second, and family third.” Her devotion to God allowed Verent to continue returning back to China to share the gospel with the Chinese people and later establishing many orphanages throughout Asia.

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  14. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit by Henri Nouwen

    One of my favorite chapters is on “oughts” and “ifs”, the words that keep us stuck in the past or worried about the future. Nouwen encourages us to lay our guilt and burdens before Jesus or else we will miss out on being fully present here and now. Jesus came to wipe away all of the oughts and ifs so that we can be rooted in His forgiveness and promises. We can encounter God only when we confess and lay down our guilt and fears.

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  15. These Strange Ashes by Elisabeth Elliot

    In this book, Elisabeth Elliot shares her experience and different lessons she learned during her first year serving in Ecuador. I was inspired by her response to different set backs throughout her missionary work. The things that we might think are in vain are an opportunity for us to offer those to God and to experience a glimpse of the suffering that Christ endured on the cross. At one point, she talks about how faith, prayer, and obedience do not make us exempt from the woes of this world, but our hope is in what we are to receive in Heaven.

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  16. Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air — Francis J. Beckwith & Greg Koukl

    Excellent book that analyzes moral relativism and offers practical advice, tips, and arguments to defend objective morality. This book is very helpful in understanding the pitfalls of moral relativism and for recognizing different forms of moral relativism in our day-to-day lives.

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  17. Writing one post for two books:

    Mary Slessor (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)

    I was amazed how Mary willingly moved deeper into the jungles without any other missionary to help her to minister to the tribes there. And it was pretty funny to read that, at 5′ tall, Mary would command these big warrior tribal men to do whatever it is she needed them to do. There was one point where she had a bunch of them, including the tribe’s chief, get into a canoe despite their fear of river gods so that they could learn how to trade and do useful things with their time. She single-handedly transformed these tribes from superstitious warring factions into ones that would listen to reason and the gospel!

    Lillian Trasher (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)

    The most challenging thing about Lillian Trasher was how fully she depended on God for her daily needs. She never turned any orphans or poor children and widows away due a lack of funds or means to take care of them. Instead, she doubled down in her prayers, even getting the whole orphanage to pray… and they were blessed many times over with money or provisions given at just the right time. As someone who likes to plan and have contingencies in place, this bio really challenged me to “risk” taking scary steps of faith with the confidence that God will answer my prayers and my needs at just the right time. It was a perfect bio to read to start off 2017!

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  18. I read The Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel. Coming from a non-Christian background, I never fully understood the true meaning of Christmas until I read this book. This was the first Christmas where I was able to look beyond the worldly Christmas festivities, and to celebrate in the true spirit of Jesus Christ.

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  19. “Encounters with Jesus” was an awesome and timely read because Tim Keller focuses a great deal on passages from the book of John, dubbing Nathanael “the skeptical student” and looking at the “insider and the outsider” in John 3 and 4 (Nicodemus, and later the Samaritan woman). He looks at these passages in great detail for us, which has been helpful for my DTs 🙂

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  20. Eventually, I’m going to read every single Tim Keller book there is! I also read the Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller, which was unique because it was grounded in the passage Ephesians 5. The book is for both unmarried and married people, giving us a sense of how to value marriage the way God does, especially in the context of community. He unpacks a lot of misconceptions about marriage, and societal phenomena that have caused us to view marriage out of fear or idealism. Many of the sections about loving “the other” or taking on a servant role were relevant for any kind of covenantal relationship!

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  21. I read A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. The analogy between humans as sheep and God as the shepherd made it very easy to visualize the relationship between humans and God. The shepherd describes the daily tasks he must do to keep the sheep safe despite their tendency to constantly engage in self-destructive behavior. In the end, it is only the shepherd who can keep the sheep completely safe and reassured. Humans likewise must turn to their shepherd, or God, for guidance.

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  22. When God Goes to Starbucks by Paul Copan.
    This book addresses many of the common misconceptions and various slogans you’ll hear around in conversations and just by overhearing people talk. What I appreciate about the way Copan tackles each of these slogans is that he does it in a very careful and mindful way and also gives pretty detailed answers and explanations behind his responses. A book that’s supposed to encourage us for our everyday conversations with people!

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  23. Read Love Does by Bob Goff. It’s a collection of stories where the author put love into action. The impact that an act of love can make is something I can easily forget. Was encouraged to love more boldly and more concretely because love has crazy power to leave soft spots in a person’s heart.

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  24. Read The Unexpected Adventure by Lee Strobel & Mark Mittelberg. It’s also a collection of stories recounting the authors’ lessons in evangelism. Was really stirred reading the last half of this book (especially in the context of just having returned from the ucsc + cal poly slo vision trip) to hit the campus this semester! The author’s stories and the different people we met on the trip reaffirmed that the potential for someone to know and accept Jesus far outweighs the risks of rejection and a bruised ego!

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  25. Preaching by Tim Keller.
    I read this book in preparation for a message I was giving. What I appreciate about this book is that Keller helps us with tools to be able to preach Christ and thus the gospel in every message, as well as how to contextualize messages to best address our modern culture. Another part that struck me in this book was when Keller went in detail about how to preach a message that is not just accurate and sound, but a message that penetrates the listener’s hearts and captures their imagination.

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  26. “Surprised by Joy” by CS Lewis

    “Surprised by Joy” acts partially CS Lewis’s intellectual autobiography, how the different stimulus from childhood to school both influenced his adolescent atheism and developed into his profession of faith. He defines “joy”, early in the book, as characterized by “the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again” and looks at different brief hints at “joy” from childhood to adulthood. Literature, for example, becomes one of the main ways he experiences transcending the present world. It’s amazing how all these different experiences eventually pointed him to God, and how Lewis is able to tie them all together. “Surprised by Joy” is also relatable as well as amazing. His chapter on the “New Look” of intellectualism describes academia today pretty well! Lewis’s record of his initial conversion…you should just read for yourself! Some favorite parts:

    “In the Trinity Term of 1929, I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert.”

    “I had hoped that the heart of reality might be of such a kind that we can best symbolize it as a person; instead, I found it to be a Person.”

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  27. Sticky Church by Larry Osborne

    This book is about the structure of Larry Osbourne’s church North Coast Church and how to replicate that in other churches. It was a lot more specific than I had anticipated. It’s good as one of many reference books if you are thinking about reorganizing the structure of ministry or creating a new one from scratch. However as an individual, I took a lot of this material with a grain of salt. It made me realize that there are a lot of things that ministers and deacons consider when forming the structure of a church to be a welcome place for all.

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  28. Gentle Savage Still Seeking the End of the Spear by Menkaye Aenkaedi

    This book was authored by 3 of the very Waorani (Auca) who actually killed Jim Elliot & co. in Ecuador. Beginning from his childhood, Minkaye recounts the Waorani side of the events that surround Jim Elliot’s story, a lot of which you don’t get to hear at all from the missionary perspective in the various books commonly read about it. It’s enlightening and very interesting until the end of the book, when the book doesn’t take you where you wish it would go and the spiritual insights give way to social/cultural commentary. Read it if you’d like to hear the other side of the story and dive into the life of the Waorani, but doesn’t expect it to be a devotional book.

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  29. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

    An overview of Jim Elliot’s life with a good amount of personal insight into the lives of the other 4 missionaries as well. This book stands out from the “Christian Heroes: Then & Now” version because of Elisabeth Elliot’s commentary. My favorite part of this one was her reflections at the end of the story when the missionaries have been killed, as she comments on the goodness and sovereignty of God though we don’t understand how He is working, as well as on the amazing fact that God does His work through us though we are broken, sinful, far from perfect.

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  30. End of the Spear by Steve Saint

    Maybe one of my favorites among the collection of books about Jim Elliot & co’s missionary work and martyrdom. This book, written by the son of one of the martyrs Nate Saint, focuses on the immediate & long-term aftermath of the Palm Beach events. I was moved over and over again by Steve Saint’s reflections on the work of God in his own life as well as among the Waorani people, and also by the transformed lives of the Waorani whom he came to love and be loved by, all because the Gospel finally reached them after the efforts of his father and his friends who died for them.

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  31. I read “Case For Christmas” by Lee Strobel because I wanted to be able to discuss the real meaning of Christmas with my friends. It was a very quick read and Strobel’s interview style of writing really kept me engaged. It was as if I was asking those questions that were being answered. I also liked the selection of the arguments chosen in this book. They were fundamental questions and all essential.

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  32. Though “The Case for Christmas” by Lee Strobel is rather brief, it is also incredibly dense with facts and reasons. He provides a solid case for Jesus’s identity and the truth behind Jesus. I was very convinced by the arguments that were provided, and the book able to provide many answers to questions that I had been thinking of all along. If you’re looking for more facts to back up your faith, this is a great place to start!

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  33. Piper, John; Mathis, David; Warren, Rick; Chan, Francis; Mohler Jr., R. Albert; Sproul, R.C.; Anyabwile, Thabiti. “Thinking. Loving. Doing.”

    This work is a collection of presentations-turned-essays from various evangelical leaders about the pressing need for Christians to develop intellect, emotions, and actions and unite these three under the rule of Christ for the sake of His Gospel. The book opens with a rousing call from Pastor Rick Warren about just how seriously the life of the mind is involved in spiritual battle, and he ends with a very challenging, very inspirational bit about the need to dream, envision, and set imaginative goals for the sake of the Kingdom. Contributions from Mohler and Sproul emphasize the importance of Natural and Biblical theology in addressing unbelievers and believers alike. Anyabwile’s chapter discusses the rising tide of Islam, and how Christians are to consider this trend in a compassionate, but solidly analytical, way. The work closes out with two chapters by Chan and Piper on the necessity of love throughout all of our thinking.

    The chapters by Warren and Chan resonated most deeply with me. I very infrequently associate good thinking with visionary imagination, and Warren’s essay came as a reminder that learning isn’t to be done aimlessly, but towards concrete purposes in service to the God who is able to do far more than all we ask or imagine. Chan’s chapter was incredibly pressing; he focused on 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 and the dire need to pair knowledge with love. Writing semi-testimonially, Chan set forth a convicting reminder that all use of knowledge–whether for witnessing or building up the church–must be directed by a deeply moving spirit of love. A great struggle for me is the use of book knowledge to hit people over the head with it.

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  34. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist, Normal Geisler.
    A great general apologetics book in the vein of On Guard. Takes readers through a 12(?) step proof of Christianity, from nothing(the first question is “Does truth exist and how can we discover it?”) to proving that Jesus was the Son of God and the Bible is inspired and true. Or at least, as we discover, proving as well as these things can be proved. The book also discusses the different types of proof and which we can reasonably expect from Christianity–when viewed with these proofs, Christianity performs spectacularly well. I really liked the beginning of the book which discussed truth, how we obtain truth, our world’s attitude toward truth, the claims atheists are making(and they ARE making claims and holding beliefs), and claims that when looking at those claims and the evidence, it takes more faith to hold an atheistic naturalistic worldview than a Christian one. “Faith covers a gap in evidence.”

    Basically On Guard but directed toward convincing seekers rather than the defensive side.

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  35. I don’t think Covenantal Relationships by Asher Intrater is on here, but finally finished reading it. It has a some nice insights into aspects of what makes a convenantal relationship – how covenants are based on words, there’s reconciling, loyalty, different practical aspects played out in the church and b/n believers. Thankful again that our church values covenantal relationships so much and we try to live it out. One part that was really challenging was how loyal people were in the OT, and got to see example after example of God honoring that kind of loyalty. Reminds me how it’s ultimately our relationship and loyalty to God that matters at the end of the day.

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  36. Took me awhile to get into One Thousands Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a stream-of-conscious, confessional narrative describing the lessons in gratitude God taught the author. Though the style was less conventional, it’s absolutely befitting for a book with this main idea: God is always good, always enough, all the time–in the big and the small, in every single detail of day-to-day life.

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  37. I Have Seen God by Klaus-Dieter John chronicles how John and his wife were led by God to build the Diospi Suyana hospital in Peru. This was made possible by $14 million in donations from individuals around the world. What’s even more mind-boggling is that nearly all the equipment, from emergency generators to stained glass windows to CAT scanners, were donated. Time and time again, whenever a need arose, God met it and was truly faithful.

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  38. Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books
    by Tony Reinke

    This book helped give me a theological basis for book reading and also provided some practical tips for reading. To sum up the theological foundation for reading: the Bible comes first in all matters, and we enjoy and glean all sorts of truths from other literary works (from Christian and non-Christian authors, fiction and non-fiction) by reading through the lens of a biblical worldview. Some practical advice I got from the book: reasons for and tips for marking up books (I started writing in my books because of this!), how to fight for book reading time (especially helpful for me in thinking about Internet distractions).

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  39. Just finished Respectable Sins, and found it to be a book that caused me to my “tolerable sins” more seriously. I think this is the first book I’ve read that taught me about the sins of “ungodliness” and how being ungodly is the root of many other sins. What’s admirable is the author’s own reflection and introspection into his own thought life and honest sharings that encourage me to take a closer look into my own life to be pleasing to God.

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  40. I liked “A Case for Christmas” by Lee Strobel for its honest and careful investigation into to the identity of Jesus. Lee Strobel is an investigative journalist that asks questions that challenge all major concerns with the story of Christ. Strobel took the time to interview well-known authoritative figures in the fields of archaeology and theology in a way that encourage others to ask question. In particular, I was especially interested in her pursuit of archaeological evidence for the gospel. As a person who has always been drawn to history, I often wondered about the sites and claims of the bible but now I am convinced of the accuracy in the bible. Of course, there were times that were not supported by historical evidence (or any type of evidence) but it caused me to consider the question “why not?” and more often than not, there was a satisfactory answer that was mainly due to reasonable contexts. For instance, there is no historical context for Herod’s massacre of children under 2 in Bethlehem but one expert explained that it was quite an insignificant (although gruesome) to ancient historians. It was insignificant because Bethlehem was a small village that probably only had a few children that were under 2. Further, it was characteristic of Herod (and other rulers) to eliminate anyone who was a threat to their authority.

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  41. The New Testament

    I booked a twelve-ish hour train ride to San Diego to visit my friends, and reading through the New Testament ended up being on of the good fruits of that. This was the first time I’d sat down and had/made the time to go through it all more or less at once, and while it wasn’t always easy to stay focused it was nevertheless a grand thing. The person of God in Jesus Christ shone in the four Gospels, and all the challenging things of theology at work were written out in the epistles. And then there was Revelation, which I don’t really get at all, but it’s still that glorious reminder of the day I ought to look forward to, when finally Jesus comes in His glory.

    Two thumbs up! Would definitely recommend!

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  42. Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris

    This book talks about Alex and Brett and their fight against the low expectations of their teenage years that they felt were a part of society that causes a lot of teenagers to be lazy and unmotivated. They sought to challenge themselves by being the leads for different governor and mayor’s campaigns and through that they started a whole movement of teenagers pushing themselves to do hard things and fight against this low expectation that teenagers just had to stay out of trouble. It really challenged me to push myself out of my comfort zone in my last semester of school as I was humbled that these teenagers 15-17 year olds were doing so much with their lives to honor and edify God.

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  43. The Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel

    This book is a series of different interviews that Strobel has with Christian scholars. It was very interesting as it gave a lot of evidence about Jesus’ life and answered questions such as are the accounts of Jesus trustworthy and whether Jesus’ life actually embodied different characteristics of God. I enjoyed this book because it gave me an insight into the thought process of a non-Christian as they are being given these different pieces of evidence. It helped me understand more of different follow up questions that people I might be reaching out to have as well as what kind of approach to take to these questions.

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  44. The Celebration of Discipline was really good, as it goes through different spiritual disciplines, from personal disciplines of prayer and study of God’s word, simplicity, solitude, submission, and service, and much more. One part that struck me was why we needed the disciplines, and that’s because it’s what enables liberation from ingrained habits. It’s so easy to want to change ourselves by our own strength, but Richard Foster calls that “will worship”. Our most strenuous efforts are considereal idolatry. Spiritual disciplines put us in a place where God can do the inside job to transform us. Hope this book is helpful 🙂

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  45. Cameron Townsend: Good News in Every Language

    Cameron did not have the typical missionary career. In fact, he gave up sponsorship from a church as a missionary in order that he may enter into Mexico as a linguist and translator. Every chance he had, whether it be a speaking appointment at a church or his daughter’s wedding, he spoke of the need to translate the Bible in minority languages. Through him, many people were able to read the Bible in their native language, reaching the working class of people who would otherwise not hear the gospel.

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