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Books Every Christian Should Read (Part 2) October 15, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in apologetics, Bible, books, Brennan Manning, Christianity, Francis Chan, grace, Holy Spirit, John Eldredge, Rob Bell, spiritual authority, theology, Timothy Keller, Watchman Nee.
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Yesterday I started listing some books that I think every Christian should read at least once in their lifetime. This list will continue today, but allow me to say this because I know someone will eventually call me out on it. I am not listing the Bible in this list, because I am assuming (hoping?) that if you are a Christian you read the Bible often, so it goes without saying that Christians should read the Bible. Now that we have covered that, on with the list!

                                                                                                                     Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

Most people come down on either side of the fence on Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They either love him or hate him. I’m in the former category. I don’t agree with everything he says, but the vast majority is brilliant. He gets a bad rap from “heresy hunters” who take some things out of context, or just hear some things and don’t bother to even read the book. But, there’s a lot of good stuff that deserves some serious thought in Velvet Elvis. I especially like the section on what Bell calls, “Brickianity.” You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Velvet-Elvis-Repainting-Christian-Faith/dp/0310273080/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1287160820&sr=8-1

Forgotten God by Francis Chan

Chan is known more by his first book, Crazy Love (a great book in it’s own right), but the lesser known Forgotten God has the more important message for today’s Christians. In it, Chan examines the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and gives a very balanced view of the Spirit’s work in our lives. Not overly Charismatic, and not too traditional, Chan explains how the extremist views of the Holy Spirit have scared many Christians and churches away from even discussing the Holy Spirit and that this should not be. The Holy Spirit is needed in our lives, and Chan does a wonderful job of placing him on the throne that he deserves to be on. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-God-Reversing-Tragic-Neglect/dp/1434767957/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287161524&sr=1-1

 Spiritual Authority by Watchman Nee

Nee’s story is amazing. He spent the last twenty years of his life in a Chinese prison. Through the face of extreme persecution and torture, Nee maintained a Christlike attitude. In Spiritual Authority, Nee explains how to have this Christlike attitude when it comes to those in authority over us. This is extremely important in today’s Church where our leaders are constantly called into question. Nee even explains how to submit to our authority when they are wrong. He states, “Submission has to do with attitude. Obedience has to do with conduct.” Nee’s message is badly needed today. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Authority-Watchman-Nee/dp/0935008357/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287162169&sr=1-1

 Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

While written toward men, I think Wild at Heart should be written by Christians of both sexes. It will help men understand why they are like they are, as well as women. There are some things in it that will initially cause you to disagree with Eldredge, but continue to press through it and you will begin to understand what he is saying. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Heart-Discovering-Secret-Mans/dp/1400202817/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287163161&sr=1-1

 The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

While some would consider Mere Christianity and Simply Christian “apologetics” books, The Reason for God is really the only true apologetics book on my list. While there are plenty of other great books on the defense of Christianity out there, this is my favorite just because of Keller’s intellectual, but conversational, writing style. Most of these kinds of books tend to be scholarly to the point of reading like a textbook. Keller’s, on the other hand, really feels like your sitting in his office and he’s explaining to you why belief in the God of the Bible makes sense. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Reason-God-Belief-Age-Skepticism/dp/1594483493/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287163582&sr=1-1

 

                                                                                                     The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Of the hundreds of books written on grace, Manning’s is in a class by itself. Manning delivers a beuatiful picture of how God’s grace is power for what he calls “ragamuffins,” people who are beat up, bedraggled, and burnt out. By that definition, I think all Christians could be considered ragamuffins from time to time. You can buy this at http://www.christianbook.com/the-ragamuffin-gospel-brennan-manning/9781590525029/pd/525020

That’s my current list of books every Christian should read. I’m sure it will grow and expand the more I read, however. This list is by no means exhaustive. So what did I miss? What other books do you think every Christian should read? I look forward to hearing your suggestions and your reviews of the books in my list!

My Greatest Sin July 20, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Heaven, Hell, life, sin, universalism.
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I don’t want everyone to go to Heaven. I want some people to burn in Hell for the rest of eternity. I could play this off as wanting to see God’s justice prevail, but that’s not the case. The truth is: I just want to be right. This is my greatest sin. I read certain blogs by some people who might be categorized as “universalists.” A term meaning they believe that everyone will get to Heaven one way or the other. Some of these universalists just believe all religious paths lead to Heaven, others are Christians who believe that Jesus died for everyone and will bring all to Heaven based on what he did on the cross. I think that these universalist Christians believe this not primarily on any biblical doctrine, but on the fact that they love people and can’t bear the thought of anyone suffering in Hell forever. This makes me jealous of them, because I don’t share that same love for people. Do I want people to go to Heaven? Of course I do, but not before they admit they were wrong about some things and turn their lives around. I don’t like the thought of murderers and rapists, or even Muslims and homosexuals entering Heaven totally on the mercy of God’s grace before they bow the knee to Jesus on earth. And I should want that. I read something by Shane Claiborne one time that said something along the lines of, “You don’t have to believe that God will save everyone, but you should hope he does.” That statement floored me. That’s when I realized my greatest sin is not loving people enough. I wanted to be right about them going to Hell, more than I wanted to see them in Heaven. Even if I don’t believe that people will go to Heaven without first surrendering to Jesus on earth, I should want Jesus to bring them to Heaven anyways.

The fact is Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love others. If I truly loved others, I would want them to go to Heaven no matter what. This is why many Christians put a priority on evangelism. They witness because they believe, like I do, that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus, and that means turning your life over to him here on earth. However, for many evangelism  turns from being a sincere love for one who is lost, but an argument or battle to determine who is wrong or right. Even the term “apologetics” conveys a fight, as it means defense of faith. Now, I enjoy a good debate. I like the intellectual stimulation it brings, but I’ve come to realize that sound arguments will very rarely change someone’s mind, much less their heart.

I was eating at Outback Steakhouse with my mom last week. We saw a friend of my dad’s there and he stopped to talk to us. They talked about how they felt about the direction of the country was going in the wrong direction, to which made my mom bring up Charles Stanley’s July 4th sermon, in which he basically called President Obama wicked, without ever saying Obama’s name. I stated that I really didn’t think pastors should talk politics in the pulpit, to which they disagreed. That started a verbal war at the table which got quite loud and a bit angry. Afterwards, I felt pretty convicted. I should have just let that argument slide. For one thing, I’m not sure if our server was a Christian or not, and seeing three Christians squabble like that is never good for a non-believer to witness. That’s when I realized that my desire to be right was a sin. It violates the second greatest commandment. It’s not loving of others.

There is only one thing that I’m really sure of, and that’s when I get to Heaven, I’m gonna find out that I was wrong on some things. That being the case, why am I so worried about being right all the time down here? I hope I am wrong and that my universalist Christian friends are right. I hope everyone does make it to Heaven. Even though I doubt that is the case, I’m asking God to change my heart toward people who disagree with me. I’m asking him to help me to love others and not to be afraid of being wrong. Because loving others has nothing to do with being right or wrong, but it has everything to do with trusting Jesus.

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