ID: The True You

by Mark BattersonThis is a self-published book written by my pastor. If I’m being honest, the title doesn’t really match the content. He has four main points, all of which are very good, but for most of the book it seems as though he gets lost on various thought tangents. In all fairness, these tangents are very thought provoking and convicting –definitely what I needed to hear in a few instances– but overall the book feels rather directionless. In summary, just about everything he says in here is really good, but the thoughts don’t necessarily flow logically together. I think the chapters and sub-chapters are perhaps better suited for individual essays or sermons.

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Praise Habit

by David CrowderDavid Crowder (the author) is one of my favorite musicians, so when I heard he wrote a book I was curious to read it. It doesn’t take but a few pages before you realize that this book is well suited as a bathroom reader. Each “chapter” is a short story –most of which are hilarious— with a twist on the end that points back to Scripture (Psalms). Often times the connection between the stories and the spiritual significance is pretty weak, but the book is a delight to read once you get past the fact that it’s not your typical “Christian Living” book. It was certainly entertaining, but it’s not gonna go down as one of the most inspirational or insightful books I’ve read. Pick it up next time you need a short break.

Total Truth

by Nancy PearceyI didn’t intend to read this book. I didn’t seek it out. It was “assigned” to me. Honestly, I was kinda dreading it. ….until I read the introduction. In the 12 or so pages before the first chapter I was hooked. Every now and then you come across a book that totally changes the way you look at things. It only seems fitting that a book whose topic is “worldview” would do just that. The author has a way of breaking down hugely complicated topics and tracing them back to the point where you can’t help but understand them. She iterates the important of living a life of faith no matter your vocation. It’s a lesson in theology, history, science, culture, and philosophy. There’s something in it for everyone. I can’t count the number of times I’ve recommended this book to others. (If there were one thing that would keep me from giving it the 5th foot it would be the fact that the second half of the book more or less turns into a long evolution debate –which is good, but perhaps it overshadows the first half of the book.)

Return of the Prodigal Son

by Henri NouwenA friend recommended this book to me, and told me how it’s one of her favorite books. I, on the other hand, came away wondering why she liked it so much. To me, the book feels like an overdone interpretation of Rembrandt’s painting. There are a couple nuggets buried in it, but for the most part I thought the book would be better suited in the Art Appreciation section of the bookstore. I tend to think that this book would not likely have been published if Nouwen’s didn’t already have a solid reputation as an author. By and large the book didn’t reach out and grab me, but clearly that’s just me. It did, however, carry me away on an interesting thought train…

Mere Christianity

by C.S. LewisWow. This book should be required reading for every Christian. The wisdom of C.S. Lewis shines through this book in a big way. The book progresses from the position of a skeptic to a theologian in a logical, clear way that is unparalleled by anything else I’ve read. Lewis has a way of describing complex things in simple ways; I marvel at his ability to communicate and teach. Before reading this book I always imagined that Lewis lived so long ago and that his writings were hard to understand or not relevant any more –boy was I wrong. Before I even finished the preface, I was hooked. This is undoubtedly one of the best books ever written about Christianity, period.

The Vision

by Rick JoynerThis book comprises The Final Quest and The Call in one volume. The two books were written at different times, but the latter is mostly a continuation of the former. It reads like a fiction book with strong Christian symbolism woven through it. It uses this “story” as a means to teach, instruct, and inspire curiosity. It puts a very descriptive and fresh coat of paint on the spiritual realm, and it beckons us to pay attention. Despite it being a rather lengthy book, it’s quite an easy read, yet it leaves you with plenty to chew on. If you enjoy a good story and you also like things that make you think, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Frodo and Harry

by Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder“Understanding Visual Media and its Impact on Our Lives,” is the subtitle for this book. For someone like me who wants to be a filmmaker and a teacher, this books sounds just about perfect. …until you start reading it. Basically the book contrasts Lord of the Rings against Harry Potter. In so many words, the authors basically claim that LOTR is Jesus, and Harry Potter is the devil. It gives many one-sided arguments to support its cause, as well as a list of what Christians should be doing about it. It does accurately asses the need for Christians in the Arts, but does nothing to equip us to make any proactive changes. This is exactly the sort of work that gives Christians a bad rep. If the authors wanted to make a difference, they should have made a difference, not a book. Criticize by creating!

The Journey of Desire

by John EldredgeThe back cover says it best: ““Modern Christianity tells us to kill our desire and call that sanctification.” The overriding message behind this book is that too often we stifle our desire, rather than allowing ourselves to desire the life God intended. Like most of John Eldredge’s books, it strikes a chord deep inside of us that perhaps we have forgotten about, ignored, or been told to suppress. As this book shows, the devil is so quick to manipulate our desires, but God wants to redeem them for His glory. That’s what this is all about: giving God permission to ignite our desires and become fully alive as the men and women of God He has made us to be. It serves as a much needed wakeup call to the Church.

Wild at Heart

by John EldredgeI don’t know how many times I’ve recommended this book to my friends. The author asks the question, “What does it mean to be a man of God?” and then he contrasts that with modern church-going males. Sadly, the two descriptions are almost polar opposites, but this book goes a long way toward bridging the gap. It speaks of something undeniable at the heart of men –the life of adventure, battle, and heroism. It causes us to look back on our life at instances where we have stifled our masculinity and bowed to social expectations. It then brings Jesus into the picture and, in a way, gives us permission to be real men. It calls us to a higher standard –a more exciting and fulfilling life– and suggests that perhaps that’s the way God intended it to be all along.