I’m the type of person who will go to the library, get out 15 books, but only read one of them. I have managed to finish a few in the last while, and so here are some that I’ve felt have helped me on my Christian journey, and might help you, too.
Losing God – Clinging to Faith Through Doubt and Depression – Matt Rogers
Blurb: “It was the perfect irony. To lose God at a missions conference. What’s worse, Matt Rogers will tell you, is that it all felt like fate. Years later, even after Matt’s depression subsided, the feeling of being forgotten had not left him. So he knew he had to write it down. Recounting his own experience with depression, Matt Rogers explores the question of how, in a world of suffering, we can call God good. This challenging question can manifest itself as a conspiracy of doubt, so that our emotions and our intellect come under attack. Without appealing to easy answers, Rogers offers understanding and a ray of hope for those who suffer from depression, encouraging them never to give up.” – Amazon.com
I read this book during my last semester of Bible College, and it has never left my mind since. I was in a place where I was confused about Christianity and God, and this book helped me in my darkness to see that there are others out there just like me. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone suffering from mental illness.
Jesus is Better Than You Imagined – Jonathan Merrit
Blurb: “Is the God who created us better than the God we’ve created?
After following Jesus for nearly two decades, Jonathan Merritt decides to confront the emptiness of a faith that’s dry, predictable, and rote. In a moment of desperation, he cries out for God to show up and surprise him, and over the next year, God doesn’t disappoint.
In JESUS IS BETTER THAN YOU IMAGINED, Jonathan shares vulnerable stories of how he learned to encounter Jesus in unexpected ways. Through a 60-hour vow of silence in a desert monastery, he experiences Jesus in silence. When a friend dies of a rare disease, he sees Jesus in tragedy. Through confronting childhood sexual abuse, Jonathan discovers Jesus in honesty. In an anti-Christian-themed bar, he finds Jesus in sacrilege. And when he’s almost kidnapped in Haiti by armed bandits, he experiences Jesus in the impossible.
Though Jonathan finds himself in places he never dreamed of, he doesn’t lose his way. Instead, these experiences force him back to the Bible, where he repeatedly offers fresh, sometimes provocative, interpretations of familiar passages. Along the way, he throws back the covers on the sleepy faith of many Christians, urging them to search for the Holy in their midst.
Pointed and poignant by turns, Jonathan helps readers open their hearts to a mysterious God and a faith that sustains, guides, and most importantly, surprises. His fearlessly honest story invites us all to discover the messy mercy and crazy grace of a sometimes startling Savior.” – Amazon.com
All I remember is reading this book at Christmas time, and it was the perfect companion to my ‘holiday mind set’. I not only learnt to relax in my life, but in God, too. It contains many stories, and is rich in personal experiences – something I really value as a Christian. Not enough people share their difficulties. This book was like a fresh glass on water – the type that you feel cooling every muscle in your neck as it makes its way down. Merrit is graceful and encouraging, all while he shares his deepest secrets.
The Prodigal God – Timothy Keller
Newsweek called New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller a “C.S. Lewis for the twenty-first century” in a feature on his first book, The Reason for God. In that book, he offered a rational explanation for why we should believe in God. Now, in The Prodigal God, Keller takes his trademark intellectual approach to understanding Christianity and uses the parable of the Prodigal Son to reveal an unexpected message of hope and salvation.
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. – Amazon.com
This book is a colourful, insightful, tasty, and refreshing view into the story of the Prodigal Son. Not only that, but it contains perspectives from the ‘older brother’ and what it means to us today. I enjoyed this book, it was easy to read, it was simple, yet contained a lot.
Silent Savior – A.J. Gregory
We’ve all been there. Knowing on some deeper level that God is present no matter how things look, but still feeling the trickle of doubt. And wondering why the God whose faithfulness is never supposed to fail seems to be turning a giant deaf ear toward us. It’s not always like this (thank goodness!), but silent seasons are common in the life of any honest Christian.
In Silent Savior, A. J. Gregory navigates that labyrinth of sorrow, pain, angst, and doubt on the way to a soul-deep recognition of God’s infinite faithfulness and perpetual, if sometimes silent, presence. And she encourages readers to keep believing he’s there even when that silence seems deafening. – Amazon.com
For me, this book revealed the harsh realities of life and Christianity – in a good way. She talks about the real issues in like that we all, at one point, struggle with but refuse to tell anyone. I remember really enjoying this book – it was something different from all the ‘nice’ Christian books out there.
Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer – Micha Boyett
“My first year of motherhood I lost prayer.
I lost early mornings of quiet, mornings in my pajamas with a Bible in my lap, mornings when I spoke my mind’s chaos into God’s ear and let the chaos come back ordered, holy sealed. I lost peace. I lost clarity and certitude. My faith was never perfect before my son was born, but somewhere in that first year, somewhere in my distraction and exhaustion, I lost the Spirit-life I had known. I blamed myself. . . .”
Found is a story of nourishment for anyone who hungers for rich spirituality and has come up empty. It’s a story for anyone who is trying to reconcile great big dreams with the ordinariness of their days. It’s a story of discovering divine kindness and affection in the most mundane moments of life. With brilliant and moving prose, Micha Boyett invites us on a journey to discover the richness in the everyday—and it changes everything. – MichaBoyett.com
Although this story is about the changes in new mother’s faith, it could just as well be a story for any type of change that totally sweeps us out of routines. Change happens in life, and unfortunately, we must deal with it. But, instead of it being a case for panic, it’s an invitation to know God in an entirely new way.
How to be a Christian Without Being Religious – Friz Ridenour
“Since the days of the early church, Christians have struggled to find a way to be “good”–to please God by their own efforts. They end up carrying a burden God never intended them to bear. And what’s more, their brand of Christianity ends up looking like any other religion of the world–bound by joyless rules and rituals. Fritz Ridenour’s study of the book of Romans provides an antidote to the pharisaical spirit and shows that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. It is not people reaching up, but God reaching down. All Christians can enjoy their birthright when they realize who they are in Christ. The result is a life full of hope, joy, power, and potential.” – Amazon.com
I read this book during a total reevaluation of my faith, and it helped my to perfectly understand what Christianity really was. Throughout the year I was bombarded with tasks and duties and felt incredible burden to fulfil all of them. I thought that the more work I did, the better Christian I was. This book stripped all that away, and I was able to see the God who reached down to me, rather than my own efforts to reach up to Him. It’s an older book, about 12 years old – I found it in my Dad’s library – but it is timeless in it’s truth and grace.